Saturday, May 16, 2009

Combat Camera Video: Counterpiracy Operation Allied Protector: Part 2 - Scanning the Seas

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 -- Embedded above is part two of a series. In 'Scanning the Seas,' the crew of the NATO flagship Corte-Real works to identify ships in the area. This allows for faster response during emergencies giving NATO a tactical edge. (NATO video. Length: 4:44.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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OEF Update, May 16, 2009: Rocket Attack Kills 3, Wounds 4 Near FOB Salerno in Khowst Province

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 16, 2009 -- Insurgents launching an attack from Pakistan fired rockets in the area of Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khowst province May 15. The projectiles impacted at two sites outside the perimeter of the compound, killing at least three local civilians, injuring four, and damaging a local mosque.

A quick reaction force from Task Force Steel, based at FOB Salerno, was dispatched to assess the damage and assist the injured. The four wounded local civilians were evacuated to the compound, where they are being treated.

The attack caused no equipment damage or injuries to international forces.

Task force troops yesterday searched for additional survivors at both impact sites, and civilian casualty numbers may change. Updates will be provided as they become available.

(Report from a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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OIF Summary, May 16, 2009: Troops in Iraq Target Syrian-Based al-Qaeda Network

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

BAGHDAD, May 16, 2009 -- Iraqi and Coalition forces targeted a Syrian-based al-Qaeda in Iraq network operating in Iraq and other AQI network cells on Friday and Saturday.

Near Tall al Hawa, approximately 83 km northwest of Mosul, an Iraqi and Coalition team conducted an operation targeting the Syrian-based Al Qaeda-linked foreign terrorist facilitator, Sa’ad Uwayid Ubayd al-shammari aka Abu Khalaf.

The U.S. Treasury Department has recently frozen all of Abu Khalaf’s bank accounts and financial assets found in the United States. This terrorist is believed to be responsible for facilitating the main pipeline of suicide bombers, as well as the flow of money, weapons, terrorists and other resources from Syria into Iraq.

The combined force was led to a residence where they captured three of Abu Khalaf’s associates. Iraqi authorities on scene identified one of the detainees as being wanted for his involvement in vehicle-borne improvised explosive devise attacks.

In Mosul, Iraqi and Coalition forces conducted and operation targeting an AQI operative. The suspected is alleged to have ties to senior AQI leaders in the area and knowledge of AQI activities in the region.

The combined force received information on the suspect’s location. Upon entering the residence the suspect turned himself over to the combined force without incident.

One additional suspect was detained for further questioning regarding his involvement in AQI activities.

(Report from a Multinational Division Center news release.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Wire: Speaker Pelosi Backpedals on Claims CIA Lied, Blames Bush

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:
EDITOR'S NOTE: As of Saturday, this story has become buried deep within the bowels of the lost weekend news cycle. So far, only The Politico and The Hill, both Washington politics Web sites, have reported that Pelosi late Friday issued yet another in a growing list of contradictory statements. When the press isn't ignoring Pelosi, they seem to be framing the controversy (in uniform code-speak) as a "distraction"ginned up by Republicans. Even in the most simplistic terms, it is anything but a distraction. The issue is about the integrity of career politicians who put their desire for power ahead of the needs of the nation.
WASHINGTON, May 15, 2009 -- Newswires reported this evening that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backpedaled Friday on her claims that the CIA lied to her about water-boarding.

Rebuffed by the Democratic head of the CIA and left hanging by a Democratic White House, San Fransisco Democrat Pelosi issued a statement moving into the slow weekend news cycle late Friday shifting her criticism to the Bush administration just hours after CIA Director Leon Panetta defended his agency against Pelosi’s charges.

"My criticism of the manner in which the Bush administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe," Pelosi said in a statement late Friday, according to The Politico Web site.

But she didn’t back off her central claim, that she wasn’t informed about the use of water-boarding against a key terror suspect in September 2002.

