• Diplomat: Hezbollah is now more powerful than most NATO members

    The Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is “now more militarily powerful than most North Atlantic Treaty Organization members,” a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations says. In violation of UN Resolution 1701, which was adopted to end the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah has acquired an estimated 150,000 missiles — more than the combined arsenals of 27 NATO nations — with a range capable of striking “anywhere in Israel” and the ability to “launch 1,500 of them a day,” Ron Prosor wrote.

  • Service Academies Swarm Challenge: Expanding the capabilities UAV swarms

    More than forty Cadets and Midshipmen from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy helped expand the capabilities of swarms of highly autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) last month in the Service Academies Swarm Challenge. In the skies over Camp Roberts, an Army National Guard post north of Paso Robles, Calif., each academy demonstrated the innovative offensive and defensive tactics they had developed over the school year. The three-day experiment concluded with an exciting aerial battle in which the Naval Academy took home the win, a trophy, and bragging rights over its rival academies.

  • U.S., rejecting Turkish opposition, to arm Kurdish militia ahead of Raqqa battle

    The Trump administration has decided to arm Syria’s Kurdish fighters because it was “necessary” for recapturing the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. The decision was made in the face of fierce opposition from Turkey, a NATO ally which regards the Syrian Kurds as terrorists. Turkey has been worried that a better-armed Kurdish militia — known as the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) – would be in a stronger position to aid the PKK, a Turkish Kurdish group agitating for greater Kurdish autonomy in eastern Turkey. The YPG leads the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, a multi-ethnic armed militia. Turkey was willing to agree to the arming of the non-Kurdish elements of the SDF, but the Pentagon concluded that without the YPG, the SDF would not be an effective fighting force.

  • Pentagon looks at new evidence of military cooperation between Iran and North Korea

    The Pentagon says that a submarine used in the failed underwater launch of a cruise missile last week by Iran, draws attention to Iran’s military cooperation with North Korea. When Iran used a “midget” submarine for the underwater launch of a Jask–2 cruise missile this week, U.S. Defense Department officials said that it was based on the North Korean Yono design. This was seen as further evidence that the two nations are sharing military technology.

  • New evidence shows pattern of Assad regime’s use of nerve agents

    New evidence supports the conclusion that Syrian government forces have used nerve agents on at least four occasions in recent months: on 4 April 2017, in a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least ninety-two people, and on three other occasions in December 2016 and March 2017, Human Rights Watch said in a report released yesterday. These attacks are part of a broader pattern of Syrian government forces’ use of chemical weapons. The attacks are widespread and systematic, and in some cases have been directed against the civilian population. As part of the evidence showing these attacks have become widespread and systematic, the detailed 48-page report identifies the three different systems being used by the Assad regime to deliver chemical weapons.

  • Service Academies Swarm Challenge: Controlling drone swarms

    UAVs and other robots have become increasingly affordable, capable, and available to both the U.S. military and adversaries alike. Enabling UAVs and similar assets to perform useful tasks under human supervision — that is, carrying out swarm tactics in concert with human teammates — holds tremendous promise to extend the advantages U.S. soldiers have in field operations. A persistent challenge in achieving this capability, however, has been scalability: enabling one operator to oversee multiple robotic platforms and have them perform highly autonomous behaviors without direct teleoperation. To help make effective swarm tactics a reality, DARPA created the Service Academies Swarm Challenge, a collaboration between the Agency and the three U.S. military Service academies.

  • Explosions rock Damascus Airport following cargo flights from Iran

    Explosions rocked the area near Damascus International Airport early Thursday morning following the arrival of four cargo planes from Iran. Israeli leaders have said that Hezbollah receiving game-changing weapons, such as advanced missiles or chemical weapons, represents a “red line” that Israel will not accept.

  • World military spending: Increases in the U.S., Europe, decreases in oil-exporting countries

    Total world military expenditure rose to $1686 billion in 2016, an increase of 0.4 percent in real terms from 2015, according to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Military spending in North America saw its first annual increase since 2010, while spending in Western Europe grew for the second consecutive year.

