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Afrin Offensive: Erdogan’s Madness Continues

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Turkish military in Syria

During the last 24 hours, 72 Turkish jets have reportedly struck 150 targets inside the Kurdish-controlled Afrin district in north-western Syria in which six civilians and three Kurdish militiamen have lost their lives. And today, Turkish ground troops in armoured vehicles have intruded five kilometres inside Afrin from Syria’s northern border with Turkey.

In addition, Turkey has also mobilised the Syrian militant groups under its tutelage in Azaz and Idlib in Syria, and in Kilis and Hatay provinces of Turkey, the latter of which has a substantial presence of Arabs and Syrian refugees, hence the Kurdish-controlled Afrin enclave has been surrounded from all sides by Turkey and its proxies.

Well-informed readers who have been keenly watching Erdogan’s behaviour since the failed July 2016 coup plot must have noticed that Erdogan has committed quite a few reckless and impulsive acts during the last couple of years.

Firstly, the Turkish air force shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet on the border between Syria and Turkey on 24 November 2015 that brought the Turkish and Russian armed forces on the brink of a full-scale confrontation in Syria.

Secondly, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated at an art exhibition in Ankara on the evening of 19 December 2016 by an off-duty Turkish police officer, Mevlut Mert Altintas, who was suspected of being a Muslim fundamentalist.

Thirdly, the Turkish military mounted the seven-month-long Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria immediately after the attempted coup plot from August 2016 to March 2017 that brought the Turkish military and its Syrian militant proxies head-to-head with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and their US bakers.

And lastly, before Turkey’s intrusion in Afrin, the Turkish military invaded Idlib in north-western Syria in October last year on the pretext of enforcing a de-escalation zone between the Syrian militants and the Syrian government, despite official protest from the latter that the Turkish armed forces are in violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Regarding the July 2016 coup plot, instead of a serious attempt at overthrowing the government, the coup plot was actually a large-scale mutiny within the ranks of the Turkish armed forces. Although Erdogan scapegoated the Gulenists to settle scores with his one-time ally, but according to credible reports, the coup was in fact attempted by the Kemalist liberals against the Islamist government of Turkey.

For the last several years of the Syrian civil war, the Kemalists had been looking with suspicion at Erdogan administration’s policy of deliberately training and arming Sunni militants against the Shi’a-dominated government of Bashar al-Assad in the training camps located on Turkey’s borders with Syria in collaboration with CIA’s MOM, which is a Turkish acronym for military operations centre.

As long as the US was on-board on the policy of nurturing Sunni Arab jihadists in Syria, the hands of Kemalists were tied. But after the US declared a war against one faction of Sunni militants, the Islamic State, in August 2014 and the consequent divergence between Washington’s policy of supporting the Kurds in Syria and the Islamist government of Turkey’s continued support to Sunni jihadists, it led to discord and adoption of contradictory policies.

Moreover, the spate of bombings in Turkey claimed by the Islamic State and separatist Kurds during the last couple of years, all of these factors contributed to widespread disaffection among the rank and file of Turkish armed forces, which regard themselves as the custodians of secular traditions and guarantors of peace and stability in Turkey.

The fact that one-third of 220 brigadiers and ten major generals were detained after the coup plot shows the level of frustration shown by the top and mid-ranking officers of the Turkish armed forces against Erdogan’s megalomaniac and self-destructive policies.

Regarding the split between Washington and Ankara, although the proximate cause of this confrontation seems to be the July 2016 coup plot against the Erdogan administration by the supporters of the US-based preacher, Fethullah Gulen, but this surprising development also sheds light on the deeper divisions between the United States and Turkey over their respective Syria policy.

After the United States reversal of ‘regime change’ policy in Syria in August 2014 when the Islamic State overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in early 2014 and threatened the capital of another steadfast American ally Masoud Barzani’s Erbil in the oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan, Washington has made the Kurds the centrepiece of its policy in Syria and Iraq.

It would be pertinent to mention here that the conflict in Syria and Iraq is actually a three-way conflict between the Sunni Arab militants, the Shi’a-led governments and the Kurds. Although after the declaration of war against a faction of Sunni Arab militants, the Islamic State, Washington has also lent its support to the Shi’a-led government in Iraq, but the Shi’a Arabs of Iraq are not the trustworthy allies of the United States because they are under the influence of Iran.

