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The Portable Pat Lang

Essential Writings on History, War, Religion and Strategy

From the Introduction:

“In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Col. Lang created his own blog which to this day still serves as a committee of correspondence for a large network of former military and intelligence officers, diplomats, and scholars of international affairs.

Since its launch in 2005, the Turcopolier website has had over 40 million unique visits.

Since leaving the government, he has also authored five books, including a Civil War espionage trilogy, a memoir of his years in government service, and a primer on human intelligence.

This present volume—his sixth book—is an anthology of some of his most important writings. The content speaks for itself.  So have at it.”

Posted in My books | 4 Comments

“Russia hauls 1950s-era tanks out of storage to join battlefield” – TTG

T-54/55 tanks are being transported by rail from a military depot for mothballed equipment in Russia’s far east 

Russia appears to have pulled 1950s-era tanks out of storage in the latest sign of a serious armour shortage in its army. Pictures and video have emerged of what experts say are T-54 and T-55 tanks being transported by rail from a military depot for mothballed equipment in Russia’s far east. If sent into Ukraine the vehicles would likely become the oldest main battle tanks used in the conflict.

The images were obtained by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), an independent Russian intelligence group. It did not reveal how it had obtained the pictures or where they were taken. Other social media channels later released video footage of what appeared to be the same train. CIT said used transport databases showed the train had departed from Arsenyev, the town in the far eastern Primorsky region. Arsenyev is the location of the 1295th Central Tank Repair and Storage Base, a large facility for mothballed military equipment.

It is not clear what the tanks’ destination is, or whether they will ever see combat. But the fact they have been taken out of storage was taken by experts as further confirmation of a high level of attrition of more modern vehicles. “What this tells us is that all the remaining modern tanks are in or around Ukraine. So there are no more modern tanks left in stockpiles. It suggests they’ve used up all the T-62s they have in service so they are down to T-55s,” said Ben Barry, an armoured warfare expert at the think tank, referring to another obsolete tank Russia has used to plug gaps in its arsenal. “It suggests the Ukrainians are continuing to knock out their modern tanks and the proportion of modern tanks being used against Ukraine begins to decline – at a time when the West is supplying modern tanks.”


Comment: Russia has thousands of T-72s still sitting in Siberian boneyards. Apparently they’ve went through all the salvageable ones. The T-55s, although older, remain salvageable because they’re far simpler, less components to rot or rust away or worth stealing and selling off. I think a big problem is going to be their 100mm rifled main gun. How much serviceable ammunition for those relics are in the inventory?

It’s better to consider these T-55s to be infantry support vehicles rather than MBTs. In that role, they’ll probably be adequate. Remember, the Ukrainians received a battalion of super upgraded Slovenian M-55S tanks back in December. At least those have upgraded engines, armor, comms, optics and most importantly the British L7 105mm main gun.

I would have thought Putin would have gotten a thousand MBTs from his new best friend, Xi, along with enough artillery and artillery ammunition to truly change the calculus of the war. I guess the limitless partnership does have limits.


Posted in Russia, TTG, Ukraine Crisis, weapons | 4 Comments

“Terran 1 | Good Luck, Have Fun” – TTG

Relativity is scheduled for its third launch attempt of Terran 1, called Good Luck, Have Fun, from Launch Complex 16 in Cape Canaveral

Weather forecasts point to excellent conditions for Relativity Space’s third attempt at launching the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, currently set for late Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Space Force forecasters on Monday said weather around Launch Complex 16 should be 90% “go” for liftoff of Terran 1, a 110-foot rocket slated to become the first launch ever for Relativity. A three-hour window to fly opens at 10 p.m. EDT.

“Expect only a few clouds to be in the area on Wednesday and as a result, the primary weather concern will be the cumulus cloud rule,” Space Launch Delta 45 forecasters said Monday. Conditions should be “go” for spectators, too: 68 degrees, 78% humidity, and mostly gentle winds.

