Dedication

We maintain and continue this committee of correspondence in memory of our founder and mentor, Colonel W. Patrick Lang. The image to the right is Marcus, a character from William S. Burroughs’s “The Coming of the Purple Better One.” Colonel Lang would refer to Marcus sometimes in clever jest, sometimes in biting social commentary and sometimes simply because he liked Marcus. May everyone who corresponds here do so in a similar spirit.

Posted in Administration | 12 Comments

AVAILABLE now FROM iUniverse, Amazon and Barnes and Noble in hard cover, soft cover, and digital.

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

Illia Ponomarenko on two years of war

Two years.

It’s been two years since that fucking night of February 24.

We knew — well, we’ve been told “it’s not 100% confirmed yet…but THIS is possibly due at 4 am or  5 am, stay put.” 

A half-glass of single malt whisky with ice poured into a glass, the final hours alone in sweet silence in front of a laptop. 

Scrolling through the news all the time. 

And then the morbid face of Putin twisted with sick rage live on TV. And, shortly after, the rolling thunder of missile strikes coming in from all around Kyiv. 

That was supposed to be the apocalypse of a nation, but, thanks to so many men and women standing up, that night became the beginning of Ukraine’s finest hour. 

The one that old grandpa Winston was once talking about. 

Oh, it’s been an epoch of time ever since that day. 

The Battle of Kyiv. The heroic resistance of Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv. A lone Ukrainian Marine sacrificing his life to blow up a bridge and stop advancing Russian tanks.

The tragic debacle in the south. The Russian extermination of Mariupol. The Bucha massacre. The unspeakable meat grinder in Donbas. The Kharkiv operation. The cheering crowds jubilating from the Ukrainian colors getting back to Kherson. 

The fields of death and gore at Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Battles in the sea and the air. 

So many ups and downs, so many heroes, human-made miracles. The price of survival as a nation is terrible. We’re going to mourn and shed tears many decades in the future over what Russia has done.

We’ve seen unbelievable things in this war. Ukraine has done and is doing incredible things in this war in spite of all odds.

The Ukrainian military has been making a gargantuan sacrifice against one of the largest and the most brutal war machines in human history.

Everyone in this war has revealed their true face, from very ordinary people to the highest-ranking power brokers.

Frankly, I don’t get it how some could choose to side with the evil, bloodlust, blatant lies, hypocrisy, and imperial savagery over the story of a nation that was supposed to go extinct within weeks but now enters the third year of resistance against the most terrible war of extermination since Adolf Hitler.

With everything that has happened over the last few months, we all should be ready for a lot of hard things to happen. A lot of hopes have been broken due to things we have no control over. 

Yet, we need to keep doing what we should and what is simply right. 

We’ve made an extremely long way, and the struggle continues no matter what.

– Illia Ponomarenko, Bucha

https://twitter.com/IAPonomarenko/status/1761143168416760203

Comment: Illia Ponomarenko was a defense reporter for the Kyiv Independent when the Russians invaded two years ago. Today he is a freelance writer living in Bucha. So many people were dead certain that he would never launch a full scale invasion of Ukraine. Even Putin and Lavrov were telling the world it was an absurd notion… until they launched their invasion. No one thinks the notion is absurd now, especially in Ukraine. No one thought the Ukrainians would last six months, never mind two years. From the course of the last two years, the war will probably continue another two years.

The above video is from a benefit concert performed by Lithuanian opera singers in Kaunas featuring the a cappela version of an old Ukrainian folk song “Oi u luzi chervona kalyna” sung by Andrii Khlyvnyuk in front of the Cathedral of Saint Sofia in Kyiv only a few days after the invasion with the Russians standing on the outskirts of the city. It was a dark time. That video of Khlyvnyuk became a worldwide symbol of Ukrainian resistance copied by many including the Kaunas opera singers. That version struck me because scenes from the January 1991 bloody confrontation with Soviet VDV and Spetsnaz forces outside the Vilnius radio and TV broadcast station played over the singing of Andrii Khlyvnyuk and the Lithuanian opera singers. That was another dark moment. I’m sure the significance of that was not lost on anyone in attendance at that benefit concert.

This is the original version of Andrii Khlyvnyuk singing “Oi u luzi chervona kalyna” in that empty Kyiv square. Damned inspiring.