The Politico speculated that Pelosi may have been waiting for the White House to come to her defense before making her statement late Friday. However, this seems counter-intuitive since the CIA is an executive branch agency that reports to the Director of National Intelligence under the president.

Former House Speaker, Republican Newt Gingrich, in an interview Friday on Sean Hannity's talk-radio program called for Pelosi to be suspended from her position as Speaker pending a bipartisan investigation.

Gingrich said Pelosi "lied to the House" when she earlier claimed that the CIA had never briefed her about the Bush administration's use of interrogation methods like waterboarding, which is considered torture by the current administration.

"I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters," the Gingrich said in an interview with ABC Radio.

The Speaker of the House is second in the United States presidential line of succession, after the Vice President, and the position is considered by some to be the second most powerful political office in the nation.

This is a developing story.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Sources:
Nancy Pelosi backpedals on CIA claims
Gingrich: 'Absolute obligation' to investigate Pelosi

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US Navy Updates Confirmed Cases of H1N1 (Swine Flu) to 50

News in Balance
News from the U.S. Navy

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2009 -- The U.S. Navy updated its confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza May 15 to 50 sailors.

The Navy continues to monitor the health of the force to ensure necessary precautions are being taken to educate and safeguard sailors, civilian personnel and family members.

The Naval Health Research Center was designated May 7 an H1N1 confirmatory lab by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after being provided the necessary materials for designation.

Additional information on the H1N1 influenza is available at:

(Report from a U.S. Navy news release.)

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Pentagon Discusses Obama's Revival of Military Commissions

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2009 -- President Barack Obama today moved a step closer toward reforming and reviving the military commissions that have been stalled since the change in administrations.

The Defense Department is sending to the Congress a handful of changes that will afford more protections to defendants at the commissions.

“Military commissions have a long tradition in the United States. They are appropriate for trying enemies who violate the laws of war, provided that they are properly structured and administered,” Obama said in a statement released today.

Chief among the changes is that statements obtained from detainees using cruel, inhuman or degrading interrogation methods will no longer be admitted as evidence at trial.

Also, there will be limits on the use of hearsay. The new rule shifts the burden of proving reliability of the hearsay to the party who offers it. The burden will no longer be on the party who objects to the hearsay to disprove it.

The accused will have greater latitude in selecting their counsel, and there will be basic protections for those who refuse to testify. Finally, military commission judges may establish the jurisdiction of their own courts.

“These reforms will begin to restore the commissions as a legitimate forum for prosecution, while bringing them in line with the rule of law,” Obama said in the statement.

“In addition, we will work with the Congress on additional reforms that will permit commissions to prosecute terrorists effectively and be an avenue, along with federal prosecutions in Article III courts, for administering justice.”

The rule changes do not require a change in law, but the law does require that the Defense Department give Congress 60 days notice before the rules can be implemented.

The department will ask for a 90-day continuance for pending military commission cases while the rules are reviewed by Congress.

(Report by Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service.)

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Combat Camera Video: US Coast Guard Nabs Suspected Pirates in Gulf of Aden

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of U.S. Coast Guard Detachment 409 capturing suspected pirates after responding to a merchant vessel distress signal while operating in the Combined Maritime Forces are of responsibility as part of Combined Task Force CTF 151. (Produced by Mass Communications Spc. Eirc L. Beauregard; Navy Visual News Service. Length: 1:48.)

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Wire: Officials Say 22 Taliban Killed in Afghanistan

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2009 -- Newswires reported this morning that at least 22 Taliban militants, including three regional commanders, were killed overnight in fighting in southern Afghanistan, a provincial official said Friday. A British soldier was also killed in a bomb blast, officials said.

The Associated Press reported that a band of Taliban fighters attacked two police checkpoints in Nawzad district Thursday, taking control of the stations and forcing the officers to flee, said Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province.

The police launched a counterattack with the help of an airstrike, killing 22 insurgents, Ahmadi said. Three Taliban chiefs in Nawzad and surrounding districts were among the dead, he said, adding that no Afghan forces died in the fighting.

