Thursday, August 17, 2017

US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan - counterterror operation

An American Soldier was killed and about seven others wounded in a clash with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan militants on 16 August 2017,US Forces Afghanistan in Kabul and the Utah National Guard said.The battle took place in Achin district of Nangarhar Province,a longtime stronghold of the Islamist extremists.All of the Americans were members of the Utah National Guard serving in a partnered operation with the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
General John Nicholson,US Army,Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan,said he wants to eradicate ISIL-K from Afghanistan by the end of the year.Eleven Americans have died in the Afghan War so far this year,already exceeding the death toll of ten for all of 2016.*
On Friday,US President Donald Trump is reportedly to hold a meeting about Afghanistan with his National Security Council at the presidential retreat,Camp David,Maryland.A Trump decision on strategy for the war is regarded as being past due on Capitol Hill.The Pentagon favours sending up to 4,000  US troops back to Afghanistan,a partial reversal of the 2014 widescale withdrawal.There are currently about 8400 permanently assigned US service members there.*
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the three key areas are Special Operations Forces,air power and better command and control by the ANDSF.It isn't going to be easy and nonviolent in Afghanistan this year or even next year.
NATO Allies  may be approached by the US for additional troop contributions once a strategy is set.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Iraq Update:Fallen Soldiers Identified - Iraq Campaign continues

The Pentagon has released the names of the two US troops who died in Northern Iraq on 13 August 2017 while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.Both were with the 2nd Battalion,319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment,2nd Brigade Combat Team,82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Hood,Texas:
Sergeant Roshain Euvince Brooks,30,of Brooklyn,New York and Sergeant Allen Levi Stigler Jr. of Arlington,Texas.
SGT Brooks joined the Army in July 2012.He was deployed to Afghanistan from June-November 2014.
SGT Stigler joined the Army in November 2013.He was on his first deployment.*
According to Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning,US Army,an Army artillery section was conducting a counterfire mission against an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant mortar site at the time of the incident.An investigation is ongoing.
To the west of Mosul,the 9th and 15th Iraqi Army Divisions maintain defensive positions on the west forward line of troops near Tal Afar,and the coalition continues to support the Iraqis as they reset and prepare for follow-on operations in the Western Nineveh Province,COL Manning added.*
The Iraqi Security Forces said the Soldiers died when a shell exploded in a cannon they were inspecting.

Monday, August 14, 2017

USAF Refuels French Mirage 2000 Fighter Jets Over Iraq

French & US Artillery In Action Conducts Heavy Support Fire in Iraq: CAESAR, M77...

U.S. Army Artillery In Action Near Mosul • April 2017

Bulletin:Two US Troops Die in Iraq - Tal Afar campaign underway

The Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve has announced the death of two US Soldiers on 13 August 2017 in Northern Iraq and the wounding of five others.They were conducting combat operations at the time,but were not in contact with the enemy.The incident is under investigation.According to The Washington Post,the Iraqi Security Forces said the troops died when a shell exploded in a cannon the Soldiers were making a routine inspection of.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant extremists claimed responsibility for the casualties,saying they had attacked the troops,but CJTFOIR said it was a false claim.*
At this time,the ISF are working to liberate the city of Tal Afar in Northern Iraq,which is near Mosul,which they have recently recaptured from ISIL militants.The US Army has for some time been supporting the ISF with artillery strikes from several fire bases.France has also supported the ISF with its artillery.*
The latest incident brings the total number of US deaths in Operation Inherent Resolve this year to nine.Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend,US Army,Commander,CJTFOIR,said in a statement to the Soldiers' family and comrades that:
There are no words to describe the respect I have for you and sorrow I have for your loss.I hope there is some solace in knowing their loss has meaning for our country and all the members of our coalition as the fallen service members were fighting to defeat a truly evil enemy and to protect our homelands.*

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis

Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis: The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Orion and the European Service Module - ESA

NASA’s RS-25 Rocket Engine Fires Up Again - 25 July 2017 - one of four RS-25s that will power the SLS rocket

NASA tests Orion splashdown recovery in Gulf - 13 July,2017

13 July 2017 - Live: KHOU 11's Jason Miles heads off shore with NASA to test Orion reco...

Orion Program Update: Summer of Safety and Recovery Systems Testing,SLS Rocket Fabrication and Testing

This summer has been quite busy for the Orion Program,with multiple tracks of testing and fabrication going on at various NASA and contractor faclilities.The media rarely report what many Americans would consider dull engineering activity.Of course,the excitement of exploration cannot occur without these extensive preparations.No one will fly in a shoddily built,unsafe and untested spacecraft.In actual fact,the missions to deep space have already begun with this hardware development,and also the research on long-duration flight being done on ISS.*
On 14 June,a mock-up of the Orion crew module was dropped out of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster at an altitude of 25,000 feet over the US Army Proving Ground in Yuma,Arizona to test the three main parachutes.The test was of the parachutes' performance in low altitude and low dynamic pressure.The engineers are testing for different situations in this flight qualification process.It was the sixth of eight tests.*
NASA has also been testing an updated design for the crew module uprighting system,a system of five airbags on top of the capsule that inflate at splashdown.The original design,tested on Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014,didn't work properly.The airbags should turn Orion right side up if high winds or waves were to flip it over,or if it should land nose cone first in the ocean.The testing will be in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center,Houston,one of several tests to validate computer models.Later in the summer,the airbags will be tested in the Gulf of Mexico off the Galveston,Texas coast.*
On 15 June,subcontractor Orbital ATK tested the abort motor for the Launch Abort System,firing it for five seconds.The LAS is positioned on top of the Orion crew module,and propels the crew in their capsule away from the Space Launch System rocket,directing them toward the Atlantic Ocean for a safe descent in the event of an emergency.*
The test verified that the LAS can fire within milliseconds and will work as expected under high temperatures,NASA said.*
As well,crew egress testing took place from 10-14 July in the Gulf of Mexico by an interagency group of NASA,US Navy,Coast Guard and Air Force personnel to stage various ideal and less than ideal splashdown and recovery scenarios,such as landing off course or water intruding into the crew module.*
Meanwhile,Space Launch System rocket hardware such as fuel tanks and solid rocket booster motors are being fabricated and tested by contractors including Boeing and Orbital ATK.All the hardware will eventually be shipped to Kennedy Space Center for stacking and integration of Orion and the SLS for the uncrewed Exploration Mission-1 in 2019.EM-1 will be  followed by the crewed EM-2 in the 2022-3 time frame,taking astronauts a record 40,000 miles past the Moon and dropping off 13 CubeSats,small satellites that will conduct research on lunar and astrobiology topics,among others.*
Boeing (BA),Orbital ATK Inc (OA)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Update:Nationality of Afghanistan Suicide Blast Victim Revealed

A Republic of Georgia Soldier was killed by a personnel-borne IED on Thursday in Kabul Province,Afghanistan,NATO's Resolute Support Mission said in a press release today.The Georgian was on patrol with Afghan and US troops when the attack occurred.*
Georgia has about 900 troops in Afghanistan,and is the largest non-NATO contributor to the coalition.It was the coalition's third fatality in two days,after the killing of two US troops by a VBIED on Wednesday.*
Georgia aspires to NATO membership and is currently a NATO partner and hosting Exercise Noble Partner 2017.Two US troops,three other Georgians and an interpreter received non-life threatening injuries in the attack;while two Afghan civilians were killed and seven wounded.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bulletin:NATO Says A Third Soldier Dies in a Second Suicide Blast

A press release just received from NATO's Resolute Support Mission says that a second suicide blast has killed the third coalition Soldier in two days in Afghanistan.The Thursday attack was carried out in Qarabagh district of Kabul Province by means of a personnel-borne IED that exploded as a joint Afghan-coalition patrol was passing by.Six other coalition personnel,including an interpreter,were injured by the blast and are being treated at Bagram Airfield for non-life threatening injuries.Yesterday,two US Soldiers died when  a Taliban militant rammed a VBIED into a NATO convoy that was returning to Bagram Airfield.
No nationality for the third fatality has yet been provided.
In a related development,Senator John McCain,R-Arizona,has again taken the Trump administration to task for failing to chart a course for the Afghan War.In a Facebook post,the senator said:
Our commanders-in-chief,not our commanders in the field,are responsible for this failure.*
Senator McCain added that,if nothing were done by September,he would offer an amendment to the defense authorization bill that does lay out a strategy for the war.

