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  • Federal budget shores up cyber defences but is silent on new jets and warships

    March 5, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Federal budget shores up cyber defences but is silent on new jets and warships

    By Murray Brewster, CBC News The new federal budget focuses on ones and zeros over tanks and troops by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into new and improved cyber and national security defences. Several federal departments will not only see upfront cash but promises of long-term spending to counter both the threat of hackers — state-sponsored and otherwise — and cyber-criminals. National Defence, by comparison, is seeing virtually nothing in terms of new spending on the nuts and bolts of the military, other than initiatives outlined in the recently tabled national defence policy. The 2018 budget is, on the surface, a tacit acknowledgement that the nature of threats to national security — the nature of modern warfare itself — is changing. The budget recycles the government's $3.6 billion pledge last December to provide veterans with the option of a pension for life and better services. But cyber-security was, by far, the headline national security measure in the budget. Finance Minister Bill Morneau's fiscal plan sets aside $750 million in different envelopes — much of it to be spent over five years — to improve cyber security and better prepare the federal government to fend off online attacks and track down cyber-criminals. More for CSE It also promises an additional $225 million, beginning in 2020-21, to improve the capacity of the country's lead electronic intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment, to gather foreign signals intelligence. The Liberals will soon pass new national security legislation — C-59 — and CSE will receive important new powers and responsibilities to disrupt global cyber threats. "These are brand new tools. They're going to need lots of resources — technological resources, personnel resources — to engage in those kinds of operations," said Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor and one of the country's leading experts on cybersecurity and intelligence, in an interview prior to the budget. The sense of urgency about getting the country's cyber-security house in order is being driven in part by the fallout from Russian hacking and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, said a former assistant parliamentary budget officer. "With what we've seen south of the border, I think cyber-security and cyber-threat has been elevated in this budget to a high-priority item," said Sahir Khan, now the executive vice president of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy. The budget creates two new entities to deal with online threats. The first, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, will assemble all of the federal government's cyber expertise under one roof — a plan that will require new legislation. The second organization will be run by the RCMP and be known as the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit. It will coordinate all cybercrime investigations and act as a central agency to which the public can report incidents. The budget also includes cash for Public Safety's National Cyber Strategy, which not only aims to protect federal government networks but is meant to collaborate with the corporate financial and energy sectors to boost their defences. Military procurement a work in progress The budget's dearth of new spending on the real-world military — at a time of significant global insecurity — is due to reasons that are partly political and partly organizational, said Khan. The former Conservative government's inability to deliver on promises of new equipment during its nine-year tenure was a political "albatross around its neck," he said. The Liberals may have produced a clear defence policy but they have yet to straighten out the procurement system, he added. The Trudeau government has promised a lot of military capital spending down the road. Khan said it seems determined to keep the issue out of the spotlight in the meantime. What's missing from the new budget is a clear commitment that National Defence will get the cash it needs as those needs arise. "I think there was a lot of clarity in the policy direction coming out of the government [defence] white paper," said Khan. "What a lot of us are trying to understand is whether the money ... is accompanying that change in direction ... so that DND has a stable footing to meet its needs." He said he still has questions about whether promised future spending on fighter jets and warships has been baked into the federal government's long-term fiscal plans. A senior federal official, speaking on background prior to the release of the budget, insisted that military capital spending is welded into fiscal plans going forward into the 2030s. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said repeatedly, since the strategy was released last June, that the defence plan was "fully costed" into the future. Up until 2016, National Defence produced an annual list of planned defence purchases. The Liberals promised to produce their own list of planned acquisitions and table it this year. Khan said it "needs to be presented to Parliament and the public." Training and retaining? The cyber initiatives in Monday's budget drew a mixed response from the high-tech sector. On the one hand, the Council of Canadian Innovators praised budget signals that suggest the Liberals are open to dealing with home-grown companies rather than buying off-the-shelf from major U.S. firms. "The imperative to build domestic cyber capacity is not just economic. It's existential," said Benjamin Bergen, the council's executive director. "Without a domestic capacity in cyber we risk becoming a client state. Innovators welcome the announcement of a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, which will allow for information sharing between the public and private sector." What the budget didn't offer was a clear commitment to training and retaining highly-skilled software engineers and IT professionals. "We would have liked to have seen a retention strategy. There wasn't one," said Bergen. "We know Canada produces amazing graduates but we're struggling to keep that talent here." The council estimates there will be up to 200,000 job openings in high-tech by 2020, which will put pressure on the industry and on the federal government as it bulks up its cyber capability. Adam Froman, CEO of the Toronto-based data collection firm Delvinia, was blunt when asked if the federal government will be able to fill all of the cyber-security job openings created by this budget. "They're not going to be able to. Plain and simple," he said. "Or they're going to have to outsource those jobs to foreign companies." http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-budget-2018-cybersecurity-1.4552967

