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The current time is Sun Apr 21 15:13:16 2019
Utopia Talk / Politics / Syria clusterfuck III
| Wed Apr 25 14:53:42|
Full Russian Defense Ministry transcript:
The Russian Defence Ministry continues analyzing missile strike on Syria carried out by the US-led international coalition on April 14 on the eve of arrival of the OPCW representatives in Damascus in order to conduct investigation in Douma.
According to official statements made by representatives of the United States, Great Britain, and France, the strike was aimed at elimination of alleged production of chemical agents and storages with special munitions of the Syrian party.
In the views of the American, British, and French military departments, this ‘production’ was allegedly concentrated in three objects.
The first object is the Barzah Scientific Studies and Research Center located in Damascus suburbs.
Up to 2013, the Centre conducted researches in the field of development of chemical weapons protection means. Different chemical agents were used there in amounts allowed by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
In 2017, laboratories of the Centre were inspected by representatives of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The inspection showed absence of any activity relating to development and production of poisoning agents.
The second object is underground storage Him Shinshar underground storage located in the province of Homs. Chemical weapons have never been developed or stored there.
The third object is Him Shinshar above ground storage, Homs province. Chemical weapons have never been developed or stored there as well.
In any country, facilities where chemical weapons research is conducted and ammunition is stored are carefully protected because of the great danger to people. However, nothing like was observed at three abovementioned objects. These were the usual buildings and hangars.
Many people who worked there or just idlers arrived there without any means of protection immediately after the attacks. None of them was injured by chemical agents.
In order to determine the level of possible contamination of the terrain as a result of a missile strike and a threat to the civilian population, Russian NBC protection experts took all necessary samples at the Barza facility. Their analysis did not reveal the content of toxic chemicals and poisonous substances on the destroyed site. It was evidenced by the relevant act.
This suggests that this Research Center has not been conducting works with poisonous substances for a long time.
At the same time, the logic of the military and political leadership of the United States, Britain, and France is not clear when choosing these objects for striking.
If, in their opinion, these objects had stocks of poisonous substances, then when striking with cruise missiles large centres of contamination of the terrain could appear. And in the case of Damascus, tens of thousands of people would inevitably be killed.
The United States, Great Britain, and France assess the strikes as successful. They claim that all the missiles hit the assigned targets. At the same time the Research Center in Barzah is allegedly hit by seventy-six cruise missiles, and the storage of Him Shinshar – with twenty-nine cruise missiles. In total, according to the US representatives, 105 missiles were fired.
General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out a detailed analysis of the results of the strikes. The collected fragments of missiles, study of shell craters, and the nature of destruction of objects allow us to conclude that no more than twenty-two hits of a hundred and five reported ones have been fixed in the target area.
Only thirteen hits from seventy-six declared ones were found in the area of the Barzah Research Center. This is evidenced by the nature of the destruction of buildings and structures of this Center and completely preserved buildings that are around it at a distance of not more than one hundred meters.
Even if to take into account that explosive of the warhead of the Tomahawk cruise missile ranges from 150 to 200 kilograms, according to the American version, without air-ground missiles fired from two B-1B bombers, not less than eight and a half tons of explosives were to explode in the area of the target. As a result of such an explosion, the Barzah Research Centre was to suffer much more damage. However, it is not observed.
The obtained intelligence and objective monitoring data from air defence systems, work on the ground, and a survey of witnesses show that Pantsyr, Osa, Strela-10, Buk, Kvadrat, and S-125 air defence missile systems, covering the capital of Syria and Duvali, Dumayr, Blai, and Mazzeh nearby airfields of the Syrian Air Force, hit forty-six cruise missiles.
Taking into account trajectories of missiles’ flight and capabilities of the Syrian air defence systems, they were all struck in five interception areas, three of which are located in the west of the Syrian capital, and two ones – to the east.
Fragments of cruise missiles found in these interception areas have characteristic holes from the striking elements of anti-aircraft guided missiles. There are marks with serial numbers, dates and manufacturers, and other data on mechanical units and components. Specialists will be able to easily identify the belonging of these fragments. Some of them are demonstrated at the exposition.
Part of the missiles did not reach the targets, apparently because of technical malfunctions, creating a threat of destruction of civilian objects and the death of civilians. Two of them, including the Tomahawk cruise missile and an air high-precision missile, were transported to Moscow.
Now they are being examined by Russian specialists. The results of this work will be used to improve Russian weapons.
According to Pentagon representatives, 22 missiles hit ground-based structures. The Russian party registered no more than seven hits.
The Him Shinshar underground storage facility, as the US military believes, was struck by seven missiles. According to our intelligence, only two hits were registered.
At the same time, the largest damage to expensive and so-called "smart" missiles was caused to economic buildings that have nothing in common with military activities.
In total, 20 missiles were shot down in three areas of the responsibility zone of air defence of Homs by Pantsyr, Osa, Buk, S-125, and Kvadrat air defence missile systems of the Syrian armed forces.
It is to be noted that most high-precision missiles were shot down by S-125, Osa, and Kvadrat Soviet-made air defence systems.
These systems were recovered and modernized under the auspices of Russian specialists.
The Syrian Defence Ministry analyzed the results of the missile strike. On its basis, a number of changes have already been introduced into the air defence system of the country, which will further increase its reliability.
Russian specialists will continue training Syrian military personnel, as well as assisting in mastering new air defence systems, supplies of which are to be carried out in the near future.
It is to be reminded that the cruise missiles did not enter the Russian air defence systems responsibility zone. The Russian force grouping is ready to repel any air strikes.
Yesterday, at 8.00 p.m., Russian air defence systems detected and shot down two UAVs of insurgents at the distance of 10 kilometers from the Khmeimim airbase.
The strikes carried out by the western coalition did not resulted in disrupting peaceful process in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Eastern Ghouta recently liberated from militants is returning to peaceful life. In this suburb of Damascus, the authority bodies have been restored; recovery of housing service facilities is underway. Water and electricity supply systems have been recovered in many settlements and towns. Shops are open.
Yarmouk area, southern suburbs of Damascus, is being liberated from terrorist groupings.
Moreover, representatives of the Russian Reconciliation Centre jointly with the Syrian government have reached an agreement with illegal armed formations on voluntary withdrawing from the controlled Eastern Qalamoun.
Over the past four days, 5,495 insurgents and their family members have left Eastern Qalamoun for the north of Syria. State power bodies started working in the area, and infrastructure is being recovered.
In total, 28 tanks, 23 Scud tactical missiles, 35 anti-tank grenade launchers, and a large number of small arms, previously seized from the Syrian army, were handed over to the government troops by the militants. Origin and routes of delivery of west-made weapons to the Damascus region are of particular interest. There are TOW anti-tank guided missiles and others.
The Russian Reconciliation Centre is working on stabilizing the situation and returning of refugees to their homes.
More than 62,000 people have returned to their homes in the Eastern Ghouta.
In total, 9,508 people have returned to Aleppo province via a humanitarian corridor located near Abu Duhur and Tell Sultan from Idlib de-escalation zone.
Under the auspices of the Russian Reconciliation Centre and the Eastern Territories Control Committee, infrastructure is being recovered in Deir ez-Zor province. Since December 2017, 44,501 citizens have returned to their homes on the eastern shore of the Euphrates.
The Russian Federation has been doing everything to establish peace in Syria as soon as possible.
| Wed Apr 25 15:03:17|
Department Of Defense Press Briefing By Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White And Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. In The Pentagon Briefing Room
...On Syria, our strikes last Friday were successful in degrading Syria's chemical weapons, research and storage facilities, without a single report of a civilian casualty.
This is a testament to the professionalism and precision of the U.S., UK and French forces that carried out this mission. As we expected, Russia immediately began a misinformation campaign to hide its complicity by sowing doubt and confusion.
Following our operations, Russia falsely claimed Syria air defenses shot down a significant number of missiles, when in fact we hit all of our targets. Of the surface-to-air missiles that the Assad regime launched, nearly every one was launched after the last of our missiles hit their targets.
The Russian manufactured air defense systems were totally ineffective. Russia and the regime demonstrated the ineffectiveness of their systems against two days later when those systems engaged accidentally.
We have seen no indication the Assad regime is prepared to launch another chemical weapons attack. However, we remain vigilant. Yesterday we were disappointed but not surprised to see the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons team come under attack by small arms fire after arriving in Duma.
Assad must know the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances. What happens next is up to Bashar al-Assad. The strike last Friday was separate and distinct from our mission in Syria, which remains the complete annihilation of ISIS.
We remain committed to working by, with and through the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have proven the most reliable partners in the fight against ISIS. To set the conditions for local governance to take root and thrive in liberated territories.
Therefore we must maintain pressure on the remnants of ISIS in the middle Euphrates River Valley. We must also maintain the 70 nation defeat ISIS coalition in order to combat the violent terrorist group wherever it rears its ugly head.
Whether it's the Sahel, southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Europe or the United States. We will continue to support the United Nations-backed Geneva peace process and its Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. We support our diplomats who are working tirelessly to bring all parties to the table to negotiate a political resolution to the civil war that has cost far too many innocent Syrians their lives.
However, the process will continue to be stymied as long as Moscow thwarts its progress and fails to hold Assad accountable for his regime's atrocities. We call on Russia to fulfill its commitments as the guarantor of the Assad regime's obligation to abandon its chemical weapons.
And prevent the regime from ever using chemical weapons again. With that, we'll take your questions.
QUESTION: Two things. One, general, I was wondering if you could give us some more specific battle damage assessment (BDA) from the strikes. Dana mentioned that they did degrade chemical weapons.
Were there chemical weapons in some of the storage facilities that you were able to assess? And do you have any further knowledge or convincing that there was sarin used as opposed to just -- what was said the other day, the suspected use of sarin?
And then, Dana, can you tell us -- did the military and did the secretary argue for a more limited strike in Syria, with the knowledge that, perhaps, a more expansive strike might require congressional approval.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL KENNETH F. MCKENZIE JR.: So I'll -- I'll begin by just referring you back to the photographs that we showed on Saturday. Those are -- those are pretty compelling, when you take a look at -- at the damage that we achieved against the three targets.
So we assessed that the weapons hit the target, we achieved the level of success that we wanted against those three targets. We believe that there were -- there was probably some chlorine and, possibly, sarin at, possibly, all of the sites.
As you know, we don't have access to that site. So it's hard to go in and do that -- and do that post-strike analysis, except from -- from a distance and with overhead imagery.
So that's probably going to be an open question for a little bit of time, although we continue to look at those sites very closely through a variety of means. But I -- I would tell you, as we -- we really can't improve in the assessment that we gave you Saturday. And the image is pretty compelling, that those three targets were knocked out.
Q: So you don't think you will have any greater knowledge or assurance that there was, indeed, sarin used (inaudible)?
GEN. MCKENZIE: You know, well, your question was, was sarin at the three sites that we struck. So we -- we believe that it probably was. We -- the careful weaponeering through plume analysis, through the modeling that we do within our targeting enterprise as we look at those targets, we're able to reduce the -- the possibility of that escaping to a very low level.
And we know, empirically, in fact, none did escape, just based on the fact there were no casualties around it. So that's sort of where we are.
It remains -- you know, one of the targets is in downtown Damascus, so I doubt we're going to get much -- we're going to get much access to that in the immediate future, although we continue to look through a variety of means to follow up our assessment.
