Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A NORAD Response to Intrusion

Working in my office one recent July morning,I heard a loud jet aircraft engine.It must be a fighter protecting Camp David,I thought.Indeed,a few moments later I observed the hefty warplane,an F-15E,heading south towards the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains.
The F-15E was actually one of two NORAD fighters that were intercepting a civilian plane intruding on restricted air space over and near the weekend White House.The NORAD interceptors escorted the intruder to Carroll County Regional Airport in Maryland.The pilot was interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service there and released,it having been determined he was blundering into the forbidden zone out of ignorance.A lengthy suspension of his pilot's certificate-typically 120 to 180 days-would follow.
There is always a 3 nautical mile/6.5 mile diameter prohibited area over the camp.When the president is at Camp David,the zone is expanded to 10 nautical miles/22 miles.Five of the nautical miles are totally off-limits;the outer 5 nautical miles are limited to specially cleared aircraft in communication with air traffic control,which the intruding Cessna 182 was not.
U.S. Marine guards provide terrestrial security at Camp David,which is administered by the U.S. Navy.
NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command,a joint U.S.-Canadian organization that is charged with monitoring and defending the air,space and,more recently,the maritime,approaches and domains of the continent.It is based at Peterson Air Force Base,Colorado.Admiral James A. Winnefeld,U.S. Navy,is Commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command,while Canadian Lieutenant-General J.M. Duval,CMM,CD is Deputy Commander of NORAD.The organization was established in 1958 and was formerly based in the hardened Cheyenne Mountain Air Station.Today,the mountain site is used by NORAD for training and as an alternate HQ,and day to day operations are conducted at Peterson AFB.
NORAD received heightened relevance during the 9-11 crisis,its Cold War urgency having passed from the scene as the Communist Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact disintegrated.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Marine Assumes Afghan War Command

A U.S. Marine four-star general,John R. Allen,has assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force,or ISAF,the senior military leadership post in the Afghan War.On 18 July,General Allen replaced General David Petraeus,U.S. Army,who is to become the next CIA director.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy,General Allen has had an intellectually stimulating career,earning several academic degrees in national security and intelligence studies from Georgetown University and the National War College,as well as the Defense Intelligence University.He also taught and was Commandant at the Naval Academy.
From 2006-08,General Allen was Commanding General,2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in the Iraq War.He then served as Deputy Commander,U.S. Central Command from 2008-11,assisting General Petraeus for most of that assignment.
General Allen has been decorated with the Legion of Merit with 3 award stars,as well as both the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award with 1 oak leaf cluster.
There would be no let up in engaging the Taliban militants during the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops and transfer of command to Afghan security forces,General Allen insisted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Leon Panetta's Brisk Entrance

Leon Panetta was sworn in as the new Defense Secretary on 1 July.The former Member of Congress had been serving as CIA Director.Mr.Panetta will be replaced at CIA by General David Petraeus,U.S. Army,who currently commands the International Security Assistance Force,or ISAF,in Afghanistan.
Mr.Panetta,73,is known for his outspoken manner,in contrast to the quieter ways of his predecessor,the esteemed Robert Gates,who received the Medal of Freedom,the nation's highest civilian honor,from President Barack Obama when he recently retired.
Mr.Panetta laughingly puts his demeanor down to being Italian.One thing is certain:the troops he serves,the world leaders he meets and the adversaries he warns will have no doubt about their standing with the United States and its new Pentagon chief.He wasted no time in addressing all three with his prompt journey to Iraq and Afghanistan.
While Mr.Panetta was traveling,Admiral Michael Mullen,outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,was meeting with the Chinese brass in an effort to restore relations with the People's Liberation Army,as China's military is known.Tensions over North Korea's behavior,Taiwan's defences and the status of the South China Sea have in recent years cast a chill over exchanges between the two strongest armed forces,which had been halted altogether for most of 2010. News Article: Panetta Vows to Protect U.S. Troops News Article: Panetta Vows to Protect U.S. Troops

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iranian-Backed Militia Attacks Base

On 30 June,three U.S. troops were killed and seven wounded in a rocket attack on Camp Shocker,a base on the Iran-Iraq border.A Shiite militia with Iranian and Lebanese ties,Kataib Hezbollah,or Hezbollah Brigades,is being blamed for the attack.They had claimed responsibility for a similar action that killed five U.S. troops earlier in the month.
Kataib Hezbollah has ties to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia.They are focusing on attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq,believing that American forces may remain in Iraq beyond the 31 December deadline for withdrawal agreed with the Iraqi government.These militants use a weapon called IRAMs,or improvised rocket-assisted mortars,which are only made in Iran.
Fifteen U.S. troops died in the Iraq War in June,the most since April 2009.Fourteen of them were killed in action.Besides Kataib Hezbollah,two other Shiite militias have been involved in recent attacks on Americans:League of the Righteous and Promised Day Brigades.
Iran denies it is supporting these militants,who post videos of their attacks on Americans on the Internet.Many of their leaders fled to Iran in 2008 when U.S. and Iraqi forces went after them in the summer of that year.Several other militia leaders were captured in that operation.Besides IRAMs,these militants use improvised explosive devices,mortars,rockets,rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in their attacks.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

National Lab Concern Easing

Danger from the Las Conchas wildland fire in New Mexico appears to be easing.Los Alamos National Laboratory,a nuclear national security facility that was edged by the fire for about a week,has lifted its state of emergency.It is moving into an operational recovery mode,the lab said.
As of Saturday,113,734 acres had been consumed by the blaze.It was burning on Santa Fe National Forest and Valles Caldera National Preserve.The wildfire was rated as 6% contained,and the persistent hot,dry weather conditions remained a concern.About 10,000 Los Alamos residents were still in evacuation status,and LANL had yet to reopen to non-essential personnel.
The lab stated that nuclear and hazardous materials hadn't been threatened by the conflagration.
Update:Residents began returning home to Los Alamos on Sunday as most roadblocks were lifted.Firefighters had made progress when more humid air and lesser winds moved into the region,bringing containment of the Las Conchas fire to 19%.
Los Alamos National Laboratory will reopen to all employees on Wednesday.
The wildland firefighters on scene,who now number more than 2100,say their work isn't over as the fire remains very active.The fire has consumed more than 120,000 acres and destroyed over 100 structures,including more than 60 homes.It began when an aspen tree was felled by high winds on 26 June,hitting a power line and catching fire.When the tree hit the ground,the flames began to spread.
The fire is currently burning in the higher elevations.Thunderstorms are possible in the area through Wednesday.