B-2 Bombers Kill Dozens of ISIS Fighters in Libya


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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USS Harry S. Truman Deployed in Fight Against ISIS


By Debbie Gregory.

The Norfolk-based Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, currently in the Arabian Gulf, is launching airstrikes against Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terrorists, according to the Navy.

The strike group includes guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio and guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley, USS Gravely and USS Gonzalez.

The carrier and its crew of approximately 6,000 sailors left Naval Station Norfolk November 16th, on what’s expected to be a seven-month deployment, filling a U.S. carrier absence in the Middle East.

The Truman joins the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier FS Charles De Gaulle for combined combat operations in Iraq and Syria, the Navy said. France has been an active member of the U.S.-led coalition force since ISIS claimed credit for the attacks in its capital city November 16th.

Originally, the Truman was set to deploy in 2016, but the Navy had it switch deployments with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike), which needed additional time in the shipyard. Ike had a record-setting, 23-month yard period after back-to-back deployments from June 2012 to December 2012, and from February 2013 to July 2013, causing more maintenance than expected.

The Truman provides a wide range of flexible mission capabilities, including maritime security operations, expeditionary power projection, forward naval presence, crisis response, sea control, deterrence, counter-terrorism, information operations and security cooperation. The ship’s embarked air wing is capable of projecting tactical air power over the sea and inland, as well as providing sea based air, surface and subsurface defense capabilities.

The ship’s crew keeps up a lively presence on social media, posting pictures on their Facebook page to keep loved ones up to date with their activities. While it must have been difficult to have them gone for the holidays, there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 holiday pictures featuring hundreds of crew members in the “Happy Holidays” photo album.

“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. ”
-President Harry S. Truman

Give ‘Em Hell!

Drones Seek Out Terrorists: Military Connection

Drones Seek Out Terrorists

By Debbie Gregory.

The CIA and U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) forces have launched a secret drone program designed to hunt down and kill high-value members of the Islamic State (IS).

Among those recently killed was 21 year old Junaid Hussain, a British militant thought to be an architect of the terrorist group’s effort to use social media to incite attacks in the United States. Hussain moved up in the “target list” after his name was linked to one of the two gunmen who opened fire at the Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland in Texas earlier this year.

The collaboration represents a significant escalation of the CIA’s involvement in the war in Syria, enlisting the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) against a militant group that many officials believe has eclipsed al-Qaeda as a threat.

The CTC has been given an expanded role in identifying and locating senior IS figures, with the strikes being carried out exclusively by JSOC. The officials said the program is aimed at terrorism suspects deemed “high-value targets.”

The program is a move away from the president’s stated ambition to end the CIA’s involvement in drone strikes and return the agency to its traditional spy role.

The decision to enlist the CIA and JSOC reflects rising anxiety among U.S. counterterrorism officials about the danger the Islamic State poses, as well as frustration with the failure of conventional strikes to degrade the group’s strength. President Barack Obama’s goal is to “degrade” and “destroy” the jihadist movement, as it continues to control large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

IS poses different challenges, because unlike al-Qaeda, IS has extensive territory, a seemingly endless stream of recruits, and a deep roster of senior operatives, many of whom served in the military of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

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ISIS Using Chemical Weapons? Military Connection

military connection: kurds

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon has dialed back assertions regarding allegations that ISIS used chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, saying that the Defense Department is still investigating the matter and could not confirm ISIS’s capabilities.

The White House had previously announced that the United States was investigating whether the Islamic State used chemical weapons, most likely a mustard agent, against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Test results from an ISIS attack in Hasakah, Syria, two weeks ago that confirm the terror group used a mustard agent as a weapon

Officials originally thought that ISIS may have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal. But an official said that the mustard agent used in Syria is more likely precursor chemicals, rather than a complex munition, a sign this did not come from a cache of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mustard agent, first employed as a weapon in World War I, can cause painful burns and blisters, immobilizing those affected by it, but it is usually deadly only if used in large quantities.

“We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that any use of chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards and norms regarding such capabilities,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council.

On August 13th , Kurdish officials said their forces were attacked the day before near the town of Makhmour, not far from Irbil. The German Defense Ministry, whose military has been training the Kurds, said that approximately 60 Kurdish fighters suffered breathing difficulties from the attack, a telltale sign of chemical weapons use.

The use of mustard agent would mark an upgrade in ISIS’s battlefield capabilities, and would be very worrying, spiking fears that there could be hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said that if reports of chemical weapons are true, they would further prove that what ISIS calls warfare is really “just systematic attacks on civilians who don’t accord to their particularly perverse world view.”

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ISIS Using Chemical Weapons? Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: US/Turkey Not Done Talking: By Debbie Gregory

US and TurkeyThis week, there have been more than a few media misfires concerning the United States’ relationship with its ally, Turkey, and the agreement to allow the U.S. military to carry out missions over Syria from Turkish air bases.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, it was reported by several major media outlets that Turkey had agreed to allow the U.S. to use their air bases to stage air strikes over Syria against the Islamic State (IS), also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Early the next day, Turkish officials were adamant that no deal had been struck, and that talks were still in progress. This announcement prompted several news sources to release stories that hinted of hostilities between the U.S. and Turkey. These stories told of bickering and confusion between the two allies, and even a possible rupture in the alliance. But perhaps it was the news sources that may have been confused.

DOD officials say that Turkey has agreed “in principle” to allowing the U.S. military the use of its air bases, but there are still several details that need to be ironed out before the deal can be finalized. Besides Turkey’s hesitancy to welcome a foreign military into their sovereignty, the Turks have a few other concerns that need to be negotiated.

Turkey has insisted on a no-fly zone over northern Syria, near the Turkey-Syria border, that would facilitate the continued arming and training of moderate rebels to fight against Syria’s Assad regime. The U.S. has resisted this plan despite belief that providing a haven for these rebels could help them fight the IS forces.

Americans reading about the ongoing talks should be aware that Turkey has been a long-time ally to the U.S., as well as a member of NATO. Turkey has been an ongoing partner in the fight against the IS, and has shared intelligence with the U.S. military, as well as participated in a U.S.-led mission to arm and train moderate rebels in Syria. Turkey has granted the U.S. access to a base in Incirlik, to be used as a staging area for surveillance drones.

It is hoped that the tense negotiations will end soon, and the U.S. will be granted a staging area in Turkey to provide better support for our allies that are fighting against the IS on the ground.

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Military Connection: US/Turkey Not Done Talking: By Debbie Gregory