TBR News April 28, 2017

Apr 28 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. April 28, 2017: “I have no doubt Trump is a sincere man but he is inexperienced with high-pressure top level American national and international politics. After winning the election with promises to his voters, he is being pushed and pulled by the power brokers to act as they wish. The military, hungry for money, wants always to expand and its expansions involve threats and controlled warfare. Many in the business and banking communities profit from such behavior and so they support the military wholeheartedly. That the public might not is a subject for heated discussion inside the Beltway. Their answer to their critics would be to jail them at best and kill  or imprison them at worst. There are extensive plans extant to do just that in the event there is a reprise of the national resistance to the Vietnam war. The motto,”Be Prepared” is one the Boy Scouts have but it can, and should, be applied to an angry public as well.”

Table of Contents

  • Exclusive: Trump says ‘major, major’ conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy
  • Phony Hysterics Over North Korea
  • Is a second Korean War imminent?
  • The Rise of the Generals
  • America’s War-Fighting Footprint in Africa
  • How Saudi Arabia Tricked American Veterans
  • US Marines could deploy robots and ‘HyperSubs’ to storm future beaches
  • Formerly Imprisoned Journalist Barrett Brown Taken Back Into Custody Before PBS Interview
  • ‘Terrible affront to 1st Amendment’: Journalist Barrett Brown re-arrested amid media tour

 Exclusive: Trump says ‘major, major’ conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy

April 28, 2017

by Stephen J. Adler, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason


WASHINGTON-U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday.

Nonetheless, Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve a crisis that has bedeviled multiple U.S. presidents, a path that he and his administration are emphasizing by preparing a variety of new economic sanctions while not taking the military option off the table.

“We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” he said.

In other highlights of the 42-minute interview, Trump was cool to speaking again with Taiwan’s president after an earlier telephone call with her angered China.

He also said he wants South Korea to pay the cost of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system, which he estimated at $1 billion, and intends to renegotiate or terminate a U.S. free trade pact with South Korea because of a deep trade deficit with Seoul.

Asked when he would announce his intention to renegotiate the pact, Trump said: “Very soon. I’m announcing it now.”

Trump also said he was considering adding stops to Israel and Saudi Arabia to a Europe trip next month, emphasizing that he wanted to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace. He complained that Saudi Arabia was not paying its fair share for U.S. defense.

Asked about the fight against Islamic State, Trump said the militant group had to be defeated.

“I have to say, there is an end. And it has to be humiliation,” he said, when asked about what the endgame was for defeating Islamist violent extremism.


Trump said North Korea was his biggest global challenge. He lavished praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for Chinese assistance in trying to rein in Pyongyang. The two leaders met in Florida earlier this month.

“I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death. He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well.

“With that being said, he loves China and he loves the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps it’s possible that he can’t,” Trump said.

Trump spoke just a day after he and his top national security advisers briefed U.S. lawmakers on the North Korean threat and one day before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press the United Nations Security Council on sanctions to further isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

The Trump administration on Wednesday declared North Korea “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority.” It said it was focusing on economic and diplomatic pressure, including Chinese cooperation in containing its defiant neighbor and ally, and remained open to negotiations.

U.S. officials said military strikes remained an option but played down the prospect, though the administration has sent an aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine to the region in a show of force.

Any direct U.S. military action would run the risk of massive North Korean retaliation and huge casualties in Japan and South Korea and among U.S. forces in both countries.


Trump, asked if he considered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be rational, said he was operating from the assumption that he is rational. He noted that Kim had taken over his country at an early age.

“He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age.

“I’m not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I’m just saying that’s a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he’s rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he’s rational,” he said.

Trump, sipping a Coke delivered by an aide after the president ordered it by pressing a button on his desk, rebuffed an overture from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who told Reuters a direct phone call with Trump could take place again after their first conversation in early December angered Beijing.

China considers neighboring Taiwan to be a renegade province.

“My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi,” said Trump. “I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation. So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him.

“So I would certainly want to speak to him first.”

Trump also said he hoped to avoid a potential government shutdown amid a dispute between congressional Republicans and Democrats over a spending deal with a Saturday deadline looming.

But he said if a shutdown takes place, it will be the Democrats’ fault for trying to add money to the legislation to “bail out Puerto Rico” and other items.

He also defended the one-page tax plan he unveiled on Wednesday from criticism that it would increase the U.S. deficit, saying better trade deals and economic growth would offset the costs.

“We will do trade deals that are going to make up for a tremendous amount of the deficit. We are going to be doing trade deals that are going to be much better trade deals,” Trump said.

(Editing by Ross Colvin)

 Phony Hysterics Over North Korea

Threat inflation is the name of the game

April 28, 2017

by Justin Raimondo,


A lot of my job as editorial director of Antiwar.com is cutting through the veil of obfuscation with which the War Party masks its ill intentions. But sometimes you don’t even have to read between the lines to see what our conniving rulers are up to. Such is the case with the current war scare around North Korea.

President Trump is playing this for all it’s worth, summoning the Senate to a special conclave at the White House to inform them of the supposedly dire threat. This ostentatious display was preceded by a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee at which Admiral Harry Harris, in charge of the US Pacific Command, sounded the alarm:

“Kim Jong-Un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today, in my opinion. I have suggested that we consider putting interceptors in Hawaii that . . . defend (it) directly, and that we look at a defensive Hawaii radar.”

The idea that the North Korean despot is going to pull off another Pearl Harbor is so off the wall that one has to wonder what the Admiral is smoking. To begin with, the North Koreans don’t have the technical capacity to reach Hawaii: their most recent test, reportedly of a medium range ballistic missile, failed on launch. Another failure of a medium range missile test occurred earlier in the month, when the rocket went haywire in the skies and exploded in a fiery crash in the sea. And in March, they chalked up two failures, when they fired a flurry of test missiles, only four of which landed 160 miles off the coast of Japan, and another of a medium range missile that “exploded within seconds of launch.”

They didn’t do much better in 2016, with a whole string of failures that limn their infamous 2006 “nuclear” test – which was either a fizzle or a fake.

While Kim Jong-un’s propaganda machine either makes ridiculously inflated claims of its military prowess, or else keeps silent when their missiles explode, the US propaganda machine is working overtime to pump up the alleged threat from Pyongyang. Although there is no evidence to support the claim that these North Korean failures were the result of US sabotage, there’s been much speculation to this effect – a contention that simultaneously inflates both the danger posed by Kim Jong-un’s regime and the supposed near omnipotence of American power.

It’s all hype. North Korea cannot even feed its own people. Despite the seriocomic pretensions of its propagandists, the country’s level of technological development is primitive, at best. A photo of Kim Jong-un sitting in front of a computer that looks like something out of the 1950s is hardly a testament to the wonders of North Korean technology.