Therefore, Washington was left with no other choice but to make the Kurds the centrepiece of its policy in Syria and Iraq after a group of Sunni Arab jihadists, the Islamic State, transgressed its mandate in Syria and overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in early 2014 from where the United States had withdrawn its troops only a couple of years ago in December 2011.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are nothing more than the Kurdish militias with a symbolic presence of mercenary Arab tribesmen in order to make them appear more representative and inclusive in outlook. As far as the regional parties to the Syrian civil war are concerned, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the rest of the Gulf states may not have serious reservations against this close cooperation between the United States and the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, because the Gulf states tend to look at the regional conflicts from the lens of the Iranian Shi’a threat.

Turkey, on the other hand, has been more wary of the separatist Kurdish tendencies in its southeast than the Iranian Shi’a threat, as such. And the recent announcement by Washington of training and arming 30,000 Kurdish border guards to patrol Syria’s northern border with Turkey and prolonging the stay of 2000 US troops embedded with the Kurds in Syria indefinitely must have proven a tipping point for the Erdogan administration.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the offical view of the Spec Ops Magazine.

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Op-Edge

Why the Stealth F-22 Isn’t ‘Ready’ For Combat

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F 22 Raptor demonstration of power - Why the Stealth F-22 Isn't 'Ready' For Combat

To some extent, this fits the Air Force’s shift toward distributed basing, where small sub-units of fighters are deployed at multiple locations rather than a few big — and vulnerable — forward air bases. But that won’t work with the current F-22 organizational structure, which the Air Force last reviewed in 2010 — after which it eliminated one squadron so there would be enough to distribute to the remaining units.

Poor U.S. Air Force organization and management have contributed to problems with the F-22 Raptor fighter, according to a new Government Accountability Office audit.

F-22 availability, already diminished by maintenance problems endemic to the complex and finicky stealth fighter, has been further reduced by the small size of F-22 squadrons and the practice of deploying small detachments from individual squadrons overseas. The combined effect has been to reduce F-22 availability to the point where there are neither enough planes to meet mission requirements nor to provide pilots with sufficient training for air-to-air combat, which is the Raptor’s primary role.

“The small size of F-22 squadrons and wings has contributed to low aircraft availability rates,” according to GAO. “Further, the Air Force practice of deploying a small portion of a squadron makes it difficult for F-22 squadrons, as currently organized, to make aircraft available for their missions at home station. The Air Force would also face difficulties generating aircraft to support DOD’s concepts for using distributed operations in high threat environments with its current F-22 squadron organization.”

Typical Air Force fighter wings comprise three squadrons of 24 aircraft apiece. F-22 wings comprise one of two squadrons of 18 to 21 aircraft apiece (GAO notes that F-35 wings will be organized according to the traditional model, with two to three regular-sized squadrons per wing). Larger wings are considered more efficient because equipment and personnel can be shared, thus two-squadron F-22 wings in Alaska and Virginia have enjoyed higher aircraft availability than single-squadron wings.

Compounding the problem is the Air Force practice of dividing squadrons into detachments, called Unit Type Codes, for overseas deployment. But the F-22 UTCs are not a uniform size.  For example, one of the F-22’s UTCs is designed to have only 6 of a squadron’s 21 aircraft but contains almost 50 percent of the squadron’s equipment, approximately 40 percent of the squadron’s maintenance personnel and 60 percent of its operational personnel,” which leaves the remaining portion of the squadron with too few resources, GAO says.

To some extent, this fits the Air Force’s shift toward distributed basing, where small sub-units of fighters are deployed at multiple locations rather than a few big — and vulnerable — forward air bases. But that won’t work with the current F-22 organizational structure, which the Air Force last reviewed in 2010 — after which it eliminated one squadron so there would be enough to distribute to the remaining units.

Not surprisingly, lack of available aircraft has affected training.

“An Air Force analysis conducted in 2016 determined that, based on current aircraft availability rates, pilots in an F-22 squadron with 21 primary mission aircraft need 270 days of home station training each year to meet their minimum annual continuation training requirements,” GAO notes.

“However, F-22 pilots are generally not meeting those minimums, according to the officials, and F-22 operational squadrons have reported numerous shortfalls. For example, one squadron identified training shortfalls in its primary missions for four consecutive years in its annual training reports. Another squadron identified training shortfalls in one of its primary missions, offensive counter-air, in three of the last four annual training reports.”

Pilots also can’t train because they are tasked with homeland security, even though air defense is a mission that could be handled by other aircraft.

“Operational squadrons in Alaska and Hawaii have F-22 pilots sitting alert in order to address the 24-hour per day alert commitment,” GAO says. “During this time they are not able to train for their high-end air superiority missions. Further, the squadrons must dedicate a number of mission-capable aircraft to this mission, which is more challenging for squadrons with a smaller number of aircraft. Squadron officials from one location estimated that they could generate hundreds of additional training sorties on an annual basis if they could use the aircraft that are currently dedicated to the alert mission.”

