18 December 2014

Nothing Says "We're Serious About Missile Defense" Like A Bunch of Balloons

Army to deploy new BA-1100N's that detect cruise missiles.

The U.S. Army plans to launch two stationary "blimps" at 10,000-feet in the air next week to better protect the Washington D.C. area from cruise missiles and other possible air attacks.
It's part of a three-year test by the North American Aerospace Defense Command of the so-called JLENS System, which is designed to work with already existing air defense technology.
The tethered large balloons, called aerostats, carry technology that will almost double the reach of current ground radar detection, officials said. The JLENS manufacturer, Raytheon Corp., says the system can provide radar coverage to an area the size of Texas.
It will "increase decision time available to respond efficiently and accurately for the defense of the National Capitol Region," NORAD said.
The JLENS system -- which stands for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor -- has no firing capability. Any response to missile attacks would still come from ground missiles, ships and airplanes, according to NORAD.
The balloons will fly above the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and do not carry any cameras.
"It's not for surveillance," said NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek. "It's simply for the detection of cruise missiles."
The 242-foot-long aerostats will be tethered to the ground by 1⅛-thick "super-strong" cables, according to Raytheon. The tethering system is designed to withstand 100 mph winds and had no problems in 106 mph winds during testing, the company said.
The helium-filled aerostats can stay aloft for up to 30 days at a time, making it five to seven times cheaper to operate than using aircraft for the task, Raytheon says.
NORAD says the JLENS system will be crewed by 130 personnel at the Maryland base.

h/t Gus

It's only taken 20 years...

Units who participated in the early-90s campaigns in Somalia are now eligible for campaign awards.

More than 200 units ranging in size from detachments to groups and brigades have been officially credited for participation in Operations Restore Hope and United Shield, the 2½-year relief and evacuation campaign in Somalia.

Soldiers who were assigned to these units and who participated in the campaigns generally are
eligible for the award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the United Nations Medal.

Full list of units here (PDF)

08 December 2014

A True Hero

SFC Cashe is the epitome of selfless sacrifice.

Nine years after the Iraq bomb attack, retired Sgt. Gary Mills has no doubt that Cashe deserves the Medal of Honor. Mills was inside the stricken Bradley fighting vehicle that day. He was on fire, his hands so badly burned that he couldn't open the rear troop door to free himself and other soldiers trapped inside the flaming vehicle.

Someone opened the door from outside, Mills recalls. A powerful hand grabbed him and yanked him to safety. He later learned that the man who had rescued him was Cashe, who seconds later crawled into the vehicle to haul out the platoon's critically burned medic while on fire himself.

"Sgt. Cashe saved my life," Mills said. "With all the ammo inside that vehicle, and all those flames, we'd have all been dead in another minute or two."

Four of the six soldiers rescued later died of their wounds at a hospital. An Afghan interpreter riding in the Bradley died during the bomb attack. Cashe refused to be loaded onto a medical evacuation helicopter until all the other wounded men had been flown.

A citation proposing the Medal of Honor for Cashe reads: "SFC Cashe's selfless and gallant actions allowed the loved ones of these brave soldiers to spend precious time by their sides before they succumbed."

Cashe's sister, Kasinal Cashe White, spent three weeks at her brother's bedside at a military hospital in Texas as doctors treated his extensive burns. She knew nothing of his actions during the bomb attack until a nurse asked her, "You know your brother's a hero, don't you?"

When Cashe was able to speak, White said, his first words were: "How are my boys?" — his soldiers, she said.

Then he began weeping, she said. He told her: "I couldn't get to them fast enough."

Cashe died Nov. 8, 2005.

"My little brother lived by the code that you never leave your soldiers behind," White said. "That wasn't just something from a movie. He lived it."

White says her family hopes Cashe is awarded the medal while his mother, who is 89, is still alive.

03 December 2014

Anniversary: Battle of Tora Bora

Today marks the start of the Battle of Tora Bora.

On December 3, a group of 20 U.S. commandos was inserted by helicopter to support the operation. On December 5, Afghan militia wrested control of the low ground below the mountain caves from al-Qaeda fighters and set up tank positions to blast enemy forces. The al-Qaeda fighters withdrew with mortars, rocket launchers, and assault rifles to higher fortified positions and dug in for the battle

What lessons should we have learned from this battle? How well are we applying them today? Sound off below!

By: Brant

24 November 2014

US Camping in NATO Baltics for a While

Seeking to keep the Russkies at bay, US troops will staying in the Baltics through 2015.

A top U.S. military commander in Europe says U.S. troops will remain in the three Baltic countries and Poland through next year or longer to "deter Russian aggression."

In an interview published Monday, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told the Baltic News Service that Russia was trying to intimidate its neighbors with military exercises near their borders and air space.

The U.S. has temporarily deployed hundreds of troops in NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the wake of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

19 November 2014

Anniversary: The Gettysburg Address

Today marks the anniversary of the delivery of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Was this the true turning point of the American Civil War? Or have we overlooked a different battle that we shouldn't have? By: Brant

15 November 2014

Britain's Desert Rats Case Colors on Armoured Role

The 7th Armoured Brigade formally steps out of armoured role. The MoD reports:

The final parade of 7th Armoured Brigade The Desert Rats was held in the small town of Bergen, north Germany, as they move from their armoured role into an infantry brigade.
Brigadier James Woodham, Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade, led the parade of 640 soldiers. They represented all the current units of the Brigade and those units that currently wear or have worn The Desert Rat on recent operations. He said: “We stand on the brink of some significant changes for 7th Armoured Brigade. We are starting the process of transitioning to 7th Infantry Brigade which will stand up in the UK in early next year.
“Today is an opportunity to celebrate a fantastic history that has been based here in Germany since the end of the Second World War and to thank our German hosts who have been so fantastic at looking after us whilst we’ve been here.”

Brigadier James Woodham receives the flag of 7th Armoured Brigade from Len Burritt, the first Desert Rat of the 7th Armoured Division.

13 November 2014

Military Shakeup in Iraq - Will it Matter?

The newly-elected PM in Iraq is clearing out 36 commanders from the military.

The recently installed Iraqi prime minister removed 36 military commanders in a sweeping shake-up on Wednesday, in his first public attempt to put his mark on the Iraqi security forces battling to retake territory from Islamic State militants.

Despite receiving more than $25 billion in American training and equipment over the past 10 years, the Iraqi military buckled, and thousands of troops fled, in the face of the Islamic State’s rapid advance across Iraq this summer. Only half the remaining units are considered fit to fight, according to American officials.

But even as Iraqi and American officials are racing to expand the security forces and turn their losses around, they are having to struggle with a widespread perception of the Iraqi Army as a hopelessly corrupt and incompetent institution.

Think it'll make a difference?