Plan B: We just call Mel Gibson…
* The Scottish Government has put forward its proposed plans for independence, including details its foreign relations and defense plans. Since then, Thin Pinstriped Line has been methodically backing up its claim that the SDF plan suffers from ‘fantasy fleet’ syndrome, dismantling the proposed Navy and Air Force plans. Following them through the numbers, explanations, and relevant considerations is an educational exercise for anyone in the field.
Who? Meet the PCLOB
* The Washington Times lays out the difficult history of the USA’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). Key members were nominated in May 2011, but had to wait to start work until chair David Medine was confirmed in May 2013. That was about 2 weeks before the Snowden revelations broke, and an NSA lawyer’s early November comparison of its programs to “stop-and-frisk” policies adds an interesting wrinkle. PCLOB hopes to deliver a report regarding NSA activities by the end of 2013, and are touting their independence – something that the similar Director of National Intelligence Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies has a harder time selling.
Who: NATO’s BMD infrastructure attracts bidders
* EADS Astrium & Cassidian are leading the first bid team to announce that they’re contending for a small but influential European missile defense systems integration contract. The “Perseus” team will include Raytheon, Thales, IABG, and TNO.
Why? Israel’s Ministry of Defense tapped to smooth IMI’s privatization
* Israel Military Industries’ privatization is being handled by the Ministry of Defense. Why? Because only they have the clout necessary to cut through Israel’s bureaucracy, and move IMI to Ramat Beka in the Negev. Eventually. They’re getting paid for that – but is it really a good thing?
Why? Inscape suspended by the Pentagon
* The US Navy has suspended Dubai World subsidiary Inscape Shipping Services’ ability to receive government contracts. The maritime services broker says it’s all about an old billing dispute, which they’ve been working to resolve since 2009. The Navy says that the company’s handling of alleged overcharges doesn’t inspire confidence.
How? SpaceX’s Falcon 9 SES-8 mission
* SpaceX’s aborted Falcon 9 launch was caused by oxygen in the ground side igniter fluid, rather than anything aboard the rocket. Cleaning the turbopumps means that the earliest launch window is Monday evening. SES-8 is the Falcon 9’s 1st Geosynchronous transfer mission out of Cape Canaveral, so they want it to go well. NASA and the Pentagon’s new certification framework means there’s a lot at stake, and SpaceX will continue to use the post-delivery stages of its missions to test features related to its ultimate goal of rocket reuse.
How: NGC’s UAVs
* U-T San Diego has an interview transcript involving Northrop Grumman VP George Vardoulakis. He discusses their new Bat and R-Bat drones, the Fire Scout program, consolidation of the firm’s drone programs in San Diego, and potential civilian uses in agriculture.
Where: China, making friends and influencing people
* The USA may have driven a couple of B-52 bombers through China’s new expanded “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone“, but unlike Japan or South Korea, they’re advising US airlines to comply with it. China’s official position is that their zone won’t cause tension, adding “If some worry has emerged about the situation, it’s agitated by some individual countries.” That is generally how such reactions work, and bringing Japan and South Korea into common cause is a puzzling move at best.
When: Counter-Insurgency Mistakes, Ancient Edition
Finally, since we’re in the middle of Hanukkah, let’s start with an association most of you don’t think of. What the heck did Alexander the Great have to do with all this? The events in question were actually just provincial events in a larger struggle between Alexander’s successor dynasties, but they played a role in shaping the final fortunes of the Selucids. This documentary looks at the history, battles, and some tactics, hewing closely to the standard biblical view and acknowledging that other sources are kind of sparse: