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Sunday, August 31, 2014

COAST GUARD STOPS SEARCH FOR CESSNA THAT ENTERED RESTRICTED AIR SPACE

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard suspended the search Sunday for a pilot who lost consciousness and crashed an airplane into the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast.

On Saturday, the plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation's capital, scrambling fighter jets that stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn said the search was halted Sunday morning after a civilian boater recovered a wheel and engine cowling from the single-engine Cirrus. Littlejohn said the chances of finding anything else were slim.

Crews searched the waters for the plane, which crashed about 50 miles southeast of Chincoteague Island along the Virginia coast, Littlejohn said Saturday. The plane took off from Waukesha, Wis., and was headed to Manassas, Va., which is about 30 miles southwest of Washington, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

The plane, which had only a pilot on board, did not land at Manassas Regional Airport as scheduled. Instead, it stayed at an altitude of 13,000 feet and continued into restricted airspace near Washington, D.C., WVEC.com reported.

Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers tracked the plane through the restricted airspace early Saturday afternoon. The pilot had not been responding to radio calls since 1:00 p.m.The Coast Guard was notified about 2:40 p.m. Saturday.

Two F-16 fighter jets under the direction of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) came alongside the Cirrus SR20 to investigate and found the pilot unconscious in the cockpit.

The F-16 airmen escorted the Cessna on its course over the Eastern Shore of Virginia until it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., and the crew of Cutter Beluga, based in Virginia Beach, to respond.

The pilot's name has not been released.

The plane was registered to Ronald Hutchinson, of Brookfield, Wis. Relatives reached at a phone listing for him didn't want to comment Saturday night, according to AP.

The NTSB is investigating.

Contributing: The Associated Press

RUSSIA NOT ON A SIGHTSEEING TOUR IN UKRAINE

Rogers: Russian troops not on 'sightseeing tour'
Timothy Cama - 08-31-14 10:34 AM EDT

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday disagreed with the Obama administration’s refusal to call Russia’s military action in Ukraine an invasion.

“I don’t think they’re there on a sightseeing tour,” Rogers, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said of Russia’s incursions into Ukraine.

“It’s hard to argue that Russian troops with Russian armor crossing the border into Ukraine doesn’t fit the definition of an invasion,” he said.

Rogers’s comments match those of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that Russia is clearly carrying out an invasion.

Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped up his game militarily in Ukraine to assist Russia-backed rebels in the country, who Rogers believes needed help to hold ground.

The Michigan Republican also criticized the Obama administration for not flatly calling Russia’s actions an invasion.

“If the world perceives that the United States does not have a consistent foreign policy of saying what it means and meaning what it says, you’re going to see more of this pressure,” he said.

“That’s why the Chinese are engaging our pilots in a very dangerous way in international waters, that’s why Russians are upping their game, that’s why [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] is conducting the business that it is.”

Rogers told host Chris Wallace that the fighting in Ukraine shows that the administration’s unwritten “don’t do stupid stuff” foreign policy mantra isn’t working.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES TRAVEL WARNING TO UKRAINE: SITUATION WORSENS

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine due to ongoing violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. 
AUGUST 29, 2014
In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine.This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated August 1 to provide updated information on the security situation in southern and eastern Ukraine.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.  Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.  These groups have established illegal checkpoints and have threatened, detained, or kidnapped individuals, including U.S. citizens, for hours or days.  The Ukrainian armed forces have launched an operation to reclaim these areas.  Violent clashes between the Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have escalated over the past month and have resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths.  Some of these clashes have included the use of armored vehicles, aircraft, and other military weapons including surface to air missiles, the use of which was responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17.  Widespread disorder and looting has been confirmed in areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.  These Russian-supported groups have taken on a more strident anti-American tone, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.  U.S. citizens who choose to remain in conflict areas should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.
The Department of State also warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, and to exercise caution in the regions of Odesa, Kharkhiv, Zaporizhia and Kherson.  Russian forces have occupied the Crimean Peninsula in support of the Russian Federation's attempted annexation of Crimea and these forces are likely to continue to take further actions in the Crimean Peninsula consistent with Russia's continuing occupation of this part of Ukraine.  The international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize this purported annexation.  The Russian Federation maintains an extensive military presence in Crimea and along the border of eastern Ukraine.  In addition, there are continuing reports of abuses against the local population by de facto authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging the current status quo on the peninsula
The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly.  U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors and shelter in place for extended periods of time should clashes occur in their vicinity.
Peace Corps Volunteers departed Ukraine on February 25, and remain out of the country at this time.  U.S. Embassy Kyiv's Consular Section is open for all public services; however, in light of the ongoing unrest, the Embassy has severely restricted the travel of U.S. Government personnel to areas in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, and occasionally limits travel to other adjacent regions.  As a result, the Embassy's ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine's Crimean region is extremely limited. 
Ground transportation may be disrupted throughout the country.  Drivers may encounter roadblocks that restrict access on certain roads.  Following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to prohibit all U.S. flight operations within Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Regions.  This expanded the FAA’s previous NOTAM restricting U.S. flight operations within the
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Ukraine are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Ukraine.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

