Thursday, February 26, 2015

US and Arab Warplanes Respond To ISIL Hostage-taking;Iraq's New F-16s

The US-led air campaign against ISIL militants targeted an area of Hasakeh Province in Northeast Syria where the Islamist jihadists have terrorised 10 Assyrian Christian villages.ISIL abducted at least 220 women,children and elderly Christians from two of the villages,the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today.In response,US and Arab ally warplanes attacked ISIL positions near the town of Tal Tamir.A total of four sorties were carried out there.The US has confirmed ISIL's ravaging of the villages,saying the militants had burned homes and churches,as well as kidnapping a large number of helpless Assyrian Christians.Thousands of other Assyrian Christians from the villages took refuge in the provincial capital Qumlishi and Hasakeh city. *
Northeast Syria has seen heavy fighting in recent days between ISIL and the YPG Kurds/Christian militia alliance.
The YPG Kurds also cut the ISIL supply line between Northeast Syria and neighbouring Iraq.ISIL in Syria is reportedly running out of cash because of a loss of oil revenue caused by coalition bombing,as well as the difficulty in crossing the Syrian-Iraqi border posed by the YPG Kurds.ISIL has consequently been salvaging and selling scrap metal generated by the war in Syria.
At the same time,ISIL have opened a new front in Southern Syria along the Lebanese border,where they claim to have engaged their anti-Assad rivals,the US-allied Free Syrian Army.The Lebanese army has reportedly responded to the fracas in the area by shelling jihadist militants who were crossing back and forth across the Syria-Lebanese border.*
The Iraqi Air Force has received the first of 36 Block 52 F-16 Fighting Falcons.The fighter bombers are straight off the Lockheed Martin assembly line.They will be armed with the most up to date weaponry.The aircraft were delivered to a base in Arizona,where 14 Iraqi pilots are receiving combat training from US Air National Guard trainers.When the training is completed and suitable bases have been built and secured in Iraq,the aircraft will be flown there and put into service.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

U-2 Dragon Lady Aircraft Preparation&Takeoff-SW Asia

U-2 Spy Plane - Prep & Takeoff-SW Asia

Suffering Defeats,ISIL Takes Assyrian Christians Hostage

When Kurdish forces pushed ISIL out of some 30 villages in Northeast Syria recently,sweeping in from their retaking of Kobani,the Islamist jihadists responded by entering a lightly guarded village in al-Hasakeh Province at 4 am local time,invaded homes and dragged their Assyrian Christian hostages,including women,children and the elderly,away to an uncertain fate.According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,about 90 of the indigenous Assyrian Christians were seized,mostly from the village of Tal Shamirzm 85 km southwest of the provincial capital Qamishli.The Assyrians predate the arrival of Islam in the region,tracing their heritage back to the ancient Mesopotamians.Their traditional language is the Syriac dialect of Aramaic,a language spoken by Jesus Christ.The Assyrian Network for Human Rights believes they were taken to the village of Umm al-Masamir on Mt.Abdulaziz,around 25 km south of their home village.
At the same time,about 700 Assyrian Christian families,or 3,000 people,fled to al-Hasakeh city and took refuge in a church.Later reports say another 150 families found refuge in Qamishli,and that several of the Assyrian Christians were moved to the ISIL headquarters of Raqqa,Syria.
This comes after last week's massacre of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christian men from Egypt by ISIL in Libya.*
It was reported by the Iranian FARS news agency on Monday 22 February that Iraqi troops had killed more than seven ISIL Takfiri group militants in fighting south of Tikrit,Salahuddin Province.Then FARS reported on 23 February that Iraqi warplanes and artillery pounded the ISIL Takfiri group extremists in Tikrit itself,killing dozens and destroying two houses they were using as headquarters.
The Iraqi Air Force has several Russian ground attack aircraft,such as the Su-25,as well as a number of helicopter gunships.*
Ideal for surveillance and reconnaissance of ISIL,as well as the Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Afghanistan,are the US Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft stationed at an undisclosed Southwest Asia base.According to industry sources,however,it is al-Dhafra Air Base,UAE.Gathering intelligence is one of the main roles the US performs for the anti-ISIL coalition it leads in Operation Inherent Resolve.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Howitzers Being Fired - Very Cool

3rd Brigade Combat Team Leaves for Kuwait;Recidivist Former Detainee Killed in Afghanistan

The US Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team held a farewell ceremony at Fort Carson,Colorado on Valentine's Day prior to leaving for Kuwait to serve as the US Central Command's Reserve force for the Middle East.More than 4,000 soldiers,along with their M-1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles,would be the first large scale combat unit to go in and confront ISIL in Iraq,should an emergency arise.Many of the troops are Iraq War veterans.The US withdrew its forces from Iraq in 2011,but has since sent in 2600 service members to train,advise and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in Operation Inherent Resolve,the multi-national anti-ISIL mission.
The Combat Team will also be available for humanitarian assistance and training of other armies in the region.The unit is confident and taking pride in being ready for any contingency.*
Last week,ISIL captured most of the strategic Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi,important for being located only nine miles from al-Asad Air Base,where 320 US Marines are stationed on a training mission.Fighting outside the town continues.Twenty to twenty-five ISIL militants and up to eight suicide bombers attacked the base dressed in Iraqi uniforms.According to the Pentagon,the militants apparently got to the base's outer perimeter and opened up with indirect fire.US helicopters were dispatched to the area,but didn't need to fire a shot.The Iraqi security force handled the militants admirably,killing most of them.
There are multiple entrances to the huge base,and it has been attacked many times over the years.It is pretty hard to penetrate a base of that size.As for indirect fire,rockets are usually fired by militants from a handmade rail,and their mortar fire is inaccurate without a forward observer,said General Mark Hertling,US Army Retired.
In any event,the area they attacked was some distance from the Marines' location. Still,they will probably attempt another assault on the base.*
ISIL is spreading its influence throughout the Middle East and beyond.It is now active to varying degrees in Afghanistan,Pakistan,Algeria,Libya,Yemen,Egypt,Iraq and Syria.Their presence in Afghanistan is nascent at best,said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby last week.It's more aspirational than anything else.
All the same,US forces in Afghanistan conducted a precision strike in Helmand Province,resulting in the death of eight people engaged in hostile activity against US and Afghan forces,including Abdul Rauf Khadim,a former Taliban commander.Khadim was captured by US troops in Afghanistan in 2001.He was imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay facility and,upon his release in 2007,returned to his Taliban militant activities.Then last month,he swore allegiance to ISIL.He joined ISIL no more than a couple weeks ago,RADM Kirby indicated.

F-16 & A-10 Takeoff at Osan Air Base (2013)-ROK

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Oxford Grad Approved for Defense Secretary Post

Ashton B. Carter was unanimously approved to be the new Secretary of Defense with a bipartisan 25-0 vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee today on Capitol Hill.The nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote.Dr.Carter was Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2011-13,and had held two other high level Pentagon posts before that.He is a physicist by training and was a Rhodes Scholar who received his doctorate from Oxford University.He never served in the military,yet commands a lot of respect for his longtime dedication to civil service,national security expertise and forthright manner.
At his confirmation hearing before the Committee last week,Dr.Carter provided a summary of his views on the global challenges he is certain to face.Not only is our civilian infrastructure subject to cyber attack right now,but we have to be concerned about our military.One problem is the defence of our networks in DOD.That is not where it should be,if our forces should be engaged with an enemy.We're not anywhere near where we should be as a country.If people would understand how vulnerable we are in cyber space,they would clamour for more.
I certainly hope that we defeat ISIL quickly,but that won't be a lasting defeat.This is a movement that changes and morphs as it moves around the world.I think we need to be thinking about terrorism generally as a continuing threat to national security.They may not be thinking in the ISIL way;they may have something else-or nothing-on their minds.As you know,there are aberrant people out there.
You have to be thinking about the quality,not just the quantity of ships.I certainly think we are the paramount Navy in the world.That's one of the things that makes us a global power.I have a strong interest of maintaining not just the quality,but the quantity of ships as well.
The campaign in Afghanistan has been close to my heart.I've been there a number of times.If I'm confirmed and I ascertain,as the years go by,that we need to change the plan,I will recommend those changes to the President.Our end with regard to ISIL needs to be their lasting defeat.It's important that we have those on the ground there that make sure that once they are defeated,they stay defeated.I very much incline in the direction of supplying defensive arms to Ukraine.
I think that we have two immediate dangers in the Middle East.One is ISIL;and the other is Iran.We're in the early stage of building the force that will keep ISIL defeated.The issue looming over this is the role of Iran in the whole region.
I think it's important to retake territory with local forces on the ground as soon as e can sustain ISIL's defeat.It's important to get that territory back soon,because we don't want them to settle in,or for the people to settle in under their terrible regime.
The issues in the Middle East and Ukraine have developed since we formulated the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.It is,in my eyes,to continue the pivotal American stability role in that region that has allowed the South Korean miracle.While ISIL and Ukraine are terribly important in their own regard,we have to remember that one-half the population and half the economy of the world is in that region.We're adding ships,electronic warfare,a new bomber-we're buying new capabilities that aren't necessarily useful in Europe or the Middle East;but are in the Asia-Pacific.
I have a long history with the nuclear enterprise.Continuing quality and excellence in the nuclear enterprise is very important,and I am committed to that.
If I am confirmed,I will be confronting some of the most challenging national security problems in a very long time.I would say the world continues to pose challenges to the international order,and the US is indispensable to the solution of these challenges.I'm familiar with what we're doing in the Baltics.We are rotating forces in there to serve as a warning and a tripwire.If we are going to have the greatest military in the world.we can't move in 15-year increments.I think we are in a time where the number and severity of the risks is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life,Dr.Ashton B. Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Chuck Hagel will remain in the post until the full Senate approves his successor.
Update:Dr.Carter was confirmed by the full Senate with a 95-3 vote on 12 February.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Special Report:The Jordan Response-and how the US helped