Linkin Park - Castle Of Glass- one of many war videos using this song

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bulletin:NATO Convoy Attacked in Afghanistan - two US troops killed

NATO's Resolute Support Mission said a NATO convoy came under attack in Kandahar Province,Afghanistan.The convoy was on a routine train,advise and assist mission at the time of the incident.US Navy Captain Jeff  Davis at the Pentagon confirmed that two US troops were killed in action and said Resolute Support would provide further information.
The Taliban militants claimed responsibility for what was reportedly a suicide attack.US Soldiers were photographed investigating damage done to one of the convoy's armoured vehicles.
This brings the US death toll in Afghanistan combat to nine so far this year,equaling the toll for all of 2016.The Trump administration,which has been in office for over six months,has been criticised for dragging its feet in coming up with a plan for this longest war in American history,which began in 2001 in response to the 9-11 attacks that al-Qaida planned and directed from Afghanistan with the aquiescence of the Taliban regime.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Pence Condemns 'Russia's Occupation' Of Georgian Soil

Rocket Fire • NATO

Noble Partner 2017 – Opening Day Ceremony B-Roll - Republic of Georgia

'We Stand Together' - Pence Reaffirms U.S. Commitment To Baltics

Noble Partner 17:Bringing Georgia up to NATO-level Warfighting

NATO Exercise Noble Partner 2017 began on 30 July at Vaziani Military Base,Georgia.The main purpose of the exercise is to prepare the Georgian second light infantry company for certification as a member of the NATO Response Force.Not only NATO members,but NATO partners such as Georgia are also eligible to contribute to this multinational force kept at a high state of readiness.The NRF has land,air,maritime and Special Operations Forces components.*
According to US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly:
The United States supports the sovereignty and integrity of its partners.Those gathered here seeking to build readiness and interoperability in the face of aggression are critical to that end.*
Participating in NP17,which runs from 30 July to 12 August,are a total of 2800 personnel from Armenia;Georgia;Germany;Great Britain;Slovenia;Turkey;Ukraine;and the US.The US has sent a contingent of more than 2,000 troops,about a quarter of them from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment out of Vilseck,Germany,US Army Europe said.The Regiment has recently traveled some 2,000 kilometers in support of exercises throughout Eastern Europe.*
The tactical focus of NP17 is defensive operations.One of the participating forces will occupy semi-prepared positions and defend them against an attacking force with live-fire ammunition.The scenarios provide an opportunity to engage multiple systems and arrange multiple assets to achieve an objective.The mixed forces will operate as a single unit to reach their goal.Participating forces will take part in combined situational field training,as well as both combat and cargo air drop missions.Leaders at all levels will exercise staffs in mission planning;command and control;movement and manoeuvre;and the execution of complex joint and combined operations,USAEUR explained.*
Among the key elements of NP 17 are a tactical road march by US and Slovenian forces;two airborne operations by the US Army's 173rd Brigade Combat Team;and a joint live-fire exercise with the 1st Battalion,66th Armor Regiment,3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team,4th Infantry Division and Georgia's 4th Mechanized Brigade.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Launch of Atlas V Rocket with Cygnus OA-7 Cargo Craft

Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s - Ørland hovedflystasjon

T33 Spots Boeing P-8 Poseidon Submarine Hunter w/ Attached Box - Advanced Airborne Sensor

US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon lands at RAF Leuchars

US,UK and Norway Ink Pact - North Atlantic security needs addressed

On 29 June 2017,the US,UK and Norway drew even closer as they signed a memorandum of intent to outline principles of cooperation for North Atlantic security.The new pact by the three NATO Allies comprises a framework for future cooperation based on the fact that all three will be heavily relying on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft by 2023,if not before.The US has already put the P-8A in service;while the UK and Norway are preparing for stationing and maintaining the Poseidon.*
The Poseidon is a modified Boeing 737-800 ERX airliner that has both surveillance and maritime strike capability for both anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.It is armed with five internal and six external struts for the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER and AGN-84 Harpoon missiles;the Mark 54 torpedo;and the High-Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC).*
The memorandum was signed by Defence Ministers Michael Fallon of the UK;Jim Mattis of the US;and Ine Eriksen Soreide of Norway on the sidelines of the recent NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels.The ministers described the pact as being:
a statement of intent to lay out guiding principles for a trilateral partnership with P-8A aircraft to address the changing security environment in the North Atlantic.As the United States,the United Kingdom,and Norway continue to work to advance trilateral maritime security cooperation,this agreement establishes a framework for further cooperation in areas such as readiness,enhancing defence capability,and interoperability.*
The agreement is a foundation for such capabilities as coordination of operations in the North Atlantic and other regions as necessary,exchange of information,and exploring opportunities to co-locate maintenance and training assets,a defence official told USNI News.For example,the US and UK have already signed an agreement to base US Navy P-8As at RAF Lossiemouth,Scotland.*
Vice-Admiral James G. Foggo III,former commander of the US Navy's 6th Fleet and nominee to command US Naval Forces Europe and Africa,told Proceedings magazine:
Not only have Russia's actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways,its national security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO Allies and partners.*
There is agreement in NATO and defence analytical circles that Russian naval activity has grown more aggressive since it annexed Crimea and instigated unrest in Eastern Ukraine in 2014.In 2015,the Nordic Defence Cooperation countries of Norway,Sweden,Denmark,Finland and Iceland said:
Russia's conduct represents the biggest challenge to European Security.As a consequence,the security situation around the Nordic countries has significantly weakened during the past year.We must be prepared to respond to face possible crises or incidents.The Russian military is acting provocatively along our borders,and there have been several border violations around the Baltic Sea.Closer cooperation in Northern Europe and solidarity with the Baltic states will contribute to stronger security in our region and raise the threshold for possible military incidents.*
The UK is currently preparing facilities for the P-8A at RAF Lossiemouth,Scotland.Both Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel will crew the nine aircraft the UK is purchasing.Their initial training is taking place in the US,as will depot level maintenance of UK P-8As.*
Boeing (BA)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Italian,Russian and USMC Colonel Randy Bresnik astronauts

Innovation Beyond Boundaries - NASA

Inside NASA's SOFIA Airborne Astronomical Observatory - NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

NASA Prepares for New Horizon's Next Misson - occultation observation raises possibilities

Having flown by Pluto in 2015,NASA'S New Horizons spacecraft is now well beyond the dwarf planet on its journey to another Kuiper Belt Object (KBO),a small body of an unknown nature called KBO MU69.NH is planned to execute a flyby of it on 1 January 2019,setting a record for the most distant celestial object ever explored in a flyby.
The Kuiper Belt is a region of the solar system rich in celestial objects believed to be from the early days of our system's formation,such as dwarf planets;thousands of icy bodies more than 62 miles/100 km across;and an estimated at least one trillion comets.*
NASA is striving to learn all it can about MU69 before NH reaches it,in order ensure it will not collide with any debris or ring systems which may be in this unexplored region.Data from the Hubble Space Telescope and ESA Gaia satellite are being used to calculate where MU69 will cast its faint shadow on the Earth's surface as it passes in front of a star (an occultation event).So far,there have been three such events monitored by NASA and collaborating observers and technicians to prepare for the New Horizons flyby.
One of the events was on 3 June 2017,when more than 50 mission team members and collaborators set up mobile telescopes in South Africa and Argentina in an effort to capture images of MU69's shadow speeding over the Earth for two seconds.Other observations were made by HST and the Gaia space observatory.In the event,the telescopes took more than 100,000 photos of the occultation that can help ascertain the nature of MU69's environment.Indeed,valuable and surprising insights were obtained,mission team members said.
New Horizons science team leader Mark Buie of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder,Colorado noted that:
These data show that MU69 might not be as dark or as large as some expected.
Principle investigator at the SWRI Alan Stern added:
The fact that we accomplished the occult observations from every planned observing site,but didn't detect the object itself,likely means that either MU69 is highly reflective and smaller than some expected,or it may be a binary,or even a swarm of smaller bodies left over from the time when planets in our solar system formed.*
Occultation observations of MU 69 have also been made on 10 July 2017 by the NASA/German Aerospace Centre SOFIA flying infrared observatory,a converted Boeing 747 with a 2.5 meter telescope that allows for IR study above 99% of the atmosphere's water vapour.That data is currently being analysed.A second mobile telescope round was carried out on 17 July 2017 in Southern Argentina,with the HST also participating.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ukraine pushes ahead with NATO membership moves

F-15J ( J.A.S.D.F.)

US B-1B Lancers & Japanese F-15 Eagles Flying Together to Keep North Kor...

U.S. bombers challenge China in South China Sea flyover

US,Japanese Warplanes Send Message to Potential Adversaries - unprecedented mission

On 6 July 2017,US Air Force and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force units sharpened their combat skills in a bilateral mission over the East China Sea,the Pentagon revealed.Two B-1B Lancer strategic bombers from the 9th Expeditioinary Bomb Squadron out of Dyess Air Force Base,Texas flew from Andersen AFB,Guam for the mission with their Japanese allies.It was the first time that US Pacific Command B-1Bs have conducted combined training with Japanese fighters at night.Such bilateral drills enable the operational units to improve their combined capabilities and tactical skills,also building confidence and strong working relationships,according to the Department of Defense.
US PACOM chief of bomber operations Air Force Major Ryan Simpson said:
Flying and training at night with our allies in a safe,efficient manner is an important capability shared between the US and Japan.This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies.*
From the East China sea,where Japan and China have a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands,the aircraft headed to the South China Sea,where Beijing has been intent on militarising several artificial islands it has built up from reefs,adding military-length airstrips,port and missile facilities,while claiming sovereignty of 90% of the Sea.The claim is rejected by the international community,which relies on the Sea for vital shipping lanes.
Additionally,Japan and the US are threatened by a belligerent North Korea's military buildup.*
US officials said this mission demonstrates how the US will continue to exercise the rights of freedom of navigation anywhere international law allows.These actions are consistent with long-standing and well-known US policies applied to military operations worldwide.
The officials went on to say that:
Joint US military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region are always ready to defend the American homeland.These flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity between Japan and the US to defend against provocative and destabilising actions in the Pacific theatre.*
The JASDF fighters were reportedly Mitsubishi F-15J Eagles.*
Mitsubishi Corporation ADR US:OTC (MSBHY)

Friday, July 7, 2017

USAF Seeks Heavy Lift to Recover Crashed Drone - Rotor

USAF Seeks Heavy Lift to Recover Crashed Drone - Rotor: The U.S. Air Force is seeking heavy-lift helicopter help to recover a pricey, sophisticated reconnaissance drone that crashed in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains June 21. USAF solicited bids for a helicopter to recover debris more than a week after the RQ-4 Global Hawk, priced at more than $227 million, crashed near Mount Whitney, California, …

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

US Soldier Killed by Indirect Fire in Afghanistan Is Identified - Taliban mortar attack

US Soldier Killed by Indirect Fire in Afghanistan Is Identified: The Pentagon identified the U.S. soldier Wednesday who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday.