The Reuters news agency said NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) could not immediately confirm the operation.

The attack came on the same day that Taliban militants attacked a prison.

The militants were unable to break into the prison they attacked Friday in eastern Laghman province.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Sources:
Afghan official: 22 Taliban killed in south
22 Taliban killed in Afghanistan: police

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

US Navy Christens Newest Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer Gravely

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FILE PHOTO: San Diego, Calif. (June 2, 1971) - Official U.S. Navy file photo of Capt. Samuel L. Gravely Jr., speaking at the ceremony marking his promotion to flag rank aboard USS Jouett (DLG 29) at San Diego, Calif. Retired Vice Adm. Gravely passed away on Oct. 22, 2004. He was the first African-American to be selected to the rank of Admiral and the first to command a Navy warship. (U.S. Navy Photo.)

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 The Navy will christen the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Gravely, May 16 during a ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.

The new destroyer honors the late Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr. He was born in Richmond, Va., June 4, 1922. After attending Virginia Union University, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve in September 1942.

In 1943 he participated in a Navy program (V-12) designed to select and train highly qualified men for commissioning as officers in the Navy. On Dec. 14, 1944, Gravely successfully completed midshipman training, becoming the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course. He was released from active duty in April 1946 but remained in the Naval Reserve.

Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949. As part of the Navy's response to President Harry S. Truman's executive order to desegregate the armed services, Gravely's initial assignment was as a Navy recruiter, recruiting African Americans in the Washington, D.C., area. Gravely went on to a Navy career that lasted 38 years and included many distinguished accomplishments.

Gravely was a true pathfinder whose performance and leadership as an African American naval officer demonstrated to America the value and strength of diversity. Gravely's accomplishments served as watershed events for today's Navy. He was the first African American to command a warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler); to command a major warship (USS Jouett); to achieve flag rank and eventually vice admiral; and to command a numbered fleet (3rd).

Retired Adm. J. Paul Reason will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Alma Gravely will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her late husband. In accordance with Navy tradition, she will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow and christen the ship.

Designated DDG 107, the 57th Arleigh Burke class destroyer, Gravely will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Gravely will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," the new maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Douglas Kunzman is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Gravely is being built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Gulf Coast in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The christening ceremony will be streamed from the following site at 10 a.m. (CDT) May 16: http://www.sb.northropgrumman.com/events/gravely/.

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

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Wire: 60-Year-Old is Oldest US Soldier Killed in Iraq

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that a 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq has become the oldest Army soldier to die in that conflict, the military said Thursday.

Maj. Steven Hutchison, 60, of Scottsdale, Ariz., died May 10, in Basrah of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Al Farr, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

The Associated Press reported that Maj. Hutchison had served in Vietnam and wanted to re-enlist immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks, but his wife was against it, his brother said.

Hutchinson lived in Scottsdale, grew up in California, but he was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio.

(Report from newswire and U.S. Defense Department sources.)

Source: Army Sergeant Charged in Deadly Shootings

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US Navy Updates Confirmed Cases of H1N1 (Swine Flu) to 47

News in Balance
News from the U.S. Navy

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 -- The U.S. Navy updated its confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza May 14 to 47 sailors.

The Navy continues to monitor the health of the force to ensure necessary precautions are being taken to educate and safeguard sailors, civilian personnel and family members.

The Naval Health Research Center was designated May 7 an H1N1 confirmatory lab by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after being provided the necessary materials for designation.

Additional information on the H1N1 influenza is available at:

(Report from a U.S. Navy news release.)

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Wire: Obama Reverses Position, Will Restart Bush Terror Tribunals

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 -- Newswires reported this evening that President Barack Obama will restart Bush-era military tribunals for a number of Guantanamo detainees, reviving a trial system he once denounced, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Obama suspended the tribunals within hours of taking office in January.

Obama's decision to resume the tribunals is certain to face criticism from liberal supporters for yet another reversal of his earlier stands on terrorism and detainees.

