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National Security Issues
A Chronology of News Coverage

Image of cable laying ship in the Pacific OceanAugust 28:
The Wall Street Journal: National security concerns threatens Google, Facebook and China undersea data link
U.S. officials are seeking to block an undersea cable backed by Google, Facebook Inc. and a Chinese partner, in a national security review that could rewrite the rules of internet connectivity between the U.S. and China, according to people involved in the discussions.  The Justice Department, which leads a multiagency panel that reviews telecommunications matters, has signaled staunch opposition to the project because of concerns over its Chinese investor, Beijing-based Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co., and the direct link to Hong Kong the cable would provide.

August 23:
The Military Times: Israel strikes Iran munitions depot in Iraq
Israel was responsible for the bombing of an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month, U.S. officials have confirmed, an attack that would mark a significant escalation in Israel’s years-long campaign against Iranian military entrenchment across the region.  Such attacks are potentially destabilizing for Iraq and its fragile government, which has struggled to remain neutral amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

August 22: The Washington Free Beacon: Trump Administration clears sale of F-16s to Taiwan
The Trump administration on Tuesday formally cleared the sale of 66 new F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan in a bid to bolster the island nation's air power.  Randall Schriver, assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said the jet sale is partly a response to the growing threat posed by China.  "We've tracked the growing threat for a long time," Schriver told the Washington Free Beacon, noting annual Pentagon reports.  "In addition, part of Taiwan's air force is aging and in need of replacements," he said. "This sale is needed in order for Taiwan to keep a viable air defense,"

August 19: Yahoo News: China lashes out at Taiwan for Asylum offer
China lashed out at Taiwan on Monday over its offer of political asylum to participants in Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest movement, a day after hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully in the latest massive demonstration in the Chinese territory.  The government of Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers its own territory, strongly supports the protests, and Hong Kong students in Taiwan held events over the weekend expressing their backing. Taiwan's president made the asylum offer last month, though it's not clear if requests have been received.

August 19: Fox News: Pentagon tests intermediate range missile
The Pentagon announced Monday that the military conducted a test over the weekend of a type of missile that previously had been banned for the last 30 years under a treaty between the United States and Russia.  The test, which took place off the coast of California, marks the resumption of an arms competition that some analysts worry could increase U.S.-Russia tensions after the two world powers abandoned a long-standing treaty earlier this month.  The Trump administration says it remains interested in useful arms control but questions Moscow's willingness to adhere to its treaty commitments.

August 17: USA Today: US issues warrant to seize Iran oil tanker after Gibraltar
judge orders its release
The U.S. Justice Department issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, a day after a judge in the British overseas territory ordered its release. The U.S. move late Friday deepens a weeks-long diplomatic dispute between Tehran and Washington.  The tanker  was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities suspected it of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Its seizure aggravated fears of a conflict in the Persian Gulf, where Iran claims control of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments. 

August 16:
The Wall Street Journal: Chinese | Russians test US | South Korean defenses
Chinese and Russian warplanes have increasingly nosed around and veered into South Korea’s airspace, conducting close patrols that allow Beijing and Moscow to test the air defenses of the U.S. and its allies in the region.  The aerial campaigns come as Beijing vows to strengthen its military alliance with Moscow, heightening tensions across the Asia-Pacific region as the U.S. and China jockey for power.

August 3:
MSN.com: USAF to deploy ground based laser weapon
The Air Force announced Friday it will soon deploy two ground-based laser weapons to an undisclosed location to test how they can be used against small drones, the service’s first “operational field test” of an experimental “directed energy” weapon.  

July 29: The Times of Israel: Israel/US successfully
test ICBM intercepts

Israel and the United States completed a series of successful tests (shown right) of their advanced Arrow 3 missile defense system in Alaska, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday.  The weapon system successfully demonstrated hit-to-kill interceptions of ballistic targets in space, according to the ministry, which added that the operation was conducted in Alaska [see image left] in order to test capabilities that cannot be tested in Israel. The system also proved capable of simultaneously intercepting multiple targets.

Her Majesty's Ship MontroseJuly 25: LMT Online: Royal Navy becomes first to escort British tankers through Gulf strait
The British navy has begun escorting vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz after Iranian forces seized a British-flagged tanker.  In a statement Thursday, Britain's Defense Ministry said that "the Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, either individually or in groups, should sufficient notice be given of their passage."  The HMS Montrose [shown left], a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, became the first navy ship to offer an escort in the narrow waterway, Sky News reported Thursday, citing shipping industry sources.


July 19:
The UK Sun: Iran seizes British oil tankers in the Gulf
All British ships have been told to steer clear of the Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized two oil tankers with dozens of crew on board less than an hour apart.  Troops in speedboats and helicopters boarded the Stena Impero and Mesdar tankers on Friday as they sailed through the busy shipping lane towards Saudi Arabia.  The raids came just over two weeks after Royal Marines boarded a supertanker off Gibraltar suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria - prompting Tehran to threaten "retaliation"

July 21: Stars and Stripes: ISIS is still alive, this time in Iraq
Islamic State militants who escaped the defeat of their self-described caliphate in Syria earlier this year have been slipping across the border into Iraq, bolstering a low-level insurgency the group is now waging across the central and northern part of the country, according to security officials.  About 1,000 fighters have crossed into Iraq during the past eight months, most of them in the aftermath of the caliphate’s collapse in March, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who advises Iraq’s government and foreign aid agencies.