LHD Canberra, Talisman Sabre 2017, report

LHD Bonhomme Richard, Talisman Saber begins, report

U.S. And Australia Start Their Largest Talisman Saber Joint Military Exe...

US,Australia Launch Major Exercise at a Time Of Heightened Regional Tension

Even as North Korea was launching its first ICBM experts deem capable of striking the US mainland and Canada on Independence Day,4 July 2017,the US and Australia were getting their largest joint exercise,Talisman Sabre 2017,off the proverbial launch pad.The drills,a major effort to train their forces in planning and conducting Combined Joint Task Force operations to improve the combat readiness and interoperability between the respective forces,are held every two years,the Australian Department of Defence said.*
TS17 is focused on mid-intensity high-end warfighting.This seventh iteration of the event will involve more than 33,000 US and Australian troops.It will consist of force preparation activities;amphibious landings;parachuting;land force manoeuvres;urban operations;air operations;maritime operations;and coordinated firing of live ammunition and explosive ordnance from both small arms and artillery,as well as naval vessels and aircraft,ADOD continued.*
Most of TS17's field training will occur in Shoalwater Bay Training Area,near Rockhampton,Central Queensland.Other sites include Mt.Bundy Training Area south of Darwin,Northern Territory,as well as Darwin itself,Townsville,Brisbane and Canberra in Australia;and Hawaii,Indiana,Virginia and Washington in the US.The drills began in late June and run through late July.*
Admiral Harry B. Harris,Commander,US Pacific Command,recently noted at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Brisbane that the North Korean threat covers the entire Indo-Asia-Pacific Region since its missiles point in every direction:
North Korea made this clear when it threatened Australia with a nuclear strike just a couple of months ago.*
Other APAC regional threats concerning the US and Australia that were cited by ADM Harris are China's growing militarisation of the South China Sea and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's  alarming expansion into the Philippines.ADM Harris summarised  the current exercise thusly:
TS17 is a realistic,high-end and challenging exercise that provides endless opportunities for our nations to innovatively prepare for our shared regional and global security challenges.*
New Zealand is also sending a contingent to the drills.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mattis Honored at Marine Barracks Evening Parade

Mattis Honored at Marine Barracks Evening Parade: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis makes remarks as the guest of honor at the Marine Barracks evening parade in Washington, D.C., June 30, 2017.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The F-22 in Syria: Deconflicting, Not Dog-Fighting

The F-22 in Syria: Deconflicting, Not Dog-Fighting: The U.S. Air Force's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter is playing a crucial yet evolving role in air operations over Syria and Iraq.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Canadian sniper's 3.5 km shot in Iraq shatters world record

Battle For Mosul: The end could be near for IS

US Army Blackhawk Helicopters in Mosul 2017, Iraq • Operation Inherent R...

War on ISIL:Air Campaign Update - plus a Canadian Forces sniper's world record kill

The air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant continued on 26 June 2017,according to Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.The OIR coalition conducted 31 strikes consisting of 45 engagements,CJTFOIR said in a  press release.
In Syria,coalition forces conducted 27 strikes consisting of 39 engagements against ISIL targets,among them:
near Dawr Az Zawr,7 strikes engaged 2 ISIL tactical units and destroyed 3 vehicles;a tactical vehicle;2 bunkers;2 pumpjacks;a front-end loader;an IED factory;and an ISIL headquarters,while damaging 2 fighting positions;
near Raqqa,18 strikes engaged 15 ISIL tactical units and destroyed 13 fighting positions;2 vehicles;a VBIED;an IED factory and an ISIL headquarters,damaging 2 fighting positions.*
In Iraq,coalition forces conducted 4 strikes consisting of 6 engagements against ISIL targets,among them:
near Beiji,3 strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a tactical vehicle storage facility;a tactical vehicle;and an ISIL fuel tanker;
near Tikrit,a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit;
on 25 June,near Mosul,3 strikes began that engaged 2 ISIL tactical units and destroyed 14 fighting positions;5 weapons systems;3 medium machine guns;3 rocket-propelled grenade systems;2 mortar systems;a command-and-control node;and suppressed 5 mortar teams.These strikes closed within the past 24 hours,so were added to the 26 June report.*
The OIR strikes are conducted by fighter,attack,bomber,rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft;rocket-propelled artillery;and some ground-based artillery when fired on planned targets.No information on which countries participated in the strikes was provided.*
It is ironic that,with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removing Canadian Forces from the OIR air campaign in an attempt to distance them from direct combat against ISIL,it was a Canadian Special Operations Forces member of Joint Task Force 2 who has just set the world record for a sniper kill by neutralising an ISIL militant from a distance of 3.54 kilometers,or about 2.2 miles.Congratulations to our loyal northern neighbours,who always find a way to assist,even joining the US Army so they could fight in the Vietnam War alongside Americans.
The sniper used a MacMillan TAC-50 .50 caliber weapon,which is the world's longest shoulder-fired firearm,and a 750-grain Hornady round.Experts point out that his spotter's skill in evaluating the atmospheric conditions all the way to the target was also critical to the success of the mission.
Mr.Trudeau insisted the sniper kill was both praiseworthy and consistent with Canada's advise and assist role in Iraq.Canadian Forces are expected to defend themselves and coalition partners during the course of their mission,he told reporters.

Dunford in Afghanistan for Talks on US Troop Increase

Dunford in Afghanistan for Talks on US Troop Increase: Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford was in Kabul on Monday to prepare the way for a possible U.S. troop increase.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Saber Strike 17 Opening Ceremony Orzysz, Poland

NATO Tanks Maneuver In Poland – Operation Saber Strike - US,Poland,Lithuania

Thousands of NATO Troops Assembled for Saber Strike 17 - preparing for Baltic warfighting

NATO Exercise Saber Strike 17 is currently underway in the Baltic States and Poland.The longtime drills emphasise cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region by NATO Allies and partners.The key objective of this year's exercise is training and exercising the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence,or eFP,Battle Groups with the aim of promoting interoperability and improving joint operational capability in a variety of missions,US Army Europe said.The drills are being held in multiple locations throughout Estonia,Latvia,Lithuania and Poland from 28 May to 24 June.*
Key evolutions of SS 17 include:
1.Convoy by Battle Group Poland from Orzysz,Poland to Southern Lithuania;
2.Maritime prepositioned offload of pre-staged supplies and equipment in Latvia;
3.Marine amphibious assault in Latvia;
4.Combined arms live fire exercises in Poland and Lithuania;
5.Air assault by UK Royal Marines at the Polish/Lithuanian border;and
6.River crossing there as well.*
Participating nations include:Belgium;Canada;Croatia;Denmark;Estonia;Finalnd;France;Germany;Italy;Latvia;Lithuania;Luxembourg;the Netherlands;Norway;Poland;Portugal;Romania;Slovakia;the UK;and the US.At least 11,000 military men and women were deployed.*
At one point in SS 17,US and Polish Soldiers and UK Royal Marines trained as a platoon for two days,rehearsing movements before being flown to a nearby location the day before an evacuation evolution.They then put their battle plan into action as they overcame the defensive forces,demonstrating skill and speed,the Pentagon noted.The drills test the capability of multiple nations to act together against a threat.
The ground assault was then transitioned into a comprehensive medevac training evolution with mock casualties.*
US Army Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Meidema pointed out that a common foundation of knowledge is necessary to communicate,build combat power,assemble swiftly and with agility bring combat forces against the enemy,or to reassure Allies.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Afghan War:Second Green on Blue Attack Rattles NATO - Camp Shaheen incident

In the second green-on-blue attack on less than a week,an Afghan soldier reportedly opened fire on his coalition allies on 17 June 2017 at Camp Shaheen in Mazar i Sharif,Balkh Province,Northern Afghanistan,a US military spokesman said.One Afghan soldier was killed and another wounded along with seven American troops,in the as yet unclear incident.The Taliban Islamist extremists claimed responsiblity for the new attack.The remaining US troops were evacuated from the base following the flare-up,which the NATO Resolute Support Mission said is being looked into.
On 11 June,three US Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were killed in a similar attack in Nangarhar Province that was also claimed by the Taliban.*
Camp Shaheen has a German detachment that is leading the NATO advise and assist mission there,but there was no indication of German casualties at the base,which is headquarters for the Afghan Army's 209th Corps.In April 2017,the Taliban militants mounted a major assault there,killing or wounding more than a hundred Afghan soldiers.*
President Donald Trump has recently delegated the authority to set US troop levels in Afghanistan to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,who has come under congressional criticism for the delay in issuing an outline for the war effort.The Secretary said,however,that there will be no immediate change in troop levels.By next month,Mr.Mattis is to present the Trump administration with options for its Afghan War strategy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Two Helo Pilots Among NASA Astronaut Candidates - Rotor

Two Helo Pilots Among NASA Astronaut Candidates - Rotor: NASA’s newest class of astronaut candidates includes a U.S. Marine helicopter test pilot and a U.S. Army battalion surgeon for airborne Special Forces who formerly flew Sikorsky Black Hawks. The U.S. aeronautics and space agency said a record number of people — more than 18,300 — applied for the open astronaut candidate slots that Marine …

