US running secret bio weapons lab in Republic of Georgia, Russia Claims

Source: AP

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that the United States appeared to be running a clandestine biological weapons lab in the country of Georgia, allegedly flouting international conventions and posing a direct security threat to Russia — allegations the Pentagon angrily rejected.

The exceptional accusations from Moscow came the same day U.S., British and Dutch officials accused Russian military intelligence of being behind multiple cyberattacks.

Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the head of the Russian military’s radiation, chemical and biological protection troops, alleged at a briefing that the lab in Georgia was part of a network of U.S. labs near the borders of Russia and China.

The allegations were based largely on materials about the U.S.-funded Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Tbilisi, Georgia. Kirillov claimed the documents released by former Georgian State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze showed the facility was funded entirely by the U.S and the Georgian ownership it has on paper was a cover.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon strongly rejected Kirillov’s claims, calling them “an invention of the imaginative and false Russian disinformation campaign against the West” and “obvious attempts to divert attention from Russia’s bad behavior on many fronts.”

“The U.S. is not developing biological weapons in the Lugar Center,” Pahon said.

He said the lab, a joint human and veterinary public health facility, was owned and operated by the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), not the United States.

Read More: AP

US Sets Up 8 New Military Bases Near Iraq’s Borders with Syria to gain control over the strategic oil and trade routes

Source: Farsnews

The Arabic-language Baghdad al-Youm news website quoted Qassem Mosleh as saying on Monday that recently the US forces have set up bases in al-Qa’em, the international road, area between al-Rotba and region 160, the area between al-Walid and al-Rotba and 4 bases in al-Rotba in al-Anbar province in Western Iraq.

He added that the Americans will take control of Western and Southern al-Rotba, which has not yet been cleansed, once it is through with setting up these bases.

He accused the US military of cooperating with the ISIL, saying that the terrorists will move more and more easily in the region if the US forces stand in control of the region.

Mosleh also disclosed that the US plans to gain control over the strategic region which is rich with oil and hosts important trade routes.

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US Military Base In Poland To Check Russian Aggression May Become Reality

Source: International Business Times

The United States is considering the deployment of a military base near Kaliningrad, a Russian province sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Coast. The base would come up in Poland.

The news was first reported by Russian newspaper Izvestia, which cited a source in Polish diplomatic circles, as Poland would be collaborating with the U.S. to set up the base. The plan to deploy a military base was due to the diminishing security and stability in the area due to Russian aggression and military expansion. No tentative date was mentioned as to when construction of the base will start.

While the exact location for the base was still being decided, one of the top contenders was the Polish city of Orzysz, located 170 kilometers (about 105 miles) from Kaliningrad, which already has the necessary infrastructure, including landfill, and geographically holds a strategically important position. In case of a military threat from Russia, U.S. troops will be in the position to defend not only Poland, but also Baltic countries, reported.

“Poland is willing to make a very major contribution for the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland,” Trump said, Politico reported. “Poland would be paying billions of dollars for a base.”

He added: “The [Polish] president offered us much more than $2 billion to do this, and so we’re looking at it. We’re looking at it from the standpoint of, number one, military protection for both countries, and also cost, a term you don’t hear too often and you haven’t heard too often over the last 25 years.”

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Economic Warfare- U.S. Treasury Department targets Iran-Russia network over oil sent to Syria

Source: Reuters

The complicated arrangement, described by the U.S. Treasury in a statement on Tuesday, involved a Syrian citizen allegedly using his Russia-based company to ship Iranian oil to Syria with the aid of a Russian state-owned company.

Syria then helped transfer hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to Hezbollah, which functions as a political party that is part of the Lebanese government and as a militia, as well as to Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules the Gaza Strip.

The U.S. Treasury Department alleged that since 2014, vessels carrying Iranian oil have switched off transponders to conceal deliveries to Syria.

The Treasury, the State Department and the U.S. Coast Guard have issued an advisory to the maritime community about the sanctions risks of shipping oil to Syria’s government.