And this is Pink Floyd’s version, Hey Hey Rise Up, also featuring Andrii Khlyvnyuk.

TTG… Slava Ukraini!

Posted in TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 14 Comments

The Register on the leak of Chinese infosec vendor’s hacking activities

The I-Soon office building in Chengdu, China, on Tuesday.Credit…Dake Kang/Associated Press

A cache of stolen document posted to GitHub appears to reveal how a Chinese infosec vendor named I-Soon offers rent-a-hacker services for Beijing. The trove appeared on GitHub last week and contains hundreds of documents documenting I-Soon’s activities. Analysis of the docs by infosec vendor SentinelOne characterizes I-Soon as “a company who competes for low-value hacking contracts from many government agencies.” SentinelOne and Malwarebytes found I-Soon claims to have developed tools capable of compromising devices running Linux, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. The Android attack code can apparently retrieve and send a user’s entire messaging history from Chinese chat apps, plus Telegram.

The Chinese crew claimed to have cracked government departments in India, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, and of having accessed a NATO system. Other material appears to see I-Soon bid for work in Xinjiang – a province in which Beijing persecutes the Muslim Uyghur population – by claiming to have run anti-terrorist ops in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of the leaked docs describe hardware hacking devices I-Soon employs – including a poisoned power bank that uploads data into victims’ machines.

According to Risky.biz, some of the leaked docs detail an exchange between I-Soon staff as they ponder whether it is possible to get details of exploits found during the Tianfu Cup – a Chinese hacking contest modeled on Pwn2Own.

Infosec luminary Brian Krebs’s take on another document is that it describes how I-Soon has “various ‘clients’ that appear to be different Chinese government agencies seeking access to foreign government systems.” Those clients “supply a list of targets they’re interested in, and there appears to be something of a competitive industry that has sprung up to gain the access requested.” That industry pays out when attackers achieve access to a site on a client’s target list, with one document mentioning a bounty for cracking the FBI.

So what? The trove is remarkable as it appears to be the first known instance of a leak from a Chinese hacker-for-hire. Documents detailing how I-Soon tries to win work from Chinese government agencies do therefore offer insight into how Beijing outsources its infosec offensives. But the doc dump is also a little dull. Early analysis doesn’t suggest I-Soon possessed capabilities not already observed among Chinese attackers. Consider, too, that contractors with cyber capabilities flourish around the world. Wherever you reside, your government probably has dealings with them. That China has a similar ecosystem should surprise nobody.

The Register expects further revelations may flow from the trove, as it contains hundreds of screenshots of documents in Chinese. Machine translations of the trove are starting to appear here, but The Register knows from bitter experience that using optical character recognition to extract text from images before subjecting the results to web translation engines produces funky results. We’ll keep an eye out for proper translations and bring you more news if they reveal juicier fare. 

https://www.theregister.com/2024/02/22/i_soon_china_infosec_leak/

Comment: Found this last night. The role of Chinese patriotic hackers was long suspected before the connection was proven. I was involved in obtaining that proof a long, long time ago. I wish I could tell you how we did this. It’s a hell of a story. Many of us in the cyber community at the time were jealous of the way both China and Russia were able to use private sector hackers in their operations. I tried to sell the idea by likening it to an SF team advising and directing an indigenous force. Unfortunately, few in cyber were also SF so it ended up like a bunch of pigs looking at a wristwatch… a lot of curiosity, but precious little understanding.

Coincidentally, or maybe not coincidentally, there was a major AT&T cellular network outage. That was all over the news. I didn’t even have my cell phone on, so without the news I would have missed it. My first thought was that it was a Chinese hack, but it reportedly was caused by a badly implemented software update in the AT&T system. That could be just a wild guess on someone’s part. We’ll probably have a better idea what happened in a few days.

Another major cyber event occurred today. Healthcare technology giant Change Healthcare confirmed they were the victim of a cyberattack. It caused massive consequential problems for a lot of patients, but I heard nothing about this on the news. Only a tip from Eric Newhill alerted me to this news. I would not be surprised if someone was trying to keep this quiet. I would also not be surprised if the Chinese had something to do with this one.