Not that the very real possibility of war with North Korea is a laughing matter, but the reality is that the threat is not to the United States. Kim Jong-un can’t hit Hawaii, or the Pacific coast of the United States: however, he can hit Seoul. North Korean artillery are thirty miles away from that city of several million, and within six minutes of the commencement of hostilities the South Korean capital would be engulfed in a sea of fire.

American officials, including the President, keep reiterating that “all options are on the table,” but that’s nonsense: millions would die in the event of war, including most of the 38,000 US troops we have stationed on the Korean peninsula. Trump once proposed withdrawing these sitting ducks, but the outcry from the War Party was so great that he has completely reversed his position. As the McClatchy News piece linked above puts it in the final graph:

“After Trump’s election, there had been concerns that he would follow through on campaign threats to withdraw American troops if the two countries don’t pay a larger share of the cost.”

There’s no chance of that happening now, and yet the presence of American troops – in effect, an occupying force – is both strategically absurd and the main source of tension on the peninsula. The US presence serves no military purpose, since the North Koreans have the fourth largest army on earth, with over 1 million men at arms. Our soldiers there are merely sitting ducks.

Kim Jong-un, and his father and grandfather before him, have been ranting and raving for decades, vowing to destroy the “imperialists” and threatening to attack the United States. Their crazy rhetoric, however, is not backed up by anything approaching a credible means to accomplish that goal: it’s pure bluster, meant to frighten their own people into submissiveness and deter an attack on their own territory. However, they do pose a very real threat to South Korea, which will be the battleground in any conflict between the Communist regime and the US. What’s amazing, at least to me, is the willingness of US officials to repeatedly state that the possibility of war is “on the table” without any regard for the fate of the South Koreans, who would be the main victims of such a horrific eventuality.

Indeed, resentment of the US military presence is widespread. This may have something to do with the flippant manner with which Washington treats the “option” of sacrificing millions of South Koreans without a second thought. As Trump bellowed belligerently over Twitter, declaring that the US would “take care of the problem” if China failed to do so,” fear spread throughout South Korea that war was imminent. The remarkable tone deafness of the Americans was criticized by the leading candidate for the South Korean presidency, Moon Jae-in, who had this to say:

“The safety of South Korea is as important as that of the United States. There should never be a preemptive strike without South Korean consent.”

Moon, who is ahead in the polls, is likely to be the next President of South Korea. He has pledged to restore the so-called “Sunshine Policy,” visit North Korea, establish economic relations, and work toward a negotiated settlement with the North. This is in direct contradiction to the statements of Vice President Mike Pence, who announced on his recent trip to the region that “the era of strategic patience is over.” He might want to ask the South Korean people about that.

Is a second Korean War imminent?

A military build-up, bellicose rhetoric and the risk of nuclear war are ratcheting up tensions in Northeast Asia. The US is tied in a strategic knot and N. Korea is not backing down as diplomacy and deterrence collide.

April 27, 2017

by Wesley Rahn


There are storm clouds gathering over the Korean peninsula. Whether it is the belligerent statements from the regime in Pyongyang, windy bravado from the Trump administration or regular missile tests and naval drills, there is concern around the world that a tipping point is about to be reached.

US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech last week aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan docked in Japan and said “the sword stands ready” when warning North Korea not to test US military resolve, adding that the US would respond with “overwhelming force” if attacked.

A few days later in response to US-Japanese naval drills in the Philippine Sea, the North Korean regime’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said “our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.”

After it was announced that the same USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group would set sail to the waters off the coast of the Korean peninsula, North Korea responded by saying the deployment was “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war.”

The Vinson will join the USS Michigan, a submarine equipped with up to 144 Tomahawk missiles, which arrived at the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday.

A deadly game of risk

So far, the latest tensions have yet to break the status quo, but there is a growing new flashpoint in the region that cannot be underestimated. North Korea’s military capability is incrementally getting stronger and there is no sign that the regime will change the aggressive posturing that it sees as necessary to its survival.

On Tuesday, the North Korean military celebrated its 85th anniversary with a massive display of firepower. According to North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, it was the country’s “largest ever” live-fire drill involving more than 300 large-caliber artillery pieces and submarine torpedo attacks on mock warships. KCNA said the drill demonstrated the regime’s will to “pour a merciless rain of fire on the reckless imperialist US and its dirty followers.”

Adding pressure is a more aggressive and provocative US foreign policy stance under President Trump, who said in an interview last month that the US would act unilaterally if necessary against North Korea. He also insinuated that preemptive military action was an option to counter Pyongyang’s production of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the US.

“The difference between Trump and Kim Jong Un is that Trump has no larger plan regarding North Korea and no nuanced view of when, how, why or how long military force is useful or effective,” Katharine Moon, Chair of Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution, told DW.

“Kim has a larger plan, regime survival, maintenance of national pride, and resistance to US power. Trump changes his mind regularly; Kim does not,” she added.

“People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem,” said President Trump at a meeting Monday with UN Security Council ambassadors during a discussion on new North Korean sanctions.

On Wednesday, the US announced that it was installing the controversial THAAD missile defense system at deployment sites located south of Seoul. Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC, the top US commander in the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris said that the system would be operational in a few days.

In response to the threatening statements from Pyongyang, Harris also said that North Korea didn’t have a weapon that could threaten the Vinson battle group. “If it flies, it will die,” he said, referring to an attack on US warships.

North Korea’s Defense Minister Pak Yong Sik said Monday during a “national meeting” in Pyongyang attended by thousands of officials that the country would use preemptive strikes to defend itself.

“I don’t believe this level of tension is unprecedented,” Roy Kamphausen, Director of the Washington office of the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), told DW. “In 1994, the risk of conflict seemed much higher, at least in part because the DPRK did not have a track record of bluffing and threatening as it now has for the last 20 years.”

In June 1994, the US during the Clinton administration was close to striking the North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, before a diplomatic solution eased tensions.

More strategic patience will be needed

Despite threats of force, there are major limits for the US to acting preemptively when millions of people around Seoul are in range of conventional North Korean artillery, which is a simple, yet effective weapon.

“North Korea’s artillery could inflict significant damage on Seoul,” Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association in Washington, told DW. “The country possesses a number of systems that are concentrated along the DMZ. Estimates put the number of artillery pieces at more than 11,000.”

Davenport added that although the systems are aging and have a high failure rate, some could reach Seoul. Specifically, 300 mm multiple launch rocket systems can fire into the center of the capital. According to the US strategy think tank Stratfor, if every one of these were fired, a single volley could “deliver more than 350 metric tons of explosives across the South Korean capital, roughly the same amount of ordnance dropped by 11 B-52 bombers.”