“The political defeat in Syria apparently prompts the United States to return to the idea of regime change in Damascus. Therefore, economic pressure through oil supply shutdown becomes a tool of the new economic war with (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad and indirectly with Moscow and Iran,” he said.

Read more: Reuters

NSO Pegasus System- Israel signed off on sale of phone spying tool to Saudi Arabia

Source: Times of Israel

Israel approved the sale of cyber-espionage technology from Herzliya-based NSO Group to Saudi Arabia in order to hack dissidents and enemies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a report Friday citing former US officials.

The report in the Washington Post about the sale of the Pegasus system to Riyadh comes days after Omar Abdulaziz, a sharp online critic of the Saudi royals who lives in exile in Canada, filed suit in Tel Aviv against NSO, claiming that communications between him and murdered writer Jamal Khashoggi were monitored by the Saudis using NSO software.

According to the Post’s David Ignatius, Saudi official Saud al-Qahtani sought Pegasus as part of a surveillance network designed to help the crown prince combat internal enemies as part of his drive for power.


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Russia Warns Cyprus Against Allowing U.S. Military to Deploy There

Source:Hurriyet Daily News

Russia on Wednesday warned authorities in Cyprus not to allow the U.S. military to deploy on their territory, saying such a move would draw a Russian reaction and result in “dangerous and destabilising consequences” for the Mediterranean island.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Moscow had become aware of what she called “anti-Russian plans” involving Cyprus and the U.S. military which she said was eyeing setting up forward operating bases for its troops there.

“We’re getting information from various sources that the United States is actively studying options to build up its military presence on Cyprus,” Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow.

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U.S. Forces Set Up Observation Posts in Syria

Source: US Army

U.S. forces are establishing observation posts in Northeast Syria to further deny escape routes to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve told Pentagon reporters today.

Army Col. Sean Ryan, speaking via teleconference from Baghdad, updated reporters on ongoing operations in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS.

The spokesman said the observation posts will be set up to deter ISIS fighters that try to flee the middle Euphrates River valley into Turkey to the north.

“These observation posts will provide additional transparency and will better enable Turkey’s protection from ISIS elements,” Ryan said.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis announced the observation posts last week in a press briefing with Pentagon reporters.

The move follows close consultation and collaboration with Turkey, both at the military and State Department levels, according to a DOD News report.


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Cyprus hosted secret US helicopter base for four years, ‘no comment’ says govt

Source: Cyprus Mail

Cyprus said on Wednesday it had no comment on a US official report showing that the island secretly hosted a $70 million American helicopter base for four years that was quietly shut down in 2017.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told the Cyprus News Agency: “The government of the Republic has no comment. Questions should be addressed to the US authorities.”

According to a report on ABC news, citing a government document, over nearly four years the US State Department spent some $70 million on a base that was “quickly set up and served little clear purpose before its quiet closing last year”.

It said the base, which was established in September 2013 and closed in August 2017, hosted five helicopters and approximately 40 government contractors at a cost of about $20 million per year, according to a recent report from the State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The location of the base in Cyprus was not evident from the report but the most likely spot is the British sovereign base at RAF Akrotiri.

“No documentation could be found explaining the purpose of the base, the anticipated cost of any evacuation services, or the likely extent of its usage. Similarly, no documentation could be found addressing potential alternatives to this facility,” the OIG report said.

The Cyprus base was established a year after the Libya Benghazi attack in which four Americans and the ambassador at the time were killed by a mob, which later prompted criticism of the Obama administration for the fact no one could get to them on time.

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China’s mighty orbit in South Pacific threatens to leave Australia in spin

Source: 9NewsAU

The South Pacific has become an increasingly important geopolitical chessboard with the United States, China and Australia racing to secure ports, cyber infrastructure and potential military bases in a number of small but strategic island nations.