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Senator McCain Scolds SecDef Mattis for Delay on Afghan War Strategy

McCain Scolds Mattis for Delay on Afghan War Strategy: A key lawmaker criticized Pentagon and administration officials for failing to deliver a strategy for victory in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Norwegian troops arrive in Lithuania - NATO

Firefight 101st Airborne Khost Afghanistan - 2014

A history of insider attacks in Afghanistan - 2014 report

Three US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Identified - 101st Airborne Division

The Pentagon has released the identities of the three US Army troops killed in Achin district of Nangarhar Province,Afghanistan on 10 June 2017.They were on a counterterrorism mission with Afghan National Defence and Security Forces against ISIL-K at the time of the incident,which is being considered an attack by an enemy infiltrator,or green-on-blue attack.The Taliban militants claimed responsibility for it.
All three Americans were members of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell,Kentucky.Those killed were:
Sergeant Erick M. Houck,25,of Baltimore,Maryland;Sergeant William M. Bays,29,of Barstow,California;and Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge,22,of Youngsville,North Carolina.
The Soldiers were serving in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team,and two of them were "Rakkasans" of the 187th Infantry Regiment,having been deployed in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel in the fall of 2016.Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell,Major General Andrew Poppas,said of the incident:
We take this as a family loss.In the days ahead,the 101st Soldiers and the Rakkasans will continue the fight against terrorism with unbridled determination.Our Soldiers are battle-hardened and committed to the defence of our nation and the freedoms for which we fight.*
SGT Houck was a forward observer in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery,320th Field Artillery Regiment,assigned as a Fire Support Sergeant,having joined the Army in 2013.His awards include:Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster;Army Superior Unit Award;and the Army Good Conduct Medal,as well as the NATO Medal and Air Assault Badge.*
SGT Bays was an Infantryman in Company D,1st Battalion,187th Infantry Regiment.He was assigned as a Squad Leader,having joined the Army in 2009.His awards include:the Meritorious Unit Commendation;Army Good Conduct Medal;National Defense Service Medal;as well as the NATO Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster,Air Assault Badge and the Driver and Mechanic Badge.*
CPL Baldridge was an Infantryman in Company D,1st Battalion,187th Infantry Regiment,and was assigned as a Squad Leader,having joined the Army in February 2013.His awards include the Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters;the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal;Army Commendation Medal,as well as the NATO Medal and Expert Infantryman Badge.*
All three Soldiers received various posthumous medals,among them the Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medals.CPL Baldridge was,in addition,posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant.*
"Rakkasans" is a nickname for the 187th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.It was received in occupied Japan after World War II when a translator was explaining to a local official what kind of troops they were.It is the Japanese word for "parachute men."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bulletin:Three US Troops Killed in Afghanistan - green on blue attack

US officials say three American service members were killed and a fourth wounded in Achin district of Nangarhar Province,Afghanistan on Saturday,10 June 2017.The incident is being labeled a green-on-blue attack,a NATO code word for an enemy infiltrator who opens fire on coalition forces while wearing an Afghan National Defence and Security Forces uniform.The treacherous attack occurred while US and ANDSF personnel were conducting a counterterrorist operation in the district,an ISIL-K stronghold that US and Afghan Special Operations Forces have been focused on for several months now.An Afghan official said ANDSF members shot the gunman dead.*
The Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the incident,calling the perpetrator a "mujahadid,"or freedom fighter.On Saturday,US Vice President Mike Pence mentioned the deaths and offered the American people's thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the victims.*
ISIL-K and the Taliban had been fighting each other,so it is possible they have begun to cooperate against the US and Afghan forces now.*
ISIL-K is short for ISIL-Khorasan.The Islamist extremists refer to Nangarhar as being their Khorasan Province.In April,two more US troops were killed in action in Achin district of Nangarhar during combat with ISIL-K.*
The US and its NATO Allies are considering upping the number of forces in Afghanistan in light of the persistent militant activity.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Curiosity is Discovering on the Road to Mt. Sharp - note:Curiosity is currently climbing up Mt.Sharp,but this video gives a good account of its capabilities and how it got to this point.

First Mission into the Sun’s Atmosphere on This Week @NASA – June 2, 2017

Mars Science Laboratory Lifts Off for Red Planet - Curiosity rover,still active on Mars,lifted off on 26 November 2011

Robotic Exploration Outline:NASA JPL Engineer Briefs the Public

On Friday 2 June 2017,a senior engineer from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,California,briefed the Metropolitan Washington area public on robotic exploration missions at the C.Burr Artz Library in Frederick,Maryland.Dr.Adam Steltzner,team leader and chief engineer of Mars Rover Curiosity,began by recounting his own life to the standing room crowd in Maryland.A native of Sausalito,California in the San Francisco Bay Area,Dr.Steltzner admitted he was a terrible student in high school;indeed,he was barely able to graduate.He dreamed of being a rock star and played in a band.One night-a night that changed his life forever-he spotted the constellation Orion in the night sky and got so intrigued by its motion through the heavens that he took a class in astronomy.Unfortunately,there weren't enough students for the astronomy class,so it was canceled and he had to settle for a physics class,instead.From then on,though,exploring the universe became his true passion and he pursued a PhD in engineering physics.*
For 10 years,Dr.Steltzner led a team of JPL engineers of the revolutionary sky crane landing system that successfully placed the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars in 2012.The atmosphere of Mars is so thin,he explained,they had to devise a new way to safely land Curiosity,which is the size of a car,the biggest rover ever sent into space,and came up with the sky crane system.He is now also chief engineer of the Mars Rover 2020 mission,the next iteration of the robotic exploration of Mars that began with the Viking spacecraft in 1976.Viking was followed by Pathfinder in 1997;the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004;Phoenix in 2008;and finally Curiosity in 2012.Of all these rovers,Opportunity,which is solar-powered,and Curiosity,which is nuclear-powered,are still doing great scientific work.*
The unique thing about JPL,Dr.Steltzner pointed out,is its culture.This culture is different in that it separates ideas from the people who hold them,thus freeing up the ideas to compete,so only the sharpest ones survive.His JPL experiences led him to author the book "The Right Kind of Crazy:A True Story of Teamwork,Leadership and High Stakes Innovation."*
Curiosity was gently positioned in the Gale crater,in the shadow of its central feature,the 15,000 foot Mt.Sharp.Over 3,000 JPL people from 37 states and seven nations worked to get it there.When it got to Yellowknife Bay,Curiosity pulled up powder,and data from the powder showed that conditions for supporting life were rich on Mars some three billion years ago,at about the time when life was beginning on Earth.This raises the question,did life on Earth somehow originate from life on Mars?
Curiosity has begun climbing up Mt.Sharp.*
Mars Rover 2020 will take up Mars material and seal it in three special,highly secure containers samples which will be retrieved and returned to Earth by another mission.These containers will be unbreakable because they are containers within containers;they are redundant.The containers will both shield the samples from contamination,on the one hand;and protect the Earth from contamination when they are returned,on the other hand.
Mars Rover 2020 will also be landed by the sky crane system.In this system,the landing stage has a crane mechanism on it that places rovers on the surface while it hovers,then propels itself away from the rover landing site so it will not damage the rover when it lands itself.*
After Mars 2020,NASA is looking ahead to a robotic mission to explore Europa in the 2025-27 time frame,Europa Clipper,but a lander is much less developed at this point-and even uncertain.Europa is the icy moon of Jupiter which is covered by oceans.Europa is the number one bet by astrobiologists for a place other than Earth to find extant life in our solar system,because of its oceans.Mars is an unlikely place to find extant life,because it receives a lot of radiation,which would tend to kill any microbes-and is also very dangerous for astronauts.Mars is smaller than Earth,so,unlike the molten-cored Earth,its core has already cooled off,and hence its magnetic field has nearly vanished.*
Dr.Steltzner noted that he does not agree with industrialist Elon Musk,owner of NASA contractor Space-X,that Mars should be colonised.All the knowledge needed to colonise Mars is also needed here on Earth.If,as seems obvious,we lack the knowledge to successfully live together on Earth,we will lack it on Mars as well.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

US Air Force CSAR Pave Hawk Successor Reaches Critical Design Review - Rotor

US Air Force CSAR Pave Hawk Successor Reaches Critical Design Review - Rotor: Sikorsky’s HH-60W can now prepare for assembly, test and evaluation, Lockheed Martin said. The U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) project has successfully reached air vehicle critical design review. “This milestone is an important achievement and demonstrates Sikorsky and the Air Force are well aligned on the technical requirements of the HH-60W,” said Tim …

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sec. Mattis warns conflict with North Korea may lead to "the worst kind ...

F-15K Slam Eagles Takeoff • Kunsan Air Base South Korea

US supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers joint drill with South Korea after N Ko...