“Pyongyang doesn’t need sophisticated new weapons to confront us with the sort of risk no one will be eager to take; their old ones still work just fine,” John Schilling from the North Korea think tank 38 North wrote in a recent report.

A new kind of diplomacy?

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday to discuss imposing further sanctions on North Korea. But most experts agree that the current diplomatic approach has failed miserably.

And amid the brave talk over the past week from Trump and Pence, action from the US resembles the same strategy of containment, diplomatic pressure and sanctions that have been the hallmarks of staggered US policy on North Korea for decades.

Moon said an untried strategy would be to isolate the regime with diplomatic sanctions and mobilize the General Assembly of the UN to suspend North Korea’s participation, which would restrict its access and importance.

“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Trump told the UN Security Council ambassadors on Monday.

On Wednesday, Trump addressed the entire US Senate at an unprecedented meeting on North Korea at the White House and said the administration would be relying on Chinese economic leverage to pressure North Korea. On the same day, it was announced that the US would be tightening sanctions on Pyongyang.

“US military buildup so far is not part of a larger strategy, so it’s not clear what the end game is for the US,” said Moon, adding that the stated aim is to force North Korea to give up its nuclear program through military and economic pressure.

“That was the same ultimate goal for the administrations of George W. Bush, Obama, and now Trump,” said Moon. “The Carl Vinson strike group cannot stay at the DPRK’s doorstep indefinitely.”

Satellite imagery of North Korea’s nuclear test sites analyzed earlier this month by 38 North concluded that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site “appears able to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time once the order is received from Pyongyang.”

For the time being, the Korean knot remains firmly tied.

The Rise of the Generals

April 28, 2017

by Patrick J. Buchanan


Has President Donald Trump outsourced foreign policy to the generals?

So it would seem. Candidate Trump held out his hand to Vladimir Putin. He rejected further U.S. intervention in Syria other than to smash ISIS.

He spoke of getting out and staying out of the misbegotten Middle East wars into which Presidents Bush II and Obama had plunged the country.

President Trump’s seeming renunciation of an anti-interventionist foreign policy is the great surprise of the first 100 days, and the most ominous. For any new war could vitiate the Trump mandate and consume his presidency.

Trump no longer calls NATO “obsolete,” but moves U.S. troops toward Russia in the Baltic and eastern Balkans. Rex Tillerson, holder of Russia’s Order of Friendship, now warns that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Russia until she gets out of Ukraine.

If Tillerson is not bluffing, that would rule out any rapprochement in the Trump presidency. For neither Putin, nor any successor, could surrender Crimea and survive.

What happened to the Trump of 2016?

When did Kiev’s claim to Crimea become more crucial to us than a cooperative relationship with a nuclear-armed Russia? In 1991, Bush I and Secretary of State James Baker thought the very idea of Ukraine’s independence was the product of a “suicidal nationalism.”

Where do we think this demonization of Putin and ostracism of Russia is going to lead?

To get Xi Jinping to help with our Pyongyang problem, Trump has dropped all talk of befriending Taiwan, backed off Tillerson’s warning to Beijing to vacate its fortified reefs in the South China Sea, and held out promises of major concessions to Beijing in future trade deals.

“I like (Xi Jinping) and I believe he likes me a lot,” Trump said this week. One recalls FDR admonishing Churchill, “I think I can personally handle Stalin better than … your Foreign Office … Stalin hates the guts of all your people. He thinks he likes me better.”

FDR did not live to see what a fool Stalin had made of him.

Among the achievements celebrated in Trump’s first 100 days are the 59 cruise missiles launched at the Syrian airfield from which the gas attack on civilians allegedly came, and the dropping of the 22,000-pound MOAB bomb in Afghanistan.

But what did these bombings accomplish?

The War Party seems again ascendant. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are happy campers. In Afghanistan, the U.S. commander is calling for thousands more U.S. troops to assist the 8,500 still there, to stabilize an Afghan regime and army that is steadily losing ground to the Taliban.

Iran is back on the front burner. While Tillerson concedes that Tehran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump says it is violating “the spirit of the agreement.”

How so? Says Tillerson, Iran is “destabilizing” the region, and threatening U.S. interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

But Iran is an ally of Syria and was invited in to help the U.N.-recognized government put down an insurrection that contains elements of al-Qaida and ISIS. It is we, the Turks, Saudis and Gulf Arabs who have been backing the rebels seeking to overthrow the regime.

In Yemen, Houthi rebels overthrew and expelled a Saudi satrap. The bombing, blockading and intervention with troops is being done by Saudi and Sunni Arabs, assisted by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

It is we and the Saudis who are talking of closing the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which could bring on widespread starvation.

It was not Iran, but the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew the Baghdad regime and occupied the country. It was not Iran that overthrew Col. Gadhafi and created the current disaster in Libya.

Monday, the USS Mahan fired a flare to warn off an Iranian patrol boat, 1,000 meters away. Supposedly, this was a provocation. But Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif had a point when he tweeted:

“Breaking: Our Navy operates in – yes, correct – the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home.”

Who is behind the seeming conversion of Trump to hawk?

The generals, Bibi Netanyahu and the neocons, Congressional hawks with Cold War mindsets, the Saudi royal family and the Gulf Arabs – they are winning the battle for the president’s mind.

And their agenda for America?

We are to recognize that our true enemy in the Mideast is not al-Qaida or ISIS, but Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, Assad’s Syria and his patron, Putin. And until Hezbollah is eviscerated, Assad is gone, and Iran is smashed the way we did Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, the flowering of Middle East democracy that we all seek cannot truly begin.

But before President Trump proceeds along the path laid out for him by his generals, brave and patriotic men that they are, he should discover if any of them opposed any of the idiotic wars of the last 15 years, beginning with that greatest of strategic blunders – George Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

America’s War-Fighting Footprint in Africa

Secret U.S. Military Documents Reveal a Constellation of American Military Bases Across That Continent

April 28, 2017

by Nick Turse


General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy.  “I would just say, they are on the ground.  They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa.  “We watch what they do with great concern.”

And Russians aren’t the only foreigners on Waldhauser’s mind.  He’s also wary of a Chinese “military base” being built not far from Camp Lemonnier, a large U.S. facility in the tiny, sun-blasted nation of Djibouti.  “They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of… a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be,” he said.  “There are some very significant… operational security concerns.”

At that press conference, Waldhauser mentioned still another base, an American one exposed by the Washington Post last October in an article titled, “U.S. has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa.”  Five months later, the AFRICOM commander still sounded aggrieved.  “The Washington Post story that said ‘flying from a secret base in Tunisia.’  It’s not a secret base and it’s not our base… We have no intention of establishing a base there.”

