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11 Oct 19. DOD Statement on Artillery Incident Near Kobani. Attributable to Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, Director, Defense Press Operations: U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions at approximately 9 p.m. local Oct. 11.
The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location outside the Security Mechanism zone and in an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present.
All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries.
U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani.
The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria and especially objects to Turkish operations outside the Security Mechanism zone and in areas where the Turks know U.S. forces are present.
The U.S. demands that Turkey avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action. (Source: US DoD)
11 Oct 19. How the Pentagon plans to protect American forces in Syria from Turkish attacks. Defense Secretary says U.S. has not abandoned
Kurds. As Turkey continues an incursion into Syria targeting Kurdish forces backed by the U.S., the Pentagon has given the Turkish military detailed coordinates of where American forces are, and a stark warning: American personnel in Syria have the right to defend themselves, even against a longstanding NATO ally.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the newly-installed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, made frustrations with Ankara’s decision to attack Kurdish forces that had been working with the U.S. and allies to defeat the Islamic State group, and emphasized that the U.S. was not “abandoning” Kurdish forces.
But Esper made it clear that their highest priority is defending American military personnel in the region, even as Turkish President Recep Erdogen has put the U.S. “in a tough situation.”
The U.S. will maintain “close coordination” with the SDF, including maintaining forces with the SDF outside of Turkey’s current incursion zone, but “ultimately, I will not place American service members in the middle of a longstanding conflict between the Turks and the Kurds,” Esper said. “This is not why we are in Syria.”
The Pentagon has already moved a small group of less than 50 special operations forces out of the immediate zone of attack from Turkey, and is “repositioning additional forces in the region to assist with force protection as necessary.”
However, the department has also reached out to Turkey, at almost every military level, with details of where American troops are stationed and told Ankara to stay clear.
“The Turkish military is fully aware, down to explicit grid coordinate detail, of the locations of U.S.,” Milley said. “And everyone has been told — throughout Syria and in the zone of incursion — and everyone is fully aware that we are the United States military, we retain the right to self-defense. And our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will defend themselves. That’s clear, and its unambiguous with everybody.”
In addition, CENTCOM has been given approval to reposition regional forces at the “tactical and operational level for the purpose of force protection for U.S. forces that are in this area,” Milley said. So far, the Turkish forces have largely relied on airpower, with airstrikes from manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as artillery and some direct fire from tanks. Several hundred Turkish ground forces are involved, Milley said.
The U.S. has expressed concerns that Turkey’s push into Syria will give ISIS forces a chance to regroup, just months after the physical caliphate was declared defeated. The SDF has been a crucial part of America’s strategy for dealing with the terrorist group, and Milley acknowledged that the group is going to struggle to keep a focus on ISIS following Turkey’s actions.
“We are asking them to continue their partnership with us. A lot of it is force protection of our forces and so on. Naturally, there is a considerable amount of anxiety,” Milley said. “The leadership of the SDF has given instructions for some of their forces to begin to move north, in order to defend what they think is their territory. We’re encouraging them not to overreact at this point, try to tamp things down in order to allow some sort of diplomatic resolution to some of this.”
Multiple times throughout the press conference, the two men expressed frustration with Turkey over its decision attack the Kurds, and did not offer an optimistic take that the fighting may settle down soon. Esper said “I have no indication they are willing to stop,” while Milley said “I’m not seeing any indication or warnings of any planned stoppage of their military activity.”
The SDF has transferred two key ISIS prisoners, commonly known as the “Beatles,” to U.S. custody; those two have been moved out of Syria but remain in the region, according to Esper.
10 Oct 19. South Korea to buy 20 more F-35 jets. South Korea will begin the second phase of its plan to acquire stealthy fighter jets, code-named F-X III, by acquiring 20 more F-35s, the country’s arms procurement agency has confirmed.
The Asian economic power had ordered 40 F-35As for Air Force operations under a 2014 deal worth about $6.4 billion, with the delivery of the fifth-generation fighters starting earlier this year.
“The government is preparing to launch the second phase of the F-X III in 2021 for the five years to come,” the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, said in a report to the National Assembly on Oct. 7. About $3.3bn will go toward buying the additional Lockheed Martin-made aircraft, the report noted.
