Saturday, January 31, 2009

Combat Camera Video: 2009 Iraqi Election

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Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll of the election process in Iraq. Scenes include polling centers, election posters and polling center security. (Uncredited video: American Forces Network Iraq. Length: 7:03.)

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Wire: Taliban Warns Obama Afghan Plan Will Lead to More Bloodshed

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2009 -- Newswire services, citing Al Jazeera, reported that the Taliban warned President Obama Saturday that his plans to increase troops in Afghanistan will lead to more violence and bloodshed.

Mullah Mohamad Rasul, a Taliban leader, said that fighters of the group were ready to take on the U.S. troops.

"Just as they are bringing more troops, so too the Taliban will have more troops," Rasul, a former governor of Nimruz province, told Al Jazeera.

Rasul said bands of bombers were organizing and ready to fight the U.S. military, according to the station.

"During the Bush administration the suicide bombers were registering individually, but now they are coming in groups. The whole nation is ready for the fight," the Taliban leader said on Al Jazeera.

"Every year our military power gets stronger and stronger and our forces are getting bigger and bigger and we are heading towards success," Rasul said.

Obama campaigned for the U.S. presidency on a promise to redeploy U.S. troops and resources to Afghanistan from Iraq.

The U.S. currnely has 36,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. The White House is expected to announce up to three new brigade-size deployments as early as next week to help meet a long-standing request for additional forces from field commanders.

The plan would mean sending as many as 30,000 extra troops in the next 12 to 18 months.

(Report from commercial media sources.)

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Combat Camera Video: F-16s and Predators Support Iraqi Elections

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Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll of F-16s and Predators supporting the Iraqi elections. Scenes include Airmen climbing into the jet, preparations before take off, take off of the jet, Predators taking flight and shots of the Iraqi and American flags. (Produced by Airman 1st Class Aaron Mark Johnson: 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. Length: 1:56.)

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Coalition Aircraft Mishap Closes Bagram Airfield

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2009 -- A Coalition C-17 cargo aircraft was involved in a mishap Jan. 30, causing Bagram Airfield to close until further notice.

Initial reports indicate that the aircraft landed with its gear not fully extended causing a small fire.

No injuries or deaths have been reported. A board of officers will be appointed to investigate the incident.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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US Airpower Summary, Jan. 31, 2009: F-15E Destroys Enemy Position

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An F-15E Strike Eagle flies a combat patrol mission over Afghanistan recently. The F-15E is from the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by /Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Jan. 31, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations January 30, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle destroyed an anti-Afghan heavy machine gun position with a guided bomb unit-31 during a firefight near Nangalam. The enemy dug and attempted to conceal the firing position, but remained visible to F-15E targeting systems.

Near Kajaki Dam, a coalition aircraft blew up an anti-Afghan bunker with a GBU-38, halting enemy fire at a coalition patrol providing security in the area. Shooters in the bunker fired at the patrol using rocket propelled grenades and assault weapons.

Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets and coalition aircraft performed shows of force expending flares over the Musa Qala region to deter enemy activity. A coalition convoy received enemy fire in the area but was able to safely continue on its mission with overwatch from the aircraft.

An F-15E and a coalition aircraft flew shows of force in the Shurakian area. The shows of force dispersed a gathering of people engaged in suspicious activity and a group of gunmen firing on a coalition patrol from within a populated area.

In the vicinity of Asadabad, Strike Eagles conducted shows of force and expended flares to deter a possible attack on a coalition convoy. The aircraft also cleared the convoy's route as they travelled through the area.

Navy aircraft partnered with Afghan National Army forces near Kandahar, with F/A-18C Hornets providing armed overwatch and a show of force to support an Afghani ground operation.

Navy F/A-18A and -C Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets also initiated shows of force near Balocan, Qalat, and Lashkar Gah to prevent enemy forces from interfering with coalition troop movements in those areas.

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 59 close air support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Fifteen Air Force surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, two Navy aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 38 close air support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized with coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt hostile activities.

Thirty-two Air Force and Navy surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. Additionally, three Air Force and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

Approximately 130 airlift sorties were flown; more than 600 tons of cargo was delivered; and about 3,900 passengers were transported. This included approximately 55,600 pounds of troop re-supply that was air-dropped in Afghanistan.

Coalition C-130 crews flew as part of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On January 29, U.S. Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 43 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.5 million pounds of fuel to 207 receiving aircraft.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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Iraqis Vote in Provincial Elections

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An Iraqi soldier from 1st Battalion, 12th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi army division, shows that he's voted at an election polling station in the Al Faisalia neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, Jan. 28. It is the voting day for government workers such as Iraqi army, police, etc. and people with special needs. (Photo by Staff Sgt. JoAnn Makinano: Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2009 -- Iraqis of all backgrounds are preparing to vote today during their country’s first election since 2005, a senior Defense Department official said earlier this week.

