31 January 2013

Anniversary: Tet Offensive

This week marks the anniversary of the Tet Offensive

The Tet Offensive was a military campaign during the Vietnam War that began on January 31, 1968. Forces of the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (Viet Cong), and the People's Army of Vietnam (the North Vietnamese army), fought against the forces of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the United States, and their allies. The purpose of the offensive was to strike military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam and to spark a general uprising among the population that would then topple the Saigon government, thus ending the war in a single blow.[9]
The operations are referred to as the Tet Offensive because they began during the early morning hours of 31 January 1968, Tết Nguyên Đán, the first day of the year on a traditional lunar calendar and the most important Vietnamese holiday. Both North and South Vietnam announced on national radio broadcasts that there would be a two-day cease-fire during the holiday. In Vietnamese, the offensive is called Cuộc Tổng tiến công và nổi dậy ("General Offensive and Uprising"), or Tết Mậu Thân (Tet, year of the monkey).
The NLF launched a wave of attacks on the morning of 31 January in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. This early attack did not, however, cause undue alarm or lead to widespread defensive measures. When the main NLF operation began the next morning, the offensive was countrywide in scope and well coordinated, with more than 80,000 communist troops striking more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital.[10] The offensive was the largest military operation yet conducted by either side up to that point in the war.
The initial attacks stunned the US and South Vietnamese armies and took them by surprise, but most were quickly contained and beaten back, inflicting massive casualties on communist forces. During the Battle of Hue intense fighting lasted for a month and the NLF executed thousands of residents in the Massacre at Huế. Around the US combat base at Khe Sanh fighting continued for two more months. Although the offensive was a military defeat for the communists, it had a profound effect on the US government and shocked the American public, which had been led to believe by its political and military leaders that the communists were, due to previous defeats, incapable of launching such a massive effort.
The term "Tet offensive" usually refers to the January-February 1968 NLF offensive, but it can also include the so-called "mini-Tet" offensives that took place in May and August.

Are you old enough to remember Tet? (Don't laugh! I'm in my 40s, and it pre-dates me!) Give us your recollections below.

By: Brant

30 January 2013

US Africa Footprint Expanding

Niger has OK'ed the US for drone deployments on their territory. No word on whether we've got permission for all the airspace they'll be zipping around, or if we're just doing it anyway.

Niger has given permission for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, a senior government source said.
The U.S. ambassador to Niger, Bisa Williams, made the request at a meeting on Monday with President Mahamadou Issoufou, who immediately accepted it, the source said.
"Niger has given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of intelligence on Islamist movements," said the source, who asked not to be identified.
The drones could be stationed in Niger's northern desert region of Agadez, which borders Mali, Algeria and Libya, the source said.
A spokesperson for the United States' African Command (AFRICOM) declined to comment.
The United States already has drones and surveillance aircraft stationed at several points around Africa. Its only permanent military base is in the small country of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, more than 3,000 miles from Mali.

By: Brant

29 January 2013

French Paratroopers in Mali

Action footage

h/t Rex

By: Brant

28 January 2013

Explosion in Iran; What's the "Real" Story

Beyond reading the headline, I didn't pay too much attention to reports of an explosion in Iran at a nuke site. As expected, much of the article is the usual "blah blah blah; random fact; Iranian denial; blame Israel" blather.

Unconfirmed reports then surfaced within days that Iran's Fordow nuclear facility was severely damaged and up to 240 workers trapped inside. The explosion was reportedly confined to the plant, suggesting that if it was an airstrike, it doesn't get more "surgical" than that.
The Jerusalem Post cites a report by Reza Kahlili who said: “The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran- Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast.”
Iran's official news agency IRNA promptly denied the explosion, claiming the news was simply the result of the Western media fueled "propoganda machine".

At least, that's what I was expecting, except that I was still a bit floored by the opening 'graph (emphasis mine)

Talk of bombing Iran surfaced in the news late last week when Israel's departing defense minister, Ehud Barak, said his country had written off plans to attack Tehran on its own in the face of a "surgical" plan put forth by the Pentagon.


By: Brant

27 January 2013

Successful Anti-Missile Test?

The DoD is saying that the Ground-Based Interceptor has completed a successful flight test.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully completed a flight test of a three-stage ground-based interceptor (GBI), launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 2 p.m. (PST) today.

