All posts by Wolf von Baumgart

Putin Announces That Russia Will Add 40 New ICBMs to its Strategic Nuclear Force in 2015

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Speaking at the Tuesday, June 16 opening of the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2015 in the newly-created military-patriotic recreation park in Kubinka, Moscow Region, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that forty new advanced ICBMs will be added to Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal in 2015.“This year, our nuclear forces are going to get more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of penetrating all existing, even the most advanced missile defenses.", he said. He further elaborated that “The state would persist in paying specific attention to realization of a massive military rearmament program and modernization of the defense industry”. Vladimir Putin opening the IMTF ARMY-2015 Exposition [Photo:RIA Novosti/Alexander Vilf] This announcement comes in the context of significant Russian weapons systems development Read more

Donald Trump Announces 2016 Run for President.

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Speaking from the Trump Tower in Manhattan, enterpreneur Donald Trump has announced that he will run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Promising to restore America to a major position of leadership, restore the economy by bringing back jobs to the US and restore a strong international trade and defense posture through firm negotiations, and repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and dump Common Core, he declared that our contry needs new and effective leadership beyond the current choice of politicians.

“This election will mainly be based on competence.”, he said.

Boaters Await Repairs to Rosedale Pier

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer DNREC Notice [photo: Wolf von Baumgart] According to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Fish and Wildlife, repairs to the floating dock at Rosedale Pier, near Millsboro and Long Neck are scheduled for June 15. The facility is a convenient boating access point to the Indian River Bay and upper tributaries. Addiional information is available at: WWW.FB.DELAWARE.GOV and WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/DELAWAREFISHWILDLIFE DP will update mariners accordingly. Rosedale Pier F&W Access Area [photo: Wolf von Baumgart] Read more

Finnish Defense Minister Meets with Swedish and Estonian Counterparts

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Finland’s Defense Minister, Jussi Niinistö, is currently on his first official visit abroad on Friday June 5, 2015.

He is scheduled to confer with the Swedish Minister of Defense, Peter Hultqvist in Stockholm. Then, it’s on to Tallin for a meeting with Estonian Minister of Defense, Sven Mikser.

In the wake of a recent suspected Russian submarine incursion in Finnish waters near Helsinki and other air and naval incidents in the region, the Ministers will discuss current Baltic Area defense and security issues.

In the broader context, various NATO nations have reported increased aggressiveness, close encounters and diminished safety facors of Russaian Navy manoevres and Air Force flights, potentially affecting maritime and aviation traffic.

Questions Re: The City of Wilmington’s 2015 Summer Program

GUEST OPINION By:Steven Washington, M.Ed As a City of Wilmington, Delaware tax payer, I ask why doesn't a Director or Deputy Director of a department need a high school diploma or a college degree / certification to hold such an office? I am concerned for such a reason that this does not happen in our great City of Wilmington. How do we expect our youth to appreciate college or even want to attend college if they know that degrees are not needed to hold the higher paying jobs in our city government. Let's investigate the Parks and Recreation Division of the City of Wilmington. Let's take a survey: How many of the leadership staff hold a bachelors' degree or higher? The results will blow your mind. Does the Director, Deputy Director, Superintendent, or any other person who's income exceeds $70.000 a year hold a Bachelor or Masters’ Degree? If so, they should prove it by showing Read more

Open Letter to the City of Wilmington, DE

GUEST OPINION By: Steve Washington, M.Ed. Why is the city government always in the news? One reason is that micromanagement in the parks and recreation division causes tension throughout youth employment. There are many concerns regarding the hiring process of youth workers and counselors. Although there is a lottery process for hiring youth, many of the youth are hired through word of mouth or by the powers that be in the department and sometimes city council representatives. This year, the department approached the hiring of program staff differently as in the past years since the beginning of the youth and family division. When do the powers that be have time to interview for temporary program positions? Perhaps, this may be a reason to such failures. Why have a manager of the youth and family service department if he or she cannot make decisions or interview the staff Read more

