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B-2 Bombers Kill Dozens of ISIS Fighters in Libya

reaper1

By Debbie Gregory.

Last week, American warplanes unleashed a massive attack on at least two Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL) training camps in Libya, killing an estimated 80 militants.

This was one of the last short-notice military operations ordered by President Barack Obama.

“The fighters training in these camps posed a security risk to Libya, to its neighbors, to our allies in Africa and Europe, and to the United States,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

The airstrikes occurred in a remote area approximately 30 miles southwest of Sirte, a city along the Mediterranean coast that’s been a focus for U.S. forces.

The Department of Defense showed reporters a rare video of surveillance footage of the ISIS fighters as they loaded what appeared to be shells and rocket-propelled grenades into pick-up trucks. A second video showing the camps being bombed was also shown.

The strike was carried out by two US Air Force B-2 Spirit bombers and an unspecified number of unmanned MQ-9 Reapers armed with Hellfire missiles.

U.S. Navy warships equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles were also on standby, but initial reports indicate they were not needed.

“We are committed to maintaining pressure on ISIL and preventing them from establishing safe haven,” Cook said in a statement “These strikes will degrade ISIL’s ability to stage attacks against Libyan forces and civilians working to stabilize Sirte, and demonstrate our resolve in countering the threat posed by ISIL to Libya, the United States and our allies.”

The U.S. has conducted more than 500 airstrikes in Libya since last winter. The last reported U.S. activity there occurred in December, when a contingent of Navy ships carrying Marine attack jets and helicopters left the Mediterranean and returned home.

No women or children were present, and there were no reports of civilian casualties, officials noted.

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Fight with ISIS Could Take 20 Years: Military Connection

ray

By Debbie Gregory.

In a recent press conference, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, projected that the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) will take much longer to resolve than  the White House has been publicizing.

“In my mind, ISIS is a ten to twenty year problem, it’s not a two years problem,” he told reporters. “Now, I don’t know what level it will be a problem, but it’s a long term problem.”

Odierno went on to explain that the movement is growing right now, and that it will take longer than originally thought. Previous reports from the White House estimated three to five years to eradicate ISIS. The militant group appears to be more extensive and has rooted in a greater geographic region.

The discussion arose from reporters inquiring about budget cuts. Odierno was commenting that with the current budget, the Army was simply not going to be able to do the things they are expected to do.

“To defeat them, is not just a military issue. It is an economic issue. It is a diplomatic issue. It is an issue of moderate versus extremists and it is about also, potentially, having the capability to root them out of the places they now hold in Iraq and Syria,” Odierno went on to explain.

In another interview, the chief of staff further explained that when ISIS took control in Mosul, the administration did not rely on his years of experience in command to strategize the plan of defense. Odierno also speculated that an additional compromise was the Army budget cuts over the past four years, decreasing the budget by nearly 14 percent.

Odierno agreed with the White House that the fight against ISIS is best to be handled by local forces on the ground.

“Others should do this,” he said. “I believe the nations in the Middle East need to solve this problem. We should be helping them to solve this problem.”

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Fight with ISIS Could Take 20 Years: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: What the Fall of Ramadi Shows

RamadiBy Debbie Gregory.

The White House has officially acknowledged the fall of the city of Ramadi to the Islamic State. A statement from the Obama administration calls the loss of Iraq’s Anbar province capital a “setback.” The Pentagon concurred with the White House’s summation, as both bodies maintain that the current strategies being used against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), will ultimately bring about the destruction of the terrorist group. Both the White House and the Pentagon urged patience to those who wanted a faster resolution to the Islamic State problem.

“Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. “Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city.”

While those currently in power in Washington are campaigning to stay the course with our strategies in Iraq, there are others, including some who previously held positions of authority in the capital, who believe we should alter our tactics against the Islamic State. Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has said on national television that, “We don’t really have a strategy at all. We’re basically playing this day by day.”

Gates was speaking of the administration’s attempts to drive a wedge between Iraq’s Sunni tribes and the Islamic State. The former defense secretary has warned that if the situation keeps unfolding the way it currently is, we could see Iraq go down the same path as Yugoslavia.

“Right now, it looks like we’re going to see a lot of trouble in the Middle East for a long time,” Gates said.

The fall of Ramadi has caused suffering for the city’s residents, as well as a delay in any push to retake Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq. Mosul has been  an Islamic State stronghold since June, 2014. The loss of the city revealed that U.S. airstrikes, while effective, are not decisive. It also revealed further weaknesses in the already weak Iraqi Army. The U.S. had previously hoped that Iraqi government forces would have been ready to march on Mosul by April or May, but those hopes are now lost.