The Associated Press reported that officials spoke about the military commission decision only on condition of anonymity, saying some of the details were not final.

An announcement was expected Friday.

An administration official familiar with Obama's decision said between 10 and 20 of the 241 detainees currently at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would be tried by military commissions. Thirteen other detainees -- including five charged with helping orchestrate the Sept. 11 attacks -- already have been moved into the system and are expected to be tried there, AP said.

On Capitol Hill today, the House approved supplemental war-funding legislation that states detainees from Guantanamo must not be released on U.S. soil -- though it would allow some of the prisoners to be transferred to the United States to stand trial or serve their sentences.

A Senate committee today approved a companion bill that includes $50 million for the Pentagon to begin the closure of the detention facility.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Obama to revive terror tribunals, with more rights

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Combat Camera: 1st Cavalry Division and Iraqi Troops Patrol Mosul

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U.S. Army Capt. John Bradley, left, from 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, an interpreter, center, and an Iraqi soldier, right, with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, walk together, while on a dismounted combined patrol through the Qadussya District of Mosul, Iraq, on May 12. (Photo by Senior Airman Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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An Iraqi soldier, left, with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and an interpreter, right, talk with a local Iraqi man during a dismounted combined patrol through the Qadussya District of Mosul, Iraq, on May 12. (Photo by Senior Airman Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ivan Rodriguez, with 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, talks with Iraqi children while on a dismounted patrol through the Saddam District of Mosul, Iraq, on May 12. (Photo by Senior Airman Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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An Iraqi soldier, left, and an Iraqi police officer, far right, stop a car at the Riyadh vehicle check point, in Mosul, Iraq, on May 12. (Photo by Senior Airman Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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An Iraqi interpreter, left, and an Iraqi soldier, center, with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, talk with a construction worker about progress on a new sewage system, while on a dismounted combined patrol with U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, through the Qadussya District of Mosul, Iraq, on May 12. (Photo by Senior Airman Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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An Iraqi soldier with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, gives a thumbs up during a dismounted patrol with U.S. Army Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in the Qadussya District of Mosul, Iraq, on May 12. (Photo by Senior Airman Kamaile O. Chan; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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Wire: Obama Admin Rejects Cheney Request for CIA Reports

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some experts say President Obama can simply issue an Executive Order declassifying the CIA reports for Cheney, that is, if the president actually wants the reports released.
WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that President Barack Obama's administration has turned down former Vice President Dick Cheney’s request for the declassification of two CIA reports on the effectiveness of the Agency’s detainee program.

A letter dated May 7, 2009, from the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator, Delores M. Nelson, rejected Cheney’s request because the documents he has requested are involved in a Freedom of Information Act court battle.

"In researching the information in question, we have discovered that it is currently the subject of pending FOIA litigation (Bloche v. Department of Defense, Amnesty International v. Central Intelligence Agency). Therefore, the document is excluded from Mandatory Declassification Review," Nelson wrote in the letter to the National Archives, the agency responsible for handling Cheney’s request.

White House officials have told reporters and members of Congress that the Cheney memos do not bolster the case for enhanced interrogation, as Cheney has suggested. But they have nonetheless refused to release them. President Obama has the legal authority to declassify the documents "with the wave of his hand," according to one expert.

This is a developing story.

(Report from newswire and other sources.)

Source: CIA Denies Cheney's Request to Release Intelligence Documents

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Combat Camera Video: Counterpiracy Operation Allied Protector: Part 1 - Leaving Port

video

News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 -- Embedded above is part one of a series. 'Leaving Port' gives an overview of the Gulf of Aden, one of the most important and dangerous shipping lanes in the world, and explains what NATO is doing to protect ships from pirates. (NATO video. Length: 3:18.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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US Airpower Summary, May 14, 2009: A-10 Strikes Enemy Positions

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A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, like this one taking off from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, provide close-air-support for coalition troops, engaging enemy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, May 14, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations May 13, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II conducted strafing runs against anti-Afghan forces in the vicinity of Malek Din. The aircraft carried out the strikes after enemy forces launched mortar attacks on friendly units.

