Matt Gaetz hates him some Taco Bell

Mix you some xenophobic metaphors, sir!

Welcome to the Monday edition of a re-rebooted and revitalized NATSECTACULAR. What’s coming should be pretty awesome, or at least that’s the plan. First podcast episode drops next week, so stay tuned for that. And while like all new things, it will suck for a while, that’s headed very quickly for awesome.

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From the ‘gram

Yup, there’s an Instagram. It has things like this in it.

"If you're barely relevant and you know it, clap your hands!"
January 29, 2020

I’m kidding, of course.

We’ll always need an Air Force.

It’s the tanks that should be worried.

#NotATank

#DoNotCare


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Quote of the Day

"We are no longer going to be treed by the Chihuahuas in the Middle East.”

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That’s Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) of Florida, busy mixing xenophobic metaphors talking to a defense-friendly crowd at Eglin Air Force Based about the pivot to counter near-peer threats. If you’re not familiar with his work, this is the esteemed personage that led the storming of the SCIF last fall. In case you thought he realized how dumb that was, well, allow me to retort.


Let’s hear it for the police state!

Today in things that are totally not terrifying.

Seriously…do yourself a favor and watch the video clip.

Because whatever the hell they were actually saying to those Chinese citizens, the voiceover that’s released on the video is eerily cheerful for messaging about a lethal virus that’s coming from a drone.

Still, we’ll all sign off on this kind of thing eventually, because, hey, security, right?

And we all want to feel secure.


Turns out Iran knew they’d shot that airliner out of the sky

A leaked recording of an exchange between an Iranian air-traffic controller and an Iranian pilot purports to show that authorities immediately knew a missile had downed a Ukrainian jetliner after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, despite days of denials by the Islamic Republic.

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Still the weirdest story in a while: at the height of the impeachment process, which was sparked by Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, and in the wake of the American assassination of an Iranian general on Iraqi soil, Tehran blew a Ukrainian airliner out of the sky. And, because Iran’s gotta Iran, denied it for days.

Turns out there’s recording of a conversation between an air traffic controller and another pilot where the pilot explains he saw a missile hit the plane. And no, there’s no real big takeaway here, just that the Iranians, like governments everywhere, lie their asses off instinctively. That’s not a cultural thing, that’s a power in thing. People in power? Not fans of the truth.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

Got a few things Afghanistan to go over from the last few days, starting with Mike “I Totally Know Where Kiev Is Because I Love Their Chicken” Pompeo commenting on what the Americans would like to see from the Taliban before making a deal with the once and future rulers of Afghanistan.

"So, what we are demanding now is demonstrable evidence of their will and capacity to reduce violence, to take down the threat, so the inter-Afghan talks...will have a less violent context. We're hopeful we can achieve that but we're not there yet, and work certainly remains."

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That’s cute, because pretty sure the Taliban would like to see the same thing. And since the US dropped record numbers of bombs on the countryside last year, the Taliban have a point. Still, looks like the Boys from Balochistan aren’t going out quietly.

Quelle surprise.

There were 8,204 attacks between October and December last year - up from 6,974 in the same period in 2018 - according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released on Friday.

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It's easy to point to this as being a problem, except that without getting into the data, it's hard to parse what's really happening. Sinc RS (and its ISAF predecessor) regularly re-define attacks and their parameters depending on this year's talking point requirements. Still, it does look like the Taliban and their affiliates (and non-affiliates) are making a lot more noise than usual as a peace deal gets…nowhere at the moment.

And it looks like the Americans are scaling back whatever current support they still provide to Afghan forces, in particular, the air force.

The U.S. military is reducing the number of UH-60 Black Hawks it plans to provide Afghan forces from 159 to just 53 — a two-thirds cut in the quantity of rotary wing assets American forces had intended to provide, according to a Defense Department report.

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So far no comment from the US on why this is the case, and it would be surprising if we learned anything more than “well, we changed our minds…again”. It is a little surprising given how much money those helos would mean for US defense contractors to keep them maintained.

Something new out of Africa

"While it is wise, and in fact necessary, to take a hard and methodical look at our investments and military activities around the globe, it would be strategically unwise to disengage from either Africa or Latin America in an effort to generate small, near-term budgetary gains.”

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That’s Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talking about US plans to review force structures in Africa and Latin America, with an eye to reducing some of the troops in those areas.

According to the Secretary of Defense, the main reason is to determine whether the near-peer threat of China and Russia can be adequately countered if the US continues with its current manning levels in other parts of the world.

And given the continued of terrorist groups in Africa especially, unless the US wants a full-blown war there? Now’s the time to counter that threat before it gets out of hand.

Notable, too, was part of the testimony by military leaders speaking to China’s efforts on the continent, as they continue to undermine the US presence by building shit for poor countries.

At a certain point, this is Raytheon's fault

Sun didn’t listen, according to US prosecutors. While he was out of the country, Sun connected to Raytheon’s internal network on the laptop. He sent an email on Jan. 7, suddenly announcing he was quitting his job after 10 years in order to study and work overseas.

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Raythen missile engineer asks if he can take his work computer overseas. He’s told no. Goes on vacation. Quits. Comes back to work. Turns out he’d been to China. He’s Chinese. None of these facts are related.

Listen: if you’ve got a guy working on really sensitive shit and he asks if he can take work stuff overseas? Take it away from him. He’ll get it back when he returns to the United States.

Why'd we send those Bradleys again?

Bradley fighting vehicles sent into Syria to guard oil fields from a potential Islamic State resurgence were pulled from the country after roughly one month, U.S. Army Central Command confirmed.

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30 days for the photo op. And then you're outta here. Which is about as much of an explanation as DoD can provide. The justification was that the planned joint patrols with Turkish forces never materialized, so the Bradleys were withdrawn.


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