MS. WHITE: And with respect to the secretary's advice and counsel, that is discreet and confidential between him and the president. However, what I can tell you is any option that the secretary provides to the president, he has confidence in.
Ultimately, it is up to the president to decide what options we actually execute. So the secretary has provided options, and ultimately the president decided how we would do this.
And -- and to remember, we also had two permanent members of the Security Council. This was a combined operation. And therefore -- and this was a successful mission. So the secretary's perfectly comfortable with the options that he provided.
Q: Just to follow up on Lita's question. general, you say that empirically, none did escape because there were no casualties. But couldn't that also mean that there were no chemical weapons at those sites? How do you know there were chemical weapons at those sites?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Sure. So based on all source intelligence, we assess there were some chemical weapons at those sites. None escaped that we can see. But certainly, we can't say with 100 percent certainty that that's the case.
But we believe the absolute preponderance of the evidence is that there were chemical weapons at that site, to include -- to include elements of sarin, particularly at the Barza site.
Q: OK. And then did Russian war ships threaten U.S. or British war ships at any time? Did you take threats from Russia seriously, that they could hit the (USS) Donald Cook? And is that why the Donald Cook wasn't used in this strike?
GEN. MCKENZIE: So at no time did the Russians threaten the Donald Cook. As you know, there were two Russian FFG, frigates, in the eastern Mediterranean. The Donald Cook was our only surface warship in the eastern Mediterranean.
During the strike, we had a significant combat air patrol overhead of the Donald Cook, provided by U.S. European Command. So we didn't feel threatened at any point during that -- during that strike. And, in fact, no threats were conveyed by the Russians. Their activities were actually professional in that they observed the rules -- the rules of the road at sea. And the Cook was never threatened.
Q: And Dana, why was this not a NATO operation with the 29 members? Was that by design?
MS. WHITE: It was -- the fact that NATO SECGEN (Secretary General of NATO) -- there is -- we've had a lot of support from NATO. You've seen many NATO nations express support for the strikes. France and the UK were natural allies. Not only have we worked together for a long time, but we share common principles.
We had to move quickly, and France and the UK were obvious partners.
Q: But it was not because NATO allies didn't want to participate?
MS. WHITE: No, it had nothing to do with whether or not NATO allies wanted to participate. We had -- we wanted to react quickly, and the -- and UK and France were obvious natural partners.
Q: Thank you. (inaudible) their first question. At our briefing Saturday morning, you mentioned that you'd be monitoring the sites for any sort of -- maybe signatures of chemical weapons. Has the U.S. been able to employ any of its sensors to detect if there was any chemicals there?
And then secondly on the platforms that were used. Could we go back to the air platforms that were used? We're hearing reports that there were F-22's involved and that the JASSM's that were fired from that -- JASSM-ER'S, but ...
GEN. MCKENZIE: So let me work -- let me work backwards. The javelins that were fired were standard JASSM's. They were not JASSM-ER's. So I'd -- I misspoke when I gave that information the first time. And I think AFCENT actually clarified that and we went out and clarified it after -- after the press conference.
Any -- any U.S. fighter aircraft that were employed in this operation were employed as part of an integrated package and -- and -- and CENTCOM AOR for protection of the bombers. So no fighter aircraft penetrated further than where the B1's actually launched the JASSM's and then turned away.
So none actually went forward from that point, they were there simply as part of the integrated package.
Q: So just one quickly and then Dana, I have a question for you. But can you confirm at this time that Raptors (inaudible) provided protection for the bombers as part of that strike package?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Sure, I can tell you that U.S. fighter aircraft provided protection for the bombers. We'll get back to you on whether or not F-22's were used in that. I just -- I -- I just don't know that off the top of my head.
Q: And then Dana, we're hearing that one of the soldiers who has tried to join the U.S. military MAVNI program decided while waiting to be cleared for duty. And this brings up several questions about the numbers of potential U.S. soldiers who are waiting in this program to get security clearance.
Can you give us an idea of how many soldiers at this point are still kind of stuck in limbo as they wait for the different clearances, and what the department is doing to hopefully speed this process for them?
MS. WHITE: One, I can tell you that we need every patriotic heart to serve. The approximate number is around 10,000, but as you know, there were some significant security risks that were identified with the MAVNI program.
But it's an important program, and it's important to ensure that we field the best for our military. So -- so we will continue to work with all of our partners to ensure that we can vet people effectively. And we're going to move forward quickly with respect to all of it.
Q: I just want to follow-up, the 10,000 I think is the number that have gone through since its inception in 2009. What about since the 2016 2017 members, particularly since the increase clearance procedures were announced last -- I think it was October 17.
MS. WHITE: Tara, let me come back to you on that specific window of dates. But 2016 to -- is 2016? '17.
Q: Yes, when the program was suspended and then the new rules in '17.
MS. WHITE: Absolutely. I will come back to you with that, absolutely.
Q: You mentioned that the Russian air defenses were -- the Russian-made air defenses were ineffective. A point of clarification, and then -- and then a follow up question. Were they ineffective because the Russians chose not to engage them against the incoming missiles, their S-400 system? Or was it because it didn't work?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Well so -- in the attack on -- on Friday night, Russian air defenses were energized. They were scanning, they had a main state air defense aircraft up. They did not -- they did not choose to engage, so I can't speculate about why they did or didn't do that.
I can tell you though that the rest of Syrian air defense capability, which is completely Russian made, Russian designed, Russian -- Russian supported, engaged extensively and comprehensively failed. So I think -- so there's a distinction there, and I recognize that.
The Russians didn't do anything, although they're very closely allied to all the systems that the Syrians deployed to no effect.