TTG

https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/21/change-healthcare-cyberattack/

Posted in China, Cyber, TTG | 24 Comments

IM-1 lander enters lunar orbit

An image released by Intuitive Machines after its Nova-C lander entered lunar orbit Feb. 21 on the IM-1 mission. Credit: Intuitive Machines

WASHINGTON — Intuitive Machines’ first lunar lander mission entered orbit around the moon Feb. 21, setting up a landing attempt in a day. The company announced on social media that the Nova-C lander, named Odysseus, performed a 408-second burn of its main engine, placing the spacecraft into a circular orbit around the moon at an altitude of 92 kilometers. The maneuver, which changed the spacecraft’s velocity by 800 meters per second, was completed with an accuracy of 2 meters per second.

Intuitive Machines did not disclose the exact time of the burn in its announcement at 10:20 a.m. Eastern. The spacecraft had been on a trajectory that would have taken it about 100 kilometers from the moon around 9:40 a.m. Eastern. The insertion burn came after two trajectory correction maneuvers to refine the spacecraft’s path to the moon, with the company concluding a third planned maneuver was not needed.

The engine, which uses liquid oxygen and methane propellants, was tested in space for the first time in a commissioning maneuver Feb. 16. Company executives said before the launch that successfully completing that test would give them greater confidence that the engine would work as required for a soft landing.

With the spacecraft now in orbit, Intuitive Machines is now moving ahead with plans for a landing attempt on Feb. 22. The landing, near the Malapert A crater in the south polar region of the moon, was originally scheduled for 5:49 p.m. Eastern that day. The company said late Feb. 21 that it revised the landing time to 5:30 p.m. Eastern after flight controllers “analyzed the post-Lunar Orbit Insertion engine burn data and updated the anticipated flight maneuver timing.”

The IM-1 mission is carrying six NASA payloads through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program under a $118 million task order. The spacecraft is also carrying six payloads for non-NASA customers, such as artwork, a data archive and a small astronomical telescope. If the spacecraft does land successfully, Intuitive Machines expects to operate it for about a week before the sun sets at the site, ending the mission.

If the landing is successful, Intuitive Machines will become the first non-governmental entity to successfully soft-land on the moon. The Beresheet lander by Israel’s SpaceIL crashed during an April 2019 landing attempt, while the HAKUTO-R M1 lander from Japan’s ispace crashed during its landing attempt in April 2023. Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander, which also had a NASA CLPS task order, suffered a propellant leak shortly after its Jan. 8 launch and aborted plans to orbit and land on the moon, reentering about 10 days after launch.

https://spacenews.com/im-1-lander-enters-lunar-orbit/

Comment: I heard about the launch after the fact. I did hear about the Odysseus lunar lander successfully entering lunar orbit on the car radio earlier today. I’ll try to catch the landing attempt at 5:30 PM Eastern. NASA will be covering it at the link below.

https://plus.nasa.gov/scheduled-video/intuitive-machines-1-lunar-landing/

Posted in Space, TTG | 10 Comments

“Indicted ex-FBI informant told investigators he got Hunter Biden dirt from Russian intelligence officials”

CNN  — The former FBI informant charged with lying about the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine told investigators after his arrest that Russian intelligence officials were involved in passing information to him about Hunter Biden, prosecutors said Tuesday in a new court filing, noting that the information was false. Prosecutors also said Alexander Smirnov has been “actively peddling new lies that could impact US elections” after meeting with Russian spies late last year and that the fallout from his previous false bribery accusations about the Bidens “continue[s] to be felt to this day.”

Smirnov claims to have “extensive and extremely recent” contacts with foreign intelligence officials, prosecutors said in the filing. They said he previously told the FBI that he has longstanding and extensive contacts with Russian spies, including individuals he said were high-level intelligence officers or command Russian assassins abroad.

Prosecutors with special counsel David Weiss’ team said Tuesday that Smirnov has maintained those ties and noted that, in a post-arrest interview last week, “Smirnov admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about Businessperson 1,” referring to President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

The revelations about Smirnov’s alleged foreign contacts were disclosed as part of Weiss’ arguments to keep him in jail while he awaits trial. A federal judge, however, ruled later Tuesday that Smirnov be released while he awaits trial. The release was granted with several conditions, including that Smirnov be subject to GPS monitoring and surrender both his American and Israeli passports.

https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/20/politics/biden-former-fbi-informant-russian-intelligence/index.html

Comment: The photo above probably catches the mood of a lot of Trump supporters. This turn of events just adds to the disappointment and embarrassment of Comer’s effort to take down Biden at the behest of Trump. I could have used a picture of Homer Simpson. Do’oh!

