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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/12/2016 10:10:00

Good Morning.

Join me in the TARDIS for a moment this morning, won't you?

We're going to an overseas airbase. There's been an increase in deployment of an iconic Cold-War era warplane; B-52 bombers are being deployed to strike at an elusive enemy, perhaps as a means to end their capability to strike at our soldiers overseas, or indeed Americans at home.

Except this isn't Vietnam - we're talking Qatar, and those bomber crews are on their way to bomb ISIS in Syria. The Donald has called for carpet-bombing, and apparently we're going to listen to a fringe candidate here.

The Cold War-era B-52 Stratofortress bomber has arrived in the Middle East to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State, the U.S. Air Force announced.

The long-range heavy bomber aircraft flew from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and arrived Saturday at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, according to a press release from Lt. Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

The stationing of the B-52 in the Middle East marks the first time the service has based the aircraft in the region in a quarter century -- since Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in the early 1990s, the release states. The Stratofortress last flew operational missions during Operational Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan 2006, it states.

The deployment comes three months after the service pulled the B-1B Lancer bombers from the region for upgrades and repairs.

“The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on Da'esh and defend the region in any future contingency,” Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, head of the command and the combined forces air component, said in the release, referring to another name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

With a top speed of around 650 miles per hour, range of about 8,800 miles and capacity to hold roughly 70,000 pounds of nuclear and conventional bombs, mines and missiles, the aircraft is capable of carrying out a variety of missions, including strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction and maritime operations.

The Air Force as of last year had a total of 76 B-52H models in the fleet, including 58 in the active component and 18 in the reserve component, according to figures previously released by the service.

In a follow-up email to Military.com, Karns said he wasn't able to specify how many of the bombers are now based at Al Udeid due to "operational security reasons."

But as long as we're talking Cold War, I've also got a ripsnorter of a spy tale for you. It's a great story; a young boy from a foreign country emigrates to the United States...he goes to school, climbs the ladder, and decides to enlist in the US Navy. His dedication to duty doesn't end there - he winds up in one of the most exclusive programs in the entire military, and is so good he winds up at Officer Candidate School. Too bad he turned out to be a spy for the commies. Except it's still today, and we're talking China and not Russia here.

The naval flight officer accused by the Navy of giving secrets to China was a trained enlisted nuclear specialist prior to his time as a surveillance expert, USNI News has learned.

Before Lt. Cmdr. Edward Chieh-Liang Lin, 39, joined the small community flying the service’s most secretive aircraft, he was a sailor who enlisted in 1999. Following basic training, Lin attended the Navy’s nuclear training schools in Charleston, S.C. from March of 2000 to February of 2002.

Later that month, Lin was enrolled as a student in the Navy’s Officer Candidate School and commissioned on May 10, 2002, according to Lin’s official Navy biography obtained by USNI News on Monday.

There’s no evidence that Lin, originally from Taiwan, served as an enlisted nuclear specialist on a ship or a submarine before he attended OCS.


While Lin had basic knowledge of the Navy’s nuclear power systems from his enlisted service, as well as the Navy’s budget practices, it was his time with the Aries II that would have been of the most interest to the Chinese.

“The stuff he knew as a nuclear power guy are engineering details that China could have obtained by other means,” Clark said.
“They would like to know the types of stuff a VPU guy would know.”

Damaging information to the U.S. would include, “What kind of Chinese systems they were looking for and listening to. Which ones were easier to detect and harder to detect what information did they gather and what did they assess from that information and what was the assessment.”

Lin position on the EP-3Es was that of a sensor coordinator – a supervisor that directed what the team on the aircraft were looking for, how to interpret the data and how to help guide military leaders on how to use the information, USNI News understands.

Knowledge of EP-3E operations and sensors — especially the specialized aircraft variants the Wizards flew -– would be critical to China to develop sensors that were harder for the U.S. to detect and could give the Chinese People’s Liberation Army an advantage in an all-out conflict.

“It’s mostly radars that they would be looking for,” Clark said.

In 2001, an EP-3E collided with a PLA Shenyang J-8 fighter off of Hainan Island in the South China Sea forcing the crew to land on Chinese soil.

China eventually returned the crew and the aircraft but not before it collected reams of data on how the aircraft and its crew did their jobs. The Hainan Incident likely prompted the Navy to retool much of how the EP-3Es did business and their equipment, Clark said.

Any edge of how the contemporary Aries IIs function could undo much of the work the Navy did to shore up its program following the crash at Hainan.

We'll come back now to the modern era; there's a follow-up to a story we've been following for a while here at AAV. A Republican congressman has called for an investigation into the grossly inflated prices at some overseas commissaries. We'll see if this actually goes anywhere, or if it's just campaign-time window dressing.

A lawmaker on a key defense committee has asked the Defense Department to launch an investigation into the Defense Commissary Agency's recently changed produce pricing structure in Asia and Guam.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also wants the review to determine whether shoppers are being asked to not report prices or photos of items to lawmakers or the media and whether agency officials lied to Congress.

"I write to you today to share my frustrations regarding commissary produce in Asian and Guam and to ask you for your support in ensuring that our military men and women, and their families, are able to access the commissary benefits that they were promised when they swore to defend this country," Hunter wrote to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work in the April 1 letter.

"The Defense Commissary Agency has proven itself unwilling to uphold this benefit, and I hope that you will take appropriate actions to ensure that our promises to our troops are upheld," he added.

In an emailed response to Military.com, the agency said it doesn't "intimidate" patrons to prevent them from reporting unfavorable news.

"Quite the contrary, we engage in vibrant social media and patron 'Your Action Line' programs that encourage patrons to give us honest feedback about their commissary benefit," it said in a statement. "We always welcome patrons to inform store managers whenever they have a problem with anything in the store."

The agency acknowledged there are "certain restrictions" on photography at stores, but those are security measures designed to prevent the photographing of secure areas such as cash cages, warehouse areas and entrances. Patrons can still take photos inside the store, so long as they don't violate another's privacy, it said.

Produce prices at commissaries in Japan, Korea and Guam have been the source of debate between the agency and Congress since 2014, when a new contract called for eliminating the taxpayer shipping subsidy. Prices in those areas had been based on the cost of purchasing the goods and did not factor in the roughly $48 million cost of transporting them there.

The new contract, which took effect in late 2015, requires the contractor rather than the government to pay for that shipping, which means those costs are now passed on to patrons. The contract change brought in a major price spike late last year, which commissary officials said was the result of "sourcing challenges." Those prices were reported to have leveled out early this year.

Now Hunter says in the letter that he has received reports of "shockingly high prices, empty shelves and rotten produce available for sale."

And we'll leave it at that today.

8 comments (Latest Comment: 04/12/2016 20:47:21 by wickedpam)
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