Q: So that brings me to the policy question, which is what progress has been made in trying to convince Turkey not to go ahead with its purchase of Russian air defenses that would be incompatible with NATO and U.S. air defenses?
And find some other solution so that we don't have a situation where a NATO ally is -- is buying Russian defenses that perhaps aren't as good as ours.
MS. WHITE: Well we have talked to the Turks about the issue of interoperability. But ultimately the Turks have to decide what's in their best strategic interest, and that's for -- for Ankara to determine.
Q: ... still trying to get Turkey to not go forward with that purchase?
MS. WHITE: We continue to be in conversations about our concerns with respect to the interoperability with NATO. Right here in the middle?
Q: Hi, (inaudible) with CNBC.
General, can you shed a little bit more light on how many aerial refueling aircraft were used, where the B-1B's deployed from, and how long everything was up in the air for the Syria strike?
And then a follow-up on North Korea.
GEN. MCKENZIE: Sure. So we can get you the numbers on the tankers, I don't have them right now. But as you know, the way the strike starts, you watch the tankers first, you're going to build a tanker bridge. All those assets are going to be well forward.
I just don't have those numbers at the -- the tip of my tongue right now, but we can certainly come back to you with those numbers. The B-1's launched from where they're based in the CENTCOM AOR.
Q: And then on North Korea, does Secretary Mattis aware of Mike Pompeo's trip to speak to Kim Jong-Un?
MS. WHITE: As Secretary Mattis said just yesterday, it's best that the people who are dealing directly with those conversations talk to all of those issues.
Q: Statement about the cloud -- the cloud subject. I think -- I need you to clarify one thing, because I think you may be saying that you're signaling a major policy change here. You said the original contract -- the winner's going to get the first two years.
But if I heard you right, it's -- they're not necessarily guaranteed the second five year option and the third three year option. Am I hearing you right?
MS. WHITE: That's correct.
Q: Is there a change in strategy? Because the gestalt here was ten year, winner take all, it's in Amazon's -- they're going to get it kind of a ...
MS. WHITE: So this goes -- so this goes back to we're doing things differently. As you know, you know, acquiring software is a dynamic situation. It's not the same as buying planes and -- and major weapons systems. So yes, that's exactly what it means.
For two years, the first two years, will be awarded as a single award contract. After those two years, we have the option to determine what happens next in that five year option period.
Q: So a second team could win the second -- the five-year option, the second -- the third year option?
MS. WHITE: That is possible. [Editor’s note: The option periods would not be awarded to a different vendor. If the department elects not to exercise an option period, then the department would determine whether a new contract action is appropriate.]
Q: For general, this is a non-cloud question. The other day you energized the world when you said that Syria retained its residual capability. It became Syria can still gas its own people. How large is the residual capability as it spread throughout the country?
And does the U.S. have a fairly good grasp on where the residual capability is located?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Sure. So they do retain a residual capability. It is probably spread throughout the country at a variety of sites. It will be hard for them to continue centralized R&D, that facility now not existing. So their ability to -- to work and improve their product is probably going to be damaged. They're probably -- they will have the ability to conduct limited attacks in the future. We -- I -- I don't -- would not rule that out. However, as they contemplate the dynamics of conducting those attacks, they've got to look over their shoulder, and be worried that we're looking at them, and we'll have the ability to strike them again, should it be necessary.
Q: Has the -- has CENTCOM give -- been given the authority to preemptive strikes if they get intelligence they -- that there's a strong possibility, and another chemical attack using Sarin is imminent?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Sure. I can't comment on future operations.
MS. WHITE: Joe?
Q: Thank you. In the last few hours, military officials from Iran, Russia, also from the Syrian regime met with the Iraqi -- met with Iraqi officials at the defense -- at the Iraqi defense ministry in Baghdad to discuss intelligence sharing. That's what -- that's what the statement says. I just -- I would like to know if the DOD has any comment on that. Among (inaudible) way the Iranian defense minister.
MS. WHITE: I -- I can come back to you on that, but what I would say is our priority in the region is to ensure that ISIS never reemerges. And with respect to Iran, as we've said, Iran, wherever you look, there is chaos that follows Iran. So we will continue to be vigilant, and we will work -- continue to work with the Iraqi security forces. But as far as that particular meeting, I'd have to come back you with any specifics, once I know more details about it.
Q: Thank you. Has Secretary Mattis completed his review of the Niger investigation?
MS. WHITE: He has completed his review, and we are currently-- we are currently in the process of scheduling the next-of-kin notifications. [Editor’s Note: family briefings are being scheduled.]
Q: Is there any (inaudible)?
MS. WHITE: I cannot, because again, we -- we want to ensure that the families are fully briefed, and when that's complete, AFRICOM, General Waldhauser will come, as well as [SIC] MG Cloutier will also come to brief after congressional notifications and briefings have been completed.
Q: General, can you give us a sense of what you saw through ISR and observation of the Syrian regime's movement immediately after the strikes? What -- what were they doing around the sites of the strikes? What did you see in terms of Syrian air offense coming from Russian bases, and so on?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Sure. So it was -- I would characterize the Syrian response as confused and chaotic. They didn't -- they -- they -- they had no clear picture of what was actually happening to them. Over a period of several days, they returned to a relative state of normalcy.
I would note that on the evening of the 16th, we noticed a spasm of Syrian air defenses where they again fired six surface-to-air missiles against no targets, and probably without any kind of fire direction, which means the missile goes ballistic, travels to either where it explodes in air, or continues forward. So that indicates a pretty serious dislocation of Syrian air defense.
Now, I think that's a pretty consistent pattern with them.
Q: What do you think about the comparative normalcy? Does that imply that the strikes haven't actually changed anything on the ground?
