Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Pentagon Owns A Lot Of Real Estate

Pentagon's $800 Billion Real Estate Problem -- Matthew Gault, Real Clear Defense

The U.S. Military Has No Idea What It Owns

The U.S. Department of Defense owns more than half a million properties worth in excess of $800 billion dollars. The military’s real estate holdings span the globe and, all together, sprawl across 30 million acres.

Pentagon auditors can’t explain what half the properties are for—and doesn’t have a plan for finding out. All this according to a Sept. 8 report from the Government Accountability Office.

The nearly trillion-dollar real estate glut is merely another example of egregious military waste.

Way back in 1997, the GAO identified the Pentagon’s real estate record-keeping as a “high risk” problem. The Defense Department could sell unused facilities and save billions.

Read more ....

My Comment: So typical of government .... spend spend spend .... and then they try to figure out what they bought (and why).

President Obama Vs. His Generals

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, with U.S. President Barack Obama on the second and final day of the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort near Newport in Wales on Friday.

Obama vs. The Generals -- Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

Pity poor Gen. Lloyd Austin, top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Rarely has a U.S. general given his commander in chief better military advice, only to see it repeatedly rejected.

In 2010, Gen. Austin advised President Obama against withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq, recommending that the president instead leave 24,000 U.S. troops (down from 45,000) to secure the military gains made in the surge and prevent a terrorist resurgence. Had Obama listened to Austin’s counsel, the rise of the Islamic State could have been stopped.

But Obama rejected Austin’s advice and enthusiastically withdrew all U.S. all forces from the country, boasting that he was finally bringing an end to “the long war in Iraq.”

Now the “long war in Iraq” is back. And because Obama has not learned from his past mistakes, it is likely to get even longer.

Last week, Obama announced a strategy to re-defeat the terrorists in Iraq. But instead of listening to his commanders this time around, Obama once again rejected the advice of . . . you guessed it . . . Gen. Lloyd Austin.

Read more ....

My Comment: Marc A. Thiessen from the Washington Post is a little late to the party .... this blog covered this story 5 days ago .... Did President Obama Ignore His Generals When He Asked For Options On Combating The Islamic State?

Did Putin Win The Ukraine War?

Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel discussed in a phone call the situation around the current ceasefire regime and deliveries of gas to Europe. © RIA Novosti. Alexei Nikolsky

How Putin Got His Way In Ukraine -- Simon Shuster, Time

By agreeing to delay the full implementation of a trade deal with Ukraine, the European Union effectively accepted Moscow’s dominance

After all the lives and territory Ukraine has lost this year, it’s easy to lose sight of the way its conflict with Russia began last winter, when Moscow tried to elbow its way into Ukraine’s economic pact with Europe. In response, thousands of ordinary Ukrainians went onto the streets to tell Russia to mind its own business, and the upheavals that followed—from the violent revolution in Kiev to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine—have all stemmed from that confrontation. But they might all have been avoided if the European Union (E.U.) had involved Russia in the process from the outset. On Friday, it finally did.

Read more ....

Update: Putin Just Got Exactly What He Wanted in Eastern Ukraine -- Linda Kinstler, New Republic

My Comment: There are a few hiccups .... Ruble plunges to new lows, authorities tell Russians not to panic (Sydney Morning Herald) .... but overall .... Putin has a lot to be smiling about.

Is The U.S. Losing The Arms Race To Russia And China?

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenk

Here’s Proof We’re Losing The Arms Race To Russia And China -- David Francis, Fiscal Times

The United States still has the largest defense budget in the world, some three times more than China’s and over $500 billion more than Russia’s – and it will have the largest for years to come. The nature of spending in each country, however, gives Russia and China an advantage over the United States in a brewing global arms race.

U.S. defense spending went up dramatically during the war on terror, but barring any dramatic strategy shifts, DOD spending is set to go down some $600 billion in the next decade. The chart below illustrates the trend. - See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/09/16/Here-s-Proof-We-re-Losing-Arms-Race-Russia-and-China#sthash.YdqWHamG.dpuf

Read more ....

My Comment: The trend reveals a growing Russia - China military capability .... but will Russia and China continue to spend the monies that they have been spending in the past decade .... and is this spending sustainable .... on these questions I have my doubts.

