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  • AI makes Mattis question ‘fundamental’ beliefs about war

    February 20, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    AI makes Mattis question ‘fundamental’ beliefs about war

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON – Over the years, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has cultivated a reputation for deep thinking about the nature of warfare. And during that time, he has come to a few conclusions about what he calls the “fundamental” nature of combat. “It's equipment, technology, courage, competence, integration of capabilities, fear, cowardice — all these things mixed together into a very fundamentally unpredictable fundamental nature of war,” Mattis explained Feb. 17. “The fundamental nature of war is almost like H20, ok? You know what it is.” Except, that might not be true anymore. During a return flight from Europe, Mattis was asked about artificial intelligence — a national priority for industry and defense departments across the globe, and one driving major investments within the Pentagon — and what the long-term impact of intelligent machines on the nature of war might be. “I'm certainly questioning my original premise that the fundamental nature of war will not change. You've got to question that now. I just don't have the answers yet,” he said. It's both a big-picture, heady question, and one that the department needs to get its head around in the coming years as it looks to offload more and more requirements onto AI. And it's a different question than the undeniable changes that will be coming to what Mattis differentiated as the character, not nature, of war. “The character of war changes all the time. An old dead German [Carl von Clausewitz] called it a ‘chameleon.' He said it changes to adapt to its time, to the technology, to the terrain, all these things,” Mattis said. He also noted that the Defense Innovation Board, a group of Silicon Valley experts who were formed by previous defense secretary Ash Carter, has been advising him specifically on AI issues. For now, the Pentagon is focused on man-machine teaming, emphasizing how AI can help pilots and operators make better decisions. But should the technology develop the way it is expected to, removing a man from the loop could allow machine warfare to be fully unleashed. Mattis and his successors will have to grapple with the question of whether AI so radically changes everything, that war itself may not resemble what it has been for the entirety of human history. Or as Mattis put it, “If we ever get to the point where it's completely on automatic pilot and we're all spectators, then it's no longer serving a political purpose. And conflict is a social problem that needs social solutions.”

  • Names of aircraft manufacturers on “suppliers list” for Canada’s new fighter jet still a mystery

    February 20, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    Names of aircraft manufacturers on “suppliers list” for Canada’s new fighter jet still a mystery

    DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN More from David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen Published on: February 16, 2018 | Last Updated: February 16, 2018 1:40 AM EST Feb. 9 was the deadline for companies to apply to the Canadian government to be on the supplier's list for the new program to provide a fleet of fighter jets. Being on that list is a requirement to be able to enter the competition to provide Canada with 88 new fighter aircraft. Public Services and Procurement Canada was looking at having the list formalized by Feb. 12, at which time they would make it public. The reason for the fast turnaround is because it is relatively easy to be included on the list – essentially a manufacturer has to have a fighter jet currently in production. But the list has yet to be formalized. Procurement Canada said they are still working on the list but offered no explanation about the delay. But expect the major aircraft manufacturers who have indicated previous interest in the competition. They are: Lockheed Martin with the F-35, Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and Saab's Gripen. Sources are also indicating that Boeing will join the competition with Super Hornet....perhaps an Advanced Super Hornet?

