Saturday, September 13, 2008

Video: Coast Guard Overflight, Hurricane Ike Aftermath



NOTE: News readers click here to view the video.

Hurricane Watch:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2008 -- Hurricane Ike Overflight by U.S. Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon aircrew. B-roll of a fly over of Galveston Island during and after Hurricane Ike from a HU-25 Falcon Jet from the Aviation Training Center in Alabama. Scenes include flooded neighborhoods, hotels, highways, an airport and flightline as well as a burning building.

(Video produced by Lt. Rob Wyman.)

COMBAT CAMERA Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

USS Nassau Heads to Gulf of Mexico in Ike's Wake

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
In this 2008 file photo, SH-60F Seahawks assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) during a week-long session of maritime security training exercises. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew King.)

Hurricane Watch:

NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 13, 2008 -- The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), was directed to proceed to the Gulf of Mexico Sept. 13 and take station off the Texas coast, prepared to render support to civil authorities in the wake of Hurricane Ike as needed.

Three ships, Nassau, USS Ponce (LPD 15), and USS Bataan (LHD 5), were ordered Sept. 12 to increase readiness for possible disaster response support.

Nassau was already at sea conducting routine operations, and was first directed south to operate off the Florida coast before receiving orders to move into the Gulf of Mexico.

The amphibious transport dock Ponce will get underway Sept. 14. The amphibious assault ship Bataan has been ordered to remain in a prepared-to-deploy status, ready to get underway within 24 hours, if needed.

Although there has been no specific tasking for these three ships, their at-sea readiness provides options for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Northern Command.

(Story from a Second Fleet Public Affairs news release.)

Tags: , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon: Hurricane Ike Rescues Underway in Texas and Louisiana

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2008 -- Federal and State response forces have begun what Texas Governor Rick Perry is calling the largest search and rescue ever in his state today as more than 100,000 residents are estimated to have ignored Hurricane Ike evacuation warnings.

Ike reached the Texas shores early this morning as a category 2 storm with upwards of 110 mph winds, flooding thousands of homes and leaving millions without power. The hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm, and as it continues to weakens, first responders are moving in.

More than 3,300 active-duty military members are prepared for search and rescue operations, said Mike Kucharek, spokesman for U.S. Army Northern Command.

Also, there are about 7,500 Texas National Guardsmen activated and providing assistance in Galveston, Houston, Lufkin and Orange County, which are some of the hardest hit areas.

Emergency response agencies are staging their logistics area for commodities support and distribution efforts from Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, Kucharek said. More than 40 distribution points are set up across eastern Texas and Louisiana too to provide food, water, ice and medical support.

Response teams have more than 100 helicopters, 88 high-water vehicles and 21 short-raft boats available for rescue missions, he added.

Around 50 of those helicopters, from National Guard assets, are already airborne and conducting rescue operations, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said during a press briefing from Washington today.

“We’re particularly focused on those areas hit with storm surge,” Chertoff said. But he added that even in the areas where flooding is not as significant, people should still remain cautious. “The most dangerous period of the storm is what occurs after the storm has moved on,” he continued.

Chertoff cautioned power outages, fallen trees and debris, down power lines and other types of hazards across the effected areas in Texas and Louisiana.

“People should exercise extreme caution as they get out and about, so we don’t have injuries and loss of life going forward from this point on,” he said.

In Texas, particularly the Galveston area, a large amount of state, Coast Guard and Defense Department helicopters are conducting recovery efforts. The most recent reports state more than 120 people have been rescued. Authorities in Louisiana are tracking 179 rescues already along with one dog rescue, Chertoff said.

Texas estimates 2.2 million people fled their homes, while Louisiana estimates 130,000. Though many of the evacuees are in hotels and shelters, officials are urging them not to return until authorities announce areas are safe, he said.

President Bush today declared 29 counties in Texas as major disaster areas, which Chertoff said clears the way for federal funding for individuals and local community efforts for debris removal. This will relieve a significant burden as local and state authorities move forward with recovery operations, he said.

The storm is projected to continue its path through north Texas into Arkansas with driving rain, strong winds and the possibility of tornadoes, and is still considered dangerous, Chertoff said.

“It may not be as dramatic as the scenes you saw on television right at the coast,” he said, “but exercising prudence for everybody in the path of this storm is very strongly recommended, so we can minimize the loss of life as much as we can.”