Data from this flight test will be used to evaluate the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle system performance in a flight environment. If a target missile were present, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle would collide directly with the threat warhead to perform a hit-to-kill intercept. Engineering data from this test will be used to improve confidence for future intercept missions.

A target missile launch was not planned for this flight test. After performing fly out maneuvers, the three-stage booster deployed the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle to a designated point in space. After separating from the booster, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle executed a variety of pre-planned maneuvers to collect performance data in space.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Today’s event, designated Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Control Test Vehicle (GM CTV)-01, is part of an extensive test series initiated after the Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor (FTG)-06a failure in December 2010. The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle flown during GM CTV-01 was modified based on findings from the FTG-06a Failure Review Board. This test is the critical first step in returning GMD to successful intercept testing.

By: Brant

French Going All the Way to Timbuktu

French & Mali forces have taken Timbuktu back from the AQ-linked rebels.

French and Malian troops were on Sunday restoring government control over the fabled Saharan trading town of Timbuktu, the latest gain in a fast-moving French-led offensive against al Qaeda-allied fighters occupying northern Mali.
The Islamist militant rebels have pulled back northwards to avoid relentless French air strikes that have destroyed their bases, vehicles and weapons, allowing French and Malian troops to advance rapidly with air support and armored vehicles.
A Malian military source told Reuters the French and Malian forces reached "the gates of Timbuktu" late on Saturday without meeting resistance from the Islamist insurgents who had held the town since last year.
The advancing troops were working on securing the town, a UNESCO World Heritage site and labyrinth of ancient mosques and monuments and mud-brick homes, ready to flush out any Islamist fighters who might still be hiding among the population.
"Timbuktu is delicate, you can't just go in like that," the source, who asked not to be named, said.
On Saturday, the French-Malian offensive recaptured Gao, which along with Timbuktu was one of three major northern towns occupied last year by Tuareg and Islamist rebels who included fighters from al Qaeda's North Africa wing AQIM.

By: Brant

26 January 2013

Are Russians Hoping For A War?

There's a fine line between saying you're prepared for war, and trying to pick a fight.

Russia’s armed forces are ready for a major war, Chief of the military’s General Staff Col. Gen. Valery Gerasimov said on Saturday.
“No one rules out the possibility of a major war, and it cannot be said that we are unprepared,” Gerasimov said, speaking at an Academy of Military Sciences meeting.
His address covered key issues the armed forces face today – including outsourcing. Col.Gen Gerasimov conceded that outsourcing was necessary, in order to relieve soldiers of certain functions, but added that “outsourcing is only needed in peacetime and only at permanent bases.” He also stressed that these activities would be carried out by troops during combat or training.
President of the Academy of Military Sciences, Army General Makhmut Gareev said that the Russian Army’s approach to outsourcing needed to be completely reviewed.
“We think that the outsourcing system needs to be given a root-and-branch review: laws should be passed covering combat scenarios, their transfer to a war footing, and their full subordination to unit commanders,” Gareev explained. He also warned that unless this was done, then logistics and technical support systems would collapse.

By: Brant

24 January 2013

Not What You Think It Is

Want to guess what you're looking at?

No, it's not a steampunk-fueled wargamer's dream. It's a series of anti-aircraft forts from WWII.
War History Online reports...

By: Brant

Is China Finally Willing to Wrangle the Norks?

We know the Norks are prepping for another launch. Is China finally willing to get tough on their sidekicks?

North Korea said on Thursday it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would target the United States, dramatically stepping up its threats against a country it called its "sworn enemy".
The announcement by the country's top military body came a day after the U.N. Security Council agreed to a U.S.-backed resolution to censure and sanction North Korea for a rocket launch in December that breached U.N. rules.
"We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States," North Korea's National Defence Commission said, according to state news agency KCNA.
North Korea is believed by South Korea and other observers to be "technically ready" for a third nuclear test, and the decision to go ahead rests with leader Kim Jong-un who pressed ahead with the December rocket launch in defiance of the U.N. sanctions.
China, the one major diplomatic ally of the isolated and impoverished North, agreed to the U.S.-backed resolution and it also supported resolutions in 2006 and 2009 after Pyongyang's two earlier nuclear tests.
Thursday's statement by North Korea represents a huge challenge to Beijing as it undergoes a leadership transition with Xi Jinping due to take office in March.
China's Foreign Ministry called for calm and restraint and a return to six-party talks, but effectively singled out North Korea, urging the "relevant party" not to take any steps that would raise tensions.