Navy EP-3E recon aircraft in international watersJuly 21: Fox News: SOUTHCOM reports Russian built Venezuelan fighter jet aggressively shadows  Navy aircraft in Caribbean waters
A U.S. Navy intelligence aircraft was "aggressively shadowed" by a Venezuelan fighter jet over the Caribbean on Friday in a move that U.S. officials are calling "unprofessional" and endangered the safety of those on board.   According to U.S. SOUTHCOM  a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II aircraft was flying a mission in international airspace when it was approached "in an unprofessional manner" by the Russian built Venezuelan SU-30 Flanker fighter plane. 

July 19: Breitbart NewsIranian ships stranded in Brazil without fuel
Two Iranian ships are stranded in Brazil because Brazil’s state-owned oil company refuses to sell them the fuel they need to return to Iran due to sanctions imposed against Iran by the U.S. 

July 18: The Wall Street Journal: Navy shoots down Iranian drone
President Trump said the U.S. Navy downed an Iranian drone that was flying too close to a U.S. warship in the Strait of Hormuz, hours after Iranian forces said they had seized a foreign tanker, the latest in a series of incidents that have ratcheted up tensions in a vital oil shipping route. Mr. Trump said the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took defensive action against the drone, which he said was “threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew” in the Strait of Hormuz. 

July 2: The UK Sun: Red Alert: Sailors die in submarine fire
The seaman were poisoned by fumes when the vessel caught fire while taking biometric measurements yesterday, the defence ministry said.  Russian Defense Ministry reported. "On July 1, a fire broke out in Russian territorial waters on a research deep-water apparatus designed to study the bottom space and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy.

June 28: The Hill: Senate rejects efforts to curb President on Iran war powers
Senators blocked an effort on Friday to restrict President Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran, handing a victory to Republicans and the White House.  Senators voted 50-40 on the proposal from Democratic Sens. Kaine (Va.) and Udall (N.M.) to block the president from using funding to carry out military action without congressional authorization. 

June 28: USAF Central Command: F-22 stealth aircraft deploy to the Persian Gulf
U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft have been deployed to the Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. This is the first time these aircraft have been deployed to Qatar where they will defend American forces and interests in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

July 1: Defense News: Navy looking at adding hypersonic weapons to destroyers’ arsenal
With bigger, faster missiles in development and bound for the fleet, the U.S. Navy’s engineers are considering installing upgraded launchers on the stalwart Arleigh Burke class destroyers.  “Vertical launch system has been a real game changer for us. We can shoot any number of things out of those launchers,” Vice Admiral Moore said. “We’ll probably change those out and upgrade them for prompt strike weapons down the road.”

June 28: The Daily Caller: Universities push back on monitoring Chinese-sponsored students
BI officials have advised at least 10 American universities since 2018 to monitor certain Chinese nationals amid fears that Chinese propaganda is seeping into U.S. academia.  But administrators of the institutions the FBI briefed, which are member schools of the Association of American Universities (AAU), have pushed back on the FBI’s non-mandatory advice due to their skepticism of the threat posed by visiting Chinese students and scholars affiliated with Chinese state-affiliated research institutions.
Editor’s Note: It is illegal under the Export Administration Act to allow the transfer of certain technology (ie., intellectual property,
source codes, etc.) to restricted foreign nationals even if they are in the United States.

June 25: Fox News: US Navy starts construction of a new class of FBM subs
Almost nobody knows where they are at any given time, yet nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines quietly patrol dark domains of the undersea realm in strategically vital waters around the globe, bringing the prospect of unprecedented destruction upon potential enemies -- all as a way to keep the peace.  Construction of the new Columbia class fleet ballistic missile [FBM] submarine started last month in Newport News, VA.  This new submarine will be quieter and stealthier than the twelve current Ohio class FBMs.

June 24:
Washington Free Beacon: US kicks off 19-nation war games in Ukraine
From July 1 to 12, American military assets will join with "19 nations, 33 ships, 26 aircraft, and over 3,000 troops to participate in a maritime, air, and land exercise that will enhance capabilities, improve interoperability and build upon decades of partnership and friendship," according to information provided by the Defense Department.  The drills are an annual exercise known as Sea Breeze that is now in its 19th year.  The nations scheduled to participate in the exercise include Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

June 22: Associated Press: U.S. launches cyber attack on Iranian military
U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.  The strikes were apparently conducted with approval from Trump. The attacks — a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions — disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said. The attacks  specifically targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer system and were provided as options after Iranian forces blew up two oil tankers earlier this month.

June 21:
The Jerusalem Post: Iran: We refrained from shooting down U.S. plane with 35 aboard
Iran refrained from shooting down a US plane with 35 people on board that was accompanying the downed drone in the Gulf, a Revolutionary Guards commander said on Friday.