(Story by Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden, American Forces Press Service.)

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Video: Louisiana Guard Overflights of Hurricane Ike Aftermath

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
Louisiana National Guard Flies Over Louisiana
B-roll of the Louisiana National Guard Task Force Eagle flying over flooded areas of Houma, Louisiana, beginning search and rescue missions

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
Louisiana National Guard Flies Over South West Louisiana
B-roll of Louisiana National Guard Task Force Eagle flying over flooded areas of south west Louisiana after Hurricane Ike.

CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO
Louisiana Senior Leadership Assess Damage of Hurricane Ike
B-roll Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landreau and Command Sgt. Maj. Tommy Callier landing at Chris Crusta Memorial Airport in Abbeville, Louisiana and getting briefed on the current situation.

COMBAT CAMERA More Military Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Guardsmen Rescue Many Stranded in Galveston

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Joint Task Force 129 crew, Jolly 92, flies over a building in the storm surge that overtook the Bolivar Peninsula bridge near Galveston, Texas, Sept. 12, 2008. The California Air National Guard crew of Jolly 92 rescued six civilians and pets stranded in Galveston. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Wally Bacio.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Joint Task Force 129 crew, Jolly 92, flies over a yacht warehouse fire in Galveston, Texas, Sept. 12, 2008. The California Air National Guard crew of Jolly 92 rescued six civilians and pets stranded in Galveston. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Wally Bacio.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Joint Task Force 129 crew, Jolly 92, lands in a tight space between houses to rescue an adult male in Galveston, Texas, Sept. 12, 2008. The California Air National Guard crew of Jolly 92 rescued six civilians and pets stranded in Galveston. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Wally Bacio.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Joint Task Force-129 crew, Jolly 92, lands in a tight space between houses to rescue an adult male in Galveston, Texas, Sept. 12. The California Air National Guard crew of Jolly 92 rescued six civilians and pets stranded in Galveston. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Wally Bacio.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Joint Task Force 129 crew, Jolly 92, rescues a family of four in Galveston, Texas, Sept. 12, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Wally Bacio.)

Hurricane Watch:

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif., Sept. 13, 2008 -- California Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing rescued eight people yesterday in Galveston, Texas. The air guardsmen deployed to Kelly Field in San Antonio for Hurricane Ike search and rescue support operations.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter on search and rescue patrol spotted unevacuated civilians waving from a bridge on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston. Flooding conditions due to Hurricane Ike severed an access road onto the peninsula and the civilians were stranded. U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Army National Guard helicopters picked up about 30 people.

Soon after the bridge rescues, a Coast Guard helicopter and four Joint Task Force 129 helicopters, including two 129th RQW HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and pararescuemen, arrived on scene to assist.

During the aerial reconnaissance the crews found no one else on the bridge because it was under water, said Maj. Matthew Thomas, 129th Rescue Wing pilot and co-pilot for Jolly 92.

The Coast Guard then dispatched the JTF 129 helicopters to a home nearby on the northeast side of Galveston. The house was flooding and a call for help had been made to the Coast Guard. According to Thomas, the stranded civilians had called their relatives in Illinois for help. The relatives then called the Coast Guard.

The Pave Hawk, Jolly 92, landed in a small grassy area and pararescuemen, also known as PJs, went to the house to rescue the four stranded civilians. "The area where we landed was under water 10 minutes later," Thomas said.

A second JTF 129 helicopter, Jolly 91, was hovering nearby during the rescue, and the sound of the helicopter prompted additional unevacuated civilians to leave their homes, said Capt. Brian Finnerty, 129th Rescue Wing pilot and flight lead for Jolly 91.

Two PJs rappelled from Jolly 91 and attempted to convince civilians that they needed to evacuate. Some civilians refused to leave and opted to stay in their homes, Finnerty said. The PJs hoisted two people and two dogs into the Pave Hawk, and the crew eventually dropped them off at Ellington Field in Houston.

While Jolly 91 picked up the two civilians, Jolly 92 was hovering nearby with the family of four. The crew picked up two more people and pets. The crews spotted one man with a spotlight - his house was surrounded by water. The PJs hoisted the man up in to the helicopter.