Waldhauser’s insistence that the U.S. had no base in Tunisia relied on a technicality, since that foreign airfield clearly functions as an American outpost. For years, AFRICOM has peddled the fiction that Djibouti is the site of its only “base” in Africa. “We continue to maintain one forward operating site on the continent, Camp Lemonnier,” reads the command’s 2017 posture statement.  Spokespeople for the command regularly maintain that any other U.S. outposts are few and transitory — “expeditionary” in military parlance.

While the U.S. maintains a vast empire of military installations around the world, with huge — and hard to miss — complexes throughout Europe and Asia, bases in Africa have been far better hidden.  And if you listened only to AFRICOM officials, you might even assume that the U.S. military’s footprint in Africa will soon be eclipsed by that of the Chinese or the Russians.

Highly classified internal AFRICOM files offer a radically different picture.  A set of previously secret documents, obtained by TomDispatch via the Freedom of Information Act, offers clear evidence of a remarkable, far-ranging, and expanding network of outposts strung across the continent.  In official plans for operations in 2015 that were drafted and issued the year before, Africa Command lists 36 U.S. outposts scattered across 24 African countries.  These include low-profile locations — from Kenya to South Sudan to a shadowy Libyan airfield — that have never previously been mentioned in published reports.  Today, according to an AFRICOM spokesperson, the number of these sites has actually swelled to 46, including “15 enduring locations.”  The newly disclosed numbers and redacted documents contradict more than a decade’s worth of dissembling by U.S. Africa Command and shed new light on a constellation of bases integral to expanding U.S. military operations on the African continent and in the Middle East.

A Constellation of Bases

AFRICOM failed to respond to repeated requests for further information about the 46 bases, outposts, and staging areas currently dotting the continent.  Nonetheless, the newly disclosed 2015 plans offer unique insights into the wide-ranging network of outposts, a constellation of bases that already provided the U.S. military with unprecedented continental reach.

Those documents divide U.S. bases into three categories: forward operating sites (FOSes), cooperative security locations (CSLs), and contingency locations (CLs).  “In total, [the fiscal year 20]15 proposed posture will be 2 FOSes, 10 CSLs, and 22 CLs” state the documents.  By spring 2015, the number of CSLs had already increased to 11, according to then-AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez, in order to allow U.S. crisis-response forces to reach potential hot spots in West Africa.  An appendix to the plan, also obtained by TomDispatch, actually lists 23 CLs, not 22.  Another appendix mentions one additional contingency location.

These outposts — of which forward operating sites are the most permanent and contingency locations the least so — form the backbone of U.S. military operations on the continent and have been expanding at a rapid rate, particularly since the September 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  The plans also indicate that the U.S. military regularly juggles locations, shuttering sites and opening others, while upgrading contingency locations to cooperative security locations in response to changing conditions like, according to the documents, “increased threats emanating from the East, North-West, and Central regions” of the continent.

AFRICOM’s 2017 posture statement notes, for example, a recent round of changes to the command’s inventory of posts.  The document explains that the U.S. military “closed five contingency locations and designated seven new contingency locations on the continent due to shifting requirements and identified gaps in our ability to counter threats and support ongoing operations.”  Today, according to AFRICOM spokesman Chuck Prichard, the total number of sites has jumped from the 36 cited in the 2015 plans to 46 — a network now consisting of two forward operating sites, 13 cooperative security locations, and 31 contingency locations.

Location, Location, Location

AFRICOM’s sprawling network of bases is crucial to its continent-wide strategy of training the militaries of African proxies and allies and conducting a multi-front campaign aimed at combating a disparate and spreading collection of terror groups.  The command’s major areas of effort involve: a shadow war against the militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia (a long-term campaign, ratcheting up in the Trump era, with no end in sight); attempts to contain the endless fallout from the 2011 U.S. and allied military intervention that ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi (a long-term effort with no end in sight); the neutralizing of “violent extremist organizations” across northwest Africa, the lands of the Sahel and Maghreb (a long-term effort with no end in sight); the degradation of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin nations of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad (a long-term effort — to the tune of $156 million last year alone in support of regional proxies there — with no end in sight); countering piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (a long-term effort with no end in sight), and winding down the wildly expensive effort to eliminate Joseph Kony and his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa (both live on, despite a long-term U.S. effort).

The U.S. military’s multiplying outposts are also likely to prove vital to the Trump administration’s expanding wars in the Middle East.  African bases have long been essential, for instance, to Washington’s ongoing shadow war in Yemen, which has seen a significant increase in drone strikes under the Trump administration.  They have also been integral to operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where a substantial (and deadly) uptick in U.S. airpower (and civilian casualties) has been evident in recent months.

In 2015, AFRICOM spokesman Anthony Falvo noted that the command’s “strategic posture and presence are premised on the concept of a tailored, flexible, light footprint that leverages and supports the posture and presence of partners and is supported by expeditionary infrastructure.” The declassified secret documents explicitly state that America’s network of African bases is neither insignificant nor provisional.  “USAFRICOM’s posture requires a network of enduring and non-enduring locations across the continent,” say the 2015 plans.  “A developed network of FOSes, CSLs, and non-enduring CLs in key countries… is necessary to support the command’s operations and engagements.”

According to the files, AFRICOM’s two forward operating sites are Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier and a base on the United Kingdom’s Ascension Island off the west coast of Africa.  Described as “enduring locations” with a sustained troop presence and “U.S.-owned real property,” they serve as hubs for staging missions across the continent and for supplying the growing network of outposts there.

Lemonnier, the crown jewel of America’s African bases, has expanded from 88 acres to about 600 acres since 2002, and in those years, the number of personnel there has increased exponentially as well. “Camp Lemonnier serves as a hub for multiple operations and security cooperation activities,” reads AFRICOM’s 2017 posture statement.  “This base is essential to U.S. efforts in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.”  Indeed, the formerly secret documents note that the base supports “U.S operations in Somalia CT [counterterrorism], Yemen CT, Gulf of Aden (counter-piracy), and a wide range of Security Assistance activities and programs throughout the region.”

In 2015, when he announced the increase in cooperative security locations, then-AFRICOM chief David Rodriguez mentioned Senegal, Ghana, and Gabon as staging areas for the command’s rapid reaction forces.  Last June, outgoing U.S. Army Africa commander Major General Darryl Williams drew attention to a CSL in Uganda and one being set up in Botswana, adding, “We have very austere, lean, lily pads, if you will, all over Africa now.”

CSL Entebbe in Uganda has, for example, long been an important air base for American forces in Africa, serving as a hub for surveillance aircraft.  It also proved integral to Operation Oaken Steel, the July 2016 rapid deployment of troops to the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, as that failed state (and failed U.S. nation-building effort) sank into yet more violence.