June 20:
CNN : Iran shoots down U.S. drone
Iran says it shot down an approaching US spy plane on Thursday. The US says the drone was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.The move is likely to increase friction between Washington and Tehran. Trump announced Monday he would send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East. And last week, US officials blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers.

June 17: Fox News Business : Huawei says revenue will be $30 billion less in next 2 years due to US ban
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei estimates the tech company’s revenue will be $30 billion less than forecast over the next two years due to the U.S. government’s ban on federal contract with any firm that does business with Huawei and ongoing trade dispute with China.  "We never thought that the U.S.'s determination to attack Huawei would be so strong, so firm," Ren said. “…We cannot get components supply, cannot participate in many international organizations, cannot work closely with many universities, cannot use anything with U.S. components, and cannot even establish connection with networks that use such components.”

June 16: Politico: UK to deploy marines to Persian Gulf
Within weeks the United Kingdom is expected to send one hundred Royal Marines to the Gulf of Oman to protect its warships amid rising tensions with Iran, according to the Sunday Times.  The planned deployment follows Thursday's attacks on two oil tankers, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Friday  said the U.K. would make its own assessment, but believed the U.S. claim that Tehran was behind the incident.

June 15: Sky News: F-35 jets: Chinese-owned firm making parts for top-secret UK/US fighters
A Chinese-owned company is making circuit boards for the top-secret next generation F-35 warplanes flown by Britain and the United States, Sky News can reveal.  Exception PCB, a printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturer in Gloucestershire, south west England, produces circuit boards that "control many of the F-35's core capabilities", according to publicity material produced by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).  This includes "its engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems", it said.

June 13: Fox News: Iran behind attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the "blatant assault" on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier Thursday.  In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Pompeo said: “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

June 7: Commander US 7th Fleet
Russian Navy destroyer's maneuver endangers U.S. Navy cruiser in Philippine Sea
At approximately 11:45 am local time on 7 June 2019 while operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian Destroyer (DD 572) made an unsafe maneuver against USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), closing to 50-100 feet putting the safety of her crew and ship at risk. While Chancellorsville was recovering its helicopter on a steady course and speed when the Russian ship accelerated and maneuvered from behind up the starboard side of Chancellorsville and closed to an unsafe distance forcing the U.S. cruiser to execute an all back full procedure and maneuvering to avoid a collision. [See the video]

June 3: Fox News: Russia removes defense advisors from Venezuela

Russia has withdrawn key defense advisers from Venezuela, an embarrassment for President Nicolás Maduro as Moscow weighs the leader’s political and economic resilence against growing U.S. pressure.  Russian state defense contractor Rostec, which has trained Venezuelan troops and advised on securing arms contracts, has cut its staff in Venezuela to just a few dozen, from about 1,000 at the height of cooperation between Moscow and Caracas several years ago, said a person close to the Russian defense ministry.

May 28: CBS News:  U.S. Forces wearing MAGA patches, violating DOD policy?
U.S. service members attending a Memorial Day address by President Trump during his trip to Japan were photographed wearing patches inspired by his campaign slogan, and this may have violated the Pentagon's strict rules barring soldiers from showing political preferences.  Navy spokesman Samuel Boyle said in a statement to CBS News, "Navy leadership is currently reviewing this instance to ensure that the wearing of the patch does not violate DoD policy or regulations."

May 25: Associated Press: U.S. moving additional resources to the middle east
The U.S. will send hundreds of additional troops and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East in the coming weeks to counter what the Pentagon said is an escalating campaign by Iran to plan attacks against the U.S. and its interests in the region. And for the first time, Pentagon officials on Friday publicly blamed Iran and its proxies for recent tanker bombings near United Arab Emirates and a rocket attack in Iraq.  President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the 1,500 troops would have a “mostly protective” role as part of a build-up that began this month in response to what the U.S said was a threat from Iran.

May 19: The Associated Press: Saudi Arabia:  We don’t want war but we will defend ourselves
Saudi Arabia does not want war but will not hesitate to defend itself against Iran, a top Saudi diplomat said Sunday, after the kingdom’s energy sector was targeted this past week amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.  Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, spoke a week after four oil tankers— two of them Saudi— were targeted in an alleged act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and days after Iran-allied Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline.

May 17: The UK Sun: Science fiction becomes reality for battlefield?
The U.S. Air Force could deploy missiles that fry Iran and North Korean weapons with microwaves’  The USAF has deployed twenty such weapons which can zap enemy electronics with massive energy pulses rendering then useless.  A unique feature of the system is its ability to penetrate bunkers where facilities are hidden without harming anyone inside.  News of the state-of-the-art weapons - which are carried into battle by B-2 stealth bombers - comes as a Saudi state newspaper called for the US to launch "surgical strikes" against Iran now.