Coalition aircraft performed shows of force over enemy positions to suppress enemy fire near Lashkar Gah. The jets intervened after gunmen began shooting at Afghan and coalition soldiers from a compound and a tree line. An additional coalition aircraft stayed in the area to provide additional cover for friendly ground forces.

In the Qal-E-Naw area, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles conducted shows of force as an Afghan National Army convoy came under fire. Enemy gunmen had been launching rocket-propelled grenades and shooting assault weapons towards the convoy until the presence of aircraft suppressed the attack.

Near Musa Qala, a Navy F/A-18C Hornet performed a show of force over an enemy position in a compound. The demonstration of air support limited enemy action while a coalition patrol conducted operations through the area.

A Hornet conducted a show of force after Afghan National Army forces started taking gunfire in the vicinity of Kandahar. The maneuver suppressed the attack and prevented further enemy action.

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

In total, 77 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Twenty-two Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. In addition, two Navy and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 22 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 Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. In addition, 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 140 airlift sorties were flown; 380 tons of cargo was delivered; and about 2,900 passengers were transported. This included approximately 27,000 pounds of resupply cargo airdropped over Afghanistan.

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

On May 12, Air Force aerial refueling crews flew 50 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.1 million pounds of fuel to 235 receiving aircraft.

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

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Combat Camera: CTF 151 Nabs Suspected Pirates in Gulf of Aden

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GULF OF ADEN (May 13, 2009) Members of a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team from the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South Detachment 409 capture suspected pirates after responding to a merchant vessel distress signal while operating in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) area of responsibility as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151. CTF 151 is a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric L. Beauregard.)

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GULF OF ADEN (May 13, 2009) Members of a USS Gettysburg (CG 64) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 409 approach a suspected pirate 'mothership' after responding to a merchant vessel distress signal while operating in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) area of responsibility as part of Combined Task Force 151. Gettysburg, a guided-missile cruiser, is serving as the flagship of CTF 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Eric L. Beauregard.)

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GULF OF ADEN (May 13, 2009) Members of a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team from the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South Detachment 409 capture suspected pirates after responding to a merchant vessel distress signal while operating in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) area of responsibility as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151. CTF 151 is a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric L. Beauregard.)

Dispatches from the Front:
NOTE: This is an update of an earlier article.
USS GETTYSBURG, At Sea, May 14, 2009 -- Ships from Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 prevented a piracy attack in the Gulf of Aden, which resulted in the apprehension of more than a dozen suspected pirates aboard an alleged "mothership" May 13.

At approximately 3:30 p.m., the Republic of Korea Destroyer, ROKS Munmu the Great (DDG 976) and guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) responded to a distress call from the Egyptian-flagged Motor Vessel Amira, which reported being attacked approximately 75 nautical miles south of Al Mukalla, Yemen.

Several assault rifle rounds and one rocket propelled grenade round struck M/V Amira resulting in little to no damage to the ship. A rope was thrown from the skiff in an attempt to board, but the attempt failed and the suspected pirates abandoned their attack.

Gettysburg and Munmu the Great launched their embarked helicopters which flew immediately to Amira's location. During its flight, the SH-60B helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46 located a dhow suspected of serving as a pirate "mothership" with approximately 17 people on board.

A Gettysburg visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team boarded the suspected "mothership" along with members of U.S. Coast Guard Legal Detachment (LEDET) 409 and apprehended the suspected pirates after finding eight assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and one rocket-propelled grenade. All 17 of the passengers were brought on board Gettysburg for further questioning.

"This is another clear example of how coordination between the Combined Maritime Forces resulted in the successful disruption of pirate activity," said Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces. "It is imperative that all maritime forces continue to synchronize their efforts to deter and disrupt these unlawful and aggressive acts."

Gettysburg and Munmu the Great are operating in support of CTF 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counterpiracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations.

(Report from a Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs news release.)

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