Saturday, February 7, 2009

Video: 2009 Cobra Gold

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2009 -- Embedded above is a video package about new robotics technologies being showcased for potential military clients in an effort to understand how the technology can best serve the military. (Produced by Staff Sgt. Mark Leighy; U.S. Army, Pacific, Public Affairs Office. Length: 1:28.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Military Imagery on THE TENSION

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US Airpower Summary, Feb. 7, 2009: F-15Es Target Enemy Positions

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An F-15E Strike Eagle breaks away from a KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling over Southwest Asia in this file photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Feb. 7, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in the following operations Feb. 6, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs targeted multiple anti-Afghan firing positions near Bagram using general purpose 500-pound bombs and 30mm cannon strafes. Enemy gunmen had opened fire on a coalition unit with intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fire when the jets engaged, destroying the enemy positions. Following the engagement an A-10 flew a show of force over the area to deter further enemy action.

A coalition aircraft employed precision fire in pursuit of anti-Afghan forces involved in an engagement with coalition troops in the vicinity of Delaram. After positively identifying and tracking the enemy personnel, the aircraft timed its engagement to preserve the safety of local residents and buildings.

In the Nangalam area, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles engaged enemy personnel shooting at a coalition base. Employing guided bomb unit-38s, the aircraft targeted hostile firing positions and ended the attack.

An F-15E conducted a show of force near Asmar after a coalition patrol started taking small arms fire from enemy personnel taking cover in a civilian settlement. The maneuver led the enemy shooters to break off fire and retreat.

A coalition aircraft flew a show of force near Kajaki Dam, deterring enemy forces from attacking a coalition convoy transiting the area. An A-10 also flew a show of force to deter enemy activity during a coalition ground operation near Monari.

Joint terminal attack controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 57 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Sixteen Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, Air Force F-16CG Fighting Falcons executed preplanned GBU-38 strikes on a large building near Ba'qubah which insurgents had booby-trapped with high explosives. The building was destroyed using tactics to ensure a minimal detonation, eliminating the danger enemy explosives posed to nearby coalition troops and civilians in the area.

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-eight 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 575 tons of cargo was delivered; and about 3,450 passengers were transported. This included approximately 60,000 pounds of troop resupply that was air-dropped in Afghanistan.

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

On Feb. 5, Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 47 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.2 million pounds of fuel to 261 receiving aircraft.

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

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Pentagon Claims Military Meals Sent to Storm Victims Are Safe

News in Balance

News in Balance:

EDITOR'S NOTE: The article below, provided by the U.S. Defense Department, states that meals sent for disaster relief do not contain recalled peanut butter products. However, a number of the recalled products use peanut paste as an ingredient. Peanut paste and peanut butter are different types of peanut products. The article does not specifically address relief meals containing peanut paste products.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- Though some of them contain peanut butter, the 660,000 packaged military meals the Defense Logistics Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency are shipping to Kentucky and Arkansas storm victims are safe, officials here said.

The meals -- known as “Meals, Ready to Eat,” or “MREs” -- will replace the commercial meal kits that have been distributed to the storm victims.

DLA’s Defense Distribution Center in New Cumberland, Pa., is arranging shipment of the meals, scheduled for delivery today.

A recent Food and Drug Administration recall of some products containing peanut butter has prompted the Defense Logistics Agency and its industry partners to increase surveillance of the peanut butter suppliers to ensure the products are safe to consume, DLA officials said in a statement released today.

“All military MREs are safe,” the statement said. “While many of the meals contain peanut butter, they do not contain peanut butter products recalled by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the manufacturers of the MREs.”

In addition, 1.5 million self-contained packaged meals, a commercial version of the military MREs, are being readied for distribution to FEMA. Although some of these meals also contain peanut butter, officials said, the manufacturers have certified that the meals do not contain products recalled by the FDA.

Many residents of Kentucky and Arkansas have been without power for prolonged periods since a late-January storm.