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Military Connection: What the Fall of Ramadi Shows: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Iraq Reclaims 25% of Land with Help

Iraq mapBy Debbie Gregory.

After the rapid and massive gains made by the Islamic State in 2014, Iraqi forces have managed to retake approximately 25% of the territory from the terrorist group.

American airstrikes against Islamic State units and strongholds effectively weakened the terrorist insurgents’ positions, to the point where ground forces were able to gain back an area that represents 5,000 to 6,500 square miles in northern and central Iraq.

But despite these gains, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, contends that his country requires even more international assistance in its fight against the Islamic State.

Since the U.S. began training Iraq’s military to take over the fight against the Islamic State, approximately 6,000 Iraqi soldier have completed the training. Officials at the Pentagon estimate that 20,000 to 25,000 soldiers will be needed to retake Mosul.

Until then, the ground forces that support the Iraqi government are made up of Shiite and Kurdish militias. Although not as thoroughly trained, these militias are armed, determined, and prepared to fight against the Islamic State. Many of the Shiite militias are backed by the Iranian government, who supply them with funding and weapons.

The intervention of Iran in the efforts against the Islamic State are a double edged sword. The militias, as well as the artillery and other support offered by the Iranian government, is proving effective. But U.S. officials aren’t so keen on the idea that the Iranians might be pushing the Islamic State away so that they can slide in with their influence, which have historically been anti-American.

The Iranians have been supplying their assistance to the Iraqi government, and have yet to ask for anything in return. So both the Iraqi government and the U.S. government are stuck choosing between the possibility of allowing a snake in their yard or looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Recent talks with Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials called for the removal of all “Shiite militias” to withdraw from the front lines in Sunni-populated Ramadi. The U.S. said that they would not increase airstrikes against the Islamic State until the Shiite militias were gone, citing that they caused unrest among the Sunni locals. This is a true and valid point. But the way that the terms were relayed implied that the U.S. specifically wanted the Iranian-backed militias withdrawn.

The terms that the U.S. ambassador presented to Iraqi leaders, and agreed upon, called for the Shiite militias to withdraw, or for the individual fighters to come under the command of the Iraqi military.

The U.S. has been extremely concerned with ridding Iraq of the Islamic State, but is not willing to do so at the cost of opening the door for Iran to take over Islamic State holdings.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Iraq Reclaims 25% of Land with Help: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: ISIS Shifting Its Resources Into Syria

US jet

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon has confirmed that the Islamic State in Iraq is moving some of its resources to Syria in order to reinforce its holdings. Airstrikes against the terrorist group, also commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL, are having the desired effect.

Coalition ground forces consisting of Iraq’s military and Shiite and Kurdish militias­ are being backed by airstrikes, as well as military advisors from the U.S., the UK, and a collection of other Western, Middle-Eastern, and African nations. The airstrikes are taking a heavy toll on Islamic State assets, clearing the way for the ground forces to push ahead.

In Syria, the U.S. and Canada are joined by several Middle-Eastern nations to provide airstrikes and military advisors to the Syrian Opposition and Syrian Kurdistan, as they join forces with the Syrian government to fight against the Islamic State. Much like the gains being made in Iraq, the Syrian forces are starting to have an impact against the Islamic State. The terrorist group is pulling back some of its weapons and fighters from Iraq in order to try reinforce the holdings in Syria that are no longer secure.

There have been more than 3,200 airstrikes conducted in both Iraq and Syria. According to the Pentagon’s Chief of Staff of the military task force against the Islamic State, Marine Corps Brigadier General Thomas Weidley, the combined airstrikes and ground operations are forcing the Islamic State to relocate its resources to the Syrian theater.

Officials at the Pentagon have said that the campaign against the Islamic State is unfolding as expected. They knew it would be a long, difficult, but necessary undertaking.  And while the Islamic State has not fully withdrawn into Syria, the coalition airstrikes are having an impact.

The U.S.-led coalition is nearing the completion of phase one of the campaign against the Islamic State, as stated by President Obama, to “degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat” the terrorist group. Both the Islamic State’s forces and its territory has been degraded by coalition efforts.

Iraqi Security Forces have regained over 25 percent of territory from the Islamic State in Iraq. Once the coalition dismantles and defeats the Islamic State in Iraq, the focus can shift to Syria.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: ISIS Shifting Its Resources Into Syria: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: How “The Good” Can Act

The Good

By Joe Silva

Edmund Burke was an 18th Century Irish Statesman and member of British Parliament, who accurately predicted the American colonists’ determination to achieve liberty. He is often credited with the popular phrase, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

For more than two centuries, this foreign-born sentiment has been at the root of American ideals. It has prompted generations of “good” individuals to act when they saw evil gaining a foothold in their world. These words ring true to this day, and as we see evils taking root in our world, we are calling on the “good” to fight back.

