Iraq is dead. Long live the people: Why it’s time for US to take sides 

Here we are once again. A new war is brewing in the Middle East – a place that never seems to get tired of fighting. While Obama-era leftovers will argue that US is not responsible for this mess, it would be wise to stop and take a look back at what happened. First things first: US policy is, without a doubt, largely responsible for the mess we have been seeing in Iraq. No one can deny that any longer – at least not without sounding completely delusional. 

Let’s get one thing straight: Invading Iraq and removing Saddam was the right thing to do, despite the fact that US very well knew there were no WMDs. Saddam had to go. There was no other option. It was not the deposition of Saddam but what happened after that from where the problems really started, the side effects of which we are seeing today and will continue to see for decades to come. One of the biggest mistakes US made was disbanding Saddam’s Army and Intelligence corps, most of who went to join terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and also laid the foundation for the most brutal and wealthy terrorist group we have seen so far – the Islamic State. Another terribly short-sighted mistake US made was to allow Iranian influence to take over in Baghdad and then after the rise of IS, allying with the same Iran-backed Shiite militias who were responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq post-invasion. Today Iran effectively controls most of what goes on in Iraq. Obama admin is responsible for allying US with the sort of people who were no better than IS, and instead of applying a multipronged approach US only focused on fighting IS. This allowed Iran – much to the delight of the Mullahs in Tehran – to quietly expand Iranian influence. Iran-backed Shiite militias are also responsible for grave human rights abuses including revenge mass killings in the Sunni villages and towns they captured from IS. While Iranian Mullahs continue to threaten US and mock the US President as their followers chant DEATH TO AMERICA & DEATH TO ISRAEL in the streets of Tehran, there are some Obama-era leftovers who are still arguing for alignment with Iran and its proxies, instead of Kurds. 

Kurds have proven themselves in the battlefield and they have proven themselves when it comes to common values. US doesn’t share as many common values with anyone else other than Israel in the entire Middle East. But Kurds come to a close second. Kurds are pro-West, pro-US and pro-Israel. Kurds are pro-democracy. Kurds kicked Islamic State’s arse. Whether it is the treatment of women or the respect for democratic values, Kurds share more with US than Iran or its proxies. Iran and Turkey are bent on carrying out another genocide in the Middle East. And they are encouraged by the silence of US government. Iran has been so encouraged by US complicity that it sent the terror mastermind Qassem Suleimani to supervise the operation against Kurds in Kirkuk. 

In a pathetically lame statement after fighting broke out in Kirkuk, Pentagon said the fighting was a “misunderstanding”. Let’s be absolutely clear: there’s no misunderstanding here. The fact is that Iran-backed Shiite militias and US-armed Iraqi militias attacked US-backed Kurds while US watched and did nothing. The same Kurds who have proven to be the best allies in the war on IS being attacked by the same Iran responsible for countless American deaths in Iraq. And US does nothing. Let that sink in. 

A lot of people are asking now: is this how US treats its allies? Will anyone trust the US after this? 

Obama ignored one of his own red lines in Syria, and the result was the victory for Assad and Iran & its militias including Hezbollah while US-backed rebels were left out in the open like sitting ducks to face onslaught by Assad, Russia and Hezbollah. It was a grave mistake for which history will never forgive Obama. But Obama is gone. Now US has a president who won election on the promise of making America great again. And let me tell you what doesn’t make America great: backstabbing its most important allies. Unified Iraq ended when IS showed up. It was IS terrorists, not the Kurds, who trashed the Sykes-Picot. Kurds, on the other hand, bravely fought IS. Now all Kurds want is their Independence, which is a right provided by United Nations. US must stop talking about a unified Iraq because no such thing exists anymore. It is fantasy talk. 

Let’s stop the blame game for a moment and forget who is responsible for this mess. Let’s focus on the situation at hand. No blame game will convince the Kurds to abandon their aspirations for self-determination and no amount of appeasement will keep Iran from expanding further into Middle East. 

It is time for tough choices and try to make up for some of past mistakes. It is time for US to take sides. 
The ball is now in President Trump’s court. Will President Trump act and put the US on the right side of history? Or will President Trump prove to be Obama 2.0 and do nothing to help America’s allies? 

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Ukraine makes successful debut at AUSA 2017 in USA

The Ukroboronprom State Concern has made a successful debut at the AUSA 2017 Annual Meeting & Exposition (the Association of the United States Army).

The Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting is the largest landpower exposition and professional development forum in North America. Taking place over three days, the Annual Meeting is designed to deliver the Army’s message by highlighting the capabilities of Army organizations and presenting a wide range of industry products and services. AUSA accomplishes this task throughout the entire event by providing informative and relevant presentations on the state of the Army, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent military and national security subjects, and a variety of valuable networking events available to all that attend.

The military experts and visitors of the Ukrainian stand at the AUSA 2017 saw promising Ukrainian armored vehicles, including BTR-4 8×8 wheeled armoured personnel carrier (APC) and updated Phantom-2 unmanned tactical multipurpose vehicle, promising precise aircraft weapon, new radar systems, new small weapons and artillery armament.

A total of 20 Ukroboronprom’s members exhibit their products at the AUSA 2017, including Malyshev Plant, Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau, Kyiv and Zhytomyr Armor Plants, Artem Machine-Building Firm, Radar Kyiv Plant, Mykolaiv Aircraft Repair Plant, Konotop-based Aviakon aircraft repair plant, Artillery Armament Design Bureau, Iskra Scientific and Production Complex, Mayak Plant, Ukrspecexport state-owned enterprise and its subsidiaries: Spectechnoexport, Promoboronexport, Progress, Ukroboronservice and Ukrinmash.

Source: Defence-blog.com

The Impending Doom 

These are interesting days in Pakistan. Interesting and frightening. What we are seeing in Pakistan right now is a giant mad bull running around in a huge hall full of smaller mad bulls. The hall has only one entry & exit and that door is padlocked and only one person has the key. 

The hall is the Supreme Court. The giant mad bull is Nawaz Sharif, the smaller mad bulls are his allies and the key to the padlock is with the military. 

Nawaz and his allies are breathing their last few breaths, or Pakistan is. And I don’t think it’s Pakistan’s time to die yet. 

Nawaz has done everything he could to escape the corruption cases, that started out as something completely irrelevant but turned out to be Nawaz’s worst nightmare. Even I wasn’t a believer in the beginning. A sitting Punjabi PM with a large majority being sent home by the Pakistani Supreme Court? If someone would have told me that in 2016, I’d have called them a stupid idiot. 

Today, Nawaz has run out of all options. All options except one: Destabilize Pakistan so much that either Pakistan dies or he wins. There’s no middle ground here, as far as Nawaz is concerned. And so the giant mad bull has started on a path that leads to certain destruction. Someone’s or something’s destruction. Nawaz has done everything he could to destabilize Pakistan and create a scenario of confrontation with the state itself. And he hasn’t stopped yet. 

The so called civilian-military divide is an illusion today. That is not to say there is no divide. Sure there is. There will always be a divide, unless Pakistan follows the Israeli way by implementing military conscription. Civilians have done good things and bad things, and so have military dictators. But all this is irrelevant now. Today, it is about Nawaz & his allies vs the state itself. The entire state. That includes the military, the intelligence community, the judiciary, and every other institution of any worth you can think of. This isn’t about liberal vs conservative or secular vs religious anymore. This is about Pakistan’s existence now. A lot of the damage that is being done is irreversible while in other cases it will take years to heal the wounds. A state, unfortunately, doesn’t function like a human being. The best doctor in the world can’t cure some of the most urgent issues a state may face at any point, generally speaking. Nawaz & his allies – wittingly or unwittingly – have taken Pakistan to a fatally dangerous point.  

This is the point where loyalties will change, people will break and entirely unprecedented things will happen. This is where your political views, your religious views and your fucking morals & ideals simply don’t matter. If you think they do, think again. 

The new legislations passed and yet to be passed by the government are just one of the many things Nawaz & his allies have recently done to deepen the so called civilian-military divide. Not because he wants civilian supremacy or anything, but because Nawaz has failed to defend himself in the courts. Confrontation with the state and maligning the military is Nawaz’s only useful tool to divert attention of his loyalists from his & his family’s gigantic cases of corruption. While doing this, Nawaz hopes he will win. His foreign backers have been faithful to him, and now he hopes to return the favor. The worst case scenario is the military will take over in yet another coup in a last ditch attempt to save the state – which belongs as much to the military as it belongs to the civilians. Nawaz and his allies will get to repeat what they’ve been saying about the “hidden hand controlling Pakistan” for the rest of their lives in exile. For Nawaz the bright side is – or at least he hopes so – that he will emerge a winner in both cases. 

