Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Training with U S and Australian Special Operations Forces

Iraq Crisis:The Role of Special Forces and Intelligence

The Special Operations Forces team that arrived in Iraq Saturday will assess where the other SOF members should be stationed,said Rear Admiral John Kirby,Pentagon Press Secretary.Some of the troops at the US embassy may be reassigned to assist the SOF troops.
The SOF team's mission in Iraq is to assess the enemy's capability;the equipment they have;and how bad off is the Iraqi army.They will also be drawing from military contractors,many of them former SOF members,RADM Kirby revealed.*
The Iraqi state is in danger,warned Senator Dianne Feinstein,D-California,a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.The piercing with human intelligence is very difficult.This is extraordinarily difficult to do.The terrorist recruiting in Europe,the number of passport fighters,including Americans who are coming back into this country through countries we have a visa agreement with-there will be plots to kill Americans.*
A hundred Americans are believed to have been recruited by social media and are fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria.*
What is the contingency plan for a complete takeover of Iraq and Syria?I don't know what the contingency plan is.I do know we're at the foot of an all-out civil war.We're on the verge of something very serious.I think our allies have to help us,and I think Iran can help encourage an inclusive Iraqi government.There has to be one.There can be a direct threat to US national security,Senator Feinstein said.*
Both manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights are going on over Iraq.A target list is being reviewed and revised constantly,the Pentagon added.
Out in the countryside,our very accurate airpower can do a successful job,said Admiral James Woolsey,US Navy retired and former CIA director.In the cities,I'm not sure it's appropriate,ADM Woolsey noted.*
The SOF troops are believed to include members of the US Army Delta Force,US Navy SEALs and US Army Rangers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Forces Poised For Iraq Response-USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group

US warships,aircraft and troops are poised for orders to respond to the advance of Iraqi Islamist militants toward Baghdad.In the Persian Gulf,aka Arabian Gulf,are the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush(CVN 77) and its strike group:guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea(CG 58) and guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun(DDG 103),as well as one or more attack submarines.
The George H W Bush has about 60 aircraft to coordinate and execute any strike mission against the militants the President may order.The cruiser and destroyer can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for precision strike,as can attack submarines.
Also in the Persian Gulf is the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde(LPD 19) with 550 US Marines aboard.The Marines are on standby to evacuate up to 5,000 American civilians currently in Iraq.In Iraq itself,170 Marines and Army troops have been added to the permanent US embassy guard force to bolster security and support for US personnel.The Baghdad embassy compound,located in the International Zone,aka Green Zone,is the largest in the world.The Green Zone is a heavily guarded,closed-off area of central Baghdad that houses Iraqi government buildings;private military contractors;and the US,British,Australian and Egyptian embassies.
Another 100 US troops have arrived in the region and are on standby for airfield management,security and logisitics support.
The White House is also considering sending up to 100 special forces troops to Iraq.They would be non-operational,soley for training and advising the Iraqi army on military bases,although authorised to defend themselves.
The main militant group is formally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,or ISIL,and has captured extensive territory in both Iraq and Syria.They are only 37 miles North of Baghdad at this writing.

USS George H.W. Bush: Freedom at Work

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Air Force Seeks Nuke Command Upgrade;B-2s Arrive in England

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has submitted a proposal to upgrade Global Strike Command,which oversees the nation's Minuteman III ICBM force and strategic bombers,from a three-star billet to a four-star billet.As well,1100 more personnel will be added to the command in the proposal sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his approval.Congress will have the final say on the plan.
The reforms are intended to shore up the troubled command,which has been rocked by a cheating scandal among some missile launch officers and morale problems among Airmen.There is a general impression that the nuclear deterrence mission has been valued less than other Air Force missions since the end of the Cold War.In a press release,Secretary James said this important mission in the Air Force deserves the highest level of oversight similar to our other operational core mission areas.
Incentive pay will also be instituted under the proposal,and a new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal has already been approved by Ms.James.The staffing increase will address shortfalls and offer our Airmen a more stable work schedule and better quality of life,according to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh III.*
In other GSC news,on 8 June,two of the Command's B-2 Spirit bombers flew to RAF Fairford,England to train and integrate with US and allied forces in the region.The heavy bombers will be conducting training flights in the US European Command area of operations,so air crews can sharpen skills in key operational sets and familiarise themselves with regional air bases and operations.
The deployment of strategic bombers provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability with our allies and partners,said Admiral Cecil Haney,US Navy,commander of US Strategic Command,which includes GSC and all three elements of the US nuclear triad:ICBMs,bombers and ballistic missile submarines.The training and integration of strategic forces demonstrates to our nation's leaders and allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and expertise to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations,ADM Haney continued.
The B-2s are from the 509th Bomb Wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base,Missouri.The Spirit is a multi-role bomber that can deliver both conventional and nuclear munitions.Its stealthy characteristics allow it to penetrate the most sophisticated of the enemy's defences and threaten their most heavily defended,highest value targets for decades to come.
GSC's other strategic bombers are the B-52 Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer.*
The deployment of the B-2 Spirit bombers to Europe is in line with a series of augmented and stepped-up deployments of US aircraft,ships and troops to NATO countries in light of the Ukraine crisis.The moves strengthen readiness and reassure allies of America's commitment to the NATO treaty obligation of collective defence.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nature Note:Red-Shouldered Hawk

I heard a close kee-yer call of a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus),but at first I couldn't locate it.Finally,something made me look straight up,and there it was in silhouette,soaring right over my head.I was walking along a northern riverine forest,well within the habitat of this species.
The red-shouldred hawk dwells in and near floodplain forests from New Brunswick,west to Minnesota and south to the Gulf of Mexico,and on the West coast from Northern California to Baja California,Mexico.
The kee-yer cry of red-shouldered hawks is often imitated by blue jays-in fact,it's a favourite trick of blue jays to play on hikers.These hawks hunt from low perches for small mammals,frogs,snakes and insects.They are slightly smaller than the red-tailed hawks so often seen along country roads.
They spend the winter as far north as Southern New England and the Ohio Valley.With the warmer winters of today,perhaps they are even wintering into Ontario now.