GEN. MCKENZIE: Well, I'm -- no, I'm talking purely about Syrian air defense. I think there's -- We take a look at the targets that we hit. We don't have continuous observation on it. We -- we continue to assess. You've actually seen media just going out there and walked around the outside of some of those sites. We continue to look at the sites. We don't have a perfect picture of it, because we're not actually on the ground there. So there's not much more I can give you on that, except to tell you that as often as we can, given our ability to revisit, we look at those sites.
Q: So how -- how have the strikes changed the strategic balance of the Syrian conflict, or have they not?
GEN. MCKENZIE: I don't think we sought to change the strategic balance of the Syrian conflict with those strikes. We sought to send a lesson that it's bad practice to gas women and children.
MS. WHITE: Barbara?
Q: I want to go back to Secretary Mattis' relationship with the White House. So yesterday, I think maybe for the first time, we saw the White House, Sarah Sanders, issue a statement about Secretary Mattis and this whole question of targeting in Syria.
So that is sort of like the first fact on the table. We know the president wanted a strong response. He talked about, there could be -- this -- this could be the beginning of a series of responses to Syria. That from the president.
We know that the president wanted public knowledge, quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and, going back several months, the president had publicly spoken about how he wanted quicker options from the U.S. military, respective to North Korea.
So the president has been out there several times, about the Pentagon in public. And if you go back to the statement yesterday, quite unusual. I don't think we've seen a White House statement that -- that felt -- where they felt they needed to come out and talk about the secretary.
What's your view, Dana, on -- are the knives out for the secretary? Why are we seeing all these stories of his disagreements with the White House? What do you assess is going on?
What's his -- can you tell us anything about his relationship with Bolton, now that they've had some time to work together? Can you give us a picture of what you see there?
MS. WHITE: What I see is a very comprehensive review of decisions. And what the secretary has said, often, is that the president brings together people from different perspectives, and he challenges them. He challenges every assumption. And as far as his relationship, that the secretary has said, John Bolton is an American. And he can work with him.
With respect to -- to this town, or speculation about, you know -- the secretary is focused on his three priorities. He is focused on the lethality of this force. He is focused on allies and partnerships. And he is focused on reforming how we do business. That is the secretary's focus.
You know, he -- he believes in everyone's right to have an opinion and to write. But at the end of the day, that is his focus.
Q: I understand that. But nonetheless, yesterday we saw the White House feel compelled enough to come out, I think, perhaps, for the first time, with a public statement on the secretary.
So you say that the president challenges all assumptions. Is the secretary -- is the department getting its -- on these subjects, getting its assumptions challenged by the White House? I assume the answer is yes.
MS. WHITE: This department provides options. And we provide those options in a timely fashion. And every option that the secretary presents, he believes in. But at the end of the day, it's the president of the United States that decides. And the secretary has utmost confidence in all of the options that this department puts forward.
With respect to Sarah's statement, I think that demonstrates that there are some things that are just false. The secretary's a very honest man, and we -- and he is -- he conducts himself in a very open and honest way. It simply wasn't true. And that -- and that, that is really all to it. It just wasn't true.
Q: So the secretary has -- did present multiple options on Syria? Because the military typically would not present a single option. They would present a range of courses of action, and have the president decide. So he did present multiple options to the president.
MS. WHITE: The secretary presents several different options to the president on a number of different things.
COL. MANNING: I think we have time for a few more questions.
MS. WHITE: Corey?
Q: Does Secretary Mattis support proposed cuts to the so-called Fourth Estate Programs that past-Chairman Thornberry has raised as a possibility?
MS. WHITE: So we haven't -- so we are -- you know, it's pending legislation. But the secretary supports Chairman Thornberry's initiative to identify where we can find value, greater value for the American people. I think you saw our support when Congress decided to break AT&L. For many years, this department ignored that. It has shown to be a very effective way to better-manage the department.
So we'll continue to work with -- with HASC, and with the chairman to determine the best way forward. But we are going to do things differently, to begin with the cloud initiative. So -- so we look forward to working with the HASC.
Q: Were -- were Pentagon officials worked with before this was brought forward?
MS. WHITE: There is a consistent and constant conversation that goes on between the -- the staff, as well as -- here, as well as with the professional staffers on the HASC.
Q: Thank you, Dana White (inaudible). On North Korea, as you know, that North Korea cooperating with Syria to develop chemical weapons, then if United States and North Korea at summit talks is not working, then North Korea will be our next preceded strike?
MS. WHITE: So Janey, I -- again, I want to ensure that there's the best chance for these conversations to be successful. It's our diplomats and the White House that are leading these conversations, so I would prefer if all of these questions be -- be addressed to the department.
Q: Can you take two quick breaking news questions, things that have happened while we're in the briefing? One of them is, as the (Russian News Agency) TASS (inaudible)
MS. WHITE: Sure, Jamie. I'll take it.
Q: Well, for the general, it may be. Either one of you. But the TASS News Agency is reporting that Syria has turned over to Russia two unexploded U.S. cruise missiles that they say are in pretty good shape. Can you tell us if that's accurate?
GEN. MCKENZIE: News to me. I don't know.
Q: OK. And just one (inaudible) to you, too. But while we were in here, the president tweeted, quote, "Governor Jerry Brown announced he will deploy up to 400 National Guard troops to do nothing. The federal government will not be paying for Governor Brown's charade. We need border security and action, not words." Is -- is -- is it -- Does that mean that the Pentagon won't be providing federal funds for the deployment to California?
MS. WHITE: The -- the Pentagon will continue to support the Department of Homeland Security as they identify their needs and their requirements. We are in a support role. National Guard troops are under Title 32, and they are under the governor's command and control. The Department of Defense will stand ready to support DHS.
OK, thank you, everybody.
| Thu Apr 26 00:20:59|
DANA WHITE: Good morning, everyone.