(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Related: FDA Recall of Peanut-Containing Products: Salmonella Typhimurium

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Judge Dismisses Charges Against USS Cole Bombing Suspect at Guantanamo

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FILE PHOTO - Commissions building courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Christopher Mobley.)

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- Charges against an accused terrorist being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were dismissed yesterday by the judge who oversees the military commissions system, Defense Department officials said.

Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority for military commissions at Guantanamo, yesterday dismissed the government’s charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in accordance with President Barack Obama’s order to temporarily halt activities there, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told the Pentagon Channel today.

However, Nashiri isn’t going anywhere, Morrell pointed out. The suspected al-Qaida operative, he said, will remain confined at Guantanamo and could have charges brought against him in the future.

Nashiri “will remain in custody, charges can be brought against him again if the administration would choose to do so in the future, and we are fully in compliance with the executive order the president signed a couple of days after his inauguration, halting all military commissions activities” at Guantanamo, Morrell said.

The White House has tasked the Pentagon to review detention operations at Guantanamo to ascertain whether or not detainees are humanely treated according to the Geneva Conventions.

Obama is scheduled to meet with victims of the USS Cole bombing and the 9/11 attacks at the White House today.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates this week directed Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, the vice chief of Naval Operations, to lead the Pentagon’s assessment of Guantanamo’s detainee operations. Walsh is at Guantanamo now and his review is to be completed within 30 days.

Nashiri is the alleged planner of the Oct. 12, 2000, bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole when it was berthed in Aden, Yemen. Seventeen U.S. sailors died and 39 were injured in the attack.

Some family members and friends of servicemembers killed or injured in the USS Cole attack have voiced concerns that Nashiri could escape justice if the detention center is closed within a year, as is stipulated by Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order.

“We all feel for them,” Morrell said of the grieving families and friends. “The last thing anyone wants to do is victimize these people twice.”

The bottom line, Morrell said, is that Nashiri remains in U.S. custody.

“He is confined and will be until some determination is made by a court or some legal authority in the future,” Morrell said. “The only thing that has happened now is that his legal case will not proceed while this review is under way into the whole military commissions process.”

A military judge at Guantanamo on July 29 ordered that legal proceedings against Nashiri continue. The judge scheduled Nashiri to be arraigned Feb. 9. The judge’s order contradicted Obama’s Jan. 20 directive to Gates to cease referring any new cases through the military commissions process at Guantanamo Bay and to request 120-day continuances on all active cases there. Two days later, the president issued three executive orders, one of which directs the closure of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay within the year.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon yesterday said that Crawford’s decision regarding Nashiri “reflects the fact that the president has issued an executive order which mandates that the military commissions be halted, pending the outcome of several comprehensive reviews of our detention operations at Guantanamo.”

(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)

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Pentagon: News Reports Overstate Cost of New US Navy Warship

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- The projected unit cost of the next-generation U.S. Navy destroyer is much lower than the figures being cited in some news reports, a senior Defense Department official said here yesterday.

The DDG-1000 is a high-tech, guided-missile destroyer that is envisioned to eventually replace the Arleigh Burke class of warships developed 30 years ago.

The Pentagon would pay between $2.2 to $2.5 billion for each new DDG-1000 ship after the regular production line is up and running, John J. Young Jr., undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told reporters at the Pentagon.

Young said he disagrees with news reports that say DDG-1000 vessels would cost up to $7 billion per copy.

“There’s no basis for any [cost] projection that this ship is going to cost 5 or 6 or 7 billion dollars,” Young said.

The cost of a first prototype, or lead, DDG-1000 ship is about $3.3 billion because the government pays for the initial drawings and production set-up, Young said. The unit cost of follow-on ships would decrease due to industrial economies of scale, he said.

Conversely, unit production costs can rise if the number of items to manufacture is reduced from the original schedule, Young explained.

The DDG-1000 series is designated the Zumwalt class, named after late Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr. The new ships feature computer-aided design, modular construction, high-tech armaments and radar, as well as a unique, streamlined hull design.

Originally, 32 DDG-1000 vessels were to be built at shipyards in Maine and Mississippi. Recent production plans called for two ships to be built.

