By Sergei L. Loiko
April 17, 2014, 3:31 a.m.
MOSCOW — Russia may invade southeast Ukraine to protect the local population, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
Speaking live at his annual call-in show in a Moscow television studio, Putin implied he reserves the right to move Russian troops into the neighboring country on behalf of pro-Russian residents.
“We know quite well that we must do our best to protect their rights and help them independently decide their fate and we will struggle for that,” Putin said. “I remind you that the Federation Council of Russia [the upper house of Parliament] empowered the president to use the armed forces in Ukraine.”
But Putin added that he hoped he would not have to resort to that.
This year, for the first time in the history of the Marine Corps, the graduation class at its infantry training course will include women.
Fifteen women voluntarily began the training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on September 24. On Thursday, three of them will graduate from the course, a milestone for women seeking equality in the Armed Forces, according to Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine Corps spokeswoman.
A fourth woman finished the course, but was injured and couldn’t pass the required combat fitness test. She will be allowed to graduate once she heals and passes that test.
The women went through the same physically grueling exercises as the male Marines, including carry 90 pounds of combat gear on a 12.5-mile march, Krebs said.
They also had to perform three pull ups, just as the men did. For ordinary Marine Corps physical fitness tests, women can choose either the pull up or something called a “flew arm hang.”
This is part of Marine Corps research regarding the capability of women to serve in infantry units. Since last year, 10 women officers have entered Marine infantry officer training at Marine Base Quantico, Virginia. So far none of the officers have completed that course.
However, the women who passed the enlisted course will not join infantry units. They instead will be sent to non-combat jobs throughout the Corps.
Pentagon officials on Thursday formally unveiled new sexual assault policies designed to bolster victim resources and blunt criticism that the military is ill-equipped to handle the sensitive crimes.
But the moves appear unlikely to appease lawmakers who have been calling for a dramatic overhaul of military sexual assault cases, starting with taking the legal responsibilities out of the chain of command.
In a memo to staff, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called sexual assault “a stain on the honor of our men and women who honorably serve our country, as well as a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force.”
The new policies include creation of a new legal advocacy program to provide assistance to victims in sexual assault litigation and exploration of ways to give victims more input in the sentencing phase of courts-martial.
They will also mandate more monitoring of sexual assault incidents, both in “timely” follow-up reports by generals or flag officers and additional investigations by the Defense Department’s inspector general.
The Pentagon also recently established an independent panel to review the entire sexual assault military legal process, including how investigations and prosecutions are carried out. Congress has mandated creation of that review board
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel Jessica Wright said the changes show “an unprecedented level of senior level engagement on these issues” and a commitment by senior leaders to help victims seek justice.
“The bottom line is that sexual assault is not tolerated, it’s not condoned, and it’s not ignored,” she said.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has insisted he will not resign as a deadline to break political deadlock nears and violence threatens to billow as democracy is tested in a region that is vastly changing.
At least 23 people were killed in the Cairo Tuesday in clashes between Morsi’s opponents and supporters, the Associated Press reported. Many of the deaths occurred after gunfire erupted outside Cairo University in Giza, where pro-Morsi demonstrators gathered to show support for the president.
On Monday, the armed forces gave a 48-hour deadline — set to expire today — for politicians to meet the people’s demands or it will implement a “road map” for the nation’s future.
The escalation of violence followed three days of unprecedented unrest that has surged since Sunday, when millions of people clogged Egypt’s streets to demand that Morsi step down amid calls for an early presidential election. The protests then remained largely peaceful.
Global military spending dipped last year for the first time since 1998 as defense outlays shrank in the West but rose in Russia, China and the Middle East, a Swedish-based arms watchdog said Monday.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said the world spent $1.75 trillion on its armed forces in 2012, down 0.5 percent from the year before.
The fall, driven by spending cuts in the U.S. and other NATO nations, was partially offset by increases elsewhere. Military spending rose by 7.8 percent in China and by 16 percent in Russia, while Oman’s 51-percent boost was the biggest percentage increase in the world, SIPRI said.