Over the past 12 months, the governments of Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have all been wooed and seduced by Canberra, Washington and Beijing to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Adam Ni, a policy researcher at Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said it is inevitable that these Pacific nations, whose allegiance has long been taken for granted, will be sucked into China’s mighty orbit from out of Australia’s backyard.

Mr Ni predicts Australia’s international diplomacy will be strained and put to the test in this new era of South Pacific posturing, as Canberra attempts to delicately balance vital strategic, military and trade ties to superpowers, the US and China.

“As China expands outward, with a military presence and economically, the Pacific will acquire a never-before seen importance,” Mr Ni told

“If you look at Chinese investment … you see a trend where China is increasingly becoming more influential in the Pacific.”

Mr Ni said China’s economic footholds in the Pacific and investment in massive infrastructure projects, such as ports, can over time evolve into a military outpost.

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EMP and 5G Threat- Air Force Electromagnetic Defense Task Force Report

Source: Washington Times

Electromagnetic Defense 2018 Report

U.S. military facilities involved in command and control of forces face a growing risk of disruption by an electromagnetic pulse attack or solar superstorm that could knock out all electronics at the strategic bases, according to a report.

The report by the Air Force Electromagnetic Defense Task Force, made up of civilian and military experts, also warns that EMP or geomagnetic disturbances could cause catastrophic damage and the loss of life in the United States.

“Multiple adversaries are capable of executing a strategic attack that may black out major portions of a state’s grid,” the report said. “An EMP attack affects all devices with solid-state electronics and could render inoperative the main grid and backup power systems, such as on-site generators.”

China’s drive to become the dominant power in the advanced, high-speed 5G digital communications technology also poses risks to the U.S. military. “The states or non-states that control the 5G network will dictate or control all digital transactions including the ability to share and receive information,” the report said.

“Because control of 5G is roughly equivalent to control of the internet, open 5G is critical to freedom and free-market economics,” the report noted. “Meanwhile, access to the 5G-millimeter wave bandwidth will be critical to operations in all war-fighting domains, in particular, space [command and control].”

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Murky World of Contractors in Pakistan

Source: Dawn

Although often highlighted in the US media, the mysterious world of private contractors drew little attention in Pakistan until recently, when a report by the Brown University’s Costs of War Project mentioned that 90 American contractors were among the 65,000 people killed in Pakistan in the last 17 years.

The activities of private contractors in Pakistan did not receive much attention in the US media either, mainly because the death tolls in Afghanistan and Iraq were much higher.

According to the Brown University report, a total of 7,820 private American contractors have been killed since 2001. Of them 3,937 were killed in Afghanistan, 3,793 in Iraq and 90 in Pakistan.

For most Pakistanis, even 90 contractors are far too many as the number makes them realise that hundreds of private American contractors have been operating in their country without their knowledge.

But the 2010 solicitation expla­ins why the United States had to hire a large number of private contractors in Pakistan. It identifies “current limitations on having US military presence in Pakistan and threat levels precluding US Military active invol­vement” as the main reasons for hiring private contractors.

Defining a contractor’s functions, the solicitation states: “The contractor must be proactive at identifying appropriate methods for obtaining the necessary in-transit visibility information.”

Although no official statistics are available about the total number of American contractors deployed in Pakistan, in 2012 the US Central Command informed Congress approximately 137,000 contractors were working for the Pentagon in the greater Middle East region that includes Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

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Russia chokes Ukraine shipping lanes

Source: Ukrainian Weekly

“It’s a real blockade by Russia,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said at a news conference in Mariupol on December 2 after visiting the two ports. “It’s turning out to be a dead zone.”

Now, these ports find themselves on a new frontline with Russia. Thanks to a meek Western response and Ukraine’s military inferiority, Russia is completing a stranglehold upon the Azov Sea, choking the local economy and maritime shipping.

The numbers speak for themselves.