More than 15 million Iraqis are eligible to vote in the Jan. 31 provincial elections, which will select representatives for 440 council seats across the country’s 18 provinces, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told Pentagon reporters.

The more than 14,000 candidates “have for the most part, run on issues that matter to the Iraqi people, rather than trying to exploit ethnic or sectarian divisions,” Morrell said.

There has been some pre-election violence, but relatively few instances of voter intimidation, Morrell said.

Sunnis had boycotted the 2005 Iraqi elections, but indications are they will participate in this year’s provincial-seat polling, Morrell said. This development, he said, should produce a more representative Iraqi government, particularly in traditionally Sunni areas.

U.S. and Coalition troops will support Iraqi Security Forces during the election, Morrell said.

Morrell also noted that Afghan government officials have announced their country’s next national elections will be held in August, just before the Ramadan observance period. Reports also indicate, he added, that voter registrations in Afghanistan continue to progress well.

“So, we are pleased that the relatively new democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to mature rapidly,” Morrell said.

More to follow....

(Report from a Pentagon news release.)

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Supercarrier USS Carl Vinson Preps for Homeport Change

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In this 2007 file photo, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the James River en route to a pier-side dock after completing an 18-month dry dock period at Northrop Grumman Newport News. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Myriam Padilla.)

Focus on Defense:

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Jan. 31, 2009 -- A planning group from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) visited the ship's future homeport of San Diego in January to begin the process of configuring logistics and resources for sailors and their families who will make the move to the West Coast.

While the Navy has not yet established an official date for the aircraft carrier's homeport change, the ship will be assigning coordinators and putting the preliminary plans in place to make the future move a success.

"Eligible sailors will be receiving a homeport change certificate that entitles them to shipment of household goods, dependent travel, shipment of personal vehicles, and receipt of dislocation allowance to move family members," said Ensign Nicole Hansen, the ship's personnel officer.

Sailors with dependents can receive a change in their BAH to the San Diego rate upon the effective date of homeport change. The change in rate can be requested earlier if dependents are moved before the effective date and necessary documentation is provided to the ship's personnel office.

Hansen said that like any homeport move, the relocation of sailors and their families to another housing area will be a significant adjustment, but with proper planning, these moves can be a seamless process.

"It's important to remember that San Diego is considered a critical housing area, so it's important not to move a family until a secure place to live has been established due to the lack of available civilian and military housing and the higher cost of living ," said Hansen.

"We just want sailors to do their homework before they make any big decisions to relocate their families."

A good knowledge of the local housing area also applies to single crew members as well. Hansen stresses that single Sailors should do their homework to find safe and commuter-friendly places to live when relocating to another housing area.

Basic allowance for housing should be a primary consideration when searching for off base housing, according to Hansen. Although Sailors may be drawing more money in a high-cost housing area, they may not always be able to get as much house for the money in a competitive rental market.

Hansen said a host of support services are currently being established for Carl Vinson crew members as a result of the preliminary findings by the ship's planning group. A homeport change team will also be established to help Sailors and their families make the transition to the San Diego area.

"It's still early in the process, but we want to get started now and begin the planning phase," said Hansen. "That way, we'll be much better prepared when it's time to execute."

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristan Robertson, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs.)

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Friday, January 30, 2009

OIF Summary, Jan. 30, 2009: Troops in Iraq Nab Suspects, Find Weapons

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2009 -- Iraqi security forces, aided by their U.S. partners, detained suspected criminals, seized illegal weapons and found and destroyed a “sticky bomb” in Jan. 28 operations, military officials reported.

Iraqi National Police officers on a combined operation with Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained a suspected criminal in the Jihad community of Baghdad’s Rashid district. The combined patrol transported the detainee, who was wanted for alleged car-bomb activity, to a joint security station for processing.

Meanwhile, another combined patrol captured a bomb-building suspect in the Zubaida community.

In another operation, Iraqi security forces acted on information provided by a detainee who had knowledge of recent attacks to arrest two suspects believed to have conducted hand-grenade attacks on civilians resettling in northern Baghdad’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood.

In Baghdad’s Rashid district, Iraqi security forces and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers seized weapons and found a bomb and unexploded ordnance in various operations:
  • Police and U.S. soldiers found a magnetic “sticky bomb” in the district’s Jazeera community and called in an Iraqi explosive ordnance disposal team to dispose of it.

  • Forces confiscated 15 AK-47 assault rifles in the Saydiyah community.

  • Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers found a bomb made of a 2.75 inch rocket and a 60 mm mortar round in the Masafee community.

  • In the Abu Tshir community, a combined patrol found a rocket-propelled grenade round that had been fired but hadn’t exploded.

  • Iraqi and U.S. soldiers found an 81 mm white-phosphorus mortar in the Arab Jabour community. A coalition EOD team secured it.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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Combat Camera: Salang Tunnel in the Hindu Kush Mountain Range

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Snow covered mountains are shown just outside of Afghanistan's Salang tunnel in the Hindu Kush mountain range Friday. (Photo by Spc. Scott Davis: Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

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Soldiers with Alpha Company, 101st Division Special Troop Battalion, 101st Airborne Division drive toward Afghanistan's Salang tunnel in the Hindu Kush mountain range, Friday. The A Co. "Slayer" soldiers were checking on the security efforts for the tunnel. (Photo by Spc. Scott Davis: Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

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Soldiers with Alpha Company, 101st Division Special Troop Battalion, 101st Airborne Division rest at Afghanistan's Salang tunnel in the Hindu Kush mountain range, Friday. The A Co. "Slayer" soldiers were checking on the security efforts for the tunnel. Earlier this month, an avalanche outside the south entrance of the tunnel killed at least 10 Afghans and trapping at least another 40. (Photo by Spc. Scott Davis: Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

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The entrance to Afghanistan's Salang tunnel inside the Hindu Kush mountain range. This tunnel is one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world sitting at approximately 10,675ft. (Photo by Spc. Scott Davis: Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

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The entrance to Afghanistan's Salang tunnel inside the Hindu Kush mountain range. This tunnel is one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world sitting at approximately 10,675ft. (Photo by Spc. Scott Davis: Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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Wire: State Dept. Will Not Renew Blackwater Contract for Iraq

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2009 -- The Associated Press today reported senior U.S. official says the U.S. State Department will not renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq when it expires in May.
The official tells The Associated Press that the contract will expire because of the Iraqi government's decision to deny Blackwater a license to operate.

The Iraqis informed the State Department last week of the cancellation, which came amid lingering outrage over a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

The State Department said Friday that it is still considering its options in the wake of the denial of Blackwater's license.
Blackwater was founded in 1997 to support the training needs of the United States military and law enforcement communities.

Blackwater has trained more than 100,000 local police officers, SWAT team members, homeland security professionals, military personnel and others to help prepare them to serve and protect U.S. citizens at home and abroad.

Blackwater trains approximately 500 members of the military and law enforcement agencies every day.

(Report from commercial media sources.)

Related:
AP: Official: Blackwater contract for Iraq not renewed
Blackwater Web site

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OEF Summary, Jan. 30, 2009: Troops Disrupt Roadside Bomb Network in Kandahar

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 30, 2009 -- Coalition forces killed four militants and detained eight suspected militants during operations to disrupt Taliban bomb makers and militants in Kandahar Jan. 29.

In Arghandab District, just outside Kandahar proper, the operation targeted a Taliban operator known to have employed roadside bombs aimed against Afghan national police and coalition forces.

When coalition forces reached the compound where the Taliban member was located, armed militants engaged the coalition force with small arms fire. Militants barricaded themselves in a building endangering the women and children on the compound. Coalition forces precisely engaged the barricaded militants after they refused to surrender, while safeguarding the women and children.

Other suspected militants on the compound followed coalition forces' instructions to surrender and were detained without incident.

A building damaged by the militants was deemed unsafe for occupants by the coalition force. After removing women and children a safe distance, forces destroyed the building preventing harm to anyone.

During the operation, the force found AK-47s, grenades and blasting caps, the latter used to initiate IEDs.

Nine women and 17 children present on the compound were unharmed during the operation due to the precise actions of coalition forces.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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Living History: January 31, 1958, 1st US Satellite in Orbit

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Explorer I is the first U.S. satellite to go into orbit. It was launched Jan. 31, 1958, by a Jupiter C rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. (NASA photo.)

Living History:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2009 -- On Jan. 31, 1958, Explorer I was the first U.S. satellite to go into orbit. It was launched by a Jupiter-C rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in response to the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1. It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt.

The primary science instrument on Explorer 1 was a cosmic ray detector designed to measure the radiation environment in Earth orbit. Once in space this experiment, provided by Dr. James Van Allen of the University of Iowa, revealed a much lower cosmic ray count than expected. Van Allen theorized that the instrument may have been saturated by very strong radiation from a belt of charged particles trapped in space by Earth's magnetic field. The existence of these radiation belts was confirmed by another U.S. satellite launched two months later, and they became known as the Van Allen Belts in honor of their discoverer.