The Beghazi Scandal Refuses To Die



Benghazi Bombshell: Clinton State Department Official Reveals Details of Alleged Document Review -- Daily Signal

As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya..

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Documents On The Benghazi Attack Were Removed By State Department Officials

Ex-Official Claims Clinton Allies Scrubbed Benghazi Documents In Secret Session -- FOX News
Hillary Clinton's staff told to hide any documents that could make her inner circle look bad in aftermath of Benghazi, whistle-blower claims -- Daily Mail
Clinton aides scrubbed Benghazi files before review, former official says -- Washington Times
Staffers loyal to Hillary Clinton covered up potentially damaging Benghazi documents: former official -- New York Daily News
Benghazi documents scrubbed to protect Hillary: former official -- New York Post
Democrats Baffled by Benghazi Whistleblower’s New Accusations -- Slate

Update: Defenders of the administration are painting a different story .... "Scrubbed" Benghazi Docs "Bombshell" Is Based On Evidence-Free Report By Discredited Benghazi Hoax Architect (Media Matters). More at the following .... Democrats claim House investigation of Benghazi is 'wasting taxpayers' dollars' (Daily Mail).

My Comment: What's my take .... this drip drip of new revelations must be killing the White House .... the solution is an independent prosecutor ... but for their own reasons not yet explained .... the U.S. Justice Department does not want to go there.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 16, 2014



U.S. Credibility And The Anti-ISIS Coalition -- Max Boot, Commentary

Last week a congressman asked me: Should I support President Obama’s anti-ISIS strategy even though it is likely to fail? Good question. And it’s not only lawmakers who are asking themselves that question. So are actual or potential U.S. allies from Europe to the Middle East. The most important people to be asking themselves that question are Sunni tribes in Iraq and Syria whose support is vital to defeat ISIS. But should they risk their lives in what could well be a losing cause?

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 16, 2014

Airstrike Uncertainties: Obama's Dangerously Vague New War -- Markus Feldenkirchen, Christoph Reuter and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online

Turkish reluctance hurts U.S. plans for coalition against Islamic State -- Jonny Hogg and Nick Tattersall, Reuters

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet -- Joshua Keating, Slate

How Iran Could Become Our Shadow Enemy in the Syria ISIS War -- Jacob Siegel, Daily Beast

Islamic State: Obama plan to cut pipeline for US terrorist recruits -- Harry Bruinius, CSM

Islamic State in Iraq: 'They Know Exactly What They Are Doing' -- Spiegel Online

Kerry Enlists Saudi King in War of Ideas Against ISIS -- Michael Crowley, Time

Syrian Opposition Blasts Reports It Signed a Truce With ISIS -- Josh Rogin, Daily Beast

Avoid a classic blunder: Stay out of religious wars in the Middle East -- Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Reuters

Is Iraq Becoming America’s Gaza? -- Leon Hadar, American Conservative

Xi’s visit a defining moment in India-China ties -- Atul Aneja & Suhasini Haidar, Hindu Times

Repairing Japan-China ties -- Japan Times editorial

The Hornet’s Nest: Our Longest War and the Americans who Fought It -- David Mattingly, War On The Rocks

How history turned against Tory-voting Scotland -- Tom Devine, The Guardian

Why is the U.S. nervous about Scottish independence vote? -- Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

Russia's Treaty Violations & Nuclear Instability -- William Schneider, Real Clear Defense

World News Briefs -- September 16, 2014 (Evening Edition)



Ebola Epidemic 'Spiraling Out of Control,' Obama Says -- ABC News

Declaring the Ebola outbreak a "threat to global security," President Obama today announced a significant American military effort in West Africa to help bring the spread of the deadly disease under control.

"We have to act fast. We can't dawdle on this one," Obama said during a visit to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"It is spiraling out of control, it's getting worse, it's spreading exponentially," he said. "If the outbreak is not stopped now we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected."

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. general says cannot rule out larger ground role in Iraq. Pentagon: US ground troops may join Iraqis in combat against Isis.

U.S. Congress pushes ahead with bid to arm Syrian rebels.

Iraqi official briefs Syria's Assad on efforts against Islamic State.

Iraq approves US airstrike on IS targets near Baghdad: Reports.

First US strike under new IS plan.

Washington moots possible airstrikes on Syria’s air defenses.

Islamic State shoots down Syrian war plane: monitor group.

