Category Archives: Russia

Someone is learning & practicing how to take down the Internet

Bruce Schneider is an expert in cyber-security, the Chief Technology Officer of Resilient, an IBM Company, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, and a board member of Electronic Frontier Foundation — an organization defending our rights in the digital world.

In a blog post, Schneider sounds the alarm that in the past year, the websites of major companies that provide the Internet’s basic services repeatedly have been attacked, each time more sophisticated than the last, which suggests “someone” is practicing how to take down the Internet by learning from the companies’ defensive moves.

cyberwar

Below is Bruce Schneider’s blog post of Sept. 13, 2016, “Someone is Learning How to Take Down the Internet“:

Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don’t know who is doing this, but it feels like a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.

First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it’s overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don’t like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it’s a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.

Recently, some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the Internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them. Moreover, they have seen a certain profile of attacks. These attacks are significantly larger than the ones they’re used to seeing. They last longer. They’re more sophisticated. And they look like probing. One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.

The attacks are also configured in such a way as to see what the company’s total defenses are. There are many different ways to launch a DDoS attack. The more attack vectors you employ simultaneously, the more different defenses the defender has to counter with. These companies are seeing more attacks using three or four different vectors. This means that the companies have to use everything they’ve got to defend themselves. They can’t hold anything back. They’re forced to demonstrate their defense capabilities for the attacker.

I am unable to give details, because these companies spoke with me under condition of anonymity. But this all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there’s a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn’t have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: “in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex.”

There’s more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate Internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services.

Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US’s Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

What can we do about this? Nothing, really. We don’t know where the attacks come from. The data I see suggests China, an assessment shared by the people I spoke with. On the other hand, it’s possible to disguise the country of origin for these sorts of attacks. The NSA, which has more surveillance in the Internet backbone than everyone else combined, probably has a better idea, but unless the US decides to make an international incident over this, we won’t see any attribution.

But this is happening. And people should know.

A reader of Schneider’s blog-post, Random Guy 17, wrote this interesting comment:

“An attack on a service is best done by an attacker that doesn’t need that service. You don’t pull the plug on the power company that supplies your own home/business.

With that in mind, a closed, not highly Internet enabled country makes the most sense- like China.”

It should be noted that in two weeks, on October 1, control of the Internet — specifically, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — will pass from U.S. administration to a multilateral body, most likely the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU). (Breitbart)

-StMA

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Forget about two-front doctrine, U.S. military can’t fight even one war

For many decades the United States’ military doctrine has been to fight a “two-front war,” with the capability to sustain both war fronts.

But, as reported by OneNewsNow, Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.), a senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, warned that the military is so degraded under Obama that America no longer is able to fight even one war. Maginnis said, “Thirty years ago, we had 350,000. Now we’re down to 60 to 65,000 and most of those are not fighters.

Obama DoctrineThe shrinkage stems from the Obama administration’s policy in 2012 to scrap the two-front doctrine.

On January 5, 2012, joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen Martin Dempsey, Obama outlined a new Pentagon strategic review proposing the military should give up the capability to fight two major ground wars simultaneously, such as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan.That, in turn, entailed the removal of up to 4,000 troops from Europe, as well as the downsizing of the overall ground forces even further than the cuts of 27,000 soldiers and 20,000 Marines in the next four years already in the 2012 budget request.

The goal is to reduce U.S. armed forces to pre-World War II numerical levels, ostensibly because of Pentagon budget cuts. (See “Independent panel calls Obama’s downsizing of military ‘dangerous“)

But cuts have not been and are not being made to other spending, such as welfare and entitlements. At the same time, new spending items have been added, including spending on accommodating and welcoming illegal immigrants and refugees from the Middle East. Nor does the reduction of troop levels account for why most of the remaining troops “are not fighters”.

The latter may be because of Obama’s social re-engineering of the U.S. armed forces. See:

The Military Times points out that the U.S. military reduction comes at a time when military spending in China and Russia, and even India and Australia, are increasing.