Q: Good morning.
Q: Happy Saturday.
MS. WHITE: Happy Saturday.
I want to start by making one point clear. The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an inexcusable violation of international law. And the United States will not tolerate it.
The Assad regime's attack against innocent Syrians in Douma, Syria, on April 7th is horrifying and tragic, and it demanded an immediate response.
Yesterday, United States forces at the direction of President Trump launched precision strikes against Assad regime targets associated with the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We launched these strikes to cripple Syria's ability to use chemical weapons in the future.
We were joined by the United Kingdom and France, who demonstrated solidarity in addressing these atrocities.
Americans are united in condemning Syria's inexcusable use of chemical weapons which no civilized nation would tolerate.
We are encouraged by the support we received from the senators and congressmen on both sides of the aisle.
We are also extremely proud of the United States service members who carried out this operation last night. They demonstrated unwavering courage and commitment in their defense of the American people and the values and ideals our nation represents.
This operation was carefully orchestrated and methodically planned to minimize potential collateral damage. I can assure you we took every measure and precaution to strike only what we targeted, and what we success -- and we successfully hit every target.
This operation does not represent a change in U.S. policy, nor an attempt to depose the Syrian regime. The strikes were justified, legitimate and proportionate response to the Syrian regime's continued use of chemical weapons on its own people.
We do not seek conflict in Syria, but we cannot allow such grievous violations of international law.
Our goal in Syria remains defeating ISIS, by, with and through the 70-nation coalition.
But we will not stand by passively while Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, ignores international law.
The Assad regime's actions in April 2017 and again on April 7th, 2018, show they have abandoned their commitments to the international community, and resorted to illegal tactics against the innocent Syrian people.
We call upon Russia to honor its commitment to ensure the Assad regime dismantles its chemical weapons program and never uses chemical weapons again.
We support our diplomats who are working to set the conditions for the United Nations-backed Geneva process to succeed, and we look forward to working with the United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in an effort to maintain transparency.
General McKenzie will provide a detailed overview of the actual operations.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL KENNETH F. MCKENZIE JR.: Thanks. Thanks, Dana. Ladies and gentleman, good morning.
I'm going to spend the next couple of minutes just talking about the military details of the strikes that we executed last night.
Could I get the first graphic up, please?
As you've heard from the president of the United States and directly in this room from Secretary Mattis and Chairman Dunford, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, three of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, conducted a proportional, precision, coordinated strike in response to the Syrian regime's continued use of chemical weapons.
This combined military strike was directed against three distinct Syrian chemical weapons program targets. And I'm going to show them to you in turn on the monitor behind me, and I think you have access to that information also.
The three facilities are -- or more appropriately now were fundamental components of the regime's chemical weapons warfare infrastructure.
Let's go to the first slide, please.
The Barzeh Research and Development Center.
Pardon me -- the Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage facility.
And last -- and the next slide please -- the Him Shinshar chemical weapons bunker facility, which is located about seven kilometers from the previous Him Shinshar site.
This site aimed to deliver a clear, unambiguous message to the Syrian regime that their use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is inexcusable, and to deter any future use of chemical weapons.
We selected these targets carefully to minimize the risk to innocent civilians.
We're still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, but initial indications are that we accomplished our military objectives without material interference from Syria.
I'd use three words to describe this operation -- precise, overwhelming and effective.
Let's go back to the first Barzeh slide, please.
Against the first target, the Barzeh Research and Development Center, which is located in the greater Damascus area, we employed 76 missiles; 57 of these were Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, and 19 were joint air-to-surface standoff missiles, or JASSMs.
As you can see for yourself from the graphics, initial assessments are that this target was destroyed. This is going to set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years.
We also note that we've successfully destroyed three buildings in metropolitan Damascus, one of the most heavily defended airspace areas in the world.
Next slide, please.
Against the second target, the Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage facility, which is located in Syria, just west of Homs, 22 weapons were employed, nine U.S. TLAMs, eight Storm Shadow missiles, three naval cruise missiles, and two SCALP land attack cruise missiles.
So this target was attacked by all coalition forces -- our Tomahawks, the British Storm Shadow, and then the French missiles went against it as well.
Against the third target -- next slide -- the Him Shinshar chemical weapons bunker facility, we deployed seven SCALP missiles. Again, the initial assessment is that this bunker facility was successfully hit.
I'd now just like to talk a minute about the specific platforms that were part of this strike, and let's go back to the first slide, please. The missiles that I've just described were delivered from British, French and U.S. air and naval platforms in the Red Sea, the Northern Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean. All weapons hit their targets at very close to the designated time on target, of about 4:00 a.m. in Syria, which of course is 9:00 here on the East Coast.
I'm going to give you a little more details about the platforms. First, in the Red Sea, the Ticonderoga-class, Monterey, fired 30 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. And the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Laboon fired seven Tomahawks.
In the North Arabian Gulf, the Burke-class destroy Higgins fired 23 Tomahawks.
In the Eastern Mediterranean the French Frigate Languedoc fired three missiles of their naval version of the SCAT missile.
Also in the Mediterranean, the Virginia-class submarine John Warner fired six Tomahawk missiles.
In the air, two B-1 Lancer bombers fired 19 joint air-to-surface standoff missiles.
In addition, our British allies flew a combination of Tornadoes and Typhoons, and launched eight Storm Shadow missiles.
Our French allies flew a combination of Rafales and Mirages, and launched nine SCALP missiles.
Taken together, and as you can see from the graphic behind me, these attacks on multiple axes were able to overwhelm the Syrian air-defense system.
It's also important to note that we flew a variety of defensive counterair, tanker, and electronic warfare aircraft in support of these operations.
None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses, and we have no indication that Russian air-defense systems were employed.