“We are seeing what may be the beginning of a shift in the balance of world military spending from the rich Western countries to emerging regions,” SIPRI researcher Sam Perlo-Freeman said in a statement. The drop in the West was linked to austerity policies and the drawdown in Afghanistan, he added.
Immigrants have served with honor in the U.S. armed forces since the Revolutionary War. But in what is believed to be a first, the Army has crowned as its top soldier and an enlistee who was not a U.S. citizen at birth.
The honoree, Sgt. Saral Shrestha, 24, grew up wanting to serve in the police or the military in his native Nepal. According to news accounts, he instead immigrated to the United States at his mother’s urging to further his education. After studying computer science at Bellevue University in Nebraska, he joined the Army in 2009 through a pilot program designed to recruit highly skilled immigrants for positions requiring special medical and language skills. (Shrestha speaks five languages, including Urdu, which is spoken in much of Pakistan.)
For immigrants, a prime benefit of the program is the ability to naturalize after completing basic training—although they can lose their citizenship if they fail to complete a designated number of years in service. Although Shrestha will soon be eligible for discharge, he reportedly has no plans to leave the Army. He instead hopes to obtain a master’s degree in computer science, attend officer training school, and become a member of the Army’s Special Forces.
Read it all here.
Japan Defense Perimeter 1941
For an operational concept that has never been published, the U.S. military’s AirSea Battle doctrine has elicited some fiery commentary. Or maybe it stokes controversy precisely because the armed forces haven’t made it official. Its details are subject to speculation. The chief source of information about it remains an unclassified, unofficial study published in 2010 by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The debate over AirSea Battle swirls mostly around technology and whether the doctrine is aimed at China. To answer the latter question first: Yes, it is about China. It has to be.
This is no prophecy of doom. From a political standpoint, war with China is neither inevitable nor all that likely. But military people plan against the most formidable capabilities they may encounter. And from an operational standpoint, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) presents the sternest “anti-access” challenge of any prospective antagonist. Either strategists, planners and warfighters prepare for the hardest case, or the United States must write off important regions or options.
The PLA thus represents the benchmark for U.S. military success in maritime Asia, by most accounts today’s crucible of great-power competition. Other potential opponents, notably the Iranian military, fall into what the Pentagon terms “lesser-included” challenges. If U.S. forces can pierce the toughest anti-access defenses out there—if they can crack the hardest nut—the softer defenses erected by weaker opponents will prove manageable.
That focus on anti-access is why AirSea Battle is about China—because it’s the gold standard, not because anyone expects, let alone wants, war in the Western Pacific.
A Fox News report Friday night suggested that the Democratic National Committee and President Obama’s campaign were suing to strip voting privileges from members of the military and their families in Ohio, even though the lawsuit in no way cuts back on that group’s voting rights.
“If President Obama gets his way, the special voting rights of some of America’s finest will be eliminated,” host Shannon Bream said. “The campaign is suing to keep members of the military from having extra time to cast their ballots in one key battlegound state.”
In actuality, the complaint filed by the Obama campaign would reinstate special voting rights that, until recently, extended to all Ohioans and not just those serving in the armed forces.
The issue stems from the Republican-controlled legislature’s decision late last year to alter early voting procedures. In the past, all voters could cast ballots in the days immediately prior to the election. But under the new law, only members of the military would be allowed to vote through the Monday immediately before the election, while early voting for non-military citizens would end the previous Friday.
The screaming continues (the bolding is mine):
President Barack Obama, along with many Democrats, likes to say that, while they may disagree with the GOP on many issues related to national security, they absolutely share their admiration and dedication to members of our armed forces. Obama, in particular, enjoys being seen visiting troops and having photos taken with members of our military. So, why is his campaign and the Democrat party suing to restrict their ability to vote in the upcoming election?
On July 17th, the Obama for America Campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in OH to strike down part of that state’s law governing voting by members of the military. Their suit said that part of the law is “arbitrary” with “no discernible rational basis.”
