Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Chinese Military Move in the South China Sea

China has deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system on Woody Island in the South China Sea.Woody Island is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.The island,part of the Paracel archipelago,is north of the island building projects in the Spratly archipelago that have been causing much concern among the US and its allies recently.Woody Island already had a military-length airstrip on it.Now it has two missile batteries and a target-acquisition radar on it as well as the communications and radar infrastructure to support military activities.*
US Secretary of State John Kerry criticised the installation as a serious concern and said there is evidence,every day,of further militarisation in the South China Sea.When he was in Washington,the Chinese president,Mr.Xi Xinping,promised he would not militarise the South China Sea,Mr.Kerry pointed out.China responded that it has the right of self-defence on Woody Island.

USMC Tank, Light Armored Vehicle Live-fire in Norway with Norwegian Army

Belgian F16s guard the Baltic skies

Friday, February 19, 2016

US May Sail More Ships in South China Sea, Navy Commander Says

US May Sail More Ships in South China Sea, Navy Commander Says: Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift says Navy will be clearer with its intent for the mission in future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

NATO Secretary General's Pre-Ministerial Press Conference, 09 FEB 2016 -...

Winter Warfare Training in Norway - NATO

Fighting Falcons Of Bagram Airfield • F-16 Prep & Takeoff

Graham Questions Lieutenant General John W. Nicholson Jr. (nominee for commander)

Graham Questions General John Campbell on the U.S. Military Strategy in ...

Afghan War:The Latest Order of Battle

Now more than ever,the US should not waver on Afghanistan,General John Campbell,US Army,outgoing commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan,told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week at the Capitol.The situation is more dynamic.As of last week,of 407 district centres,8 of them,or 2%,are under insurgent control;another 18,or 4%,are under insurgent influence.Often these district centres are in remote or sparsely populated areas that security forces are not able to access very often in force.Additionally,at any given time,there may be up to 94 district centres,or 23%,that we view as at risk.*
The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces have proven resilient,developing into a modern security force.The foundation has been laid.The ANDSF fought for the very survival of their country and held firm;however,the Afghan shortfall will persist beyond 2016.Capability gaps still exist in the fixed and rotary winged aviation;combined arms operations;intelligence collection,dissemination and maintenance;and close-air support.At least 70% of the problems result from poor leadership.ANDSF have not consolidated significant gains of their own;nor defeated the insurgency across Afghanistan.Suffice it to say,the performance this year was uneven.Ultimately,Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support in 2016,GEN Campbell concluded in his testimony to the SASC in Washington.*
According to President Barack Obama's plan,the US troop level in Afghanistan is to remain at 9800 for most of 2016;then be decreased to 5500.Most of the 5500 would be for the counterterrorism mission,rather than the train,advise and assist mission.NATO countries have expressed their intention to continue participating in the alliance's Resolute Support Mission there for the remainder of this year.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Release of Woodpecker with Introduction - Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Nature Note:Pileated Woodpecker and Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

On a cold day by Maryland's Monocacy Scenic River in late December,a cak-cak-cak call drew my attention to a piliated woodpecker with its scarlet crest foraging in the river bank trees.The pileated,at 18" in average length,is the largest woodpecker considered to be established in North America.At the same time,the US Fish&Wildlife Service has published a comprehensive recovery plan for the rare ivory-billed woodpecker,which,at 20" in average length,is the largest species of woodpecker that is possibly present on the continent.
Although additional evidence beyond that presented in the early years of the 21st century,which consisted of a much-debated video,sightings and auditory evidence,supports the hypothesis that the ivory-billed continues to exist in the Big Woods of Eastern Arkansas and other parts of the range,due to the inability to reliably locate birds,we cannot at this time conclude that a population of ivory-billed woodpeckers is established in this region,USFWS said.All the same,enough evidence exists that the USFWS continues the habitat conservation and restoration efforts for the Ivory-billed already underway in Eastern Arkansas,and stands ready to do more pending receipt of further evidence.*
The piliated woodpecker,compelling enough at 18" long,requires a minimum of 100-200 acres of contiguous forest for its nesting,roosting and feeding in dead or dying trees,stumps and logs.Primarily an insectivore,this big woodpecker also samples fruits and nuts such as wild grapes,cherries and acorns.They will eat suet from feeders as well.Mating for life and sharing all nesting and work and rearing of young,they are cavity nesters and also drill distinctive holes for roosting and feeding.The roosting holes are especially noticeable,being a group of several oblong holes that provide multiple escape exits.The holes of the piliated are used by more than 50 other forest species,including wood ducks;flying squirrels;owls;bluebirds;and pine martens.
The pileated woodpecker ranges from the Gulf States up the East Coast and west to the Midwest and West Coast,and then across the southern half of Canada in mixed deciduous,transition and boreal forests.