So far,there have been two retaliatory airstrikes by the US-led coalition on ISIL targets for the burning of Jordanian Royal Air Force Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh.Two dozen Jordanian F-16 Fighting Falcons have struck ISIL targets including ammunition dumps,weapons,training camps and hideouts.The raids have been focused on the ISIL headquarters in Raqqa,Syria.
Accompanying the Jordanians are US F-18 fighter aircraft,as well as the F-22 Raptor,the most advanced US fighter jet currently in service.They have assisted Jordan with surveillance,reconnaissance,targeting and jamming.US air tankers refueled the Jordanian jets as well.
It is not known whether there will be a ground component.Such a raid would require extensive intelligence gathering,analysis and practice.As always,the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition must take into account collateral damage before executing any attack,and the ISIL militants have significantly dispersed and melted into their surroundings.
In Raqqa,a crowd of ISIL supporters had cheered as they viewed a video of LT al-Kasasbeh's death at the hands of the Islamist jihadists.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor in HD-accompanied Jordanians on raids against ISIL

Jordan releases slick video of its air force launching strikes on ISIS

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Migrating caribou on the Arctic Coastal Plain, ANWR, Alaska.

Nature Note:Canadian Author Supports More Wilderness in ANWR

President Barack Obama is seeking to expand wilderness protection in ANWR,the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,making it off-limits to oil drilling.According to Canadian author Edward Struzik,whose book "Future Arctic" has just been published,it's the same old story.The difference now is,we may be coming to the end of frontier oil and gas.The costs of drilling have risen dramatically,and the reserves just aren't big enough.Obama has taken an insurance policy for the future,to preserve the caribou and subsistence resource,Mr.Struzik told talk show host Diane Rehm.
ANWR is thought to hold at least 10 billion barrels of oil,but it's the cost and risk of getting that oil out.We should take the more cautious approach and protect caribou.I think this is a prudent decision by the President.It's a visionary thing.He's the first Western leader to acknowledge the Arctic is changing and we need to do something about it.The important fact is,the Coastal Plain of ANWR is an important calving ground for the caribou.Restrictions placed on hunters and no development whatsoever on the Coastal Plain-these factors have resulted in the rebound of the Porcupine caribou herd.
There's a great state interest here.If we could learn from the past,the state should have put something in the bank.Nobody seems to learn the lesson that you've got to have an insurance policy.Alaska has motored on as if oil will always sustain their economy.Prudhoe Bay is drying up.In Canada,the Alberta government is now in serious trouble.They're thinking about cutting back on education and health care-and maybe even instituting a sales tax.
Expanded wilderness designation-such would secure the future fate of polar bears,caribou and the food supply of native Alaskans,Mr.Struzik insisted.*
The status of ANWR has been debated since the Reagan administration.Now the Interior Department's Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the refuge is in a 30 day public review period,at the end of which a Record of Decision will be issued and implementation of the Plan can begin.Besides setting aside three new wilderness areas in ANWR,the Plan calls for placing two of the refuge's rivers in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers program.The Plan is bitterly opposed by many Alaskans,who feel slighted by the federal government.They do not have the votes in Congress to stop the wilderness protection from taking effect,however-at least until and unless the political landscape in Washington changes even more than it already has.