Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Orion Spacecraft Moves to Space Launch Complex 37


Inside the battle to save Baghdad from ISIS


Hagel and Dempsey on US Strategy in Iraq

There are limited signs of progress in Iraq three months after the air campaign began,US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee last week.The advance by ISIL in parts of Iraq has stalled,and in some cases been reversed,by Iraqi,Kurdish and tribal forces supported by US-led coalition air strikes.More than 130 of the more than 800 strikes since 8 August have been by coalition partners,including Canada,which made its first sorties last week.The coalition consists of 12 nations.*
Some 1500 new US troops supplementing the 1400 already in Iraq will work out of Joint Operations Centers in Baghdad and Irbil,as well as four new training centers in North,West and Central Iraq.*
The US is certainly considering putting boots on the ground to advise and call in airstrikes on the frontlines,Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey added.The Iraqi trops are doing a better job,but there are places that will be beyond them,such as Mosul and the Syrian border.We're considering US forces accompanying Iraqi troops.In Syria,our actions against ISIL are focused on shaping the dynamic in Iraq,which remains the priority of our counter-ISIL strategy.*
We are sober about the challenges we face as ISIL exploits the complicated,long-running Syrian conflict,Secretary Hagel explained to the Members of Congress.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

As ISIS Continues Push, How Vulnerable is Baghdad?


ISIS continues march through Anbar province


Major Increase in US Troops in Iraq-return to the Triangle of Death

A major increase in US troop strength in Iraq that could see the force roughly doubled from 1400 today up to 3100 soldiers has been initiated by President Barack Obama.The 1400 current troops there now are divided among around 600 advise and assist specialists,and 800 security forces around the US Embassy and Baghdad International Airport.Now the US has begun moving back into Anbar Province,Iraq,which it withdrew from just over three years ago.A team of around 50 US troops has arrived at Al-Asad Air Base,once a huge US military installation during the Iraq War.They are there to assess the site for a new base in the US-led coalition's advise and assist effort for the Iraqi army.*
From 2004-07,US forces,spearheaded by the Marine Corps,fought their way across Anbar province,losing hundreds of soldiers in the process.Al Qaida in Iraq proved to be a formidable enemy to the Americans in that region,which was called the "Sunni Triangle of Death,"referring to the Sunni Muslim militants taking the lives of US troops.Although not on a combat mission,some of the 50 returning US soldiers are armed for force protection purposes.They are the vanguard of a shift in coalition strategy from defensive to offensive operations in Iraq.The Iraqi military plans to go on the offensive in the spring,and they will need the US at their side,not just advising from a distance.*
US commanders have expressed frustration that targets in this anti-Islamic State operation that now has a name,Operation Inherent Resolve,are slipping away from them as they try to verify the targets according to stringent rules,in an effort to be totally sure no civilians are in these nighttime convoy targets.The White House,however,is afraid civilian casualties will spook European members of the coalition into pulling out.And the strikes on Islamic State militants in neighbouring Syria are small and CIA-led for deniability,while US commanders want them to be larger,more effective strikes.In response to the growing need for US support,the President is reluctantly increasing America's footprint on the expanding battlefield.