  • UK submits bid for Belgium fighter competition, pitting Typhoon against F-35

    February 16, 2018 | International, Aerospace

    UK submits bid for Belgium fighter competition, pitting Typhoon against F-35

    By: Andrew Chuter LONDON — Britain has pitched a range of strategic and industrial tie-ups to the Belgian government as part of a bid to secure a deal to supply Eurofighter Typhoon jets to replace the country's aging F-16 fleet. “The proposal includes 34 Typhoon aircraft, underpinned by the offer of a deep strategic, defence and industrial partnership between the Governments of Belgium and the U.K.,” the British Ministry of Defence said in a statement. Feb. 14 was the deadline date for the submission of best and final bids for the Belgian air combat capability program. A decision on the winning contractor is expected later this year with the fleet being delivered starting 2023. British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, in Brussels for a two-day NATO defense ministers meeting, said the jets offer Belgium a “formidable capability which forms the backbone of European air power, as well as a comprehensive long-term defense and industrial partnership with the U.K. A unique partnership with the RAF and integration with our world-leading support service mean Belgium's selection of the Typhoon would be a powerful demonstration of us working together to support security across the continent.” The British are leading the Typhoon bid on behalf of the Eurofighter nations in a formal competition with the Lockheed Martin F-35A to replace 54 F-16s. Germany, Italy and Spain are also part of the Eurofighter partnership. The U.S. State Department said last month it had approved a possible foreign military sale of 34 Lockheed Martin F-35 jets to the Belgians in a deal which could be worth up to $6.5 billion. Earlier this month the U.S. confirmed it had responded to the request for final offers. “The F-35 Joint Program Office invested considerable effort to craft an offer that enables our Belgian allies to acquire the F-35's unmatched capabilities well within the budget specified by the [Belgian] Strategic Vision for Defense 2030,” said the U.S. government. Speaking recently to an audience of alliance and industry partners, US Charge d'Affaires, , Matthew Lussenhop said a F-35 purchase would pay big dividends for Belgium. “Joining the F-35 program provides access to technology that support all of Belgium's essential security interests and opens the door to related projects with potential returns well in excess of the initial investment — just like the F-16 program has in the past,” he said. Lockheed Martin and engine maker Pratt & Whitney both have memoranda of agreement with a number of Belgian companies. It may not be a two-horse race though. The French government and Dassault are also somewhere in the mix. They declined to formally respond to requests for proposals, claiming they had more to offer than bid requirements which, they said, were too restrictive. Instead the French have been offering Belgium what has been described as a deep and structured economic and military partnership. Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier on Feb. 13 signed 13 cooperation agreements with Belgian companies as part of an offer of the Rafale in a proposed government-to-government deal. That signing is “part of the proposal of the Franco-Belgian strategic partnership concerning the jet fighter,” Dassault said in a statement. The French proposal of the Rafale falls outside the Belgian tender, as Paris seeks to build a broad bilateral relationship aimed mainly to counter an offer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.Those cooperation agreements bring to more than 30 contracts signed with Belgian partners for activities including service for the Rafale, training of aeronautical engineers and work on drone projects, the company said. Other areas include automating production lines, simulation, research on advanced material and predictive maintenance. Among the local partners were Sabca, Safran Aero Booster and Thales Belgium. The former is the Belgian unit of Dassault Aviation.Following an order, Dassault, Safran and Thales are committed to investing in Belgium at least €20 billion over 20 years, and supporting more than 5,000 high technology jobs, the aircraft builder said. Dozens more agreements with local partners would be signed as part of a campaign by French companies to invest in the Belgian economy, Trappier said. The status of the French bid is unclear at this point. The French decision was not the first left field move by expected bidders. Boeing pulled the F/A 18 E/F Super Hornet from the contest last April citing issues with the fairness of the bidding process. Not long after that Saab unexpectedly withdrew the Gripen E saying they could not meet Belgian operational support requirements without a change of Swedish Government foreign policy. For their part the British are, on the military front, offering to further strengthen co-operation between the two air force, integrate the Belgians into Royal Air Force support arrangements and form a training partnership which involves training and exercising together. The British are also offering to help establish a National Network Cyber Centre, a Cyber Innovation Centre and a Cyber Research Partnership, underpinned by a partnership between the two governments. U.K. Typhoon lead contractor BAE Systems and others, have been signing industrial co-operation deals with Belgian industry. As of Feb. 7 BAE said it had signed agreements with more than 20 Belgian companies to explore potential collaboration opportunities as part of a wide-ranging Eurofighter industrial proposal. Despite the efforts by the Europeans to entice the Belgians with attractive strategic and industrial offers Doug Barrie, the senior air analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies reckons the F-35 remains the aircraft to beat. “My money is on the F-35, particularly if the Belgians insist on retaining the ability to deploy B-61 freefall nuclear weapons to match the capability they have on the F-16,” said Barrie. “The F-35 is the only aircraft in the competition presently able to do that. Rafale is wired to deploy nuclear free fall weapons but they are French.” Pierre Tran in Paris contributed to this story.

