US Plans to Send 400 Military Trainers to Iraq to Combat ISIL

Iraqi Sunni volunteers from the Anbar province, who joined Iraq's Popular Mobilisation force as part of government efforts to make the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group a cross-sectarian drive, take part in their first training session at a training base in Amriyat al-Fallujah, on May 8, 2015

 
The United States is planning to use an Iraqi base in central Anbar Province to house 400 American military specialists who will train Iraqi forces fighting against Islamic State radicals, The New York Times reports citing American officials.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A final decision on the new training operation near the town of Habbaniyah has not been announced yet, the newspaper said on Tuesday, adding that US plans to send additional specialists to Iraq come in the wake of the capture of the city of Ramadi by ISIL militants.

The United States currently has 3,000 troops in Iraq in a training capacity and continues to carry out airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq, as well as Syria, where the Sunni radicals have also ceased vast territories.The airstrikes are part of international US-led coalition efforts to eradicate ISIL, which has become notorious for its brutal tactics and beheadings of Western journalists. The coalition was formed by US President Barack Obama in September, 2014, and its military action has been limited to airstrikes.

On the ground, Islamic State fighters are being opposed by Iraqi forces and Kurdish militia. However, despite the joint efforts, Islamic State has recently made advances in Iraq, capturing Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province located some 80 miles west of Baghdad.

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‘2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone’: Iraq reveals number of US arms falling into ISIS hands

  
Reuters / Stringer

Reuters / Stringer

 Iraq has admitted that ISIS jihadists captured huge caches of US-made weapons, including thousands of Humvees seized from Iraqi forces retreating from Mosul last year. The spoils of war have since then been used by ISIS to gain ground in Iraq and Syria.

“In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with Iraqiya state TV. “We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone.”

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) captured Iraq’s second city of Mosul in June 2014, as government forces retreated from the country’s Sunni stronghold.

The number of potential heavy and light weapons abandoned by Iraq’s army remains unknown but over the past decade the US sold thousands of the armed vehicles to the Iraqis, in addition to tanks and other military hardware.

Just this month the Pentagon estimated that at least half a dozen tanks were abandoned when Baghdad forces lost Ramadi, in addition to artillery pieces, and some 100 Humvees.

Meanwhile the US approved new arms deliveries to the Iraqis last December to replenish the stock ransacked by IS. One contract allows the sale of 175 heavy M1A1 Abarams worth $12.4 billion, while another approves the delivery of 1,000 Humvees, equipped with M2.50 caliber machine guns and MK-19 40mm grenade launchers.

They are exactly the types of weapons IS used to gain vast amount of territory both in Iraq and northern Syria. In fact, the first use of US-Humvees on Syrian territory was reported last year shortly after Mosul has fallen to jihadists.

In mid-May IS gained control of the capital of Anbar province where Iraqi forces had held out against militants for more than a year. They also secured control of Palmyra in Syria, carrying out many executions.

US intelligence points to growing IS strength

Meanwhile on Sunday CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged that IS gains in both Iraq and Syria did not really come as a surprise to the intelligence community.

“I went back over the intelligence of last week, taking a look at what we knew and when we knew it about ISIS and its movements inside of Iraq and Syria,” Brennan said in an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation. “We saw a growing strength.”

He attributed ISIS success to “a lot of factors” on the ground that came into play, in particular the lack of leadership in some Iraqi units and logistic support needed to fight extremists.

While the Iraqi troop’s failures could have looked as a “lack of a will to fight,” Brennan says in fact “there has been a fair amount of intelligence about the growing capabilities of ISIS as well as the challenges that beset the Iraqi government.”

US Intelligence Aware of Increasing Capabilities of Islamic State Radicals

Islamic State flag and ammunition

The intelligence that the United States has gathered on Islamic State radicals points to their growing strength in the Middle East, CIA Director John Brennan said in an interview with CBS, adding that the rise of ISIL should be countered with both military and political means.

   The recent advances that the militants made in Iraq and Syria show that the fight against the group that has ceased vast areas in both countries will be a long one, Brennan claimed on Sunday.

“But I must say that there has been a fair amount of intelligence about the growing capabilities of ISIS, as well as the challenges that beset the Iraqi government, the sectarian tensions that continue to fuel a lot of these problems.”

Brennan stressed that a successful strategy for countering the rise of ISIL both in Iraq and Syria would be to combine military and political tactics.

“I believe firmly that we’re not going to resolve this problem on the battlefield. We have to keep the pressure on them but at the same time there has to be a viable political process that’s able to bring together the actors inside Iraq and Syria and for them to be able to decide how they’re going to have a peaceful future.”

The United States formed an international coalition to fight against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria in September, 2014. The coalition has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL positions in Syria, also continuing the air attacks on the group in Iraq, first launched by the United States in August, 2014.

The United States has claimed some successes in the fight against the Islamic State. However, in recent weeks the militants made advances, capturing the city of Ramadi in central Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.

