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Archive for March, 2009

One Killed, 12 Detained in Afghanistan Operations

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 31, 2009

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, March 31, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces killed one person and detained four known militants and eight suspected militants during pre-dawn operations in Afghanistan’s Khowst province today.

In the Besmil district, a combined assault force targeted a compound housing a militant with the Islamic Jihad Union, a group known to traffic foreign fighters through the Khowst-Gardez pass.

When the assault force arrived at the targeted compound, they called for occupants to peacefully exit. Twelve men and 14 children followed the forces’ directives and left the building. One person did not comply, and Afghan and coalition forces again instructed him to come out. When he proceeded toward the force, he appeared to quickly reach for something, and his sudden movement was perceived as hostile. The force killed him with small-arms fire.

Following the incident, forces uncovered identification documents that revealed the noncompliant male was 15 years old. The elder on the compound confirmed his identity and accepted money from the force to pay for his funeral.

“We are saddened an Afghan youth was killed during this operation and regret he did not comply with Afghan and coalition forces’ directives,” said Army Lt. Col. Rick Helmer, U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman. “However, we remain steadfast in our commitment to working with Afghan partner forces to root out militants who seek to destabilize Afghanistan and prevent regional peace and prosperity.”

The targeted militant and three suspects were detained without further incident.

In separate operations in Khowst’s Sabari district, Afghan and coalition forces conducted operations to disrupt Haqqani network bomb-making cells. Three known militants and five suspects were detained with no shots fired. A search of one compound revealed blasting caps, a loaded machine gun and grenades, which were subsequently destroyed a safe distance from the compound. Fourteen women and 45 children were protected.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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ISF Arrest al-Mashadani for Suspected Crimes

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

Sunday, 29 March 2009

MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ
PRESS DESK
BAGHDAD, Iraq
http://www.mnf-iraq.com
March 29, 2009

ISF Arrest al-Mashadani for Suspected Crimes

BAGHDAD –Adel Karim Shaker al-Mashadani was arrested on March 28 in an operation led by the Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade and supported by Coalition Force advisors.

Mashadani was arrested under a warrant issued by the Iraqi government. He is suspected of illegally searching, detaining and extorting bribes in excess of $160,000 a month from the citizens of Fahdil, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks that killed Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), leading an IED cell, leading an indirect fire cell, ties to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and collusion with the terrorist network Jaysh al Islami.

He was not detained because of his involvement with the Sons of Iraq (SOI).

“We remain thankful for the extraordinary work of the Sons of Iraq, and the contributions they have made to the security of Iraq,” said Major General David Perkins, spokesman for Multi-National Force – Iraq. “The Sons of Iraq have provided a great service to the people of Baghdad.”

Fighting in Fadhil subsided overnight with sporadic gunfire ending by 2 a.m. ISF met with SOI leaders in the area on Sunday and made a call to turn-in weapons in the area.

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Navy Completes Air and Ballistic Missile Exercise

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

From U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs

The San Diego-based guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) fires a missile during training exercise Stellar Daggers

The San Diego-based guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) fires a missile during training exercise Stellar Daggers

SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Samuel J. Locklear announced the completion of the fleet operational exercise, Stellar Daggers, March 26.

The scheduled event took place March 24 and 26. Command and control of the participants in Stellar Daggers resided with U.S. 3rd Fleet based in San Diego.

San Diego-based Aegis destroyer, USS Benfold (DDG 65) engaged multiple targets during this multi-event exercise with Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA and modified SM-2 BLK IV missiles. The overall objective of Stellar Daggers was to test the Aegis system’s sea-based ability to simultaneously detect, track, engage and destroy multiple incoming air and ballistic missile threats during terminal or final phase of flight.

During the event, Benfold’s Aegis Weapons System successfully detected and intercepted a cruise missile target with a SM-2 BLK IIIA, while simultaneously detecting and intercepting an incoming short range ballistic missile (SRBM) target with a modified SM-2 BLK IV. This is the first time the fleet has successfully tested the Aegis system’s ability to intercept both an SRBM in terminal
phase and a low-altitude cruise missile target at the same time.

Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), which includes Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), is a Navy core competency and a key warfighting capability for the U.S. maritime strategy, which calls for credible combat power to be continuously postured to protect America’s vital interests.

