Posts filed under ‘Counter Terrorism’

AROUND AFRICA: Niger, Somalia, Burundi-Rwanda

Libya Threat.

MAP-Niger

NIGER: CIA World Factbook

According to Bloomberg, officials in the West African nation of Niger say instability in nearby Libya poses a bigger threat to them and other nations in the Sahel than Boko Haram violent extremist Islamist group.

The government of the landlocked Niger will spend 10 percent of its annual budget on defense through the next five years to protect itself from militants, Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou tells Bloomberg in an interview in Niamey, Niger’s capital.

Niger, the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium shares borders seven nations including Libya, where the so-called Islamic State has gained a foothold amid a power vacuum caused by a breakdown in central authority.

“As long as Libya isn’t stabilized, it’s obvious that there will be a permanent threat throughout the Sahel,” Massaoudou said.

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Somali Jet Blast.

Somali officials investigating an apparent bomb blast that forced a passenger jet to make an emergency landing in Mogadishu tell the VOA news site that the explosion was likely the work of militant group al-Shabab.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior security official told VOA’s Somali Service that investigators have evidence that al-Shabab was behind the blast and that they will present their conclusions soon.

Somalia’s former national intelligence director, Ahmed Moallim Fiqi, said the nature of the incident and the evidence available so far both indicate it was “a planned bomb attack.”

A passenger on the Djibouti-bound Airbus 321 has been confirmed missing by the airline, the BBC reports. Daallo Airlines had previously said that all the passengers had been accounted for.

It is thought that the man fell out of the hole, which appeared shortly after take-off from Mogadishu on Tuesday (February 2).

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Rwanda Accused.

MAP-Burundi

BURUNDI: CIA World Fact Book

A confidential United Nations report has repeated previous allegations that Rwanda has been recruiting and training Burundian rebels on its territory with the goal of ousting Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza.

A group of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said it had interviewed 18 Burundian fighters in DRC’s South Kivu Province, according to the VOA website.

They all told the experts that “they had been recruited in the Mahama Refugee Camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015,” and were given two months of military training by instructors who “included Rwandan military personnel,” according to the U.N. experts. Their findings were first reported by Reuters.

Rwanda has dismissed the allegations in the leaked U.N. report, according to the BBC. Similar allegations have been made by Burundi’s government.

A political crisis in the country, sparked by President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term last April, has led thousands to flee.

 

February 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Libya; Somalia

USSOCOM Eyes Libya.

MAP-Libya

Libya (CIA World Factbook)

The head of U.S. Special Forces Command says his organization is keeping tabs on goings on in Libya, as part of an effort to keep the Islamic State (ISIS) from growing more powerful there.

“There is concern about Libya,” Army General Joseph Votel told an industry-special ops conference in Washington this week. “In order to address this threat holistically, we do have to do activities and pursue objectives that allow us to tamp down on it,” Defense One reported Thursday. He added ISIS needs to be destroyed in areas where it is not wholly grown yet “so that we can bring that area back to legitimate local control.

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Beach Front Attack.

The East African terrorist group, Al Shabab, is claiming responsibility for an attack by suicide bombers on a hotel and restaurant in the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia_19881

The Horn of Africa. Map courtesy of University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center

A car laden with explosives rammed into the Beach View Hotel in the capital’s Lido Beach area Thursday evening (January 21) . At least four armed men rushed the hotel shooting the place up., the Al Jazeera news service reported.

Another bomb struck a nearby restaurant, where several gun also attacked. Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to Al Jazeea.

Lido Beach, on the northern edge of Mogadishu, attracts thousands of mostly young Somalis looking to relax and enjoy the beach and surf, the BBC reported.

Al Shabab, which has links to al Qaeda, has carried out similar attacks in the past, the BBC said, noting the violent extremist group was driven from the capital in 2011, but still has a presence in large areas of Souther Somalia.

The group stormed an African Union military base in Souther Somalia last week, killing dozens of soldiers from Kenya.

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January 22, 2016 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 15, 2016)

Cockpit Reach.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook

340th EARS refuels A10s and B1U.S Air Force Major Steve Briones (left) and 1st Lieutenant Andrew Kim fly a an aerial refueling KC-135 Stratotanker over Turkey on January 6. Looks easy, doesn’t it?

Coalition forces fly daily missions to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. led air campaign against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

January 15, 2016 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Cameroon Bombing, Boko Haram [UPDATE]

Another Mosque Bombed.

MAP-Cameroon

 

There’s been another bombing in Cameroon being blamed on the Nigerian-based Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.