  • IMP Aerospace & Defence Forms Strategic Partnership with Taiwan’s Air Asia Company Limited

    February 16, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    IMP Aerospace & Defence Forms Strategic Partnership with Taiwan’s Air Asia Company Limited

    13-Feb-2018 Halifax, Canada - As one of the three major air shows in the world, the Singapore Air Show hosts aviation industry participants from all over the world. At this year's event, Air Asia Company Limited has a delegation led by Chairman Lu Tian-lin to meet with aviation companies to discuss cooperation opportunities. On February 6, Air Asia Company Limited signed an MOU with IMP Aerospace & Defence to form a strategic partnership in the pursuit and sustainment of P-3 and C-130 aircraft modification and maintenance work. IMP Aerospace & Defence is a world-renowned aircraft maintenance and engineering company with operating units from coast to coast in Canada and certifications from numerous aircraft original manufacturers. IMP has a rich history and much experience in maintenance of numerous aircraft types including P-3 and C-130 logistics and engineering support. As a result of this cooperation, Air Asia Company Limited and IMP will be able to better serve customers in the areas of modification engineering, aircraft performance enhancements and material support to improve aircraft maintenance, longevity, and operating efficiency. The President of IMP Aerospace & Defence, Mr. David Gossen, looks forward to this strategic agreement assisting in the promotion of both companies' world class capabilities in today's competitive marketplace. About IMP Aerospace IMP Aerospace & Defence, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a full service aerospace and defence organization with over 65 years of experience serving both national and international customers in the aerospace, space, naval, and land sectors. The organization comprises six operations with over 2,400 engineering, technical and support staff across Canada specializing in a diversified line of manufacturing, engineering and In Service Support services. For additional information please contact; Carl Kumpic Vice President International Marketing IMP Aerospace & Defence Direct: (902) 873-2250 e-mail: Website:

  • Canada joins alliance seeking new maritime surveillance aircraft

    February 16, 2018 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    Canada joins alliance seeking new maritime surveillance aircraft

    Posted on February 15, 2018 by Ken Pole Canada has joined an international program which is expected to yield a new generation of maritime surveillance aircraft that will eventually replace platforms such as the extensively-upgraded CP-140 Auroras first deployed by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in the early 1980s. The Department of National Defence confirmed in a statement that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, in Brussels for the latest North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defence ministerial meeting, had signed a letter the previous day signalling Canada's intent to join the Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft (M3A) forum, where the allies would “share force development resources and knowledge, in the pursuit of maritime patrol aircraft recapitalization.” Poland also confirmed plans to join France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey on developing follow-on solutions for aging fleets of maritime anti-submarine and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft which are becoming increasingly costly to maintain. The original six began collaborating last June, hoping that a common approach could help to contain the cost of developing new aircraft. “This joint effort recognizes the fact that the majority of allies' maritime patrol aircraft fleets will be reaching the end of their operational lives between 2025 and 2035,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller during the signing ceremony. Gottemoeller, a United States career diplomat, said the eight countries now needed to push on to the implementation phase for the M3A. “The goal here isn't just a drawing board design,” she said. “We need a new generation of aircraft . . . fulfilling what is an increasingly important mission.”

  • Canada rejoins NATO Airborne Warning and Control System program

    February 16, 2018 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR

    Canada rejoins NATO Airborne Warning and Control System program

    News Release From National Defence February 14, 2018, Brussels, Belgium — National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces The Government is committed to both the security and safety of Canadians and the protection of their rights and freedoms. Canada is playing a strong and constructive role in the world by making concrete contributions to international peace and security – including at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is a cornerstone of Canada's international security policy and today the Government announced its intention to rejoin to the Alliance's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) program. Programs such as AWACS, and the joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance it provides, are increasingly relevant in today's security environment. In response to the challenges posed by that environment, NATO has significantly increased the use of its AWACS operations, including in areas like Central and Eastern Europe where Canada is leading a multinational NATO battlegroup based in Latvia. Canada decided to withdraw from the AWACS program in 2011 following the Department of National Defence's 2010 Strategic Review. Quotes “NATO is a cornerstone of Canada's international security policy, and is one of our most important multilateral relationships. In that spirit, Canada has decided to rejoin NATO's Airborne Warning and Control System. AWACS is a key NATO capability that we will support by contributing to its operations and support budget. We have committed to keeping Canada engaged in the world, and continuing to commit ourselves to NATO and its missions are important steps toward that goal.” Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister Quick Facts The Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) was established in 1978 and consists of a fleet of NATO-owned aircraft giving the Alliance abilities to conduct long-range aerial surveillance, and to command and control forces from the air. Part of Canada's commitment to NATO, as outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged, includes: Leading and/or contributing forces to NATO and coalition efforts to deter and defeat potential adversaries, including terrorists, to support global stability; Leading and/or contributing to international peace operations and stabilization missions with the United Nations, NATO, and other multilateral partners. The NATO Airborne Warning and Control System has sixteen E-3A aircraft. These modified Boeing 707s are easily identifiable from the distinctive radar dome mounted on the fuselage. The E-3A usually operates at an altitude of around 10 km. From this altitude a single E-3A can constantly monitor the airspace within a radius of more than 400 km and can exchange information – via digital data links – with ground-based, sea-based and airborne commanders. By using pulse Doppler radar, an E-3A flying within NATO airspace can distinguish between targets and ground reflections and is therefore able to give early warning of low- or high-flying aircraft operating over the territory of a potential aggressor. Contacts Byrne Furlong Press Secretary Office of the Minister of National Defence Phone: 613-996-3100 Email: Media Relations Department of National Defence Phone: 613-996-2353 Email:

