• Jun- 2020 -
    4 June

    What Tactical Unmanned Aerial Assets Need in Today’s Battlefields

    As a former Special Operations Forces Combat Controller, I’ve been a part of, and have seen, the revolution of Battlefield Air Operations. The use of tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), for example, has evolved dramatically since their first deployment on the battlefield nearly 20 years ago – from single mission tools to highly sophisticated, multi-mission capable aircraft that now provide actionable intelligence and the persistent situational awareness needed in today’s dynamic operating environments. Rapidly deployable via hand or bungee launch, with flexible payload options and rated for all-environment operation, Group 1 UAS, such as AeroVironment’s Puma all environment system, provide land or maritime operators with actionable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in day, night, and low light conditions in even the harshest of environments. When combined with man-portable tactical missile systems, such as AeroVironment’s Switchblade, these aerial assets provide platoons with advanced sensor-to-shooter capabilities, increasing force projection and soldier lethality for engaging beyond-line-of-sight enemy targets. Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Mission Success Today, forces operating without organic tactical UAS assets can become pinned-down by enemy fire for a lengthy period. They must radio for manned attack aircraft or Group 3 or 4 UAS to provide Close Air Support or risk sending …

    Read More »
  • 4 June
    Former Libyan General Khalifa Haftar.

    Libya Unity Government Claims Full Control of Tripoli, Suburbs

    Libya’s UN-recognised unity government said Thursday that it was back in full control of the capital and its suburbs after more than a year of fighting off an offensive by eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar. “Our heroic forces have full control of Greater Tripoli right up to the city limits,” Mohamad Gnounou, spokesman for the forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), said in a Facebook post. The announcement came after GNA forces retook the capital’s civilian airport on Wednesday, more than a year after losing it in Haftar’s initial drive on the capital. The airport, in Tripoli’s southern outskirts, had been disused since 2014 when it was heavily damaged in fighting between rival militias. “Our forces are continuing their advance, chasing the terrorist militias from the walls of Tripoli,” said the GNA’s Deputy Defense Minister Salah Namrush. “Some of their commanders are fleeing towards Bani Walid airport,” in the interior 170 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of the capital, he added on Facebook. Footage of GNA troops manning positions held until recently by Haftar’s fighters was widely circulated on Libyan television channels and social media. The fighting for the capital had killed hundreds and forced around 200,000 people to flee. GNA forces, …

    Read More »
  • 4 June
    Niger Armed Forces at Nigerien Air Base 201

    Thousands Flee Niger Refugee Camp After Jihadist Attack

    Thousands of people have fled a camp hosting 20,000 Malian refugees in western Niger after a deadly jihadist attack devastated the site, the United Nations said Wednesday. Around 50 jihadists on motorbikes killed three local leaders, abducted a guard, destroyed communication antennas, and sabotaged the water supply at the Intikane site near the Malian border in a coordinated attack on Monday. Intikane is home to around 20,000 Malian refugees and 15,000 internally displaced Niger citizens — all of whom previously fled their villages due to jihadist violence — as well as the local population. Now many are on the move again, with some 3,000 people fleeing to Tlemces, a site 27 kilometers (43 miles) from Intikane, the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Niamey told AFP. UNHCR official Kourouma Mamady Fatta said the agency was carrying out an assessment of the damage and was trying to get the water supply flowing again. The governor of the Tahoua region, Moussa Abdourahamane, said, “Intikane is losing its population, people are moving towards Tlemces.” The jihadists “attacked the sensitive points of the site — they cut communication lines to isolate the population and they destroyed the sources for drinking water,” he told the national public …

    Read More »
  • 3 June
    Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers

    Sixteen Dead in New Eastern DR Congo Massacre

    Sixteen civilians, five of them children, were killed overnight in a fresh massacre in the eastern DR Congo province of Ituri, a local official and a UN source said on Wednesday. “The toll, which is still provisional, is of 16 people killed by knives or gunfire. The people killed are four men, seven women, and five children all aged under five,” the administrator of Djugu territory, Adel Alingi, told AFP. The toll was separately confirmed by a source in the United Nations’ peacekeeping force, MONUSCO. The attack unfolded at a village in the area of Mambisa, north of the Ituri capital Bunia, the sources said. The authorities attributed it to a notorious ethnic militia called CODECO, for the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo. The organization is mainly drawn from the Lendu ethnic group, who are predominantly farmers and clash repeatedly with the Hema community of traders and herders. Nearly 300 civilians have been killed since the start of the year in attacks blamed on CODECO, while the UN says around 200,000 people have fled their homes. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, in a visit to Ituri in late January, said “crimes against humanity” had been perpetrated. Tens of thousands …

    Read More »
  • 3 June
    Russian military police in Syria

    First Russian Strikes in 3 Months Hit NW Syria: Monitor

    Russian air strikes have hit Syria’s last major rebel bastion for the first time since a March ceasefire came into force, a war monitor said on Wednesday. The Russian strikes on Tuesday evening and at dawn on Wednesday hit an area of the northwest where the boundaries of Hama, Idlib, and Latakia provinces meet, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance (HTS), led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, and its hardline allies enjoy a significant presence in the area, the Britain-based monitoring group added. Home to some three million people, the Idlib region of the northwest is controlled by HTS and affiliated rebel groups. A Russian-backed government offensive between December and March displaced nearly a million people in the region. Some 840,000 of the nearly one million remain displaced, while some 120,000 have returned to their home communities since the ceasefire went into force, according to the United Nations. The truce, which coincided with the coronavirus crisis, had put a stop to the relentless air strikes by government forces and their Russian allies that killed at least 500 civilians in four months. The Observatory said the latest strikes were intended to push jihadists away from the …