NEW: TRAVEL ALERT DUE TO EBOLA - U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES LEVEL 3 WARNING

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.  
AUGUST 28, 2014

Due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued  Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD.  The CDC also issued a Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria to notify travelers of the Ebola outbreak in that country.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD.  Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions.  Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period.  Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it.  For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.
The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive.  We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).  Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel. 
Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries.  U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options. 
The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans.  Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice.  Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information. 
This Travel Alert will expire on February 27, 2015.

SEC. KERRY: TO DEFEAT TERROR, WE NEED THE WORLD'S HELP

To Defeat Terror, We Need the World's Help


Op-Ed
John Kerry
Secretary of State
The New York Times
August 29, 2014


In a polarized region and a complicated world, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries, including the United States. What’s needed to confront its nihilistic vision and genocidal agenda is a global coalition using political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force.

In addition to its beheadings, crucifixions and other acts of sheer evil, which have killed thousands of innocents in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, including Sunni Muslims whose faith it purports to represent, ISIS (which the United States government calls ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses a threat well beyond the region.
ISIS has its origins in what was once known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has over a decade of experience in extremist violence. The group has amassed a hardened fighting force of committed jihadists with global ambitions, exploiting the conflict in Syria and sectarian tensions in Iraq. Its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States, and in May an ISIS-associated terrorist shot and killed three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. (A fourth victim died 13 days later.) ISIS’ cadre of foreign fighters are a rising threat not just in the region, but anywhere they could manage to travel undetected — including to America.

There is evidence that these extremists, if left unchecked, will not be satisfied at stopping with Syria and Iraq. They are larger and better funded in this new incarnation, using pirated oil, kidnapping and extortion to finance operations in Syria and Iraq. They are equipped with sophisticated heavy weapons looted from the battlefield. They have already demonstrated the ability to seize and hold more territory than any other terrorist organization, in a strategic region that borders Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and is perilously close to Israel.
ISIS fighters have exhibited repulsive savagery and cruelty. Even as they butcher Shiite Muslims and Christians in their effort to touch off a broader ethnic and sectarian conflict, they pursue a calculated strategy of killing fellow Sunni Muslims to gain and hold territory. The beheading of an American journalist, James Foley, has shocked the conscience of the world.

With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries. The world can confront this scourge, and ultimately defeat it. ISIS is odious, but not omnipotent. We have proof already in northern Iraq, where United States airstrikes have shifted the momentum of the fight, providing space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to go on the offensive. With our support, Iraq’s leaders have come together to form a new, inclusive government that is essential to isolating ISIS and securing the support of all of Iraq’s communities.

Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world. We need to support Iraqi forces and the moderate Syrian opposition, who are facing ISIS on the front lines. We need to disrupt and degrade ISIS’ capabilities and counter its extremist message in the media. And we need to strengthen our own defenses and cooperation in protecting our people.

Next week, on the sidelines of the NATO summit meeting in Wales, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I will meet with our counterparts from our European allies. The goal is to enlist the broadest possible assistance. Following the meeting, Mr. Hagel and I plan to travel to the Middle East to develop more support for the coalition among the countries that are most directly threatened.

The United States will hold the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in September, and we will use that opportunity to continue to build a broad coalition and highlight the danger posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including those who have joined ISIS. During the General Assembly session, President Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat.

In this battle, there is a role for almost every country. Some will provide military assistance, direct and indirect. Some will provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance for the millions who have been displaced and victimized across the region. Others will help restore not just shattered economies but broken trust among neighbors. This effort is underway in Iraq, where other countries have joined us in providing humanitarian aid, military assistance and support for an inclusive government.

