Wednesday, November 25, 2015

War On ISIL Update,Part 2 - From Raqqa To Mosul

Last week Colonel Steve Warren,US Army,spokesman for Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve,gave reporters a briefing on the progress of the anti-ISIL effort.We have not seen ISIL move forces out of Raqqa,Syria,he said.I'm not going to get into the leadership.This isn't the right place for that.*
Sinjar,Iraq is liberated.The PKK Kurds are now clearing IEDs and booby-traps ISIL left behind.The severing of strategic Highway 47 that runs from Raqqa to Mosul by the Kurdish forces will force ISIL to go through rat lines and smuggling routes through the desert.Whereas before it took them hours,now it will take them days.They are less able to mutually reinforce their own positions.
ISIL is under pressure in Iraq and Syria,from the north to the south,primarily from ground forces.They are forced to make very difficult decisions and not help other places of its organisation.When they move,they pop up and become very easy targets for our air power.
As targets are destroyed,others will emerge.If repaired,we will re-attack.The French targets in Raqqa were part of the process.Every nation receives these targets from the coalition.*
The northern access to Ramadi,capital of Anbar Province,Iraq,has met with some pretty stiff resistance.It's slow and incremental work.We believe all the pieces are in place.We believe the Iraqis have a plan that's workable.We believe it's time to execute it.The enemy has put in some fairly complex obstacles.We provided some very substantial airpower,some complex equipment and training to help,Colonel Warren pointed out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

War On ISIL Update:Operation Tidal Wave II;French Airstrikes

The US-led Operation Inherent Resolve coalition has undertaken a systematic bombing campaign to deprive the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant of its revenue from Syrian oil fields.The effort is called Operation Tidal Wave II,named for the World War II operation in which US aircraft bombed nine Romanian oil refineries.As part of the campaign,OIR aircraft attacked a number of tanker trucks recently that were waiting to fill up outside an oil facility,destroying 116 of the tankers.The truck drivers themselves are probably not members of ISIL,said US Army Colonel Steve Warren of Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve in a press briefing,so we developed leaflets to drop to them and made low passes to shoo people away.We decided it is in our interest to go strike these trucks.Oil funds more than 50% of ISIL operations.It was a long process of analysis and discussion,and finally we reached the decision.It was a US CENTCOM commander decision.
The trucks we hit were queued up in the vicinity of one of these oil facilities we had been striking.There was a backlog and they were just sitting there.It was a pretty straightforward attack.The aircraft expended 24 500 lb. bombs and all their ammuntion.Some civilians ran from the trucks into a tent.They were legitimate military targets,but-just to show what we're about-the pilots decided they didn't need to strike them.
The trucks are just one link in the chain.What we've done in Operation Tidal Wave II is break every link in this chain.This was not a piecemeal execution.It was a sudden strike that swept across these oil fields.Their problem now is trying to find out how to fix their broken oil wells.*
ISIL's decision to start expanding their operations outside their borders is something that should concern everyone.That's why we're here;it's why the 65-nation coalition has come together to try to defeat it.I don't know if our campaign has caused that.*
Manjib Pocket is ISIL's last border crossing from Syria into Turkey.There are no US troops on the Turkish side conducting operations.We are working with the Turks to help them ultimately seal that border.*
We supplied the anti-ISIL Syrian Arab Coalition with ammunition about two months ago.We've made a decision not to announce further support,other than to say we reinforce success.*
The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is steaming on its way to the Eastern Mediterranean now.We don't have a specific arrival date.We're encouraged by the fact that the Charles de Gaulle is en route to that theatre.The Charles de Gaulle is supporting the US-led coalition.We do expect the French contribution to OIR to grow.
I don't have a casualty count for the French airstrikes on Raqqa,Syria.They were vetted targets in the slate to get hit eventually.We rarely ever get back battle damage assessments from these preplanned strikes,Colonel Warren noted.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pentagon Adjusting Strategy For Europe and Asia