Currently, Ohio allows the public to vote early in-person up until the Friday before the election. Members of the military are given three extra days to do so. While the Democrats may see this as “arbitrary” and having “no discernible rational basis,” I think it is entirely reasonable given the demands on servicemen and women’s time and their obligations to their sworn duty.
breitbart.com is so focused on emulating Fox News and doing their damnedest to confirm their bias, their eye sight has become irreversibly myopic, and like the beginnings of a bad migraine suffers from tunnel vision.
They believe that the Obama administration is trying to eliminate the extra three days of voting users of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA) gets when compared to the non-UOCAVA.
Here is what is really happening:
Taken directly from the complaint.
“…Amended Substitute House Bill Number 194 (‘HB194’), Amended Substitute House Bill Number 224 (‘HB 224’) and SubstituteSenate Bill Number 295 (‘SB 295’), all enacted by the 129thOhio General Assembly, impose different deadlines for in-person voting prior to Election Day(‘early voting’) on similarly situated voters. Prior to the enactment of these laws,there was a single uniform deadline of the Monday before Election Day for in- person early voting. After the enactment of these laws, voters using the Uniformedand Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (‘UOCAVA’) may vote early in-personat a board of elections office up through the Monday before Election Day, whilenon-UOCAVA voters can vote early in-person at a board of elections office (or designated alternate site) only up until 6 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day”
In other words, at one time both the military and non-military could vote up until the Monday before the election. After the enactment of Bill #194 only the military were able to vote up until Monday. Everyone else were limited to voting up until the Friday prior to that Monday.
“Then, after Ohio citizens exercised their right to hold a referendum vote on HB 194 by qualifying for the general election ballot, the Ohio General Assembly passed SB 295 to repeal HB194, but failed to also repeal the corresponding ‘technical corrections’ made by HB224 in the interim.”
Here is the quote the amazing scholars at breitbart.com put in their article.
“Whether caused by legislative error or partisan motivation, theresult of this legislative process is arbitrary and inequitable treatment of similarly-situated Ohio voters with respect to in-person early voting.”
Back to the complaint:
“Now, as a result of HB 224 and SB 295, most Ohio voters will not be permitted to vote in the three days prior to Election Day for no apparent reason.”
“Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction prohibiting Defendantsfrom implementing or enforcing the HB 224 and SB 295 changes to Ohio Rev. Code§ 3509.03, thereby restoring in-person absentee voting on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all Ohio voters.”
Some clarifications are needed because of the way the the three Bills, #194, #224, #295 played out.
Bill #194 was signed into Law July 1, 2011 and supposed to go into effect September 30, 2011. Because the law was to remove the three day advanced voting from the non-military, a number of lawmakers gathered enough signatures for a referendum, which is to be held November 2012. It (Bill #194) isn’t in effect until that referendum.
In the meantime, Bill #224 signed into law July 27, 2011 made some corrections that eased restrictions for military, but kept the restrictions for others.
Bill #295 repealed some of the restrictions in Bill #194, it did not repeal the laws in #224 that were just a technical rewrite of those in Bill #194.
The Dems have proposals that will restore the 3 days for non-military to match those of the military, so all voters will be able to vote until Monday.
Opposite to what the geniuses at Breitbart report, the complaint will not remove early voting rights for the military, it will allow others to vote until the Monday before the election.
NOTE: My use of label ‘military’ actually means the users of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA).
It’s another mass murderer in a spider hole somewhere.
Syrian President Bashar Assad urged his military Wednesday to boost its fight against rebels, but his written call to arms only deepened a mystery over his whereabouts two weeks after a bomb penetrated his inner circle.
Assad has not spoken publicly since the July 18 bombing killed four of his top security officials — including his brother-in-law — during a rebel assault on the capital, Damascus. The president’s low profile has raised questions about whether he fears for his personal safety as the civil war escalates dramatically.
The United States called the Syrian president a coward for marshaling his forces from the pages of the army’s official magazine.
“We think it’s cowardly, quite frankly, to have a man hiding out of sight, exhorting his armed forces to continue to slaughter the civilians of his own country,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.