In the summer of 2015, the Pentagon repeatedly lost in war games against Russia, including an actual field exercise with NATO partners. From that comes the conclusion that the U.S. is not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia if a conflict erupts in Eastern Europe. (See “U.S. repeatedly loses in Pentagon war games against Russia”)

Should war break out in Eastern Europe, Lt. Col. Maginnis Maginnis predicts Obama will be a feckless commander-in-chief: “There’s nothing that President Obama’s going to really do, other than a rather tepid response by a series of exercises that comes with some equipment, not real heavy lethal equipment.”

Maginnis is not alone in his assessment of Obama, given the signs of disaffection in the U.S. military. See “U.S. military does not support Commander-In-Chief Barack Obama“, “US Marine Corps commandant openly blasts CIC Obama”, and “Obama ignored advice of military & CIA against Bergdahl prisoner swap”.

See also:

Israel aids Muslim jihadists in Syria with weapons, air strikes, and medical care for the wounded

5 years ago, on December 18, 2010, a popular uprising in Tunisia began a wave of protests, demonstrations, riots and civil wars in the Arab world which the West enthusiastically praised and romanticized by calling the convulsions “Arab Spring.

By the end of February 2012, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine.

Instead of the West’s expectation that the convulsions heralded a springtime for democracy in the Arab world, what resulted was the electoral success of Islamist parties, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. All of which led some to characterize the convulsions as an Islamist Winter.

The on-going civil war in Syria between so-called “Syrian rebels” and the duly elected Ba’athist government of Bashar al-Assad had begun as “Arab Spring” civil uprisings in the spring of 2011.

In 2013, the Obama administration, together with Senate Republicans like John McCain, had agitated for a war to topple Assad. (See “Pulitzer-award journalist says Obama admin made up intelligence for war on Syria“)

Since then, the United States has continued to provide aid in training and weapons to the “Syrian rebels” hellbent on overthrowing the Assad government — the main opponent of ISIS or Islamic State in Syria. (See “CIA expands Obama-approved training of Syrian militants”)

The Obama administration insists that only “moderate” rebels are aided, but it is a known fact that those insurgents include al-Qaeda and ISIS. If Assad is overthrown, the overwhelming likelihood is that Syria will descend into chaos, with the apocalyptic and brutal Islamic State eventually seizing political power. (See “Despite months of U.S. air strikes, ISIS now controls a third of Syria“)

And now, with the Russian and Chinese military aiding Assad, the stakes are raised even higher, transforming Syria into an arena for a WWIII between superpowers.

None of that is in the interests of the United States, or so a rational person would think.

A little-reported and little-publicized fact is that Israel is exacerbating the descent of Syria into chaos by providing so-called Syrian “rebels” with:

1. free medical care to wounded “rebels”

Foreign Policy reports that according to a United Nations report, Syrian “rebels” have transported scores of wounded Syrians across a cease-fire line that has separated Israel from Syria since 1974. Once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria to continue their civil war against Assad. 

Daily Mail journalists embedded with Israeli troops report:

Almost every night, Israeli troops run secret missions to save the lives of Syrian fighters, all of whom are sworn enemies of the Jewish state…. Analysts suggest the Jewish state has in fact struck a deadly ‘deal with the devil’ – offering support to the Sunni militants who fight the Syrian ruler Assad in the hope of containing its arch enemies Hezbollah and Iran…. Many of the casualties rescued by Israel belong to Salafist groups …. Some may be members of Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group affiliated to Al Qaeda that has kidnapped scores of UN peacekeeping troops in this area, and has massacred Christians deeper in Syria…. In the three years that Israel has been running these operations, it has saved the lives of more than 2,000 Syrians – at least 80 per cent of whom are male and of fighting age – at a cost of 50 million shekels (£8.7 million)…. 

2. Weapons

Israel is also providing weapons to those Syrian “rebels”.

The Times of Israel reports that Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, who was arrested on July 22 by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front near the Israeli border, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support.

Safouri can be seen in the video above admitting to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms:

“The [opposition] factions would receive support and send the injured in [to Israel] on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured. No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities.”

