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Wed, 26th April 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “United States Department of Defense” Tag

Risk Of “Accidental” Nuclear War Growing, UN Research Group Says

The warning comes as the Pentagon begins an extensive review of its nuclear arsenal.

On Sept., 26, 1983, shortly after midnight, the Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected five missiles launched from the United States and headed toward Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, a young lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force, was the duty in the Serpukhov-15 bunker that housed the Oko command center. Petrov was the man in charge of alerting the soviets about a nuclear attack, which would trigger a retaliatory strike. He determined that the Oko had likely malfunctioned and the alarm was false. The Americans would not start World War III with a quintet of missiles (risking total annihilation.) It was a daring judgment call. He was, of course, right. As the U.S. prepares to undertake a new nuclear posture review to determine the future direction of the nation’s nuclear weapons, a report from a United Nations research institute warns that the risks of a catastrophic error — like the one that took place that early morning in 1983 — are growing, not shrinking. Next time, there may be no Lt. Col. Petrov in place to avoid a catastrophe.

On Monday, the U.S. Defense Department commenced a new, massive study into its nuclear weapons arsenal, looking at how weapons are kept, how the U.S. would use them in war and whether they present an intimidating enough threat to other countries not to attack us. The review was mandated by President Trump in a Jan 27, memo.

 The Pentagon is scheduled to complete the review by the end of the year, an essential step as the military seeks to modernize different aspects of its nuclear deterrent. But a new report from the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, or UNIDR, argues that as the modern battlefield becomes more technologically complex, crowded with more sensors, satellites, drones, and interconnected networks, the risks of another nuclear accident are on the rise.

“A greater reliance on automated systems can lead to misplaced confidence while introducing new points of vulnerability,” says the report. Those new points of vulnerability include so-called “hidden interactions.” That means a sensor or computer program misinterpreting some bit of data and possibly presenting false information in a way that could cause an accident.

The 1987 incident provides a good case in point. Oko satellites mistook a very unusual sunspot on top of a high altitude cloud as a missile strike, hence the false alarm.

Take those satellites, combine them with sensors on drones and data from other sources as well, including new, perhaps unproven technologies to detect missile launches and the picture becomes much more crowded and murky.

Pentagon Considers Shooting Down North Korea Missile Tests

Just when a few hours had passed without any escalation around the Korean Peninsula, The Guardian reports that the US military is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang according to two sources briefed on the plans.

As the USS Carl Vinson heads towards the peninsula, along with two oither carriers, the Pentagon is looking for ways short of war to pressure North Korea into denuclearization, particularly if Pyongyang goes forward with an anticipated sixth nuclear test.

The option, which defense secretary James Mattis has briefed to Congress, has, as The Guardian reports, yet to mature into a decision by the military to intercept a tested missile. One US official said the prospective shoot-down strategy would be aimed at occurring after a nuclear test, with the objective being to signal Pyongyang that the US can impose military consequences for a transgression Donald Trump has said is unacceptable. But experts and former officials said shooting down a North Korean missile during a test risks an escalation that Washington may not be able to control, one that risks war on the Korean peninsula and potentially devastating consequences to allies South Korea and Japan.

Pyongyang takes threat to new level by targeting bases in Japan

North Korea announced Tuesday that its missile launch the day before was part of a drill to strike U.S. military bases in Japan, issuing a defiant challenge to the two allies trying to thwart the rogue state’s nuclear ambitions.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday on the simultaneous launch of the rockets, which it said was practice for striking “the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan.” Footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervising the drill, as well as of rockets being fired from mobile launchers, were aired intermittently as well.

 North Korea’s proclamation has significantly raised the stakes. The U.S. military bases operating across Japan are a core part of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Some in western Japan fall within a 1,000km radius of Tongchang-ri, the northwestern part of North Korea where the four rockets were fired from. Those in eastern Japan would too if the launch site was moved further east.

The U.S. reacted swiftly. U.S. President Donald Trump spoke separately on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean Prime Minister and acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Trump and Abe agreed that the North Korean threat had reached a next level, and decided to hold a foreign and defense ministers’ meeting as soon as possible.

China will give back seized drone, criticises U.S. “hyping up” the issue

China’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had been in talks with the United States about returning an underwater drone taken by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea, but the U.S. was not helping by “hyping up” the issue.

The drone was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), U.S. officials said.

The Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel discovered a piece of “unidentified equipment” and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues, before discovering it was a U.S. drone.

“China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it,” the ministry said on its website.

“During this process, the U.S. side’s unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this,” it added.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in to the row on Saturday, tweeting: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”

Without directly saying whether the drone was operating in waters China considers its own, the ministry said U.S. ships and aircraft have for a long period been carrying out surveillance and surveys in “the presence” of Chinese waters.

“China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the U.S. stops this kind of activity,” it said.

China will remain on alert for these sorts of activities and take necessary steps to deal with them, the ministry said without elaborating.

Earlier, the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, cited an unidentified Chinese source as saying they believed the issue would be resolved smoothly.

The United States says the drone was operating lawfully.

