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B-2 Bombers Kill Dozens of ISIS Fighters in Libya

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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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Should US Resume Airstrikes Against Taliban Targets?

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By Debbie Gregory.

The Taliban’s growing military might is posing a strategic “rock and a hard place” question for President Barack Obama: should the United States resume airstrikes against the Taliban?

Gen. John F. Campbell, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan until last month, proposed resuming offensive strikes against the Taliban. The U.S. withdrew most of its troops in 2014, dramatically reducing the number of airstrikes against Taliban targets throughout Afghanistan.  And after spending tens of billions of dollars training Afghan security personnel, the Taliban continues to advance.

Afghan forces are struggling to hold back resurgent Taliban forces, which have reclaimed some areas won during the U.S. troop surge, albeit at a great cost. Many Taliban fighters think “they are operating from a position of strength,” according to Campbell.

That leaves the White House with the choice of either limiting the numbers of strikes (and risk the militants continuing to gain ground) or allowing American pilots to bomb a broader array of targets, restoring the U.S.’s combat role in Afghanistan.

The formal end of NATO’s combat mission in January 2015 meant that the U.S. was rarely directly targeting the militants from the air. Although U.S. commanders can call in airstrikes, there are only supposed to do so under certain circumstances: to protect NATO troops, target al Qaeda militants, or come to the aid of Afghan forces in danger of being overrun by the Taliban or suffering a clear defeat on the ground.

Senior Pentagon officials are pushing to revise the rules of engagement so they can be free to fire on Taliban forces massing to seize territory and directly target their leadership.

The Pentagon said no decision has been made to broaden the air campaign in Afghanistan. So what is the best use of America’s air power in Afghanistan?

In 2001, U.S. air raids were instrumental in taking down the Taliban regime, but also killed and injured civilians.  While Gen. Stanley McChrystal scaled back the bombing to avoid alienating the Afghan population, his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, ramped up the air raids.

And while the Afghans are slowly building their own air force, it won’t be battle ready until 2020. So, what do you think? Should the U.S. resume the airstrikes against the Taliban?

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Price Tag for Airstrikes Against Islamic State Hits $5.5B

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. has won battles, destroyed targets, and saved towns from ISIS, but we might not be winning a war that carries with it a massive price tag.

The air war against the Islamic State group has cost the American taxpayer $5.5 billion, roughly $11.2 million per day. This is a $2 million increase since June, this according to the latest Defense Department data.

The Air Force accounts for $3.75 billion of that cost, totaling roughly $7.7 million/day since the U.S. began launching airstrikes in August, 2014.

In 2015, the Air Force conducted 21,000 sorties over Iraq and Syria, 9,000 of which included at least one weapons release. For the first time, in the last two months of 2015, the Air Force surpassed over 3,100 dropped bombs during Operation Inherent Resolve.

Recently, the U.S.-led coalition blew up a warehouse in Iraq where the Islamic State held millions of dollars in cash, a defense official confirmed.

In November, Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said that munitions from A-10s and C-130s destroyed 116 tanker trucks in what the Defense Department has called Operation Tidal Wave II — a push to limit the Islamic State’s oil revenue.

U.S. allies have stepped up their targeting of the militant group following the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the United States will convene a meeting next month of defense ministers from 27 countries participating in the fight against the Islamic State. The meeting in Brussels will focus on how each member of the coalition could contribute more to defeating the extremist group, assist with the reconstruction of cities that were held by the Islamic State, and on countering the group’s propaganda.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: F-22s Finally See Action: By Debbie Gregory

F22 RaptorOn September 22, 2014, the U.S. led airstrikes against Islamic State Forces in Syria dominated the media, and rightfully so. Five Arab nations joined in the assault, with four of them sending aircraft to join the U.S. The strikes were as symbolic as they were devastating to the terrorist militants, sending a clear message that they aren’t just being singled out by Americans, they are being eliminated by the world. But another momentous event happened that has been overlooked. During the airstrikes, the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor flew its first combat mission.

The F-22 is a stealth tactical fighter developed by the Air Force as its ultimate weapon in the air. In addition to its maneuverability, the Raptor’s weapons and detection capabilities make it the perfect weapon in air superiority. The Air Force had 187 commissioned between 2005 and 2011. Many pilots believe the F-22 is unmatched in air-to-air capabilities.

The F-22 fleet has been held back from combat operations, largely due to the small size of its fleet. The Pentagon originally planned on a major buy of the Lockheed Martin-built jets. But the high cost of the Raptor, combined with the constant campaigns against foes with limited air capabilities, and the general lack of any fighters that match the F-22, caused the DOD to abandon further production.

Air Force officials confirmed that the Raptor was used as part of the mission in Syria, along with F-15E, F-16, F/A-18 and B-1 bombers. The Air Force didn’t specify the number of each type aircraft used. The American aircraft were assisted by other aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, Tomahawk missiles were launched in support from the U.S. Navy warships the  USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and the USS Philippine Sea (CG-51). The destroyer and cruiser were steaming in international waters in the Red Sea and the Northern Arabian Gulf.

The F-22 can carry up to six AIM-120 advanced, medium-range, air-to-air missiles, or two AIM-120s and two GBU-32 joint direct-attack munitions for air-to-ground strikes. It also carries an internal 20mm gun and two AIM-9 Sidewinders in internal weapon bays.

With Washington and world leaders claiming that Monday’s strikes were just the beginning of a sustained campaign against the Islamic State, the F-22 Raptor will likely get additional chances to prove its worth and its superiority.

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: F-22s Finally See Action: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Airstrikes in Syria: By Debbie Gregory

airstrikesThis week, a message was sent to the Islamic State (I.S.) that the world is rallying against them. A U.S. led coalition conducted a series of airstrikes against the terrorist group that has seized large parcels of land in Iraq and Syria.

There were two major differences in this latest attack against the I.S. One was that this series of attacks happened in Syria. The second was that multiple Arab nations took part in the airstrikes, solidifying that it isn’t just the U.S. opposing the Islamic State.

The airstrikes began in the early hours of September 23, 2014. Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined the U.S. in sending units to carry out attacks on I.S. forces, with Qatar joining them in a non-combatant support role.

This multinational coalition is important for a number of reasons. During the earlier campaigns in the region, it seemed as though it was the Western powers against the Middle East, as U.S. and British forces took on the bulk of the workload. This gave the impression that other world leaders within the Middle East were against, or at least not on board with, the conflicts. Now, with other Arab nations joining in against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it sends a resounding message that the threat the I.S. poses is real. So is the need to destroy them, regardless of cultural, religious, language and ideological barriers.

President Obama met with the leaders from the five Arab nations that make up the coalition. Each one made it clear that they understood that the mission to destroy the I.S. could be a long and difficult one. But every member confirmed that they would see the mission through to completion.

The airstrikes happened in three waves, all targeting combatants, vehicles, and training camps. The first wave focused on the Khorasan Group, a separate terrorist organization that is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous to Americans, because of its stated mission to carry out operations in the U.S. The wave hit several Khorasan Group targets in Eastern and Northern Syria.

The second wave hit I.S. targets, including its headquarters. The third wave concentrated on I.S. positions in Eastern and Northern Syria.

Let us send best wishes and support to our American pilots who are carrying out the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. While we don’t have personnel on the ground, we certainly have Americans in harm’s way. Let us keep them and their families in our hearts and minds.

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: Airstrikes in Syria: By Debbie Gregory