Iraq parliament rejects defense, interior minister nominees.

US-Israel accord to support coordinated air ops in Syria.

IMF, World Bank warn of renewed Gaza violence.

Israel claims mortar fired from Gaza.

Turkey mulls 'buffer zone' against Islamic State.

Turkish govt warns Moody's and Fitch over economic assessments.

ASIA

2 Americans among 3 killed by Taliban in Afghanistan. NATO troops killed in Afghanistan.

Breakthrough in Afghan electoral impasse seen as imminent.

US reconstruction of Afghanistan most expensive in US history.

More than 30 militants killed in Pakistan's northwest.

Human Rights Watch presses for police reform in Vietnam.

Taiwan, China begin new trade talks.

Sri Lanka backs China's maritime 'Silk Road' plan.

New Zealand denies it was planning mass domestic spying.

Philippines orders evacuation as Mayon volcano threatens to erupt.

Typhoon Kalmaegi hits southern China.

AFRICA

Egypt's military focus is at home, not on Islamic State: minister.

Obama: stop Ebola before 'hundreds of thousands' infected.

Ebola outbreak: UN calls for $1bn to fight virus.

Nine killed, 30 wounded in new clashes in Libya's Benghazi: medic.

New air strikes reported in Libya.

Roadside bomb kills 6 policemen in Egypt’s Sinai.

South Sudan bans foreign workers despite looming famine.

UN takes over peacekeeping in Central African Republic.

Humanitarian aid, equipment blocked in Cameroon.

Guinea-Bissau army chief Gen Antonio Indjai sacked.

Kenyan coastal town struggles with deadly June attacks.

EUROPE

Ukraine and EU ratify landmark Association Agreement.

Ukraine crisis: Rebels granted self-rule and amnesty. Special status to E. Ukraine regions, amnesty to combatants - parliament.

Russia to boost Crimea troop numbers, worries over military build-up at borders.

Russia needs government investment to avoid recession, says former finance minister. Blocking Russian access to SWIFT network may cause 5% GDP fall — Kudrin.

No date set yet for Russia’s response to Western sanctions: Kremlin.

Scottish support for independence rises to 48 percent: Opinium poll.

UK party leaders promise Scotland new powers ahead of key independence vote.

Dutch ease off austerity, will spend on military.

French government wins tight confidence vote.

Pope Francis at risk of Islamic State assassination attempts in Albania: Reports.

Survivors: 500 migrants died when people smugglers rammed boat.

AMERICAS

Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security.

US House leaders planning Wednesday vote on Syria.

U.S. Attorney General Holder announces plan to combat American militants.

45 million Americans still stuck below poverty line: Census.

Brazil removed from UN World Hunger Map.

Default? What default? Argentina slams U.S. for using 'D' word.

Venezuela heads to a default reckoning.

Leftist rebels slay two oil company contractors in Colombia.

Gas production blamed for rise in Colorado, New Mexico quakes.

Wildfires threaten thousands in Northern California.

Now a tropical storm, Odile drenches Baja after slamming Mexican resorts.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

As core al-Qaida weakened, its successors spread.

Agent Storm: Inside al Qaeda for the CIA.

Al Qaeda operations chief, propagandist reported killed in airstrikes.

13 years after Sept. 11 attacks, debate on Guantanamo continues.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Hunger is falling, but climate and conflict threaten progress: report.

Space race: NASA awards contracts to Boeing, SpaceX.

OECD: Global firms need new tax rules.

OPEC may lower oil production to 29.5Mln barrels per day in 2015.

Alibaba to boost IPO size on 'overwhelming' demand.

Israel's Army Issues A Warning That Hezbollah Is Capable Of Launching Major Raids Into Galilee

Hezbollah operatives spotted near the northern border with Israel (photo credit: Courtesy/IDF)

Hezbollah Planning 'Large Raids' Into Galilee, Senior Army Source Says -- Jerusalem Post

Although war is unlikely now, small incidents can quickly escalate, officer warns; IDF will defeat Hezbollah, but conflict could drag out for as long as four months, he says.

Although a war is unlikely at this time, the IDF is preparing to fight Hezbollah, which has developed new offensive cross-border capabilities alongside its massive arsenal of rockets and missiles, a senior military source said on Sunday.