    Read More »
  • 3 June
    Parly in UAE

    UAE Still a Top Client as French Arms Sales Fall

    French arms sales dropped nearly 8.6 percent last year to 8.3 billion euros ($9.3 billion) from 2018, with the United Arab Emirates — a key player in the Yemen conflict — still a leading client, a government report said Tuesday. France is regularly criticized by rights groups for arms sales to clients such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which are embroiled in a long campaign against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen that has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives. A report presented to the French parliament Tuesday showed orders from Europe had grown to 3.47 billion euros — 45 percent of the total, up from a mere quarter the previous year. Belgium accounted for 1.8 million euros in sales. Middle Eastern clients represented about 30 percent last year with 2.15 billion euros in sales — down from almost 50 percent in 2018 — headed by the UAE with 1.5 billion euros and Saudi Arabia with 208.9 million euros. The numbers, “achieved in a context of particularly fierce competition confirming America’s supremacy and the emergence of new major exporters, particularly China … consolidates France’s place in the top five of global exporters,” said the report. In terms of deliveries, 2019 …

    Read More »
  • 2 June
    President Trump leaves after speaking at a news conference following the Senate Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on May 19

    Trump Threatens Military Mobilization Against Violent US Protests

    President Donald Trump vowed to order a military crackdown on once-in-a-generation violent protests gripping the United States, saying he was sending thousands of troops onto the streets of the capital and threatening to deploy soldiers to states unable to regain control. The dramatic escalation came a week after the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck, leading to the worst civil unrest in decades in New York, Los Angeles, and dozens of other American cities. In the Midwest, police were early Tuesday trying to bring the city of St Louis under control after a night of looting and violence in which four officers were shot, police chief Colonel John Hayden said, adding their injuries were not life-threatening. “Mr. Floyd was killed somewhere else and they’re tearing up cities all across the country,” a visibly emotional Hayden said. After being criticized for his silence on the worsening crisis, Trump struck a martial tone in a nationwide address Monday from the White House garden, as police fired tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the fence. “I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and …

    Read More »
  • 2 June
    An Afghan national Army 10th Special Operations Kandak Commando returns fire during offensive operations against the Taliban in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, January 20, 2018.

    Roadside Bomb Kills 7 Civilians in Afghanistan

    Seven civilians were killed by a roadside bomb linked to the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, even as authorities pressed for peace talks with the militants. Overall violence across much of Afghanistan has dropped, however, since May 24 when the Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The latest blast struck a small truck carrying a group of laborers late Monday in the volatile district of Khan Abad, in the province of Kunduz. No group claimed responsibility, but Kunduz provincial spokesman Esmatullah Muradi pointed the finger at the Taliban. “The Taliban usually plant roadside bombs to target security forces, but their bombs usually kill civilians,” he told AFP. Two of six others wounded in the blast were in critical condition, said district chief Hayatullah Amiri. President Ashraf Ghani had welcomed the Taliban ceasefire offer and authorities responded by announcing around 2,000 Taliban prisoners would be released in a “goodwill gesture” with a view to kickstarting peace talks. Afghanistan’s former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has been appointed to lead the talks, said his team was ready to begin negotiations “at any moment.” Late on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been …

    Read More »
  • 2 June
    Libyan General Khalifa Haftar

    Libya Rivals Agree Return to Ceasefire Talks: UN

    The United Nations’ Libya mission said Tuesday the country’s warring parties had agreed to restart talks aimed at reaching a lasting ceasefire, after a three-month suspension. In a statement, UNSMIL “welcomed” moves by the Government of National Accord and forces backing eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar to accept “restarting negotiations on a ceasefire and the related security arrangements.” Pro-Haftar forces have been battling since April last year to seize the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised GNA, in fighting that has left hundreds dead and forced 200,000 to flee their homes. A military commission made up of five GNA loyalists and five Haftar delegates held talks in February, but the dialogue was suspended. A January truce brokered by GNA backer Turkey and key Haftar ally Russia has been repeatedly violated. Neither side immediately commented on the UN statement. Haftar’s rapid advance on Tripoli last year stalled to a bloody stalemate on the edges of the capital. In recent weeks, GNA forces buoyed by Turkish drones and air defense systems have taken back a string of coastal towns and a key airbase, Haftar is supported by neighboring Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia. The UN mission urged “states backing either …

    Read More »
  • 1 June

    Indonesian Policeman Killed by Sword-Wielding Militant

    A sword-wielding militant killed an Indonesian policeman and critically injured another on Monday in what authorities described as a suspected Islamic State-linked attack. The attacker was shot dead during the early morning raid at a police post in South Daha district on Kalimantan — Indonesia’s section of Borneo island. Indonesia’s national police initially said there were two attackers, but local authorities later said only one militant was directly involved. “One police officer was killed and the attacker also died,” South Hulu Sungai police chief Dedy Eka Jaya told AFP. “We’re still investigating possible links” to IS, he added. The militant — identified as a 19-year-old local named Abdurrahman — initially set a car on fire outside the police post, Jaya said. “When it exploded, one of the officers came outside to check and that’s when the initial attack started,” he added. Images from the scene showed an apparently deceased man lying on his back inside the police station. Authorities said they confiscated his sword, a Koran, a handwritten letter calling for jihad, and a flag bearing the “tauhid” — which expresses the belief in Allah as the one and only god. Images of the black and white-lettered flag showed it resembled one commonly used …

    Read More »