We are confident that all of our missiles reached their targets. At the end of the strike mission, all our aircraft safely returned to their bases.
We assessed that over 40 surface-to-air missiles were employed by the Syrian regime. Most of these launches occurred after the last impact of our strike was over. It is likely that the regime shot many of these missiles on a ballistic trajectory. I mean, by that, without guidance. And we assess that the defensive efforts of Syria were largely ineffective, and clearly increased risk to their people based on this indiscriminate response. When you shoot iron into the air without guidance, it's going to come down somewhere.
By contrast, the precise nature of our strike and the care which our allied team planned and executed significantly reduced the risk of collateral damage to civilians.
In summary, in a powerful show of allied unity, we deployed 105 weapons against three targets. That will significantly impact the Syrian regime's ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future.
It's been said before, but I want to emphasize again, that by comparison, this strike was double the size of the last strike in April 2017. And I'd also emphasize that this strike was a multinational effort. The precision strike was executed with France and the U.K., demonstrating our unquestionable resolve.
I'd like to close by noting that since the strike, we have not seen any military response from actors within Syria. And we remain postured to protect our forces and those of the coalition should anything occur.
Dana, back to you.
| Thu Apr 26 02:12:35|
MOSCOW, April 25. /TASS/. The Syrian air defense forces shot down 46 cruise missiles fired by the United States and its allies against Damascus and its suburbs on April 14, Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Department Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi said on Wednesday.
"The reconnaissance and air defense systems’ recording data we have obtained, the work at the scene and polls of eye-witnesses show that the Pantsyr, Osa, Strela-10, Buk, Kvadrat and S-125 surface-to-air missile systems protecting the Syrian capital and the nearby Duvali, Dumayr, Bley and Mezze airfields of the Syrian Air Force destroyed 46 cruise missiles," the general said.
Considering the missiles’ flight paths and the capabilities of the Syrian air defenses, these missiles were destroyed in five interception areas: three of them are located to the west of Damascus and the other two to the east of Syria’s capital, the Russian general said.
Missile strike against Syria
On April 14, the US, Great Britain and France delivered a massive missile strike against Syria without the UN Security Council’s authorization. According to the data of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the missiles hit a research center in Damascus, the headquarters of the republican guard, an air defense base, several military aerodromes and army depots.
As Russia’s Defense Ministry reported, the attack lasted from 03:42 to 05:10 local time. The Syrian air defenses shot down 71 out of 103 fired missiles. Three civilians were hurt in the missile strikes. The missiles steered clear of Russia’s Tartus and Hmeymim military bases and no Russian air defense systems were used.
The United States, Britain and France claimed the strikes were in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Douma.
On April 7, a number of NGOs, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta. According to the statement published on the organization’s website on April 8, chlorine bombs had been dropped on the city, killing dozens and poisoning many locals who had to be brought to the hospital.
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed that report as fake news. The Defense Ministry added that the White Helmets were notorious for spreading falsehoods.
Representatives of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides held a probe in Douma on April 9 but found no traces of chemical weapons use.
| Thu Apr 26 11:30:07|
| Thu Apr 26 12:26:34|
| Thu Apr 26 12:45:11|
| Thu Apr 26 16:00:06|
They provided pictures of missile pieces compatible with being shot down and incompatible with exploding on targets.
The US narrative is fake news ("all missiles hit target" is disproven by a single missile recovery)
That does not mean the Russian version is true, but my take on it is that it is what their analysists beleive.
Also because the Russian systems underperformed compared to say Iron Dome if we accept that the Russian analysts are more or less correct.
rofl@trump administration words.
| Fri Apr 27 03:17:57|
On April 25 - quite a time after Russia foreign minister's promise to 'very soon' materially validate claimed interception of a number of cruise missiles launched - Russian military demonstrated to media some fragments and parts presented as wreckage of Tomahawk, SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles downed by Syrian air defence. It was also stated that some missiles 'broke down' inflight and that targets (all of them low value) had been hit by maximum 22 missiles. On the briefing Russian military confirmed possession of one Tomahawk and one 'precision air launched' missile shipped from Syria after they had been recovered as duds. According to the April 25 press briefing by the Russian military:
22 US, French, British missiles hit their targets;
46 missiles were intercepted in five areas of the capital of Syria and Duvali, Dumayr, Blai, and Mazzeh nearby airfields;
20 missiles were intercepted in three areas of the responsibility zone of air defense of Homs;
A part of the missiles failed to reach their targets by different, apparently technical reasons;
2 unexploded missiles were delivered to Moscow.
Some analysts, cited by USA Today, assessed Syria's claim of shooting down missiles as not credible. Syria's pre-civil war air defenses previously were formidable, but have subsequently been critically weakened due to years of conflict. Part of the incredulity stems from the observation that even a stronger air defense system would have struggled to repel the strike, given the quantity and sophistication of the incoming low-flying missiles, and given that the coalition likely took measures to jam Syrian radar.
Here are the reasons I think this is much truer than the US account:
1. The Russian briefing was comprehensive and backed up with physical evidence.
2. The information is within the realm of credibility (the response was in no way perfect). Air defenses did not shoot down an unbelievable number of missiles, and the air defenses used a lot of missiles to shoot down what it did (including s-200ds that had a 100% miss rate).
3. Russia is rushing more air defense transfers to Syria (good money after bad - if the US version had been true, then patching the defenses would serve no purpose beyond providing targets for the US to destroy at will).
4. Russia had in fact updated Syrian air defenses significantly in recent years. It was declared operational again in mid 2017. Debunk wiki analysis.
5. The air defenses were on high alert due to advanced monitoring techniques (Trump's tweets had been read).
6. The attack was unsupported (if any electronic countermeasures where employed, then they were used at long range - and were most likely not used in order not to scare the Russians into engaging. Russian radars and air defenses were monitoring closely). Debunk wiki analysis.