May 13: The Times of Israel: Iran says USA will not attack them for fear of an attack on Israel
A senior Iranian official on Sunday dismissed the US military buildup in the region as psychological warfare, saying that the US will not attack for fear of provoking an Iranian assault on Israel.  In addition to its own missiles, Iranian proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip have hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel.

May 10: ReutersUS warns merchant fleet of possible action by Iranians
Iran could target U.S. commercial ships including oil tankers, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) said on Friday, as a senior Iranian cleric said a U.S. Navy fleet could be "destroyed with one missile."   Meanwhile the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, deployed as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday and American B-52 bombers have also arrived at a U.S. base in Qatar, U.S. Central Command said.

May 9: NBC News: U.S. seizes North Korean ship suspected of violating UN sanctions:
The U.S. has seized a North Korean freighter that was caught shipping coal in violation of U.S. sanctions, the Justice Department revealed Thursday. The 17,000-ton cargo ship, called the Wise Honest, was stopped in Indonesia last year after it was found to be carrying coal. The ship's captain was charged with violating Indonesian law, and last July, the U.S. filed an action to seize the ship, according to court papers.  This marks the first time the US has taken possession of a North Korean ship for violating the UN sanctions.

May 7:
CNN News: Iran moving ballistic missiles by water
Intelligence showing that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf was one of the critical reasons the US decided to move a carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region, officials say.  The concerns over the movement of the missiles was one of multiple threads of intelligence from various sources that led the US to believe Iran had a capability and intention to launch strikes against US targets.

May 4: Yahoo NewsRussia’s increased influence in Cuba
Russia is stirring the ghosts of Cuba's Cold War past as it looks to re-establish its influence in the Communist-run island nation, although this time analysts say Moscow has no intention of bankrolling Havana.  Whereas once the Soviet Union and Cuba were linked by an ideological bond, now pragmatism and a shared rejection of US foreign policy is drawing them together again.

May 1: Defense News: Key U.S. Navy tool against foreign submarines needs a reliable supplier
 A key tool in the U.S. Navy’s fight against Russian and Chinese submarines weighs eight pounds, is three feet long and it doesn’t even explode.  The sonobuoy is an expendable, waterborne sensor that has been air-dropped by the hundreds to detect enemy subs, a  go-to capability for America and its allies for decades. The Pentagon wants to buy 204,000 sonobuoys in its fiscal 2020 budget request, a 50 percent spending increase over 2018.  But just as the U.S. military needs them most, this critical capability is under threat, because without government investment in the market the Pentagon says it may no longer have a reliable supplier

April 5: The Washington Examiner
U.S.  doesn’t rule out military action in Venezuela

A military intervention to oust Venezuelan President Maduro remains “a very serious option” for the United States, according to President Trump’s national security team. “Obviously, that’s a result that no one would like to see but clearly one that is seriously considered as events unfold,” a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters Friday evening.  President Trump’s team has wielded that threat to deter any attack by Maduro loyalists on Juan Guaidó, the opposition lawmaker whom the U.S. and other Western democracies recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president in January.

March 29:
Reuters: Bolton warns Russia over presence in Venezuela
President Donald Trump's national security adviser warned Russia on Friday about its military presence in Venezuela, saying any move to establish or expand operations there would be considered a "direct threat" to international peace.  "We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations," White House national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement.

March 27: Yahoo News: Trump tells Russia to get out of Venezuela
US President Donald Trump demanded Wednesday that Russia remove troops from Venezuela and said again that he was not ruling out military action to topple far-left President Nicolas Maduro.  Russia's deployment of troops and equipment to bolster Maduro has ratcheted up already high international tension in Venezuela where the Trump administration is pushing hard for regime change amid mounting chaos in the once rich country.  "Russia has to get out," Trump said at the White House alongside Fabiana Rosales, wife of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela's interim president in place of Maduro.

March 23: The UK Daily Star: Two Russian planes carrying troops reportedly land in Venezuela
Two Russian Air Force reportedly planes landed in Venezuela's main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and around 100 troops. One flight tracking website shows two aircraft left a Russian military base for the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Friday, with a further jet leaving on Sunday. The arrival of the military jets was confirmed by Javier Mayorca, an independent journalist, who said an Antonov-124 cargo plane and a smaller jet touched down late on Saturday.  Also seen was about  35 tons of equipment.

March 21: Military.com: Google work with Chinese may be undermining the U.S. military
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Thursday that he would likely be meeting next week with Google executives on his concerns that the work Google was doing with China on artificial intelligence and other technologies was undermining the U.S military.  "This is not about me and Google, this about us looking at the second and third order effects of our business ventures in China [and] the impact it's going to have on U.S. ability to maintain a competitive military advantage and all that goes with it," Dunford said. 