By: Brant

23 January 2013

NEWS: Panetta Opens Combat Positions to Women

SecDef Panetta has just opened thousands of combat roles to women.

Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.

A senior military official says the services will develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year. Assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALS and the Army’s Delta Force, may take longer.

The official said the military chiefs must report back to Panetta with their initial implementation plans by May 15. The announcement on Panetta’s decision is not expected until Thursday, so the official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Panetta’s move expands the Pentagon’s action nearly a year ago to open about 14,500 combat positions to women, nearly all of them in the Army. This decision could open more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, to women.

By: Brant

The French Can Screw Up Almost Anything

One of the most bad-ass pics of a French guy on operations goes viral, and their leadership complains about it. Oy. You'd think that a picture of the French kicking ass would be a good thing.
click to enlarge
The soldiers pulled on their goggles to protect their eyes from the dust. One soldier pulled up a black bandana -- with a white skeleton face printed on it -- over his nose. Behind him, light beamed through tree branches, creating an otherworldly image -- the soldier looked like a skeleton in French military fatigues. Photographer Issouf Sanogo of the Agence France-Presse news agency and Yann Foreix of Le Parisien were drawn to the soldier, whom they photographed. The bandana is an accessory sold for fans of the violent military game “Call of Duty.” At first glance, the soldier bears eerie resemblance the character Ghost from the video game. French military officials aren’t happy about the image, according to newspaper Liberation in Paris. “This is unacceptable behavior,” said Col. Thierry Burkhard. “This image is not representative of action by France in Mali.”
By: Brant

21 January 2013

Shooting War Coming in the East China Sea?

Are China and Japan going to come to blows over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands? The Economist reports...

CHINA and Japan are sliding towards war. In the waters and skies around disputed islands, China is escalating actions designed to challenge decades of Japanese control. It is accompanying its campaign with increasingly blood-curdling rhetoric. Japan, says the China Daily, is the “real danger and threat to the world”. A military clash, says Global Times, is now “more likely…We need to prepare for the worst.” China appears to be preparing for the first armed confrontation between the two countries in seven decades

China and Japan have well-known differences over history and territory—most pressingly over five islets, out in the East China Sea, which Japan controls and calls the Senkakus but which China lays claim to and calls the Diaoyus. Rational actors with deeply entwined economies are supposed to sort out their differences, or learn to put them safely to one side. At least, that was the assumption with China and Japan.

But this changed in September, after Japan’s then prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, nationalised the three islands Japan did not already own. It was a clumsy attempt to avoid them falling into the hands of Shintaro Ishihara, a right-wing China-baiter who was governor of Tokyo until late last year.

Yet China insisted that the move was an anti-China conspiracy to strengthen Japan’s claim. It set out to blow a hole in Japanese pretensions to sole control of the waters and skies around the islands. Incursions by surveillance vessels came first. Then, in December, a patrol plane buzzed the islands; Japan scrambled fighter planes. This month Japanese and Chinese jets sought to tail each other near the islands’ air space. Japan, newspapers report, is considering ordering warning shots to be fired next time. A Chinese general says that would count as the start of “actual combat”. So long as China vies for control, conflict will be a hair-trigger away.

The thing is, given the history behind their relationship - especially WWII - it won't be hard for China to drum up world sympathy against the Japanese, even if China is blatantly in the wrong. It will be interesting to see how this will play out in the UN, and on world trade markets, as both sides are very heavily tied in around the world. How many Japanese-owned shipping companies are hauling Chinese consumer goods to ports around the world?

By: Brant

Monday Video: Border Closing

By: Brant

Dead Terrorists in Algeria Include Canadians

Among the dead from the energy plant raid in Algeria are a pair of Canadian terrorists.