Finnish Defense Ministry Pledges Sustainable Development Program

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Finnish Defense Ministry has pledged to implement a program of sustainable development in its planning and operations as part of a broader long term national program, documented in "The Finland We Want by 2050". “We have pledged to sustainable development with several measures and one is our aim at decreasing energy consumption in the premises by 20 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2020”, said Planning Officer, Sami Heikkilä. The Defense Ministry program is aimed at reducing environmental damage resulting from training exercises and regular operations, facilities construction, as well as materials, energy and waste management (including increased utilization of renewable energy sources). Upon further inquiry, it was revealed that the plan currently did not mention hydrokinetics as a possible energy Read more

Iranian Patrol Boats Fire on Singaporean Tanker in International Waters

by: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In the third recent incident involving Iranian actions against international shipping this year in the Persian Gulf, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) patrol boats have fired shots across the bow of the Alpine Eternity (a Singapore registered petrochemical tanker) in international waters. The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority issued the following statement on 5/14/15: "With regard to the reported shooting incident on 14 May 2015 (Singapore time), involving a Singapore-registered tanker 'Alpine Eternity' that took place in international waters, Singapore is deeply concerned with such actions.” The (MPA) has requested the Iranian maritime authorities to investigate the incident and prevent future recurrences. The freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce are of critical importance to Singapore and other maritime and Read more

Suspected Russian Sub Nearly Capsizes British Trawler

Incident in the Irish Sea Raises Further NATO Concerns By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer According to recent articles in Business Insider and the New York Times, a suspected Russian submarine breifly towed a British fishing vessel backwards and nearly capsized it when it became entangled in its nets. The incident occured in international waters in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland in late April, further raising naval security concerns in the NATO alliance. Read the original articles at: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/suspected-russian-submarine-may-nearly-153700477.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/world/europe/russia-tests-distant-waters-resurfacing-cold-war-fears.html?ref=world&_r=2 Read more

HB 140 is Designed to Raise Motor Vehicle Fees

In a move to raise more revenue for Delaware’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), some state legislators have sponsored HB 140, designed to raise a set of 14 separate motor vehicle documentation fees. Democrat Representatives Peter Schwartzkopf (Dist.14), Valerie Longhurst (Dist.15), John J. Viola (Dist. 26), S. Quinton Johnson (Dist. 8) and Edward S. Osienski (Dist. 24) as well as Senators Patricia M. Blevins (Dist.7), David B. McBride (Dist. 13), Margaret Rose Henry (Dist.2) with David P. Sokola (Dist. 8) are primary sponsors. Estimated to cost Delaware drivers an additional $ 24 million annually, the increase is projected to raise an additional $12.5 million for the TTF. Under the terms of HB 140, the motor vehicle document fee (imposed on new cars sold in Delaware) would rise from 3.75 percent to 4.25 percent, the fee for driver's licenses record sales would increase from $15 Read more

Iranian Naval Force Reaches Bab al-Mandeb

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer According to the Iranian news agency, IRNA, Iranian naval forces of the 34th Fleet have reached the Bab el-Mandeb, a strategic strait and oil traffic choke point between Yemen and Djibouti, Iran's navy commander said earlier today. The force consists of the frigate, Alborz (F-72) and the light replenishment ship, Bushehr (AORLH-422). IRIN Commander Vice Admiral Habibolla Sayyari (IRIN Photo) Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that the IRIN ships are on an anti-piracy patrol mission. "We are present in the Gulf of Aden in accordance with international regulations to ensure the safety of commercial ships of our country against the threat of pirates," he said. Iranian merchant shipping has been attacked by Somali pirates in the past. Sayyari also stated that the Iranian Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the Gulf of Aden, Bab el-Mandeb Read more

US Response to Iranian Seizure of the MV Maersk Tigris

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The US is prepared to deal with increasing naval tensions in the Persian Gulf in response to the Iranian seizure of the Marshall Islands registered Danish container ship, MV Maresk Tigris, according to Pentagon sources. The US State Department, after consultation with Marshall Islands officials, has clarified its position. “The U.S. continues to have “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to the State Department’s website. The Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States in 1986, but continues in the US sphere of defense, according to a treaty. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/30/state-dept-pentagon-send-conflicting-messages-on-us-response-to-iran-cargo-ship Subsequently, FOX News televised reports that the US Navy will escort American-flagged commercial Read more

