TOC Ready Room 19 Oct 2021; *UPDATE*

What’s wrong and right with the world today.

[Updates added at the bottom. – JED]

Greetings, readers.  This is the inaugural edition of the TOC Ready Room, which will be an open thread and drop-by briefing space in the spirit of the ready rooms used by military aviators.

My experience being with U.S. Navy ready rooms, the feature image is of a ready room on the carrier USS Constellation (CV64) used by a squadron from Carrier Air Wing 2.  The image is tagged as being from March 2003, when Constellation was on her final operational deployment supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  (The CVW-2 patch is visible on one of the flight jackets, incidentally.)  Constellation was decommissioned only a few months later, in August 2003.

On a carrier, the ready room is used for planning and squadron briefings, but also serves as a gathering space subject to availability.  It’s the center of squadron life during underway periods and deployment.

The Ready Room posts will be added at least once a week, Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 19 Oct 2021; *UPDATE*”

Provocation: Sailor seen with MANPAD on Russian warship transiting Bosporus

Peace in our time.

Shoulder-fired peace cruises in the Bosporus: Russian sailor on the deck of Russian landing ship Tsesar Kunikov, 4 Dec 2015. (Image: Emre Dagdeviren via Twitter, UK Express)
Shoulder-fired peace cruises in the Bosporus: Russian sailor on the deck of Russian landing ship Tsesar Kunikov, 4 Dec 2015. (Image: Emre Dagdeviren via Twitter, UK Express)

This incident reportedly occurred the morning of 4 December.

The Ropucha-class tank landing ship Tsesar Kunikov (BDK-158) was heading from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, conducting a southbound transit of the Turkish Straits.  (As documented at the excellent Bosphorus Naval News blog, BDK-158 has been back and forth through the Turkish Straits several times over the last few months.  The ship was most recently off Syria in November, and returned to the Black Sea on 25 November before Friday’s southbound transit.)

Turkish media reported that a Russian sailor was photographed on the deck with a shoulder-fired missile launcher in the firing position during the transit. … Continue reading “Provocation: Sailor seen with MANPAD on Russian warship transiting Bosporus”

War comes home: Russia v. Turkey; Jet shootdown; Rebels attack Russian helos with U.S. TOW missiles

Peace in our time.

Shootdown porn. (Image via rebel video on YouTube)
Shootdown porn. (Image via rebel video on YouTube)

The war in Syria is metastasizing, as long predicted by this author and others.  It’s perilously close to a direct confrontation of Turkey and Russia in combat — a situation that didn’t start with the warplane shootdown today, but rather seems to have culminated in it.  The ground picture in the area of the shootdown is the key.

What we know for sure today is that Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft, which the Turks say was violating their air space.  The Turks report that an F-16 fighter pair took out the Russian aircraft.

It also appears that Russian helicopters sent on a rescue mission for the Su-24 air crew were destroyed.  If a video posted by Syrian rebels (below) is valid – assuming it shows something the rebels pulled off today (24 November) – it looks like the rebels used TOW missiles to attack the Russian helos while they were on the ground at the Su-24 crash site.

These rapid-fire events raise questions that will not be answered at a leisurely pace.  The basic question is what Russia and Turkey will do now.  But there is also the question of “why now?”  Turkey has been closely tracking Russian air activity for weeks.  The two air forces have interacted at dangerous levels before; the Aviationist has a good summary here.  But today, instead of warnings and sword-rattling, the Turks shot the Russian aircraft down. Continue reading “War comes home: Russia v. Turkey; Jet shootdown; Rebels attack Russian helos with U.S. TOW missiles”

Obama blocks U.S. pilots from bombing ISIS; Iranian fighters escort Russian bombers

Interesting times.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing (RAF Lakenheath) arrives at Incirlik in Nov 2015. (Image: USAF, Tech Sgt. Taylor Worley)
USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing (RAF Lakenheath) arrives at Incirlik in Nov 2015. (Image: USAF, Tech Sgt. Taylor Worley)

It’s essential to have the big picture on this.  The war in Syria is turning into something bigger, with substantially bigger implications than what happens to ISIS.

But ISIS remains the handy pretext for Russia’s and Iran’s growing intervention in both Syria and Iraq.  That intervention is changing their posture, and the correlation of both military and political forces across the region, almost by the day.  They are not there for ISIS, and they’re not there for Assad.  They’re there – putting down stakes from the Caspian and the Caucasus to the Horn of Africa – because they intend to be in charge of carving up the rapidly fragmenting ruins of the post-World War I Middle East.

ISIS will get something of a vote in this conflict.  But America won’t.  The reason for these two realities is that Obama has limited the use of U.S. force – limited it to such an extent that ISIS is still a very viable entity.  Obama’s “restraint” is also the reason Russia and Iran keep having ISIS as a handy, open-ended pretext for arranging to occupy Iraq and Syria.  Which is what they’re actually doing.

Obama has in fact restrained the use of U.S. force to an unnatural degree.  We’ve known for a while now that 75% of the strike sorties flown against ISIS by our aircraft return to base without bombing anything.  U.S. Central Command reported that in operational statistics months ago, and it was picked up by stateside media as early as May 2015. Continue reading “Obama blocks U.S. pilots from bombing ISIS; Iranian fighters escort Russian bombers”

After Paris, post-NATO ‘solution’ for Syria blasts off without U.S.

War without leadership.

Tu-95 Bear bomber, one of several types used in Russian strikes on Tuesday, 17 Nov. (Image: UK MOD, SAC Robyn Stewart via Guardian, Oct 2014)
Tu-95 Bear bomber, one of several types used in Russian strikes on Tuesday, 17 Nov. (Image: UK MOD, SAC Robyn Stewart via Guardian, Oct 2014)

If you’re not convinced we are now in a “post-American” (and hence post-NATO) world, consider these events of the last 72 hours.

After the Paris attacks on Friday, the G20 leaders gathering in Turkey knew that both Syria and ISIS would top their agenda in Antalya.  On Sunday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron expressed the standard position of the Western allies, since late summer, that Russia should stop prosecuting what is essentially a unilateral war in Syria.

How odd that that position should seem antique a mere 48 hours later.  In the wake of the most recent events, one now has the sense that Cameron was speaking in another world and time.

Obama’s watershed moment Continue reading “After Paris, post-NATO ‘solution’ for Syria blasts off without U.S.”