  • France: We have proof Assad ordered chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun

    Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s foreign minister, said Wednesday that France’s intelligence services have evidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack on a Sunni village earlier this month. The Syrian military’s attack on Khan Sheikhun killed eighty-six. British and Turkish scientists, examining injured victims and performing autopsies on those killed, found evidence of both sarin - a nerve gas - and chlorine.

  • Syrian defector: Assad still has hundreds of tons of chemical weapons stockpiled

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad circumvented a 2013 deal to dismantle his chemical weapons stockpile by failing to declare the full extent of his arsenal, Syria’s former chemical weapons research chief. Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat, who served as the head of chemical warfare in a top Syrian military unit before defecting in 2013, said that Assad had not declared large amounts of sarin and its precursor chemicals.

  • German peace-keeping force in Mali hobbled by extreme heat

    Germany has agreed to support to UN peace keeping mission in Mali, a country facing Islamist insurgency in the vast desert in the country’s north. But there is a problem: The Bundeswehr’s service vehicles were found to be unable to take Mali’s searing heat. Half to ground vehicles Germany shipped to Mali are no longer in operating condition, and the deployment of the sophisticated Tiger helicopter has been delayed because it cannot operate in temperatures which exceed 109 F.

  • WH report: The Assad regime's use of chemical weapons on 4 April 2017

    The White House on Tuesday released a 4-page report, prepared by the National Security Council, which contains declassified U.S. intelligence on the 4 April chemical weapons attack in Syria. The document calls Russia’s claim that the source of the gas was a rebels’ storage facility a “false narrative,” accusing Russia of “shielding” a client state which has used weapons of mass destruction.

  • By insisting Assad must go, the West has prolonged the Syrian conflict

    The most enthusiastic Western advocates of removing Assad form a liberal tendency and have been arguing for some form of intervention in Syria ever since the war began in earnest. They are opposed by more realist voices, who exhort them to remember the lessons of Iraq before getting militarily involved. Those on this side point to Syria’s fractured and often radical opposition, the regime’s formidable and battle-hardened forces, and the risks of starting a proxy conflict between the world’s great powers. In combination, these two tendencies have landed United States and United Kingdom foreign policy in an awkward gap between ends and means: Assad must go, but the military means required to remove him are off limits. It feels good to demand that a brutal dictator should no longer be allowed to rule, but insisting on it while failing to back it up with action has helped to prolong unimaginable suffering. Assad is clearly despicable, but the only atrocities worse than those his government has already committed are those yet to come. There are two ways to avert them: either Assad is deposed, probably via U.S.-led military intervention, or some political accord is struck to allow him to stay in exchange for a permanent ceasefire.

  • Medical evidence confirms sarin gas was used in Syria chemical attack

    Turkey’s health minister said that traces of sarin gas have been detected in blood and urine samples from victims injured in the town of Khan Sheikhun in Syria on 4 April, offering “concrete evidence” of its use in the attack. Isopropyl methylphosphonic acid, a chemical which sarin degrades into, was found in the blood and urine samples taken from the patients who arrived in Turkey. Many of the victims of last week’s attack were taken to Turkey for treatment because the Assad regime and Russia, as part of their war strategy, have destroyed many of the medical facilities in the Sunni areas of Syria.

  • Enzymes versus nerve agents: Designing antidotes for chemical weapons

    Nerve agents, a class of synthetic phosphorous-containing compounds, are among the most toxic substances known. Brief exposure to the most potent variants can lead to death within minutes. Once nerve agents enter the body, they irreversibly inhibit a vitally important enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. Its normal job within the nervous system is to help brain and muscle communicate. When a nerve agent shuts down this enzyme, classes of neurons throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems quickly get overstimulated, leading to profuse sweating, convulsions and an excruciating death by asphyxiation. There is a path to mitigate the danger of chemical weapons. This route lies within the domains of science – the very same science that produced chemical weapons in the first place. Researchers in the United States and around the world are developing the tools needed to quickly and safely destroy nerve agents – both in storage facilities and in the human body. There are promising advances, but no enzyme yet exists which is efficient enough for lifesaving use in people. It is worth keeping in mind the awesome and often complex power of science, however: We may be only a few years away from developing the kind of therapeutics that would make chemical weapons a worry of the past.