Which F-35 variant is under consideration has been a point of debate here, though multiple defense sources say the government will buy the F-35A rather than the “B” variant because of the former’s short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing capability. The STOVL ability allows the aircraft to take off and land from South Korea’s new large-deck landing ship planned for deployment in the 2030s.
“The state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, or KIDA, has concluded a study on the additional acquisition of F-35 aircraft, and the study is to suggest the introduction of more F-35As be more feasible,” a source at the Ministry of National Defense told Defense News on the condition of anonymity.
In July, the South Korean military approved a plan to construct a carrier-type landing platform helicopter ship as part of its long-term force buildup plan. The new vessel is to be refit to displace 30,000 tons, double the capacity of the previous two types with 14,500 tons of displacement.
“There are two issues [with getting] the F-35B. First, it’s more expensive than the conventional-takeoff-and-landing version. Second, the deployment of a carrier-type landing ship is far away from now,” the source said.
On Oct. 1, the Air Force showcased its F-35As for the first time since it received the fighters during an Armed Forces Day ceremony.
The service has so far brought in eight units, with five more arriving here by year’s end. Fourteen more aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to South Korea next year, according to the service.
“For its operational deployment, we are now carrying out related processes such as training pilots and maintenance technicians and the construction of facilities and relevant systems,” the service said in a report submitted to lawmakers on Oct. 10. “As a centerpiece of the country’s strategic targeting scheme against potential enemy forces, the radar-evading warplane is expected to boost operational capabilities and strengthen the readiness posture against threats from all directions.”
The F-35A can fly at a top speed of Mach 1.8 and carry top-of-the-line weapons systems such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition.
North Korea has decried the deployment of F-35 aircraft in South Korea due to the jet’s capability to evade radars and penetrate its territory. In July, Pyongyang threatened to destroy all the F-35As arriving in South Korea.
A senior North Korean official was quoted by the state-run media as saying that the North has “no other choice but to develop and test the special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.”
North Korea test-fired new short-range ballistic missiles and guided rockets in recent months. The weapons take aim at the F-35 base in particular, experts say.
The ballistic missile, identified as KN-23, appears to have been modeled after Russia’s SS-26/Iskander. It’s believed to be capable of maneuvering at different altitudes and trajectories during flight so as to evade anti-ballistic missiles. (Source: Defense News)
10 Oct 19. South Korean Navy Seeking to Secure Nuclear-Powered Submarines for Self-Defense Capabilities. The South Korean Navy said Thursday it has been running a task force on the potential construction of nuclear-powered submarines as part of efforts to bolster its nuclear deterrent and boost defense capabilities.
“With longer-term perspectives to have nuclear-powered submarines, we have been running a task force of our own,” the Navy said in a report presented to lawmakers for a parliamentary audit.
“As the matter will be decided in accordance with national policy, the Navy will work closely with the defense ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” it added.
South Korea pushed to build such submarines in 2003 behind the scenes as part of its long-term military buildup program but suspended the project about a year later after it was disclosed in a media report.
Then in 2017, the defense ministry carried out research on the matter through private entities, which led the military to feel the necessity of the asset, according to Navy officers.
“Operating the task force does not mean that the Navy is pushing for related projects in earnest, as nothing has been decided. It is mainly collecting information regarding the matter,” a Navy officer said.