US and Marshall Islands Weigh Options Over Iran’s Seizure of the Maersk Tigris

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In response to the recent Iranian seizure of the Danish-owned, Marshall Island registered container ship, MV Maersk Tigris, US State Department and Marshall Islands officials are considering various options in this matter. Currently, the US Navy has a maritime security task force in the Persian Gulf monitoring the situation consisting of : the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, USNS Farragut, (DDG-99,) and Typhoon class coastal patrol ships USNS Thunderbolt (PC-12), USNS Firebolt (PC-10) and USNS Typhoon (PC-5) operating in the area near the Strait of Hormuz following the Iran’s detention of the cargo ship, according to Pentagon sources. http://news.yahoo.com/u-marshall-islands-discuss-way-ahead-iran-detains-174331669.html According to an Iran Project report, The US State Department has announced that it was “premature” Read more

Progress Report: HB 50

An Interview With John Kowalko By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer According to Delaware State Representative, John Kowolko, (D - 25th District) HB 50, a bill that would enable parents to have their children opt out of state education assessment is ready to be voted on sometime next week. He stated that he is actively working to communicate details of the bill individually to all House members." I would like to assuage their feelings and correct any misimpressions. There is alot of misinformation out there.”, he said earlier today. "HB 50 will simply codify parents rights to opt out of state testing and preclude state and school district employees or officials from exerting pressure or other forms of intimidation if they opt out. The value of this bill is to provoke a greater dialog on education. A lot of our resources that should go into educating out children in the classroom Read more

Iranian Naval Force Seizes Danish Cargo Ship

US Navy Responds By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Elements of the Iran Revolutionary Council Guard Navy (IRCGN) have boarded and seized a Danish-owned cargo ship, MV Maersk Tigris (originally bound for the UAE from Saudi Arabia) in the Persian Gulf, earlier today. An earlier report from the Iranian FARS News Agency claimed that the MV Maersk Tigris was a US-owned cargo ship. The report also claimed that the trade vessel was seized by the Iranian naval forces at the request of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation. The order was officially issued regarding alleged long-standing overdue payments that the vessel’s account owed to the IPMO. The ship was reportedly boarded and directed to the southern Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas. http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940208001509 According to Pentagon Read more

Finnish Navy Fires Depth Charges in Territorial Waters Near Helsinki

By: Wolf von Baumgart , Staff Writer The Finnish Ministry of Defense has stated that its maritime surveillance system detected a possible submarine intrusion in Finnish Baltic territorial waters near Helsinki (Helsingfors) at approximately Noon (local time) on April 27. Finnish Navy surface vessels conducted an area search and subsequently fired warning depth charges at approximately 3am earlier this morning after a second detection was registered. The incident is currently under investigation. No official statements as to the possible source of the submarine target have been issued as yet, pending outcome of the investigation. Various neutral and NATO-affiliated Baltic Area States have reported increased Russian submarine and air force maneuvers described as unsafe, intrusive or provocative (occasionally involving territorial incursions) as well as increased surface naval activity Read more

Russia’s Geopolitical Posture May Be Inconsistent With Its START Strategy.

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Russia's nuclear strategy appears to be inconsistent with recent Russian geopolitical posture, including recent nuclear treats to Denmark, a Russian general’s call for preemptive nuclear strikes against NATO, etc. in the face of its actual strategic nuclear weapons reduction according to the latest Nuclear Notebook, written by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists. According to their analysis, Russia is continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal while reducing strategic nuclear launchers well below the limit set by the New START Treaty. The overall Russian force appears to be leveling off at nearly below 500 strategic launchers over the next decade, as older Soviet-era ICBMs are scheduled to be retired. Russia currently has 4,500 nuclear warheads. 1,780 are deployed on missiles and bomber bases with 700 Read more

Iran Denies Shipping Weapons to Houthi Insurgents

Fighting Intensifies in Yemen By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Speaking in response to recent reports of suspected arms shipments, Iranian Navy Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, has officially denied that the Irianian convoy was carrying arms destined for Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Furthermore, he said that Iran Navy warships were originally deployed along area shipping routes as an anti-piracy operation in accordance with UN approved resolutions. IRIN Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari (IRNA photo) He also stated that Iran would maintain warships in international waters of the Gulf of Aden for at least the next several months, Admiral Sayyari also rejected reports that Iran's fleet has been warned to leave the Gulf of Aden, according to the Islamic Republic's state news agency, IRNA. http://irna.ir/en/News/81584120/ Meanwhile, in an apparently new phase of Read more

Yemen Area Naval Situation De-escalates

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The US/Iranian naval tensions, related to suspected strategic arms shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen appears to be de-escalating as the US Navy aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy are being withdrawn and are now heading back to the Persian Gulf, according to Pentagon officials.