North Korea Threatens Japan with Latest Missile Test - US,South Korea respond with B-1Bs,fighter jets and aircraft carriers

On 29 May 2017,Memorial Day in the US,North Korea launched its third ballistic missile test in less than three weeks and its twelfth of the year.The missile was fired at 0539 hours locval time from near Wonsan,Kanguan Province,on North Korea's east coast.It traveled 248 miles to a point in Japan's exclusive economic zone,a place with heavy commercial ship and aircraft traffic that is within 200 miles of the Japanese coast.*
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said:
It is a severe threat to the peace and stability of not only the Korean Penninsula,but also the international community.Since our government took office,North Korea has been frequently and repeatedly conducting provocation in such a manner.*
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff added:
North Korea's continuous provocative actions will cause its own isolation and it will be facing strong punishment from our own military.*
Defence experts say the number and pace of the missile tests mean North Korea is accelerating reaching its goal of developing an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the mainland US.*
For his part,Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that:
We can never tolerate North Korea's repeated provocations violating repeated warnings from the international community.We have lodged a firm protest against North Korea as we have agreed at the G7 Summit that North Korea is the priority of the international community.In order to deter North Korea,we will take concrete action together with the US.We will maintain high vigilance in coordination with South Korea and we will take all possible measures to secure the safety of the people of Japan.*
In the event,South Korea revealed that,at about 1030 hours,two US Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bombers arrived over the East Sea some five hours after the missile test.The swept-wing bombers flew about 80 kilometers east of Gangueng,a city near the Military Demarcation Line that defines the border between North and South Korea.Warplanes from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and South Korean F-15K fighter jets joined in the responsive drill.North Korea described it as a nuclear bomb-dropping exercise,but:
Such military provocations of the US imperialists is a dangerous reckless racket for bringing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war.*
Indeed,the KNCA official North Korean news agency disclosed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had recently watched the test of a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon system organised by the Academy of National Defense Science.This weapon system,whose operational capacity has been thoroughly verified,should be mass-produced to be deployed all over the country.It will completely destroy the enemy's wild dream to command the air,boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty.*
Besides the Carl Vinson,the US has the carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in the Western Pacific as well.What is more,it is reportedly sending the carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68 ) to join them.Three carriers in one region is almost unheard of for the US Navy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

DARPA, Boeing Spaceplane Would be New Class of Hypersonic Aircraft - Avionics

DARPA, Boeing Spaceplane Would be New Class of Hypersonic Aircraft - Avionics: What do you get when you mix a business jet with a rocket? Presumably, it would result in Phantom Express, Boeing and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) XS-1 program aircraft-like vehicle. DARPA selected Boeing to complete advanced design work, and investment is coming from both parties.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The U-2 Takes On Northern Edge 17 - the U-2S Dragon Lady visits Alaska for the first time in decades

Eastern Wolf Pack Howling - Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Wolves 2016 - aka Eastern wolves (Canis lycaon)

Nature Note:Eastern Coyotes Don't Replace Missing Wolves - study suggests reintroducing wolves still necessary

A thorough study by John F. Benson et al. in Central Ontario considerably explicates the ecology of wild canids in Eastern North America.The paper,Ungulate predation and ecological roles of wolves and coyotes in eastern North America,was recently published in the April 2017 issue of Ecological Applications.Understanding the ecological roles of species that influence ecosystem processes is a central goal of ecology and conservation biology,the authors say.This study sought to clarify the predatory ability and ecological roles of the different top canid predators of Eastern North America by investigating intrinsic and extrinsic influences on per capita kill rates of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and moose (Alces alces) by canids of varying Canis ancestry in and adjacent to Algonquin Provincial Park in Central Ontario.Erroneously concluding that Eastern coyotes have replaced the ecological roles once performed by wolves could detract from wolf restoration efforts and the conservation of naturally functioning ecosystems.Thus studies of predation patterns of Eastern wolves (Canis lycaon) and Eastern coyotes (Canis latrans var.) are needed to critically evaluate the ecological functions performed by wild canids in Eastern North America.*
In 2015,the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recommended that Eastern wolves be recognised as a separate species rather than a subspecies of Grey wolf.Currently the majority of Eastern wolves inhabit areas in and adjacent to Algonquin Provincial Park.Besides Eastern wolves,in the study we are reviewing today,admixed Grey wolves are referred to as Great Lakes-boreal wolves.The study combines GPS telemetry,field investigations,DNA analysis and environmental data to quantify predation on deer and moose by canids of varying Canis* ancestry in and adjacent to Algonquin Provincial Park.*
Previous studies revealed that Eastern wolves were the dominant resident canids in APP (estimated 63%).There are smaller numbers of Eastern wolf x Great Lakes-boreal wolf hybrids and wolf (Great Lakes-boreal and Eastern wolf) x Eastern coyote hybrids (29%),with whom they sometimes form packs.Eastern coyotes (estimated 64%) and Eastern coyote x wolf (Great Lakes-boreal and Eastern wolf) hybrids (29%) were the dominant resident canids of adjacent Wildlife Management Unit 49,where wolves were much rarer.Both APP and WMU 49 were characterised by hardwood,conifer and mixed forests interspersed with wetlands,lakes and rocky meadows.The landscapes have elevations ranging from 180-580 meters in APP and 79-549 meters in WMU 49.*
The authors note that Eastern coyotes have ascended to the role of apex predator across much of Eastern North America since the extirpation of wolves (Canis spp.) and there has been considerable confusion regarding their ability to prey on ungulates and their ecological niche relative to wolves.Eastern wolves are thought to have been the historical top predator in eastern deciduous forests and have previously been characterised as deer specialists that are inefficient predators of moose because of their smaller size relative to grey wolves (Canis lupus).*
In any event,the basic findings of the study under consideration suggest the following:
1.Eastern coyote ancestry within packs negatively influenced per capita total ungulate (moose and white-tailed deer) and moose kill rates.
2.Furthermore,such packs consumed significantly less ungulate biomass and more anthropogenic (human-related) food than packs dominated by wolf ancestry.
3.Similar to Grey wolves in previous studies,Eastern wolves preyed on deer when they were available.However,in areas of scarcity,Eastern wolves killed moose at rates seen previously among Grey wolves at comparable moose densities across North America.
4.Most critically,Eastern coyotes are effective deer predators,but their dietary flexibility and low kill rates on moose suggest they have not replaced the ecological role of wolves in Eastern North America.If this were not understood,ecosystems that are in fact in need of restoration by the reintroduction of wolves could be overlooked.*
Large remote tracts of mature forest inhabited primarily by moose rather than deer are rare in the Northeastern US,which will make Eastern wolf establishment difficult in the presence of abundant coyote populations,the authors point out.Reintroducing Great Lakes-boreal wolves may be advantageous given that hybridisation between sympatric (inhabiting the same area) Great Lakes-boreal wolves and coyotes appears to be minimal in areas where they overlap.Great Lakes-boreal wolves are aggressive with and behaviourally dominant to coyotes,whereas Eastern wolves tend to treat coyotes similar to conspecifics in territorial interactions,at least at the home range level.Great Lakes-boreal wolves have successfully colonised areas in Minnesota,Wisconsin and Michigan that were characterised by younger forests,habitat fragmentation and abundant coyotes,suggesting they could also persist in the Northeastern US.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

steers capsule and launch abort system away from launch vehicle in event of emergency - Test Fire of Orbital ATK’s Attitude Control Motor for NASA’s Orion Space...

NASA Orion parachute test, 8 March 2017

Orion Capsule from Lockheed Martin

Bulletin:NASA Rejects Revision to Orion Program Schedule - thanks,but no thanks

NASA has politely declined the White House's suggestion that it might speed things up and make the first launch of the integrated Orion system,Exploration Mission -1,also the first crewed Orion mission.While expressing gratitude for President Trump's obvious enthusiasm for the space program,the agency feels it would not be in the long-term interests of the Orion Program to skip the uncrewed fully integrated test flight it originally planned for,this late in the mission planning process.It would be difficult.*
Instead,NASA will proceed with a focus on the uncrewed EM-1 test flight,while at the same time constructing hardware for the first crewed Orion mission,EM-2.EM-1 is now planned for a 2019 launch,taking all factors into consideration,including hurricane damage that was sustained by NASA facilities.EM-1 will be a technological milestone,as it takes a human-rated spacecraft to a high lunar orbit,farther than one has ever gone before.It will also be a definitive confirmation that Orion is indeed on track for safe,reliable operations in deep space.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Heather Wilson Confirmed as New Air Force Secretary

Heather Wilson Confirmed as New Air Force Secretary: The U.S. Senate voted to confirm the former congresswoman and Air Force Academy graduate to be the next Air Force secretary.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

X-37B OTV-4 landing (close-up) 7 May 2017

2015 Launch of US Air Force's Mini Space Shuttle - X-37B on Atlas V Rocket

Pentagon Identifies US Service Member Killed in Somalia - New England native excelled in special ops

The Pentagon has announced that Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken,38,of Falmouth Maine,was killed while on a raid with Somali commandos against al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabaab about 40 miles west of the Somali capital Mogadishu.SCSWO Milliken and his team were helicoptered into the raid and immediately took fire from the militants.He was wounded along with two other Americans and medivaced to the neighbouring nation of Djibouti,where he died of his wounds.*
SCSWO Milliken was a husband and father who resided with his family in Virginia Beach,Virginia.He was a member of SEAL Team Six,the unit that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.SCSWO Milliken was a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghan Wars,earning a total of four Bronze Star Medals for his service,among many others.A graduate of the University of Connecticut,he had been in the Navy for 13 years.*
Fifty US Special Warfare Operatives are currently serving in a train and advise capacity with the African Union forces in Somalia.SCSWO Milliken was the first US service member to be killed in action in Somalia since 1993,when 18 US service members died in the Battle of Mogadishu,which was dramatised in the movie "Blackhawk Down."*
According to a Somali official,the special operation was surgically targeting senior members of al-Shabaab hiding in the area and a media outlet supportive of the Islamist extremists.It was considered a success as several of the terrorists were killed.*
SCSWO Milliken will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