We hear about the Islamic State, claiming land in Iraq and Syria, and gaining a foothold in the world. The Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS and ISIL, is an extremist terrorist organization responsible for the murder of tens of thousands, and the enslavement of thousands of women to be the wives of their soldiers. In response to the U.S. military’s airstrikes in support of the local regimes’ war against them, ISIS has taken to social media to declare war against all American service members. This includes calling for organized and lone-wolf attacks against military installations and service members.

It is important to understand that the successes that ISIS has found has a lot to do with the utilization of the internet and social media. Online recruitment videos have drawn young Islamic extremists, from all over the world, to their ranks, including individuals from within our own borders. But ISIS also uses cyber knowledge to mass-communicate their message of terror.

Back in January, groups associated with ISIS hacked U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and Youtube accounts, posting threats such as, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS.”

On March 20th, ISIS posted the names, photos and personal information such as home addresses of 100 U.S. service members on the internet, calling for jihadist attacks against the individuals and their families.

It is remarkable that just days before the last threat was posted, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan released a statement warning how ISIS is a serious danger beyond the geographic regions from which they operate.

“Threats in the cyber realm are an urgent national security priority, as America has no equivalent to the two wide oceans that have helped safeguard our country’s physical, maritime and aviation domains for centuries,” Brennan said in the statement.

The CIA director acknowledged that government cyber accounts, as well as those of large corporations, are “under constant assault.” Brennan said that the CIA is working with its partners across the federal government to improve the nation’s cyber defense.

But this leads me back to the famous quote. The threat of the Islamic State does not simply exist on our nightly news programs; it is real and it is triumphing in our world. Our present situation is calling on all “good” individuals to take a stand against ISIS and any evil that is trying to gain a foothold in the world.

That doesn’t mean that all patriotic Americans should enlist in the military. It is not about being a hero. Instead, it is calling out to all “good” individuals to act as citizens of the world. Be vigilant, notice wrongdoing in your neighborhood, and report suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: How “The Good” Can Act: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Former Airman Facing Charges

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh

By Debbie Gregory

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, for allegedly trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group.

However, Pugh, 47, isn’t just a normal civilian. He served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990 as an avionics instrument system specialist. His training included the installation and maintenance of aircraft engines, navigation and weapons systems. Around 1998, Pugh moved to San Antonio, Texas, and converted to Islam. Since then, he has become increasingly radical in his beliefs.

Pugh was detained by Turkish authorizes in January when he landed in Istanbul. He told authorities that he was a “pilot with the United States Special Forces” who was vacationing in Turkey, but Turkish authorities were suspicious of his final destination. He was put on a plane to Cairo, where he told Egyptian authorities that he went to Turkey in search of a job, adamant that he had no plans of going to Syria.

Not coincidentally, Pugh’s electronic devices, including his laptop, had been “purposely tampered with” to prevent anyone from accessing them. Pugh told authorities that he had a wife in Egypt.

Upon investigation of his laptop, the FBI found a letter apparently written to his Egyptian wife in which he claimed to be a mujahid. A mujahid is one who struggles for the sake of Allah and Islam. He stated, “ I am a sword against the oppressor and a shield for the oppressed. I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States. There is [sic]only two possible outcomes for me. Victory or Martyr.”

The FBI also found around 180 jihadist videos on the laptop, including one that showed graphic murders committed by Islamic State, according to the indictment.

In 2001, one of Pugh’s co-workers told the FBI that Pugh “felt the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies overseas were justified and expressed anti-American sentiment.” Another associate told the FBI back in 2002 that Pugh expressed the desire to go to Chechnya to fight as a jihadist.

Pugh has pleaded not guilty to two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Former Airman Facing Charges: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Pressure Building to Send Troops Back to Iraq

boots on the ground

By Debbie Gregory.

According to recent polls, Americans may be moving on from their war weariness. Public opinion has changed direction, and isn’t the same as it was a year ago when the subject of putting boots on the ground in Iraq raised ire.

In early February, 52% of Americans believed that the U.S. should send combat troops back to Iraq, a recent poll revealed. The troops sent would be part of an international coalition to fight ISIS. Previously, only 48% of those polled were favor of boots on the ground in Iraq. Furthermore, in the last four months, the number of people who were opposed to the idea declined from 36% to 28%.