What this does not mean is that Trump is colluding with the Russians. I still believe that Trump is incapable of colluding with anybody, much less the Russians. He is, what we call in the business, unsuitable for a clandestine relationship, immune to any degree of control. It’s always been this way and it will not change.

It is just unfortunate that so many Trump adjacent people are pussy footing around with the Kremlin’s agents. In addition to Smirnov, there’s Paul Manafort’s many years of crooked dealings with Viktor Yanukovych and others in Russian Intelligence. There’s also Charles McGonigal, former CI Chief in the FBI’s NY Field Office, cozying up to Oleg Deripaska and another Albanian intelligence official. He also aggressively pushed for the public reopening of the FBI investigation of Clinton and was responsible for dismissing a real investigation into the Trump Tower server connection with Alfa Bank. And the hapless Rudy Giuliani working with Andrii Derkach to help Trump take down Biden.     

None of this is collusion with Russian Intelligence. It is Russian Intelligence attempting to conduct their influence operations through those Trump adjacent characters. They do it. We do it. I don’t think what the Kremlin did to influence our recent elections holds a candle to what we did in Guatemala in 1954. But we still have to guard against such influence operations and do what we can to mitigate those efforts by the Kremlin or anybody else.

TTG

https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.nvd.167064/gov.uscourts.nvd.167064.15.0.pdf

Posted in Intelligence, Politics, TTG | 43 Comments

“Heavy Fog In Channel; Continent Cut Off.” – Walrus.

INTERNATIONAL CODE OF SIGNALS: CODE FLAG “U” – YOU ARE STANDING INTO DANGER!

America is the Titanic and our Iceberg is something called “Inversion”.

I tried to draw attention to this in August 2014 by quoting that Times Of London headline of 22 October 1957 which delightfully summed up the British Elites inverted view of their own importance. For Millennials and Generation “X”, you may not get the humor but by 1957 Britain was in no position to be superior about anything, having had to endure multiple indignities as its empire imploded, including its failed Suez military intervention in 1956.

I will deliberately mix metaphors yet again; There is fog in the channel and we, on board the U. S. S. Titanic, are steaming at full speed towards an iceberg called “Inversion”. I can see it because living in Australia, the land “Down Under”, I am inverted. Tucker Carlson can see it and has desperately signalled the bridge but the captain isn’t listening. Vladimir Putin can see it, tried to warn us and settled for smashing our steering wheel and jamming the engine telegraph at “full speed ahead” after we abused him for his temerity in considering that Russia should be treated as an equal. The Chinese can see it and are content to watch as we destroy ourselves. The rest of the world can see it and are watching with delight. The passengers don’t know it, yet, but perhaps the smarter ones are edging towards the lifeboats.

Poor Tucker Carlson, his fate is certain; Its the same as Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s bosun; According to “The Oxford Book Of Ships and The Sea”, in 1707 Sir Cloudesley Shovells fleet was heading for the entrance of the English channel in bad weather with no navigational sight, a bosun came to him and explained that he had been navigating himself, keeping a log, and warned that, according to his calculations, the fleet was heading for the rocks; Sailors were forbidden from by law navigating – Shovell had him hanged from the yardarm. However, karma is a bitch:

“Shovell’s flagship, the second-rate HMS Association, struck the rocks near the Isles of Scilly at 8 pm on 22 October (2 November, by the modern calendar) 1707. HMS Association went down in three or four minutes, with none of the 800 men that were on board saved,[4] according to sailors watching on the first-rate HMS St George. Four large ships, HMS Association, the third-rate HMS Eagle, the fourth-rate HMS Romney and the fire ship HMS Firebrand all sank.[9]

With nearly 2,000 sailors lost that night, the Scilly naval disaster was recorded as one of the greatest maritime disasters in British history.[9]

Watch Carlson being interviewed.

We keep acting as if we are in the drivers seat. What if we aren’t? Has anyone actually read what Putin says instead of watching CNN’s slanted interpretations? What happens if the rest of the world decides that instead of being “the indispensable nation”, we are the Pariah and Putins Russia is the paradigm – inversion.