Jolly 92 headed to Ellington Field with the six rescued civilians and pets. The helicopters then returned to Kelly Field. "Winds at that point were at 60 knots and visibility was low - it was time for us to go," Thomas said.

Overall, four Air National Guard Pave Hawks and JTF 129 personnel saved 15 adults, one child, and four dogs.

Joint Task Force 129 is a self-contained search and rescue unit comprised of more than 100 people, including highly trained pararescuemen, four HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, and two MC-130P Combat Shadow tankers. Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing, Kulis Air National Guard Base, Ala., are also part of the rescue task force.

As an Air National Guard unit, many of the 129th's past missions involved supporting state emergencies that included earthquakes, chemical spills, fires and floods. Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow tankers and HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, the 129th has performed a wide variety of civilian search and rescue missions, including distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations.

(Story by Capt. Alyson Teeter, Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing Public Affairs)

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Photo Essay: Hurricane Hunters Fly Into Ike

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
A pilot's view of sunset through the heads-up display after flying into Hurricane Ike Sept. 10 over the Gulf of Mexico. The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters of the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss, fly 24-hours-a-day, collecting data inside the heart of Hurricane Ike. The data collected by the Hurricane Hunters improve the National Hurricane Center forecast by 30 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Chad E. Gibson.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Lt. Col. Mark Carter views thunderstorms and sunset through the heads-up display of the WC-130J Hercules after collecting Hurricane Ike data Sept. 10 over the Gulf of Mexico. The flight lasted more than nine hours and helped improve the National Hurricane Center forecast by 30 percent. Colonel Carter is a pilot with the 403rd Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Chad E. Gibson.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
The eyewall of Hurricane Ike looms as the WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft heads toward the center of the storm Sept. 10 over the Gulf of Mexico. Reserve Airmen of the 403rd Wing collect data inside the storm and send it to the National Hurricane Center, improving accuracy by up to 30 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Chad E. Gibson.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Lt. Col. Mark Carter looks at the sunset after flying nine hours on a Hurricane Ike mission on board a WC-130J Hercules Sept. 10 over the Gulf of Mexico. The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters of the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss, fly 24-hours-a-day, collecting data inside the heart of Hurricane Ike. The data collected by the Hurricane Hunters improve the National Hurricane Center forecast by 30 percent. Colonel Carter is a pilot with the 403rd Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Chad E. Gibson.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Military Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Hurricane Aftermath: National Guard Patrols Grand Isle Waters

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Louisiana National Guard's 2225th Multi Role Bride Company 1st Sgt. Kevin Giroir and Spc. Christopher Cuzzort cruise the north shore of Grand Isle, La. in a MK-2 Bridge Erection Boat during presence patrol missions, Sept. 7, 2008. The company was put on mission after reports of theft on the island late Saturday. (Photographer: Spc. William E. Henry, Indiana National Guard.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Louisiana National Guard's 2225th Multi Role Bridge Company non-commissioned officer in charge Sgt. 1st Class Brian LeBoeuf keeps a close eye on the north shore of Grand Isle, La. in a MK-2 Bridge Erection Boat, Sept. 7, 2008. After report of theft on the island Guardsmen were deployed to the site to protect homes in the area. The team has seven miles of coastline to protect and six vessels to use during their operation. (Photographer: Spc. William E. Henry, Indiana National Guard.)

On the Home Front:

GRAND ISLE, La., Sept. 13, 2008 -- In an effort to prevent looting of area residents’ property and local businesses, Louisiana National Guardsmen began patrolling the waters along the north shore of Grand Isle, La.

The 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company of the 205th Engineer Battalion arrived with MK-2 Bridge Erection Boats originally designed to build bridges in strong currents. Fortunately, these special boats also perform well in the security and patrol missions the unit was performing.

Coordinating with local law enforcement, the National Guard Special Reaction Team and the 1083rd Transportation Company, the 2225th say they are more than prepared for the mission.

"We have SRT members of the Louisiana National Guard on board our vessels that patrol day and night. We use night-vision goggles to monitor during the night patrols and help deter any looting," said 1st. Sgt. Kevin Giroir of the bridge company.

There about 15 SRT members on site that have detention and arrest powers. "We're the state's military SWAT team," said Spc. Coleman Barnett of the SRT.

The 2225th and the SRT are responsible for seven miles of coastline. They patrol the area with six vessels and are required to approach and identify anyone coming into the area.

