Thomas Wictor

The sky is filled with armies

The sky is filled with armies

I’ve always been a sky-watcher. As a child I wanted to fly to the clouds and walk among them. What you need to know is that the sky is filled with armies. The imagery comes from the poet Stephen Crane, an artist whose work saved my life.

Once a man clambering to the housetops
Appealed to the heavens.
With strong voice he called to the deaf spheres;
A warrior’s shout he raised to the suns.
Lo, at last, there was a dot on the clouds,
And—at last and at last—
—God—the sky was filled with armies.

It’s time to reveal what I’ve known since the summer. The exercises are over, and the Saudis and Israelis are telegraphing the next phase.

As I’ve written before, my brother Tim and I saw Air France Airbus A380 jumbo jets flying over our house on the JANET route, toward the Nevada National Security Site. Tim photographed one.


There are no civilian airports along that route that can handle the A380. However, Edwards Air Force Base can take it, and so can Nellis Air Force Base. I believe that those jumbo jets were carrying the non-American troops who will overthrow the mullahs of Iran, destroy Hezbollah, unseat Basha al-Assad, and smash the Islamic State. They rehearsed gigantic air assaults in at least four US states.

The reason I’m writing this post is that the Palestinians are gearing up for a third intifada, and Israelis are becoming more and more furious and traumatized. Evil monstrosities such as Rania Khalek are fanning the flames.


Khalek is costing both Israeli and Palestinian lives, so it gives me great pleasure to burst her noxious bubble. I also want to reassure Israelis that the peace you so desperately want is right around the corner.

As far as I can tell, Israel came to terms with the Arab League in 2008. Israeli arms sales prove that.

Among Israel’s clients are Muslim countries with which it does not have diplomatic ties. According to the report, in 2011 Israel sought to purchase British components to export radar systems to Pakistan, as well as electronic warfare systems, Head-up Cockpit Displays ‏(HUD‏), parts for fighter jets and aircraft engines, optic target acquisition systems, components of training aircraft, and military electronic systems. In 2010, Israel applied for permits to export electronic warfare systems and HUDs with components from Britain to Pakistan. Also in 2010, Israel sought permits to supply Egypt and Morocco with Israeli electronic warfare systems and HUD systems that use British parts.

In 2009, Israel requested permits from British authorities to export to Algeria aerial observation systems, pilots’ helmets and HUDs, radar systems and communications systems for military aircraft, military navigation systems, drone components, systems to disrupt ballistic systems, airborne radar and optical target acquisition systems. Israel also sought to export to Morocco electronic warfare systems and HUDs in 2009.

In that same year, Israel asked for permits to supply components for drones to the United Arab Emirates, as well as pilots’ helmets and aerial refueling systems, ground radar, components for fighter jets, systems to disrupt missile launches, airborne radar systems, and thermal imaging and electronic warfare equipment.

The Saudi-led Coalition fighting in Yemen is clearly using Israeli targeting technology. Not even the US is capable of destroying a house while leaving the two rickety buildings next to it unscathed.


There’s no question that Israel has foolproof defenses against its own technology. The Israelis had to train the Arab armed forces, which means that the IDF now knows all the capabilities of its former enemies. Besides, the one who builds the device knows how to defeat it.

Aside from that, I believe that the Arab League sincerely wants peace in the region. This isn’t about Sunni Saudi Arabia competing with Shi’ite Iran over who can be the regional superpower. There are too many other things happening that don’t fit into that simplistic narrative. Turkey and Qatar, for example.

On July 14, 2014, the US sold Qatar $11 billion worth of arms, including AH-64E Apache helicopter gunships. The Qataris sent those Apaches to Yemen on September 7, 2015, fourteen months later. However, it takes eighteen months to become an Apache gunship pilot. That means someone trained the Qataris long before the sale went through. Qatar has a history of supporting terrorists. There’s absolutely no way that anybody would’ve trained Qatari pilots to fly Apaches without getting significant concessions in return.


Turkey has recently shown hostility to Israel. But in June of 2015, the Turks sent up to 5000 troops to a specially built base in Qatar. They’re obviously going to be used in the upcoming war. The region isn’t changing; it’s already changed.

From May 31 to June 10, 2015, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia conducted their first-ever joint military exercise, Caucasian Eagle. These were tactical drills. That means the men were practicing taking part in a much larger operation commanded by someone else. From September 6 to September 13, 2015, Azerbaijan conducted large-scale exercises to check the combat readiness of its entire armed forces. Israel and Turkey have been working feverishly to upgrade the Azeri military.

But Azerbaijan is getting help from someone else.

Azerbaijan was the second-largest arms importer in Europe over the past five years, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an arms trade research group.

Azerbaijan accounted for fully 13 percent of all of Europe’s arms imports over the last five years, SIPRI reported, behind only the U.K. (The report doesn’t list dollar values for the imports.)

While overall arms imports have been decreasing across Europe, Azerbaijan is bucking the trend: its imports of weaponry increased 249 percent in the period 2010-2014 when compared to the previous five-year period, 2005-2009.

SIPRI also tabulated the world trade in drones (“unmanned aerial vehicles” in military-speak) and Azerbaijan also ended up near the top of that list, as the fourth-largest importer of drones in the world since 1985, trailing only the U.K., India, and Italy. It also scored impressively in another SIPRI survey from last year, tallying the second-largest increase in defense budgets in the world over the past ten years.

Among the most eye-popping numbers from the newest report: 85 percent of Azerbaijan’s arms imports came from Russia.

And yet the Russians know all about this.

Israel has been granted access to air bases in Azerbaijan on Iran’s northern border, Foreign Policy reported Wednesday, quoting senior U.S. diplomats and military intelligence officials.

“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” a senior U.S. administration official told Foreign Policy’s Mark Perry, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

Russia is supposedly an ally of Iran, but it’s made Azerbaijan—Israel’s airfield—into a regional powerhouse. On June 6, 2015, Russia and Egypt rehearsed an amphibious landing, using the Alexander Shabalin.


A month later, the Egyptian navy took part in massive amphibious landings in Yemen that inserted hundreds of armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery pieces from the UAE.

And today an Israeli sent me this photo of Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov describing the action in Syria.


Look at the map behind him. No West Bank, and the Golan Heights is identified as part of Israel.

Now for the locations of the massive nocturnal air assaults that were rehearsed by foreign troops in the US this summer.

One rehearsal was in Apple Valley, California, near Ord Mountain. Edwards Air Force Base is to the west, and Fort Irwin National Training Center is to the north. A plane spotter told me that a steady stream of Antonov AN-124 transports and Air France Airbus A380s landed at Edwards before the exercises took place. The AN-124 can be used to transport weapons such as attack helicopters and tanks.


A second rehearsal was in the mountains and deserts north of Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada. An active-duty marine was told that it was “the Israelis and someone else.”

A third rehearsal was around Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. The US Army’s Fort Carson is to the east. Further eastward is Schriever Air Force Base. When an active-duty soldier asked about the exercises, his superiors told him to “mind his own business.”

A fourth rehearsal took place on the furthest edges of the training range at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Again, an active-duty soldier was told to not ask about the exercises.

All four of my witnesses said that the exercises involved as many as 100 helicopters, including up to fifty gunships armed with more machine guns and cannons than they’d ever seen. My Apple Valley witness said that the firing kept her up at night, and it was so heavy that it looked like a freeway at night.


So don’t be afraid. The sky is filled with armies that will end this terrible period once and for all. I promise.

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