March 7: The Wall Street JournalNorth Korea missile site may be operational
A North Korean missile launch site that Pyongyang had previously said it was dismantling appears once again to be operational, according to an independent analysis of updated satellite photos.  President Trump said Wednesday that he would be “very very disappointed” if the initial reports that  North Korea was restoring the launch site at Tongchangri turned out to be true, but allowed that it was too early to know if Pyongyang was restoring the site. [This site requires a subscription to read more information]

February 25: Reuters: Russian TV lists Missile Targets in the USA
Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.  The targets included the Pentagon and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

February 2: France 24: Iran successfully tests new cruise missile
Iran announced the "successful test" of a new cruise missile with a range of over 1,350 kilometres on Saturday, coinciding with celebrations for the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.  "The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 kilometres (840 miles) and accurately hit the set target," Defence Minister Amir Hatami said, quoted on state television which broadcast footage of its launch.  "It can be ready in the shortest possible time and flies at a very low altitude," he said.  Hatami described the Hoveizeh as the "long arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran" in defending itself.

February 1: Associated Press:  US pulls out of Cold War nuclear deal with Russia
The United States announced Friday that it is pulling out of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, arguing that it should not be constrained by a deal Moscow is violating with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles. Trump repeated a years-long U.S. accusation that Russia secretly developed and deployed “a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad.” He said the U.S. had adhered to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty since it was signed in 1987, but Russia had not.

January 27: The UK Telegraph: NATO members increase defense spending by $100 billion
NATO states will increase their defense spending by 100 billion dollars in response to Donald Trump's demands that European allies shoulder a greater financial burden, the alliance's secretary general has said.  Mr Trump has repeatedly complained that other members of Nato do not meet their spending commitments, including  a  blistering tirade at the NATO summit in Brussels  in July in which called other member governments “delinquent.” 

January 24: South China Sea Post
U.S. warships sail through the Taiwan Straits,
turning up pressure on Beijing
Two US Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday and Taiwan said multiple Chinese military jets flew near the southern tip of the self-ruled island to the West Pacific on the same day for a naval training exercise.  US guided missile destroyer McCampbell and the USNS Walter S. Diehl conducted “a routine” Taiwan Strait transit “in accordance with international law”, a US Pacific Fleet spokesman said.   “The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific…  and The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

January 20: Beyond Parallel
Undeclared North Korean missile sites
Though the subject of speculation by open-source researchers for years, new research undertaken by Beyond Parallel has located 13 of an estimated 20 North Korean missile operating bases that are undeclared by the government.  Indications are that these missile operating bases  can be used for all classes of ballistic missile from short to long range ballistic missiles.  Presumably these would have to be subject to declaration, verification, and dismantlement in any final and fully verifiable denuclearization deal between the U.S. and North Korea.  Apparently these bases are not launch sites but bases where missiles could be dispersed to camouflaged pre-prepared launch sites throughout the country.

January 9: Washington Free Beacon:

Pentagon: Military logistics system is not ready for a war with China/Russia:
The strategic American military system for moving troops, weapons, and supplies over long distances has decayed significantly and needs rapid upgrading to be ready for any future war with China or Russia, according to a report by the Pentagon's Defense Science Board.  A special task force on survivable logistics evaluated the military's current airlift, sealift, and prepositioned equipment and supplies and found major problems with supporting forces during a "high-end" conflict.

January 7: The UK Sun: China scrambles ships and aircraft as US destroyer
sails through the South China Sea:
The South China Sea has become a flashpoint that experts have warned could spark a conflict.  hina lays claim to vast swathes of ocean and many islands - but some parts are also claimed by the likes of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.  America's military presence and exercises in the area are a direct challenge to China's claim, which Beijing has used to justify setting up military bases and even runways on the disputed islands.

January 6: Reuters
Iran and Russia scheduled to conduct joint military exercises
Iran and Russia are preparing to hold joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea, including rescue and anti-piracy drills, the commander of the Iranian navy was quoted on Sunday as saying.   “Tactical, rescue and anti-piracy war games between Iranian and Russian naval forces are being planned and will be implemented in the near future,” the semi-official news agency Mehr quoted Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi as saying. Iran and Russia have held several naval drills in the Caspian Sea, including in 2015 and 2017. Iran and Russia have close ties, including in Syria where they both back President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war.

January 4, 2019: Fox News:  China should think twice before threatening to attack Americans
China is betraying a level of strategic anxiety not yet seen as the impact of trade tariffs looms and its return to its historical power role in the Asia seems to have stalled.  China’s leaders assumed after the 2008 global financial crisis that the Communist, centrally controlled economic state’s time had come giving it an opportunity to regain its historic role in the region.  But Xi and his followers have watched their diplomatic, economic and military initiatives come up short rather than causing other nations in the region to realign with China  as they had expected.  Now the Trump administration’s trade tariffs threaten to destabilize the Chinese economy, resulting in a cascade failure of Xi Jinping’s broader strategy and threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the Communist Party

December 2, 2018: Fox News Russia deploys surface to surface missiles in Crimea
Satellite images shot Sunday and exclusively show a newly deployed Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile battery in the Dzhankoy airbase in Crimea.  The intelligence report by ImageSat International indicates that the infrastructure for the S-400 battery was prepared in recent months, a long time before last weekend's naval encounters that sparked new tension between Russia and Ukraine.  The images showed a bare ground in April 2018, and construction by November 10 – two weeks before the recent escalation.