Hezbollah plans to send dozens and perhaps hundreds of terrorists into Israel in any war, while targeting the home front with many projectiles, in a conflict that could last as long as four months, according to the officer.

Read more ....

More News On The Israeli Army Issuing A Warning That Hezbollah Is Capable Of Launching Major Raids Into Galilee

Israel sees mass Hezbollah incursion in future fight -- Daily Star/AFP
Hezbollah could advance into Israel in next war, official warns -- Times of Israel
Israeli army: Hezbollah readying attack on north -- i24 News
Israel: Hezbollah might seize parts of Galilee in future war -- Middle East Monitor
Hezbollah capable of invading Israel, says Israeli official -- Middle East Eye
Northerners uneasy after official warns Hezbollah could capture towns -- Times of Israel
Israeli Residents Along Northern Borders: ‘We Don’t Fear Hezbollah – or Anyone Else’ -- Al Gemeiner
IDF’s Hezbollah warning may not be spin maneuver -- Haaretz

Update: One more Israeli worry to add to their list of worries .... Has Hezbollah built tunnels under the border with Israel? -- Daily Star

Is Egypt About To Intervene In Libya's Civil War?

Speaker of Parliament Aqilah Saleh met with Al-Sisi [Pictured above] in Cairo on August 26, after the meeting he told the Egyptian media that 'Sisi pledged to rebuild the Libyan army and assist with establishing a civilian police force'.

Egypt Prepares For Wider Attack On Libya With UAE Funding And French-Saudi Support -- Middle East Online

Egyptian armed forces are preparing for the execution of an extensive operation inside Libya in order to fight the revolutionaries and support the militias that are loyal to the UAE in Tripoli and Benghazi including troops commandeered by Brigadier General Khalifa Haftar, high ranking officials revealed.

The operation may include a possible ground invasion in East Libya with French aerial cover and funding from the UAE in order to enable Haftar to decisively win the battle, the sources told the Asrar Arabiya website.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Egypt Is About To Intervene In Libya's Civil War

Haftar sign cooperation agreement with Egypt -- Middle East Monitor
A security agreement to legitimise Egyptian intervention in Libya -- Middle East Monitor
Egypt seeks broader alliance with U.S. over Libya -- CBC/AP
Libya's leaders shelter by the sea as country tilts toward civil war -- L.A. Times
Libyan PM says Qatar sent arms to opposition -- Al Jazeera
Qatar hits back at claims of role in Libya unrest -- Al Arabiya
Libya: An Expensive And Thankless Job -- Strategy Page
Egypt Is Really Worried About Libyan Islamists -- John Beck, Vice News

My Comment: This is a major military escalation in the region .... and while I am not surprised by the coalition that has formed to try and bring stability to Libya, what is noticeably absent is the presence of the U.S..

Al Qaeda Calls For A United Front Of Jihadists Against The U.S. Led Coalition

Al-Nusra Front fighters standing near the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria. (screen capture: YouTube)

Qaeda Branches Urge Unity Against US-Led 'War On Islam' -- AFP

Dubai (AFP) - Powerful Al-Qaeda branches in Yemen and North Africa issued an unprecedented joint statement Tuesday calling for jihadists in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb urged their "brothers" in Iraq and Syria to "stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all."

AQAP and AQIM also called on the people of 10 Arab countries that have joined the coalition against the Islamic State group to prevent their governments from acting against IS.

And it promised "dark days" to the "alliance of infidelity and evil".

Read more ....

Update: Al-Qaeda Groups Urge Rival Militants in Iraq, Syria To Unite -- Radio Free Europe

My Comment:  Will such a Jihadist coalition hold .... we are already seeing truces and alliances forming .... even among "moderate rebels" and extremists in Syria.

An Artist Draws The Final Stage Of A U.S. Army Base Closing Down In Afghanistan


Final Stage Of Leaving An Army Base In Afghanistan -- Washington Post

Forward Operating Base Lightning is in its final days. The small base near the city of Gardez in Paktia province, Afghanistan, is down to its final stages as an operational hub for U.S. troops, set to end combat operations in December. Lightning itself is attached to the considerably larger FOB Thunder, home to around 4,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel.

How does a FOB wither? It starts with the luxuries.