Friday, May 5, 2017

U.S. Service Member Dies During Somalia Operation - counterterrorist mission

U.S. Service Member Dies During Somalia Operation: U.S. Africa Command issued a news release that said a U.S. service member was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab near Barii, Somalia, approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

As Battle of Mosul Ebbs,US Army Officer Killed in Iraq

Even as the Iraqi Security Forces near perhaps the greatest victory in their history by having liberated all but a pocket of the longtime Islamist extremist stronghold of Mosul,a young US Army officer was killed in action on 29 April 2017 by an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant IED as he helped secure the outskirts of the city.He was identified by the Pentagon as 1st Lieutenant Weston C. Lee,25,of Bluffton,Georgia.1ST LT Lee was on a patrol in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,providing security as part of advise and assist to partnered forces,when the IED exploded.ISIL militants have heavily mined and booby-trapped all the areas of and around Mosul they withdrew from,making the city and surrounding area extremely hazardous.*
1ST LT Lee was a member of the 1st Battalion,325th Infantry Regiment,2nd Brigade Combat Team,82nd Airborne Division,out of Fort Bragg,North Carolina.An ROTC graduate of the University of North Georgia,he had enlisted in the Army in 2015 and excelled in pistol marksmanship as an ROTC cadet.Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in December 2014,1ST LT Lee earned his Ranger tab prior to his Parachutist badge.Among his other decorations were the National Defense Service Medal,Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.The paratrooper was on his first tour in Iraq,having deployed there in December 2016,and posthumously received the Bronze Star Medal,Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.*
At this point,the ISF have wiped out most of the 6,000 ISIL fighters that had been holding Mosul.Only 200-300 remain,and they are surrounded in the city's northwest,dug in among about 400,000 civilians running short on food,water and medicine in the historic Old City area.Mostly the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service and Federal Police are fighting inside Mosul;while the Iraqi Army regulars,Shiite volunteers and Kurdish Peshmerga control the perimeter.A total of about 100,000 ground troops supported by OIR coalition airpower and artillery have been battling ISIL in the Battle of Mosul since October 2016,which is expected to be concluded in a maximum of three weeks' time.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Pentagon Identifies Two Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Raid - Ranger Regiment members

The Department of Defense has released the identities of the two Special Operations Forces Soldiers killed while conducting a dismounted operation with Afghan National Defence and Security Forces on 26 April 2017.The raid was in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Nangarhar Province,Eastern Afghanistan,where they fell to small arms fire from ISIL-K militants.Another Soldier sustained minor injuries in the battle near Achin district.
The engagement began on Wednesday at about 2230 hours local time and lasted over three hours,according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis,USN.About 50 US Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos participated.Supported by close air support from fighter aircraft,attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles,in the event,they killed several ISIL-K leaders and militants,about 35 in total.An investigation into the battle is ongoing,to include a possibility that the Rangers were killed by friendly fire,the Pentagon said.
Both men were assigned to 3rd Battalion,75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning,Georgia.Killed in action were:
Sgt.Joshua P. Rodgers,22,of Bloomington,Illinois and
Sgt.Cameron H. Thomas,23,of Kettering,Ohio.
Both Soldiers enlisted in the Army after High School graduation and were selected for Ranger training.They were on their third tours in Afghanistan.
SGT Rodgers had been decorated with the Army Achievement Medal,Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star,and the NATO Medal.
SGT Thomas had been decorated with the Joint Service Achievement Medal,Joint Meritorious Unit Award,and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star,as well as the NATO Medal.*
The 75th Ranger Regiment describes itself as a unique Special Operations Force,the Army's Premier Raid Force.Its specially selected and well-trained Soldiers are constantly tested for the privilege of serving in the Regiment.The 75th provides a range of capabilities not found in any other SOF or conventional force,conducting large-scale joint forcible entry operations while simultaneously executing surgical special operations raids across the globe.General Creighton Abrams created the Ranger Battalions in 1974 as an elite force setting the standards for the Army.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bulletin:Two More US Soldiers Die in Afghanistan Combat - joint US/Afghan raid

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis,USN,announced that two US Special Operations Forces members were killed in action overnight in Nangarhar Province of Eastern Afghanistan.A third US Soldier was wounded but is expected to survive.They were on a raid with Afghan National Defence and Security Forces members in a village near Achin district.The area has been a hotbed of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan militants,who have been posing a threat to US and ANDSF Soldiers operating in the area.*
ISIL refers to Nangarhar as Khorasan Province.*
The battleground was in the same area where US Army Staff Sergeant Mark R DeAlencar was killed in action on a similar raid on 8 April,just over two weeks ago.In response,the US dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb,or MOAB,formally designated the GBU-43.The 11-tonne weapon was targeted at a complex of ISIL-K tunnels in Achin district,and killed between 36-100 of the Islamist extremists,by Afghan estimates.The US has yet to disclose any bomb damage assessment.*
The American deaths came after a long day of fighting,according to an Afghan military official.US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had recently made a secret visit to the Afghan capital Kabul to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the country with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan leaders.Commander of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson,US Army,has told Congress that,in fact,a few thousand more troops are needed for train,advise and assist,as well as counterterrorism operations,in the beleaguered nation,in addition to the 8400 US service members currently serving there and about 5,000 from other NATO and partner nations.GEN Nicholson wants to drive ISIL-K out of Afghanistan by the end of 2017 because it is important for the world,which would leave the Taliban and remnant al-Qaida forces to deal with.
Mr.Mattis has yet to make a recommendation on Afghanistan to President Donald Trump.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Donbass War: Every Day (So Far) - Eastern Ukraine,Russian-backed rebels vs. Ukrainian Army

Holding Ground: battalion defensive training in Ukraine

published 23 April 2017:Soldiers Exchange Fire With Enemy – US Army in Ukraine Extremely Realistic Training...

NATO's Combined Resolve VIII:Building a Rapid and Lethal Combat Force for Central and Eastern Europe

A major NATO exercise is underway at the US Army's Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas in Southeast Germany.The extensive drills are running from 19 April to 16 June 2017,with over 3400 troops from 10 NATO Allies and partners.Those participating include:
Albania;Finland;Hungary;Kosovo;Lithuania;Macedonia;Romania;Slovenia;Ukraine;and the US Army's European Rotational Force,as represented by the Mission Command Element and 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team,4th Infantry Division,out of Fort Carson,Colorado;and the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Drum,New York.
CRVIII has three phases:
1.Combined arms live-fire exercises on Grafenwoehr;
2.Command post exercise;
3.Force-on-force manoeuvre training at the US Army Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels.*
About 1400 4th ID troops were relocated from Zagan,Poland to support the drills.According to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team,4th ID operations officer Major Jon Alexander:
Participation in this multinational exercise not only demonstrates our ability to freely move an armoured brigade around Europe;it provides the best opportunities to train with as many Allies as possible,so that we are collectively stronger as a fighting force.*
The movement of the 3/4 ABCT from Poland to Germany took about two weeks.The ABCT's Tactical Command Post (TAC) was set up by 29 March.Relocating this HQ was to further support the NATO Allies in the combined environment of the Training Areas.Its mission is to support multiple field exercises such as CR VIII and Saber Guardian 17,which are multinational joint operations.
3/4 ABCT is the current heavy brigade in rotation for Operation Atlantic Resolve,the effort to strengthen NATO's battle force in Europe.*
The TAC was set up to control the fight and battle track while the larger Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is being moved.There was 100% accountability of all personnel,equipment and sensitive items in 48 hours.The 3/4 ABCT will repeatedly mass and move around Central and Eastern Europe to demonstrate the ability to freely and rapidly manoeuvre an armoured force across Alliance member-states.The equipment being moved includes the TOCs;M1A2 Abrams tanks;and M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.Exercising the rapid mobility of a brigade and its more than 2600 pieces of equipment has become muscle memory to the Soldiers involved,noted Captain Alex Carreon,TAC officer in charge with HHC Brigade.

Missile Defense Agency OK’s Next Design Phase For Long-Range Radar - Defense Daily Network

Missile Defense Agency OK’s Next Design Phase For Long-Range Radar - Defense Daily Network: The U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA’s) Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) program completed its preliminary design review in March, clearing the way

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

F-35: The Centerpiece of 21st Century Global Security

Awesome USAF Lockheed F-35As at RAF Lakenheath

U.S. Air Force Deploys F-35A Strike Fighters To England

Strengthening NATO:US Air Force Sends F-35s to Europe

On 15 April 2017,US Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters deployed to Europe for the first time,landing at RAF Lakenheath,England,US European Command announced.According to General Curtis M. Scaparrotti,US Army,EUCOM commander and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe:
These aircraft,plus more importantly,the men and women who operate them,fortifies the capacity and capability of our NATO Alliance.*
The warplanes are from the 358th and 419th Fighter Wings out of Hill Air Force Base,Utah.They will train with America's European Allies over a period of several weeks,including forward deployment to maximise training opportunities;strengthen the NATO Alliance;and gain a broad familiarity of Europe's defence operating conditions,EUCOM said.Air Force General Tod D. Wolters,commander,US Air Forces Europe and US Air Forces Africa,added:
As we and our joint F-35 partners bring this aircraft into our inventories,it's important that we train together to integrate into a seamless team capable of defending the sovereignty of Allied nations.
EUCOM cited the F-35's state-of-the-art sensors;interoperability;and vast array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions as assets that will help maintain the fundamental territorial and air sovereignty rights of all nations.The Lightning II has unprecedented precision attack capability versus current and emerging threats with unmatched lethality,survivability and interoperability,EUCOM pointed out.*
This F-35A mission is part of the Pentagon's European Reassurance Initiative,which was enacted following Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in Eastern Ukraine.The Initiative is meant to increase the confidence of the NATO Allies in America's commitment to help defend them and deter Russian aggression.*
The number of F-35As involved in the deployment has not been disclosed.Hill AFB has a total of 20 F-35s,which is planned to climb to 78 by 2019.Colonel David Smith,419th Fighter Wing commander,noted that:
This aircraft can collect all kinds of information;give it to the pilot;and we can share that information with our partners.*
Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the F-35 Lightning II.*
Lockheed Martin (LMT)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