  • La France va adapter son « secret-défense » pour mieux échanger avec ses alliés

    February 16, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR

    La France va adapter son « secret-défense » pour mieux échanger avec ses alliés

    Le niveau de classification « confidentiel défense » sera supprimé d'ici à fin 2019. LE MONDE | 30.01.2018 à 16h17 • Mis à jour le 31.01.2018 à 11h15 | Par Nathalie Guibert Le « secret-défense » occupe une place centrale dans la démocratie française : 400 000 personnes habilitées dans l'appareil d'Etat en 2017, 4 000 officiers de sécurité dans les entreprises et les administrations, 5 millions de documents classifiés et un accès parcimonieux imposé aux archives historiques. Il va être réformé d'ici à fin 2019, a annoncé le secrétariat général pour la défense et la sécurité nationale (SGDSN) mardi 30 janvier, en dévoilant ces chiffres. Cet organe dépendant du premier ministre publie son deuxième rapport sur le sujet en espérant en faire « la pédagogie auprès du Parlement et de l'opinion ». Une concertation interministérielle est en cours pour satisfaire deux priorités : « Faciliter les échanges de données avec les pays alliés en alignant les niveaux de classification » et « améliorer la protection de l'information classifiée dématérialisée face à la menace cyber ». Les grands alliés de la France, les Etats-Unis et le Royaume-Uni en tête, ont des classifications équivalentes et la réforme aura pour but de faciliter les échanges de renseignement bilatéraux, mais aussi dans l'OTAN et au sein de l'Union européenne (UE), qui ont édicté des cadres communs. De trois à deux niveaux de classification Paris a signé 41 accords généraux de sécurité avec des Etats étrangers, rappelle le SGDSN. Dans le cadre des exportations d'armement, le volet protection du secret est majeur : il a fait l'objet d'un long travail pour aboutir à un accord gouvernemental particulier entre la France et l'industriel Naval Group (ex-DCNS) dans le cadre de la vente de sous-marins à l'Australie. Les autorités de Canberra s'étaient vivement inquiétées après des fuites de données sur le précédent contrat de vente de navires à l'Inde. l s'agit également de simplifier les procédures, afin « d'éviter une inflation inutile de données classifiées », assure le secrétaire général, Louis Gautier, alors que chercheurs, juges d'instruction et associations de défense des droits de l'homme critiquent aujourd'hui les excès du secret-défense. Des trois niveaux de classification – « confidentiel défense », « secret défense » et « très secret défense » – seul les deux derniers subsisteront. Dans les faits, la grande majorité des informations, classées « confidentiel défense » seront intégrées au niveau supérieur « secret défense » (10 % des documents aujourd'hui). Au sein du « très secret », une classification spéciale « X secret » sera apposée sur les informations les plus sensibles, accessibles à des groupes très restreints de personnes (moins d'une dizaine) et bénéficiant de réseaux de transmission particuliers. Entrent dans la classification la plus haute la plupart des documents opérationnels (opérations militaires, de chiffrement, cyber-opérations), ainsi que les données de recherche présentant un risque de prolifération pour des armes de destruction massive et les informations de la dissuasion nucléaire. Faciliter l'accès aux archives historiques Ainsi, « une note informant le président de la République du mode d'action et du pays responsable d'une attaque informatique contre une entreprise, qui pouvait relever du “confidentiel” sera à l'avenir “secret défense” ; le planning de sortie des sous-marins nucléaires sera classé “très secret” ; et les plans de renouvellement des armes nucléaires sera “X secret” », illustre un spécialiste du SGDSN. Le gouvernement « réfléchit » par ailleurs à un moyen de faciliter l'accès aux archives historiques, avec un système d'ouverture semi-automatisé lorsque les dates de prescription (50 ans ou 100 ans selon les cas) sont atteintes. La mandature de François Hollande a été marquée par un « effort de déclassification », assure encore le SGDSN, avec 3 672 documents déclassifiés par le ministère de l'intérieur, 2 569 par celui des armées, et 38 par celui de l'agriculture pour l'année 2016. Le SGDSN cite la promesse d'ouvrir les archives de l'Elysée sur le génocide du Rwanda. Mais cet engagement de 2015 n'a pas été suivi d'effets, avait dénoncé dans Le Monde en août 2017 un collectif d'historiens et d'avocats. Le président de la République Emmanuel Macron a pour sa part promis en novembre 2017 lors de sa visite au Burkina Faso de déclassifier la part française des archives relatives à l'ancien président Thomas Sankara, assassiné lors d'un putsch dans ce pays en 1987. Une dizaine de procédures sont en cours devant la justice pénale pour compromission du secret-défense, dont deux concernent des officiers du ministère des armées.