On 7 November,US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter addressed the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley,California.
We are in the midst of a strategic transition,Dr.Carter said.In the face of Russia's provocations and China's rise,we must embrace innovative approaches to protect the United States and the international order.We must ensure that we and our partners are postured to defeat threats from high-end opponents in a complex set of environments.*
Our antagonists and competitors push many states toward us.Our troops are attractive partners.Our troops perform and conduct themselves admirably.I see this.I hear this from many foreign leaders around the world.They make us proud.*
Russia appears intent to play a spoiler role by flouting those principles and the international community;while China is a rising power and growing more ambitious in its objectives and capabilities.Of course neither Russia nor China can overturn that order,given its resilience and staying power,but both present challenges for it.In Europe,Russia has been violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia,and actively trying to intimidate the Baltic States.Meanwhile,in Syria,Russia has been throwing gasoline on an already dangerous fire,thus prolonging a civil war that fuels the very extremism that Russia claims to oppose.
At sea,in the air,in space and in cyber space,Russia's actions have emerged as challenging activities-and most disturbingly,Moscow's leaders' nuclear sabre-rattling raises questions about Russia's commitment to regional stability;their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons;and whether they respect the profound caution nuclear age leaders showed with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons.We do not seek a cold,let alone a hot war,with Russia.We do not seek to make Russia an enemy;but make no mistake,the United States will defend our interests and our allies,the principled international order and the positive future it affords us all.
We're taking a strong and balanced approach to deter Russia's aggression and to help reduce the vulnerability of our allies and partners.We're adjusting our operational posture and contingency plans as we,on our own and with our allies,work to deter Russian aggression and to help reduce the vulnerability of allies and partners.The United States is accordingly making a number of moves in response,many,but not all of which,I can describe in this forum.We're modernising our nuclear arsenal so America's nuclear deterrent continues to be safe,effective and secure,to deter nuclear attacks and assure our allies.We're investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia's provocations,such as new unmanned systems;a new long-range bomber;and innovations in technology like the electromagnetic rail gun;lasers;new systems for electronic warfare,space and cyber space;and including a few surprising ones that I can't describe here.We're updating and expanding our operational plans for deterrence and defence,given Russia's changed behaviour.
In Europe,NATO remains the cornerstone of a principled order and its Article V a bedrock commitment;but NATO needs a new playbook.The old NATO playbook,including large American forces stationed in Europe,oriented toward the Fulda Gap,worked in Reagan's day,but it's not suited for the 21st century with its hybrid warfare;cyber threats and assymetric tactics;and also the vast enlargement of NATO territory that is subject to Article V.We're accordingly changing our posture in Europe to be more agile and sustainable;but we're continuing to take a balanced approach to Russia.We will continue to cooperate with Russia when and where our interests align.*
The single most influential factor in shaping the Asia-Pacific region's future is how China rises and relates to the principled order that has underpinned regional peace,stabiliy and security.We're putting our best and newest assets from all the services into the region.Qualitatively,we are making heavy investments in capabilities of importance there:subsurface warfare;electronic warfare;space;cyber;missile defence and more.We're building the capacity of our allies and partners.
We all have a fundamental stake in the security of maritime Asia,including dynamics within the South China Sea.The United States joins virtually everyone else in the region in being deeply concerned about the pace and scope of land reclamation in the South China Sea;the prospect of further militarisation;and the potential for these activities to increase the risk of miscalculation or conflict among claimant states.
We mean what we say.We will continue to fly,sail and operate wherever international law allows.We also know we have much work to do still to ensure our strategies and plans are as innovative as possible,Dr.Carter noted.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Receives Honours in Bulgaria

Just a few days after he concluded his journey to Great Britain,His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew continued his European outreach when he arrived in Bulgaria on 7 November.On Sunday 8 November,Patriarch Bartholomew was greeted by his host,His Holiness Neofit,Patriarch of All Bulgaria,in front of St.Alexander Nevsky cathedral in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.The two hierarchs then concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in the cathedral to mark the St.Michael and All Angels feast day.Also attending the service were delegations from the Russian Orthodox Church;the Romanian Orthodox Church;diplomats;and the former Bulgarian king Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
His All Holiness praised the Bulgarian people for having stood up to the 500 years of Ottoman rule the country endured,adhering to the Orthodox faith brought to them by Sts.Cyril and Methodius.They had been the first people to accept baptism en masse.
It is a miracle that despite persecutions,massacres,severe economic aftermaths,your blessed people remained true to the faith of their fathers,Patriarch Bartholomew noted.
For his part,Patriarch Neofit said he was grateful for the support the Ecumenical Patriarchate has always shown to Bulgaria.*
On Monday 9 November,His All Holiness was received by President Rosen Plevneliev,who awarded him the country's highest honour,the Stara Planina Order first degree.President Plevneliev said Patriarch Bartholomew is an outstanding personality with immense influence in both the Orthodox and global world.His All Holiness does not isolate the Orthodox faith from the public deeds;and just the opposite:he always seeks harmony through dialogue.*
Patriarch Bartholomew was then to receive a Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,as well as meet with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Career Opportunity:NASA Astronaut

Today NASA announced it will soon be recruiting US citizens again for a new astronaut candidate class.More human spacecraft are in development now than at any time in NASA history,and future astronauts will soon be launching from the Florida Space Coast on US-made commercial spacecraft and deep space missions to advance a future mission to Mars,the agency said.Applications will be accepted from 14 December to mid-February.NASA will announce the selectees in mid-2017.You can apply at class of 2017 will be flying on either the International Space Station;the Boeing CST-100 Starliner;the SpaceX Crew Dragon;or the Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.*
NASA selects from a diverse pool of US citizens with a variety of backgrounds such as pilots,engineers,scientists and medical doctors.*
The next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights,and help us reach the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.Those selected for this service will fly on US-made spacecraft from American soil;advance critical science and research aboard the ISS;and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.*
There are 47 astronauts currently in the active astronaut corps and more will be needed to crew future missions to the ISS and destinations in deep space.In its history,NASA has recruited more than 300 astronauts.
Requirements include a bachelor's degree in engineering,biological science,physical science or mathematics.Advanced degrees are desirable.Candidates must also have at least three years of related,progressively responsible professional experience,or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.They must also pass the NASA long duration spaceflight physical.*
For more information about this career and the requirements,please visit