At least 10 people were killed in an attack on a mosque by two female suicide bombers. The bombers struck during morning prayers, wounding about a dozen other people, the governor of the region tells Al Jazeera.

The attack in the town of Kolofata on Wednesday has been blamed on members of Boko Haram who reportedly crossed the border into Cameroon a few days earlier, Midjiyawa Bakari was quoted as saying.  Kolofata, in Cameroon’s far north, near the border with Nigeria, has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram, according to Al Jazeera.

Wednesday’s blast was the third attack on a mosque in Cameroon in recent weeks.Another suicide attack blamed on Boko Haram in Cameroon last month killed at least seven people and wounded 30 others, officials said. In September, suicide bombers killed nine people in Kolofata and wounded 18.

Bakari, governor of the Far North Region of Cameroon, said  Muslims should be on guard at mosques to help avert the kind of attacks that have plagued those attending morning prayers, according to the Voice of America website.

Bakari said he is asking the population to create vigilante groups to control access to mosques and places where people gather.

He said all prayer sessions in mosques should be divided into two, with the first group praying and the second group keeping watch. The groups would then switch. He also said unknown people should not be given access to mosques.

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New Kidnapped Girls Probe.

MAP-Nigeria

UPDATES to CORRECT Buhari previously led Nigeria in the early 1980s.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a new investigation into one of Boko Haram’s most notorious crimes, the kidnapping of hundreds of teen-aged school girls in 2014.

The military has freed hundreds of Boko Haram captives in recent months, but none of the 200 girls taken from a school in the town of Chibok, according to the BBC.

The lack of progress in the attack and kidnapping that garnered worldwide attention, has sparked criticism of the government and army, which has been waging a war against the violent extremist Islamist group for six years. More than20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria and surrounding countries by Boko Haram attacks and bombings.

Buhari, a former Army commander and coup leader who ruled the country in the early 1980s before being democratically elected last year, fired the heads of Nigeria’s army, navy and air force in July 2015 as proof of his determination to have the girls found.

The new probe will be led by a panel appointed by the Nigeria’s national security adviser and will look into the circumstances of the kidnapping and the government’s response. The government says it does not know where the girls are or if they are alive, BBC reported.

January 14, 2016 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AIR FORCE: Report Says Pentagon Rethinking Attack Plane’s Retirement

Warthog Reprieve.

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint bArmy-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint Army-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

According to a published report, the U.S. Air Force is halting immediate plans to retire the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet — which is playing a major role in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The website, Defense One, reports Pentagon officials are saying plans to retire the heavily armored Cold War era jet known as the Warthog, have been put on hold. This policy shift will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, Pentagon officials told Defense One, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the spending plan before its official release.

The Air Force has been trying to eliminate the 40-year-old aircraft since 2014, because of budget constraints which threaten funding for newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the planned long range strike bomber. Officials say the A-10 — called the Warthog because of its stubby appearance, punishment-taking air frame and lethal armament — is obsolete and vulnerable to modern air defense missile systems and fifth generation fighter jets.

They also said multi-role fighters like the F-35 could handle the Warthog’s main mission: close air support of ground troops. That claim is strongly denied by Warthog advocates, who include former A-10 pilots, members of Congress and Army and Marine veterans who say they were saved from being overrun in Afghanistan by the A-10’s fearsome Gatling Gun.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

Supporters say high speed fighter jets cannot linger over a battle zone and provide covering fire for an extended period of time like the low and slow-flying Warthog has. The photo above shows the A-10’s big gun (like a fat cigar clenched in its tiger shark teeth) the seven-barrel, rotating 30 milimeter GAU cannon. The gun, with a firing rate of over 4,000-rounds per minute, enables “hogs” to support ground troops by taking out enemy tanks and armored vehicles with its armor-piercing shells.

January 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Leadership Changes; New Gunships Defense; SEALS and Women

Votel & Thomas.

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army General Joseph Votel is likely to be the next chief of Central Command (CENTCOM), according to the Washington Post. And to replace Votel at SOCOM, the Post says Army Lieutenant General Raymond Thomas is the most likely candidate.

Votel, an Army Ranger and former head of the 75th Ranger Regiment, took over Tampa, Florida-based SOCOM as its 10th commander in 2014 from Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL.

Word of Votel’s planned transfer to CENTCOM, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Army Gen. and U.S> SOCOM commander Joseph Votel. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Army Gen. and U.S. SOCOM commander Joseph Votel.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Special Operations Forces include Army Green Berets, Rangers and Special Ops aviators, Navy SEALS and Special Warfare Combatant-craft crews, Air Force Pararescue jumpers and combat air controllers, Marine Corps Corps critical skills operators and special operations combat services specialists.

