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North Korea: Probing for weaknesses?

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It is likely that the US military and our allies are taking the necessary steps to be prepared on the intelligence front should military action in North Korea become unavoidable.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about what a renewed, more modern, conflict with North Korea might look like. It now seems that what I wrote about might actually be coming into play. Our military has conducted a quiet buildup of air and naval assets in the region and conducts daily sorties near DPRK territory.

I pointed out that the best defense the North has is its extensive surface-to-air defenses. It’s possible that our sorties are designed to make the DPRK air defenses light off their radars, thereby giving our forces the ability to locate the fixed positions. Now, this will not allow them to know where all the mobile SAM sites will be if and when an attack comes, but it might let them know the favorite set up sites.

Accurate intelligence is one of the most vital aspects of modern warfare, and gathering it can’t always be done just with satellites in orbit. Sometimes it has to be done over the course of weeks or even months of carefully planned missions that gather data, followed by meticulous analysis.

Even then, there is an element of uncertainty know colloquially as the “fog of war.” I can tell you from personal experience that the fog of war permeates every aspect of warfare, from the large to the small. Good intelligence can negate much of the fog of war, but it will still be present.

It is likely that the US military and our allies are taking the necessary steps to be prepared on the intelligence front should military action in North Korea become unavoidable. This is especially prudent in light of tough talk at the UN by both President Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Both of them have recently delivered excellent and stern admonitions that may need to be backed up with actions.

The other possibility is that the Trump Administration is saber rattling in the hopes that China will finally take bold action. The best scenario for everyone would be for Beijing to put a leash on their puppet in Pyongyang, but so far China has seemed reluctant to do so for whatever reason.

If the latter possibility is true, it would show the kind of subtle action the Trump faithful believe him to always be in the middle of, but for which he so far has shown no real aptitude. Time will tell how all of this will play out, but it’s my guess we won’t have to wait too much longer.

Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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Military

Entire F-35 fleet grounded until fuel tubes inspected

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Entire F-35 fleet grounded until fuel tubes inspected

Following a crash last month in South Carolina of a F-35 fighter jet, the United States military has grounded the entire fleet. The suspected problem, faulty fuel tubes, must be inspected before the fleet will be brought back into combat duty.

F-35 jets: US military grounds entire fleet

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45827795“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

“Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The aircraft, which uses stealth technology to reduce its visibility to radar, comes in three variants.

Each F-35 costs around $100 million. Expect the military to move quickly as the aircraft is crucial in the air defense of the nation, giving us complete air superiority regardless of the threat.

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Military

Russia to send advanced weapons to Syria to fight Israel

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Russia to send advanced weapons to Syria to fight Israel

After last week’s downing of a Russian Il-20 surveillance plane by Syrian air defense, Moscow has promised to send it’s advanced S-300 air defense system. The Russians blamed Israel for the downed aircraft.

Russia blames Israel for Syria shooting down its spy plane

https://noqreport.com/2018/09/18/russia-blames-israel-syria-shooting-spy-plane/This is troublesome for one reason and extremely concerning for another. It’s troublesome because it likely means Russia will want more direct involvement in Syria’s defense. When weapons it supplied are used to take down its own aircraft, the practical and predictable response is to either downgrade involvement or ramp it up. Russia will likely do the latter.

It’s extremely concerning because of the clear threat made to Israel. “Commensurate measures” can be read in many ways, but based on Russia’s recent history this incident will likely be used as a get-out-of-jail free card for them to use at the right moment against Israel. How that manifests remains to be seen.

While Russians are denying that the system is targeting any nation in particular, they know Israel is the only nation that regularly flies into Syria to attack weapons depots intended for use against the Jewish state.

Russia to send S-300 missile defence systems to Syria

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/russia-send-300-missile-defence-systems-syria-180924093518745.html“According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly cannot but harm our relations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

However, the Kremlin said the installation of S-300 was aimed at increasing safety of Russian military and “not directed at any third country”.

My Take

Russia is playing with fire in more ways than one. The S-300 system is designed as a multi-stage air defense system capable of changing the game in the Middle East. Israel had demanded they not be installed in Syria after the initial agreement was made by Russia in 2013, but last week’s incident changed things.

What Russia cannot afford is further antagonizing the west. If the result of this leads to more attacks on Israel because they weren’t able to stop them in Syria, it is likely America will step in with countermeasures for Israel to use against the S-300. This will lead to escalations neither country wants.

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