March 3, 2017

News Briefs – March 3, 2017

Abu Dhabi hosts military drill amid Yemen war, Iran tensions

A choreographed military exercise in the capital of the United Arab Emirates drew hundreds of cellphone-filming onlookers March 2 — but they weren’t the only intended audience for the re-enactment of a hostage rescue.
The pinpoint parachute drop and fast-rope assault on a ship from a helicopter, all overseen by a buzzing drone, showed the technical prowess of the UAE’s military at a time when Gulf Arab countries are increasingly skeptical of Iran.
While hosting some 5,000 American troops, the UAE seeks to send a message to Iran that it remains capable of defending itself and launching assaults with its forces. That comes as Iran conducts military drills of its own and questions remain what approach U.S. President Donald Trump will take with the Islamic Republic.
The Emirati forces are now battle-hardened from the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the experience gained while serving in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.
The March 2 maneuvers, called Union Fortress, took place along Abu Dhabi’s seaside corniche.
It featured fighter jets, helicopters and a mock seaborne hostage rescue performed by Emirati troops.
Last month, the UAE performed a staged assault as part of a biennial arms’ fair called the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, known by the acronym IDEX. However, such maneuvers before the public are rare in the United Arab Emirates.
It offered no back story for the assault on the ship, other than a narrator describing a hostage-taking on board. Then came the theatrical gunfire on the shore, strafing runs by helicopters and armored carriers racing troops past onlookers for a raid.
An announcer offered poetry during some of the assault, while children wearing military uniforms played in the sand amid the explosions. AP

Sweden reintroduces military draft for first time in 7 years

Sweden’s left-leaning government March 2 reintroduced a military draft for both men and women because of what Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.
Sweden abolished compulsory military service for men in 2010 because there were enough volunteers to meet the region’s military needs.
The government said “the all-volunteer recruitment hasn’t provided the Armed Forces with enough trained personnel. The re-activating of conscription is needed for military readiness.”
In September, non-NATO-member Sweden stationed permanent troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, which Hultqvist described as sending a signal after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its “increasing pressure” on the neighboring Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
There have been reports of airspace violations by Russia’s military aircraft in the region and a military buildup in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits across the Baltic Sea from Sweden.
Under the plan approved March 2, at least 4,000 18-year-olds could be called up each year, starting Jan. 1.
The Swedish government which often has described itself as “feminist,” said “modern conscription is gender neutral and will include both women and men.”
Sweden’s armed forces lack 1,000 active troops as well as 7 000 reservists, according to the coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens, adding enrolment should be made possible from July 1, and basic military training with compulsory service from Jan. 1
About 20,000 people work for the Swedish armed forces, of whom 84 percent are men and 16 percent women, according to the forces’ website.
Over the months, 13,000 young Swedes will be called upon and 4,000 will be enrolled. As in the current system, Swedes will still be able to volunteer for military service. AP

Virgin Galactic makes satellite launch service new company

Virgin Galactic’s California-based small satellite launch provider is now a separate company.
Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson announced March 2 that the new company headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., is called Virgin Orbit.
The company has been developing an air-launch system for small satellites called LauncherOne.
The LauncherOne rockets will be released from a Boing 747 jet named Cosmic Girl.
Virgin Orbit says it already has substantial launch orders for the system, which is in an advanced phase of hardware testing.
The new company’s first president is veteran aerospace executive Dan Hart. He was formerly Boeing’s vice president of government satellite systems. AP

Boeing investigates security breach after spreadsheet shared

Boeing is investigating an internal security breach impacting thousands of workers in four states, including Washington.
The company says it was notified in January after a worker accidentally sent personal information of 36,000 Boeing employees to his spouse in November, according to KOMO-TV.
The worker told investigators he needed help formatting a spreadsheet and didn’t realize the document contained sensitive information.
Boeing says the spreadsheet contained employee names, ID numbers and accounting codes in visible columns and birth dates and social security numbers in hidden columns.
The company sent a letter to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in February informing him of the breach impacting 7,288 Boeing employees there.
Boeing sent a letter to workers who may have been affected and offered free credit monitoring.
Boeing says copies of the spreadsheet have been destroyed and they don’t believe personal information was misused. AP

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