Safouri said that at first he met with an Israeli officer named Ashraf at the border and was given an Israeli cellular phone. He later met with another officer named Younis and with the two men’s commander, Abu Daoud. In total, Safouri said he entered Israel five times for meetings that took place in Tiberias. Following the meetings, Israel began providing Safouri and his men with “basic medical support and clothes” as well as weapons, which included 30 Russian [rifles], 10 RPG launchers with 47 rockets, and 48,000 5.56 millimeter bullets.

3. Bombing Syria

The Guardian reports that the Syrian government claimed that, on Dec. 7, 2015, Israeli jets bombed two installations in Syria, one near the capital, Damascus, and the second in a town near the Lebanese border.

The report by Syrian state television described the attack as “an aggression”. The state news agency Sana said: “The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus international airport.”

No casualties were reported and there was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the country’s civil war through a network of activists on the ground, said the strike near the Damascus airport hit a warehouse, and it was unclear what was in the building. The target of the strikes might have been advanced Russian-made S300 surface-to-air missiles.

The December 7 bombings are not the first Israeli air strikes in Syria. Israel has carried out several air strikes in Syria since the revolt against the Assad government began in March 2011. In June 2015, Israel struck targets inside Syria, including a military installation, following a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager. Israel said at the time that it had struck nine military targets inside Syria and had confirmed “direct hits”.

Why

George Washington writes for ZeroHedge, Dec. 14, 2015, that although Israel claims to be in a mortal struggle with Islamic terrorists, apparently some Islamic terrorists — Sunnis — are better than others.

Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), explains:

“Above all, Israel wants to prevent Hezbollah from gaining control on the other side of the border. The Sunni militants are fighting Hezbollah, so for now they share the same objectives as Israel. That’s why we’re seeing this odd cooperation between people who would be enemies under any other circumstances.”

Indeed, an Israeli spokesman confirmed that no medical support has been provided to any militants from the Shia (or Shi’ite) alliance.

Kamal Alam, research analyst at RUSI and an expert in Syrian affairs, said:

“From an Israeli viewpoint, it’s a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. There is no one they can trust in the Syrian quagmire, but if you get rid of Hezbollah, that’s the end of Iran in the region. Israel’s main aim has to be to eliminate Hezbollah – and whoever takes on Hezbollah is an uneasy but necessary ally. [But in] giving medical support to these fighters, Israel has done a deal with the devil.

In fact, Israel has made no secret of the fact that it prefers ISIS and Al Qaeda to the Iranian backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. In September 2013, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview:

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.… We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.

He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, speaking at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren extended Israel’s preference to include the apocalyptic Islamic State or ISIS. He said: “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail.”

Washington’s Blog points out that Israel’s support for al-Qaeda and Islamic State isn’t just about Iran or Shia Muslims. Israel decided long ago to break up Syria and Iraq into numerous mini-states, in part because a compliant government in Syria would allow Israel’s pipelines to win out over competing pipelines.

All of which would explain why, as Reuters puts it, “Israel loses no sleep over Islamic State”. Reuters’ Dimi Reider writes:

At first sight, it seems that Israel is just as preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State as anyone else….

Still, Israel remains the least concerned and least directly threatened country in a region increasingly rocked by Islamic State’s advance. It certainly does not see the group as an external threat. Shocking though the events in Syria and Iraq are, Israel is far beyond the range of even the most sophisticated of Islamic State’s weapons. The group’s immediate territorial interests do not extend to anywhere near Israeli borders, and its support in areas adjacent to Israel is still negligible.  What’s more, unlike many militant groups and states in the region, Islamic State has declared itself emphatically disinterested in intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring instead to draw its support from Sunni revanchism and introducing a semblance of order into war-torn regions of Iraq.

Islamic State also does not yet pose an internal threat to Israel. Unlike most countries bordering Syria, Israel has not been politically or demographically unsettled by the civil war there….

Even attempts by Israeli centrists and the U.S. to tie progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the fight against Islamic State have left Israel unmoved…. Israel has been able to extract some short-term gains from unfolding catastrophe. With the West again mobilizing against a radical Islamist group, Netanyahu find himself on the familiar turf of the “war on terror.” He is capitalizing on this by trying to equate Palestinian nationalism — especially the religious wing of it — with Islamic State at every conceivable opportunity….