The contracted caterers left a week ago, so the Army has gone back to feeding itself. (Thursday night is Meals Ready to Eat night). The Post Exchange (PX) where soldiers could shop for non-essential items like candy and deodorant closed up the week before that. The garbage guys are no longer picking up. By the end of this week, Sniper Hill, the Afghanistan-wide FOB internet service provider, will remove its routers, equipment and personnel. Across the base, soldiers can be seen dumping those luxuries that they won’t be carrying home. Everything from rugs to lamps is piling up around the dumpsters. Everything that exits the base goes by helicopter, or by road, and everything that leaves needs to be provided protection.

Read more ....

My Comment: A good artist always captures the things that a photograph can never match .... and in this post .... he does not disappoint.

Afghanistan Has Become The Most Expensive U.S. Reconstruction Project For Any One Country In History

REUTERS/Wathiq Khuzaie/Pool

US Reconstruction Of Afghanistan Most Expensive In US History -- Voice of America

WASHINGTON — Washington's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said the U.S. has provided more than $104 billion to rebuild Afghanistan -- more money than the United States has spent on reconstruction for any one country in history.

But John Sopko said despite the massive investment, corruption and the narcotics trade are flourishing, and Afghanistan is unable to pay for and maintain projects the U.S. has started.

"The bottom line," Sopko said Friday in remarks at Georgetown University, "it appears we've created a government that the Afghans simply cannot afford."

The US and international donors fund more than 60 percent of Afghanistan's national budget.

Read more ....

My Comment: Has this aid been wasted? Ask me that question in 5 years.

Report: Afghanistan Election Rivals Near An Agreement On Poll Dispute And Sharing Power

Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai (center) speaks during celebrations to commemorate Afghanistan's 95th anniversary of independence as he is flanked by presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah (right) and Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on August 19. Radio Free Europe

Afghanistan Poll Dispute: Rivals Close To Deal On Sharing Power -- First Post

Kabul: Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates may reach a deal on how to share power late on Tuesday, according to Afghan and Western officials, potentially ending months of tension over the outcome of a run-off election held in June.

The struggle to find a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has held power since the Islamist Taliban were ousted in 2001, has destabilised Afghanistan and paralysed its economy just as most foreign troops withdraw.

The rival candidates for the presidency have been negotiating for months on how to share power and the US secretary of state has twice flown in to try to broker a deal.

Read more ....

Update: Breakthrough in Afghan electoral impasse seen as imminent -- Stars and Stripes

My Comment: For Afghanistan's stake .... I hope this report is true.

Who Is Doing What In The Coalition Against The Islamic State



What Countries Are Fighting ISIS, And Who Is Sitting On The Sidelines -- Newsweek

The U.S. on Monday launched new airstrikes over Iraq against fighters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIS. The bombing struck IS forces near Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq and, for the first time, near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, reports NBC News.

The same day, France began reconnaissance flights over Iraq and said it’s ready to join the U.S. in launching airstrikes in Iraq. French President Fran├žois Hollande outlined the threat posed by the Sunni Muslim jihadist group at the start of a summit of leaders from more than 30 nations gathered in Paris who pledged to use “whatever means necessary” to defeat IS.

The conference, which included foreign ministers from ten Arab states, brought together members of a U.S.-led coalition that includes more than 40 countries. The exact list of nations remains unclear, CNN reports.

Read more ....

Update #1: Anti-Islamic State Coalition: What Has Each Country Pledged To Do? -- The Telegraph
Update #2: Who is doing what in the coalition battle against ISIS? -- CNN

My Comment:  I get the impression that everyone is just looking down at their feet .... hoping that the other parties will do the "dirty work".

Top U.S. General: ISIS’ Fighters Have Taken Up The Fight Over “Grievances”



Dempsey: Coalition Will ‘Address Grievances That Caused This In The First Place’ -- Washington Free Beacon

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Obama administration’s anti-ISIL coalition will encourage the Iraqi government to “address the grievances that caused this in the first place.”

“The way forward seems to run clearly through a coalition of Arab and Muslim partners–and not through the ownership of the United States–in this issue,” Dempsey said.

The “grievances” of ISIL, as Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake pointed out, include “the existence of infidels and non-believers in Muslim lands, or women’s literacy.”

Read more ....

Update: America’s Top Soldier Believes Islamic State’s Rise Caused by ‘Grievances’ -- PJ Media

My Comment: Let us see what exactly are those "grievances" .... women's rights, Christians, Jews, Shiites, other minorities, sharia law, secularism, etc., etc., etc..

