Old joke: Where do the Swiss keep their armies?
Answer at the bottom.
STOCKHOLM (AFP-Jiji) — Sweden is to reintroduce compulsory military service, seven years after abandoning it, to respond to global security challenges including Russia’s assertive behavior in the Baltic Sea region, Stockholm said Thursday.
“We are in a context where Russia has annexed Crimea,” Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told AFP, adding, “They are doing more exercises in our immediate vicinity.”
Sweden has had a professional army, staffed by volunteers, since 2010.
“We saw that our units could not be filled on a voluntary basis. A decision had to be taken to complement the [volunteer] system, which is why we are reactivating conscription,” Hultqvist said.
A non-NATO member, Sweden has not seen armed conflict on its territory in two centuries. It put conscription on hold in 2010 after it was deemed an unsatisfactory way of meeting the needs of a modern army.
In the past two decades the military’s budget has been slashed as its mission was revamped to focus more on peacekeeping operations abroad and less on the country’s defense.
But in recent years, concerns have risen about Russia’s intentions in the region — with alarms bells ringing after Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, experts noted. Read the rest of this entry »
MiG-35 Demo is Both Product Debut and Contrast of Russian and Western Doctrine in the F-35 Era.
Tom Demerly reports: In a widely publicized event on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG) parented by United Aircraft Corporation officially demonstrated the new MiG-35 to the Russian government. A subsequent demonstration for export customers was carried out today Jan. 27.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have viewed the first demonstration via remote video due to poor weather in the region.
The new MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: “Fulcrum Foxtrot”) is a greatly upgraded aircraft based on the earlier MiG-29 airframe. Significant upgrades on the MiG-35 include a completely new fly-by-wire flight control system, vastly improved cockpit, substantially upgraded avionics and an overall design philosophy that provides an enhanced degree of operational autonomy on the MiG-35 compared to earlier Russian combat aircraft. The MiG-35 will also integrate precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons, a rarity in previous Russian air-ground doctrine.
There is a significant engine upgrade on the new MiG-35. The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. This contrasts aircraft like the current Russian Su-35 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor that only use single-axis vertical thrust vectoring.
This marks a fascinating departure from previous Soviet-era combat aircraft capabilities while retaining the Russian penchant for lower unit cost in exchange for numerical superiority, a doctrine that has pervaded Russian military thinking for the entire century.
The Russians have always traded unit capability for numerical superiority, relying on the hope that quantity would beat quality in a major conflict. Interestingly, this doctrine has shifted moderately toward a centrist mix of quality and quantity apparently in search of the best solution for indigenous use as well as attracting export buyers.
The new MiG-35 is an example of this shift. Read the rest of this entry »
Moscow (AFP) – A Russian military plane carrying 91 people has disappeared from radar after taking off from the southern city of Adler, local news agencies reported the defence ministry as saying Sunday.
Russian aircraft goes missing pic.twitter.com/BEpTSYtrLH
— NewsX (@NewsX) December 25, 2016
WASHINGTON — Rosie Gray reports: A Russian media mogul who helped found the Kremlin-run news channel RT was found dead in his hotel in Washington, D.C., according to reports.
“The Embassy does not have any further comment on the demise of Mr. Lesin out of respect to his privacy. Please refer to the family members or the law enforcement officials.”
— Russian Embassy spokesperson Yury Melnik told BuzzFeed News.
“Our consular officials had an opportunity to confirm that the Russian national who passed away in DC is indeed Mikhail Lesin. Out of respect to the privacy and sensitivity of the matter we are not at liberty to disclose any other information, and would ask you to refer all further requests to his family and the law enforcement officials.”
— Russian embassy spokesperson, to Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Sean Hickman told BuzzFeed News that there had been a death Thursday on the 1500 block of New Hampshire Avenue, where the Dupont Circle Hotel is located. An ABC News article on Lesin’s death reported that the location had been the “Hotel Dupont,” though a hotel by that exact name doesn’t exist in Washington. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, He Will Fail. Again. As America Distrusts Government More Than At Any Time In Its History
Ben Shapiro writes: President Obama was having a bad political day on Thursday. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had humiliated him in Syria, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had excoriated his Iran deal before the United Nations, and his Secret Service had been caught leaking information about a Republican congressperson.
Then the clouds parted for the deeply cynical president — the same president who routinely ignores shootings in inner cities across the country, or attributes them to generalized American racism. News broke of a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. And before waiting to find out all the facts, he leapt directly into political controversy, redirecting the national conversation once again toward useless gun control measures.
Here is, so far, what we know.