GAO does acknowledge that a large part of the availability problem is the stealth materials on the F-22s skin, which require frequent and lengthy maintenance. The coatings, which are good for 8 to 10 years, are also reaching the end of their service life — in part because many F-22s are not based in climate-controlled hangars.

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Why Photos Of Osama bin Laden’s Corpse Are Still Not Available to Public

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Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri

A years after the Osama Bin Laden, the notorious terrorist leader, was killed there is still many conspiracy theories about his death He was killed on May 2, 2011, by US Navy SEALs operators at his compound in Abbottabad, Abbottabad, Pakistan. The operation was codenamed as Neptune Spear. In an article published on TheNewsRep, author Jack Murphy writes about the fact that so far there are no publicly released photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse. Down below you can find his opinion on this topic:

There are a lot of puzzled expressions on people’s faces when it comes to the subject of the late Osama bin Laden and why the White House has not authorized the release of any pictures of his body. Photographs and video were released of Saddam Hussein’s hanging, as well as post-mortem pictures of his criminal sons, Uday and Qusay after Delta Force took them out. Why not release a few pictures of Public Enemy #1 to prove that he is dead and show the world what happens when you take on the U.S. of A?

Matt Bissonnette, one of the SEAL Team 6 operators on the bin Laden raid, partially outs the reason in his book “No Easy Day.” The book reads, “In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”

But this is perhaps the most measured and polite description that one could give of how operator after operator took turns dumping magazines’ worth of ammunition into bin Laden’s body, two confidential sources within the community have told us. When all was said and done, Osama bin Laden had more than a hundred bullets in him, by the most conservative estimate.

Was this a one-time incident or part of a developing trend of lawless behavior? Consider these two other incidents:

•In 2013, The Associated Press reported that SEALs attached to SEAL Team 6 were investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service after $30,000 in cash strangely vanished from Capt. Richard Phillips’ lifeboat. Phillips had been taken a hostage from the Maersk Alabama ship. SEAL snipers shot and killed his pirate captors using night-vision goggles, laser target designators, and multiple rounds. They took control of the lifeboat — and presumably the money.

But the money was never recovered — and its disappearance remains a mystery to this day. Phillips described the incident in his book this way: “Two stacks of hundreds, one of the fifties, then twenties, fives and tens … I never saw the money again. Later, when they gave me a sack to lean against, I felt the stacks of money inside, but I never spotted the cash out in the open again. “The case was eventually closed because there was no substantial evidence linking the SEALs to any wrongdoing.

In Eric Blehm’s book “Fearless,” he openly writes about illicit drug use by an active-duty SEAL stationed on the East Coast who ultimately went on to serve with SEAL Team 6. How this same person managed to pass a top-secret background clearance despite having 11 prior felony convictions is perturbing and revealing at the same time.

You may not care if bin Laden got some extra holes punched in him — few of us do — but what should concern you is a trend within certain special-operations units to engage in this type of self-indulgent and ultimately criminal behavior. Gone unchecked, these actions worsen over time and in the end risk creating a unit subculture that is hidden from senior commanders, that is more “Sons of Anarchy” than “American Hero.”

So is putting a few extra rounds into the enemy illegal?

Under the Laws of Land Warfare, a soldier is fully authorized to put a few insurance rounds into his target after he goes down. Provided the enemy is not surrendering, it is morally, legally and ethically appropriate to shoot the body a few times to ensure that he is really dead and no longer a threat. However, what happened on the bin Laden raid is beyond the permissible. The level of excess shown was not about making sure that bin Laden was no longer a threat. The excess was pure self-indulgence.

And if there’s any truth to the rumors floating around the special-operations community related to illegal activities at home and abroad, it will be a sad day of reckoning for America in many regards. When the truth comes to light, honor will have been betrayed by actions that are not aligned with the very principles these warriors swore an oath to uphold, the same ones that distinguish good guys from the bad.

Of course, these attitudes and behaviors do not come out of anywhere. Endless back-to-back combat deployments, post-traumatic stress disorder, broken families and the ugliness of more than a decade of war all play into it. War is ugly, ugliest of all for the warriors required to do the actual wet work, and Americans would do well to keep this in mind before passing judgment.

Now you know the likely reason why the Obama administration has not released pictures of Osama bin Laden’s corpse. To do so would show the world a body filled with a ridiculous number of gunshot wounds. The picture itself would likely cause an international scandal, and investigations would be conducted that could uncover other operations and activities many would do anything to keep buried.

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