Libreville, Gabon, is listed in the documents as a “proposed CSL,” but was actually used in 2014 and 2015 as a key base for Operation Echo Casemate, the joint U.S.-French-African military response to unrest in the Central African Republic.

AFRICOM’s 2015 plan also lists cooperative security locations in Accra, Ghana; Gaborone, Botswana; Dakar, Senegal; Douala, Cameroon; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Mombasa, Kenya.  While officially defined by the military as temporary locales capable of being scaled up for larger operations, any of these CSLs in Africa “may also function as a major logistics hub,” according to the documents.

Contingency Plans

The formerly secret AFRICOM files note that the command has designated five contingency locations as “semi-permanent,” 13 as “temporary,” and four as “initial.”  These include a number of sites that have never previously been disclosed, including outposts in several countries that were actually at war when the documents were created.  Listed among the CLs, for instance, is one in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, already in the midst of an ongoing civil war in 2014; one in Bangui, the capital of the periodically unstable Central African Republic; and another in Al-Wigh, a Saharan airfield in southern Libya located near that country’s borders with Niger, Chad, and Algeria.

Officially classified as “non-enduring” locations, CLs are nonetheless among the most integral sites for U.S. operations on the continent.  Today, according to AFRICOM’s Prichard, the 31 contingency locations provide “access to support partners, counter threats, and protect U.S. interests in East, North, and West Africa.”

AFRICOM did not provide the specific locations of the current crop of CLs, stating only that they “strive to increase access in crucial areas.” The 2015 plans, however, provide ample detail on the areas that were most important to the command at that time.  One such site is Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya, also mentioned in a 2013 internal Pentagon study on secret drone operations in Somalia and Yemen.  At least two manned surveillance aircraft were based there at the time.

Chabelley Airfield in Djibouti is also mentioned in AFRICOM’s 2015 plan.  Once a spartan French Foreign Legion post, it has undergone substantial expansion in recent years as U.S. drone operations in that country were moved from Camp Lemonnier to this more remote location.  It soon became a regional hub for unmanned aircraft not just for Africa but also for the Middle East.  By the beginning of October 2015, for example, drones flown from Chabelley had already logged more than 24,000 hours of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and were also, according to the Air Force, “responsible for the neutralization of 69 enemy fighters, including five high-valued individuals” in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

AFRICOM’s inventory of CLs also includes sites in Nzara, South Sudan; Arlit, Niger; both Bamako and Gao, Mali; Kasenyi, Uganda; Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles; Monrovia, Liberia; Ouassa and Nema, Mauritania; Faya Largeau, Chad; Bujumbura, Burundi; Lakipia, the site of a Kenyan Air Force base; and another Kenyan airfield at Wajir that was upgraded and expanded by the U.S. Navy earlier in this decade, as well as an outpost in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, that was reportedly shuttered in 2015 after nearly five years of operation.

A longtime contingency location in Niamey, the capital of Niger, has seen marked growth in recent years as has a more remote location, a Nigerien military base at Agadez, listed among the “proposed” CSLs in the AFRICOM documents.  The U.S. is, in fact, pouring $100 million into building up the base, according to a 2016 investigation by the Intercept.  N’Djamena, Chad, the site of yet another “proposed CSL,” has actually been used by the U.S. military for years.  Troops and a drone were dispatched there in 2014 to aid in operations against Boko Haram and “base camp facilities” were constructed there, too.

The list of proposed CLs also includes sites in Berbera, a town in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, and in Mogadishu, the capital of neighboring Somalia (another locale used by American troops for years), as well as the towns of Baidoa and Bosaso.  These or other outposts are likely to play increasingly important roles as the Trump administration ramps up its military activities in Somalia, the long-failed state that saw 18 U.S. personnel killed in the disastrous “Black Hawk Down” mission of 1993.   Last month, for instance, President Trump relaxed rules aimed at preventing civilian casualties when the U.S. conducts drone strikes and commando raids in that country and so laid the foundation for a future escalation of the war against al-Shabaab there.  This month, AFRICOM confirmed that dozens of soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, a storied light infantry unit, would be deployed to that same country in order to train local forces to, as a spokesperson put it, “better fight” al-Shabaab.

Many other sites previously identified as U.S. outposts or staging areas are not listed in AFRICOM’s 2015 plans, such as bases in Djema, Sam Ouandja, and Obo in the Central African Republic that were revealed, in recent years, by the Washington Post.  Also missing is a newer drone base in Garoua, Cameroon, not to mention that Tunisian air base where the U.S. has been flying drones, according to AFRICOM’s Waldhauser, “for quite some time.”

Some bases may have been shuttered, while others may not yet have been put in service when the documents were produced.  Ultimately, the reasons that these and many other previously identified bases are not included in the redacted secret files are unclear due to AFRICOM’s refusal to offer comment, clarification, or additional information on the locations of its bases.

Base Desires

“Just as the U.S. pursues strategic interests in Africa, international competitors, including China and Russia, are doing the same,” laments AFRICOM in its 2017 posture statement. “We continue to see international competitors engage with African partners in a manner contrary to the international norms of transparency.”

Since it was established as an independent command in 2008, however, AFRICOM itself has been anything but transparent about its activities on the continent.  The command’s physical footprint may, in fact, have been its most jealously guarded secret.  Today, thanks to AFRICOM’s own internal documents, that secret is out and with AFRICOM’s admission that it currently maintains “15 enduring locations,” the long-peddled fiction of a combatant command with just one base in its area of operations has been laid to rest.

“Because of the size of Africa, because of the time and space and the distances, when it comes to special crisis-response-type activities, we need access in various places on the continent,” said AFRICOM chief Waldhauser during his March press conference.  These “various places” have also been integral to escalating American shadow wars, including a full-scale air campaign against the Islamic State in Libya, dubbed Operation Odyssey Lightning, which ended late last year, and ongoing intelligence-gathering missions and a continued U.S. troop presence in that country; drone assassinations and increased troop deployments in Somalia to counter al-Shabaab; and increasing engagement in a proxy war against Boko Haram militants in the Lake Chad region of Central Africa.  For these and many more barely noticed U.S. military missions, America’s sprawling, ever-expanding network of bases provides the crucial infrastructure for cross-continental combat by U.S. and allied forces, a low-profile support system for war-making in Africa and beyond.

Without its wide-ranging constellation of bases, it would be nearly impossible for the U.S. to carry out ceaseless low-profile military activities across the continent.  As a result, AFRICOM continues to prefer shadows to sunlight.  While the command provided figures on the total number of U.S. military bases, outposts, and staging areas in Africa, its spokespeople failed to respond to repeated requests to provide locations for any of the 46 current sites.  While the whereabouts of the new outposts may still be secret, there’s little doubt as to the trajectory of America’s African footprint, which has increased by 10 locations — a 28% jump — in just over two years.