  • Small drones in the Middle East have become a $330 million problem

    February 22, 2018 | Aerospace, C4ISR

    Small drones in the Middle East have become a $330 million problem

    The threat of small unmanned aerial systems overseas – especially in Iraq and Syria – has been a key focus of top leaders from across the Department of Defense. Groups such as the Islamic State have not only curated a fleet of commercially available drones to use for aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but they have modified them to drop bombs resulting in a miniature air force. The problem has become so acute that top officials in the region have made counter-drones the top force protection priority. Such systems also threat installations as well, spying overhead or acting as flying bombs on one-way kamikaze missions. As such, the Army is asking for a total of $188.3 million in fiscal 2019 for counter-unmanned air systems. That request combines $69 million from the base budget and $119.3 million from the overseas contingency operations,, according to recently released documents. This strategy is part of a joint operational need statement created in 2017 for the Central Command area of responsibility totaling $332.2 million over the next five years, the line item in the Army's research and development budget states. The counter drone effort will work to identify, develop, test, evaluate and integrate technologies to provide an overall evolutionary capability to defeat drones, especially smaller group one and group two systems that can weigh up to 55 pounds. The effort also involves a phased approach to CENTCOM that will provide interim standalone capability within the first few months eventually achieving a full networked capability by the end of the operational need period. The program will involve kinetic – or what are known as “hard kill” – solutions, development of radar and integration of multi-function electronic warfare with a “full On-The-Move” capability. The anti-ISIS coalition has previously utilized electronic warfare capabilities in theater to counter drones by interrupting their command and control mechanisms. https://www.c4isrnet.com/smr/federal-budget/2018/02/21/small-drones-in-the-middle-east-have-become-a-330-million-problem/

  • US Army requests $429 million for new cyber training platform

    February 22, 2018 | International, C4ISR

    US Army requests $429 million for new cyber training platform

    In 2016, the Pentagon tapped the Army to lead development of a persistent cyber training environment, or PCTE, to help train experts from Cyber Command in a live-virtual-constructed environment. Since then, cyber officials have repeatedly said such an environment is among their top priorities. “The service cyber components have established their own training environments but do not have standardized capabilities or content,” Army budget documents say. In the Army's research and development budget documents, the service requested $65.8 million in fiscal 2019 for the training environment and $429.4 million through fiscal 2023. Under the various line items in the Army's research and development budget, the Army is looking to develop event scheduling for the environment. It also wants to develop realistic vignettes or scenarios as part of individual and collective training to include real-world mission rehearsal, on-demand reliable and secure physical and virtual global access from dispersed geographic locations. In addition, the Army is asking for $3 million in fiscal 2019 base budget money to find and close gaps in hardware and software infrastructure related to virtual environments needed for cyber operational training. Additional funds will go toward virtual environments such as blue, grey, red or installation control system that the cyber mission force use for maneuver terrain. Moreover, the documents indicate that the Army will use Other Transaction Authorities vehicles for contract awards. The program will be delivered through incremental capability drops. The document states a “full and open competitive contract will be awarded in FY20 for further integration of new or refinement of existing capabilities, hardware refreshes, accreditation, and software licensing.” https://www.c4isrnet.com/dod/2018/02/21/army-requests-429-million-for-new-cyber-training-platform/

  • Rheinmetall-led consortium wins first European research contract

    February 20, 2018 | International, Land, C4ISR

    Rheinmetall-led consortium wins first European research contract

    FRANKFURT, Feb 19 (Reuters) - A consortium led by Rheinmetall has won the first contract relating to European Union defence research financed by the EU's European Defence Union, the German company said on Monday. The consortium will conduct studies into what could become EU-wide standardized soldier systems, including electronics, voice communication, software and sensors, it said. The other members of the consortium are Indra and GMV Aerospace and Defence of Spain, Leonardo and Larimart of Italy, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Poland's iTTi, the Portuguese company Tekever ASDS and SAAB of Sweden. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan, editing by Louise Heavens) https://www.reuters.com/article/rheinmetall-europe/rheinmetall-led-consortium-wins-first-european-research-contract-idUSFWN1Q902H

  • 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.” https://www.defensenews.com/intel-geoint/2018/02/17/ai-makes-mattis-question-fundamental-beliefs-about-war/

  • 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.” https://www.skiesmag.com/news/canada-joins-alliance-seeking-new-maritime-surveillance-aircraft/

  • 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: byrne.furlong@forces.gc.ca Media Relations Department of National Defence Phone: 613-996-2353 Email: mlo-blm@forces.gc.ca https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/news/2018/02/canada_rejoins_natoairbornewarningandcontrolsystemprogram.html

  • 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. http://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2018/01/30/la-france-va-adapter-son-secret-defense-pour-mieux-echanger-avec-ses-allies_5249279_823448.html

  • 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. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/08/spai-f08.html

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