For more news from 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f

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Petraeus On The War On Terror

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

Petraeus explains the war on terror to FOX News.
clipped from blogs.usatoday.com
Afghanistan 
“It’s not just the additional numbers; it’s how those numbers are employed.”
“It’s hugely important that we be seen as good neighbors, as friends, certainly fierce warriors who will go after the enemy and stay after them.”
Pakistan 
“I think we are building that kind of trust… It’s hugely important that trust be built.”
“This has to be a comprehensive effort.  It can’t just be a military effort.”
Iraq
“The approach that we have there is prudent, it’s pragmatic.  It is designed to reduce our forces over time, as Iraqi forces take over the security tasks.”
“We think the prospects for that continuing to work successfully are reasonable and good.”
“Having said that, innumerable challenges still face the new Iraq.”
  blog it

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Navy SEAL’s

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

Navy SEAL’s

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Martial Law, Troops Take to the Streets, Citizens Terrorized, Night Demolition, Helicopter Landing

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

U.S. Northern Command Assists With North Dakota Flooding
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2009 – U.S. Northern Command continues to coordinate additional and ongoing Department of Defense support to Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local authorities in North Dakota and Minnesota supporting disaster operations in response to flooding in North Dakota.

Northcom officials mobilized defense coordinating officers and defense coordinating elements to the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center in Bismarck, N.D., serving FEMA regions 5 and 8. The DCO acts as the liaison between FEMA and Northcom, relaying capabilities available to FEMA and coordinating movement of active-duty personnel and equipment to assist should the need arise. The DCE acts as administrative support to the DCO.

Northcom officials also deployed five CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., for a variety of missions in support of FEMA. Potential missions include search and rescue, supply transportation, and movement of evacuees or other response personnel.

The command also deployed three search-and-rescue planners from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., and two more from Air Forces Northern at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., to assist in SAR planning at the Joint Personnel Recovery Center at Tyndall. The three planners from Northcom’s Standing Joint Force Headquarters North division will assist in the efforts being conducted at the JRPC, which focuses specifically on large-scale search-and-rescue operations in the event of a hurricane or natural disaster.

When a disaster occurs, the JPRC activates and coordinates the SAR actions of all rescue aircraft in the disaster area to improve the efficiency of rescue operations and reduce the potential for accidents.

In coordination with Air Forces Northern, Northcom also is sending an aviation planner to the North Dakota Emergency Operations Center to prepare for potential SAR missions in the affected areas.

FEMA requested, and Northcom is supporting, use of Grand Forks Air Force Base as a national logistics staging area. The NLSA will consist of five to 10 acres of space, including 1,000 square feet of office space, necessary to support forward distribution of supplies and equipment to affected areas in North Dakota. The airfield at the base also is being used to forward stage active-duty helicopters.

In addition, Northcom officials mobilized a defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to FEMA Region 8’s Regional Response Coordination Center in Bismarck, N.DU.S. Northern Command, established in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.

(From a U.S. Northern Command news release.)

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Soldiers, Afghan Police Work Together Outside Bagram Airfield

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

By Army Capt. Michael Greenberger
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 30, 2009 – The rising sun brought a flurry of activity in the motor pool of the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion on March 19 as the soldiers prepared to run a “reverse option” – a joint checkpoint with Afghan National Police outside Bagram’s entry control points.

Army Spc. Steven Rogers

Army Spc. Steven Rogers stands atop his armored security vehicle while conducting checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Just two weeks prior, a suicide bomber attacked one of the base’s entry control points, but was thwarted by local Afghan peacekeepers.

Everywhere in the 2nd Platoon motor pool, Alpha Company soldiers moved with a purpose, loading equipment, weapons and water into their up-armored Humvees. After radio checks were complete, the soldiers mounted up and rolled out to the entry control points.

The road outside the southern edge of Bagram Airfield is a stretch of muddy potholes, rocks and debris. With skill, precision and watchful eyes, the soldiers navigated their immense vehicles over the uneven terrain, constantly beeping their horns at civilian traffic to alert them to their presence.

From left, Jalaludin, a captain with the Afghan National Police, briefs Ali, an interpreter, and Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Button at a checkpoint outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

From left, Jalaludin, a captain with the Afghan National Police, briefs Ali, an interpreter, and Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Button at a checkpoint outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

“Our main goal is to keep everyone and the vehicles safe,” said Army Sgt. Roberto Castillo, an Iraq veteran now serving in Afghanistan. “We do a lot to avoid civilians and their vehicles on the road, because we have to share it and want to maintain a better relationship with the [local people].”