More shockingly, there are some who say ISIS, which became the Islamic State, was a creation of Israel:

The 97-year-old wire service Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Aug. 13, 2014:

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said the jihadist group ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation.

Yasmina Haifi, a project leader at the ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, made the assertion Wednesday on Twitter, the De Telegraaf daily reported.

“ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” wrote Haifi, who described herself on the social network LinkedIn as an activist for the Dutch Labor Party, or PvdA.

Haifi later removed her original message, explaining, “I realize the political sensitivity in connection with my work. That was not my intention.”

Blogger George Washington of ZeroHedge asks: “Perhaps that’s why ISIS, Al Nusra and the other Islamic terrorists in Syria haven’t tried to lay a glove on Israel?” He points out the following disturbing facts:

Writing for Consortiumnews.com, Robert Parry warns:

The Saudi-Israeli alliance has gone on the offensive, ramping up a “regime change” war in Syria and, in effect, promoting a military victory for Al-Qaeda or its spinoff, the Islamic State. But the consequences of that victory could toll the final bell for the American Republic….

As much fun as the “who lost Syria” finger-pointing would be, it would soon give way to the horror of what would likely unfold in Syria with either Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front or the spin-off Islamic State in charge – or possibly a coalition of the two with Al-Qaeda using its new base to plot terror attacks on the West while the Islamic State engaged in its favorite pastime, those YouTube decapitations of infidels….

Such a spectacle would be hard for the world to watch and there would be demands on President Obama or his successor to “do something.” But realistic options would be few, with a shattered and scattered Syrian army no longer a viable force capable of driving the terrorists from power.

The remaining option would be to send in the American military, perhaps with some European allies, to try to dislodge Al-Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. But the prospects for success would be slim. The goal of conquering Syria – and possibly re-conquering much of Iraq as well – would be costly, bloody and almost certainly futile.

The further diversion of resources and manpower from America’s domestic needs also would fuel the growing social discontent in major U.S. cities…. A new war in the Middle East would accelerate America’s descent into bankruptcy and a dystopian police state.

The last embers of the American Republic would fade. In its place would be endless war and a single-minded devotion to security. The National Security Agency already has in place the surveillance capabilities to ensure that any civil resistance could be thwarted.

See also:

-StMA

Russia to deploy new “Doomsday plane” in preparation for nuclear war

Paul Joseph Watson reports for InfoWars that as tensions continue to build between NATO and the Kremlin since last week’s shoot down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey, Russia is now equipping its Su-34 fighters with air-to-air missiles in preparation for potential dogfights with NATO over Syria.

According to DEBKAFile, on Nov. 30, 2015, Russia announced that by the end of December, it will deploy the latest version of its giant command and control aircraft designated for use during nuclear war or national disasters. The flying command center will be able to coordinate the worldwide operations of its ground, naval, air and missile forces, including nuclear weapons, as well as the country’s satellites.

Russian military sources said that the Ilyushin-80 (IL-80) jet would be used when the command infrastructure is disrupted due to a nuclear war, or when ground communication systems are absent. The sources said the plane will be permanently staffed with senior generals, operational commanders and technicians.

Ilyushin-80 Command Aircraft

Ilyushin-80 Command Aircraft

This is how Global Security describes the Maxdome, also called IL-80:

The Il-86VKP (“veh-kah-peh” – Vozdooshniy Komanndniy Poonkt – airborne command post) is Russia’s counterpart to the Boeing E-4B NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post). It is meant to fly the the President of Russia and/or surviving authority figures and highest ranking members of the Soviet (now Russian) government to safety in the event of all-out nuclear war.

The IL-80 (IL-86VKP) is the air or air command center command post of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The aircraft is designed for the control of the armed units of the Russian army in military conflicts with the use of nuclear weapons. […]

The Russian military name is Aimak […] the name given to certain nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes of Mongolian stock inhabiting the north and north-west Afghan highlands […] a bold, wild people and renowned fighters. […]

The first Il-86VKP “Maxdome” was believed to have flown for the first time in the summer of 1985, with the first completed model flying on March 5, 1987. Deliveries reportedly begain 1987. Four aircraft were converted. […]

According to the developers, on-board hardware includes up to 300 units of equipment. Normal take-off weight – 208 tons, the length of the aircraft – 59.54 meters, wingspan – 48.06 meters. The aircraft is equipped with four engines NK-86 thrust of 13,000 kg each. Cruising speed – 850 km / h, range – 3600 km. Service ceiling – 11 000m. Any other information on these machines is closed. This is one of the few still not declassified aircraft models. […]

The onboard air conditioning is filtered to keep radioactive fallout. It is hardened against flash and electromagnetic pulse. All cabin windows are deleted (including the portholes in the doors) in order to protect it from an electromagnetic pulse or nuclear explosion. Cabin entry doors are deleted except for the upper deck forward door on the left and the aft door on the right. Two of the three air stair doors [except the forward one] in the lower fuselange that characterize the Il-86 are missing. There is a baffle blocking the aft cockpit windows, possibly as an EMP or RF hazard shield. […]

On 01 December 2015 “United Instrument Corporation” (UIC, a state corporation of Rostec, announced the creation of the air command post of the second generation of strategic management based on the Il-80. The aircraft would be delivered by the Defense Ministry before the end of 2015.

The Air Command Post on the basis of the Il-80 is included in the system of air control centers of the Armed Forces. It is designed to work in conditions of failure of ground control points, knots and lines, rapidly changing operational environment, as well as in the case of an opponent of nuclear weapons. For this reason, aircraft of this type are called “Doomsday planes.” Only two countries in the world possess such weapons – Russia and the United States. An analog of the Russian Il-80 is the American Boeing E-4B.

Deputy General Director Sergey Skokov of UIC said that a new generation of Russian airborne command post has high survivability, functionality, reliability, improved weight and size and lower power consumption. Technical specifications of the permit to manage the land forces, navy, air and space forces, as well as the Strategic Missile Forces. The goal is the organization of communication networks in a totally unsuitable conditions where the ground infrastructure is non-existent or completely destroyed.

For a description of the U.S. “doomsday plane”, the Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post, click here.

-StMA

Russian intelligence says ISIS and Taliban amassing on Afghan border for invasion of Central Asia

ISIS to invade Central Asia

Nick Gutteridge reports for the UK Express, that Russian intelligence claims that huge numbers of Islamist fighters — ISIS and Taliban — are massing on Afghanistan’s northern border, ready for an invasion of central Asia.

Speaking at a meeting of special services from the Commonwealth of Independent States, Moscow’s spy chief Alexander Bortnikov warned that heavily-armed Taliban fighters, many of whom have pledged allegiance to ISIS or the Islamic State, are prepared to pass through porous border controls.

Bortnikov said:

“The international community has now hit a new geopolitical challenge, an international criminal group in the name of the Islamic State. This project, which grew out of the ‘Arab Spring,’ has gained momentum thanks to the double standards of certain world regional powers by using ‘a terrorist battering ram’ to reach their own strategic goals in Asia and Africa.

According to our estimates, citizens from more than 100 countries are currently fighting in the ranks of terrorist structures and the recruits constitute up to 40 percent of their forces.

The escalation in tensions in Afghanistan has brought on serious dangers. There are numerous criminal groups included in the Taliban movement on the northern borders of this country right now. Some of them have also begun operating under the Islamic State flag, which has led to a sharp rise in the threat of terrorists invading Central Asia.

After being pegged back in Syria by Russian airstrikes, with its economy is ailing and its command structure close to collapse, the Islamic State could be trying to open up a new front to the north of its territories by invading the former Soviet states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in Central Asia, which are still beholden to Moscow. The jihadists would also secure control of lucrative drug trafficking routes taking raw opium from Afghanistan to be sold as heroin on the streets of Russia and Europe.

ISIS has been looking to grow its presence in Asia and has active cells in India, Pakistan and Malaysia. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month called the situation in Afghanistan “close to critical” and called on other ex-Soviet nations to be prepared to act together to repel a possible attack by ISIS. 

H/t Joseph F.