British Army Iraq Tribute - Castle of Glass by Linkin Park - austere environment theme

Ballad of the Green Berets - 2013 - Afghanistan Tribute - in memory of Staff Sergeant Mark R. DeAlencar

US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Firefight Identified

The Pentagon announced that Staff Sergeant Mark R DeAlencar,37,of Edgewood,Maryland,died on 8 April 2017 in Nangarhar Province,Afghanistan,when his unit took small arms fire from ISIL militants during combat operations with Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.SSGT DeAlencar was assigned to 1st Battalion,7th Special Forces Group (Airborne),based at Eglin Air Force Base,Florida.
The Green Beret was a graduate of Joppatowne High School in Harford County,Maryland.He was the husband of Natasha DeAlencar and the father of five.His body was flown to Dover AFB,Delaware,where it was received in a dignified manner.He is to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
SSGT DeAlencar was serving in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel,the US role in NATO's Resolute Support Mission,which consists of train,advise and assist activities,as well as counterterrorism operations.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Colin Cookman on Shifting ISIS Tactics in Afghanistan - BBC

France Air force Jet Bombs ISIS Command Center

F-22 Raptor Refueling Operations over Iraq and Syria: Night Vision

Britain's secretive and lethal force in Syria - BBC News

OIR Coalition Forces Engage ISIL in Ground Combat in Syria,Afghanistan - American combat death

Two battles between the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition and militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant on Saturday point up the danger faced by US and British Special Operations Forces in country as well as their indigenous colleagues as they engage the ISIL menace directly or indirectly.A US SOF member was killed in action against ISIL-Khorasan in Afghanistan,according to US Navy Captain Bill Salvin,Spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan and NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Kabul.In a press release on 8 April 2017,CAPT Salvin said the US service member was killed while conducting operations against ISIL-Khorasan in Nangarhar Province of Eastern Afghanistan.The American was a member of the SOF team fighting ISIL along with Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in Achin District of Nangarhar.No further information was released pending notification of next of kin.
The Afghan War is now,at more than 15 years in length,the longest war in US history.In the course of the war,at least 2249 US troops have died,as well as hundreds of other NATO and coalition troops.Some 20,210 American soldiers have been wounded in the conflict.
ISIL refers to Nangarhar as being its "Khorasan Province."*
Meanwhile in Syria,about 30 ISIL militants staged a raid on an OIR coalition Special Operations Forces base used by both US and British SOFs,as well as OIR-affiliated Syrian rebels.The al-Tanf base,near the Jordanian border,came under attack after US forces had withdrawn into the desert following the launch of 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian government air base,in retaliation for an Assad regime use of chemical weapons against civilians.The Islamist extremists,dressed in Syrian rebel uniforms,stormed the base with suicide bombers who blew the gate up.The surviving militants surged onto the base and opened fire on the inhabitants.A fierce,three-hour firefight erupted when US SOFs and their Syrian colleagues rushed back from the desert to drive ISIL out.Two of the Syrian allies were killed in the battle,despite intensive OIR coalition close air support.No US casualties were reported;nor was information released regarding British SOF participation in the battle,as is customary in the very close-mouthed British special operations approach.
The ISIL assault on the al-Tanf base was described by a US official as having been serious,complex and coordinated.The facility is used for train,advise and assist by OIR coalition SOFs and their Syrian rebel allies.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Navair Progresses Toward Mid-Year VH-92 presidential helicopter Maiden Flight - Rotor & Wing

Navair Progresses Toward Mid-Year VH-92 Maiden Flight - Rotor & Wing: Sikorsky’s U.S. presidential helicopter replacement, the VH-92, is scheduled to make its maiden flight this summer under a plan to replace two legacy fleets of “white top” VIP rotorcraft. Three years into the Naval Air Systems Command program, Sikorsky has delivered two engineering development model aircraft and is ahead of its contractual schedule, according to …

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

British supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

Australian F-18s & British Eurofighters Get Gas Over Iraq

RAF Typhoons Take Off To Head To Cyprus For IS Airstrikes

UK Defence Minister Sets Forth British Posture in Europe,the Middle East and Southwest Asia - extremely watchful

On 31 March,British Minister of Defence Sir Michael Fallon enumerated British military activities in Europe,the Middle East and Southwest Asia at a joint press conference with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis following their London talks:
From Afghanistan to South Sudan,our men and women are working together with our friends and allies to defend the international rules-based system,and we have no closer friend than the United States.We began today by reviewing our efforts to combat international terrorism and global extremism.In Iraq and Syria,we stand shoulder to shoulder as leading members of the counter-Daesh coalition.Today,Daesh - aka ISIL - is failing.In Iraq,Daesh is clinging to its last stronghold,though 40% of West Mosul has been liberated and hundreds of thousands are returning to their homes.*
Meanwhile,our two nations are providing reassurance to our European allies in the wake of Russian aggression.We are leading NATO's enhanced forward presence.By next week,Britain will have 800 troops in Estonia,and 150 personnel in a reconnaissance squadron serving alongside US forces in Poland.In May,we will send four RAF Typhoons to Romania as part of NATO's mission to protect the Black Sea skies.This I part of the biggest deployment in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.*
The second item on our agenda was about making the NATO Alliance fitter and faster.Fairer burden-sharing is the key here.Only five members have met the two percent target,the US and the UK among them.Our defence budget in Britain is growing every year and remains the biggest in Europe;but Secretary Mattis and I have agreed that others must now raise their game;and those failing to meet their two percent commitment so far should at least agree to year-on-year real term increases.
At the end of this year,we will own 14 F-35 aircraft,and I welcome the commitment by the US to deploy F-35Bs on the HMS Elizabeth on its first operational deployment in 2021.*
On the issue of Russia having perhaps violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with the United States,that is something that we think needs to be taken forward,not just by the US,but by NATO generally,once we have those violations confirmed.
There's a pattern now of interference by Russia in different parts of the globe that needs us to be,when we engage with Russia,wary of what Russia is up to,and that is why there cannot be,at the moment,any return to business as usual with Russia.We need to be extremely watchful now of this persistent pattern of Russian interference.*
We're not sending combat troops back to Afghanistan.We last year increased our troops in Afghanistan and we continue to wait for advice on the continuance of Resolute Support for 2018.As you know,we are helping staff the Officer's Academy;we assist on counterterrorism;and we are engaged in supplying the bulk of the Kabul Protection Force;but we're not planning to return back to combat in Afghanistan,UK Minister of Defence Sir Michael Fallon told journalists gathered in London for his meeting with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.*
In the Middle East,the UK participates in the air campaign of Operation Inherent Resolve both in Iraq and Syria,as well as train,advise and assist efforts in Iraq and also Afghanistan in Southwest Asia.
Britain is as well moving to modernise its nuclear deterrent with the plan to build four new Trident II D5 ballistic missile submarines,and is building a large aircraft carrier,HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Inside KSC! for March 24, 2017 - Orbital ATK cargo mission to ISS;Orion umbilical installed

NASA’s Stennis Space Center Conducts RS-25 Engine Test - test 2 of 8 on these upgraded Space Shuttle engines for the Orion Program's SLS rocket

Signing Ceremony and NASA Acting Administrator Statement on the NASA Authorization Act of 2017

President Signs NASA Transition Authorization Act on This Week @NASA – M...

NASA To Build Spaceport Near the Moon-reusable transport spacecraft also planned as agency unveils Deep Space Gateway concept

Yesterday,28 March 2017,NASA posted an article to its website unveiling the most detailed plan yet for the Orion Program.The new projects,which it calls Deep Space Gateway,expand upon the basic concept of using cislunar space,the area in the lunar vicinity,as a testing ground for missions to the Mars system and elsewhere in the solar system.These projects will enable the building and testing of systems needed for the Mission to Mars and other celestial bodies.*
NASA now intends to build a spaceport,essentially a small space station,within the early Orion crewed missions,to serve as a gateway to deep space and the lunar surface as well.It will contain a power bus;a small habitat that would extend crewed mission time;docking capability;airlock;and servicing by logistics modules to enable research.The spaceport,which NASA also calls the gateway,will be propelled by high power electric and chemical propulsion to sustain the station's orbit or transfer it among a family of orbits in cislunar space as needed.The gateway will be made possible by the Space Launch System rocket's cargo capability plus the Orion spacecraft's crewed deep space capability.The project will be developed,serviced and utilised in collaboration with commercial and international partners,NASA pointed out.*
Dr.William Gerstenmaier,NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations,described the Deep Space Gateway thusly:
I envision different partners,both international and commercial,contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions.The gateway would move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the Moon;or to a higher lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system.*
The agency also intends to build a reusable transport spacecraft powered by electric/chemical propulsion that will depart from the gateway for destinations such as Mars.It will take crews to their destination,then return to the spaceport for servicing and eventual reuse.This transport vehicle will also take advantage of the SLS capability to launch large volumes and mass,as well as advanced exploration technologies now being developed and tested on the ground and in the ISS.*
The first integrated flight of the Orion system,Exploration Mission-1,including the new SLS rocket,Orion spacecraft and ESA Orion Service Module,is currently scheduled for 2018,but would be delayed to 2019,if a NASA study now underway recommends making EM-1 a crewed mission.*
This burst of energy from NASA no doubt reflects the strong commitment of President Donald Trump to the agency and America's continued leadership in aerospace.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

US ARMY launch HIMARS on ISIS VBIED factory-Operation Inherent Resolve.