Location of Russian Missle base in Crimea

The image captured Sunday confirms the deployment. The eight launchers of the S-400 battery are divided into four, which are located in the southwest area of the airbase -- as well as two radar systems and several trucks nearby. One of them is suspected to carry S-400 missiles. The mobile S-400 missile has a range of up to almost 250 miles and can climb to an altitude of almost 19 miles. It's intended to bring down a variety of aerial threats, from aircraft to cruise and ballistic missiles.

November 13, 2018: CNN NewsRussia jams GPS during NATO exercises
The Russian military jammed GPS signals during a major NATO military exercise in Norway that involved thousands of US and NATO troops, the alliance said Wednesday, citing the Norwegian government.  A US defense official told CNN that the jamming had "little or no affect" on US military assets during the NATO exercise.

The NATO exercise, Trident Juncture, concluded Sunday and involved some 50,000 personnel. It was labeled the alliance's largest exercise since the Cold War. Non-NATO members Finland and Sweden also participated in the exercise.  A NATO spokesperson said "Norway has determined that Russia was responsible for jamming GPS signals in the Kola Peninsula during Exercise Trident Juncture. Finland has expressed concern over possible jamming in Lapland…  …In view of the civilian usage of GPS, jamming of this sort is dangerous, disruptive and irresponsible," she added.

In May 2017 Sarge started exploring a run for Texas Congressional District 14 against an incumbent who had served in public office for twelve years. Then in August 2017 he announced he was running (See his campaign Website). Starting in May 2017 this website was put in "mothballs" until after the campaign was over. In September 2018 after loosing his primary challenge, Sarge restarted this summary of current news stories.

April 19, 2017: Stars and Stripes: Army tests drone killing laser system
As Islamic State-piloted commercial drones complicate the offensive in Mosul, sending Iraqi troops scattering as grenades and bomblets rain down, the Army has field tested vehicle-based lasers to combat the growing threat of enemy eyes in the sky.  Infantry-carrying Stryker vehicles mounted with the Mobile High Energy Laser, a 5-kilowatt beam that scrambles the circuits of drones, took part in demonstrations at the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, a 10-day exercise that ended last week.  The system includes radar detection and a camera to visually track aircraft on a screen, where an operator targets the drone with the laser. A “hard kill” will disable the drone mid-flight and send it crashing to the ground, the Army said. A “soft kill” occurs when the laser severs the communications link between the drone and its ground control station.

April 15: Yahoo.Com: Mother of All Bombs Death Toll Rises
Afghan authorities Saturday reported a jump in fatalities from the American military's largest non-nuclear bomb, declaring some 90 Islamic State fighters dead, as US-led ground forces sought to advance on their mountain hideouts.  The unprecedented attack triggered global shock waves, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as what they called a testing ground for the weapon, and against a militant group that is not considered a threat as big as the resurgent Taliban.  "At least 92 Daesh (IS) fighters were killed in the bombing," Achin district governor Esmail Shinwari said, adding that three tunnels that sheltered the insurgents had been destroyed.  American and Afghan ground forces were slowly advancing on the mountainous area, which is blanketed with landmines, to clear the site, but there were still some pockets of resistance from insurgents.

April 15: Fox News:
Trump give Generals in the field more command and control in decision making

U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.  As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.

“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”  While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.

April 7: Fox News: Timeline of US strike on Syria in response to chemical weapons use
- Tuesday 10:30 a.m. ET: Trump told of suspected use of chemical weapons – initial options developed
- Tuesday at 8 p.m.: Preliminary options “presented and refined.” 
- Wednesday at 3 p.m.: Trump briefed on updated options including options for strikes on Syria.
- Thursday at 4 p.m.: Trump, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster met in a secure room in Palm Beach. The president “gave the okay” to move ahead. This decision was made at about 4:30 p.m.
- Thursday at 7:40 p.m.: Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean launched Tomahawk missiles into Syria.
- Thursday at 8:30 p.m.: Foreign leaders and congressional leaders started to be notified. Around that time, the first missiles were hitting.

April 3: Fox News: Susan Rice: Unmasked Trump Transition Team Members
Multiple sources tell Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.   The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes. The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office. It was not clear how Rice knew to ask for the names to be unmasked, but the question was being posed by the sources late Monday. 

March 31: Fox News: Intelligence Official who released Flynn’s Name is high ranking
The U.S. intelligence official who “unmasked,” or exposed, the names of multiple private citizens affiliated with the Trump team is someone “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world,” a source said on Friday.   For a private citizen to be “unmasked,” or named, in an intelligence report is extremely rare. Typically, the American is a suspect in a crime, is in danger or has to be named to explain the context of the report.
“The main issue in this case, is not only the unmasking of these names of private citizens, but the spreading of these names for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security or an investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election,” a congressional source close to the investigation told Fox News. 