However, the DDG-1000 is on hold for now, as Pentagon and interagency officials re-examine the project, Young said.

“Aside from the warfighting analysis, we do need to do some producibility analysis, manufacturing analysis and cost analysis,” he said.

Some officials suggest that modifying Arleigh Burke class ships would be a less expensive way to create a new vessel, Young said. That approach, he said, wouldn’t produce as much cost savings as imagined, and would result in a vessel possessing undesirable mass without the capabilities of the DDG-1000.

“You cannot do that without significant changes in that ship,” Young said of proposals to rework Arleigh Burke ships to create a new vessel. “You will have to add cooling capacity; you will have to add electrical generating capacity,” as well as upgraded radar equipment.

And, the Arleigh Burke class destroyer “has already gained weight because it is 30 years into its service life and ships are designed with a certain amount of weight-carrying capacity,” he said.

(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)

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US Airpower Summary, Feb. 6, 2009: F-15Es Provide Armed Overwatch

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An F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to provide close-air support for International Security Assistance Force ground operations. F-15Es perform shows of force and provide armed overwatch for coalition ground convoys. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Feb 6, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations Feb. 5, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II destroyed an anti-Afghan rocket position preparing to fire on a coalition base. The strike, employing a guided bomb unit-38, took place in the vicinity of Orgun.

In the vicinity of Tarin Kowt, an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle flew a show of force to deter enemy action while a coalition ground convoy cleared an improvised explosive device discovered along their travel route. The Strike Eagle also provided aerial overwatch.

An A-10 executed a show of force to suppress enemy fire during an engagement between coalition troops and anti-Afghan gunmen. Enemy forces had unsuccessfully attempted to assault a coalition forward base in the Orgun region.

A dismounted coalition patrol called in an A-10 to fly a show of force to deter enemy activity and provide aerial overwatch as they patrolled near Bagram. The patrol conducted operations to increase security in the region and provide humanitarian aid for local residents.

An A-10 and an F-15E also flew shows of force near Kandahar and Ghazni respectively in order to prevent enemy attacks in those areas.

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

In total, 74 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

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

In Iraq, Coalition aircraft flew 41 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-six Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. Additionally, three Air Force 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 145 airlift sorties were flown, more than 525 tons of cargo was delivered and about 3,525 passengers were transported.

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

On Feb. 4, Air Force tanker crews flew 52 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.3 million pounds of fuel to 272 receiving aircraft.

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

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US Air Force Makes Bed Down Decision on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

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Air Force officials have decided to bed down 59 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and to allow associated construction to begin at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. In this photo over Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 Lightning II test aircraft AA-1 undergoes a flight check. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- Air Force officials have decided to bed down 59 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and to allow associated construction at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to begin, implementing a BRAC 2005 decision. The decision also imposes temporary operational limitations on JSF flight training activities both to avoid and to minimize noise impacts.

This decision requires a supplemental environmental analysis be conducted to study operational alternatives and noise mitigations for the 59 aircraft authorized to be delivered under this decision. The analysis is scheduled for completion in September 2010.

"The Air Force has heard the communities' concerns and is taking them seriously," said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary for installations. "We are undertaking the supplemental analysis to evaluate alternatives to operating the F-35 as well as ways to mitigate the noise.

"As we move forward," she said, "the Air Force is committed to an open, transparent process to address and resolve bed down issues for the Joint Strike Fighter. We will ensure affected communities are involved through public scoping meetings, know what to expect, and understand timelines for development. A decision on whether to bed down additional aircraft will be deferred until completion of the subsequent environmental analysis."

This decision allows for construction of facilities for the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Joint Training Site, which includes instructor pilots, operations and maintenance support personnel, front-line and instructor qualified maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel.

The 59 aircraft provide an initial capability of one squadron each for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The first aircraft is scheduled to arrive in March 2010 and the aircraft would continue arriving through 2014.