Already our efforts have brought dozens of nations to this cause. Certainly there are different interests at play. But no decent country can support the horrors perpetrated by ISIS, and no civilized country should shirk its responsibility to help stamp out this disease.

ISIS’ abhorrent tactics are uniting and rallying neighbors with traditionally conflicting interests to support Iraq’s new government. And over time, this coalition can begin to address the underlying factors that fuel ISIS and other terrorist organizations with like-minded agendas.

Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.

Extremists are defeated only when responsible nations and their peoples unite to oppose them.

AMBASSADOR POWER TO UN SECURITY COUNCIL ON UKRAINE / RUSSIA CRISIS

Remarks at a Security Council Session on Ukraine
Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
New York, NY
August 28, 2014



Mr. President, representatives on this Council, this is our 24th session to try to rein in Russia’s aggressive acts in Ukraine. Every single one of those sessions has sent a straight-forward, unified message: Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening.

We said it when Russia flagrantly violated international law in occupying Crimea. We said it after the shocking downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which took the lives of innocent men, women, children, and infants from 11 countries. And we say it today, as Russia’s soldiers, tanks, air defense, and artillery support and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured in and fueled by Russia.

But Russia is not listening.

Instead of listening, instead of heeding the demands of the international community and the rules of the international order, at every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth. It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.
In the last 48 hours, Russia’s actions have spoken volumes.

On August 26 – just this Tuesday – after meeting with Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Minsk, Belarus, President Putin spoke of the need to quote “end bloodshed as soon as possible.” End quote. Yet the same day, satellite imagery shows Russian combat units – combat units – southeast of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. That same day in Luhansk, Ukraine detained regular Russian Army personnel from the 9th brigade.

In response, Russia claimed the soldiers had wandered into Ukrainian territory “by mistake.” This, supposedly, in a time of conflict along one of the most carefully watched borders in the world.

The day after those talks, Russia fired Grad rockets from inside Russia at Ukrainian positions in Novoazovsk, and then attacked with two columns of Russian armored vehicles and tanks. Russian armored vehicles and Uragan multiple rocket launchers are positioned on the outskirts of that town as we speak.

Russia’s force along the border is the largest it has been since it began redeploying forces there in late May, and includes significant numbers of combat aircraft and helicopters. Russian unmanned aircraft routinely cross into Ukrainian airspace.

Other Russian deployments into Ukrainian territory include advanced artillery and air defense systems not found in the Ukrainian inventory. These artillery systems have shelled Ukrainian positions outside Luhansk City in conjunction with the recent separatist counteroffensive.
One of the separatist leaders that Russia has armed and backed said openly that three or four thousand Russian soldiers have joined their cause. He was quick to clarify that these soldiers were on vacation. But a Russian soldier who chooses to fight in Ukraine on his summer break is still a Russian soldier. And the armored Russian military vehicle he drives there is not his personal car.

Meanwhile, in Russia, family members of Russian soldiers are holding funerals for their loved ones who have been killed in the fighting in Ukraine. They’re demanding answers for how they were killed. Journalists who try to cover these funerals are harassed and threatened by armed men. Yet, still, according to the Russian government, the soldiers were never there. They were never in Crimea either, until Russia announced that those soldiers who were never there had annexed Crimea.

The last 48 hours fit into a well-established pattern for Russia. Each step has paved the way for the one that followed. And yet in spite of all of these outrageous actions, Ukraine has repeatedly sought a political solution to this crisis. It has repeatedly sought a path to de-escalation. Despite this pattern, President Poroshenko showed up in Minsk to meet with President Putin. In contrast, President Putin was still unwilling to acknowledge the most basic facts we all know: that Russia has armed, equipped, and now joined illegal separatists fighting in Ukraine. Serious negotiations are needed, urgently needed. But Russia has to stop lying and has to stop fueling this conflict.

The mask is coming off. In these acts – these recent acts – we see Russia’s actions for what they are: a deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country.

Now, Russia has claimed that Ukraine is not interested in a ceasefire, but let’s be clear: we have every interest in a ceasefire, as do the Ukrainians, as long as it is a real one. But Russian separatists not only have no interest in observing a ceasefire, but they cynically use the time to rearm and wait for additional soldiers and supplies to flow across the border from Russia.
In the face of these deeply alarming actions, the most important question for us now is not what we should say to Russia. The most important question is what we should do to make Russia listen.