Algerian special forces have found the bodies of two Canadian Islamist fighters after a bloody siege at a desert gas plant, a security source said on Monday, as the death toll reached at least 80 after troops stormed the complex to end the hostage crisis.
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal is expected to give details later in the day about the siege near the town of In Amenas, which left American, British, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Filipino and Romanian workers dead or missing.
The Algerian security source told Reuters that documents found on the bodies of the two militants had identified them as Canadians, as forces scoured the plant following Saturday's bloody end to the crisis.
Veteran Islamist fighter Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of al Qaeda, and an official Algerian source has said the militants included people from outside the African continent, as well as Arabs and Africans.
A security source said on Sunday that Algerian troops had found the bodies of 25 hostages, raising the number of hostages killed to 48 and the total number of deaths to at least 80. He said six militants were captured alive and troops were still searching for others.

By: Brant

20 January 2013

GrogHeads Readers' Choice Award Voting

Go check out the voting over at GrogHeads. There's a lot to choose from.
Grogheads is kicking off our annual look back at last year's great games, and letting the readers weigh in. This is your chance to vote for the best games in a variety of categories, and have your voice heard about the best of 2012.
By: Brant

18 January 2013

Commentary on Operational Design and the Center of Gravity

When (and how) do you define the conflict's center of gravity? And once you do, then what? A new article from NDU poses that question an offers some thoughts. An excerpt:

The problem is not the enemy COG. The problem merely defines the adversary or enemy system. (Note, in this context, the terms adversary or enemy do not imply hostility, only that they are obstacles to obtaining the goals. They are “the problem.”) This adversary system contains a center of gravity that must be identified by studying the system. This is where some argue that design’s problem statement actually replaces the COG. This is an incorrect understanding. The defined problem is not the center of gravity. Rather, it determines what the adversary system is and sets up a systems analysis based on the adversary’s goals, capabilities, and requirements that contribute to the COG identification and analysis process of that system. Planners using a systems perspective analyze the adversary system that is causing the problem to determine the enemy center of gravity. More simply, design’s problem identification defines for commanders and planners the system in which to look for an enemy center of gravity. Once the adversary or enemy center of gravity is identified, the next logical step is determining how to solve the problem.

By: Brant

Algerian Military Storms Hostage Complex; Some Still Unaccounted For

The Algerians took unilateral action, and an unknown number of hostages have been rescued, but others likely killed in the assault.

At least 22 foreign hostages were unaccounted for on Friday and their al-Qaeda-linked captors threatened to attack other energy installations after Algerian forces stormed a desert gas complex to free hundreds of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths.
With Western leaders clamoring for details of the assault they said Algeria had launched on Thursday without consulting them, a local source said the gas base was still surrounded by Algerian special forces and some hostages remained inside.
Thirty hostages, including several Westerners, were killed during the storming, the source said, along with at least 11 of their captors, who said they had taken the site as retaliation for French intervention against Islamists in neighboring Mali.
The crisis represents a serious escalation of unrest in North Africa, where French forces have been in Mali since last week to fight an Islamist takeover of the north, and strikes a heavy blow to Algeria's vital oil industry, just recovering from years of civil war.
Fourteen Japanese were among those still unaccounted for by the early hours of Friday, their Japanese employer said, while Norwegian energy company Statoil, which runs the Tigantourine gas field with Britain's BP and Algeria's national oil company, said eight Norwegian employees were still missing.

By: Brant

17 January 2013

Anniversary: The Start of Gulf War I

Today marks the anniversary of the start of the air campaign known as Operation Instant Thunder.

The Gulf War air campaign was broadcast across the world on CNN.

At 2:43 A.M. two EF-111 Ravens with terrain following radar led 22 F-15E Strike Eagles against assaults on airfields in Western Iraq. Minutes later, one of the EF-111 crews – Captain James Denton and Captain Brent Brandon – destroyed an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F-1, when their low altitude maneuvering led the F-1 to crash to the ground. It was not credited to the crew but an F-15E that was also involved in the manuevering.[6]

At 3 A.M., ten U.S. F-117 Nighthawk stealth bombers, under the protection of a three-ship formation of EF-111s, bombed Baghdad, the capital. The striking force came under fire from 3,000 Anti-Aircraft guns firing from rooftops in Baghdad.

Within hours of the start of the coalition air campaign, a P-3 Orion called Outlaw Hunter developed by the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which was testing a highly specialised over-the-horizon radar, detected a large number of Iraqi patrol boats and naval vessels attempting to make a run from Basra and Umm Qasr to Iranian waters. Outlaw Hunter vectored in strike elements, which attacked the Iraqi naval flotilla near Bubiyan Island destroying 11 vessels and damaging scores more.