-StMA

U.S. repeatedly loses in Pentagon war games against Russia

On Sept. 29, 2015, an op/ed by reporter Benny Avni in the New York Post proclaimed Vladimir Putin’s Russia as “the world’s new sole superpower.” Avni wrote:

The baton was officially transferred Monday to the world’s new sole superpower — and Vladimir Putin willingly picked it up.

Putin’s deployment of forces in Syria and arming of Assad create facts on the ground. They have also propelled him to the top by taking initiative on today’s most consequential world fight….That’s how Putin seized leadership from America….

And it’s bad for America. Because sooner or later, after more bloodshed and under even worse conditions than now, our next president will be called upon to retake the leadership baton from Putin. And that could prove tricky.

Avni’s proclamation isn’t that far-fetched given the fact that the Pentagon’s own war games show that the U.S. would lose in a Baltic war against Russia.

Julia Ioffe writes for Foreign Policy, Sept. 18, 2015, that the Pentagon continuously generates contingency plans for every possible scenario — anything from armed confrontation with North Korea to zombie attacks.

For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, the U.S. Department of Defense is reviewing and updating its contingency plans for armed conflict with Russia, to reflect a new, post-Crimea-annexation geopolitical reality in which Russia is no longer a potential partner, but a potential threat.

Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, explains that “Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine made the U.S. dust off its contingency plans. They were pretty out of date.” Flournoy says the new plans have two tracks:

  • One focuses on what the United States can do as part of NATO if Russia attacks one of NATO’s member states.
  • The other track considers American action outside the NATO umbrella.

Both versions of the updated contingency plans focus on Russian incursions into the Baltics, a scenario seen as the most likely front for new Russian aggression. They are also increasingly focusing not on traditional warfare, but on the hybrid tactics Russia used in Crimea and eastern Ukraine: “little green men,” manufactured protests, and cyberwarfare. Julie Smith, who until recently served as Vice President Joe Biden’s deputy national security advisor, says: “They are trying to figure out in what circumstances [the U.S. Defense Department] would respond to a cyberattack. There’s a lively debate on that going on right now.”

It was in February 2014 that Putin caught the Obama administration off guard by sending little green men into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. David Ochmanek, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development, said, “We didn’t plan for it because we didn’t think Russia would change the borders in Europe.” Crimea was a “surprise.”

In June 2014, a month after he had left his force-planning job at the Pentagon, the Air Force asked Ochmanek for advice on Russia. At the same time, the Army had approached one of Ochmanek’s colleagues at Rand, and the two teamed up to run a thought exercise called a “table top,” a sort of war game between two teams: the red team (Russia) and the blue team (NATO). The scenario was similar to the one that played out in Crimea and eastern Ukraine: increasing Russian political pressure on Estonia and Latvia (two NATO countries that share borders with Russia and have sizable Russian-speaking minorities), followed by the appearance of provocateurs, demonstrations, and the seizure of government buildings.

“Our question was: Would NATO be able to defend those countries?,” Ochmanek recalls.

The results were dispiriting. Given the recent reductions in the defense budgets of NATO member countries and U.S. pullback from the region, Ochmanek says the NATO team was outnumbered 2-to-1 in terms of manpower, even if all the U.S. and NATO troops stationed in Europe were dispatched to the Baltics — including the 82nd Airborne, which is supposed to be ready to go on 24 hours’ notice and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“We just don’t have those forces in Europe,” Ochmanek explains. Then there’s the fact that the Russians have the world’s best surface-to-air missiles and are not afraid to use heavy artillery.

After eight hours of gaming out various scenarios, “the conclusion,” Ochmanek says, “was that we are unable to defend the Baltics.

Ochmanek decided to run the game on a second day. The teams played the game again, this time working on the assumption that the United States and NATO had already started making positive changes to their force posture in Europe. Would anything be different? The conclusion was slightly more upbeat, but not by much. “We can defend the capitals, we can present Russia with problems, and we can take away the prospect of a coup de main,” Ochmanek says. “But the dynamic remains the same.” Even without taking into account the recent U.S. defense cuts, due to sequestration, and the Pentagon’s plan to downsize the Army by 40,000 troops, the logistics of distance were still daunting. U.S. battalions would still take anywhere from one to two months to mobilize and make it across the Atlantic, and the Russians, Ochmanek notes, “can do a lot of damage in that time.