The United States has, throughout this crisis, and in close coordination with our European partners, the EU and the G7, exerted targeted, effective pressure so that this message is heard, so that Russia begins to de-escalate, rather than escalate, so that the reasonable peace plan put forward by President Poroshenko is adopted and implemented. And in the face of Russia’s continued aggression and blatant disregard for the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, we will continue to work closely with our G7 and European partners to ratchet up the consequences on Russia.

Now, I understand that there are real costs felt by citizens of countries when their governments take these actions. It has costs for businesses that trade with Russia and sell to Russian markets, from small-scale farmers to big factories. Those costs are considerable, and nobody should take them lightly.

But let’s be clear: if unchecked, the damage that Russia’s blatant disregard for the international order poses is much, much greater. These rules and principles that have taken generations to build, with unparalleled investment – countless lives have been lost to establish and defend these principles. And every single one of us has a stake in defending them. A threat to the order – the international order – is a threat to all of our peace and security.
These are the rules that Russia is flouting when it illegally seizes territory and arms, equips, and fights alongside illegal groups in neighboring countries.

Ukraine is one of roughly a dozen countries that share a border with Russia. Let me close with a couple questions: How can we tell those countries that border Russia that their peace and sovereignty is guaranteed if we do not make our message heard on Ukraine? Why should they believe it will be different if tomorrow, President Putin decides to start supporting armed separatists and allowing soldiers “on vacation” to fight in their countries? And, just as important, what message are we sending to other countries with similarly alarming ambitions around the world, when we let Russia violate these rules without sufficient consequences? In the face of this threat, the cost of inaction is unacceptable.

Thank you.

Friday, August 29, 2014

PILOT IDENTIFIED IN F-15C CRASH OVER VIRGINIA

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass., Aug. 29, 2014 – Massachusetts National Guard officials today identified the pilot of an F-15C Eagle jet that crashed in Virginia as Air Force Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr.
The veteran aviator was killed Aug. 27 when his aircraft crashed in remote, mountainous terrain near Deerfield Valley.
“We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time,” said Col. James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing based here.
Fontenot served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time Wing Inspector General, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours. A 1996 Air Force Academy graduate, he was additionally a Weapons School Graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations.
Following active duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal, among others.
An official safety investigation board is being convened and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
A massive search ensued following the Aug. 27 crash of the jet in dense forest. The search involved personnel from the National Guard, Virginia State Police and civilian searchers, some with dogs and others on horseback.
At approximately 9:05 a.m. Aug. 27, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C., lost radio contact with the aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Virginia.
The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. The flight was not related to the 104th Fighter Wing’s homeland defense mission, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during the flight, a National Guard news release said.
Fontenot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center.

US / RUSSIA: COLD WAR II AS RUSSIA CONTINUES MILITARY INVASION IN UKRAINE

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2014 – Russia continues to build up along its border with Ukraine and has moved sophisticated weapons systems into the country, the Pentagon press secretary said here today.
Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that Russian military forces are part of those movements. Russian forces are, “facilitating the movement and then helping the separatists use the systems, if not using it themselves in support of separatists,” he said.
NATO has released surveillance photos showing these assets inside Ukraine. Kirby tied the Russian movements to the success that Ukraine has had against Russian-backed separatists in the country. “We believe that that has helped foster Moscow’s intention to intensify these efforts,” he said.
Kirby called Russian actions an “intensification” of the behaviors the Kremlin has exhibited for months.
“Our position hasn't changed,” he said. “We continue to look for ways to support the Ukrainian armed forces and the border guards. We continue to look for ways to reassure our NATO allies and partners, and we continue to call for Russia to pull its forces back and to stop escalating the tension there.”
President Barack Obama addressed the issue yesterday during a White House news conference. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the president said. He called on nations of the world to impose new sanctions against Russia.
“As a result of the actions Russia has already taken and the major sanctions we’ve imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” the president said.
Obama said he would reaffirm U.S. commitment to the defense of NATO allies and said he would speak with fellow NATO leaders at the summit in the United Kingdom next week.
“We’ll focus on the additional steps we can take to ensure the alliance remains prepared for any challenge,” he said.
Ukraine is not a NATO member, but the United States does “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” the president said.