  • Boeing still in race to supply Canada with fighter jets: sources

    February 16, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    Boeing still in race to supply Canada with fighter jets: sources

    DAVID LJUNGGREN OTTAWA REUTERS UPDATED FEBRUARY 15, 2018 Boeing Co, locked in a trade dispute with the Canadian government, has applied to stay in the race to supply Canada with 88 new fighter jets, three well-placed sources said on Thursday. Companies had until Feb. 9 to express an interest in taking part in a competition for planes worth between $15-billion and $19-billion. Ottawa will release its specifications next year, at which point firms can bid. Boeing did let Canada know it was interested, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The decision does not mean the firm will necessarily put forward its F-18 Super Hornet. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. aerospace company infuriated the Canadian government last year by launching a trade challenge against planemaker Bombardier Inc, accusing it of dumping airliners in the American market. Although a U.S. trade commission dismissed the complaint on Jan. 26, Boeing can still appeal the decision or launch another complaint against the Canadian firm. Well-informed sources said last week Ottawa has made clear to Boeing that its chances of winning the 88-jet deal would be harmed if it pursued the Bombardier case. Defense experts say Lockheed Martin Corp's new F-35 stealth fighter is likely the front runner. Dassault Aviation SA and Airbus SE also are expected to compete, but with planes that first flew in the 1990s. Ottawa says bids will be evaluated in part on the basis of "past and recent economic behavior of potential bidders leading up to the procurement." That test is months away from being finalized, meaning Boeing has no idea whether Ottawa would be satisfied if it did drop the challenge, the sources said.

  • Spain to double its military spending

    February 16, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Spain to double its military spending