Since this first flight is a demonstration mission, Terran 1 will fly without a customer payload in the fairing. Two previous attempts were scrubbed due to a mix of technical, weather, and range issues – not uncommon during a new rocket’s debut attempt.



Comment: We’ll see if the third time is the charm. What makes this one unique is that it is the first 3D printed rocket.


Posted in Space, TTG | 10 Comments

ISW take on the Xi – Putin meeting – TTG

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 20 and offered a more reserved vision for Russian-Chinese relations than what Putin was likely seeking. Xi and Putin touted the strength of Chinese-Russian relations in their meeting on March 20, but offered differing interpretations of the scale of future relations in articles they published on March 19. Putin published an article in Chinese state media in which he argued that Russia and China are building a partnership for the formation of a multipolar world order in the face of the collective West’s seeking of domination and the United States pursuing a policy of dual containment against China and Russia. Xi offered a less aggressive overarching goal for Russian-Chinese relations in his article published in Russian state media outlet Rossiskaya Gazeta, in which he noted that Russia and China are generally pursuing a multipolar world order but not specifically against an adversarial West. Xi instead focused heavily on presenting China as a viable third-party mediator to the war in Ukraine whose plan for negotiations ”reflects the unity of views of the world community on overcoming the Ukrainian crisis.” Putin wrote that Russia welcomes China’s willingness to ”play a constructive role in crisis management” regarding the war in Ukraine, but Putin likely was hoping for Xi to adopt a similarly aggressive rhetorical line against the West.

Xi’s refusal to explicitly align China with Russia in Putin’s envisioned geopolitical conflict with the West is a notable departure from China’s declared “no limits partnership” with Russia preceding the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Xi’s rhetoric suggests that he is not inclined to fully give Russia the economic and political support that Russia needs to reverse setbacks in Ukraine. Putin and Xi offered somewhat similar visions for increased Chinese-Russian economic partnership, and it is likely that the two will sign bilateral trade and economic agreements during Xi’s visit, some of which will likely aim to facilitate schemes for sanctions evasion. Xi will also likely offer a more concrete proposal for a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, although it remains unclear what his proposal will entail and how receptive the Kremlin will be to it. The prospects of China supplying Russia with military equipment also remain unclear.


Comment: In spite of any past announcements of a limitless partnership between Russia and China, China is going to do what’s best for China. In my opinion, Xi has no desire to tie himself to  Putin. His eye is on a far wider goal, one that involves safeguarding the international order, as China sees it, and expanding global trade opportunities.


Posted in China, Russia, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 43 Comments

Russian defensive lines: screwing the pooch once again – TTG 

We are passing by the fortifications of the “Surovikin” line (or as many people call the “Faberge” line). In the process, we periodically stop and inspect it, while noticing a number of interesting facts. It is built mainly by civilians. They try to do a quality job and put their soul into the construction. (We saw how the bulldozer driver spent an extra 40 minutes making a neat exit from the strongpoint so that “It would be more convenient for the guys to retrofit it”)

However, in many areas we noticed nuances: The first of them – the line is built according to the map (and the old one at that) and in some places the terrain is simply not taken into account. That is, an anti-tank ditch and a line of concrete “dragon’s teeth” are located on the reverse slope (300 meters from the ridge) from the direction of the expected strike, while the trenches are nearly in a lowland. The enemy, having taken a height and not moving further, can easily hide behind the slope that is opposite to us and accumulate there and we will not even visually observe him.

The second nuance is the anti-tank ditch running in front of the “dragon’s teeth”. The soil dug during its laying is neatly put on our side in a 2.5 meter embankment, which often simply blocks the entire sector of fire and observation for positions. That is, not only is the enemy’s approach to the ditch not covered by barriers, the bottom is not mined, but also the approaches are not covered the defenders’ fire. The enemy will simply accumulate at a distance of a dash, and in the absence of cover, will plant explosives and blow up all engineering barriers. 