Army Spc. Steven Rogers mans the turret of his armored security vehicle while conducting checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Army Spc. Steven Rogers mans the turret of his armored security vehicle while conducting checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Gunners constantly scanned the terrain for threats while the vehicle bounced around the muddy mess.

“We are always aware of our surroundings,” said Army Spc. Todd Haskel said. “When I first got here, I was constantly scanning – constantly on edge. Now it is like second nature to me.”

After a short but challenging trip, the soldiers rolled on to the checkpoints in force. They moved swiftly to cover the avenues of approach, laying down concertina wire and orange cones to block the roads while patrol leader Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Button contacted the Afghan National Police already on the ground.

“We are very happy with these guys,” said Jalaludin, a captain with the ANP. “We have worked with them often, and we work well together. The Army soldiers are happy with us, because they know when they call us for a joint mission, we will be here.”

The town outside Bagram is a bustling hub of two-story buildings, shops and shanties –– people are everywhere. The Afghans watch the soldiers intently as they go about their tasks, yet keep their distance.

“We set up these blocking positions as an antiterrorism measure,” Button said. “It’s a nice show of force for any bad guys who might be in the area.”

The soldiers kept an eye out for anyone or anything that looked suspicious.

“If we see a suspicious vehicle, the Afghan police stop and search the vehicle and question the occupants,” Button said. “We mainly serve in a support roll to back them up.”

“We’ve been doing missions like these for 13 months,” said Army Spc. Randall Preston said. “We set up these positions, and the Afghan people immediately adjust. They stay out of the way and try to help.”

The Afghan National Police are familiar with the people who congregate around the entry control point, and they quickly recognize strangers.

“Before the Americans came, there were a lot of bad people here,” Jalaludin said. “These are good people here now though, and they are tired of all the fighting. They just want security and peace, and are glad the Americans are here to help.”

“These ANP are really solid,” Button said. “They do what you ask them to do, and they show up and do a good job.”

From left, Army Spc. Randall Preston and Army Spc. Jeremy Richards place concertina wire and orange cones to block the road during checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

From left, Army Spc. Randall Preston and Army Spc. Jeremy Richards place concertina wire and orange cones to block the road during checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Missions employing random antiterrorism measures and procedures are an important part of security operations in Afghanistan.

“It’s important to do random patrols to disrupt enemy forces,” said Army Capt. William Coulter, Alpha Company commander, “as well as not set a predictable schedule or pattern of patrolling.”

After an hour or so, the ANP commander gave the call to collapse the blocking positions, so the U.S. soldiers secured their equipment, said their goodbyes, and headed for home.

Unique to the 101st Airborne Division, the “Slayers” serve as a mobile reaction force, able to respond within minutes of being called.

“We have infantrymen, signal soldiers, a mechanic –– it makes us self-sufficient, adaptable and flexible,” Button said.

Along with Alpha Company’s 1st platoon, 2nd platoon’s primary mission is patrolling and the security of Bagram Airfield and Afghanistan’s Parwan and Kapisa provinces.

“These are an extraordinary group of guys,” Button said Button. “They never back down from a mission, and never got a mission they couldn’t handle.”

The Slayers have performed more than 1,000 missions since arriving in Afghanistan in March 2008.

(Army Capt. Michael Greenberger serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
U.S. Army photos by Capt. Michael Greenberger)

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‘Flourishing’ Democracy in Afghanistan Remains Long-term Goal

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 29, 2009

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2009 – The United States’ short-term goal for Afghanistan may have been refined, but the long-term goal has stayed the same, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think the near-term objectives have been narrowed,” Gates said, referring to the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review President Barack Obama unveiled March 27. “I think our long-term objectives would still be to see a flourishing democracy in Afghanistan.

“But I think what we need to focus on … is making headway and reversing the Taliban’s momentum and strengthening the Afghan army and police, and really going after al-Qaida, as the president said,” the secretary said.

When all is said and done, about 68,000 U.S. troops will be on the ground in Afghanistan to help achieve this goal. They will be supplemented with another 35,000 or so European and other partners’ troops, Gates said.

While ground commanders may have wanted more than the 17,000 troops the president has committed, the 2009 requirements Army Gen. David D. McKiernan has established have been fulfilled, Gates said. McKiernan is the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

“I don’t think I’ve ever in several decades ran into a ground commander who thought he had enough troops,” the secretary said. “[But] I have not sent any requests for units or troops to the president that he has not approved.”

