Sunday, October 4, 2009
Commander: N. Korea an unconventional threat: "North Korea is turning to newer military means, such as improvised explosive devices left on roadsides, that could be used in its decades-long conflict with South Korea, the top U.S. commander in Korea, Army Gen. Walter Sharp, told reporters Sept. 29.But Sharp said the most immediate threat from North Korea is continued provocations such as missile tests and cyber attacks.‘I think the North Koreans probably realized they could not win in a normal, conventional, all-out attack,’ Sharp said.
The U.S. is responding to unconventional threats by helping South Korea stand up its own cyber command.U.S. troops also have been forced to ‘make sure we’re learning the lessons out of Iraq and Afghanistan with IEDs and other types of devices,’ Sharp said. He did not elaborate on where the devices might be used by the North Koreans.‘I’m confident that they will use those capabilities,’ he said.During the next two years, U.S. and South Korean forces will focus on integrating chains of command, as South Korea prepares to assume overall wartime command by 2012, Sharp said.The change should not have much impact on airmen in Korea, Sharp said.The U.S. and South Korea air forces already share an air operations center to manage daily missions and monitor North Korea, and even after 2012, the U.S. Air Force commander for Korea will continue to be the wartime air boss for both militaries, he said."
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
F-22 problems linked to rain in Guam: "Rain and Raptors don’t mix.Wet conditions at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, caused mechanical problems in a dozen F-22 Raptor fighters deployed to the Pacific island from the much less rainy Alaska.Guam, about 3,800 miles west-southwest of Hawaii, averages 80 to 110 inches of rain a year, according to the National Weather Service. The U.S. territory gets much of its precipitation during the rainy season of July through December.
The jets’ cooling systems drew in moisture from the air, which caused shorts and failures in sophisticated electrical components.For relatively new aircraft such as the F-22, which joined the fleet five years ago, maintenance glitches are common, said Col. Edward Thomas, director of public affairs for Pacific Air Forces.It’s ‘just maturation issues with the airframe as we continue to employ in varied environments,’ Thomas said.
It’s ‘comparable to lots of smaller issues we dealt with during earlier years of the F-15 [and] F-16.’Maintainers fixed the jets, then worked with contractors to come up with measures such as a waterproof coating to keep the parts, he said.‘Some maintenance folks out there did some good work and found some innovative solutions with the contractor,’ Thomas said.The F-22s are from the 525th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, deployed to Andersen as the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron for four months beginning in May.
They returned to their home base at their scheduled time. This is the third Raptor deployment to Andersen, all with aircraft and personnel from Elmendorf.The fighters’ maintenance issues had ‘no impact’ on the strategic posture at Guam and did not put the island’s defense in jeopardy, Thomas said. The aircraft will continue to deploy to Guam and other parts of the Pacific, he said."
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
Attack on Afghan outposts kills 8 U.S. troops: "KABUL — Militant fighters streaming from an Afghan village and a mosque attacked a pair of remote outposts near the Pakistani border, killing eight U.S. soldiers and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war.The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack for coalition forces since a similar raid in July 2008 killed nine American soldiers in the same mountainous region known as an al-Qaida haven. The U.S. has already said it plans to pull its soldiers from the isolated area to focus on Afghan population centers.Fighting began around dawn Saturday and lasted several hours, punctuated by American airstrikes.
Jamaludin Badar, governor of Nuristan province, said the two outposts were on a hill — one near the top and one at the foot of the slope — flanked by the village on one side and the mosque on the other.Nearly 300 militant fighters flooded the lower, Afghan outpost then swept around it to reach the American station on higher ground from both directions, said Mohammad Qasim Jangulbagh, the provincial police chief. The U.S. military statement said the Americans and Afghans repelled the attack by tribal fighters and 'inflicted heavy enemy casualties.'Jangulbagh said that the gunbattle included U.S. airstrikes and that 15 Afghan police were captured by the Taliban, including the local police chief and his deputy. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a council would decide the fates of the police, confirming the capture of the two top local officers.Badar said five or six Afghan soldiers died, as did one policeman.Afghan forces were sent as reinforcements, but Jangulbagh said all communications to the district, Kamdesh, were severed and he had no way of knowing how they were faring Sunday.
The area is just 20 miles from the Pakistani border and 150 miles from Kabul.'This was a complex attack in a difficult area,' U.S. Col. Randy George, the area commander, said in the American statement. 'Both the U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together.'Jangulbagh said the bodies of five enemy fighters were found after the battle.U.S. Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a military spokeswoman, said American forces continued to man the outpost and there was scattered fighting early Sunday. She said was unclear if the attackers were Taliban or from another group linked to them.She said American officials were working with the Afghan army to relay messages to Afghan forces in the area.Separately, a roadside bomb southwest of Kabul killed a U.S. service member on Saturday, Mathias said.Nuristan, bordering Pakistan, was where a militant raid on another outpost in July 2008 claimed the lives of nine American soldiers and led to allegations of negligence by their senior commanders.
Army Gen. David Petraeus last week ordered a new investigation into that fighting, in which some 200 militants armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars pushed their way into the base, which is no longer operating.Badar said he had sought more security forces for Kamdesh district. He said Taliban fighters had fled to Nuristan and neighboring Kunar province after Pakistani forces drove many extremists from the Swat Valley earlier this year.'When there are few security forces, this is what happens,' he said.He also complained about a lack of coordination between international forces and Afghans.The U.S. statement said the attack would not change previously announced plans to leave the area.Afghanistans northeastern Nuristan and Kunar provinces are home to al-Qaida bases as well as those of wanted terrorist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose military chief Kashmir Khan has been unsuccessfully targeted by U.S. missiles over the past eight years. Kamdesh district has no regular cell phone or landline contact and few roads, dirt or paved. Local security forces communicate by handheld radio.
The region was key for Arab militants who battled alongside Afghan warriors during the 1980s U.S.-backed war against invading Russians because it is a rare place in South Asia where the Wahhabi sect of Islam is practiced — the same sect followed by Osama bin Laden and most Saudis.Many Arabs remained in Afghanistan, marrying Afghans and integrating themselves into local society. Many also belonged to Hekmatyars Hezb-e-Islami group, now sought as terrorists by the U.S.-led coalition.Bin Laden also considered the region a useful hiding ground, his former bodyguard, Naseer Ahmed Al-Bahri, told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview in Yemen.It sits directly across the border from Pakistans Bajaur Agency, where bin Ladens No. 2, Ayman al Zawahri, was last seen.___Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Noor Khan contributed to this report."
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
Predator and Reaper UAV units are a hot commodity these days...so hot that troops training in Green Flag exercises for deployments have to rely on simulations of the General Atomics UAV systems as they learn to work with the real-time video imagery of potential targets.
Air Combat Command, working with Joint Forces Command, recently launched a program to fit two CAP Cessna 182s with a Predator ball, and to train CAP pilots -- volunteers, and civilians -- to fly missions mimicking Predators during exercises. The first group of 18 pilots started training in mid-September. They, in turn, will train dozens more CAP crews.
And to think...two decades ago when I was a CAP cadet, we were excited to go work on a downed aircraft search. Sign me up!