Turnover has halved in the two ports since 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine – starting with the covert takeover of Crimea and then the easternmost part of the Donbas. In May, a four-mile bridge was completed that links mainland Russia to the Crimean city of Kerch; its lower height clearance has decreased the two ports’ shipping capacity by 30 percent, said Mr. Omelyan.


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Corporate Intelligence: Former Mossad chief joins Israeli spy firm Black Cube

Source: MEMO

The former Mossad chief, Ephraim Halevy has joined the Israeli private spy company; BlackCube as a member of the board of directors, head of the committee to screen potential clients and a senior adviser on operational and intelligence issues, Israeli media reported.

According to the report, Halevy; 84 could also become the company’s president.

Some former senior Israeli security officials, including ex- Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, ex-Police commissioner, Yohanan Danino and ex-head of National Security Council, Giora Eiland have all joined the company.

Established in 2012, BlackCube is one of the world’s leading private spy and investigative companies, offering services to powerful clients with strong economic capabilities in the individual market to resolve trade disputes….

In 2016, the Romanian police arrested two Black Cube operative on suspicion of wiretapping Romanian law enforcement officials in violation of the law.

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CIA sending ship full of arms to Kosovo army

Source: B92

A ship with a container full of the latest weaponry for the needs of (a future) Kosovo army is on its way across the Atlantic to the port of Durres in Alabania.

According to the newspaper, the dangerous cargo will be from there taken to Kosovo Security Forces bases. The daily further cites the data received by the Serbian security services, to report that “this conspirative arrangement is part of Pristina’s scenario to take control of the northern (Serb) part of the province.”

In addition, Vecernje Novosti reports, Serbian operatives have obtained information that the Kosovo secret service has distributed automatic rifles to some of the former and current associates in the southern part of (ethnically divided) Kosovska Mitrovica, as well as to other persons from “state institutions” who are trained to use them.

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U.S. Military Says It Has a “Light Footprint” in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases.

Source: Intercept-Nick Turse

The U.S. military has long insisted that it maintains a “light footprint” in Africa, and there have been reports of proposed drawdowns in special operations forces and closures of outposts on the continent, due to a 2017 ambush in Niger and an increasing focus on rivals like China and Russia. But through it all, U.S. Africa Command has fallen short of providing concrete information about its bases on the continent, leaving in question the true scope of the American presence there.

Documents obtained from AFRICOM by The Intercept, via the Freedom of Information Act, however, offer a unique window onto the sprawling network of U.S. military outposts in Africa, including previously undisclosed or unconfirmed sites in hotspots like Libya, Niger, and Somalia.  The Pentagon has also told The Intercept that troop reductions in Africa will be modest and phased-in over several years and that no outposts are expected to close as a result of the personnel cuts.

According to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military’s constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa. These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years. For example, Libya — the site of drone and commando missions, but for which President Donald Trump said he saw no U.S. military role just last year — is nonetheless home to three previously undisclosed outposts.

“U.S. Africa Command’s posture plan is designed to secure strategic access to key locations on a continent characterized by vast distances and limited infrastructure,” Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the AFRICOM commander, told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, though he didn’t provide specifics on the number of bases. “Our posture network allows forward staging of forces to provide operational flexibility and timely response to crises involving U. S. personnel or interests without creating the optic that U. S. Africa Command is militarizing Africa.”

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Elite American soldiers, intelligence operatives hired to assassinate targets in Yemen in 2015

Source: Fox News

A group of Americans who had been elite soldiers or intelligence operatives were paid tens of thousands of dollars by the United Arab Emirates to assassinate political leaders and Islamic clerics in Yemen in 2015, a new report says.

According to a BuzzFeed reported published Tuesday, the Delaware-incorporated Spear Operations Group recruited top veterans from the U.S. military after Spear was hired by the UAE to conduct a series of targeted killings for $1.5 million per month. The soldiers who allegedly signed on to do the dirty work were offered more than $25,000 a month.