Some experts and lawmakers have called for the development of a nuclear-powered submarine, which is regarded as one of the most useful military assets to be operated on the Korean Peninsula to counter threats not only from North Korea but from neighboring countries as well. Some speculate that the military might push to develop its 3,000-ton Chang Bo Go-III submarine as a nuclear-powered one. Currently, the country is carrying out the project to build the 3,000-ton indigenous submarine by 2031, with a process to develop its system set to begin in earnest this year. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Korea Herald)
09 Oct 19. Turkey – Syria – Iraq: Turkish military begins ‘Operation Peace Spring’ targeting Syrian Kurdish YPG militias. On 9 October, the Turkish military launched ‘Operation Peace Spring’ to remove Kurdish militia forces, known as People’s Protection Units (YPG), from the northern areas of Syria’s Al Hasakah and Raqqa governorates along the border with Turkey. The operation will reportedly include Turkish military air operations supported by artillery strikes in these areas. The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) violent non-state actor (VNSA) group based in Turkey. Since late May the Turkish military has been conducting similar air and artillery strikes in the southeast provinces of Turkey and northern Iraq against the PKK VNSA group as part of ‘Operation Claw’, which remains ongoing. PKK and YPG VNSA militants possess a variety of light weapons such as anti-tank guided missiles, anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and low-calibre anti-aircraft artillery, capable of engaging aircraft below FL100. The PKK and YPG also possess man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) capable of engaging aircraft below FL260. Near-daily air-supported security operations and artillery strikes are likely in the tri-border area of Turkey, Syria & Iraq through the next 15-30 days for the remainder of ‘Operation Peace Spring’ & ‘Operation Claw’.
Aerial operations in the tri-border area of Turkey, Syria & Iraq by Turkish security forces increases the likelihood of attempted surface-to-air fire engagements targeting military-grade air assets below FL260, as well as armed attacks against fortified installations with aviation infrastructure, as a means of retaliation against the government. On 19 June, Turkish military forces recovered a Russian-made 9K32 Strela-2 (SA-7 GRAIL) MANPADS tube in a weapons cache near Hakurk in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, located along the border with Turkey. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels reportedly recovered a Russian-made 9K38 Igla (SA-18 GROUSE) MANPADS in Syria’s Afrin from a YPG weapons cache on 31 January 2018. During raids targeting PKK militants in Hakkari Province in southeast Turkey, located along the border with Iraq, on 14 June 2018 as well as 9 April 2018 and 1 July 2017, security forces seized weapons caches including North Korean-made HT-16PGJ MANPADS. On 10 May 2017, Turkish security forces in nearby Sirnak Province along the border with Iraq recovered a Russian-made 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16 GIMLET) MANPADS. Of note, the PKK downed a Turkish military helicopter over Hakkari Province via SA-18 MANPADS engagement in May 2016. We assess the southeast provinces of Turkey to be a HIGH risk airspace operating environment at altitudes below FL260 and MODERATE risk at altitudes above FL260. In addition, we assess portions of FIR Ankara (LTAA) located within 32 miles (50km) of the border with Syria in the southeast provinces of Turkey as well as the entirety of Iraq to be HIGH risk airspace operating environment at all altitudes. We continue to assess Syria to be an EXTREME risk airspace environment at all altitudes.
Approvals: As a precaution, conduct operational risk-based identification of divert and alternate airports for flight schedules with planned stops at aerodromes in the country or with overflight of the airspace. Operators are advised to ensure flight plans are correctly filed, attain proper special approvals for flight operations to sensitive locations and obtain relevant overflight permits prior to departure. In addition, ensure crews scheduled to operate to or over the country in the near term are fully aware of the latest security situation.
Military Air Activity: Increased military air operations have the potential to cause airspace congestion and impact the safety of civil aviation flights. Any significant increase in the amount of air operations over the country may impact the availability of airports along with access to the airspace. Aviation operators should monitor airport/airspace-specific airspace-specific notices, bulletins, circulars, advisories, prohibitions and restrictions prior to departure to avoid flight schedule disruption.
Weapons Trafficking: Poor provisions of security through porous borders and an influx of weapons; including anti-aircraft systems, has facilitated a resurgence in VNSA activity in recent years. The country has historically been a hub of VNSA activity and a key route for arms-smuggling given its remoteness and anti-government sentiment due to the lack of economic opportunities. The presence of large, relatively unpoliced areas of the country are also vulnerable to security and or terrorism threats due to instability and porous borders, where VNSA groups are present. (Source: Osprey)
08 Oct 19. Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say. First came a destabilization campaign in Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and then a thwarted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain using a nerve agent. Though the operations bore the fingerprints of Russia’s intelligence services, the authorities initially saw them as isolated, unconnected attacks. Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination. The group, known as Unit 29155, has operated for at least a decade, yet Western officials only recently discovered it. Intelligence officials in four Western countries say it is unclear how often the unit is mobilized and warn that it is impossible to know when and where its operatives will strike. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/New York Times)
09 Oct 19. AMDC aims to deliver world-class R&D collaboration in Australia’s maritime industry. In a move that will bolster and give a ‘step up’ to Australia’s maritime future, the Australian Maritime Development Centre has been slated to be operational by Q1 2020, it was confirmed at the PACIFIC 2019 Maritime Exposition.