"There are a lot of expensive homes here. People come to Grand Isle for their own enjoyment; it’s a fishing community and an oil field port,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian LeBoeuf of the 2225th. “People have their homes here and like anyone else, they don't want to lose them. We're providing a helping hand to keep trespassers out so they can start their lives again when the storm is over."

(Story by Spc. William E. Henry, Indiana Army National Guard.)

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Global Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Coast Guard Hurricane Ike Update: Search and Rescue Report

Hurricane Watch

Hurricane Watch:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2008 -- The U.S. Coast Guard, as part of a federal, state and local response effort, is involved in multiple search and rescue cases related to Hurricane Ike.

Summaries of selected cases are included below:
  • The freighter Antalina, hauling petroleum coke, is disabled roughly 100 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas, with 22 persons aboard. The vessel reported 30-foot seas and 50 to 80 knot winds on scene Friday evening. Coast Guard aerial rescue attempts were aborted Friday evening due to the weather. The crew of the Antalina have activated an electronic position-indicating beacon to assist the Coast Guard's effort to track the vessel. The tugboat Spitzer Rotterdam is en route to take the Antalina in tow.

  • Approximately 150 people are reported stranded on Bolivar Island, Texas, after roughly 100 persons were already rescued by Coast Guard and local efforts. The response was suspended due to the weather. Operations will resume as soon as weather permits.

  • Three mobile offshore drilling platforms were identified as potentially adrift off of the Texas coast. One platform was confirmed adrift and re-anchored. The status of the remaining two is unknown because the platforms have been evacuated. Coast Guard aircraft will conduct flights of the area when weather permits.

  • Four persons were washed over a seawall in Corpus Christi, Texas, Friday evening. Three were rescued and the search for the fourth person was suspended Friday night due to the weather. The missing person and another man were walking along a jetty when they were swept away. The other two persons were washed out while trying to assist.

In preparation for Hurricane Ike, the Coast Guard gathered people, vessels and aircraft from around the country into the region to be able to save lives, protect the environment and secure waterways. More than twenty helicopters, nine planes, and dozens of vessels and crews are in the area for Coast Guard operations.

(From a U.S. Coast Guard news release.)

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Global Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US Navy Readies 3 Big Deck Ships to Aid in Ike Disaster Response

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
In this 2008 file photo, an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Coleman Thompson.)

Hurricane Watch:

NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 13, 2008 -- Three ships, USS Nassau (LHA 4), USS Ponce (LPD 15), and USS Bataan (LHD 5), were ordered Sept. 12 to increase readiness for possible disaster response support.

Nassau, which was already at sea conducting routine operations, has been directed south to operate off the Florida coast. Since Hurricane Ike made landfall along the Gulf Coast of the United States, Nassau is positioned to provide assistance to civilian authorities if needed.

Bataan and Ponce have been ordered to be ready to go to sea as early as Sunday afternoon.

Although there has been no specific tasking for these three ships, their at-sea readiness provides options for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Northern Command.

(Story from a Second Fleet Public Affairs news release.)

Tags: , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, September 12, 2008

Video: US Coast Guard Overflight of Flooded Southeastern Texas Coastline

video

NOTE: News readers click here to view the video.

Hurricane Watch:

HOUSTON, Sept. 12, 2008 -- In this video by the U.S. Coast Guard, an Air Station Houston HH-65C rescue helicopter crew conducts an overflight of the southeastern Texas coastline scanning for residents needing assistance and documenting flood waters, Sept. 12, 2008. (U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Houston video by Petty Officer Renee C. Aiello.)

COMBAT CAMERA Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US Coast Guard Rescues Over 65, Preps for Ike's Aftermath

Hurricane Watch
An infrared satellite image provided by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, Calif., showing the status of Hurricane Ike at approximately 4:15 a.m. EDT, in the Gulf of Mexico, Sept. 12, 2008. Ike has maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and a forward movement of about 13 mph. Ike is expected to strike near Galveston, Texas, as a major hurricane late Friday or early Saturday morning. (U.S. Navy photo.)