The third nuance is often weak and not thick enough ceilings on dugouts in one layer of boards (not logs), covered with a thin layer of earth. Such a layer cannot withstand anything larger than 82 mm mortars. Civilian builders tried to create comfort, and they succeeded, but they did not think about safety. 

The fourth nuance is the bottom of the trench, in which there is no drainage ditch, no drainage pits, and in some places there is no floor (we hope this will be eliminated), a very small percentage of the trench has ceiling (which is very important, especially with the use of air-exploding rounds and drones dropping small IEDs. And of course, the positions are not disguised in any way, as the grass on the dug-out ground does not sprout during the season. This makes it easier for the enemy to identify our positions and adjust fire. 

Fifth, the lack of good dirt roads along the line for quick access of vehicles and for the convenience of transportation or evacuation (on a Kamaz truck, the average speed along the line was 35 km/h, on a car about 20 km/h (after rain, even a pickup truck gets stuck in mud). The units occupying the strongpoints simply did not make markings in order to quickly navigate during the day and night. It is needed so that the driver, who is driving for the first or second time, could quickly bring ammunition and water to the 7th section, which he must quickly find, and not to the 3rd, from where the personnel will have to carry it themselves. In general, we are seeing a huge waste of funds on this line of defense. The involvement of civilian builders and equipment makes it possible to build these structures quickly enough, but the lack of participation in the planning of military engineers and infantrymen, who then hold these positions, leads to the fact that a significant part of these positions does not make sense.

It is extremely unpleasant that the money and resources allocated for this construction often go to waste. Not because of the corruption component (we do not touch on this issue), but simply because of the incompetence and/or impotence of the people who are building it on the ground and are afraid to report to the authorities about the need to postpone construction. This disregard will cost us dearly. What does it cost to start digging not in a lowland, but 500 meters further or closer in order to occupy one of the heights? Why don’t they remove the land covering the sectors? Or do they not use it to further strengthen their positions? If you are afraid to tell the high boss that his beautiful red line on the map needs to be moved a couple of centimeters to the side – you are worthless, as a military man and as a person!


Comment: This is an account of a recent tour of defensive positions in the “Surovikin” line in the Zaporizhzhizia area by the commander of the Sabotage Assault Reconnaissance Group Rusich. Rusich is a volunteer Russian “nazi” group which formed a military unit now fighting with the Wagner Group. His description of Russian defenses does not bode well for defeating any future Ukrainian combined arms offensives.

Laying out proper defensive positions and obstacles is a basic military function. If an Army officer cannot demonstrate this basic skill, he does not remain in any combat arms. General DePuy was TRADOC Commander during my formative years as a young Infantry officer. I was steeped in the DePuy fighting position an elaborate miniature fortress that interlocked with adjacent miniature fortress to create a formidable defensive line or strongpoint. At General DePuy’s insistence, infantry companies going into a defense were heavily augmented with pioneering tools and engineering support when available. But it was the infantry leaders and commanders that were responsible for siting the defensive lines and individual fighting positions.

From this Rusich nazi’s description, it’s fairly obvious that no competent military man is supervising those constructing the fortifications and those construction workers clearly have no access to a manual on the conduct of a defense. Old Soviet military manuals were very good and very thorough in this regard. Defense is something the Russian soldier has historically been very good at. Putin’s kleptocracy seems to have screwed this up, too.

The above illustration is the work of Dr. Lester W. Grau and Dr. Charles K. Bartles of the US Army FMSO from “Russian Future Combat on a Fragmented Battlefield.” Both are noted experts on Russian warfare. Full size Russian (Soviet at the time) strongpoints were constructed at Fort Benning so us young Infantry lieutenants could learn and practice how to reduce these defenses over and over again. The defenses constructed at Zaparozhzhia sound far poorly sited and constructed than our practice strongpoint at Benning.



Posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 53 Comments

“ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over Ukraine war crimes” – TTG

Lvova-Belova, herself, said that about 2,000 “unaccompanied children” from Ukraine were “evacuated” to Russia, mainly to orphanages and other sites

THE HAGUE (AP) — The International Criminal Court said Friday it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine. The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

It also issued a warrant Friday for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.

The court’s president, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that while the ICC’s judges have issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to enforce warrants. “The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law. The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation.”

A possible trial of any Russians at the ICC remains a long way off, as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction — a position reaffirmed earlier this week by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov — and does not extradite its nationals.


Comment: This abduction of Ukrainian children falls under the definition of genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The extent of these abductions is still not clear. A report from the Yale Humanitarian research Lab puts the number at 6,000. The Ukrainian government estimates range from 14,000 to well over 200,000. During summer 2022, Lvova-Belova, herself, said 350 Ukrainian “orphans” from the Donbas region were adopted by Russian families, while another 1,000 Ukrainian children were awaiting adoption in Russia. She even adopted a Ukrainian child herself.

It’s easy to paint Putin, Lvova-Belova and any other Russians involved in this activity as cartoonish, child-eating ogres. That’s too easy and not accurate. This Russian activity is similar to the politicians and church leaders who took native American children away from their families across North America. Pope Francis felt it necessary to travel to Canada last year and beg for forgiveness for the Church’s part in that activity. At the time, those politicians and church leaders thought they were doing the right thing in “civilizing” those native American children and erasing their culture. So many Russians have that same mindset. They feel they are “civilizing” those Ukrainian children while doing their damnedest to erase Ukrainian culture and society. This is not a valid excuse, just an explanation for this genocidal behavior. The above photo of Lvova-Belova and the hapless orphans is from a Russian government article painting the abduction and reeducation program as a great humanitarian effort. They’re wrong, just as wrong as those North Americans involved in the native schools horror.

Will some future Russian leader make the pilgrimage to Kyiv a hundred years from now and beg the Ukrainians for forgiveness? I doubt it, but who knows what can happen a hundred years from now. What I am fairly certain of is that Putin will not be appearing before the ICC. But he’ll probably think twice about his future international travel itinerary.




Posted in Russia, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 106 Comments

How the JDAM-ER will be employed – TTG

There are a lot of new Ukrainian weapon, logistical, Russian vehicle and force design reasons to think the Russian Army currently lacks the communications and mobility to stop a Ukrainian breakthrough attack.

Looking at the vehicle/force design reasons, the statement: “The firepower of the Russian Army is in it’s vehicles,” pretty much covers it. All the best Russian digital spread-spectrum and frequency hopping radios were in its newest vehicles.  Most of which have been destroyed in the last year of fighting. This leaves Russian artillery with older Cold War generation radios, 3G cell phones or Chinese commercial radios which are all horribly vulnerable to 1980s technology direction finding, let alone that of the 2020’s gear with 1 to 3 meter geolocation performance.

This plays into Ukraine’s new JDAM-ER glide bombs.  Which, when toss bombed at low altitude under radar coverage, can travel up to 44 km.  This means when tossed 10 km from the front lines out of shoulder fired missile range.  They reach deep into the tactical depths where Russian artillery batteries and their local use ammo depots live. These batteries and ammo dumps have to be close together for logistical, lack of radio and lack of resupply truck reasons. A single Ukrainian Su-25 can pitch eight 500lb GDU-38 JDAM with wing kits at eight separate GPS coordinates generated by Ukrainian radio direction finding in one pass. Painting two GBU-38 on each of four artillery batteries neutralizes half a division’s worth of guns.

Russian fortifications in Ukraine without artillery fire to support them are the same sort of speed bump that Iraqi border fortifications were in the 1991 Gulf War. And in 2023 it’s worse. In the old days US pilots would fly along the length of a trench system and train release dumb 500-lb MK-82s – now you can get the same effect from 40 km away by programming each GBU-38 based JDAM-ER to land maybe 50-100 meters apart along the trench system.

