The current information war, that is raging globally, makes it difficult to assess which description of the Trump Tomahawk strike on the Syrian airfield at Shayrat is closest to the facts. Even the facts as to whether there was actually a chemical war-gas attack was being called into question. Emerging facts seems to reinforce that indeed there had been a release of war-gas in Khan Sheikhoun Syria and that people had died. Other than that probability we have to enter a ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ where truth is a very slippery commodity. As Churchill was reported as to have said,” In war the first casualty is the truth”.
At first blush three possible scenarios come to mind:-
#1 Assad launched an aircraft bombing raid carrying Sarin gas munitions and attacked civilians in Khan Sheikhoun killing many innocents.
#2 The Syrian air force bombed a rebel / islamist logistics installations in Khan Sheikhoun using conventional bombs. Secondary explosions suggested that a major rebel munitions and possibly a manufacturing facility had been hit, releasing stored Chlorine & Sarin war-gasses, killing many innocents.
#3 This was an inside job by rogue US security services to tear the initiative from Assad’s grasp and forestall his victory in the Syrian Civil War. Collateral damage saw the killing many innocents.
Occam’s Razor suggests that either scenario #1 or #2 as most probably likely scenarios, with #2 shading scenario #1 based on current information.
Carrier Strike Groups
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is underway in the Atlantic Ocean for a sustainment exercise.
The USS Carl Vinson CSG is on a scheduled port visit to Singapore while underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR.
The USS George H.W. Bush CSG is underway in a deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Expeditionary Units
The USS America is underway for sea trials in the Pacific Ocean.
The USS Bataan ARG is underway in a deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
The USS Bonhomme Richard is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR for a routine patrol.
The USS Iwo Jima is underway for routine training in the Atlantic Ocean.
The USS Makin Island ARG is underway in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance amphibious capability with regional partners.
The next big thing for unmanned naval aviation is a group of unmanned aerial systems that can share information and then assign tasks and make strategic targeting decisions based on available intelligence.
This concept, called Motley Crew, will be demonstrated by the Navy in 2018 or 2019, said Rear Adm. Mark Darrah, the service’s program executive officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.
Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference Tuesday, Darrah said there are many factors still to be decided — which unmanned systems to feature, for example, and what the target sets would be — but the goal is clear: Develop autonomous systems that could be strategic, collaborative and efficient.
“Imagine, if you would, different weapons flying in the same airspace, communicating with each other, leveraging a best of breed from each of the weapons and able to make decisions … about which ship to go after, so they don’t target the same ship four times with four weapons,” Darrah said. “This is a breakthrough in my mind that we’ve got to get to.”
Recent Russian actions suggest a new stage of the Russian threat to Ukraine—and potentially to the Caucasus, Belarus or the Baltic states as well—that could presage a new large-scale military operation.
First, in 2016, Russia created 25 division formations and 15 brigades, while raising manpower by only 10,000 men. This suggests the possibility that Russia may aim to wage protracted large-scale war using the Soviet model, with a Soviet-type army composed of “skeleton units” that existed solely on paper until they were called up as part of the process of mass mobilization.
That such mobilization may be under consideration is apparent from the Kavkaz-2016 and other military exercises in 2016 where Moscow mobilized forces from the Ministry of Interior, banks to pay soldiers’ wages in the fields and hospitals to provide field hospitals, as well as entire provincial civilian administrations. Russia is apparently thinking about possible protracted contingencies and is returning to fantasies of a Soviet-type military and mobilization effort.
Second, as part of that military process in 2016-2017, Moscow created the 1st Guards Tank Army, the 40th Army and the 8th Army, and deployed them all around Ukraine’s borders. The 8th Army headquarters is at Rostov-On-Don, from where it could strike toward the Caucasus if necessary, or be air- or sea-lifted to the Middle East.
Moreover, any of these armies could quickly be moved toward Belarus to put down unrest there, if Belarus’s government cannot or will not do so.
Russia has floated its new state-of-the-art nuclear-powered multipurpose submarine called Kazan as its fleet returned to Soviet-era operational levels in terms of sea patrols, according to the Russian Navy chief.
“The Yasen-M class nuclear-powered submarine cruisers are some of the most advanced battleships that amassed all cutting-edge submarine shipbuilding technologies,” Admiral Vladimir Korolev, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, said as the most advanced Russian nuclear attack submarine, Kazan – the second submarine of the Yasen-M class – was launched in the northern Russian port of Severodvinsk.
Kazan was laid down in 2009 and is expected to be accepted by the Russian Navy in 2018 following sea trials. The admiral said four more submarines of the same class – Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Arkhangelsk and Perm – are now being built at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk and one will be launched as early as in 2019 while the seventh and last vessel of this project, Ulyanovsk, would be laid down in the summer of 2017.
All the vessels are expected to be built by 2023, according to Korolev.