Thomas, also an Army Ranger, is currently the head of Joint Special Operations Command, the SOCOM unit that oversees terrorist-hunting missions from North Africa to Afghanistan, according to the Post. CENTCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for U.S. security interests an area consisting of 20 mostly Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

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Radio Countermeasures.

U.S. Special Operations Command has ordered radio countermeasures equipment for its AC-130J and MC-130J gunship  variants.

Under a $32 million contract with Northrop Grumman, the company’s Land and Avionics C4ISR division will supply radio frequency countermeasures (RFCM) for the planes, according to the C4ISR&Networks web site.

Jeff Palombo, Northrop Grumman division vice president and general manager, said N-G’s solution “is designed to detect and defeat not only current radio frequency threats, but also to have the flexibility to protect our warfighters as the threat evolves.” In a Northrop Grumman press release, Palombio said the solution “is built upon our high confidence aircraft protection systems of today, coupled with an open architecture approach that enables our offering to grow to a multi-spectral, multi-function capability for the future.”

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Mabus VS. SEALS

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is urging the Navy’s admirals to press forward with integrating women into the Special Ops Navy SEAL teams, over the concerns of Navy SEAL leaders.

140121-N-KB563-148 CORONADO, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2014) Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs) students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf Passage is one of many physically demanding evolutions that are a part of the first phase of SEAL training. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/Released)

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs)
students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st
Class Michael Russell/Released)

As Naval Special Warfare hammers out a plan to start admitting women into their very rugged training, Mabus is urging Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson to forge ahead. Mabus rebutted some of the concerns Navy brass raised about roadblocks to integration, the Navy Times reported.

In the plan it submitted, NSW argued that allowing women to join direct ground combat units would not increase readiness, and could even distract from it, according to the memo obtained by Navy Times.

January 12, 2016 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

SKILLS AND TRAINING: Marines Preparing for Future Actions in Coastal Mega Cities

Skyscraper Warfare?

Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers and U.S. Marines patrol streets in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal James J. Vooris)

Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers and U.S. Marines patrol streets in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal James J. Vooris)

Back in September, we told what challenges Marine Corps planners and strategists think the corps will face later in the 21st Century. Much talk at the Modern Day Marine expo in Virginia focused on the kind of hybrid warfare seen in eastern Ukraine and the rise of teeming coastal mega cities around the world.

The future battlefield will probably look nothing like Afghanistan and Iraq, where Marines have been fighting for the last 14 years. Instead, urban areas near the sea and river deltas are expected to be the most likely environment, said Brigadier General Julian Dale Alford, commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

During a panel discussion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Alford said the new environment will be “complex, congested, cluttered, contested, connected (with the cyber world), constrained and coastal.”

There’s plenty of evidence to back that conclusion.

A 2014 United Nations report noted that 54 percent of the world’s population already lives in urban areas — a proportion expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050.  Projections show that urbanization, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa, according to the 2014 revision of the U.N.’s World Urbanization Prospects report.

Of today’s 28 mega-cities (with a population of 10 million or more) 16 are located in Asia, four in Latin America, three each in Africa and Europe, and two in North America. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with 10 million inhabitants or more. Many of those cities are in the littoral areas close to the sea.”That’s where our Marines are  going to fight. That’s where we’re going to have to operate,” Alford said back in September.

Speaking at an industry training, simulation and education conference in Orlando, Florida last month, Alford asked industry attendees to help develop ways to better prepare troops to fight in high-rise warfare, Defense News reported.

Alford said training concepts need to move quickly from “the three-block war,”  to the “four-floor war.” “We are going to be on the top floor of a skyscraper . . . evacuating civilians and helping people. The middle floor, we might be detaining really bad people that we’ve caught. On the first floor we will be down there killing them. … At the same time they will be getting away through the subway or sub terrain,” Alford said, Defense News’ Jen Judson reported from Orlando. “How do we train to fight that? Because it is coming, that fight right there is coming I do believe with all my heart,”  Alford added.
Nighttime view of Israel's Urban Warfare Training Center. (Israeli Defense Forces photo)

Nighttime view of Israel’s Urban Warfare Training Center.
(Israeli Defense Forces photo)

Then U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno commissioned the Strategic Studies Group, to develop a study on the challenges of mega cities in 2014. Click here to see it.

January 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

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