America’s “enduring” African bases “give the United States options in the event of crisis and enable partner capacity building,” according to AFRICOM’s Chuck Prichard.  They have also played a vital role in conflicts from Yemen to Iraq, Nigeria to Somalia.  With the Trump administration escalating its wars in Africa and the Middle East, and the potential for more crises — from catastrophic famines to spreading wars — on the horizon, there’s every reason to believe the U.S. military’s footprint on the continent will continue to evolve, expand, and enlarge in the years ahead, outpost by outpost and base by base.

How Saudi Arabia Tricked American Veterans

The longstanding U.S. ally lobbies Washington with unwitting domestic surrogates.

April 27, 2017

by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

The American Conservartive

WASHINGTON—The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and significant political capital trying to kill a brand-new law that would allow 9/11 survivors to sue the longstanding U.S. ally for its alleged connections to the terror attacks in domestic court. But the latest Saudi tactic—recruiting unaware American veterans to lobby their cause on Capitol Hill—crosses a line and may have run afoul of the law, say critics who have helped to expose the scheme in recent months.

“Lobbying by a foreign government is not necessarily illegal, but it is unethical and underhanded to use our nation’s heroes, our combat veterans, and turn them against the very families that you take an oath to protect,” charged Edward Vento, a Persian Gulf vet from Reno, Nev., who said he was asked “by a friend of a friend” to join a lobbying trip to Washington this winter. He declined.

According to records kept under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), multiple U.S. lobbying firms and individuals have disclosed contracts with the Saudi government to recruit veterans to spread the message on the Hill about the 2016 Justice Against State Sponsored Terrorism Act (JASTA) and its “unintended consequences,” including “potential liabilities arising for U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic personnel.”

Veterans contacted by TAC—even those who went on the fully paid trips to DC involving free hotel rooms (many at the now-legendary Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue), meals, and nights out on the town—say recruits in many cases were misinformed about what JASTA really does, and furthermore, not told at all that Saudi Arabia, the country that would currently have the most to lose if JASTA remains intact, was behind it all.

“I was blatantly lied to,” said Lorraine Barlett, a retired Army JAG officer, who said she was told “several entities” were paying for the trips she took. Barlett said the events were billed as “come support your local service members” in a notice passed along by a friend who was recruiting veterans in Augusta, Ga. She was not told Saudi Arabia was footing most if not all of the bills.

Dave Casler, an Iraq War vet from Sacramento, Calif., said something felt a bit off, but he went on a February trip anyway to “see what I could find out.” He called the experience “bat-shit crazy” with seemingly limitless funds for elaborate dinners and free booze. He told TAC the organizer of his trip, Jason Johns, told participants, unsolicited, that “this was not at all funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Later, Casler recalled another coordinator, clearly intoxicated after a night of indulging, bragging that “the Kingdom” was behind it all.

Casler and others felt they were kept in the dark the whole time. “It’s multiple veterans on multiple trips who have said, ‘I wasn’t told the truth about who was paying for this,’” he said. “People don’t like being lied to or being used.” So far reporters have pieced together six or seven trips with 25–50 vets each.

9/11 Victims’ Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism—the main group pushing for JASTA legislation in hope of getting their day in court against Saudi Arabia—has formally asked the Department of Justice to investigate violations of FARA. The law, which monitors foreign lobbying, requires that American agents working on behalf of “foreign principles,” disclose all monies, missions, and materials associated with their work. The group claims there might have been hundreds of people lobbying on behalf of the Saudi Royal Family or government, including the volunteer veterans, who should have reported their activities. They said any materials given to volunteers or left with members of Congress did not disclose who paid for them. In short, they cite some 10 violations of U.S. code.

“They are going into these offices in Congress and none of them tell members of Congress that they are working on behalf of the Kingdom,” said Terry Strada, who heads the 9/11 Families organization and the Pass JASTA campaign. Her husband Thomas was a senior bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald when he perished in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, leaving behind three children then aged 7, 4, and four days old.

“They had high-ranking, older vets, young vets, purple heart vets—all were misled. It’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve witnessed since 9/11.”

The complaint, sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was dated March 29. When reached by TAC, the Department of Justice press office declined comment.

Meanwhile, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington did not return a request for comment on this story. One of the Washington-based organizers for the trips, Scott Wheeler, whose FARA disclosure says his Capitol Media Group received some $365,000 from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to organize three veterans’ trips at a base fee of $30,000 each plus expenses to lobby against JASTA, spoke with TAC about the allegations by the 9/11 families and others.

“All of this is being turned into something that it is not,” he said. “We gave the material to the veterans to look at and they made their own determination. We did not tell them what to say. No one was misled. This is not a story.”

Wheeler, who is a veteran and longtime Republican media operative and journalist, said he never took the funds directly by the Saudi embassy, but via a Washington firm that recruited him. That firm, Qorvis MSLGroup, is one of over a dozen U.S. lobbying outfits currently on the Saudi payroll to the tune of $1.3 million a month, ostensibly to kill JASTA or at the very least render it harmless to the Kingdom. In 2004, according to reports at the time, the FBI raided Qorvis’s offices during an investigation of its lobbying campaign for Saudi Arabia, which was trying to burnish its image after 9/11.

Qorvis did not return a request for comment on this story. A spokesman for the firm told the Daily Caller, which broke the first story about this issue on February 7, that everything they were doing with the vets was “totally out in the open. This is totally transparent.” In a follow-up story on the DOJ complaint, Qorvis managing director Mike Petruzzello told Yahoo! News reporter Mike Isikoff that the veterans’ complaints that they did not know about Saudi Arabia’s backing of the project “rings hollow to me.”

Retired Air Force Col. George Risse of O’Fallon, Ill., told TAC that he was informed ahead of time that Saudi Arabia was footing the bill. The information led him to do more research on JASTA before he went to DC.

“My only concern was whether they were going to tell me what to say and they said absolutely not,” Risse said of his contacts. He ultimately went on a trip with Johns, a Purple Heart veteran and head of the No Man Left Behind Advocacy Group. Johns received a $100,000 fee from Qorvis to engage in outreach to the media, elected officials, and “influencers” against JASTA. (His memo to vets ahead of the February trip is here.)

“My experience has been they were very up front,” Risse said. “None of our allies thinks JASTA is a good idea.” Like others, he believes the trial lawyers are the only ones benefitting from it. As for Saudi Arabia being behind the trip, “I don’t consider that a problem as long as our interests are aligned.”