Explorer 1 was designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Dr. William H. Pickering. The Jupiter-C rocket was modified by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency to accommodate a satellite payload under the direction of Dr. Wernher von Braun. The Jupiter-C launch vehicle consisted of a modified version of the Redstone rocket's first stage and two upper stages of clustered Sergeant rockets later designated as Juno boosters for space launches.

May 23, 1958 - Signal ended when batteries ran out

March 31, 1970 - Burned up on re-entry over Pacific Ocean

Orbited Earth once every 114.8 minutes after launch, or 12.54 orbits per day

Completed 58,000 orbits times before returning to Earth in March 1970

Orbit path took it as close as 354 kilometers (220 miles) to Earth and as far as 2,515 kilometers (1,563 miles) from Earth

(Report from a NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release.)

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US Airpower Summary, Jan. 30, 2009: A-10s Relieve Friendly Forces

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Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in-flight over Afghanistan supporting coalition forces. A-10s performs shows of force to deter enemy activities and provide armed aerial overwatch in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Jan. 30, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations Jan. 29, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, a coalition aircraft struck several anti-Afghan fighting positions in the vicinity of Shurakian using guided bomb unit-38 and -12s. Enemy gunmen were firing on a coalition patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-15E Strike Eagles executed multiple strikes near Nangalam, targeting enemy personnel using RPGs, mortars, automatic weapons and sniper fire against a coalition unit. After the Thunderbolt IIs relieved friendly forces under enemy fire using precision bombing, effectively ending the battle, the F-15Es remained on station to provide overwatch for coalition forces as they regrouped.

Near Lashkar Gah, an Air Force B-1B Lancer and coalition aircraft dropped GBU-38s and Paveway munitions to counter enemy fire on coalition units. The aircraft tracked the enemy shooters through several firing positions in civilian settlements, providing shows of force along the way to cover friendly ground forces' maneuvers. The aircraft finally released weapons once the enemy was positively identified and in a position where the blasts would no longer endanger civilians.

An F-15E performed a show of force near the Bagram area following reports of small arms fire directed at coalition soldiers. The enemy shooters broke away from the engagement immediately afterward.

In the vicinity of Khowst, an A-10 flew a show of force over a convoy patrol route to deter personnel from placing improvised explosive devices. Several suspected enemy personnel ran from the site immediately following the maneuver.

A B-1B executed a show of force in order to break up an enemy attack on a coalition convoy near Sangin. The enemy had been firing at the convoy with RPGs, assault rifles and other weapons but fled the area when the Lancer passed overhead.

F-15Es and coalition aircraft performed shows of force over the Musa Qaleh area. The maneuvers aimed to discourage enemy activity as coalition forces carried out their missions.

On-scene joint terminal attack controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 60 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Thirteen Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, two coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, Air Force F-16s targeted an insurgent rocket launch site in the vicinity of Baqubah using GBU-38s. Insurgents fired a rocket salvo at a nearby coalition base. While insurgents failed to damage the installation, their rockets wounded an Iraqi civilian who was promptly treated by coalition medics.

Coalition aircraft flew 39 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized with coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt hostile activities.

Twenty-nine Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. Additionally, three Air Force and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

Approximately 130 airlift sorties were flown, more than 600 tons of cargo was delivered and about 3,900 passengers were transported.

Coalition C-130 crews flew as part of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On Jan. 28, Air Force tanker crews flew 40 sorties and off-loaded approximately 2.7 million pounds of fuel to 223 receiving aircraft.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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Video: Pat Tillman USO in Afghanistan

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2009 -- Embedded above is a video package about the Pat Tillman USO Center, dedicated to former NFL player and Soldier killed-in-action, Pat Tillman. (Produced by Sgt. Brian Buckwalter; American Forces Network Afghanistan. Length: 1:49.)

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Combat Camera: Aboard USS Mason; Jan. 30, 2009

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INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 25, 2009) Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Adam Gayner mans a 25MM chain gun aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) while monitoring a small boat transiting from the merchant vessel MV Faina. Faina and her crew are being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Mason is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 25, 2009) Sailors patrol near a the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) in a rigid hull inflatable boat while conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 25, 2009) Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Adam Gayner mans a 25MM chain gun aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) while monitoring a small boat transiting from the merchant vessel MV Faina. Faina and her crew are being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Mason is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 25, 2009) Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Adam Gayner mans a 25MM chain gun aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) while monitoring a small boat transiting from the merchant vessel MV Faina. Faina and her crew are being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Mason is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 18, 2009) Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) shore a water-tight hatch during a damage control training exercise. Mason is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 25, 2009) Sailors from the guided missile destroyer USS Mason, are hoisted back aboard the ship's "Boat Deck." Mason is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security, arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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