US Marines Firing the M777 155mm Howitzer

Operation Inherent Resolve:US Marine Corps Artillery Moves into Syria-hefty reinforcements may be staged in Kuwait

About 400 US Marines of the 111th Marine Expeditionary Unit and US Army Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment have arrived in Syria,augmenting the 500 US troops already there on a train,advise and assist mission for the Syrian Democratic Forces,a conglomeration of militias led by the YPG Kurds.The Marines are there in a combat role with their light but powerful M777 155 mm Howitzers.This artillery has been assisting the SDF soften up Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant positions in and around Raqqa,the ISIL capital,since at least 9 March 2017.The Rangers have been patrolling around the newly liberated town of Manbij in Northern Syria in their armoured personnel carriers to stabilise the security situation and reassure skittish allies such as Turkey.
Besides the Marines and Rangers,US Army HiMARS rocket artillery is reportedly also in or headed for Syria to participate in the liberation of Raqqa,thus mirroring US on the ground activity in neighbouring Iraq.The extra firepower is part of the Trump administration's plan to accelerate the lasting military defeat of ISIL.Although the deployments are considered temporary,no end date has been set.
Additionally,the Pentagon is contemplating sending at least 1,000 more troops to Kuwait as potential reinforcements for the approximately 1,000 US forces already in Syria.Indeed,the number in Kuwait could go as high as 12,000 US troops being held in reserve for support of the momentous Battle of Raqqa,which could be intitiated within a few weeks' time.*
The M777 is a towed cannon with a range of 32 kilometers/20 miles.It has been used in the Afghan War as well.The HiMARS is already being used against ISIL in Iraq.According to US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian,spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force OIR:
We are going to prepare to liberate the city of Raqqa.This is an important task that has to be accomplished,because liberating that city is going to damage the enemy's prospects.It has a tremendous amount of symbolic importance.It's also a major command and control node for their external operations.
We have what I would describe as a pretty relentless air campaign to destroy enemy capabilities and to kill enemy fighters in that area already.That is something that we are going to continue and intensify with this new capability,COL Dorrian explained.*
On 20 March 2017,coalition military forces conducted 22 strikes consisting of 28 engagements against ISIL in Syria,including:
Near Abu Kamal,three strikes destroyed three wellheads and a pump jack;
Near Raqqa,19 strikes engaged eight ISIL tactical units;destroyed four pieces of oil lubricant equipment;three barges;three fighting positions;three headquarters;two VBIED facilities;two VBIEDs;a VBIED factory;a tunnel;a vehicle;a weapons storage facility;a command and control node;and damaged two supply nodes.*
Strikes are conducted by fighter,attack,bomber,rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft;rocket-propelled artillery;some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets.Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to manoeuvre roles is not classified as a strike,the CJTFOIR says.*
Those who have participated in Syria strikes include Australia;Bahrain;Canada;Denmark;France;Jordan;the Netherlands;Saudi Arabia;Turkey;the UAE;and the UK.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Troops of US Army's 2nd Cav Face Culture Shock:no fast food;this is almost war

Facing an increasingly belligerent Russia and separated from their families in Vilseck,Germany,the Soldiers of US Army Europe's 2nd Cavalry Regiment will face another form of privation when they deploy to Poland shortly:no Burger King or Pizza Hut for the six months of their mission.They are not to expect such fast food amenities as many Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq had at their Forward Operating Bases.Instead,warned Lieutenant General Ben Hodges,commander,USAREUR,expect potatoes three times a day for the next six months:
We are not going to have an American ghetto inside a Polish garrison,LTGEN Hodges said.That defeats the whole purpose of being with our Allies.*
Besides fraying Alliance unity and unit cohesion between frontline combatant and rear echelon US support troops,it is just not conducive to warfighting to provide US Soldiers such luxuries,USAEUR feels.They will have access to WiFi in order to facilitate communication with their families and continuing Army education.Yet there is a security concern surrounding that very amenity,as Russian hackers are expected to eavesdrop on even low level NATO cyber traffic.USAREUR feels we are in a contested environment along NATO's Eastern Flank,so everyone must maintain their best vigilance.*
The 2nd Cav Soldiers will deploy in early April along with British,Romanian,Croatian and Polish forces to augment NATO's deterrent and defensive posture in Poland and the Baltic States.They will march across the Czech Republic and Western Poland to reach their new Eastern Flank post.

2nd Cavalry Mission Summary - headed for Poland on NATO's Eastern flank

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

HMS Raleigh 24/4/09 Pass Out Parade - Recruit graduation in the Royal Navy

Iran IRGC Tondar class missile craft ناوچه موشك انداز تندر ايران

Iran IRGC Seraj-1 fast attack craft قايق تندرو سراج يك ايران

Iran IRGC Navy receives Ashoura & Zolfaqar Speedboats قايق تندرو ذوالفقا...

U.S. Navy fires warning shots against Iranian vessel - 25 August 2016

Iranian Boats Challenge US and Royal Navy Ships in Strait of Hormuz - can Iran really close the strait?

On 4 March 2017,an Iranian fast attack speedboat got within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible,a Special Missions ship of the US Navy-led Military Sealift Command,a US defence official revealed.The Invincible,which is crewed by civil service mariners,is a missile surveillance ship.It has two radomes:a large one on its stern,and a smaller one on its bridge area.These contain dual band radars that can track ballistic missiles.The US had imposed sanctions on Iran when it tested a new ballistic missile in February,so conceivably this most recent harassment incident was in response to that.
In the first phase of the incident,an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast attack speedboat got within 600 yards of the Invincible and stopped dead in the water,blocking the Invincible's path,so that it had to steer around the Iranian boat to avoid a collision.Part two of the drama unfolded when another Iranian fast attack craft got within 350 yards of one of three Royal Navy ships escorting the unarmed Invincible,and the British ship,too,had to change course.Both Iranian obstructive actions were considered unsafe and unprofessional.The Iranian vessels ignored repeated attempts to contact them.*
In addition to its ballistic missile test in February,Iran has also recently installed a Russian S-300 missile defence system that can shoot down third and fourth generation fighter aircraft,but not fifth generation such as the F-35 Lightning II.*
Iran has made several threats to close the Strait,through which about 20% of the world's oil supply flows;but can it actually do so?In 2012,US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey said that Iran has invested in capability that could,in fact,for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,which narrows at one point to only 54 kilometers/32.4 miles across (one estimate said Iran could close or impede the Strait for up to a month).At the same time,however,we've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens,we can defeat that.*
The US Military Sealift Command exists to support the warfighter across the full spectrum of military operations.MSC provides on-time logistics;strategic sealift;as well as specialised missions anywhere in the world,under any conditions,24/7,365 days a year.With unified resolve,MSC says,we boldly sail the world's oceans to provide essential assured logistics and service support to the warfighter as the nation's premier maritime transport organisation.*
The current commander of MSC is Rear Admiral Dee L. Mewbourne,USN.Commander,MSC Central is Captain Edwin D. Kaiser,USN.Some of the MSC ships have blended civil service/military crews;others,such as Invincible have purely civil service mariner crews.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Boeing CST-100 to Transport U.S. Astronauts to the International Space S...

Space Launch System Carries CubeSat Explorers During First Mission

From Metal To Masterpiece: Orion's 2016 Progress

Space to Ground: Special Delivery for the Station: 02/24/2017

First Integrated Piece of Space Launch System Hardware Headed for Cape Canaveral AFS - NASA's new deep space rocket

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage,or ICPS,which is the upper stage of the massive Space Launch System deep space rocket,is currently being transported by barge and truck to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,Florida from Alabama.Its destination is the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Operation Center at the Cape.The ICPS is the first piece of integrated SLS hardware that will arrive at the Cape for final processing and testing before shipment to Ground Systems Development Operations at Kennedy Space Center prior to launch on Exploration Mission-1 in the 2018-19 time frame.At the request of the White House,NASA began a formal feasibility study on 17 February 2017 of making EM-1 the first crewed mission of the Orion spacecraft,moving that goal up from 2021.In a more informal study of the question the agency conducted on its own,NASA concluded it would be technically possible to meld the first crewed mission with the EM-1 shakedown mission of the integrated Orion/SLS.The formal review,with input from the Astronaut Office and a lot of consideration of crew safety,will be ready in about a month.*
Designed and built by Boeing in Huntsville,Alabama and United Launch Alliance,a Boeing/Lockheed Martin partnership,in Decatur,Alabama,the ICPS will propel Orion and 13 secondary payloads of CubeSats (small satellites) to a point beyond the Moon,into deep space.If EM-1 is crewed,NASA says there would likely be two crew members on an 8-9 day mission to cislunar space,in a high orbit around the Moon farther out than humans have gone before,where the goal of reaching the Mars system will be advanced through a series of Orion missions.*
Eventually,the ICPS will be replaced by the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage,or EUS,which will be capable of taking astronauts far beyond the Moon,to the Mars system or elsewhere.
Boeing (BA),Lockheed Martin (LMT)