Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The War On ISIL:Building Ground Forces in Iraq

The ground campaign in Iraq is a work in progress,US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the House Armed Services Committee on 17 June 2015.We can and will continue to develop local services;US troops on the ground will not produce enduring results.
What we saw in Ramadi was deeply disappointing.While we have the right strategic framework,execution can and will be strengthened.Our equipping of the Iraqi Security Forces has been proceeding too slowly.That's why we're now expediting delivery of anti-tank and anti-IED weapons to the ISF.
Taqaddum Air Base is a key location for reaching Sunni tribes.We will also provide advice and support at the ISF's Anbar Operations Center,which is also in Taqaddum.We've only received enough recruits to train about 7,000 troops,plus 2,000 counter-terrorism troops.The ISF have been plagued by persistent organisation and leadership failures.Our efforts must fuel diversity and multi-sectarianism.
The move into Taqaddum,the numbers,are not as important as the location in the Sunni heartland.We are in the Anbar Operations Center with the ISF so we can advise and assist them.We're already getting an inflow of Sunni fighters.We had unused training capacity because the Iraqi government wasn't providing paid recruits.It's starting to turn around.*
The heads of the Gulf Cooperation Council went to Camp David about three weeks ago.Their concern about ISIL is genuine,but their actions have been lacking.It is because they simply lack the capacity such as Special Operations Forces;capable,skilled ground forces in counter-insurgency;and so forth.*
We have in Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi someone who I believe is committed to a multi-sectarian,federated state.We are arming the Kurds and Sunnis,coordinating it with the Iraqi government in a way that doesn't delay as it did before.We're back on our feet,but I'm not going to excuse things that shouldn't have happened.I believe there can be a decentralised,multi-sectarian Iraq.I think we should give them a chance,because that's our best hope.*
The Kurdish forces are what we aspire to do.They show the will and capability to fight.Committed,capable,they're effective in the larger campaign to defeat ISIL.I met with President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani,and we went over the list of equipment they need.The reason of doing the angle through the government of Iraq is,to foster unity.These guys really do fight.The equipment from the US,Europe and others is starting to get to them.
The ISF record of performance is mixed.The counter-terrorist forces have fought admirably,and almost to exhaustion for the past months.We're extremely committed to providing intelligence and advisors.
As to US troops increasing their involvement,once we have the Iraqi forces on the ground,we will have to take another look at how to support those forces,and also our allies.When there is a capable ground force,then we can leverage them,Mr.Carter informed the House Armed Services Committee.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Kaymer Defends US Open Title at Chambers Bay

German golfer Martin Kaymer,30,is defending his US Open Championship trophy at Chambers Bay in University Place,Washington.Chambers Bay is a public,links style golf course on the Puget Sound-the type of course developed in ancient Scotland,rather than the standard type of golf course.Kaymer won the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst #2,a standard golf course in North Carolina.Kaymer spoke to the media at a Monday press conference.
A links style course has massive bunkers,fescue grass fairways and open terrain,as opposed to forested.
I believe we are going to play three British Opens this year,Kaymer joked,referring to the three links style courses at Chambers Bay in Washington,St.Andrews in Scotland,and Whistling Straits in Wisconsin that are on the PGA Tour this season.
I think the guys from the UK might have a bit of an advantage this week,Kaymer noted,because that is what they grew up on.Honestly,I think it's a great golf course.In a way,you have to be very creative.It's unusual for a US Open course,but I think for those of us from Europe,we welcome such a course.
I said to my caddy,this is probably the toughest round in our career,because of all the expectations.I have to challenge myself on Sunday,not challenge the other players.If you really focus on the right thing,it shouldn't be that complicated.
There are so many guys who can win a golf tournament today-even if you are #250 in the world.The field is very hard to beat.You have to go with Rory McIlroy.I think Jason Day has a very good chance.Phil Mickelson-I think he has a good chance,knowing how aggressive,how creative he can be.He's kind of under the radar,Kaymer told reporters gathered at Chambers Bay for the US Open Championship,the most grueling test in golf.The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday and is being broadcast by Fox Sports.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Iraq War 2015 - IS IED Ambush On Iraqi Humvee In Anbar

New and Hazardous Training Mission for US Troops in Anbar

President Barack Obama has ordered up to 450 more US troops to Iraq.They will train,advise and assist Sunni tribal militia members to battle ISIL at a new training camp in al-Taqaddum Air Base,a former US stronghold in the Iraq War from 2003-11,located at Habbaniya in the largely Sunni Anbar Province.As of last Thursday,8920 Iraqi troops had received US training at the four existing training camps at al-Asad Air Base;Irbil;plus two camps in the Baghdad area;and 2601 Iraqi troops were still in training.Of those who have been trained,800 are Kurds and the rest are Shiites.
Training at al-Taqaddum will likely begin this summer.It is only 22 miles/37 kilometers from Ramadi,the provincial capital recently taken over by ISIL.There are still a lot of engagements with ISIL in the area,so US troops on the training mission will perhaps be closer to the front lines than ever before.ISIL has been using more and bigger IEDs in Anbar Province-so large they are changing the equation on the battlefield.They are also digging extensive tunnels and filling them with explosives.Suicide attacks may be launched against the training camp.
Besides trainers,the US soldiers will be security and logistics personnel.They will still not be allowed to accompany Iraqi troops to the front lines or serve as forward air controllers.
I think it is a Band-Aid on a hemorrhaging strategy,said Senator John McCain,R-Arizona.We need actually thousands of additional troops.*
The 450 new US troops will bring the total number of US forces in Iraq up to about 3600.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pinterest Looking To Grow User Base and Revenue

Photo curating and sharing platform Pinterest is hoping to expand its user base in Europe.The social media company is opening offices in the Netherlands,Spain,Italy and Sweden this year.
In another big move,the privately held firm is taking a big step in monetisation of the platform with the "buyable pins" concept.Now users will be able to buy depicted products directly from the site by clicking on small blue "Buy It" tabs on the pins,as the platform's photos are called.
We're very excited about products being brought directly into the Pinterest ecosystem,said Satish Kanwar of Shopify.Pinterest is our second largest referrer,but the first in value of purchases made.*
Pinterest users often use the site to shop for products or get ideas for projects,but to this point have had to go offsite to actually make a purchase.The company is five years old and valued at 11 billion dollars.Pinterest will not get a cut of each buyable pin transaction,but will offer vendors the option of paying for a promoted pin which is shown to users with a particular profile.Similarly,Google is adding a buy button to search results.
More than two million products will initially be offered on buyable pins by the likes of retailers such as Macy's,Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.You can pay with ApplePay or credit card.Buyable pins will launch on the Pinterest iOS app for US users this month,then be available on Android and desktop later this year.
Pinterest has strong appeal to those looking for new furniture and decorating ideas,fashion,wedding plans and baby products,as well as those interested in curating photos that reflect their interest in any number of topics,from art history to sports.
Successfully monetising this growing and distinctive platform will point it in the direction of becoming a public company.