Now we get to the mobility/vehicle design issue.  Most Russian vehicles, other than the few command vehicles, lack auxiliary power units.  This means they have to run 500hp to 800hp diesel and 1000 hp gas turbine engines to charge their batteries every few hours to operate radios, digital fire control and night vision sights. A 70 ton M1A2 SEPv3 with a 1500hp gas turbine actually uses less fuel in a stationary defensive position than a Russian tank because is has a 10 kW APU that sips a gallon per hour of JP-8 vs 13 to 18 when the 1500hp gas turbine engine is idling. 


Comment: This series of comments by Trent Telenko was in response to a scenario for the coming Ukrainian offensive offered by Thomas Theiner. The interesting part is how the JDAM-ER works with the low-level spray and pray aerial tactics made necessary by the still effective Russian and Ukrainian air defense capabilities. A 40 km range from a low level pop up is damned impressive and far better than I thought possible.  Another point is that the JDAM-ER is relatively inexpensive, about $25,000 for a 500 lb warhead, larger and far cheaper than a GLMRS round.

I’m thinking back to a year ago when Colonel Lang suggested an AVG-like squadron of A-10s lend-leased to Ukraine and piloted/maintained by ex-US pilots and mechanics. Armed with JDAM-ERs along with other stand off munitions and using the same low-level pop up tactics, I think it would be an effective additional capability for the Ukrainian Air Force. Unfortunately, I also don’t think it’ll ever happen. They need those Polish MiG-29s as soon as possible.


Posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 82 Comments


This month marks the 20th anniversary of the disastrous U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which permanently altered the balance within the Middle East/ Persian Gulf, saw the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and drew the United States into a military occupation and counterinsurgency program which drained the country of an estimated $2 trillion in resources and lost human capital. The impact on Iraq was even more tragic and left the country in a state of political turmoil that still prevails.

The invasion was justified by fake intelligence provided by dubious sources with their own ulterior motives, but which corresponded to the whims of the neoconservatives in the Bush Administration.

There is no better way to review learn from that folly than to republish here the article by Col. Lang, which was published in the Middle East Policy Journal on May 20, 2004 (Volume XI, Number 2, Summer 2004). It stands still today as one of the most comprehensive accounts of the failures of the Washington foreign policy and national security establishment, both within government and the think tank community.


TTG note: The MEPC article is now only available through a subscription. I couldn’t find it anywhere else online. It is also available in “The Portable Pat Lang.” My recommendation is to get the book. “Drinking the Koolaid” is but one of the gems in this diamond mine of commentary.

Posted in Books, Harper, Intelligence, Iraq | 14 Comments

Pope Francis: ten years on – TTG

Congratulations to Pope Francis on the tenth anniversary of his election as Supreme Pontiff.  Special thanks, Holy Father, for your pastoral care of those on the “peripheries”–refugees and migrants, the poor, LGBTQ people–as well as your kindness to me. Ad multos annos!  (James Martin, SJ)

ROME — On a recent Sunday, a group of young American Catholics were among thousands in St. Peter’s Square waiting for Pope Francis to deliver his weekly message. Gillian Caruso said he’s doing a great job. “He came out with the statement that we were talking about at dinner last night that no pope has ever said, about gay people not being a sin,” she said. “So that was pretty cool.” Her friend Carolyn Cree agreed. “Especially in this time, like, everyone feels supported by him, you know?”

The women were referring to the pope’s recent remarks to journalists, on his flight home following a visit to Sudan, in which he denounced laws criminalizing LGBT people. He said such legislation is an injustice and a sin, because LGBT people “are children of God and God loves them.”

Back in St Peter’s Square, his message over, Francis delivered his signature sign-off: “Don’t forget to pray for me,” the pope said. “Have a great meal and arrivederci.” As the crowd cheered, the 86-year-old pope returned to the modest Vatican City guest house where he has chosen to live, renouncing the pomp and isolation of the Apostolic Palace.