The community college campus was a gun free zone – so “gun free” that waterguns were banned on campus.
The only security guard on campus was unarmed.
Oregon has universal background checks, and strengthened its gun laws just months ago.
Most interestingly, The New York Daily News quoted an eyewitness thusly:
The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were christian. If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.
It has now been several hours since the gunman was killed. We still don’t know his name. That’s a far cry from mass shootings in the past.
Nonetheless, Obama focused his ire on Republicans – of course, because law-abiding Republicans who wish to protect law-abiding gunowners are the big problem, given that the gunman apparently met zero of those descriptors. “There’s been another mass shooting in America,” Obama said with dramatic flourish. “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough.”
Obama and the left want your guns. That’s all. End of story.
What would be enough? Obama explained eagerly:
We’re not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these mass shootings every few months…This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families, who lose their loved ones, because of our inaction.
No, in fact, we are not. The gunman is responsible for his actions. The only politicians responsible for the gunman’s success are those who refuse to allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. But Obama couldn’t stop his scorn for gun-owners from seeping forth. Saying that people would undoubtedly accuse him of politicizing the shooting, Obama stated, “this is something we should politicize.” He tacitly attacked the National Rifle Association, asking gunowners if the NRA truly spoke for them. “How can you, with a straight face, argue that more guns will make us safer?” Obama whined.
They do, in the right hands. Data show that more guns held by law-abiding citizens decrease crime. If Obama believes differently, he can surrender his Secret Service protection at any time. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin attended the General Assembly…
Source: The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Russia is using an air corridor over Iraq and Iran to fly military equipment and personnel to a new air hub in Syria, openly defying American efforts to block the shipments and significantly increasing tensions with Washington.
“Since Maliki relinquished the premiership, power and authority in Iraq have become increasingly diffused with various players now exercising unilateral power over the use of force.”
American officials disclosed Sunday that at least seven giant Russian Condor transport planes had taken off from a base in southern Russia during the past week to ferry equipment to Syria, all passing through Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
“Neutrality is the best Washington can hope for in Baghdad. Iraq is not a dictatorial state like many of the U.S. allies in the Middle East. Iraq is still a fragile state whose leaders are exposed to politics.”
Their destination was an airfield south of Latakia, Syria, which could become the most significant new Russian military foothold in the Middle East in decades, American officials said.
“In the discourse of Iraqi politics, forcing Abadi to side with the U.S. against Assad is like realigning him with the Sunni axis against the Shia one.”
— Ramzy Mardini, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a research group in Washington
The Obama administration initially hoped it had hampered the Russian effort to move military equipment and personnel into Syria when Bulgaria, a NATO member, announced it would close its airspace to the flights. But Russia quickly began channeling its flights over Iraq and Iran, which Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said on Sunday would continue despite American objections.
“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue,” Mr. Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”
“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue. They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”
— Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister
Moscow’s military buildup in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad in a four-and-a-half-year civil war, adds a new friction point in its relations with the United States. The actions also lay bare another major policy challenge for the United States: how to encourage Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq, who came to power with the blessing of the United States but is still trying to establish his authority, to block the Russian flights. Read the rest of this entry »
Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak: ‘After tens of years of peace, that peaceful period after the Cold War is now over’Posted: June 19, 2015
Zagan (Poland) (AFP) – NATO member Poland said Thursday that the post-Cold War period of peace is “now over”, as the European Union grapples with various crises including the Ukraine conflict and terrorism.
“Because there are more and more crises erupting around Europe… It’s not only the Ukrainian and Russian crisis but also ISIS and a number of different crises in northern Africa.”
Poland’s defence minister spoke alongside NATO head Jens Stoltenberg in western Poland while attending the first full exercise of the Western defence alliance’s new rapid reaction force — part of NATO’s biggest defence reinforcement since the Cold War.
“I think it’s a task for all of us to persuade the public that they should be ready to do more before it’s too late.”
— Defense Minister Tomasz Siemonia
“After tens of years of peace, that peaceful period after the Cold War is now over,” Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told reporters in Zagan.
“Because there are more and more crises erupting around Europe… It’s not only the Ukrainian and Russian crisis but also ISIS and a number of different crises in northern Africa,” he said, using an acronym to refer to the jihadist Islamic State group.
He added that Europe had to do more to defend itself, saying “I think it’s a task for all of us to persuade the public that they should be ready to do more before it’s too late.” Read the rest of this entry »
Russian Bombers More Aggressive Near U.S. Territory
Sam LaGrone reports: While Russian military aircraft have stepped up their activity everywhere from the North Sea to the Baltic to the Black Sea in the last year they have also been spotted more frequently closer to the U.S. territory in the Arctic, the head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told USNI News on Tuesday.