Posted in Media, Policy, Politics, Walrus | 106 Comments

“Ukraine War, 17 February 2024: Melee in Avdiivka”

Hello everybody!

An update at ‘unusual hour’, because of latest developments in the Avidiivka area.

Essentially, upon realising that the ZSU is in the process of withdrawing from the ruins of the town, the Russians launched such a massive onslaught, that the outcome of this battle can only be described as a ‘veritable catastrophe’. ….and that for both sides.

The ZSU seems to have planned a so-called ‘phased withdrawal’. That is: first to go were the units holding the eastern side of positions, outside the down. Then the units holding the south. Then the units holding the town were to withdraw to the 9th District, and from there to fall back further west etc…

The 110th Mech led the way. Its I Battalion seems to have completed its withdrawal relatively intact (at least there are meanwhile videos showing its T-72s and different infantry fighting vehicles on the way out, disturbed by the Russian shelling). Already the withdrawal of its II Battalion from the Zenit fortification collapsed towards its conclusion: as mentioned yesterday, at least six wounded were left behind, and about a dozen of troops killed while withdrawing…

Foremost, the Russians then launched such a massive attack – they have rushed literally all they’ve got into the onslaught – and that from so many directions, and ‘supported’ by over 50 air strikes, that both their own, and the Ukrainian plans then fell apart.

The result was what is termed with ‘melee’ in military vocabulary (from French mêlée). See: disorganised battle fought at ‘abnormally’ close range, with little control from above, and that all over the ruined Avidiivka. Something like ‘Hollywood-style, everybody against everybody, at very short ranges’.

Unsurprisingly, details are still fragmented, but what can be assessed from what has been reported by now, is looking something like this:

  • Yesterday alone, the Russians should have lost over 1,300 ‘killed in action’ (KIA), and another 1,000 were ‘wounded in action’ (WIA); their casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) is so poor, that the mass of the wounded cannot even be evacuated (if they are found, just for the start); plus, local military hospitals are hopelessly overfilled; 
  • The Russian 74th and 114th Motor Rifle Brigades have been wiped out in the process (their combined loss is assessed with over 4,000 KIA and WIA); 
  • However, the ZSU also suffered dozens of losses, and – worst of all – left dozens of additional WIA behind in Avidiivka. Considering the poor state of the Russian CASEVAC… sigh…

Where are the frontlines right now, I doubt even the local commanders can say with any significant dose of certainty. My ‘best guess’ is that the ZSU is trying to hold out in the 9th District, buying time to collect scattered troops that are falling back from the ruins of Avidiivka. If so, the situation is something like this:

Of course, more details are to follow in the morning (or days later), but the point is: I do not expect them to contain any ‘good news’.

https://xxtomcooperxx.substack.com/p/ukraine-war-17-february-2024-melee

Comment: This is Tom Cooper’s take on the withdrawal from Avdiivka published last night. He published an update this morning. I’ve linked to that below.

About the same time, Syrskyi publicly announced the decision to withdraw from Avdiivka.

Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid the environment and save the lives and health of soldiers, the decision was made to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable borders.

Our soldiers fulfilled their military duty duly, did their best to destroy the best Russian military units, inflicted significant losses in manpower and equipment to the enemy. We use measures to stabilize the situation and maintain occupied positions.

The life of military is the highest value. We will return the Avdiivka anyway.

GLORY TO UKRAINE

Judging by the reinforcing units sent to that front, including two battalions of the 3rd Assault Brigade, I believe the decision to evacuate Avdiivka was made before Syrskyi took over. It just fell on him to execute the plan. This is an extremely complicated and dangerous operation. I’m not surprised it didn’t go exactly according to plan. A withdrawal under pressure and a passage of lines, also probably under pressure, are two of the most difficult maneuvers to execute. In the 25th Infantry Division in the late 70s, we practiced these maneuvers along with breakout from encirclement regularly because we assumed we would always be outmanned and out gunned on a potential battlefield. The Ukrainian Army at Avdiivka is certainly outmanned, out gunned and definitely under tremendous pressure. Once the Russians detected the withdrawal was underway, they hit the Ukrainians with everything they had.