Concurrently, U.S. Navy BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles struck targets in Baghdad, and other coalition aircraft struck targets throughout Iraq. Government buildings, TV stations, airfields, presidential palaces, military installations, communication lines, supply bases, oil refineries, a Baghdad airport, electric powerplants and factories making Iraqi war machine equipment were all destroyed due to extensive massive aerial and missile attacks by the coalition forces.

Here's the broadcast most people remember

What do you most remember about that night?

By: Brant

Algerian Hostage Siege Drama Unfolds

Supposedly in retaliation for French action in Mali, an Al Qaeda-linked group has taken hostages in southern Algeria.

Some hostages were reported to have escaped from a remote Algerian gas plant on Thursday, where dozens of foreigners and scores of Algerians were seized by Islamist gunmen demanding a halt to a French military campaign in neighboring Mali.
Governments around the world were holding emergency meetings to respond to one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, which sharply raises the stakes over the week-old French campaign against al Qaeda-linked rebels in the Sahara.
Algeria's Ennahar television said 15 foreigners, including two French citizens, had escaped the besieged plant deep in the Sahara desert. About 40 Algerians had also been freed, mainly women working as translators, it said.
A security source told Reuters the captors, encircled by Algerian troops, were demanding safe passage out with their prisoners. Algeria has refused to negotiate.
A group calling itself the "Battalion of Blood" says it seized 41 foreigners, including Americans, Japanese and Europeans, after storming a natural gas pumping station and employee barracks before dawn on Wednesday.
The attackers have demanded an end to the French military campaign in Mali, where hundreds of French paratroops and marines are launching a ground offensive against rebels a week after Paris began firing on militants from the air.
Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said the raid was led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Islamist guerrilla fighter who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and had recently set up his own group in the Sahara after falling out with other local al Qaeda leaders.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

Is Kashmir About To Go Hot?

The head of India's Army is threatening retaliation for an incident in Kashmir.

India's army chief held out the threat of retaliating against Pakistan for the killing of two soldiers at the de facto border in Kashmir, saying he had asked his ground commanders to be aggressive in the face of provocation.
General Bikram Singh's strong remarks on Monday, amid mounting public anger at the alleged decapitation of one of the slain soldiers, appeared set to ratchet up tensions further with Pakistan, although analysts said a breakdown in ties was highly unlikely.
Islamabad blames India for the latest crisis in ties.
The two nations have fought three wars, two over Kashmir, since independence in 1947 and are now both nuclear-armed.
Terming the beheading of the soldier as "gruesome", Singh told a news conference: "We reserve the right to retaliate at a time and place of our choosing."

By: Brant

15 January 2013

Chuck Hagel Quotes

Ricks has a nice roundup of Ten Hagel Quotes You Need to Know.

Some are quite thoughtful, like
"The worst thing we can do, the most dangerous thing we can do is continue to isolate nations, is to continue to not engage nations. Great powers engage."

"We must avoid the traps of hubris and imperial temptation that comes with great power."

But I was most struck by this one, especially the key quote in the exposition: "Win what?"

“We forgot all the lessons of Vietnam and the preceding history.”

In 2009, Hagel challenged President Obama and the United States to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq sooner rather than later, arguing that neither war was America’s to win. “Win what?” he asked, explaining that changing minds and the quality of life in places like the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region would require “political accommodation and reconciliation.” That term was far more controversial three years ago, when Hagel inked it in the Washington Post. And, again, Hagel pushed for long-term, multinational coalition building across regions that work with perceived adversaries to find common interests. “Does anyone believe we will get to a responsible resolution on Iran without Russia?” Good question, still.

So I ask, dear readers: "Win what?"

What did we "win" in Iraq?

What do we expect to "win" in Afghanistan?

By: Brant

Another French Casualty From Somalia Raid?

The Somali rebels claim that a second French commando died of wounds sustained in the raid.

A second French commando has died from wounds in Somalia after a failed attempt at the weekend to rescue a French agent held hostage by al Shabaab since 2009, the Somalian rebel group said on Monday.
The al-Qaeda linked group also maintained that the hostage, Denis Allex, who France says it believes was killed during the operation, was still alive.
The militants put up fierce resistance when French special forces went into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness on Saturday to try to free Allex.
There was some confusion over the exact outcome of the mission, with the French government saying at one point that one commando had died and the other gone missing and later saying that both appeared to be dead.
"The second commando died from his bullet wounds. We shall display the bodies of the two Frenchmen," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for al Shabaab's military operations, told Reuters by telephone.
Allex's fate would be decided later, he said.