PENTAGON PREPARES ISIS / ISIL BATTLE PLANS

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2014 – Military officials here and at U.S. Central Command are working to present President Barack Obama with options to contain the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said here today.
Kirby told reporters that officials are taking under consideration the changing situation with the terror group.
During a White House press conference yesterday, President Obama said he had directed DoD to present options to him.
“What the president was referring to yesterday was planning options inside Syria,” Kirby said. “Now, I’d be less than truthful if I said to you that we … hadn’t been thinking about that before yesterday. Of course we have been. And we’ve talked about that.”
Still, the department is not at the point where plans are mature enough to have the discussion with the commander-in-chief, Kirby said. A second point is that all those involved, including the president, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have repeatedly said that options in Syria are not limited to the military.
“It can’t just be military,” Kirby said. “There’s not going to be a military solution here to the threat that ISIL poses. It’s just not going to happen.”
Containing and eliminating the terror group will take all elements of national power, he said. “So while we certainly, for our part, have to work on what those options could look like, there are other parts of our government that are working, as well, on options that they might need to pursue in the future going forward,” the admiral said.
In the meantime, Kirby said, operations against ISIL will continue. The United States has been providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis victimized by ISIL’s brutal tactics. U.S. aircraft have also flown a number of strikes against the terror group in and around Irbil and around the Mosul Dam area. “We're up almost to 110 air strikes total since they began,” Kirby said.
The admiral said U.S. efforts are about degrading ISIL’s capability to operate and the terror group’s ability “to conduct the sort of brutal violence that they have been doing inside Iraq and the threat that they pose to the region.”
Officials said that on a tactical level inside Iraq, the strikes are having an effect on ISIL’s ability to operate. “We’re being disruptive to their operations, to their command and control, to their ability to move around,” Kirby said.
Delivering humanitarian assistance in Iraq and building capabilities of Iraqi security forces are also ways to impact and degrade ISIL. DoD has asked for $500 million for a train and equip program for a moderate Syrian opposition.
“We hope to get that authorized and appropriated for fiscal year 2015, which is coming up here pretty soon, so that we can move out on this,” Kirby said. “There are a lot of hurdles that remain to be leaped, in terms of getting us there.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CONFIRMED: PILOT OF CRASHED F-15C in VIRGINIA DECEASED

Release Number: 060814

8/28/2014 - BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, 104TH FIGHTER WING , Westfield, Mass. -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Officials confirmed today the pilot was fatally injured in the Aug. 27 crash of an F-15C Eagle in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va.

The pilot's name is being withheld pending notification of family members and will be released when appropriate.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we are doing all we can to support them during this very difficult time," said Col. James Keefe, Commander, 104th Fighter Wing. "We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the family and allow them the time they need to grieve," added Keefe.

A press conference with the 104th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. James Keefe, is scheduled for approximately 10:00 p.m. at the entrance to the 104th Fighter Wing. An additional press conference with Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, Commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is schedule on-site in Deerfield, Va. for approximately 10:15 p.m. 

An official safety investigation board is being convened and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Background:
At approximately 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C. lost radio contact with the F-15C aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass., and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the 104th Fighter Wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Va. 

The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. The flight was not related to the 104th Fighter Wing's homeland defense mission, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this flight. The pilot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center. 


#30#

Barnes Air National Guard Base
104th Fighter Wing - Public Affairs Office
175 Falcon Drive, Westfield, MA 01085

Contacts: 
Maj. Matt Mutti, Maj. Jennifer Piggott, Lt. Anthony Mutti
104fw.pa@ang.af.mil
Office: 413-568-9151 x698-1263

USAID ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR WEST AFRICA EBOLA RESPONSE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 27, 2014: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing an additional $5 million to help combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The announcement brings USAID’s commitment for the Ebola response to nearly $19.6 million since the outbreak was first reported in March 2014.
Jeremy Konyndyk, Director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, announced the additional funding in Monrovia, Liberia, during his three-day visit with Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Konyndyk and Frieden arrived in Monrovia on August 24 to assess the impact of the Ebola outbreak first-hand, review response activities, and discuss disease prevention and treatment strategies with Liberian officials.
“It will take a coordinated effort by the entire international community to contain the spread of Ebola,” said Konyndyk. “The United States is working closely with the World Health Organization, the governments of affected countries, and other partners on the ground to identify the greatest needs and deploy critical resources to affected areas.”
The additional funding will be used to provide health equipment and emergency supplies, train and support health care workers on infection control and case management, support public outreach campaigns, and help build the capacity of local health care and emergency response systems.
The announcement comes just days after USAID airlifted more than 16 tons of medical supplies and emergency equipment to Liberia, including 10,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE), water treatment systems, water tanks capable of storing 10,000 liters each, and 100 rolls of plastic sheeting, which can be used in the construction of Ebola treatment units. USAID deployed a multi-agency Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) on August 5 to coordinate the U.S. Government’s Ebola response efforts in West Africa. The DART has more than 25 members operating in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