The Ukrainians also decided to bring up air defense to deal with the glide bomb attacks. The Russians are getting damned good at those attacks and it’s been devastating on prepared defenses and defenses in built up areas. It could have been a Patriot or SAMP/T or even a NASAMS unit brought up. No matter what it was, two Su-34s and an Su-35 were already downed. That they waited so long to risk one of these precious air defense weapons speaks to the effectiveness of the Russian glide bombs.

All in all, I’m glad to see the Ukrainians decided to not do another “Bakhmut Stands” defense at all costs in Avdiivka. The withdrawal/retreat seems to have been pulled off with serious, but not horrific casualties, at least for the Ukrainians. The Russians, on the other hand, have thrown caution to the wind in their zeal to obtain a victory for Putin’s election.

TTG

https://xxtomcooperxx.substack.com/p/ukraine-war-17-february-2024-mopping

Posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 69 Comments

Open Thread – 16 February 2024

As SSG Gutierrez would sometimes enthusiastically answer the company phone, no matter who was calling, “Charging Charlie, One Three Five, speak your nickel’s worth.”

A piece of big news this morning is the death of Navalny in a Russian prison. Not surprising at all. I don’t see why he was held up as a symbol of freedom. He was very much like Putin, just a rival to Putin.

TTG

Posted in Open Thread | 68 Comments

Space Wars?

On Wednesday, February 14 at 5:30 p.m. ET, Falcon 9 launched the USSF-124 mission to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

MDA, SDA Announce Upcoming Launch of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor and Tranche 0 Satellites

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) announce the upcoming launch of six satellites into low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. Today’s planned launch will include two satellites for MDA’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) and the final four SDA Tranche 0 (T0) Tracking Layer satellites of its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA). As part of the National Security Space Launch program, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the satellites to orbit. “This launch represents a pivotal time for MDA as we enter a new phase of missile warning, tracking and defense,” said Lt. Gen. Heath Collins, director of MDA. “These HBTSS satellites are an essential step forward in our efforts to stay ahead of our adversaries.”

MDA, the U.S. Space Force and SDA are collaborating to develop HBTSS as a space sensor prototype demonstration providing fire control quality data required to defeat advanced missile threats. Ultimately, this data is critical to enabling engagement by missile defense weapons, including engagement of hypersonic glide-phase weapons. This “birth-to-death” tracking by HBTSS will make it possible to maintain custody of missile threats from launch through intercept regardless of location. “Launching our Tracking satellites into the same orbit with the MDA HBTSS satellites is a win for both agencies,” said Derek Tournear, director of SDA. “We’ll be able to look at test targets from the same orbit at the same time, so that we can see how the two sensors work together. In Tranche 1, SDA will fly both sensor types as an operational system – medium-field-of-view demonstrating fire control, based on HBTSS design, and wide-field-of-view doing warning and tracking, based on T0 tracking design.”

Operationally, the missile defense capability, developed through MDA’s HBTSS demonstration program, will inform SDA’s PWSA and will detect hypersonic, ballistic, and other advanced threats earlier than terrestrial radars, providing hypersonic threat tracking data for hand off through linked missile defense weapons. SDA will build upon the fire-control capability successes learned from HBTSS and proliferate those fully developed capabilities in the spiral approach to future tranches.

SDA, part of the U.S. Space Force, previously deployed 23 Tranche 0 satellites on-orbit in 2023, including Transport and Tracking Layer satellites, from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The four Tracking Layer satellites that will launch with MDA’s HBTSS were delivered by L3Harris Technologies and represent the final satellites in the Tranche 0 program bringing the on-orbit constellation to 27. 

https://www.defense.gov/News/Releases/Release/Article/3676902/mda-sda-announce-upcoming-launch-of-the-hypersonic-and-ballistic-tracking-space/

Comment: This is what we are up to in space. This and whatever our X-37B space place is doing up there. And that’s just what USSPACECOM and Space Force is telling us. 

But the big news today is the announcement of some kind of national security threat involving a Russian space capability. Rumors are flying. Most center on a nuclear weapon in space likely an anti-satellite weapon. Some are clamoring for Biden to immediately declassify and release everything known about this capability. Others are telling us this is something we are on top of and is not an immediate threat. Whatever is going on, it is serious enough for the White house NSA, Jake Sullivan, to set up a personal briefing to the House members of the Gang of Eight tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll soon learn more as well as being subjected to some wild-assed rumors and conspiracy theories in the days ahead. But I’m pretty sure USSPACECOM and Space Force, among others, are on top of this. 