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” Spear founder Abraham Golan, told BuzzFeed. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

Golan, a Hungarian-Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh, was referencing the Saudi-led band of nine countries fighting a proxy war against Iran in Yemen. The U.S. has helped the coalition by providing weapons, intelligence and other items, the report said.

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America has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

Source: CNBC/Brown University

The U.S. wars and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001, according to a new study.

That total is almost $2 trillion more than all federal government spending during the recently completed 2017-18 fiscal year.

The report, from Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, also finds that more than 480,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting. Over 244,000 civilians have been killed. Another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.

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Serbia to consider military intervention ‘option’ if Kosovo forms standing army

Source: DW

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo ramped up on Wednesday ahead of Kosovo’s planned vote on the formation of a standing army.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told reporters that Belgrade is concerned that a regular army in Kosovo, which has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, could be used to drive out the remaining Serbs from the country’s north. That could, he added, provoke a Serb military intervention.

“I am hoping we would never have to use it [the army], but this is currently one of options on the table as we do not want to watch this … ethnic cleansing,” Brnabic said.

Kosovo’s parliament is due to vote on transforming its 4,000-strong defense force into a regular army on December 14.

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U.S. Conducts Precision Airstrike in Libya


In coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), U.S. Africa Command conducted a precision airstrike near Al Uwaynat, Libya, November 29, 2018, killing eleven (11) al-Qa’ ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) terrorists and destroying three (3) vehicles.

At this time, we assess no civilians were injured or killed in this strike.

“AFRICOM will use precision strikes to deny terrorists safe haven in Libya. We will keep pressure on their network, and they remain vulnerable wherever they are,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg P. Olson, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command.

This is the third U.S. strike against AQIM in Libya. The last strike against AQIM occurred on June 13, 2018, resulting in the death of one (1) terrorist.

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DARPA’s PALS Turns to Marine Organisms to Help Monitor Strategic Waters

Source: DARPA

The world’s vast oceans and seas offer seemingly endless spaces in which adversaries of the United States can maneuver undetected. The U.S. military deploys networks of manned and unmanned platforms and sensors to monitor adversary activity, but the scale of the task is daunting and hardware alone cannot meet every need in the dynamic marine environment. Sea life, however, offers a potential new advantage. Marine organisms are highly attuned to their surroundings—their survival depends on it—and a new program out of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office aims to tap into their natural sensing capabilities to detect and signal when activities of interest occur in strategic waters such as straits and littoral regions.

The Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program, led by program manager Lori Adornato, will study natural and modified organisms to determine which ones could best support sensor systems that detect the movement of manned and unmanned underwater vehicles. PALS will investigate marine organisms’ responses to the presence of such vehicles, and characterize the resulting signals or behaviors so they can be captured, interpreted, and relayed by a network of hardware devices.

“The U.S. Navy’s current approach to detecting and monitoring underwater vehicles is hardware-centric and resource intensive. As a result, the capability is mostly used at the tactical level to protect high-value assets like aircraft carriers, and less so at the broader strategic level,” Adornato said. “If we can tap into the innate sensing capabilities of living organisms that are ubiquitous in the oceans, we can extend our ability to track adversary activity and do so discreetly, on a persistent basis, and with enough precision to characterize the size and type of adversary vehicles.”

Beyond sheer ubiquity, sensor systems built around living organisms would offer a number of advantages over hardware alone. Sea life adapts and responds to its environment, and it self-replicates and self-sustains. Evolution has given marine organisms the ability to sense stimuli across domains—tactile, electrical, acoustic, magnetic, chemical, and optical. Even extreme low light is not an obstacle to organisms that have evolved to hunt and evade in the dark.

However, evaluating the sensing capabilities of sea life is only one of the challenges for PALS researchers. Performer teams supporting DARPA will also have to develop hardware, software, and algorithms to translate organism behavior into actionable information and then communicate it to end users. Deployed hardware systems operating at a standoff distance of up to 500 meters must collect signals of interest from relevant species, process and distill them, and then relay them to remote end users. The complete sensing systems must also discriminate between target vehicles and other sources of stimuli, such as debris and other marine organisms, to limit the number of false positives.