    By Alejandro López 8 February 2018 Defence spending will double by 2024, Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal has told Spain's parliamentary Defence Committee. The defence budget will increase from 0.8 percent of GDP (€8.7 billion) to 1.53 percent (€18.47 billion). To limit popular opposition to war and anger against increased military expenditure, while austerity has decimated public services and made life more precarious for millions of workers and youth, Cospedal refused to publish the letter addressed to NATO outlining the increase, as she had initially promised. She claimed that part of the content was classified as secret. Secrecy also surrounds the real level of current military spending. According to the pacifist organisation Centre Delàs d'Estudis per la Pau, there is a whole swathe of military related expenditure that is excluded from the defence budget. If social security, pensions and insurance for the military, missions abroad, state aid for military research and development at private companies, the budget of the militarised Civil Guards and NATO fees were included, then the true figure would stand at around €18.8 billion. By 2024, it will really be “the implausible figure of €28 billion a year,” the Centre declared. Spain's increase in military expenditure is in response to the agreement made at last May's NATO summit, under intense pressure from the Trump administration, for all NATO members to increase defence spending by 2024 to 2 percent of GDP. Cospedal admitted that the increase to 1.53 percent fell short of NATO's objective, but insisted it would “facilitate the achievement of that horizon in future years” and was in line with targets set by other European countries. An idea of the scale of the upgrade and renewal of the military can be gathered from the list of new equipment that will be purchased. Included are 348 new Piranha 5 armoured infantry vehicles, which are designed for close combat situations, five F-110 frigates, four S-80 submarines, three Multi Role Tanker Transport refuelling aircraft, 23 NH-90 helicopters, a Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a new training aircraft. In addition, the army will acquire a new Command and Control System and the renovation of its barracks, 17 Chinook helicopters will be modernized, and Spain will contribute funds towards the replacement for the F-18 fighter jet. Cospedal confirmed that the military spending in Spain's participation in 17 military missions around the globe last year was €835 million, 8.2 percent more than the previous year. Spain will participate in the European Union's (EU) Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on security and defence and will head the Command and Control System for EU Missions and Operations. PESCO was agreed last November by 23 of the EU's 28 member states “to jointly develop defence capabilities and make them available for EU military operations.” Spain's commitment to PESCO reflects the attempt by the ruling elite in Spain and in Europe to defend their economic and military positions vis-a-vis actual and potential competitors, in a situation threatened by Brexit and the Trump administration's “America First” policy. The Spanish government is attempting to straddle the contradictions of supporting both the German-led PESCO and the US-led NATO, two militarist projects that are incompatible in the long term. This was reflected in a resolution proposed by the government to be debated in an upcoming parliamentary session, which calls for improvements to EU-US relations in the sphere of defence, while concluding that “Europeans must assume more than ever before the responsibility of our own security.” The growth of Spanish militarism, as elsewhere globally, is the response of the ruling class to rising inequality, the deepening economic crisis and the growing conflicts between the major powers. Its aim, as recently expressed in the new US National Security Strategy, is the conquest of new spheres of influence, markets and raw materials—above all in conflict with Russia and China—and to deflect social tensions outwards. The main obstacle for the Spanish ruling class is the population's traditional hostility towards the military. This was recently revealed in the attempt to open a debate to re-impose conscription, following the example of France under President Emmanuel Macron. All the main dailies published articles and opinion pieces bemoaning the population's hostility to such a measure. The pro-militarist senior researcher for the Real Instituto Elcano, Félix Arteaga, complained to El Mundo, “Raising it [conscription] here would be political suicide, first because there is no military need to justify it, and second, because the concept of obligation is not liked by Spanish society. There is no mentality or culture of national identity and, of course, no one believes that you should lose your life for the defence of the country.” The ability of Spain's ruling elite to pursue its military ambitions is to a large extent due to the role of the pseudo-left Podemos, which has been virtually silent on these developments or has openly endorsed them. Last month Podemos covered up for increased Spanish intervention in Mali, where an EU “Training Mission” still continues five years after jihadist groups overran the north of the country in 2012, prompting a wave of refugees. Thousands attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, and many drowned. On January 24, Cospedal appeared before the Defence Commission to get belated authorisation for approving Spain's taking over control of the mission and sending in more troops on January 9. She warned the commission that increased involvement in the EU intervention was “fundamental” and that North Africa was “a strategic place” for Spain. Juan Antonio Delgado, the Podemos spokesperson for military affairs, complained that Cospedal had “broken the law” by sending in the troops before parliamentary approval. He revealed, “I was in Mali three months ago and I learned that Spain would take over the operation,” before asking Cospedal, “In that time has there not been time to ask for authorization?” The obvious question is why Delgado himself did not pursue the issue... and when it came to the vote [on authorisation] at the commission he merely abstained. Even more explicit was Podemos General Secretary Pablo Iglesias, who attacked Cospedal from the right over the death of a pilot killed in a jet crash last October. He told her, “Patriotism is defending the rights of the professionals of our Armed Forces. It is shameful that in this country some who fill their mouths talking about our homeland do not respect the rights of workers who are here to protect us all and whose lives cannot be endangered.” Such statements prove Podemos is a pro-war party, offering itself as a reliable political platform for Spanish militarism. Since its foundation, Podemos has created branches in the army and made an explicit effort to articulate its main demands. Former Chief of the Defence Staff Julio Rodríguez Fernández has stood as a Podemos candidate in recent parliamentary elections and is the general secretary of Podemos in the municipality of Madrid, where he will be the party's main candidate in next year's elections.

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