In particular – flights of Tupolev Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ Bombers have increased recently NORTHCOM’s Adm. Bill Gortney said.
“They’ve been very aggressive – under my NORAD hat – for us in the Arctic. Aggressive in the amount of flights, not aggressive in how they fly.”
Since the March seizure of the Ukrainian region of Crimea by Russian forces Moscow has significantly stepped up air patrols in Europe, Asia and near the Americas.
The flights extend as far North as the edge of American air space near Alaska and as far South as U.S. holdings in Guam.
In December, two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets intercepted a two Bears near the Beaufort Sea entering a U.S. and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Read the rest of this entry »
On September 1, 2014 the US State Department published a report, in which it was stated that for first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia reached parity with the US in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington admitted that Moscow regained the status that the Soviet Union had obtained by mid-70’s of the XX century and then lost.
According to the report from the State Department, Russia has 528 carriers of strategic nuclear weapons that carry 1,643 warheads. The United States has 794 vehicles and 1,652 nuclear warheads.
It just so happens that today, Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the US, as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons. This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia’s SNF with new generation missiles. Read the rest of this entry »
Kiev (AFP) – Max Delany with Anais Llobet in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Russia reporting: Ukraine said on Friday it had destroyed part of a Russian military convoy that entered onto its territory in an incursion that has sent cross-border tensions rocketing.
NATO accused Russia of active involvement in the “destabilisation” of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin separatists have been fighting against Kiev for four months.
The two countries have also been wrangling for days over a Russian convoy that Moscow says is carrying humanitarian aid for besieged rebel-held cities but which Kiev suspects could be a “Trojan horse” to provide military help to the insurgents.
Fears that the border clash could spill into all-out war between Kiev and Moscow sent major share markets tumbling across Europe and the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
For Popular Mechanics, David Hambling writes: A new video shows a Russian military robot doing something no American machine in service can match: firing a machine gun. It’s hardly a technological triumph—the U.S. has been testing armed robots for decades. But while political and ethical caution has prevented the West from advancing with the concept, Russia seems determined to field a wide variety of combat robots.
The Russians call such robots MRKs, from the Russian for Mobile Robotic Complex. The latest is the MRK-002-BG-57, nicknamed Wolf-2. It’s basically a tank the size of a small car with a 12.7-mm heavy machine gun. In the tank’s automated mode, the operator can remotely select up to 10 targets, which the robot then bombards. Wolf-2 can act on its own to some degree (the makers are vague about what degree), but the decision to use lethal force is ultimately under human control.
Although the U.S. military fielded thousands of robots in Iraq and Afghanistan, these were used for bomb disposal and reconnaissance only. In 2007 the widely publicized deployment of three Talon/SWORDS robots fitted with machine guns ended in fiasco. The robots were confined to their base and never sent out on patrol because of fears of what might happen if anything went wrong. Work continues with MAARS, the successor to Talon/SWORDS, but there is no sign yet of anything being fielded. And when the budget gets tight, unmanned systems tend to feel the squeeze first. Read the rest of this entry »
“This is the use of deniable special operators under GRU control to create provocations and really these are quasi-deniable operations.”
— John Schindler, a retired NSA counter-intelligence officer
During the last week of February, a summary of U.S. intelligence reporting said there was a very low chance that the ordinary Russian troops doing military exercises on Ukraine’s border were going to invade the country, according to a description of the document by a senior American official. But the intel report did predict accurately that Russian special operations forces would do all they could to reunite Crimea with Russia—and cause trouble in eastern and southern Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry »
For NRO, Robert Zubrin writes: On March 15, there were two demonstrations in Moscow, one for and one against Russian intervention in Ukraine. A friend of mine in Russia sent me a link to an amateur video taken of both marches. Here it is:
The first half of the video shows the “March for Peace,” opposing intervention. The banner leading the march reads “Hands off Ukraine”; another banner further back reads “bring the Russian forces home.” The demonstrators are chanting “Russia without Putin!” In addition to Ukrainian and Russian flags, the protesters carry flags reading “Solidarity” and “Party of Progress.” A rough estimate would place the size of the demonstration at about 50,000 people.
[Robert Zubrin’s book “Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism” (New Atlantis Books) is available at Amazon]
UPDATE: and from London, 12.13am GMT:
The BBC’s indomitable Nick Sutton, nightly tweeter of tomorrow’s Fleet Street front pages, notes that Ukraine leads on most.
Among them, The Sun has its own characteristic take on the crisis.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) March 2, 2014