ISIL-affiliated groups also operate in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan and are known to have been behind several terrorist attacks in Europe.

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Su-25: Old warrior is future of Russian attack aviation

March 2, 2015 Vadim Matveev
Forty years ago, an attack aircraft Su-25 (GrachRook) took off from an airfield in Moscow suburb Kubinka for its maiden flight. Time has not dimmed its lustre. This aircraft remains a fearsome fighting machine, and can be called the future of Russian attack aviation.
Su-25: Old warrior is future of Russian attack aviation Su-25. Source: TASS

At the beginning of 2015, there were 14 air assault squadrons, composed of 150 Su-25; 60 Su-25SM; 52 Su-25SM2 /SM3; and 15 Su-25UB. Of all these storm-troopers 80 more machines will be upgraded to the SM version by 2020. About 100 more of this type of aircraft are parked at the long-term storage bases.

Shock and Awe

The 17-tonne machine, equipped with two jet engines, can reach the speed of 975 km/h at sea level, operating in a combat radius of 300 km. Ten hardpoints allow Su-25 to use the entire range of shock and defensive weapons. However, the trump card of Grach is its unique vitality on account of efficient armour use and filling of holes with polyurethane foam.

 

Rooks against ISIL

Relatively low cost, coupled with low maintenance needs, have enabled the creation of about 1,300 of Su-25, that are in service in different parts of the world. This attack aircraft was used in recent conflicts: to force Georgia into peace, as well as in the combat zones of Ukraine and Iraq. Moreover, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, only timely supply of 15 Su-25 could change the course of events in the confrontation with terrorist groups of the Islamic state.

On the other hand, when the Russian Air Force was using Su-25 in South Ossetia to prevent the march of the Georgian army equipped with Soviet air defence systems, transferred to Georgia by Ukraine, it lost three attack aircraft, according to official figures. The Chief Designer of Sukhoi, Vladimir Babak, said that after the missile attack on air defence systems during the combat mission three Su-25SM returned to the airport base and will be repaired. In the ongoing conflict between Kiev and the unrecognised republics of New Russia, whose armed forces are equipped with various air defence systems, mainly MANPADS of twentieth century production, about 11 Su-25 were reported to be destroyed and 12 disabled.

This data clearly shows that the aircraft is out of date and needs to be upgraded for the use of modern high-precision weapon systems. At the same time, it can be used effectively against the terrorist groups that don’t possess air defence systems.

Future of attack aviation

Russia’s upgrading of Su-25 to SM3 version can extend the aircraft’s operative life for at least another ten years. This modified version features advanced avionics, including the use of the GLONASS system (GPS), increasing the capabilities of autonomous flight without the use of terrestrial services in any weather conditions. The first Su-25SM3 started arriving to the troops, to the base of Southern Military District, in February 2013. The modernisation of Su-25 will continue, as this attack aircraft’s total combat load is unmatched in the world, Air Force Commander Victor Bondarev said in his interview to RIA news agency. In other words, this dedicated attack aircraft will continue to be in demand by the Russian armed forces in the future.

According to the source from the Air Forces Central Command, in addition to Su-25 modification described above, in 2014 the troops received a specialized version of the attack aircraft, optimised for destroying and breaking down the air defence systems.

Thus, for now the decommissioning of Su-25 is postponed. Having undergone certain upgrades to better fit the modern conditions of warfare, the machine remains competitive not only in the domestic, but also in the foreign weapons market.

Pentagon Provides Iraq $17.9Mln in Equipment, Supplies to Fight ISIL

Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle

US Department of Defense stated that the United States is assisting Iraq with the necessary equipment and supplies to help that country fight more effectively the Islamic State.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States is assisting Iraq with the necessary equipment and supplies to help that country fight more effectively the Islamic State (ISIL), according to a US Department of Defense statement.

“The Defense Department has expedited $17.9 million in equipment and supplies — some of which have already been delivered — to the Iraqi government,” the statement said.

The supplied equipment includes 232 Hellfire missiles; 250 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles; thousands of Kevlar helmets and body armour; 10,000 M-16 rifles; 10,000 M-68 close-combat optical red-dot sights; 200 Harris vehicle-mounted radios, and 23,000 light weapons magazines, according to the statement.The Pentagon explained that deliveries of the equipment began in early January and are set to continue this week.

The Iraqi forces have retaken at least 700 kilometers of territory previously occupied by the ISIL, but the fight against the terrorist group is far from over, US Army Colonel Steve Warren said in the statement.

The ISIL is a Sunni militant group that has taken over large portions of Syria and Iraq, and declared a caliphate. The United States and the anti-ISIL coalition began carrying out airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in August 2014, and expanded the air campaign to Syria in September, though without Syrian government approval.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/20150225/1018710286.html#ixzz3SjjYux14

Egyptian Air Force Bombs Islamic State Fighters in Libya

Egyptian Air Force F-16

Following the release of a video showing ISIL militants beheading 21 Egyptian Christian Copts, Egypt’s Air Force bombed Islamic State positions in Libya at dawn Monday, according to local state television.