Adornato is aiming to demonstrate the approach and its advantages in realistic environments to convey military utility.

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Russia Deploys More S-400 Missiles in Crimea

Source: Trumpet

Russia has deployed its fourth S-400 surface-to-air missile installation in Crimea, the spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet said on November 29.

“S-400 Triumf air defense missile crews of the air defense formation of the Southern Military District’s Air and Air Defense Forces were put on combat duty in Dzhankoi today to guard the skies of Crimea,” Black Sea Fleet spokesman Alexei Rulev told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

The new S-400 systems will be operational by the end of the year, according to Russian government-run media. Russia stationed its first S-400 battalion in Crimea in January 2017. The other two battalions arrived this year, in January and September.

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US Explores Ties With Controversial Indonesian Special Forces Unit “Kopassus”

Source: VOA

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stated that he will explore reopening ties with the unit, called Kopassus, even though it is currently precluded under the so-called Leahy Laws, sponsored by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D), which state that the State Department and military are barred from assisting any foreign security forces that have violated human rights “with impunity.”….

Kopassus, which is short for “Special Forces Command” in Indonesian, was founded in 1952 and its activities include unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and intelligence. It gained notoriety for its abuses in East Timor during the Indonesian occupation there (which ended in 1999) and in the 1998 Jakarta race riots, when Kopassus was involved in the murders of and violence against Chinese Indonesians. The unit was strongest during the Suharto dictatorship, which fell in 1998, and has had a somewhat diminished stature in the democratic era.

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Private companies engage in Russia’s non-linear warfare

Source: IHS Jane’s 360

  • As part of its non-linear approach to modern warfare, Russia has integrated private military companies (PMCs) into its warfighting strategy in largely conventional and support roles.
  • Russian PMCs have a close operational relationship with Russian special forces and intelligence structures, but do not appear to be directly tasked with the collection of technical intelligence.
  • The use of private forces is likely to remain a feature of Russian non-linear warfare in the future, as Moscow can claim that such fighters have a financial or individual ideological motivation for fighting.

On 17 January 2018, RT’s Russian-language website reported that the Russian First Deputy Chairman of the State Construction and Legislation Committee, Mikhail Yemelyanov, was planning to introduce a draft bill into the State Duma legalising private military companies (PMCs).

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Exercise app maps military sites, reveals where spooks jog

Source: Register

In November, exercise-tracking app Strava published a “Heatmap” of user activity which it cheerily boasted comprised a billion activities, three trillion lat-long points, 13 trillion rasterized pixels and 10 TB of input data.

It took a while, but late last week someone wondered “how many Strava users are members of the military or national security groups, and are uploaded their activity?” The answer is “plenty – and they’ve revealed where they work, where they live, when they were sent to a new outpost and where to ambush them when they least expect it.”

Ever since Nathan Ruser, an international security student at the Australian National University, observed that Strava’s data included the exercise routes of military and natsec personnel, locating military installations in Strava’s has become a social media sensation.

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Turkey vows to expand Syria offensive east to Iraqi border

Source: News Herald

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Friday to expand Ankara’s operation in a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria eastward, toward the frontier with Iraq.

His comments, during an address to local leaders of his ruling-party in Ankara, appeared to be in defiance of the United States, which has urged Turkey to keep its campaign in Syria “limited in scope and duration” and to focus on ending the war.

Erdogan said the Turkish forces’ push into Afrin would stretch further east, to the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij, and toward the border with Iraq “until no terrorist is left.”

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish forces, known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG, as a terrorist group because of their purported links to Kurdish insurgents within Turkey’s own border. Manbij is held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the YPG. U.S. troops are not present in Afrin but are embedded with the SDF in other parts of Syria, where they are working to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State grou