In that same square on March 13, 2013, the new pope introduced himself as coming from the “end of the world.” Born in Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio became the first non-European pontiff in more than a millenium. Since that day, says Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology at Villanova University, Francis has made clear the old world no longer calls the shots on what’s Catholic and what’s not. “The Western hemisphere, the North Atlantic, a certain bourgeois Catholicism, he has rejected that in the most radical terms,” says Faggioli.

The first Jesuit pope and the first to take the name Francis – after the saint of the poor – was elected with a mandate to clean up a scandal-ridden Vatican administration. Papal biographer and veteran Vatican watcher Marco Politi says Francis’ reforms of the Vatican bank, for example, are radical. “It is no more possible that mafia money flows through the Vatican bank or corruption money for political parties in Italy like it was in the past,” Politi says.

And he says it’s not only on financial issues that Francis has left his mark. “He has wiped off from the table all the obsession of the Catholic Church about sexual issues,” Politi says, adding that Francis shuns the culture wars and rarely speaks about birth control and abortion. “He doesn’t change the letter of some church documents,” Politi says. “But with his gestures or with his words, he paves the way to new attitudes.”


Comment: This commentary is by NPR’s Sylvia Poggoli. She goes on to cover the Pope’s more controversial actions and the pushback he’s experiencing from the more traditionalist, conservative elements of the Catholic Church and from self-righteous populist world leaders. I doubt Pope Francis is surprised by this push back or even disappointed by it.

One of his more far reaching reforms is pushing the organization and functioning of the church into synodality rather than pure authoritarianism. This may stem from his Jesuit belief in the importance of the informed conscience. In my view, he has made listening to others, questioning both the orthodox and unorthodox and continuing the discussion in a journey of spiritual and human growth. When first asked who is  Jorge Mario Bergoglio, his response was “I am a sinner. This is the accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” I firmly believe this admission is at the heart of Pope Francis’ call to us, all of us, to join him on this pilgrimage to God. The path for this pilgrimage is laid out in “Laudato Si.”


Posted in Religion, TTG | 18 Comments

“Turkey Supplied Ukraine with DPICM Cluster Shells” – TTG

There are the bodies of 59 Russian soldiers. They were killed in battle against the Ukrainian Army on the outskirts of Bakhmut. Crossing through an open field during artillery strikes is very difficult. Even more so if the Ukrainians used DPICM.

In November 2022, Turkey began supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine with Cold War-era DPICM cluster munitions. The Turkish defense industry produced such shells as part of a joint project with the United States. At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine could have received not only 155-mm projectiles, but also 122-mm TRG-122 rockets by the Turkish Roketsan, also equipped with a cluster warhead.

Turkey is now the only country in the world that can export DPICM. The reason is that because the United States itself cannot sell such shells for export due to restrictions of its own legislation, although there are up to 3 million such ammunition in American military warehouses, Foreign Policy reports.

DPICMs are effective as they have 5-10 times more destructive power than conventional 155-mm projectiles, so firing cluster munitions ultimately leads to a decrease in the rate of wear of the barrels of Western artillery systems at the disposal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On the other hand, DPICM has a bad reputation among the US military, as in some cases up to 25% of submunitions may not explode. And some politicians in the USA did not support the idea of handing over DPICM projectiles to Ukraine: they say that this will only lead to more littering of our land with “explosive surprises”, which will take a long time to eliminate.

Turkey Supplied Ukraine with the DPICM Cluster Shells

Comment: First it was the Bayraktars. Now it’s the cluster munitions. Old Tayyip continues to plot his middle course, but in these two cases he’s emphatically telling his old friend Vladimir Vladimovich to shove it up his fourth point of contact. Dan Rice is the President of the American University in Kyiv. He’s also an unpaid special advisor to General Zaluzhnyi, probably because he’s a West Point graduate who served his commitment as a field artillery officer. In 2004, he voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq for thirteen months. He had high praise for these cluster munitions in a recent Euromaidan Press article.  