CHINA: TELLS U.S. TO END ROUTINE PATROLS NEAR CHINA OR DEAL WITH FUTURE FIGHTER INTERCEPTS

BEIJING — China said Thursday it will continue responding to U.S. military surveillance flights off its coast, rejecting American accusations that one of Beijing's fighter jets acted recklessly in intercepting a U.S. Navy plane last week.
Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said China's military would closely monitor U.S. flights and reiterated calls for the U.S. to scale back or end such missions altogether.
"According to different situations we will adopt different measures to make sure we safeguard our air and sea security of the country," Yang said at a monthly news briefing.
China has long complained about U.S. surveillance flights that just skim the edge of China's territorial airspace. However, Yang said such flights this year have become more frequent, are covering a wider area and are coming even closer to the Chinese coast.
U.S. sea and air surveillance missions occur most frequently during Chinese military exercises or weapons tests, raising the risk of accidents and misunderstandings, Yang said.
That was a likely reference to an incident last December in which China accused a U.S. Navy cruiser, the USS Cowpens, of having veered too close to China's sole aircraft carrier in the South China Sea during sea drills. That nearly led to a collision with a Chinese navy ship in the most serious sea confrontation between the two nations in years.
The latest incident also revived memories of the 2001 collision between a Chinese jet and a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft off China's Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the Navy plane to make an emergency landing on the island.
Yang, however, wouldn't say what distance China considers acceptable, saying only that the U.S. should scale back or end such flights entirely if it wants to avoid potential accidents and build mutual trust.
The Pentagon said that in the Aug. 19 encounter, a Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet (9 meters) of it at one point.
It said that included the Chinese jet doing a "barrel roll" maneuver over the top of the Poseidon — a modified Boeing 737 — and passing across the nose of the Navy plane apparently to show that it was armed.
The incident took place about 135 miles (220 kilometers) from Hainan, which is home to naval airfields and a highly sensitive submarine base.
Yang rejected U.S. accusations that the Chinese pilot acted in a dangerous and unprofessional manner, saying it was the U.S. that seemed to have little regard for the safety of its personnel.
"China is a developing country. Our aircraft are very precious. The lives of our pilots are even more precious," Yang said. "Compared to countries that ask their pilots to fly down on other countries' door steps, we cherish more the safety of our personnel and equipment."





Source: stripes.com

NATO: SATELLITE PHOTOS REVEAL RUSSIAN COMBAT FORCES INSIDE UKRAINE

Mons, BELGIUM – NATO released new satellite images on Thursday, 28 August 2014, that show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine. The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine.
Dutch Brigadier General Nico Tak, director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), Allied Command Operations said the images confirmed what NATO and its Allies had been seeing for weeks from other sources.
"Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia's military interference in Ukraine," said Brigadier General Tak. "The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine's sovereign territory," he said.
These latest images provide concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine, but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.
Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine, well inside territory controlled by Russian separatists. The image was captured on 21 August 2014. There is confidence the equipment is Russian, since Ukrainian units have not yet penetrated this far into separatist controlled territory.

Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions near Krasnodon, Ukraine. They are supported by logistical vehicles which are likely carrying extra ammunition and supplies. This configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers. Russian artillery systems like these have recently shelled Ukrainian positions outside the city of Luhansk in conjunction with a separatist counteroffensive to attempt to break the Ukrainian siege of the city.

Military deployment site on the Russian side of the border, near Rostov-on-Don. This location is approximately 31 miles or 50 kilometres from the Dovzhansky, Ukraine border crossing.

This photo depicts what are probably six Russian 153mm 2S19 self-propelled guns located in Russia near Kuybyshevo. This site is situated 4 miles, or 6.5 kilometres, south of the Ukraine border, near the village of Chervonyi Zhovten. The guns are pointed north, directly towards Ukrainian territory (see North indicator on image). See image 5 for an overview of where these guns are situated in relation to Ukrainian territory.

Wider overview including the position of the self-propelled guns from image 4. Note the North indicator on this image, and remember that the guns are orientated in this location. It is clear that from this location, it would be impossible NOT to fire into Ukrainian territory. This is clearly NOT an exercise; these guns are being used to support separatist forces operating in the territory of Ukraine.