 

CAIRO (Sputnik) – The Egyptian Air Force has carried out a series of bombings on Islamic State (ISIL) positions in Libya following execution of 21 Egyptian Copts, Egyptian state television said Monday.On Sunday evening, the ISIL published a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian Copts who were kidnapped in Libya.

Egyptian President Abdel Sisi said Cairo “reserves the right to respond in any way” after the brutal killings.

Egypt is part of a broad coalition of US, EU and Arab countries fighting the IS militant group in the Middle East since August 2014. The coalition was set up following the rapid advance of the ISIL in Syria and Iraq, where it hopes to create a caliphate.

Reports emerged last Sunday saying a group of Egyptian fishermen, all Coptic Christians, had been abducted by armed militants in Libya. A video allegedly showing their execution appeared later that day, causing outrage in Egypt.In a televised address early on Monday, Sisi condemned the killings and prohibited Egyptian nationals to travel to Libya, which is de facto without a government. He also vowed to “bring back” Egyptians already in Libya.

The crisis in Libya has led to concern that jihadists may capitalize on the political vacuum there. There are several armed groups fighting for control over the North African country after the killing of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/20150216/1018320374.html#ixzz3RtUZWVRX

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War chest: US Air Force seeks more cash to boost Iraq & Syria ops, surveillance

  February 02, 2015 

A U.S. soldier stands guards in front of U.S. Air Force U-2 spy-plane at the Air Power Day at the U.S. airbase in Osan, October 6, 2007. (Reuters/Han Jae-Ho)

A U.S. soldier stands guards in front of U.S. Air Force U-2 spy-plane at the Air Power Day at the U.S. airbase in Osan, October 6, 2007. (Reuters/Han Jae-Ho)

The US Air Force 2016 budget request called for increased funding for munitions to “support increasing operations tempo in Iraq and Syria” as well as for manned and unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

The funding request, released Monday, also stressed the need to keep building for the future, as the research, development, test, and evaluation programs (RDT&E) saw a budget boost of about 3 percent from its level in fiscal year 2015.

The Air Force asked for $122.1 billion, overall, in “blue” money. Or, as Defense News explained, “Due to budgeting methodology, the Pentagon funnels some funds through the Air Force, which the service cannot use.”

Of that figure, $24.2 billion is for procurement and $17.9 billion for RDT&E.

Meanwhile, the Air Force asked for a postponement of the U-2 spy plane’s retirement, from 2016 to 2019. The service did, however, continue the push to retire its A-10 ground-attack aircraft.

The Air Force also called for recapitalization of its version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, its KC-46A, and the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), its largest RDT&E program that came with a request for $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2016.

F-35A front profile in flight. (Image from Wikipedia by defenseimagery.mil)

F-35A front profile in flight. (Image from Wikipedia by defenseimagery.mil)

READ MORE: $561bn Pentagon budget planned, advocates say real budget is $1trn

The air-to-ground munitions request this year jumped from $635 million to nearly $1.7 billion in 2016. The service directly implicated US-led airstrikes against areas in Iraq and Syria held by jihadist group Islamic State to justify this 250 percent increase.

Funding for weapons procurement also went up in the overseas contingency operations request, as missile purchases increased from $136 million in the final 2015 budget to $289 million in the 2016 request.

Overall, the procurement budget went from $11.9 billion in the 2015 to $15.6 billion in the 2016 request.

Items in the latest budget include 44 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, 29 MQ-9 Reaper drones, 14 C-130J Hercules, 12 KC-46 tankers, 8 MC-130s for special operations, 5 HC-130s for personnel recovery, and upgrades to the F-22, F-15 Eagle, B-2 and E-3 systems.

MQ-9 Reaper drone. (Image from Wikidepia by cbp.gov)

MQ-9 Reaper drone. (Image from Wikidepia by cbp.gov)

READ MORE: US to increase nuclear weapons spending – Pentagon

As for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance budget, both the revived U-2 and the Global Hawk Block 30 and 40 unmanned systems are funded even though the Global Hawk is the preferred future for Air Force surveillance.

The service did follow through with retirement of the close air support aircraft A-10 Warthog, a weapons system, like so many others, ardently defended on Capitol Hill.

Space procurement is listed at $2.58 billion in the 2016 budget request. That includes fixed block buys of AEHF satellites 5 and 6 and the SBIRS 5 and 6 satellites.

READ MORE: Nuclear missile launch officer to be court-martialed on drug, obstruction charges

The Air Force also proposed to add 4,020 active-duty airmen in its request, an increase from its 312,980 service members in fiscal year 2015.

Of the additional airmen request, 900 would be devoted to the Air Force’s embattled nuclear missile program that has been battered with exam-cheating and drug scandals.

The budget request also asked for increases by 1.3 percent for military pay, 1.5 percent for Basic Allowance for Housing, and 3.4 percent for Basic Allowance for Subsistence.