Ochmanek has run the two-day table-top exercise eight times now, including at the Pentagon and at Ramstein Air Base, in Germany, with active-duty military officers. “We played it 16 different times with eight different teams,” Ochmanek says, “always with the same conclusion.

When asked about Ochmanek’s conclusions, a Defense Department official expressed confidence that, eventually, NATO would claw the territory back. “In the end, I have no doubt that NATO will prevail and that we will restore the territorial integrity of any NATO member,” the official said. “I cannot guarantee that it will be easy or without great risk. My job is to ensure that we can reduce that risk.”

That is, the Pentagon does not envision a scenario in which Russia doesn’t manage to grab some Baltic territory first. The goal is to deter — Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced this summer that the United States would be sending dozens of tanks, armored vehicles, and howitzers to the Baltics and Eastern Europe — and, if that fails, to painstakingly regain NATO territory.

The Pentagon is also chewing on various hybrid warfare scenarios, and even a nuclear one. The senior defense official says, “As you look at published Russian doctrine, I do believe people are thinking about use of tactical nuclear weapons in a way that hadn’t been thought about for many years . . . . The doctrine clearly talks about it, so it would be irresponsible . . . to at least not be thinking through those issues. Any time there is nuclear saber rattling, it is always a concern, no matter where it comes from.”

B61-12-nuclear-bombNote: German public television ZDF reports on Sept. 22, 2015, that the U.S. will station 20 new atomic weapons, B61-12, in Germany. Each B61-12 has four times the destructive power of the one that was used on Hiroshima in 1945. “With the new bombs the boundaries blur between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons,” Hans Kristensen, the Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told ZDF.

There is a strong element of disappointment among senior foreign-policy and security officials in these discussions, of disbelief that we ended up here after all those good years in America’s relations with Russia.

The State Department official says: “A lot of people at the Pentagon are unhappy about the confrontation. They were very happy with the military-to-military cooperation with Russia.” Some think that Russia is a distraction from the real threat — China. Others think that working with Russia on arms control is more important than protecting Ukrainian sovereignty. Not only would they rather not have to think about Moscow as an enemy, but many are also miffed that even making these plans plays right into Putin’s paranoid fantasies about a showdown between Russia and NATO or between Russia and the United States — which makes those fantasies, de facto, a reality. In the U.S. planning for confrontation with Russia, says the Senate staffer, Putin “is getting the thing he always wanted.”

In his July confirmation hearing to ascend to the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford said that Russia posed an “existential threat” to the United States and that America must do more to prepare itself for hybrid warfare of the type Russia deployed in Ukraine. Dunford’s statement angered the Obama White House, which saw it as potentially provocative to Moscow.

The fact that U.S. repeatedly lost in the Pentagon’s own war games against Russia could explain why, according to a Sept. 25, 2015 article on the Russian news site, SvetKolemnas.Info, a “summary report of the Russian Ministry of Defense for the internal needs of the Kremlin” states that within three weeks after President Putin orders a “first strike” against America and its NATO allies, the military forces of the Russian Federation will achieve “a total defeat” of U.S. military forces, including:

  • The destruction of all 18 US aircraft carriers and ships capable of carrying aircraft, and of all US and NATO military satellites.
  • The strategic takeover of heavy weapons.
  • The “erasing” of all US bases in the UK.
  • The total loss of US and NATO troops of over 35,000 (dead, wounded, captured and missing), and material losses of at least 15 trillion dollars (ships, aircraft, weapons, etc.)

The report envisions that after Russia achieved tactical superiority over US and NATO forces during the first 24 hours of the war, Moscow would issue a demand for the removal of all US forces, nuclear weapons and equipment from Europe, in exchange for a cessation of hostilities.

If the demand is met, Russian forces would then withdraw from the conquered territories. If the request is rejected, the forces of the Russian Federation would deploy tactical nuclear weapons against US military bases and NATO in Europe, as well as EMP/electronic weapons against the United States and Canada. Russia would also be prepared to use intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Fearing total global nuclear war, the US and the EU would immediately lose the political will to fight.