"We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defence systems, artillery, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine," said Brigadier General Tak. "The presence of these weapons along with substantial numbers of Russian combat troops inside Ukraine make the situation increasingly grave," he said.

Also released were images showing substantial activity inside Russia in areas adjacent to the border with Ukraine. NATO believes this activity is being conducted in direct support to forces operating inside Ukraine, and is part of a highly coordinated and destabilising strategy.
"Russia is reinforcing and resupplying separatist forces in a blatant attempt to change the momentum of the fighting, which is currently favouring the Ukrainian military," Brigadier General Tak said. "Russia's ultimate aim is to alleviate pressure on separatist fighters in order to prolong this conflict indefinitely, which would result in further tragedy for the people of Eastern Ukraine," he added.
The source of the images is an independent firm named Digital Globe. The images have not been altered or changed by NATO. Additional information has been added to identify locations, dates and equipment. DigitalGlobe images can be independently verified: http://www.digitalglobe.com

106 AIR STRIKES TO DATE: US TAKES OUT OWN CAPTURED MILITARY HARDWARE IN ISIS HANDS

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2014 – U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in support of Iraqi security force operations, using fighter aircraft to conduct five airstrikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam.
The strikes destroyed an ISIL Humvee, a tank, four armed vehicles, an ISIL construction vehicle and severely damaged an ISIL checkpoint. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.
The strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security force and Kurdish defense force operations, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts.
Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 106 airstrikes across Iraq.

PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS ON PENTAGON TO PLAN OUT ISIS STRIKES / OPTIONS ON THURSDAY

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2014 – President Barack Obama has directed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to present a range of options aimed at the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
During a White House news conference today, Obama called ISIL a “cancer” that “poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region.”
The United States has struck the terror group in Iraq. Any effort taken against the group in its sanctuary in Syria must be part of a broader regional and international effort, the president said.
“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can, and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners,” Obama said.
The president said the options he’s asking for are aimed primarily at thwarting ISIL’s designs in Iraq.
“My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself effectively and secure itself,” he said.
“We're going to have to build a regional strategy” to degrade ISIL over the long term, Obama said.
“Part of the goal here,” the president said, “is to make sure that Sunnis, both in Syria and in Iraq, feel as if they've got an investment in a government that actually functions. A government that can protect them. A government that makes sure that their families are safe from the barbaric acts that we've seen in ISIL.”
All aspects of national and international power must be in play, the president said. Diplomatic, political and economic power will be just as important as military actions, he said.
The limited airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq have had an effect, Obama said.
“Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment,” he said. “In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back. And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission.”

F-15C PILOT REMAINS MISSING AFTER VIRGINIA CRASH

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass., Aug. 28, 2014 – The search in Virginia for a missing 104th Fighter Wing pilot expanded today with Air Force resources.
An F-15C Eagle aircraft assigned to the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing here crashed in Deerfield, Virginia, at about 9:05 a.m. yesterday, about five minutes after radio contact with the pilot was lost.
Since yesterday morning, a search-and-rescue operation in the Washington National Forest area near Deerfield Valley in Virginia has been ongoing. The search efforts now include a specially equipped HC-130 aircraft assigned to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia that has specialized equipment designed for low-light/night-time search and rescue operations. The HC-130 has been conducting air operations since 3 a.m.
Additionally, as many as seven helicopters have been conducting aerial night searches.
Throughout yesterday, at least 100 state police, sheriff’s deputies and fire-and-rescue personnel have been on scene. The ground search slowed overnight due to the dangerous terrain around the crash site. Approximately 10 search-and-rescue teams were on the ground searching along logging roads, fire trails and forest roads. The terrain is too treacherous for off-road ground searches in the dark, according to Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for Virginia State Police.
The search for the missing pilot and the investigation into the crash are ongoing.
Virginia Army National Guard aviators assisted with aerial search-and-rescue efforts with Lakota and Black Hawk helicopters, soldiers and airmen from the Fort Pickett, Virginia-based 34th Civil Support Team provided communications and incident management assistance and additional Guard personnel coordinated the overall aviation operation.
The pilot flying the F-15C made a report of an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost. The F-15C aircraft was en route to receive a system upgrade and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this cross-country trip.