Do Saudis and Vets Have the Same Interests?

The Kingdom has been dogged by at least 9,000 lawsuits since 9/11 because survivors like Strada believe they can prove that elements of the government provided material support to the hijackers—15 out of 19 were Saudi—and that the state for years funded the spread the extremist ideology fueling al-Qaeda. While the U.S. government has held that there is “no smoking gun,” lawyers for the survivors believe they have identified enough evidence to let this play out in court, and the Saudis have done everything to avoid that day of reckoning.

In other words, say critics, this anti-JASTA campaign has nothing to do with troops, and everything to do with saving Saudi skins. “There are many layers of deception here, starting with giving veterans a false description of what JASTA is,” said Brian McGlinchey, who publishes the 28Pages.org website, which plumbed FARA records showing the big money trail from the Saudis to dozens of Americans working on their behalf. He has also reached out to veterans via social media to get their stories. “That U.S. veterans could be sued and hauled into foreign courts because of JASTA is just false on the face of it.”

According to Vento, the Reno veteran who declined to participate, recruiters have been setting up shop at trade shows and other events popular with veterans across the country in states as far flung from DC as Nevada, Oklahoma, and Colorado. The pitch is simple: Help your fellow service members. In one photo snapped of a booth at a trade show a banner declares, “Protect our troops from JASTA backlash.” Recruits were told that JASTA could result in service members being sued for war crimes. Leaders tell them the bill is a creature of trial lawyers looking to cash in—that it’s about money, not justice.

“You can see what they are doing—trying to turn [veterans] against the 9/11 families. You’re taking victims of terror and what is perceived as the nation’s heroes, and turning them against each other,” said Vento.

While JASTA passed both the House and Senate last year with large, bipartisan majorities, critics—even those who voted for it—worry the principle of state sovereign immunity is now at risk. JASTA now makes it easier for terrorism-related civil suits against foreign states in domestic courts whether or not they are not on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which Saudi Arabia is not.

Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, as well as a slew of skeptics from both sides of the aisle, warned of a backlash from other countries that could pass their own laws allowing them to drag the U.S. into court over perceived crimes. Barlett, the former Army lawyer, believes it is “a poorly written law” that could result in “a wing ding” of  legislation by other countries in the future, “but there was no merit to the argument that it could hurt military servicemembers”—and she told that to Wheeler, the chief organizer of her two trips. She said the group continued to mislead the other veterans about the impact of the bill, which Wheeler strongly denies.

Barlett also charges that when she asked who was funding the trip, Wheeler would not give her a straight answer. She only found out the truth when the stories broke out in the news.

She said she is “embarrassed” for trusting her friend and going along. “Had I been told on the front end I would have never gone.”

Meanwhile, Tim Cord, speaking with McGlinchey for 28Pages.org, said his entire outlook changed when he was told about the Saudis. To him, their interests are not aligned.

“I’m sitting in the Trump hotel having the time of my life, and I get to the realization that, goddamn, I owe them now, and that is not a cool feeling to have. Not the Saudis, dude,” Tim Cord told McGlinchey.

A heated conversation has since ensued on Facebook, with veterans angered by the campaign arguing with those who felt their time in Washington was well spent—no matter who was paying.

“All efforts were made to be sure that the veterans knew up front that Saudi Arabia was funding the trips,” insisted Johns, a Purple Heart veteran who says he was never paid directly by the Saudis. He even disputes Casler’s recollection of events. “It is not true that I made any such unsolicited announcement about Saudi Arabia not funding the trip.”

He said his own concerns that JASTA would be harmful to the U.S. military led to his involvement in the campaign, and he doesn’t trust that bigger interests on the other side aren’t fueling these attacks on him and other vets involved. “I see trial lawyers in this.”

“Make no mistake, this has been and is all about the MONEY,” Johns wrote in an email, questioning why it’s “somehow scandalous and shady for an an ally, who has never been found culpable in the 9/11 attacks (is all conspiracy based allegations and scenarios) to facilitate honorable veterans speaking to Congress simply because our interests align?”

Vento says if it is a choice of between defending the 9/11 families or the Saudi Kingdom, the choice is clear. “I stand on the side of the 9/11 families. Period.”

US Marines could deploy robots and ‘HyperSubs’ to storm future beaches

April 27, 2017

by Allison Barrie

Fox News

The U.S. Marines could deploy a host of futuristic military technology to “storm the beaches.”

Included in the new technology are machine-gun toting robots that charge up the beaches as advance assault, as well as speedboats that instantly transformed into small stealthy submarines diving beneath the surface to avoid detection.

For the past two weeks, the Navy and Marine Corps have been quietly testing about 50 new fascinating technologies out at Camp Pendleton, at the Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017, in California.

The exercise is investigating how the military can leverage the latest technological advances for ship-to-the-shore, or the space between the Naval ship and the beach where they could potentially land.

Sailors and Marines have been experimenting with the technology and evaluating the wide range of sea, air and land innovations in a variety of realistic scenarios.

The tech includes amphibious vehicles, but also drones like quadcopters and potentially weapon-wielding ground robots.

Why add this new technology?

In light of escalating tensions around the globe, the event is timely because “storming the beaches” has changed a lot since it was done in Normandy, France during World War 2.

Adversaries now possess technology that makes it difficult – if not impossible – to surprise them with a large-scale amphibious invasion. Even a kid with a social media account could post a picture that tips off forces are attempting a covert approach, making covert operations that much more difficult.


By using the newest advanced technology, it can help Marines to mount an aggressive beach invasion – and do it in a way that significantly reduces the risk to the lives of Marines compared to times past.

In this exercise, the Marines have been integrating the tech, such as robots, to explore how they can provide advantages in future wars. Drones can be assigned scout type roles collecting data, conducting surveillance and doing reconnaissance.

If robots are deployed to go ashore first, it could save Marine lives.


But new autonomous fighting machines, like the machine-gun toting MUTT robot, could also provide decisive advantages.

Designed by General Dynamics, Multi-Utility Tactical Transports (MUTTs) are smart, ATV-sized robots mounted with machine guns that can charge up a beach and drive themselves, while helping dismount small units.

Surf, sand and steep inclines are not going to stop the water-friendly MUTTs. The vehicles drive on tracks, or wheels, and there are two wheeled variants: 8×8 and 6×6.

The robot can be mounted with a range of different weapons, including machine guns.


The Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun that weighs about 84 pounds is one option. Others include the belt-fed fully automatic FN Hershel 240B medium machine gun and the classic SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon M249).

Beyond machine guns, they’ve also been successfully kitted out with options like 60mm mortars.