When Life Gives You LEMOA: Inside the Controversial US-Indian Military Agreement

As the US and India Defense Ministers prepare to sign a LEMOA treaty, which will enable the two country to use each other’s military bases, there is still a significant amount of confusion and controversy around the act. Manohar Parrikar, the Defense Minister of India, has left to the US to meet with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. This meeting is expected to end with signing of LEMOA act, a treaty which will enable the two countries to use each other’s military infrastructure.

Interestingly, the media coverage description of the act is highly controversial. Forbes, for instance, is quick to say that LEMOA will enable “US armed forces… operate out of Indian bases.” “The US Navy plans to deploy 60 percent of its surface ships in the Indo-Pacific in the near future.  Instead of having to build facilities virtually from the ground up, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US has the benefit of simple arrangements for the tremendous Indian facilities,” Forbes’s Charles Tiefer writes. However, the Indian Defense ministry officials insist that no US troops will be deployed in India, and the bases will be used only for berthing or refueling of each other’s warships. “This pact that has been agreed in principle will only facilitate military logistics cooperation such as joint military exercises and did not entail stationing of any US troops on Indian soil,” the officials said, adding that this agreement should not be viewed as a move by New Delhi to support Washington in forming any alliance against China. Ironically, Forbes says exactly the opposite:

Pentagon Claims Russia Creating Bionic Superhuman Soldiers With Brain Implants

Killer robotTop American military officials claim that Moscow is working to create “enhanced human operations” technology they say “scares the crap” out of them with the specter of stronger, faster, and more deadly super soldiers on the horizon according to the latest musings from the Pentagon.

In the bid to develop a superior fighting force, most countries are looking to weapons based around robotics, lasers and exoskeletons to create a real-life Iron Man, but the US military officials, perhaps in a bout of propaganda, suggest that Russia is focused on also augmenting human biology – think more X-Men than Iron Man – in order to create the most deadly fighting force in the world.

“Our adversaries, quite frankly, are pursuing enhanced human operations and it scares the crap out of us,” said US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.

While some of this purported human biological enhancements come by means of drugs and steroids according to US defense officials in order to make soldiers tougher on the battlefield and able to traverse longer distances at faster speeds, the Pentagon has a strange fascination with the outlandish claim that Russia is using brain implants embedded into soldiers’ heads to make them follow orders.

China has deployed more troops near Indian border, says Pentagon

China has increased defence capabilities and deployed more troops along the Indian border, the Pentagon has said, as it warned of increasing Chinese military presence including bases in various parts of the world, particularly Pakistan.

“We have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military in areas close to the border with India,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia Abraham M Denmark told reporters during a news conference here after Pentagon submitted its annual 2016 report to the US Congress on ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China’.

 However, Denmark said it is difficult to conclude on the real intention behind this.
“It is difficult to say how much of this is driven by internal considerations to maintain internal stability, and how much of it is an external consideration,” he said in response to a question on China upgrading its military command in Tibet. Referring to US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s recent trip to India, Denmark said he had a very positive and productive visit. “We’re going to continue to enhance our bilateral engagement with India, not in the China context, but because India is an increasingly important player by themselves and we are going to engage India because of its value,” he said.

Obama to Send $4 Trillion Budget Request to Congress

US President Barack Obama will submit a $4 trillion budget proposal for 2016 to a Republican-controlled Congress on Monday that will include increased spending in areas such as middle-class economic policies, precision medicine, infrastructure and national security, along with increased taxes on the wealthy, which Republicans are expected to strongly oppose.

Budget stand-off looms

Obama’s budget, which is projected to include $3.9 trillion in total expenditures and $3.5 trillion in revenues, leaving an annual deficit of $467 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), will likely face stiff resistance from Republicans who are against spending, deficits and tax increases.

The US president and Congress must come to an agreement on a fiscal budget or else the US government could face another partial shutdown of operations as it did in 2013.

“To make these common-sense investments in our future without adding to our deficits, we need to turn the page on the manufactured crises that have defined the debates over our budget in recent years. Our recovery was held back when Congress shut down the government and risked the full faith and credit of the United States. We can’t afford to do that again,” Obama said in a blog post on Friday.

Obama’s budget also calls for doing away with a budget reduction mechanism called sequestration, put in place as part of a reluctant compromise between the White House and Capitol Hill in 2011, which automatically cuts defense and domestic programs based on set limits.

“If Congress rejects my plan and refuses to undo these arbitrary cuts, it will threaten our economy and our military,” Obama stressed.

This Latest Snowden Revelation Will Make Your Head Spin: The NSA Steals Your Email Contact List

The Washington Posthas unearthed a new controversial tactic from the National Security Agency – harvesting data from the online address books of American citizens.

 Citing classified documents given to the Post by former NSA contractor turned leaker Edward Snowden, the paper reports that the organization intercepts email contact lists to piece together connections and map the digital relationships of millions, including unsuspecting Americans, in the name of unearthing potential terror connections.

From the Post report:

During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million per year.

Two unnamed intelligence officials cited by the Post did not dispute that the number of Americans swept up in the program could total as many as tens of millions.

Perhaps most worrisome in this latest revelation is that the NSA does not have the legal authority to do this. Neither the U.S. Congress nor the secret FISA court have granted the NSA the right to gather the information in the online email records of U.S. Citizens. Read More