The AMDC is a collaboration between government, academia, and industry and aims to “solve the biggest challenges facing the local defence and maritime sector”, with the intention to become the science, technology and innovation “centrepiece” of the aforementioned industries.
Confirmed to be up and running in the first quarter of 2020, the centre is expected to span four Australian states with plans for expansion, and also includes the expertise of 10 leading Australian universities and publicly funded research agencies, leading industrial defence companies and government.
At Pacific 2019, the AMDC released its statement of principles, which was welcomed by Professor Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist, and Tony Dalton, director general ships and submarines, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group.
“The future formation of the Australian Maritime Development Centre is an exciting development in Australia’s defence and shipbuilding enterprise,” said Peter Davie, interim chair of the AMDC.
“We plan to bring together the best of the country’s research and development assets into a new, powerful network to serve the needs of our naval and maritime customers in a way that has not been possible in the past.”
Francois Duthoit, Vice President for International Development and Cooperation at Naval Group said of the announcement, “Naval Group is incredibly proud to be part of establishing the world class centre of scientific research and development. For over 400 years Naval Group has been developing and refining new technologies and innovation, and we look forward to sharing our expertise and know-how with the region’s brightest minds. It’s our hope that together, we can simultaneously solve the industry’s most critical challenges and build upon Australia’s defence capability.”
The following researchers are confirmed to be involved in the AMDC collaboration:
- Deakin University
- Defence Innovation Network-NSW
- Defence SA
- Flinders University
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of New South Wales
- The University of South Australia
- The University of Sydney
- Australian Maritime College of The University of Tasmania
- The University of Technology Sydney
A final decision and announcement on the future operation of the AMDC is anticipated for later this year, or early 2020. (Source: Defence Connect)
08 Oct 19. France Delivers Its First Rafale to India. Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, traveled to Bordeaux today to the Dassault Aviation site for the ceremony of handing over the 1st Rafale to India. The first delivery of a series of 36 aircraft, this milestone symbolizes the excellent relationship between France and India. The Indian Minister of Defense of the Republic of India, Mr. Rajnath Singh, is paying a visit to France on October 8 and 9, 2019 on the occasion of the delivery of the first Rafale aircraft to India. This visit will be marked by a ceremony on the Dassault Aviation site in Mérignac. The Minister of the Armed Forces, Mrs. Florence Parly, will welcome Mr. Rajnath Singh in the presence of the Chief Executive Officer Mr. Eric Trappier. This move is a major step in the relationship with India, one of the main strategic partners of France in Indo-Pacific. In the coming years, 36 Rafale aircraft will be delivered to India as part of the intergovernmental agreement signed on 23 September 2016 between the French and Indian governments. Following the Rafale ceremony, the two ministers will hold talks in the context of the second annual Franco-Indian defense dialogue. They will address the many perspectives of the already rich bilateral defense cooperation, as well as the security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, for which France has recently published its defense strategy. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Ministry of the Armed Forces)
07 Oct 19. Donald Trump clears Turkish operation in Syria against Kurds. US president also threatens Ankara on Twitter to ‘totally destroy and obliterate’ ally’s economy. Donald Trump has alarmed allies at home and abroad after giving his consent to a Turkish military incursion in north-east Syria designed to quash US-backed Kurdish fighters who have been instrumental in defeating Isis. After a call between the US president and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, the White House said the US military would not “support or be involved in the operation” that Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch against US-backed Kurdish militias. US forces would “no longer be in the immediate area”, it added in a statement. About 1,000 troops are deployed in Syria. Writing on Twitter on Monday, Mr Trump acknowledged that Kurdish fighters had fought with the US, but said that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so”. “They have been fighting Turkey for decades,” he added. But later, he seemed to accompany his green light with a warning: “If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey,” he tweeted. Turkey has made it clear that it wants to launch an assault into the de facto autonomous region of north-east Syria that is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who were trained and equipped by the US as part of the fight against Isis. The group is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist group with links to separatist fighters who have waged a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. Turkey and the US have spent months trying to reach an agreement on a “safe zone” that would push the YPG away from the Turkish border and, according to Ankara, allow the safe return of millions of refugees. “We have said [in the past] that may suddenly arrive one night. We remain determined,” said Mr Erdogan, without elaborating on the timing or scope of such an operation. In Washington, several influential Republicans joined Democrats in criticising Mr Trump’s move to abandon the Kurds on the ground.