By: Brant

12 January 2013

French Rescue Attempt in Somalia Goes Awry

A rescue mission in Somalia resulted in the deaths of a French soldier and hostage.

French forces swooped into Somalia for a rescue mission under the cover of darkness, leading to a fierce gun battle with militants who killed the hostage, a French intelligence commando, the French defense ministry said Saturday.
The raid Friday night also left a French soldier and 17 Islamist fighters dead, according to the French ministry. Another soldier went missing.
Hostage Denis Allex, a member of the DGSE, France's equivalent of the CIA, died at the hands of his captors, the defense ministry said in a statement.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also told reporters in Paris Saturday that "everything leads us to believe that Denis Allex was gunned down by his captors."
But the al-Shabaab militia, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed that the hostage is unharmed and being held at a new location.

By: Brant

USAF Announces KC-46 Bases

The Air Force is announcing the the KC-46A Candidate Bases

The Air Force announced today Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., as candidate bases for the KC-46A formal training unit (FTU).

Altus Air Force Base, Okla.; Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.; and McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., are candidate bases for the first active-duty led KC-46A main operating base (MOB).

Forbes Air Guard Station, Kan.; Joint-Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Pease Air Guard Station, N.H.; Pittsburgh International Airport Air Guard Station, Pa.; and Rickenbacker Air Guard Station, Ohio, are candidate bases for the first Air National Guard led KC-46A MOB.

“The KC-46A will have enhanced refueling capacity and capabilities, improved efficiency, and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation as compared to the KC-135R, making it a vital component to maintaining our global reach for years to come,” said Gen. Mark Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff.

The major commands will conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base. They will assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower. Additionally, they will develop cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base. Once the site surveys are completed, the results will be briefed to the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff of the Air Force to select preferred and reasonable alternatives for the FTU and two operating locations. The Air Force plans to announce KC-46A preferred and reasonable alternatives and begin the Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP) in spring 2013.

“Bringing the KC-46A online is an important step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been a leader in air refueling for more than five decades,” Welsh said. “This new age aircraft will achieve better mission-capable rates with less maintenance downtime, improving our ability to respond with rapid, global capability to assist U.S., joint, allied and coalition forces and better support humanitarian missions.”

Welsh went on to explain that the 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are just the first phase of a 3-phase effort to replace more than 400 KC-135 and 59 KC-10 aircraft. The first phase of tanker recapitalization will complete deliveries in fiscal 2028. He went on to emphasize the importance of continuing KC-135 modernization efforts.

“I want to stress that the KC-135 units not replaced with the KC-46A will continue to fly the KC-135R for the foreseeable future," Welsh said. “Throughout tanker recapitalization, the Air Force is committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander requirements.”

“We are committed to executing a deliberate, repeatable and standardized basing process,” said Kathleen Ferguson, Air Force principal deputy assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics. “In this process, the Air Force uses criteria-based analysis and military judgment in its decision making.”

Ferguson added “We look forward to the next phase when preferred and reasonable alternatives are announced and our candidate base communities have an opportunity to participate by providing input for the environmental impact analysis.”

The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability, and multi-point air refueling capability.

The FTU and active duty MOB will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal 2016. The Air National Guard MOB will receive aircraft in fiscal 2018.
By: Brant

Another US Soldier to Receive Medal of Honor

For actions during the Battle of COP Keating, former US Army SSG Clinton L. Romesha will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

A former staff sergeant who helped repel one of the largest, most vicious battles against U.S. forces in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

Clinton L. Romesha, 31, will be the fourth living service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven other service members have posthumously been awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in those wars.

Romesha will be awarded Feb. 11 at the White House.

Romesha was a section leader in B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during the Oct. 3, 2009, attack on Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan.

Eight American soldiers were killed and two dozen others wounded in the battle as the troop-sized element fought against an overwhelming enemy force that launched a brazen attack to overrun the COP.

By: Brant

01 January 2013

Happy New Year from GrogNews

Happy New Year from the GrogNews team.

By: Brant