These polls suggest that the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has raised concerns of international terrorism, while diminishing opposition to quell the advance of the terrorist group by sending troops.

A poll done by NBC News/Marist Poll showed 66% of Americans believe that some ground troops are needed to combat ISIS. But only a small percentage of that 66% agree with sending a large number of forces.

The shift could be due to the fact that a lot of Americans feel that the U.S. and their allies were no longer winning the war on terror.

Public support is leaning in favor of a debate held at Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are considering a bill expanding President Obama’s authority to use military force against ISIS. Another poll shows that a 54 yes to 32 no stands in favor of Americans wanting their Congressmen to vote for the measure.

American forces spent eight-and-a-half years in Iraq, training and fighting alongside of an Iraqi army that now numbers approximately 245,000. Official estimates of ISIS fighters have grown from 9,000 to just approximately 30,000, suggesting the U.S. presence and its bombing campaign has boosted the militants’ recruitment efforts.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pressure Building to Send Troops Back to Iraq: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: Islamic State Threatens Service Members

ISIS Threats

By Debbie Gregory.

The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has reportedly posted the names, photos and home addresses of 100 U.S. service members, most of them pilots. The IS has urged its sympathizers to carry out attacks against the service members and their families.

A group that is calling itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division” claims to have hacked into Department of Defense (DOD) websites, posting the information and the threat on a Jihadist website on March 20th. The terrorist group claimed on the site that the service members listed carried out bombings on IS targets in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. The IS posting called for its sympathizers to kill the service members “in their own lands” where they “walk their own streets thinking they’re safe.”

After checking the validity of the threat and information about the 100 service members, it has been determined that while the threat and call to kill Americans is real, the claim that IS hackers found their way into a DOD website is unfounded. Most of the information posted could be found in public records and on unrestricted websites. More than sixty of the service members on the list have been reportedly featured on the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), a public website run by the Department of the Army. In the DVIDS segments and other publicly viewed materials, service members were pictured with their names, ranks, Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and often their home town and where they are stationed. This information could have easily led IS hackers to conduct simple research of public records to find additional personal information.

Other information that leads the Pentagon to believe that the IS hackers were not able to breach DOD records was that their list included personnel who have not been deployed, and whose occupational specialties would have nothing to do with direct U.S. efforts against the IS, in Iraq or in Syria.

Despite the validity of how the IS managed to retrieve the information, the threat and the danger are real. Service members need to be vigilant in their communities, especially in and around military installations. And those in uniform need to be careful about what they are putting on the internet. No one is suggesting that we allow terrorists to force service members to hide their pride in their service or their country, but taking extra security measures online is prudent to prevent identity theft as well as any terrorist threats.

The DOD has posted a wealth of resources and information for using the internet and social media, which can be found here.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Islamic State Threatens Service Members: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: US Troops to Return to Anbar? By Debbie Gregory

Anbar ProvinceDepartment of Defense officials are devising a plan to send U.S. personnel to Iraq’s Anbar Province. The mission of American service members has not changed. If sent into the region, they would act as advisors for Iraq’s forces against the Islamic State.

Advisors from the U.S. military are currently operating in areas near Baghdad and Irbil in the northern part of Iraq. This new plan would put U.S. troops in the middle of some of the heaviest fighting in the country.

The majority of Iraq’s Anbar Province is currently under the control of the Islamic State. Officials, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, believe that providing training and support for Iraq’s Sunni tribes to go on the offensive against the Islamic State is crucial to defeating the terrorist group.

In a news conference last week, Gen. Dempsey hinted at the possibility of the new role after discussing a report on a Sunni tribe that has suffered mass executions at the hands of the Islamic State.

“That”s why we need to expand the train-advise-and-assist mission into the Al- Anbar Province,” Dempsey told reporters. “But the precondition for that is that the government of Iraq is willing to arm the tribes.”

Dempsey reported that the United States had “positive indications” from the Iraqi government that they were prepared to do that, but had not yet done so.

Pentagon officials believe that such a mission could open the door to the formation of an Iraqi National Guard, while at the same time aid Iraq in regaining control of the province from the Islamic State.

As of yet, there is no timeline when U.S. troops would be staged as advisors in the Anbar Province.

During the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Anbar was the setting of a violent insurgency. It was only with the help of Sunni tribes that al Qaeda was driven from the region. During this conflict against the Islamic State, thousands of Sunni have died, including 400 members of the Abu Nimer, who were recently killed after standing up to the Islamic State.

Many believe that without aid and training from the U.S., any Iraqis who want to remove the Islamic State from their land will be hard-pressed to do so.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: US Troops to Return to Anbar? By Debbie Gregory