The move is “a disaster in the making” and would make it tougher for the US to fight radical Islam, said Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator and close ally of Mr Trump, said. “This decision virtually reassures the re-emergence of Isis. So sad. So dangerous,” Mr Graham said on Twitter.
The decision is a “grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria”, said Marco Rubio, a senior Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee. “We degraded Isis using Kurds as the ground force. Now we have abandoned them and they face annihilation at the hands of the Turkish military,” he said. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” said Nikki Haley, Mr Trump’s former ambassador to the UN. Criticism also came from US allies in Europe, who fear the move will jeopardise the gains made against Isis jihadis who once controlled a large swath of north-east Syria. “Military intervention [by Turkey] would lead to a further escalation in Syria and would further destabilise the country,” said a German government spokeswoman. “
The success in the fight against the terror militia IS, which was largely achieved thanks to the Syrian Kurds, with support from the anti-IS coalition, must not be put in danger.”
France, the UK and Belgium who have been targeted by Isis attacks, are particularly worried about the fate of the thousands of foreign jihadis — many of them European nationals — sitting in Kurdish prison. Jihadis’ “trial and secure detention in north-eastern Syria are a security necessity to prevent them from joining terror groups”, the French foreign ministry said. Recommended David Gardner Syria is witnessing a violent demographic re-engineering Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokesperson, said that while the bloc recognised Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns”, a solution to the Syrian conflict would “not be reached through military means”. Mr Trump has frequently taken actions — sometimes without notifying the Pentagon — that have angered US military leaders and provoked concern among US allies. In December, Mr Trump abruptly announced that he would withdraw US troops from Syria, in a move that prompted the resignation of Jim Mattis, US defence secretary, and sparked criticism from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The UN called for the protection of civilians in the proposed Turkish safe zone — an area that is home to about 760,000 people, according to estimates compiled by NGOs working with the organisation. Moscow, which has played a central role in attempting to cobble together some form of post-conflict settlement in Syria, has called on Turkey to respect Syria’s “territorial and political integrity”. The US’s Kurdish allies reacted angrily to the US decision and indicated that they were preparing for a military assault by Turkey, a Nato member state. “There were assurances from the United States of America that it would not allow any Turkish military operations against the region,” SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel said in a television interview. He described the US move as a “stab in the back”. The SDF runs prisons holding thousands of captured Isis fighters, and vast camps full of suspected Isis family members that have been described as chaotic and a breeding ground for Isis’s extremist ideology. Although the US is not directly responsible for jailing captive Isis fighters, the White House statement said that responsibility for them would be handed over to Turkey.
Mr Trump said on Monday that it was time for the US “to get out of these ridiculous, endless wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home”. “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured Isis fighters in their neighbourhood,” Mr Trump added. The sudden decision on Sunday evening dovetailed with Mr Trump’s general foreign policy stance. The president has frequently veered towards removing US forces from areas of the world, only to be persuaded in most cases by his advisers to hold off. The latest move was harshly criticised by Brett McGurk, a former US anti-Isis envoy who also resigned last year after Mr Trump announced that he would withdraw all US troops from Syria. Writing on Twitter, he said the White House statement showed “a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground”. (Source: FT.com)
07 Oct 19. Statement Attributable to Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Mr. Jonathan Hoffman. The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey – as did the President – that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation.
In conversations between the Department and the Turkish military we have consistently stressed that coordination and cooperation were the best path toward security in the area. Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley reiterated to their respective Turkish counterparts that unilateral action creates risks for Turkey. As the President has stated, Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations and others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the United States.
We will work with our other NATO allies and Coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, and beyond. (Source: US DoD)
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