While additional troops from allies or partner countries are welcome, the larger need from these entities is help with civilian experts, Gates said.

“What I think we’re really interested in for the longer term from our partners and allies is helping us with this civilian surge,” he said. “[This would be helpful] in terms of experts in agriculture and finance and governance and so on to help us improve on the situation inside Afghanistan, give a sense of forward progress on the part of the Afghan people.”

Police trainers also would be a great help, he added.

Gates said he still considers al-Qaida a serious threat with the capability to plan attacks, and has metastasized with elements in North Africa, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. While these factions aren’t directly controlled by al-Qaida in western Pakistan, they get training, guidance and inspiration from there.

The president, he said, understands this is a tough fight and the United States is in it until it’s successful. That will be when al-Qaida is no longer a threat to the nation, Gates said, and when there is no danger of Afghanistan or the western part of Pakistan providing al-Qaida safe havens. That is what the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy aims to accomplish.

“I think he’s been clear, and frankly, it was my view in our discussions that we don’t want to settle on this strategy and then pursue it blindly and openendedly,” Gates said. “That’s why I felt very strongly that toward the end of the year, or about a year from now, we need to re-evaluate this strategy and see if we’re making progress.”

There are concerns about reports that the Pakistani intelligence service is in contact with some extremist groups operating from the country; however, the reports are not surprising, Gates said.

“The reality is the Pakistanis have had contact with these groups since they were fighting the Soviets 20 or 25 years ago, when I was first dealing with the Pakistanis on this,” he said. “What we need to do is try and help the Pakistanis understand that these groups are now an existential threat to them, and that we will be there as a steadfast ally for Pakistan, that they can count on us.”

Gates also fielded questions on North Korea and the country’s claim that it’s prepared to launch a communications satellite in a few days. The country has moved a missile to the launch pad.

“I don’t know anyone at a senior level in the American government who does not believe this technology is intended as a mask for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Gates said. “The reality is that the Six-Party Talks really have not made any headway anytime recently.

“If this is [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il’s welcoming present to a new president, launching a missile like this and threatening to have a nuclear test, I think it says a lot about the imperviousness of this regime in North Korea to any kind of diplomatic overtures,” he said.

Economic sanctions may be needed in North Korea and Iran before diplomacy will work, Gates said.

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Coalition Aircraft Proving There Worth In Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 28, 2009

In Afghanistan, Navy F/A-18-E and -F Super Hornets carried out shows of force and used guided bomb unit-38s against enemy personnel on a mountain near Tarin Kowt. Anti-Afghan forces had conducted an ambush on a friendly convoy, beginning the attack with an improvised explosive device before opening fire. The jets destroyed the enemy positions.

Near Musa Qala, F/A-18Fs conducted strafing runs and dropped GBU-38s against enemy personnel in firing points concealed throughout several buildings. These efforts were directed at stopping anti-Afghan forces attacks against coalition ground troops, which included fire from enemy mortar, assault rifle, and machine gun positions.

In the vicinity of Worzhanah Kalay, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs used smoke to mark enemy positions before teaming up to take them out with a GBU-38 and general purpose 500-pound bombs. The aircraft worked in teams to positively identify enemy fighters before employing munitions, ensuring weapons landed precisely on target.

A Super Hornet executed a show of force and expended flares near Lashkar Gah to prevent a pending anti-Afghan forces attack after enemy gunmen were spotted outside a coalition forward base. The aircraft’s appearance provided a deterrent and prevented hostilities from developing further.

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 75 close air support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Seventeen Air Force surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. In addition, two Navy aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

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Airmen Demonstrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems Not Merely ‘drones’

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 28, 2009

“We Fire Back”

U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
Story by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wilson
Date: 03.25.2009

Supporting Operation Enduring Freedom

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – The door to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron features a drawing of an MQ-1 Predator armed with Hellfire missiles underscored with the words, “we’re not drones – we fire back.”

PredatorOften referred to by reporters as “drones,” unmanned aircraft systems like the MQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk are remotely-flown weapons systems flown both locally and stateside from ground stations using satellite uplinks. They’re also far more complex than the U.S. military’s relatively more simplified radio-controlled drone aircraft used for aerial target practice, according to UAS professionals.

For the Airmen flying and maintaining the lethal Predator and its big brother, the MQ-9 Reaper, from Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, and Creech Air Force Base, Nev., the message is demonstrated to their adversaries on a regular basis.