March 6: The Washington ExaminerCan the U.S. shoot down North Korean missiles?
After North Korea test-fired its latest medium-range ballistic missile last month, the Pentagon responded with a bold boast: If the missile had targeted the United States, Japan, South Korea or any other ally, the U.S. would have blasted it out of the sky.  "We maintain abilities to be able to respond quickly and intercept missiles from North Korea if they do pose a threat to us or our allies," said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.  That is no idle threat, insists Chris Johnson, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency.  "We are absolutely confident in the system," Johnson said. "Based on our history of testing, we are confident that the system would be able to defend the United States."

March 6: ReutersU.S. Navy ship changes course to avoid Iranian vessel
Multiple fast-attack vessels from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a U.S. official told Reuters on Monday.  The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the IRGCN boats came within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. The Invincible was being accompanied by three ships from British Royal Navy and forced the formation to change course. The official said attempts were made to communicate over radio, but there was no response and the interaction was "unsafe and unprofessional."

February 23: McClathyDC: U.S. Military Considers Putting Troops in Syria
The top U.S. military officer declined repeatedly on Thursday to rule out committing U.S. ground troops to battle the Islamic State in Syria, stressing that the Pentagon will present President Donald Trump with “a full range of options” to combat the terror organization.  Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the comments at a Washington research center as the 30 days that President Donald Trump gave military leaders to develop a strategy to fight the Islamic State are almost up.  “I’m in the business of providing the president with options,” Dunford said several times at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. when repeatedly pressed on whether those choices would include conventional ground troops.

February 22: The UK Daily Mail: U.S. Nuclear Sniffer Plane Flies to Norway
A US Air Force 'sniffer' plane which took off from Sussex today was on a mission to find evidence of nuclear activity or explosion, according to strong rumors.  The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, which is specially modified to collect atmospheric samples, flew out of RAF Mildenhall on operational sorties.  The specialist equipment enables the crew to detect radioactive debris 'clouds' in real time is believed to be heading towards northern Europe and the Barents Sea. News of the deployment comes amid claims Russia may be testing nuclear weapons, either to the east or in the arctic, after a spike in radioactivity was reported. 

According to spotters a second 'spy' plane was also deployed from Mildenhall.  It is not the first time the Constant Phoenix has visited the British airbase, but the latest deployment reflects growing concern about an alleged spike in iodine levels recorded in northern Europe.

February 21: Fox News: Military branches draft expansion plans to rebuild depleted force
From the Air Force to the Army, America's military service branches are busy preparing ambitious proposals to expand, as President Trump renews his pledge to rebuild a fighting force he says has become "depleted." "Our country will never have had a military like the military we're about to build and rebuild,” Trump said at last week’s press conference. “It won't be depleted for long."   The president made sent a fresh signal of his intentions with his choice for national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster – who for months has sounded the alarm about the declining state of the U.S. Army.

As part of a proposed expansion, the Navy also wants 82 more ships and submarines, a 30 percent increase in the size of the fleet.  Last month, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said he wants to increase his force by 3,000 Marines.  But increasing the ranks is only part of the plan.  Currently, half of the U.S. Navy F-18 Hornets can't fly, and up to 75 percent of Marine Corps jets are grounded.
February 19: USA Today: U.S. Carrier Deployed to the South China Sea
The United States deployed aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to patrol the increasingly contentious South China Sea on Saturday despite Beijing’s warnings not to challenge its sovereignty in the resource-rich sea. In a statement, the Navy described the launch as the beginning of “routine operations” in the South China Sea. China claims most of the sea as its own, despite overlapping territorial and jurisdictional claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. On Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denounced advance news of the deployment at a news conference.

Some 30% of global maritime trade passes through the South China Sea each year, worth $5.3 trillion, according to a 2015 Department of Defense report. The waters are also key fishing resources and are rich in oil and natural gas reserves.

February 18: Yahoo News: Russia seeks new world order as U.S. vows loyalty to NATO and Allies
Russia Saturday called for an end to what it said was an outdated world order dominated by the West after US Vice President Mike Pence pledged Washington's "unwavering" commitment to transatlantic allies in NATO.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered a diametrically opposed global vision, just hours after Pence vowed to stand with Europe to rein in a resurgent Moscow.

"I hope that (the world) will choose a democratic world order -- a post-West one -- in which each country is defined by its sovereignty," said Lavrov. The time when the West called the shots was over while NATO was a relic of the Cold War, he said.

February 17: Fox News: F-15s scrambled to incept unresponsive
aircraft in air near Trump’s West Palm Beach location

Two F-15s caused a ‘sonic boom’ as they raced from their base in Homestead, Fla., Friday to intercept an unresponsive general aviation aircraft that flew near Palm Beach during a stay by President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.  The jets flew at supersonic speeds and residents were startled by the loud boom, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, said in a statement. The two fighters were able to establish communication with the aircraft. This incident occured at about 7 p.m. ET.  No further details were immediately available.

"The intent of military intercepts is to have the identified aircraft re-establish communications with local FAA air traffic controllers and instruct the pilot to follow air traffic controllers' instructions to land safely for follow-on action," the statement read.