Handy for forces on the move, MUTTs can integrate into the human squad and ease some of the burdens of the soliders

Able to carry approximately 600 pounds, ground forces can harness the power of this weapon without having to lug around the weight themselves. Hence, the MUTT can carry the heavy weapons that provide even more serious firepower.

Less weight means warfighters can move faster while reducing fatigue and improving force protection.

The Fathom, made by Reynolds Marion, is a speedboat that transforms into a submarine.

Sleek and black, it looks like something that would be a must-have for Batman.


Aside from the hybrid speedboat-submarine being worthy of a Hollywood summer blockbuster, it could potentially be used for tasks like scouting and surveillance. It could travel rapidly ahead of the fleet speeding along the surface.

Marion calls the hybrid Fathom, a “HyperSub.” A specific model was created and brought to this exercise with details rather hush hush. But in general, the HyperSub can deploy from a beach or a dock and with its two 480-hp Yanmar 6LY3-ETP diesel engines reach cruising speeds of 38 mph.

To evade enemy detection, it could dive beneath the surface. Able to recharge dive air and batteries, the vehicle can dive repeatedly. It is designed to provide protection from pressure changes.

The HyperSub has more than 30,000 pounds of lift on demand. When the “coast is clear,” the Fathom can surface again and zip along the shore conducting surveillance.

The dry chamber, where the vehicle is driven and personnel sit, can be customized.

Another hybrid that the Navy and Marine Corps has been testing in this exercise is the solar and wind powered Submaran. This innovation is part sailboat and part submarine.

The stakes?

The United States used to be able to rely on Naval supremacy. But now, countries like China – who just revealed a new aircraft carrier this week are expanding and advancing their Naval capabilities rapidly.

Terrorists can cause damage and loss of life by taking advantage of the accessibility and low price point of devices like basic unmanned aerial vehicles combined with readily available explosive material.

Identifying and exploring useful new technologies and rapidly transitioning them to the force is an important step to maintaining US maritime supremacy and reducing risk to the lives of Marines in future conflicts.

Formerly Imprisoned Journalist Barrett Brown Taken Back Into Custody Before PBS Interview

April 27 2017

by Alex Emmons

The Intercept

Award-winning journalist Barrett Brown was re-arrested and taken into custody Thursday, the day before he was scheduled to be interviewed for a PBS documentary.

Brown quickly became a symbol of the attack on press freedom after he was arrested in 2012 for reporting he did on the hacked emails of intelligence-contracting firms. Brown wrote about hacked emails that showed the firm Stratfor spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Brown also helped uncover a proposal by intelligence contractors to hack and smear WikiLeaks defenders and progressive activists.

Faced with the possibility of 100 years in prison, Brown pleaded guilty in 2014 to two charges related to obstruction of justice and threatening an FBI agent, and was sentenced to five years and 3 months. In 2016, Brown won a National Magazine Award for his scathing and often hilarious columns in The Intercept, which focused on his life in prison. He was released in November.

Jay Leiderman, Brown’s lawyer, told The Intercept Brown was arrested Thursday during a check-in. According to his mother, Brown had not missed a check-in or failed a drug test since he was released to a halfway house in November. Neither his mother nor lawyer has been informed where he is being held.

According to his mother, who spoke with Brown by phone after his arrest, Brown believes the reason for his re-arrest was a failure to obtain “permission” to give interviews to media organizations. Several weeks ago, Brown was told by his check-in officer that he needed to fill out permission forms before giving interviews.

Since his release, Brown has given numerous interviews, on camera and by phone. But according to his mother, Brown said that the Bureau of Prisons never informed him about a paperwork requirement. When he followed up with his check-in officer, he was given a different form: a liability form for media entering prisons.

Just last week, Brown was interviewed for two days by VICE, and his PBS interview was set for Friday.

Leiderman said he had not been presented with a formal justification for the arrest but was told that it had “to do with failing to abide by BOP restrictions on interviews.”

Leiderman called the impromptu media restrictions “disgusting” and said he believed the arrest was an act of reprisal for criticizing the government. “I would call the people who did this a bunch of chicken-shit assholes that are brutalizing the Constitution,” Leiderman said.

‘Terrible affront to 1st Amendment’: Journalist Barrett Brown re-arrested amid media tour

April 28, 2017


Barrett Brown, the journalist and “hacktivist” who is on parole after serving a four-year prison term over reporting on corporate espionage against Americans, has been arrested again. He had been speaking to the media and was set to appear on PBS.

On Thursday, Jay Leiderman, Brown’s lawyer, tweeted that Brown was arrested “for trying to talk to the press without BOP [Bureau of Prisons] approval.” He also called the arrest “a terrible affront to the First Amendment” in an interview with Sputnik News.

Brown’s mother, Karen Lancaster, who spoke to him by phone after the arrest, said he was arrested during a routine check-in for what he believes was “his refusal to get ‘permission’ from crews to film and interview him,” according to a note she sent to D Magazine, one of the publications Brown wrote for while in prison.

The note from his mother claims Brown never missed a check-in or bed check from the Federal Board of Prisons (BOP) and never failed a random drug test since he was released to a halfway house last November.

His mother claims that Brown had requested the documents two weeks ago, but his BOP contact “refused to provide him with copies of program statement rules saying this is a requirement during halfway house and/or home confinement status.”

On Wednesday, Brown uploaded a recorded call with the director of the halfway house and his case manager, in which he refused to fill out any forms until he was provided with a written statement that required him to seek approval before participating in interviews.

“You guys are going to carry out this, and you guys are going to characterize this as a refusal – a refusal of an order that they’re not giving me in writing,” Barrett said.

Brown says he was never provided a copy of the form he was arrested for not filling out.

Kevin Gallagher, who runs the Free Barrett Brown website, told Reason that Brown’s supervised release did not include any restrictions on doing interviews with the media.

According to his mother, Brown said there was “never any mention of these rules during the past four months of his federally approved employment at D Magazine when he was working with media and involved with a range of interviews.”

Last week, Brown was interviewed by Vice News, and he was scheduled to be interviewed Friday for a PBS documentary.

Leiderman told The Intercept that he believes the BOP’s actions were due to certain criticisms Brown had made about the government.

“I would call the people who did this a bunch of chicken-s*** assholes that are brutalizing the Constitution,” Leiderman said.

His mother told D Magazine that she has no idea where Brown was taken but thinks that he will be held until May 25, when his original sentence was scheduled to end.

Brown was first arrested in 2012 after reporting on leaks that showed the private intelligence firm Stratfor was conducting operations directed at US citizens. Later that year, Brown was indicted on 12 federal charges for sharing stolen data that was connected to the FBI investigation into the Stratfor email hack. Initially facing a 100 year sentence, Brown pleaded guilty in 2015 and his sentenced was reduced to 63 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution.








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