“[Both the MQ-1 and MQ-9 are weapons-carrying aircraft] and both have a hunter-killer role in addition to their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Scott Miller, 62nd ERQS commander of Las Vegas, who is deployed from the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech AFB.

Performing dual-missions of close air support and ISR taskings, the Predator can stay airborne for more than 12 hours at 50,000 feet and the Reaper can stay up for a longer period of time at even higher altitudes, according to squadron officials. Boasting a full-motion video camera with various modes that can detect enemy movements, the Predator and Reaper also carry the Hellfire missile. In addition to carrying a larger payload of Hellfires, the weapons systems bring to the fight a set of two 500 lbs. laser-guided bombs that allow operators to not only observe and detect hostile forces, but also eliminate them if called upon to do so.

Predator“Both aircraft can initiate and complete the ‘killchain’,” Col. Miller said. “With their ability to loiter for long periods of time over a target, eliminate it, stay on station and then provide the [bomb damage assessment] they provide continuity to a mission and prove to be invaluable assets.”

The aircraft systems are flown jointly between the 62nd ERQS crews stationed here with the 451st Air Expeditionary Group and crews back at Creech using satellite uplinks that transfer control from the local pilots who taxi, launch, land and recover the weapons systems (all from trailers adjacent to the flightline) and the Creech aviators flying inside of mission control elements performing missions across Afghanistan. British Royal Air Force counterparts also fly the Reaper.

General Atomics contractors perform maintenance on the Reaper while Predator maintenance responsibility is undertaken by 62nd ERQS Airmen.

Predator“As this aircraft is like 90 percent avionics, it’s a pretty unique experience to work on it,” said Senior Airman Doug Cox, a 62 ERQS MQ-1 avionics specialist from Creech AFB hailing from Boaz, Ala. “We’re asked to do a lot more than our traditional specialties and most of us are trained up on crew chief duties such as performing 60-hour inspections, changing spark plugs, engine oil, and things like that.”

1st Lt. Andrew Dowd of Milwaukee, Wis., also deployed from Creech AFB as the unit’s maintenance officer, agreed. “This aircraft does not have hydraulic fluid and operates using electro-servos,” he said, also noting the aircraft recently reached a 500,000 flight hour milestone. “It’s a very unique platform, but of course, when it’s all said and done, it’s the $1.2 million camera that runs the show.”

After the aircraft are airborne, Creech aviators perform the majority of the traditional mission taskings once the aircraft are handed off to them from the Kandahar crews. The 62nd ERQS Airmen are increasingly taking responsibility for executing missions within the local area to aid and protect coalition forces stationed around Kandahar who are fighting the enemy. Sometimes weapons are dropped, demonstrating the lethality and uniqueness of the 62nd ERQS’ mission and aircraft to friends and foes alike.

PredatorNotably, some missions are often generated to fly only within the local area, putting the responsibility for the entire mission on the shoulders of the Kandahar-based aircrews.

“It’s great to have a direct impact on the war,” said Airman 1st Class Patrick Snyder, a deployed MQ-9 sensor operator from Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., who maneuvers the system’s cameras and sensors as well as directing its munitions when launched. “We provide over-watch for the Canadians fighting the Taliban and then have coffee with them at the end of day [here at Kandahar]. It really makes us feel connected.”

Capt. Ryan Jodi, previously a B-1 pilot flying the Reaper from his cockpit position in a ground control element, also acknowledged his preference for performing missions locally as opposed to Creech.

“I really enjoy doing the launches and landings from here – it really gives you more of a flying feeling,” he said. “And doing local missions is also great because we can really appreciate the camaraderie we have with our coalition partners who we live with here.”

With spring once again arriving in Afghanistan, Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents will once again ramp up hostile operations against coalition forces around the country as they have demonstrated each year during the duration of Operation Enduring Freedom. However, with the planned increase of forces within the area, that means more assets are on the way, with 62 ERQS leaders preparing for additional aircraft and more mission sorties generated from combatant commanders. With nearly 10 additional Reapers coming to supplement the squadron’s approximately dozen MQ-9 aircraft, Col. Miller says that means more work.

“In 2005, we were generating about two sorties a day,” he said. “We’ve more than quadrupled that now and we are going to expect a lot more coming in the future.”

Col. Ted Osowski, the 451st AEG’s commander, agreed with Col. Miller on the demand for the ISR hunter/killer platforms in-theater.

“No other asset is more sought after,” he said. “Close air support and ISR are very valuable to the ground commanders.”

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