Or will he? What Nawaz hasn’t understood yet is that the state is bigger than Nawaz AND the military. The Army Chief Gen. Bajwa and his predecessor Gen. Raheel Sharif may perhaps be the two army chiefs in the history of Pakistan who have faced more pressure – from army’s own rank and file as well as civilians – to “take care of things”. Gen. Sharif retired when he was supposed to, despite rumours that he won’t. And Gen. Bajwa is still trying to resist the pressure. Somewhat unsuccessfully, I’d say, since the pressure now is simply too great for a man who hasn’t been the Army chief for even a whole year yet. 
Things are fast getting out of the General’s hands. He can either let this monarchist-feudal sort of system – popularly known as democracy in Pakistan – continue, or he can save the country. He certainly can’t do both. This isn’t what he wishes. This isn’t what the military as an institution wishes. But this is what the law of nature wishes. When a building gets too old, it must be destroyed before it collapses and kills all its inhabitants. That building is Pakistan’s current system right now. Doesn’t matter what you call this system.  

The new legislations passed and yet to be passed by Nawaz’s allies intend to subordinate the Supreme Court and the military, among other institutions, to the politicians. The same politicians who are knee-deep in corruption, have links with terrorist groups and hire lobbyists in foreign countries to gain power. Imagine if US courts were subordinate to politicians. You wouldn’t have seen Trump’s absurd travel ban being repeatedly thrown out by the US courts. 

Ask yourself this: What would a foreign spy – say, an Indian spy – would do differently than what Nawaz Sharif has been doing? 

While idiots continue to talk about things that are completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, the real damage that is being done to the state is not being talked about – at least not as ferociously as it should be. While Pakistanis haggle amongst themselves, they should remember that they’re called Pakistanis because of Pakistan, not because of Nawaz Sharif. 

Make your choice when the time comes wisely. Because it may very well be the last choice you’ll make that actually matters. 

DSEI 2017: Stiletto Systems reveals new rifle and ammunition

Ukrainian company Stiletto Systems presented its latest rifle, the STL-016, at the DSEI defence exhibition held in London from 11-15 September, along with a range of associated armour-piercing ammunition.

The STL-016 is a .300 calibre rifle that incorporates a patented rifling designed by Stiletto and is capable of delivering lethal effects on soft targets out to a maximum range of 2,000 m, according to Stiletto director Khalit Khabibullin. At 300 m the rifle is capable of a 1.2 cm grouping and at a range of 800 m can penetrate 11 mm of armour rated to Brinell 500, he noted.

Although the STL-016 has been designed as a sniper’s weapon to defeat enemy forces wearing body armour, according to Khabibulin, its armour-piercing ammunition – a separate development from Stiletto – allows it to penetrate the hulls of armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

The ammunition is due to enter production as part of Stiletto’s future business plans, with Khabibulin stating that in its 7.62×54 mm calibre, it provides the same capabilities as a 12.7 mm armour-piercing round.

In limited 2013 tests with the Royal Military Academy Department of Armament and Ballistics Systems in Belgium, the 7.62 mm Stiletto round was compared to FN P80 round against 600 Secure high-resistance steel from UnionStahl. The tests showed that the Stiletto round provided the same level of penetration as the FN P80 but at 381 m/s, rather than the 959 m/s of the FN P80.

According to Khabibulin, Stiletto has circulated the ammunition to Ukrainian armed forces free of charge, with anecdotal reports suggesting that it can be used to immobilise APCs and inflict a mobility kill on a main battle tank (MBT).

SOURCE: Jane’s 360

NIMR to demo Ajban 440A to Baltic forces

UAE-based armoured vehicle manufacturer NIMR plans to conduct live-fire demonstrations of its Ajban 440A 4×4 vehicle in Lithuania in April 2018, company officials told Jane’s at the DSEI defence exhibition, held in London from 11-15 September.

As part of an ongoing marketing campaign by the company to break into the European market, NIMR will demonstrate the 440A’s capabilities equipped with a Kongsberg Protector remote weapon station to Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian military officials at the Pabrade military base, northeast of Vilnus.

NIMR representatives also told Jane’s the company has signed a partnership with state-owned Romanian arms manufacturer ROMARM. In order to market and bid into the country, NIMR’s partnership allows its range of vehicles to meet offset obligations and localisation requirements. This follows a similar partnership with Poland’s VOP, announced at IDEX in February 2017. NIMR is also looking to market the vehicle in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

SOURCE: Jane’s 360

China readies GZM003 bridging system for export

China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is now offering its latest GZM003 tracked self-propelled (SP) pontoon bridge system for export. The system is already in service with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

A number of GMZ003 systems can be coupled together to form a bridge across a river or lake for a significant increase in wet gap crossing capability.

Additionally, individual units can be used as a ferry to enable tracked and wheeled vehicles to rapidly cross a water obstacle. Two GMZ003s can be coupled together to transport heavier vehicles.

