Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: Was He Forced Out at the Pentagon?

The Hagel Resignation-Will It Affect Military Operations?

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,the first man to rise from the enlisted ranks of the US Army to the top job at the Pentagon,held several private meetings over the past month,but still couldn't see eye to eye.So the President and Hagel agreed to part ways,and the President started searching for his fourth Pentagon chief in six years.Hagel had been preceded by Bob Gates and Leon Panetta.*
Some observers described Hagel as seeming disengaged at national security meetings.
Perhaps the President needed a fall guy after the Democrats' dismal mid-term election results,losing control of the US Senate,others speculated,and the soft spoken Hagel fit the bill.Believe me,he was up to the job,Hagel's former Senate colleague and fellow Vietnam veteran Senator John McCain,R-Arizona,remarked upon hearing the news.It was the job he was given,where he was never brought into that tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions,which has put us into the incredible debacle that we're in today throughout the world,McCain continued.*
For instance,Hagel wrote a letter to National Security Adviser Susan Rice in which he was critical of the administration's Syria policy,according to The New York Times.Hagel was also said to differ with the President over Mr.Obama's plan to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,Cuba.And the White House was consternated when Hagel contradicted the President's view that the ISIL militants were a junior varsity squad,when Hagel described ISIL as an imminent threat to everything America stands for.We must prepare for everything,Hagel said.The only way is to take a steely-eyed look at it.*
The resignation really doesn't affect the way the Pentagon views the world,said Rear Admiral John Kirby,US Navy,spokesman for the Department of Defense.We're going to keep going after ISIL.We're going to move to a train,advise and assist mission in Afghanistan,and will continue to reassure our European allies in the face of Russian agression.Winning is a daily thing that we look at.We are definitely succeeding.We are taking back ground.We constantly assess that,every single day.We're not making any big muscle moves.We think we've got it about right here,RADM Kirby insisted.*
Several service members expressed surprise about the resignation,however,and felt Mr.Hagel wasn't to blame for troop cutbacks and efforts to trim military benefits.That problem rested squarely with Congress.

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.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Launch of Worlds Largest Rocket - The Delta IV Heavy with NROL-65 Onboard

[EFT-1] Orion Rocket Erected at Launch Pad-30 September 2014,Delta IV-Heavy

Orion Spacecraft Completed-ready for December launch

NASA's new era of deep space exploration is about to begin with the first major step,Exploration Flight Test-1.On 4 December,the Orion spacecraft will be launched by a Delta IV-Heavy rocket and sent to an orbit of 3600 miles above Earth,or 15 times farther away than the International Space Station.During the 4.5 hour mission,Orion will orbit the earth twice before plunging toward splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California,reaching speeds of about 20,000 miles an hour and a heat shield temperature of almost 4,000 degrees F.The parachute system must slow the spacecraft from 300 mph down to a human-friendly 20 mph,delivering the spacecraft and its future crews to splashdown and US Navy-assisted recovery in one piece.*
The unmanned December mission will carefully evaluate all aspects of Orion's performance,with a special emphasis on the critical reentry phase.The spacecraft is currently inside the Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy Space Center.The eighty-foot tall spacecraft,which consists of the LAS,crew module and service module,was completed by the installation of its four protective panels,or the Ogive,which are designed to lessen the drag and acoustic load on the crew module.It now awaits its 10 November ride to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral and mating with the Delta IV-Heavy rocket,a product of United Launch Alliance.Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft itself.*
Launch is scheduled for 7:05 am Eastern on 4 December.The spacecraft is intended to embark on a manned asteroid capture mission and ferry humans to Mars and beyond in the coming decades.After EFT-1,it will be launched by the Space Launch System,the largest rocket ever built,starting in 2018.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Alliant Techsystems(ATK)