It is anticipated that with the arrival of the 7th Special Forces Group and additional F-35 related activities there will be an increase of approximately 4,000 personnel and more than 6,000 dependents. Military construction is expected to bring another $700 million to the area.

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

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OIF Summary, Feb. 6, 2009: Troops in Iraq Nab Murder Suspect, Seize Weapons

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a murder suspect and seized several illegal weapons stockpiles yesterday, military officials reported.

Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers detained the suspected murderer in Baghdad’s Rashid district on an Iraqi-issued warrant.

Meanwhile, acting on a tip, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers seized five weapons stockpiles west of Baghdad.

The first cache contained a light machine gun, two rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The second site yielded machine-gun, small-arms, anti-aircraft, anti-tank and shotgun rounds, mortars and mortar equipment, and dozens of fragmentation grenades.

The Iraqi and U.S. soldiers continued to a third site, where they uncovered anti-tank and anti-personnel rounds and an RPG booster. The fourth cache yielded surface-to-air missiles, mortars, anti-aircraft rounds, RPG rounds, mortar tubes and small-arms ammunition. The fifth find consisted of a grenade, mortars and mortar tubes, and RPG rounds, including some designed to pierce armor.

In a separate operation in the Rashid district, Iraqi police, U.S. soldiers and “Sons of Iraq” civilian security group members found five RPGs.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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OEF Summary, Feb. 6, 2009: Troops Disrupt Bombing Cells in Afghanistan

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2009 -- Afghan and coalition forces yesterday killed seven militants and detained 12 suspects during operations designed to disrupt a roadside-bomb cell in Afghanistan’s Zabol province and capture people believed to be connected to a recent attack on a coalition base in Khowst province.

In Khowst’s Maghzoori district, southeast of Kabul, Afghan and coalition forces conducted operations against a cell believed to have carried out a January vehicle-bomb attack on a coalition base in the province.

After the combined force arrived at the targeted compound, they called out for women and children to leave the buildings. Once the noncombatants were moved to safety, the strike force entered one of the buildings and killed an armed combatant.

In the compound, the combined force found timers and other bomb-making materials, assault rifles, pistols, and more than 400 rounds of ammunition. Nine suspected militants were detained.

In Zabol’s Jeldak district, northeast of Kandahar, coalition forces conducted an operation aimed at disrupting the cell responsible for conducting attacks against local civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

When the force arrived at the targeted compound and moved 24 women and 45 children to safety, three suspects were detained without incident. Believing militants were hiding in a nearby cave, coalition forces pursued them. Six militants were killed in the ensuing engagement.

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

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Combat Camera Video: Daylight Leaflet Drop Over Mosul

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll of soldiers dropping leaflets from helicopters in Mosul, Iraq. (Produced by Tech. Sgt. Adrienne Brammer; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq. Length: 3:26.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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US Navy Aids Crew of Ship Released by Pirates

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SOMALIA (Feb. 6, 2009) - The U.S. Navy fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) provides fuel and fresh water to Motor Vessel Faina following its release by Somali pirates Feb. 5, after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-days a week presence since it was captured. The Belize-flagged cargo ship is owned and operated by "Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine" and is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment. The ship was attacked on Sept. 25 and forced to proceed to anchorage off the Somali Coast. U.S. 5th Fleet conducts maritime security operations to promote stability and regional economic prosperity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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SOMALIA (Feb. 6, 2009) - Sailors from the Norfolk-based destroyer, USS Mason (DDG 87), climb aboard Motor Vessel Faina to conduct a health and comfort inspection of the crew as well as provide them with food, water and medical support. Somali pirates released the Motor Vessel Faina Feb. 5, after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-days a week presence since it was captured. The Belize-flagged cargo ship is owned and operated by "Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine" and is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment. The ship was attacked on Sept. 25 and forced to proceed to anchorage off the Somali Coast. U.S. 5th Fleet conducts maritime security operations to promote stability and regional economic prosperity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

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SOMALIA (Feb. 6, 2009) - The U.S. Navy fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) provides fuel and fresh water to Motor Vessel Faina following its release by Somali pirates Feb. 5, after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-days a week presence since it was captured. The Belize-flagged cargo ship is owned and operated by "Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine" and is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment. The ship was attacked on Sept. 25 and forced to proceed to anchorage off the Somali Coast. U.S. 5th Fleet conducts maritime security operations to promote stability and regional economic prosperity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

Dispatches from the Front:

MANAMA, Bahrain, Feb. 6, 2009 -- Following Motor Vessel Faina's release by Somali pirates yesterday, the U.S. Navy is providing humanitarian assistance support to the merchant vessel and its crew.

