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.