My concern is that China is probably well ahead of whatever Russia is doing. Lord knows what their space plane is doing up there.

TTG

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/white-house-plans-brief-lawmakers-house-chairman-warns/story?id=107232293

Posted in Russia, Space, Space Force, TTG | 17 Comments

“New NATO Member Finland Elects a President Set to Keep Up Hard Line on Neighboring Russia”

National Coalition Party candidate Alexander Stubb celebrates after winning the second round of the presidential election during an election party night, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Helsinki. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Associated Press | By Jari Tanner

HELSINKI — Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has narrowly won a runoff vote to become Finland’s next president, who will steer security policy that includes integrating the new NATO member into the alliance at a time of concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The final tally from Sunday’s runoff shows Stubb, of the center-right National Coalition Party, had 51.6% of the votes, while independent candidate and former Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto from the green left got 48.4% of the votes. The two were the top vote-getters in the second round of the election. Haavisto had served as Finland’s top diplomat in 2019-2023. Stubb is taking over from the hugely popular President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year term expires next month and who wasn’t eligible for reelection.

A runoff was required after none of the original nine candidates got a majority of the votes in the first round on Jan. 28. In tradition with consensus-driven Finnish politics and no below-the-belt attacks during the campaign, Stubb visited Haavisto’s election party event late Sunday after the result was clear. “You’re one of the nicest people I have ever met,” Stubb told his opponent Haavisto at the party event, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

The presidency is a key political post in this northern European country of 5.6 million people. Unlike in most European countries, the president of Finland holds executive power in formulating foreign and security policy together with the government. But he is also expected to remain above the fray of day-to-day politics and stay out of domestic political disputes while acting as a moral leader of the nation.

The head of state also commands the military — a key role after Finland joined NATO in April 2023 in the aftermath of Russia’s attack on Ukraine a year earlier. Finnish media outlets on Monday pointed out how Europe’s security is at stake as never before since World War II, due to Russia’s invasion.

At a news conference in Helsinki, Stubb was asked by The Associated Press to assess the state of the Finnish military and whether he intended to be a hands-on commander. “We have one of the strongest military forces in Europe,” Stubb replied. He pointed to Finland´s wartime military strength of 280,000 through reservists – a number that is augmented by some 900,000 men and women who have received military training through conscription service. “When the Cold War ended, Finland did not run down its military – quite the contrary,” Stubb said, referring to the modern state of the country´s defense forces. “We will play our part in the alliance (NATO). People trust us and they know that we are serious about our defense for rather obvious reasons. Will I be an active commander-in-chief? Yes, I intend to do that,” he said.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2024/02/12/new-nato-member-finland-elects-president-set-keep-hard-line-neighboring-russia.html?

Comment: A lot has happened since the Grand Duchy of Finland was ruled by Saint Petersburg as part of the Russian Empire. Stubb’s election and the accession of Finland to NATO are only the latest historical permutations. I doubt Putin anticipated his invasion of Ukraine would lead to an additional 830 miles of NATO on Russia’s border and so close to Saint Petersburg. He doesn’t seem too concerned since he’s denuding this border of units. He’s putting air defense units back around Saint Petersburg, but that’s due to Ukrainian drones. He’s also pulled units out of Kaliningrad. I think his desire for a more expansive Russia far outweighs his fear of a NATO attack from Ukraine or elsewhere. I still wonder if he considers the former Grand Duchy of Finland to rightfully be part of the Russkiy Mir.

TTG

Posted in Europe, Russia, TTG | 63 Comments

“The Advent of Russia and the New World”

A new world is being born before our eyes. Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has opened a new era – and in three dimensions at once. And of course, in the fourth, domestic Russian. Here begins a new period both in ideology and in the very model of our socio-economic system – but this is worth talking about separately a little later.

Russia is restoring its unity – the tragedy of 1991, this terrible catastrophe of our history, its unnatural dislocation, has been overcome. Yes, at a great cost, yes, through the tragic events of what is essentially a civil war, because now brothers separated by belonging to the Russian and Ukrainian armies are still shooting at each other – but Ukraine will no longer exist as anti-Russia. Russia is restoring its historical completeness, gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together – in its entirety of Great Russians, Belarusians and Little Russians. If we had refused this and allowed the temporary division to take hold for centuries, we would not only have betrayed the memory of our ancestors, but would also have been cursed by our descendants for allowing the collapse of the Russian land.

