Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tug of War

A seasonal tug of war is now underway in the Mid-Atlantic region.The day began with a brushing of frost,then progressed into blustery conditions as cold and warm air masses collided.The warm air will win out beginning Thursday afternoon.Chipping sparrows are in the region for breeding and some chimney swifts have been spotted the last few days.They eat insects on the wing,providing a most useful service.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Marjah A Continuing Struggle

Although Marjah in Southern Afghanistan was successfully cleared of militants by U.S. Marines two months ago,political progress has been slow to non-existent.The Afghan government isn't winning the people over with sufficient aid.In consequence,the people haven't bonded with the Marines on patrol,who are seen as backing the government.Tips have not been forthcoming to the Marines.In general,NATO officials have expressed some disappointment with the atmospherics in the area of 80,000 inhabitants.
With the much larger Kandahar operation slated to commence in June,the Marjah situation is causing worries that President Barack Obama's goal of a quick end to the American presence in Afghanistan will not be met,to the consternation of a war-weary American public and U.S. Congress.Kandahar has about a million residents.U.S. special forces and their Afghan allies are already preparing the way for the June offensive,which has been widely telegraphed.Over 70 militants have been rounded up,and lawless areas in the outskirts are being secured.Some 11,200 NATO troops are expected to partner with Afghan forces in the battle for the Taliban militant heartland.
NATO Commander General Stanley McChrystal,U.S. Army,has been pulling forces out of remote areas of little importance to concentrate on the more populous centers,such as Marjah and Kandahar,that hold the key to Afghanistan's future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

USS Freedom Comes Home

The Navy's first littoral combat ship,the USS Freedom(LCS 1),will arrive at her homeport of San Diego on 23 April upon completion of her first deployment.A member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet,she departed from Mayport,Florida on 16 February.She conducted counter-drug trafficking operations,netting more than five tons of cocaine in four interdictions,as well as seizing two speedboats and arresting nine smuggler suspects.
The Freedom also integrated with the USS Carl Vinson(CVN70)carrier strike group for training evolutions,and made theater security cooperation visits to Columbia,Panama and Mexico.This involved community outreach events and professional exchanges with partner nation navies.She is a member of the U.S. 3rd Fleet,which has an area of responsibility(AOR)of 50 million square miles in the Eastern Pacific.
The Navy plans to build 55 littoral combat ships.The small,highly networked warships are extremely fast and especially well-suited for near-shore operations in shallow waters.The Lockheed Martin industry team built the USS Freedom.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Strategic Deterrence Mission Continues

The U.S. Navy's strategic deterrence mission persisted after the end of the Cold War.The main purpose of the 14 Ohio class submarines is to carry out that mission.The submarines,homeported in Bangor,Washington and Kings Bay,Georgia,are armed with Trident II ballistic missiles.Each submarine has 24 launch tubes for the missiles,which have a range of more than 4,000 nautical miles.They also have four torpedo tubes for the Mk48 torpedo.
Most of the Ohio class submarines are named for a state-with the exception of the USS Henry M. Jackson(SSBN730),which is named after the late senator from the state of Washington,who was known for being a staunch cold warrior.The nuclear-powered vessels have a speed of 25+ knots submerged and a complement of 155.General Dynamics built the Ohio class.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bizarre Weather Continues

The Mid-Atlantic region continues on its bizarre course through the weather world,with temperatures being some 30 degrees F higher than normal.It seems to be nature's reaction to the boreal forest winter the region experienced,a balancing of weather accounts that must itself be balanced by perhaps a cool July.Bushes that were crushed by piles of snow are now being scorched by the waves of weird heat.People are trying hard not to put the air conditioner on so early,but many haven't succeeded in resisting the need for comfort.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pirate Attacks Ramp Up

Pirate activity in the Indian Ocean is keeping warships busy.In one recent incident,a U.S. Navy frigate,the USS Nicholas(FFG47)was fired on by a pirate skiff and responded with a 50-caliber machine gun,sinking the skiff.Sailors arrested three pirates from the skiff and two more on the mother ship.This occurred near the Seychelles islands,far from the pirates' customary range.The Nicholas has a speed of 29 knots.
In another encounter,the USS Farragut(DDG99),an Arleigh Burke class destroyer,arrested 11 more pirates.These pirates had to be released,as Kenya had no more room in its jails.The Farragut has a speed of 30+ knots.A South Korean warship also began pursuing pirates.The pirates had seized an oil tanker with more than 100 million dollars' worth of oil on board.