“Turkish-supplied DPICM cluster bombs were one of the biggest game changers of the war: using high explosive artillery against Russian infantry is like throwing darts at ants. With DPICM, it’s like using a flamethrower against the whole ant hill. After Türkiye started supplying DPICM to Ukraine, Russian daily casualties have increased exponentially, from 100-200 to 600-800 soldiers killed a day, Rice claimed.”

We won’t supply DPICM rounds to Ukraine. After pissing and moaning about Russia’s use of cluster ammunition in Ukraine, it would be the height of hypocrisy for us to supply them to Ukraine even though Zelenskiy asked for them repeatedly. Rice also says we should give Ukraine the submunitions for our remaining DPICM rounds for use as drone munitions. I don’t know if we’ll consider that or not.

BTW, I can’t begin to imagine the carnage a salvo of those 122-mm TRG-122 rockets fired by a battery of BM-21s would bring down on a dismounted infantry assault or even entrenched infantry.



Posted in TTG, Turkey, Ukraine Crisis | 28 Comments

Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement Orchestrated by China – TTG

Abu Dhabi, UAE CNN  — Saudi Arabia and Iran announced on Friday that they had agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties after seven years of hostility, in a deal between the regional archrivals that could have wide-ranging implications for the Middle East. Riyadh and Tehran plan to reopen their embassies within two months in an agreement mediated by China, Saudi Arabia and Iran said in a joint statement after talks in Beijing on Friday. They also plan to reimplement a security pact signed 22 years ago under which both parties agreed to cooperate on terrorism, drug-smuggling and money-laundering, as well as reviving a trade and technology deal from 1998.

Friday’s announcement is also a diplomatic victory for China in a Gulf region that has long been considered part of the US’ domain of influence. It comes as the Biden administration tries to notch its own win in the Middle East by trying to broker a normalization pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Talks had been ongoing since March 6 in Beijing between Iranian national security chief Ali Shamkhani, Saudi national security council adviser Mosaed Bin Mohammad Al-Aiban and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, according to Iranian state media. Video of the signing ceremony aired by Iranian media showed officials seated around tables on opposite sides with the Saudi Arabian, Iranian and Chinese flags around them.

“We will continue to play a constructive role in properly handling hotspot issues in today’s world in accordance with the wishes of all countries and demonstrate our responsibility as a major country,” Wang said, adding that Chinese President Xi Jinping supported it since the beginning. In an apparent push back to American influence, Wang said that “the world is not limited to the Ukraine issue” while emphasizing that the fate of the Middle East should be determined by the people of the Middle East.


Comment: JamesT brought this to my attention earlier today. He’s right. It is a big deal. My first thought was that this may finally bring peace, or an absence of war, to Yemen. This is a bold example of diplomacy as a tool of national power. Between the war in Ukraine and the threat of war in Taiwan, the West has been focused on the shininess of military power, with a little economic power thrown in the mix in the form of sanctions. Come to think of it, though, the revival and strengthening of the NATO alliance is quite the diplomatic accomplishment. Still, we’re clearly focused on military power. The bottom line is that Chinese diplomacy has made the rest of the world’s powers look small and foolish.

Another possible outcome of this Chinese diplomatic coup is the weakening and possible collapse of the all powerful petro-dollar. I don’t see this as a sure thing, but it’s possible as an Indian observer, S.L. Kanthan, put it today. 

“The Saudi-Iran peace brokered by China today may very well be the cornerstone for petro-yuan — i.e., oil being sold for Chinese yuan. Obviously, this detente also paves the way for both Saudi Arabia and Iran to join BRICS. Imagine a BRICS+ with three oil giants — Russia, Saudis and Iranians. How hard will it be create a new currency that’s backed by oil and gas? Endless possibilities in a multipolar world!”


Posted in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, TTG | 88 Comments