Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Operation Moshtarak:Marines See Little Change

Firefights with militants are still a regular occurrence in Operation Moshtarak,the coalition effort to secure the Afghan town of Marjah which began in February.And roadside bombs continue to be a lethal threat.For the young leathernecks,life is still a primitive grind in this agricultural zone of mud huts and irrigated fields.
More than 20 U.S. Marines have died in the operation.It has displaced the militants;now the area must be held until the Afghan security forces can do it themselves.
The militants never give up.A hardened cadre,they are as pesky as the fleas which bite the Marines-but much more dangerous.Afghanistan is steeped in a drug-financed guerrilla culture,and the Marines must confront that fact daily.
So far this month,there have been 20 U.S. deaths in Helmand Province,where Marjah is located.There have been a total of 55 coalition deaths in the Afghan War this October.
Helmand Province is known for the poppy fields which support the drug trade that bankrolls the Taliban militants;42% of the world's opium comes from those fields.The province borders the militant heartland of Kandahar Province.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mysterious Leaf Color

The mature silver maple on the property has autumn leaves in an unusual color this year.Normally,the fall color is bright yellow.This year,however,the maple's leaves that have turned so far are partly to nearly completely red.Perhaps this is from the very hot and dry summer conditions.It could also be from the tree's age,or a combination of factors,not all of them ascertainable.Whatever the cause,the mysterious color of the old,big tree is a rare and welcome addition to the autumn palette.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

India Company Salutes Comrade

India Company,3rd Battalion,5th Marine Regiment,lost their brother in arms,machine gunner Lance Corporal John T. Sparks,23,who was killed in action in Afghanistan on 8 October.Marines and sailors from the unit honored Lance Corporal Sparks with a simple yet moving ceremony on 16 October in Sangin,Afghanistan,which is located in Helmand Province,in the Helmand River valley,at elevation 888 meters/2913 feet.
They gave testimonials to their fallen comrade,read prayers and bible verses.Final Roll was called three times for him,and three times his name went unanswered.The ceremony ended with the playing of taps.
Lance Corporal Sparks' roomate,Corporal Jeffery Holsey,said John always carried his own weight,and when others couldn't,John would pick up their slack.He was a selfless person.He always gave everything and never asked for anything in return.
Survived by his mother Lenora,the Chicago native had an Associate's degree in criminal justice from Westwood College.He had joined the Marine Corps in February,2008.
The 3rd Battalion,5th Marine Regiment is part of the 1st Marine Division,America's 9-1-1 Force in Readiness.Major General Richard P. Mills has command of the historic organization.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Greece Cites Deficit Progress

NATO ally Greece is citing much progress toward righting its deficit crisis.Finance minister George Papaconstantinou says they're confident they are getting there.The main point is the reforms:they finished the pension reform and labor market reform.
It's all about growth now.Greece is making it easier to set up a business.They're beginning to change the sceptics' attitude.They aim to cut the deficit to 7% by 2011.It had been as high as 14%.They are aggressively collecting taxes,changing the culture of tax-evasion.
Norway will invest in Greek government bonds.There is investment interest in tourism,infrastructure and real estate by China and Qatar.Greece needs to build on traditional strengths such as tourism and shipping,as well as new competitive advantages around tech and green energy.
They now need to reinvent themselves.All the Euro-zone has been supportive.Greece has got to change its rules,institutions and behavior,Mr.Papaconstantinou explained.

Pentagon Report:China's PLA Navy

A Pentagon report released at the end of August details the Chinese PLA Navy.China's naval forces consist of 75 principal combatants,as well as more than 60 submarines;55 medium and large amphibious warfare ships;and 85 guided missile patrol craft.
China is known to possess two classes of Chinese guided missile destroyers;both Chinese and Russian diesel submarines;Chinese nuclear submarines;and Russian destroyers.The submarines carry anti-ship cruise missiles.
China is developing an aircraft carrier program.It is also working toward a long range anti-ship ballistic missile.
Analysts believe China is not just trying to defend itself or even dominate Taiwan;but to project power across the Asia-Pacific region as well,challenging the U.S. Pacific Fleet.China dismisses such concern,saying its navy is merely commensurate with the size of its population.
China is believed to be spending a billion dollars a year on its military buildup.
PLA:People's Liberation Army

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Insitu's Vital Flying Eyes

The little unmanned aircraft of Insitu,Inc.,a Boeing subsidiary,have played a vital role in the Iraq and Afghan wars since 2004 and 2005 respectively.The ScanEagle is designed for day missions at the division and regimental level;the NightEagle is for night missions;the Integrator is for rapid,robust payload integration.
These aircraft have propellers on the back,rather than the front,and require no runway for launch or recovery.They are suited for both land and shipboard basing.
Insitu aircraft provide superior tactical intelligence,surveillance and reconnaissance,the company claims.With over 340,000 hours of combat flight in austere areas,and 41,500 sorties,they are at the apex of experience and reliability in mission execution.
Contractor personnel have operated these company-owned systems for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,as well as the Canadian Forces.Founded in 1994,Insitu is headquartered in Bingen,Washington.