Sailors from the Norfolk-based destroyer, USS Mason (DDG 87), went aboard Faina to conduct a health and comfort inspection of the crew as well as provide Faina's crew with food, water and medical support. The U.S. Navy fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) also provided fuel and fresh water to the merchant vessel.

Faina is currently anchored off the coast of Somalia, near Hobyo, and is making engineering preparations to get underway.

Somali pirates released the Motor Vessel Faina Feb. 5, after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-days a week presence since it was captured.

Motor Vessel Faina was attacked off the coast of Somalia Sept. 25th. The roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) ship is Belize flagged and operated by "Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine." While the ship initially had had a crew of 21, the ship's captain reportedly suffered a heart attack shortly after being taken hostage. The pirates refused all requests to turn over the Captain's remains. The ship's remaining crew includes 17 Ukrainian citizens, as well as two Russians and one Latvian.

(Report from a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs news release.)

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pirates Release Ukrainian Ship's Crew; US Monitors Situation

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INDIAN OCEAN (Feb. 4, 2009) Ransom money is dropped in the vicinity of the MV Faina off the coast of Somalia near Hobyo while under observation by a U.S. Navy ship. Pirates did not actually leave the ship until Feb. 5, more than 24 hours after this photo was taken. The Belize-flagged cargo ship is operated by Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine and is carrying a cargo of Ukranian T-72 tanks and related equipment. The ship was attacked Sept. 25, 2008 by pirates and forced to proceed to anchorage off the Somali Coast. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.)

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2009 -- Pirates today released the Ukrainian ship Faina, which they had held for ransom along with its 21-member crew and cargo since hijacking the vessel off the coast of Somalia in September.

The U.S. military is monitoring the situation, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters. The ship's crew was unharmed, according to news reports.

“I think that it is always a good outcome when there are not lives that are lost,” Whitman said of the hijacking’s peaceful outcome.

Seagoing pirates operating off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen have preyed on commercial shipping, often holding captured vessels, cargoes and crews for millions of dollars in ransom money. The problem seemed to worsen until last month’s stand-up of a multinational, anti-pirate consortium known as Combined Task Force 151.

The pirates who hijacked the Faina reportedly were paid a sizable ransom that was air-dropped aboard the hijacked vessel.

The pirates may have gotten away in this instance, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that piracy is a crime, Whitman said.

Piracy “is a troubling and concerning activity, as we’ve talked about in the past; it’s an illegal activity,” Whitman said.

“But, I guess if there’s any silver lining,” Whitman continued, “it’s that in most of these cases to date, [the] crews have ultimately been released unharmed.”

The Faina was transporting an estimated $30 million of Russian military equipment to Kenya when it was intercepted Sept. 25 by pirates cruising off the coast of Somalia.

Kenya is an east African nation that faces the Indian Ocean. Kenya’s neighbors include Ethiopia and Somalia to the north and northeast, Uganda and Sudan to the northwest, and Tanzania to the south.

U.S. authorities were not concerned that the military equipment aboard the Faina was to be delivered to Kenya, a U.S. ally in the region, officials said. In fact, the Kenyan government announced recently that it would try pirates captured by the U.S. military.

The key Pentagon concern in the days after the Faina’s hijacking was that the ship’s cargo could be sold to terrorists.

“Our concern is making sure that this cargo does not end up in the hands of anyone who would use it in a way that would be destabilizing to the region, and we have committed significant resources to make sure those objectives are met,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters Sept. 30.