Related:  Video of strange anomalies coming from Moody AFB earlier this year

MALAYSIA / US: START JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES (TIMING IS CERTAINLY EVERYTHING)

A medical team with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, listens to a member of the Malaysian Armed Forces during Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2014. MALUS AMPHEX 14 is designed to allow the 11th MEU to work with the Malaysian Armed Forces to hone their amphibious capabilities by conducting amphibious rehearsals with ship-to-shore connectors and utilizing the rapid response planning processes.
KG TANDUO, Malaysia:  August 28, 2014
Members of the United States and Malaysian armed forces came together to officially open Malaysia – United States Amphibious Exercise 2014 during an opening dinner at Kg Tanduo, Malaysia, Aug. 26.


The exercise, planned over the span of several months, is designed to improve participating forces’ amphibious training, readiness and interoperability. 

Approximately 500 Marines and sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit will be partnered with members of the 7th and 22nd Royal Malay Regiments. A small number of planners from Amphibious Squadron Five and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready group will also be partnered with planners from the Malaysian Armed Forces.

Col. Matthew Trollinger, the 11th MEU’s commanding officer, urged participants to use the exercise as an opportunity to learn from each other and to work together. 

“The U.S. and Malaysia have shared a longstanding military relationship and we are grateful to build upon that tradition over the next week,” said Trollinger.

Partnered training with the Malaysian Armed Forces includes shipboard familiarization, medical and dental capabilities, weapons familiarization, amphibious rehearsals with ship-to-shore connectors, live-fire ranges, rapid response planning process, execution of an amphibious assault and landing, and reconstitution.

The U.S. military and Malaysian Armed Forces have partnered in counter-terrorism operations since 1985 and have participated in numerous exercises over the years. 

MALUS AMPHEX 14 is a realistic and challenging exercise that brings service members closer and improves both nations’ ability to work bilaterally, which better prepares both nations to provide regional and global security. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ISIS: WHAT IS THE REAL THREAT ASSESSMENT? THE ANSWER IS NOT CLEAR... NOT EVEN TO THE ADMINISTRATION

WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT ON ISIS, AUGUST 25, 2014
Press Briefing:  Josh Earnest, Press Scretary

Q    Are there ISIS fighters inside Syria right now actively plotting attacks against the United States?
MR. EARNEST:  This is something that Chairman Dempsey himself talked about over the weekend.  And he indicated that according to intelligence assessments that there is no evidence of an active plot right now.  That said, we are well aware of the threat that is posed by ISIL, and that we’ve already -- ISIL has already demonstrated in rather violent fashion their willingness to perpetrate terrible acts against American citizens.
We are concerned, as I mentioned to Ed, about the role that so-called foreign fighters could play in undermining the security of Western nations.  Again, these are individuals with Western passports, citizens of Western countries who have traveled to this region, to Syria and Iraq, to fight alongside ISIL; that the risk that is posed by them, that they're getting back on a plane and flying back to the West to carry out terrorist attacks, that is why we are working cooperatively with our partners in the region and among our Western allies to monitor these individuals to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to mitigate the threat that's posed by them.
So we are concerned about the threat that is posed by ISIL.  But it is the assessment, as stated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the intelligence community, that there currently is not an active plot underway to attack the U.S. homeland by ISIL.
STATE DEPARTMENT ON ISIS, AUGUST 26, 2014 
(24 Hours Later)
QUESTION: Why are you so concerned all of a sudden now about a threat to the United States potentially emanating from ISIS in Syria when the march of ISIS through Syria and then through Iraq has been underway for quite a long time now? The reports of dozens of Western – people with Western nationality fighting among them have been out for months. I mean, what’s different? Is there some kind of new or proximate threat that causes you to be concerned about this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, I think anybody who looks at the situation in Iraq and Syria – the threat from ISIL – would say that they have gained strength over the last six months, that things have certainly changed in that regard. Obviously, we monitor and have long monitored very closely whether or not ISIL will seek to develop plots aimed at the West, beyond the geographic area where they have been operating in Iraq and Syria. And we’re actively, of course, consulting on that and working on that.

But it’s important to note that they, of course, have threatened to attack the homeland. We take those threats very seriously, and I think what you’re seeing here is a response to our growing concern about the counterterrorism threats. This is not new this past week. Neither is our response to it. I would point you back to the President’s speech at West Point where he talked about a $5 billion counterterrorism fund and our efforts to increase assistance to the Iraqis over the past six months. But certainly, we’ve seen an increase over the past months.