Hurricane Watch:

Coast Guard Hurricane Ike Update: Search and Rescue Report

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2008 -- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued more than 65 people and several animals Friday while continuing to prepare for post-hurricane operations as Hurricane Ike approached the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Coast Guard helicopters rescued more than 65 people stranded on Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston, Texas, as storm surge waters flooded the area. Coast Guard and Department of Defense aircraft searched the peninsula for other people requiring assistance. Several pets were evacuated along with their owners as flood waters threatened lives. Video of Friday's rescues can be viewed or downloaded by visiting http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php/v/video/080912-G-0000A-001.wmv.html.

The Coast Guard, along with the U.S. Air Force, mounted an attempt to rescue 22 crewmembers from the disabled 584-foot freighter Antalina, but crews had to abort the mission as on scene weather had deteriorated to a degree that made the rescue too dangerous for the Antalina's crew and too risky for the aircrews. A Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet was able to reach the Antalina, where the crew reported 80 knot winds, 20-foot seas and visibility as low as a half-mile. Two Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and two Air Force CV-22 Osprey's were launched for the rescue effort. Video from the Falcon's flight can be viewed and downloaded by visiting http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=374909. The Antalina, located roughly 100 nautical miles southeast of Galveston, is on a one hour, radio communication schedule with the Coast Guard and has been instructed to activate its 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon to signal an emergency. The Antalina, loaded with approximately 11,000 metric tons of petroleum coke, had departed port to evade the hurricane, but lost propulsion while at sea.

Coast Guard personnel and assets continue to preposition to provide the swiftest possible response to calls for help as Hurricane Ike passes. Sixteen fixed-wing aircraft and 31 rotary-wing aircraft, along with aircrews and maintenance personnel, have been dedicated for Hurricane Ike operations. Click here to view or download a graphic detailing aviation assets dedicated to Hurricane Ike operations. Approximately 300 Coast Guardsmen relocated from Sector Houston - Galveston to Katy, Texas, to evade Ike and be prepared to respond as the storm passes. Even with the surge of personnel and equipment, the Coast Guard's ability to provide immediate rescue during and immediately after the storm, will be degraded.

The Texas ports of Galveston, Port Arthur/Beaumont, Houston, Freeport, Texas City, Port Lavaca/Point comfort are closed with no traffic permitted without the approval of the Coast Guard Captain of the Port. These measures were taken to minimize Hurricane Ike's impact to the ports' infrastructure and to facilitate the restoration of the marine transportation system and the flow of maritime commerce following the storm. According to the Port of Houston Authority, more than 7,500 ships called on the port in 2006 and more than 219 million tons of cargo were handled at the port in the same year. Of the 219 million tons of cargo, more than 95.8 million were petroleum and petroleum products.

(From a U.S. Coast Guard news release.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Successful Anbar Model Validates US Approach in Iraq

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2008 -- When security responsibility for Iraq’s Anbar province was turned over to the Iraqi government this month, it validated the security model that has been applied throughout the country, a coalition spokesman said Sept. 11.

Successful coordination of a surge in U.S. forces, the emergence of the Awakening movement, and political movement by the Iraqi government resulted in the weakening of the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network into a more containable scattering of individual cells, said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, deputy chief of strategic communications, Multinational Force Iraq.

Anbar province, Driscoll said, is “now kind of the model for how Iraqis have made the transition from really chasing al Qaeda out of the cities and main areas and putting them on the run.”

The next steps in the process for Anbar residents involve embracing the political process and focusing on reconstruction and restoration of essential services, Driscoll said.

On Sept. 1, Iraqi civilian authorities assumed responsibility for security in Anbar through a transfer coalition leaders call “provincial Iraqi control.” Anbar is the 11th of Iraq’s18 provinces to gain that status, and the transfer is significant because Anbar is where the Sunni “Awakening” movement began when former insurgents turned against al Qaeda in Iraq.

The success of joint Iraqi and U.S. efforts has fractured the terrorist network, Driscoll said.

“We're seeing that they are certainly under pressure and certainly not in a position where they'd like to be,” he said. “We've broken it down now from an insurgency, if you will, to a series of isolated networks and pockets of resistance.”

The remaining threat should not be understated, Driscoll cautioned, but the coalition intends to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq until the group is destroyed, he said.

“I don't think we want to have a situation where there's some ongoing levels of violence continually in Iraq,” he said. “The focus here is to eliminate them.”

Key to long-term success is integrating the Awakening members into either the Iraqi government or labor market, Driscoll explained. The coalition’s goal is to transition the Sunni volunteers into official Iraqi security forces or provide them literacy and vocational training and move them into the economy, he said.