Yesterday, the nine-ship Iranian convoy, thought to be carrying arms to Yemen, contrary to UN sanctions, reversed course in the Arabian Sea.

The International Dimensions of Yemen Sector Naval and Evacuation Operations

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Beyond the current U.S. “Big Stick” naval diplomacy versus Iranian (pre-nuclear) asymmetric maritime power play situation in open waters off the coast of war-torn Yemen, international dimensions have evolved. According to the International Business Times, three German and two Japanese Navy vessels are known to be along the southern periphery of the oceanic area between the port cities of Aden in the west and Al Mukalla further east. The IBT article cited its source as: http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833 , a free global ship tracking site. Their specific configurations and missions are virtually unknown at this point, but are surmised to be more directed toward general external maritime traffic monitoring rather than surveillance and arms interdiction in Yemeni waters. http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833 Egyptian Read more

Iranian Convoy Bound for Yemen Reverses Course

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of annonymity in an apparently unauthorized statement, said that the nine-ship convoy of Iranian cargo ship suspected of carrying advanced weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen has apparently reversed its course, at least temporarily. The official said it remains unclear where the convoy is currenly headed, but it reportedly was no longer moving toward of the key Yemani port of Aden as of Thursday, April 23. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, yesterday, would not indicate whether or not the US Navy would forcibly stop and board Iranian ships entering Yemeni waters. It should be noted that this report is, as yet, unconfirmed, given the circumstances of its release. See: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-official-iranian-cargo-ships-reverse-30534625 Read more

U.S. Probably Will Not Join KSA Blockade of Yemen

Further Pentagon Denials Issued By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The United States will not join in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's naval blockade of Yemen according to a Pentagon Spokesman, quoted in an April 17 Washington Post article by Dan Lamothe. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/17/navy-has-seven-combat-ships-around-yemen-as-saudi-led-blockade-continues The Midlantic Dispatch has compiled a list of eleven ships from various sources, comprising the currently deployed US Navy force as follows: Nimitz class aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-70); Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USNS Normandy (CG-60); Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers USNS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), USNS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) and USNS Sterett (DD 104); Avenger class minesweepers USNS Sentry (MCM-3) and USNS Dextrous (MCM-13); amphibious assault ship Read more

Exiled Russian Duma Member Tells All

An Interview With Ilya Ponomarev By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer On March 20, 2014, contrary to the will of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ilya Ponomarev cast the sole vote of opposition when the Russian State Duma voted 445 to 1 to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea. He stated that it was his duty to do this as a matter of principle. Within a few months, he was summarily stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution and exiled from Russia. Although still officially a Duma member, he is now is working to organize a more formal opposition to Putin from within the Russian Diaspora, outside of the country. Currently residing in the US, Ponomarev in a VOX interview, reveals the forces behind renewed Russian expansion, the roots and limits of Putin's power, possible future changes in store for Russia and answers the question of why President Putin is not afraid of Read more

US- Iranian Naval Situation Not Widely Disclosed.

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Apparently, US Naval forces have already boarded a vessel suspected of carrying arms to Yemen in the Red Sea. On April 1, according to the Wall Street Journal, a search of the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Saisaban by a boarding party of the guided missile destroyer USNS Sterett (DDG 104) on April 1 did not find evidence of an arms shipment. This is the first boarding operation conducted in the area to intercept strategic arms bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen according to US military officials. Read the original WSJ story here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-wants-to-block-iran-from-arming-yemens-houthi-rebels-1428868461 The USNS Sterett is a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. Details are available at: www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg104 Details of the Panamanian freighter Saisaban are available at : http://www.uskowioniran.com/2015/04/uss-sterett-boards-cargo-ship-searching.html The Read more