7. Boots on the ground could in fact count number of craters and recover what Russia claims has been recovered.
8. The US likely used a lot of crap tomahawks. Low value targets and older block missiles in the tubes. Force preservation dictates using the old crap first and keeping new blocks for like an actual critical attack.
9. The US briefing was not credible. 76 missiles into 3 buildings is ludicrous. The photographic evidence was extremely underwhelming (3 sets of before after commercial quality imagery).
10. The attack was founded on tweet logic and the breifing pre-empted by tweet declarations by the CoC. Leaving the DoD with little option but to report a highly successful attack no matter its actual impact.
11. The Russian version of what was attacked (more than 3 sites) is much more consistent with earlier attacks and much more consistent with the declared goal of the attack (degrade Syria's ability to dump barrels of chlorine from helicopters would logically also target the scarce item - which is helicopters).
12. Trump has no regard for the truth (it simply is not a factor for him). Russians have a more predictable relationship with facts.
| Fri Apr 27 03:22:43|
13. a 0% failure rate is not credible when more than 100 missiles were used. Stand-off missiles had an intial acceptance criteria of lower than 25% technical failure during tests (75% of missiles had to hit on target for acceptance).
| Fri Apr 27 13:13:03|
Are the facilities destroyed or not?
| Fri Apr 27 13:18:01|
Wow, jergul is legitimately annoyed by the assertion that Russian military hardware sucks. It's kind of hard to explain the 40 pages of posts otherwise. Calm down bro, it's not the end of the world if the USA went 105-0 that day.
| Fri Apr 27 13:34:19|
Russians never tell the truth. The defenses of moscow couldnt have repelled that many terrain following missiles. Not even old tlams.
| Fri Apr 27 14:23:55|
"Russians never tell the truth."
Neither do we.
But clearly we're comfortable with the effectiveness of the Tomahawk, or we would've upgraded them. It's not like we're short on cash or technical know how.
| Fri Apr 27 15:13:18|
We have upgraded them but in a slow and relaxed pace, given the inferiority of russians.
| Fri Apr 27 15:20:55|
I mean if subsonic was ineffective, our missiles wouldn't be subsonic anymore.
| Fri Apr 27 15:26:17|
Oh ya for sure i get what you are saying... in an age of computer reaction time speed is pretty irrelevent. Agreed.
| Fri Apr 27 18:04:24|
5 structures were destroyed. 105 missiles were fired.
You are geared towards fighting hottentots with spears. Or to cite wiki:
"The technology development contracts were to be submitted before the end of 2012. In March 2014 a further three-year delay in the project was announced by the Department of Defense, delaying a contract award until fiscal year 2018. The House Armed Services Committee moved to reject this delay. The delay was caused by financial pressures and an uncertain acquisition plan, and allowed by the long remaining service life left for the AGM-86 and lack of urgent necessity compared to other defense needs."
You accept that your reasoning was defeated?
The supplemental munition you are looking for is "small diameter bomb".
I will spare you the details, but by far the most cost efficient way to decrease radio cross signal to avoid detection, and increase survivability if detected is to go down in size. Decreases in explosive power compensated by increases in accuracy.
I am legitimately annoyed by your taking snakeoil sales presentations as gospel.
Point of order. I am not pro Russian. I am pro jergul. What likely happened is something I said would happen eventually in 2005 and have repeated regularly since then.
So accuse me of confirmation bias before that of being a Rusbot.
See comment to murder. I wrote massively about this in 2005 and 2006 (air defenses for dummies. Threads 1-7).
Survivable missiles need to be small or extremely fast. So small as to classify as guided bombs. Though ultimately, altitude wins. It called aero-space for a reason in countries interested in competing for it (Russia, USA, China).
You know I know aerial force projection (rofl@manned aircraft. Well, you heard it from me first. Do I need to repeat why drones are better? ).
| Sun Apr 29 10:22:44|
"You accept that your reasoning was defeated?"
I'm not sure what that link is supposed to prove.
| Sun Apr 29 14:16:11|
The US military saw a need for modernized cruise missiles in 2013 and requested funding that year, but budget priorities spent money elsewhere instead.
You were arguing: "if the military needed modernized cruise missiles, it would have them".
The link defeats your argument.
Not that modernized or new missiles would have been used in any event. Elementary force preservation. Use the old crap in the tubes on missions of new military conscequence.
| Sun Apr 29 14:16:33|
no military conscequence*
| Sun Apr 29 22:40:16|
"Though ultimately, altitude wins."
| Mon Apr 30 02:26:00|
Try doing shit without satelittes. Altitude wins small mind.
| Mon Apr 30 08:40:42|
| Mon Apr 30 10:38:27|
rofl. Yes. But we both know you do not understand this topic at all.
| Mon Apr 30 10:44:47|
| Mon Apr 30 10:58:43|
You do not understand the space in aero-space. What a suprise.
Right now, whoever has the most and best satelittes in operation has a tremendous advantage. If those are taken out in a serious conflict, then whoever has the best reserves in deep orbit has an advantage.
Altitude wins. Nothing using gps navigation or targeting can work very well without that top cover.
Why don't you go buy a t-shirt or something.
| Mon Apr 30 11:01:33|
Switching from satellites to cruise missiles. Lol your mind stays on track just about as well as a soviet tu154 with a burning engine and a drunk aeroflot captain.
| Mon Apr 30 12:33:18|
"Though ultimately, altitude wins. It called aero-space for a reason in countries interested in competing for it (Russia, USA, China)."
Your not understanding what I am talking about is entirely your own fault. Hence my "small mind" comment. Fully justified!
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