Pushing through that objective with the Shiia-led Iraqi government is not always easy, Driscoll said, describing “ongoing tension as we work through this reconciliation process.”

“You reconcile with your enemies, not your friends,” Driscoll said. “We're having former enemies reach across the table, shake hands and extend some degree of forgiveness for what was done in the past.”

Despite perceived overtones of sectarian bias in the government’s handling of the Awakening members, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki set the same standard when dealing with Shiite militias in Basra, Driscoll explained.

“Iraq cannot afford to have various armed groups besides the police and the army,” Driscoll said. “It can't be tolerated, because if one group gets to have their armed group, then they're all going to want one.”

Part of the challenge in transitioning the Sunni force, and one reason for the delay, is the need to vet out al-Qaeda infiltrators among the groups, Driscoll said.

Success in the effort is critical however, the admiral said.

“Moving from the kinetic portion of the counterinsurgency fight to this reconciliation phase is key to being successful,” Driscoll said. Integration “is one of the key things that's going to demonstrate to the Sunnis that this government has a place for them.”

(Story by Tim Kilbride, New Media Directorate, Defense Media Activity.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Head of Joint Chiefs Expresses Concern About Trends in Afghanistan

News in Balance

News in Balance:

NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2008 -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed concern here today about trends in Afghanistan.

But answering questions on CNN’s “American Morning” from reporter John Roberts, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said the policies to develop the country have not been a failure.

“We recognize, as in Iraq, that these policies evolve over time,” Mullen said. “We’re very focused on this.” He noted that he and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, as well as President Bush, have focused heavily on Afghanistan in recent months.

Despite facing problems from a better-organized al-Qaida element that has a safe haven in Pakistan and from a growing drug trade, Mullen said victory in Afghanistan is possible, due in part to the U.S. and NATO effort.

“Our troops are doing spectacular work on the ground,” the chairman said. “They’ve made a difference.” But the admiral said the issues facing U.S. troops are more complex because of regional instability.

“I don’t think we can focus just on Afghanistan, because Afghanistan and Pakistan have been inextricably linked for a long time,” the chairman said. “They clearly are now. It’s not just about the safe haven. It’s about two countries that live next to each other. It’s about engaging in a way, militarily, that brings out the best effect on both sides of that border, because that’s such a serious issue.”

Mullen said he’s invested time in listening to the needs of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I’ve spent time with the military leadership of both countries,” the admiral said. “They’re both committed to this.”

The chairman said the main goal is providing a level of security in Afghanistan that is sustainable so that the other factors to develop the country can take hold, much like Iraq.

“I’m very concerned, and will remain concerned,” he said. “I want to focus on it. I’m optimistic in the long run.”

(Story by Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump, Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Video: Coast Guard Attempts Rescue of Crew on Drifting Freighter in Hurricane Ike's Path

video

NOTE: News readers click here to view the video.

Hurricane Watch:

MOBILE, Ala., Sept 12, 2008 -- The Coast Guard attempted a rescue Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, of 22 crewmembers aboard a 584-foot bulk freighter, the Antalina, disabled and drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Lake Charles, Texas in the path of Hurricane Ike. (U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Ruiz.)

COMBAT CAMERA Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

National Guard Braces for Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Watch
This September 12, 2008 NOAA satellite photo shows Hurricane Ike located southeast of Galveston, Texas. The National Hurricane Center issued a grave warning that those who remained in low-lying areas around Galveston Bay "face certain death."

Hurricane Watch:

ARLINGTON, Va. , Sept. 12, 2008 -- Although Hurricane Ike is expected to lose power after hitting Texas tonight, National Guardsmen in four other states are preparing for the worst when it becomes a tropical storm later this weekend.

Guard members in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri have anticipated the problems associated with heavy rain and winds and will be ready to respond, state officials said.

Heavy rains of up to 15 inches are projected for the hardest-hit areas and flooding and tornadoes are anticipated.

“Rain is what we’re worried about,” said Pat Scully, spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard. Much of the state is under a flood watch, he added, because forecasts indicate that a cold front from the north will join forces with the tropical storm.

“We’re confident that if we are called, we’ll have the personnel and equipment to handle the situation,” Scully said.