(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)

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US Airpower Summary, Feb. 5, 2009: C-130s Support Vital Airlift Missions

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An Air Force C-130 Hercules taxies to a stop at a base in Southwest Asia after an airlift mission. C-130s provide intra-theater heavy airlift support transporting troops and cargo as part of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ken Stephens.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Feb. 5, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations Feb. 4, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet targeted an anti-Afghan bunker using a guided bomb unit-38 and then engaged enemy gunmen with a strafing pass. The enemy personnel fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at a coalition patrol near Kajaki Dam.

In a separate engagement also near Kajaki Dam, a Navy F/A-18C Hornet bombed an anti-Afghan compound using a GBU-38. Enemy personnel were using the structure for cover, firing RPGs and assault weapons from the roof and through the windows at coalition troops.

Near Shurakian, a Super Hornet blew up an enemy mortar emplacement with a GBU-38 in response to anti-Afghan mortar fire against coalition forces. The Super Hornet conducted aerial overwatch for friendly units.

An Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped a GBU-38 on a tree line near Sangin, targeting enemy shooters who were taking cover there and firing at coalition soldiers.

In the vicinity of Gereshk, a Super Hornet performed shows of force during a skirmish. The maneuvers caused enemy personnel shooting at a coalition patrol to take cover and disperse.

In the Lashkar Gah area, a coalition aircraft flew a show of force over a group of armed individuals suspected to be part of anti-Afghan forces. The aircraft also performed tactical reconnaissance along a heavily travelled highway, discovering signs of improvised explosive devices.

Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, Navy Super Hornets and coalition aircraft flew shows of force to deter enemy activity upon the request of ground units near Musa Qala, Nurestan, Tarin Kowt and Taghaz.

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

In total, 73 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

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

In Iraq, 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-six Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. Additionally, three Air Force 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 128 airlift sorties were flown, more than 270 tons of cargo was delivered and about 2,500 passengers were transported.

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

On Feb. 3, Air Force tanker crews flew 46 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.2 million pounds of fuel to 264 receiving aircraft.

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

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

OIF Summary, Feb. 4, 2009: IED Blast in Mansour District Kills Iraqis

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

BAGHDAD, Feb. 4, 2009 -- An Iraqi civilian was killed and a senior member of the Sons of Iraq was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated in the Mansour district of northwest Baghdad Feb. 4.

At approximately 2:45 p.m., an IED detonated beneath the vehicle the two Iraqis were riding in. Iraqi Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division responded to the incident with support from soldiers of Troop B, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, MND-B.

A number of individuals were detained following the blast and transported to an Iraqi military facility for questioning.

“These criminals in the area do not care about the loss of innocent Iraqi lives,” said Maj. Kone Faulkner, spokesman for 2nd HBCT, 1st Inf. Div., MND-B. “Our combined military is highly trained and a disciplined force that is committed to putting a stop these senseless acts of violence in the northwestern Baghdad.”

An investigation is on-going.

(Report from a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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OEF Summary, Feb. 4, 2009: Forces Conduct Precision Ordnance Drop on Enemy Position

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 4, 2009 -- On Feb. 2, 4 kilometers north east of Forward Operating Base Price in the Gereshk District of Helmand province, International Security Assistance Forces were attacked by insurgents from positions inside a compound. ISAF forces, being under immediate threat, directed accurate fire into the enemy position. The troops had positively identified the compound and that the only inhabitants were enemy forces.

After positive identification of the enemy was confirmed and the immediate area cleared of local Afghans, troops called for a targeted precision ordnance drop from ISAF air support.

A short time later, a single munition was dropped and guided straight into the enemy compound. Damage was completely contained within the compound, and ISAF troops confirmed that the threat was removed.

ISAF can confirm that throughout this precisely targeted operation the only damage caused was to the compound used by the enemy. ISAF takes extreme care when an escalation of force is required against an enemy who continually attacks from within local communities.

ISAF said no civilians were injured or put at risk throughout this operation.

(Report from an International Security Assistance Force news release.)

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