Vladimir Putin took upon himself – without a bit of exaggeration – historical responsibility, deciding not to leave the solution to the Ukrainian issue to future generations. After all, the need to solve it would always remain the main problem for Russia – for two key reasons. And the issue of national security, that is, the creation of anti-Russia from Ukraine and an outpost for Western pressure on us, is only the second most important among them.

The first would always remain the complex of a divided people, the complex of national humiliation – when the Russian house first lost part of its foundation (Kiev), and then was forced to come to terms with the existence of two states of not one, but two peoples. That is, either renounce your history, agreeing with the crazy versions that “only Ukraine is the real Rus’,” or helplessly gnash your teeth, remembering the times when “we lost Ukraine.” To return Ukraine, that is, to turn it back to Russia, would be more and more difficult with each decade – recoding, de-Russification of Russians and inciting Little Russian Ukrainians against Russians would gain momentum. And if the West consolidated complete geopolitical and military control over Ukraine, its return to Russia would become completely impossible – it would have to be fought for with the Atlantic bloc.

Now this problem is gone – Ukraine has returned to Russia. This does not mean that its statehood will be liquidated, but it will be reorganized, re-established and returned to its natural state as a part of the Russian world. Within what boundaries, in what form will the alliance with Russia be consolidated (through the CSTO and the Eurasian Union or the Union State of Russia and Belarus)? This will be decided after the end is put in the history of Ukraine as anti-Russia. In any case, the period of the split of the Russian people is coming to an end.

And here the second dimension of the coming new era begins – it concerns Russia’s relations with the West. Not even Russia, but the Russian world, that is, three states, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, acting in geopolitical terms as a single whole. These relations have entered a new stage – the West sees Russia returning to its historical borders in Europe. And he is loudly indignant at this, although in the depths of his soul he must admit to himself that it could not have been otherwise.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220226051154/https://ria.ru/20220226/rossiya-1775162336.html

https://news.sky.com/story/ukraine-invasion-russian-state-media-article-deleted-after-suggesting-russia-victory-achieved-12553977

https://camarra.substack.com/p/may-10-petr-akopov-the-offensive?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2

Comment: This article appeared in RIA Novosti at exactly 0800 on 26 February 2022. It also appeared on the Sputnik News Network websites. Its release was planned in advance in anticipation of a lightning victory over Ukraine. Things didn’t work out as the Kremlin anticipated, but the preplanned victory lap was published as planned before being quickly taken down. How embarrassing. But this short lived article did us all a great service. It laid out the Kremlin’s true reasons for launching their invasion and its plans for the new world order. 

I was going to wait for the two year anniversary of the article to write this, but the recent Putin interview convinced me the time is now right. I’m impressed by the consistency between this article and the world view laid out by Putin. That’s not a bad thing. I think it’s admirable, but it does explain in stark terms why the Ukrainians are continuing the fight. If they lose to Russia, they will cease to exist.

In addition to ending Ukraine as a country and an idea, how did the article’s author, Petr Akopov, envision the Russkiy Mir after the total defeat of the government in Kyiv? He envisioned a Europe free of the Anglo-Saxon yoke aligned politically and economically with Russia. He spoke of the rise of a multipolar world with “China and India, Latin America and Africa, the Islamic world and Southeast Asia” assuming their rightful place alongside the “Russian world, that is, three states, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, acting in geopolitical terms as a single whole.”

I don’t think it’s the worst of world visions, except if I were a Ukrainian. I wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was a Belarusian, either.  A renewed “Pax Americana” should also give us pause. Besides, such a unipolar world existed only for a few years, if at all. I don’t think it existed at all except in the minds of neocon true believers. We’ve been in a multipolar world throughout the course of modern history. A true multipolar world should be comprised of many independent countries, big and small, not a few empires lording it over the smaller countries, not a Pax Americana nor a Russkiy Mir.

TTG

For a comparison, here’s a transcript of Putin’s recent interview with Carlson.

https://www.miragenews.com/full-text-transcript-of-tucker-carlson-putin-1171489/

Posted in Europe, Russia, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 75 Comments