The Russian Ministry of Defense report also states that tens of millions of American Christians could very well act as a “fifth column” in support of the Russian Federation, given that those Christians have had “to defend against their own ‘demonic’ leaders destroying America.” American Christians would side with the Christian forces of the Russian Federation who only seek to liberate the United States, Europe and the rest of the world from those demonic leaders’ “satanic design.”

In this manner, with the “fifth column” of Christian Americans supporting Christian Russia, a global nuclear disaster would be averted, and the United States under a new Christian leadership could then return to a peaceful way of life and “cease terrorizing the world.”

This image is in the SvetKolemnas.Info article

The report notes that, according to CNN, the readiness of the US military is now at a historic low, with half of U.S. Marine Corps units at below the level of military preparedness. The report further sites a U.S. blog, Fellowship of the Minds, on the mass exodus of Christians from the US military. All of which has rendered a once-fearsome military increasingly dysfunctional because of the Obama regime’s sex/gender experimentation, including American cadets being forced to march in high heels as part of their education, and Obama’s appointment of “Erica [sic] K. Fanning, an open homosexual, as Commander of the US Army.”

Note: Last month, Obama nominated Eric Fanning, an admitted homosexual, to be Army Secretary. (See “Obama names open homosexual to be Secretary of U.S. Army“)

The report estimates that if the de-Christianized and demoralized U.S. military were to face the Christian forces of the Russian Federation, it would take only 3 weeks for the U.S. military to be drained of all their “will to fight”.

Referring to Salon.com, “one of the most popular U.S. magazines,” now “openly supporting” sex between an adult and a child, pedophilia being just another sexual lifestyle, the SvetKolemnas.Info article cryptically concluded that “After all, things of hell belong to hell … maybe it’s time to make this monster go back where they belong.”

See also:

-StMA

Chinese military joins Russia in Syria

“The board is set . . . the pieces are moving.” -Gandalf, Lord the Rings: The Return of the King

According to The New York Times and FT, in addition to nine T-90 tanks and more than 500 marines for possible ground attacks, Russia is building up its air base near the port city of Latakia in Syria with some of its most advanced ground attack planes and fighter jets, and 2,000 troops as the “first phase” of its mission to shore up the Assad government. The planes are protected by at least two or possibly three SA-22 surface-to-air, antiaircraft systems, and unarmed Predator-like surveillance drones are being used to fly reconnaissance missions.

Russian air base near Latakia, Syria

Now, China is entering the fray.

The pro-Assad Al-Masdar (The Arab Source) reports on Sept. 23, 2015:

[T]he Russians appear to have a contingency that involves another world power that was absent from the U.S. led Anti-ISIS Coalition: China.

On Tuesday morning, a Chinese naval vessel reportedly traveled through Egypt’s Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was not confirmed.

However, according to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that is stationed inside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Chinese military personnel and aerial assets are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks (6 weeks) to the port-city of Tartous – he could not provide anymore detail.

Russia has made it abundantly clear that they are taking an active role in this conflict, but the news of the Chinese military to Syria provides more insight into their contingency.

It appears that Russia is not going to combat ISIS alone: the plan is similar to the U.S.’ idea of a “coalition” of air forces, but far more involved on the ground; this is something the U.S. and their allies have avoided since the inception of their war against ISIS.

Despite all of this, Russia and the U.S. appear to be at it again; however, this is no space or arms race, they are actively flexing their muscles through their proxies (U.S.: rebels and Russia: Syrian Army).

Map of Syria - Latakia and Tartus

ZeroHedge reminds us that it is not as if China had not given sufficient warning: “This comes two years after China warned that turmoil in Syria could have negative implications for the global economy and 18 months after Beijing, along with Moscow, used their security council vetoes to undercut a UN resolution calling for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the Hague.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on Sept. 21 that “Russia and Iran have stepped up coordination inside Syria as they move to safeguard President Bashar al-Assad’s control over his coastal stronghold, according to officials in the U.S. and Middle East, creating a new complication for Washington’s diplomatic goals.”

-StMA