The GMZ003 is operated by a crew of three and has a maximum road speed of 55 km/h and an operating range of up to 500 km. When travelling the large pontoons mounted either side are swung through 180° and stowed on the top to reduce its width.

As the vehicle is tracked, it is capable of travelling with other tracked armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) into difficult terrain. It is also fully amphibious being propelled through the water by propellers that operate via a power-take-off from the main diesel engine.

The company claims that it requires only six minutes to be prepared to receive the first vehicles for a river crossing. It takes eight minutes to couple two GZM003s together; the swimming speed of the vehicles in this mode is 9 km/h.

Maximum water speed is up to 10 km/h and it can operate in rivers with a maximum water speed of up to 2.5 m/s but performance could be limited in fast flowing rivers.

The bridge system – excluding the vehicle and other carried equipment – has a combat weight of 43 tonnes.

 

SOURCE: Jane’s 360

DSEI 2017: Thales introduced new generation F90MBR assault rifle

At DSEI 2017, Thales introduces a new generation ambidextrous and NATO interoperable military assault rifle, the F90MBR – Modular Bullpup Rifle, suited to support the modern integrated soldier. The F90MBR is the new generation of the F90 Assault Rifle, currently in service with the Australian Defence Force.

The F90MBR is completely interoperable with NATO weapons. The F90MBR is one of the lightest assault rifles on the market at 3.25 kg, and is fitted with ambidextrous controls to enable fast reaction times and rapid target engagement. Features include availability in multiple barrel lengths, fully-ambidextrous forward bolt and magazine release controls, and a ‘drop free’ magazine release function to facilitate even faster magazine changes, regardless of the handdominance of the firer. The F90MBR safely accommodates offhanded shooting techniques through the use of a case deflector, and can be easily modified by the operator without tools to a dedicated left or right handed ejecting weapon.

The weapon’s open architecture incorporates a NATO tri-rail system and magazine compatibility to ensure interoperability with existing NATO weapons. It is able to be packaged with multiple barrels, and compatible optics, accessories and ancillaries with Grab Case, allowing an operator to quickly transition between different tactical employments of the weapon system. ‘Over The Beach’ capability means it is well suited for use by amphibious forces. Soldiers can swim with the weapon, and fire
Immediately after emerging from the water.

The F90, and now the F90MBR, set the benchmark for accuracy and reliability in small arms to support soldiers in operations. Building on over 100 years of extensive experience and expertise in small arms manufacture, the F90MBR is evolved from the battleproven F90 weapon, delivering ergonomic, modularity and interoperability enhancements, while retaining the same high levels of accuracy and reliability as the F90. Both the F90 and F90MBR enable the soldier to reach up to 600m accurately and with ease. Proven world class reliability ensures a war fighter can have absolute confidence in his weapon in the most demanding environmental conditions, whether that be the sands of the desert, the humidity of the jungle or in extreme cold.

SOURCE: Army Recognition 

Kalashnikov highlights Chukavin SVCh family of sniper rifles

Russia`s Kalashnikov Group (a subsidiary of the Rostec state corporation) has developed the Chukavin SVCh family of semi-automatic sniper rifles unveiled at the Army-2017 international military-technical forum held outside Moscow.

The family comprises three rifles chambered for 7.62x54R mm, 7.62×51 mm and 8.6×69 mm (.338 Lapua Magnum) cartridges. The SVCh is designed to engage individual targets at a distance of up to 1,500 m (depending on the cartridge). It is based on the gas-operated short-stroke piston with rotating bolt. The rifle`s design is based on a reversed U-type steel receiver that incorporates a slung bolt assembly. An adjustable trigger assembly unit with integrated magazine receiver and trigger guard is attached to the upper receiver kitted out with a Picatinny rail for sighting systems. The SVCh is fitted with a manual gas regulator, ambidextrous firing controls (safety and magazine release button) and a folding buttstock. The rifle can be complemented by a folding bipod and a tactical sound suppressor. The SVCh has an accuracy of no more than 1 MOA at a distance of 100 m. According to the Kalashnikov Group, the variant of the rifle chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges has a weight of 6.3 kg (with empty magazine), an overall length of 1,140 mm, a barrel length of 560 mm and a magazine capacity of 10 cartridges.

The SVCh rifle chambered for 7.62x54R mm cartridges is fed from a Dragunov SVD 10-round box magazine. It has an overall length of 1,000 mm, a barrel length of 410 mm, a weight of 4.3 kg (with empty magazine) and an accuracy of no more than 1 MOA. The organic barrel can be replaced with a 460 mm or a 565 mm one. The SVCh modification for the 7.62×51 mm has the same specifications and is fed from a 20-round box magazine.