U.S. Secretary Of Defense Hagel: U.S. Will Launch Airstrikes Against Islamic State Targets In Syria

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey testify during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on U.S. policy toward Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State on Capitol Hill in Washington September 16, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US Air Strikes To Target Jihadist 'Safe Havens' In Syria: Hagel -- AFP

Washington (AFP) - Planned US air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Syria will target extremist sanctuaries, command centers and logistic networks, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel told lawmakers Tuesday.

"This plan includes targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria -- including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure," Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But the US military's top-ranking officer, General Martin Dempsey, told the same hearing that the bombing would not resemble the large-scale raids that accompanied the start of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. Commanders at the time dubbed the campaign a bid to provoke "shock and awe" among ex-dictator Saddam Hussein's troops.

Read more ....

Update #1: 'We will strike ISIS strongholds in Syria', Hagel -- ANSA
Update #2: 'No combat mission:' US ready to strike Syria, may use up to 1,600 troops to fight ISIS in Iraq -- RT

My Comment: I do not have confidence that this will work .... nor will it end well. 

Top U.S. General Admits That U.S. Troops Could Be Fighting On The Ground In Iraq (Again)



Joint Chiefs Would ‘Recommend’ Ground Troops in ISIS Fight If Current Plan Fails -- Time

Top military leader concedes circumstances under which U.S. troops could come within close range of the battlefield.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before a Congressional panel on Tuesday that he would recommend a deployment of ground troops in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) should the current strategy involving airstrikes and logistical support fail to wrest the organization’s control over strategic assets in Iraq.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said in a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committees that the current goal was to degrade ISIS’ forces by sending American advisors to help Iraqi troops on the ground. Dempsey added the involvement of those advisers could extend into the battlefield under particularly complex missions, such as the re-taking of a densely populated city like Mosul.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. General Dempsey Admitting That U.S. Troops Could Soon Be Fighting On The Ground In Iraq

On Capitol Hill, Pentagon explains plans to hit targets within Syria -- Stars and Stripes
Dempsey: I'll suggest U.S. troops in Iraq if ISIS strategy fails -- CBS/AP
U.S. General Backs Limited Ground Operations Against ISIS if Needed -- NYT
US Troops Could Fight ISIS in Iraq, General Tells Senate -- ABC News
Joint Chiefs chairman opens door to US boots on ground in ISIS fight -- FOX News
US General: Ground troops option if anti-IS strategy fails -- BBC
Dempsey raises possibility of involving U.S. combat troops in fight against Islamic State -- Washington Post
Top general admits that US troops could be used for 'close combat advising' in fight against ISIS in Iraq -- Daily Mail
Pentagon: US ground troops may join Iraqis in combat against Isis -- The Guardian
Defense Officials See Lengthy U.S. Involvement in Fight Against Militants -- WSJ
Dempsey: Coalition Will ‘Address Grievances That Caused This In The First Place’ -- Washington Examiner
U.S. Strikes in Syria Won’t ‘Shock and Awe,’ Dempsey Says -- Bloomberg
U.S. strikes in Syria won't be 'shock and awe', top general says -- Reuters
'No combat mission:' US ready to strike Syria, may use up to 1,600 troops to fight ISIS in Iraq -- RT

U.S. Secretary Of Defense: We Are At War With ISIL



Hagel Tells U.S. Senate: 'We Are At War With ISIL' -- UPI

At a Senate hearing on America's military strategy to combat the Islamic State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey testified that, if necessary, he would recommend U.S. troops fight alongside Iraqis.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the military strategy to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIL.

"We are at war with ISIL, as we are with al-Qaeda," Hagel told the Committee.

When commenting on U.S. military support to Iraq, Dempsey acknowledged that, if needed, he would recommend utilizing an unspecified number of the 1,600 deployed military advisers in a ground force capacity to bolster the Iraqi forces in their fight against IS.

Read more ....

Update: Hagel says US 'at war' with IS, pledges sustained effort -- Deutsche Welle

My Comment: No kidding.

The Islamic State Is Not The Only Terror Group That We Should Be Concerned About

Source: Staff reports. The Washington Post.