The Oklahoma governor has not declared a state of emergency, but more than 1,000 Guard members are standing by as a quick-reaction force, he said.

“We’ll be using our quick-reaction force and our follow-on force,” Scully said. “After that, we’ll have our on-station National Guard soldiers ready to respond, both Army and Air.” The state is now in a “planning mode,” but expects to respond to missions ranging from search and rescue to delivering relief supplies.

Scully said the state has more than 2,000 Guard members available for these missions. Several units from the state are deployed or preparing for deployment, including the 45th Brigade Combat Team, a force of about 2,600 soldiers, which is in Iraq; about 800 soldiers from the 45th Fires Brigade, which is training at Fort Hood, Texas, for an upcoming deployment; and 300 airmen from the 138th Fighter Wing in Tulsa, which deployed to Iraq earlier this week.

Flood watches are in effect for more than 50 counties in Arkansas.

“What Arkansas is looking at is the possibility of the after-effects of the hurricane, which could bring tornadoes into the state,” Army Capt. Chris Heathscott, spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard, said.

Despite the deployment of Arkansas’ 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Iraq, Heathscott said, the state has about 6,000 Guard members available.

The Arkansas Guard has responded to many floods and tornadoes this year, so Ike’s effects are nothing new. “2008 has been one of the heaviest years for natural disaster responses for our state,” Heathscott said. “It’s unfortunately becoming routine business for us.”

In Kansas, the Guard’s concern also is flooding “and making sure people are not driving through high water and in need of rescue,” said Sharon Watson, a Kansas Guard spokeswoman.

About 5,000 Guard troops are available at the request of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and 2,000 are on alert, she said. Six hundred of those will be well prepared for the experience, since they are returning from hurricane relief duties in Louisiana.

With experience and clear objectives, Kansas will be well prepared, Watson said.

Experience will also benefit Missouri, where 2,000 Guard members, who are also returning from relief missions in Louisiana, can be called up if needed. The 8,000 Guard members in the state also have experience because of the Mississippi River’s flooding in June.

(Story by Army Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum, National Guard Bureau.)

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Troops in Iraq Kill 2 Enemy Fighters, Nab 11

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2008 -- Coalition forces killed two enemy fighters and captured 11 others during a series of operations conducted in and around Baghdad and in western and northern Iraq today, military officials said.

Coalition troops captured two terrorists affiliated with the Kataib Hezbollah network in New Baghdad. The network is linked to Iran’s Quds Force.

Coalition forces killed two al-Qaida terrorists during an air strike near Qara Tappa, northeast of Baghdad, and three suspected al-Qaida terrorists were captured by coalition forces during operations south of Baghdad.

West of Baghdad in Ramadi, coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists, and an al-Qaida bomber-cell leader was captured by coalition forces during an operation in Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

In yesterday’s operations:
  • U.S. soldiers detained four suspects during an operation in Baghdad’s Rashid district.

  • U.S. and Iraqi soldiers posted in Baghdad found several weapons caches. The caches contained mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices, hand grenades, a pistol, machine-gun ammunition, fuses, IED-making materials, communication gear and tank rounds.

  • Coalition forces captured an alleged al-Qaida leader in Beiji. The detainee is linked to several local attacks, including a Sept. 8 attack that killed two Iraqi policemen and wounded four others.

  • Also in Beiji, coalition forces captured a wanted person linked to an al-Qaida bomber network that extends through the Tigris River Valley. Five additional suspects were detained.

In other news, Iraqi National Police seized two munitions caches and local “Sons of Iraq” citizen security group members turned in an assortment of ordnance during operations in Baghdad’s Rashid district Sept. 10. The caches contained an assortment of rockets. The Sons of Iraq turned six 60 mm mortar rounds.

On Sept. 9, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police discovered Iranian-manufactured munitions during two separate operations. Acting on a citizen’s tip, U.S. soldiers discovered a weapons cache near the town of Salman Pak in Iraq’s Wasit province. The cache contained two shoulder-fired missiles, nine Iranian-made rockets, a mortar sight and a tripod. Near Hillah, Iraqi police found a buried weapons cache. The cache contained 24 blocks of Iranian-manufactured C4 explosive and two propane tanks that were in the process of being converted into improvised explosive devices. U.S. soldiers transported the contraband to a nearby base.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button