The Kalashnikov Group largely invests in the development of semi-automatic designated marksman rifles (DMR). The SVCh is a modular firearm that is based on a reliable gas-operating scheme and meets the requirements to the best world`s DMRs, for instance, the M110 SASS (Semi-Automatic Sniper System) by the US Knight Armament Company (KAC) in terms of dimensions, magazine capacity and accuracy. It should be noted that Kalashnikov has developed a modification of the SVCh chambered for the high-precision 8.69×69 mm cartridge that is typically used in bolt-action sniper firearms. Such a rifle combines a long range and a rapid firing rate.

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SOURCE: Army Recognition 

Russia’s Kalashnikov unveils AK-12K short version of AK-12 assault rifle

The Russian firearms manufacturer Kalashnikov Group presents the AK-12K and the AK-15K at Army-2017, the International Military Technical Forum near Moscow, Russia. The AK-12K compact assault rifle is based on the Kalashnikov AK-12 and it was especially designed for Special Forces and to be used as individual weapon for crew of combat vehicles.

The 5.45 mm Kalashnikov AK-12K (GRAU index 6P70) assault rifle is a new type of weapon which is intended to replace previous generations of 5.45 mm Kalashnikov assault rifles in service with Russian and foreign armed forces.

The AK -12K retains traditional Kalashnikov-type gas operated action with rotary bolt locking, and uses magazines compatible with previous generations of 5.45 mm AK 74 rifles. Thanks to redesigned barrel, gas tube and handguard, the AK -12K offers noticeably better accuracy than its predecessors in the same caliber.

The AK -12K is equipped with integrated Picatinny rail on the top of the redesigned top cover, which permits simple and fast installation of modem day and night sighting equipment. Bottom of the handguard is also equipped with Picatinny rail for various tactical accessories such as vertical grips, flashlights and lasers. Trigger and saifety/fire selector unit is redesigned to provide three modes of fire, including single shots. 2-round bursts and full automatic fire.

The AK-12K is equipped with side-folding stock which is adjustable for length of pull Iron sights consist of a shrouded front post, mounted on the gas block, and an adjustable rear aperture sight, installed on the removable base using upper Picatinny rail. Barrel is fitted with effective compensator/muzzle brake. Depending on the tactical situation, a bayonet or quick detachable sound suppressor can be mounted on the barrel. To further increase combat effectiveness of the rifle, it can be equipped with 40mm under barrel grenade launcher such as GP-34.

The AK-12K is chambered in the traditional 5.45x39mm caliber. According to the manufacturer all AK-47/AKM magazines will work with the AK-12K. The empty weight of the new AK-12K assault rifle is around 3.4 kg. The AK-12K uses 30 rounds magazine with transparent windows. It has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute.

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SOURCE: Army Recognition

Australia to further support Philippine fight against Islamic State

The Australian Special Forces may go one step further in aiding the Philippines in its fight against Islamic State (IS), as the two sides prepare to discuss training of troops, advising and other assistance, it was reported on Sept. 1.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed Friday that Defense Minister Marise Payne will be visiting Manila “shortly” to continue discussions on how the Australian troops would be best utilized, after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte formally accepted Australia’s offer of assistance to train and advise local troops earlier on the day.

The Filipino army has been engaged in a battle with the extremist terrorist group since May when IS-linked group launched an assault on the southeastern city of Marawi in an attempt to establish its Southeast Asian headquarters.

Australia has been offering support in the form of spy planes and intelligence, but no Australian troops have yet set foot in the Philippines.

“Now, we are working closely with the Philippines Government. We are providing, as you know, support in intelligence, in the operation of our P3 Orion aircraft there and we’re open to offering further assistance in capacity-building, training and so forth,” Turnbull said when answering questions from local journalists accompanying him to Western Australia.

“We do not want IS establishing a stronghold in Southeast Asia. That is vitally in our interests to see that insurgency defeated,” he said.

General Restituto Padilla of the Filipino army has said that Australia’s help in the drawn-out battle was greatly appreciated.

Talking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the general said that Australian troops would not be able to fight in the battle due to the Filipino Constitution preventing foreign troops from engaging in active combat within the country and would instead serve in training and intelligence roles.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop offered Duterte Australian assistance during a visit to Manila in August.

“Obviously we would be ready to support the Philippines in the same way we are supporting Iraq in advising, assisting and training,” Bishop said.

 

SOURCE: International news agencies