Four Terror Threats More Grave Than Islamic State -- Michael Kugelman, WSJ

President Barack Obama warned in his speech Wednesday that “if left unchecked,” Islamic State militants “could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has described the group–also known as ISIS and ISIL–as an “imminent threat to every interest we have.” Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, declared: ”Today, ISIS is the biggest threat to the homeland.” Sen. James Inhofe said that “they’re rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city.”

But while ISIS is among the most terrifying terror threats to emerge in recent decades, Washington inflates the risks it poses to the U.S. homeland. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday, just hours before the president’s speech, that “we have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland of the United States.”

Unfortunately, other groups do want to strike America–and several have tried.

Here are four that have the U.S. in their cross hairs:

Read more ....

My Comment: Cyber attackers are not high on my priority list (for now) .... but the other three groups that are listed in this post are definitely a threat. Still .... my gut is telling me that the Islamic State is an organization that is multiple levels ahead than what other terror groups in the world are capable of .... they have the manpower, resources, and money to carry out attacks that no other group in the world can match.

3 Reasons On Why The Islamic State Will Be Difficult To Destroy

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor

3 Numbers That Explain Why ISIS Will Be So Hard To Destroy -- Zack Beauchamp, VOX

After President Obama announced his plan to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), one general involved in war planning called the mission "harder than anything we've tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan," according the Washington Post. Given how tough those wars have been for the United States, that's an incredibly high bar. So what is it about the ISIS situation that makes it so very hard for the United States to solve?

Obviously, there are quite a few things that make the crisis in Iraq and Syria complicated. But there are three really important features of the ISIS crisis that make it especially complicated. Each can be represented, simply, in one number. So here are three numbers that explain the ISIS crisis — and why it's so, so difficult to resolve.

Read more ....

My Comment: A sobering read.

Oil Is Becoming A Vital Source Of Funds For The Growth Of The Islamic State

Map: Iraqi oil fields in and around territory controlled by the Islamic State.

Islamic State Fighters Drawing On Oil Assets For Funding And Fuel -- Washington Post

Oil has helped fund and fuel the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with small amounts coming from fields in northern Iraq and being smuggled across the borders in tanker trucks. A tiny drop in the sea of petroleum globally, the oil tapped by the Islamic State has given it a revenue source most extremist groups lack.

But the oil installations and tanker trucks could be targets for the U.S.-led coalition that hopes to cripple the self-proclaimed caliphate. And the poor quality of crude oil in northern Iraqi fields and the steep cost of smuggling probably limited earnings to $1 million a day over the summer, according to oil industry sources.

Recent counteroffensives, international sanctions and crackdowns on smuggling might have reduced that figure to as little as $250,000 a day, according to Ben Lando, editor in chief of the Iraq Oil Report. So far, the Pentagon says, U.S. airstrikes have not targeted any oil installations or transportation.

Read more ....

My Comment: I say bomb these crude oil installations, tankers, and pipelines .... but for some reason the decision has been made not to do so.

Turkey Wants A Buffer Zone Against The Islamic State


Turkey Mulling Buffer Zone With Iraq, Syria -- Defense News

ANKARA — The Turkish military, feeling threatened by the emergence of a radical self-declared Islamist state at its doorstep, is considering creating a buffer zone along the country’s border with Syria and Iran, the president said on Tuesday.

“The Turkish Armed Forces are working on plans [to create a buffer zone] and will present them to us, and we will decide if it is necessary,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

A senior Army officer said headquarters is assessing the merits of a buffer zone, but added the government would make the final decision. He did not comment further.

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More News On Reports That Turkey Is Mulling A Buffer Zone With Iraq And Syria

Turkey mulls 'buffer zone' against Islamic State -- BBC
Turkey considers 'buffer zone' against Islamic State militants -- CTV/AP
Turkey mulls buffer zone along Iraq, Syria border -- Global Post/AFP
Turkey weighs establishing ‘buffer zone' against ISIL threat -- Today's Zaman
Turkey Renews Syria Buffer-Zone Push As U.S. Builds Coalition -- WSJ
Turkey Mulls Setting Up Buffer Zone Along Iraq, Syria Borders - President -- Novinite

Update #1: Turkey is now realizing that they are one of the reasons for the rise of the Islamic State .... Turkey provides steady stream of fighters to Islamic State (Haaretz)

Update #2: Up to 1000 Turks have joined IS: Report -- Al Bawaba