Monday, 22 September 2014
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David Omand's title is taken from Charles Darwin: 'it is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change'. He was describing what happens when rapid changes take place to the specialized niche in which a species has become comfortable, challenging its very survival.

He argues that the British intelligence community – like its French counterpart - is having to adapt to three profound changes taking place in their environment.

The passing of those who have served this country with distinction. Contributions from relatives and friends always welcom

Russian policy experts are concerned about the Islamic State's aggression expanding into Iraq and Syria's neighbors to the east, writes Vitaly Naumkin (as translated byFranco Galdini) 
Rumours circulating about the possibility of the US airstrikes on ISIS positions inside Syria have generated lively debate in the Russian expert community and in the media.

Obviously, if such attacks were carried out without the consent of the Syrian authorities, Damascus would regard this as a violation of the country's sovereignty, and Moscow would support this position. In diplomatic circles, rumors are also spreading that the Syrian government would not mind if Russia used airstrikes in areas where the forces of IS militants are concentrated in Syria. No official request, however, appears to have come from Damascus. Thus for now, we can only say that the Syrian government would prefer that such course of action be taken — in case it becomes necessary to stop the onslaught of the terrorists — by Russia, rather than the United States and other forces hostile to Damascus. Yet, it is safe
to assume that Moscow is unlikely to intervene militarily in the conflict, even if such an official appeal were to be issued.

Trooping the Colour: Victoria Cross Part Two: Second World War to Iraq. By Elayne Jude

The Victoria Cross (VC) is awarded for valour in the face of the enemy. Members of armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories are eligible. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service, and to civilians under military command, and is presented by the British monarch. It is jointly, with the George Cross, the highest award for bravery bestowed by the United Kingdom.

This is the second part of a list of those soldiers of colour whose extraordinary character, courage and loyalty won them this highest honour. From the first recipients of WWI to Johnson Beharry in Iraq, these are beyond question role models for all of us, British Muslims and ferengi alike.

Trooping the Colour: Victoria Cross - Part 1 : Early recipients, by Elayne Jude

In the context of rising concern about young British Muslims deciding to become jihadists, the majority of British Muslims remain loyal subjects with a long and glorious history
of distinguished service in HM's Armed Forces.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is awarded for valour in the face of the enemy. Members of armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories are eligible. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service, and to civilians under military command, and is presented by the British monarch. It is jointly, with the George Cross, the highest award for bravery bestowed by the United Kingdom.

Indian troops (including those from what is now Pakistan and Bangaldesh) became eligible for the award in 1911. The first awards, to Darwan Sing Negi and Khudadad Khan, was announced in the London Gazette on 7 December 1914. Today a monument stands at the Memorial Gates at Hyde Park Corner in London to commemorate the VCs of Indian Heritage.

From Nepal, the valour, daring and hardiness of the Gurkhas delivered an unparalled contribution to UK military life.

The progress of the conflict in eastern Ukraine is utterly predictable. Since the rebellion began with Russian backing five months ago, it’s been obvious  that the Kremlin would not allow the rebels to be crushed by force. So deeply is President Vladimir Putin’s prestige invested in his Ukrainian strategy, and in the image of Russian strength, that to allow a Ukrainian military victory would threaten the  stability and even the existence of his own regime, Anatol Lieven wrote in The New York Times on 4th September.
 As many observers have been writing from the start of this conflict, there was never a chance of the Ukrainian government being able to win militarily. Russia has demonstrated an ability to send in whatever lightly disguised forces are necessary to fight the Ukrainian Army to a standstill. For the West to encourage Kiev to seek a military victory  —  as its governments seem to have been doing  —  could only lead to  inevitable defeat. Kiev’s reported acceptance of Russian proposals for a cease-fire with the rebels is therefore both a logical and an inevitable step on the part of the Ukrainian government.

Quneitra is a border crossing between Syrian and Israeli controlled territories of the Golan Heights. Syrian Druze from the Golan are permitted to cross through the passage to study, work and live in Syria. Apples grown by Israeli Druze farmers are exported to Syria under the auspices of the Red Cross, and occasional brides cross both ways to their new homelands. The border closes at 6pm, but can be opened for medical emergencies. The crossing has practical and symbolic significance, the only pathway to Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. It's generally a quiet life, says Nehad Ismail.

Quneitra's seizure in the past few weeks by a mix of rebels, some flying the black flag of ISIS, has created an unprecedented situation that brings this obscure site to international attention for the first time in forty years, and the extremists to within just a few metres of Israeli positions.

 Quneitra came under Israeli control in June 1967 during the six-day war. Briefly recaptured by Syria during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel regained control in its subsequent counter-offensive. The city was almost completely destroyed before the Israeli withdrawal in June 1974. It now lies in the demilitarised United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDOF) between Syria and Israel, a short distance from the de facto border between the two countries.

Drone Wars roundup for July/August 2014 is compiled by Elayne Jude for Great North News Service

In August, the US launched mixed UACV/conventional airstrikes against ISIS* in northern Iraq. Original objectives were to halt the so-called Islamic State's advance on Irbil, protecting US personnel based there, and to provide humanitarian relief to the Yazidi minority trapped on Mount Sinjar. Within a week, the US air force was assisting Kurdish and Iraqi forces "to protect critical infrastructure" and "support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defence forces... to combat ISIL [ISIS]." By the end of August, the US was launching strikes against ISIS fighters besieging the town of Amerli, in Salahaddin province, unrelated to US personnel in Irbil, and devoid of critical infrastructure. The administration is widely reported to be considering strikes in Syria against ISIS bases there

The sole training centre and first operational squadron, VUP-19, for the US Navy's new MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system will be located at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Florida, which is quickly becoming home to much of the US Navy's most advanced technology. The 31,000-square-foot, $15.9 million mission control centre, currently under construction, will ultimately house a reconnaissance intelligence hub with near-global coverage.

The NATO Summit being held in Wales on 4th – 5th September is the first to be held in the UK since 1990, reflects Nick Watts. The 1990 Summit took place in the light of the recent fall of the Berlin wall. It marked the end of what many saw as the defining reason for the existence of the Alliance; the Cold War. The 2014 Summit may be the one which marks the beginning of a new Cold War.
The immediacy of the threat to Europe posed by a resurgent Russia, and the more amorphous threat to 'The West' posed by the rise of Islamic State fighters, will form two of the three pillars of this event. The third pillar will be to mark the conclusion of the campaign in Afghanistan, and the transition to a new supporting mission there.

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