February 17: The Daily Mail:
X-37B USAF Secret Space Plane may be sent to land after two years in space:

One of the most mysterious craft ever to be flown by the US military has been in orbit for almost two years.  The X-37B space plane, an experimental program run by the Air Force, launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on May 20, 2015.  Now, experts claim it may be about to finally return to Earth - almost two years later.

'The historic Shuttle Landing Facility at the Florida spaceport is preparing to once again host an end of mission landing as the Air Force's X-37B mini spaceplane prepares to return from a near two year mission on orbit,' nasaspaceflight.com said.  However, the Air Force claimed the movement was simply a test exercise, meaning the mission continues.  'The X-37 is still on-orbit.

February 15: The Daily Mail
Flynn torpedoed by partisans who leaked top secret intelligence information

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his recently resigned National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was torpedoed by partisans who 'illegally leaked' intelligence material in order to harm him.  Appearing in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said 'the fake media' had fomented a scandal that wouldn't exist but for angry Democrats who were acting out in the wake of an embarrassing loss in November's presidential election.   “General Flynn is a wonderful man,” Trump said. “'I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media – as I call it, the fake media, in many cases.”  The leaking of intelligence information is a criminal violation.

February 14: The Week: Spies take down National Security Advisor Flynn -- Worrying
The United States may be much better off without Michael Flynn serving as national security adviser. But no one should be cheering the way he was brought down.  The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America's democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn's ouster was a soft coup  engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats.  Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result.

February 4: L.A. Times: China lashes out at Secretary of Defense over South China Sea
The U.S. is putting regional stability in East Asia at risk, a Chinese spokesman said Saturday following remarks by President Trump's Defense secretary that a U.S. commitment to defend Japanese territory applies to an island group that China claims.  China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman called on the U.S. to avoid discussion of the issue and reasserted China's claim of sovereignty over the tiny uninhabited islands, known in Japanese as the Senkaku and Chinese as Diaoyu.

February 4: Fox News: Iran holds military exercises – Defies U.S. Sanctions
In apparent defiance of the new sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Iran held a military exercise Saturday to test missile and radar systems.   The aim of the exercise, held in Semnan province, was to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions,”  Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards website said, according to Reuters.   The military drill comes a day after the White House imposed sanctions on Tehran for a recent ballistic missile test.

February 3: Fox News: China’s Trump Card:  Could they deploy it?
Candidate Donald Trump promised to bring jobs back to America, rebuild our military, and on trade get tough with China, which he said was “raping” our economy. President Trump may find his administration the victim of exactly the job-exporting policies he railed against and face the very real possibility that China could cut off U.S. access to 17 rare materials vital to our advanced aircraft and guided missile systems.

Among major U.S. military projects imperiled by a potential China squeeze play is a $340 billion Navy program to create new, Columbia-class nuclear submarines, and a new electro-magnetic aircraft launch (EMAL) system, which the Navy hopes to use for catapults that launch planes from aircraft carriers.  The 17 materials, known as rare earth elements (REE), are essential to the production of the high-performance permanent magnets used in both those systems.   For precisely the reasons Candidate Trump cited for the decline of American manufacturing and the loss of U.S. jobs, China is now in a position to cut off our supply of processed REE if it feels Trump is pushing too hard on trade and economic issues—or anything else.

January 17: McClatchy News: Obama Does U Turn on National Security Leaks
With barely 72 hours left in office, President Obama Tuesday did an abrupt U-turn on his years-long assault on government leaks and showed leniency toward two military figures who’d helped make public highly sensitive secrets. Both Democrats and Republicans said they were bewildered – even angered – by Obama’s commutation of the 35-year prison term of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence specialist who turned over some 700,000 classified and sensitive diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Obama also pardoned retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, the former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators when he denied that he revealed to the New York Times the existence of a highly classified campaign to cripple Iran’s nuclear program with a computer worm. The Stuxnet virus crippled Iran’s delicate nuclear equipment and was the first major use in history of a digital weapon.

January 16: Reuters: U.S. Marines Deploy to Norway; Russians Not Happy!
Some 300 U.S. Marines landed in Norway on Monday for a six-month deployment, the first time since World War Two that foreign troops have been allowed to be stationed there, in a deployment which has irked Norway's Arctic neighbor Russia.  Officials played down any link between the operation and NATO concerns over Russia, but the deployment coincides with the U.S. sending several thousand troops to Poland to beef up its Eastern European allies worried about Moscow's assertiveness. 

Marines from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina landed at a snow-covered Vaernes airport near Trondheim, Norway's third-largest city.  U.S. troops are to stay in Norway for a year, with the current batch of Marines being replaced after their six-month tour is complete.

January 6: Fox NewsNew Army Regs: Turbans etc. are now acceptable headgear:
The U.S. Army has issued a directive on grooming and appearance regulations that allows observant Sikh men and conservative Muslim women to wear religious head coverings. The policy, announced Tuesday, also permits Sikh soldiers to maintain their beards and female soldiers to wear their hair in dreadlocks. "The Army has reviewed its policies to ensure soldiers can serve in a manner consistent with their faith so that we can recruit from the broadest pool of America's best," Army Secretary Eric Fanning said in a statement.