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Monday, February 26, 2007

It's on!

The USS Stennis is in the Arabian Sea and began conducting combat missions in Afghanistan. The Stennis left its homeport in Washington state in January and arrived to support the War on Terrorism last week. The Stennis is a Nimitz class aircraft carrier and can carry up to 85 aircraft.

"Operating in the North Arabian Sea, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) launched an F/A-18C Hornet from the “Death Rattlers” of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323, beginning the strike group’s first combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."

The Stennis and its support group is no doubt a welcome addition to the area to assist with operations there. Just keep in mind that where ever there is a US aircraft carrier, there is most likely also a Los Angeles class attack submarine somewhere in the area. They can also do plenty of damage on their own!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Solution for Global Warming? A New Cold War

This article speaks for itself, so I have reprinted it for your convenience. It seems to me that relations between the US and Russia have been tense lately over Iraq and Iran and may be starting to cool off.

Russia Plans New ICBMs, Nuclear Subs

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

(02-07) 10:02 PST MOSCOW, Russia (AP) --
Russia's defense minister on Wednesday laid out an ambitious plan for building new intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and possibly aircraft carriers, and set the goal of exceeding the Soviet army in combat readiness.
Sergei Ivanov's statements appeared aimed at raising his profile at home ahead of the 2008 election in which he is widely seen as a potential contender to succeed President Vladimir Putin. But they also seemed to reflect a growing chill in Russian-U.S. relations and the Kremlin's concern about U.S. missile defense plans.
Ivanov told parliament the military would get 17 new ballistic missiles this year — a drastic increase over the average of four deployed annually in recent years. The purchases are part of a weapons modernization program for 2007-2015 worth about $190 billion.
The plan envisages the deployment of 34 new silo-based Topol-M missiles and control units, as well as an additional 50 such missiles mounted on mobile launchers by 2015; Russia so far has deployed more than 40 silo-based Topol-Ms.
Putin and other officials have described the Topol-M as a bulwark of Russia's nuclear might for years to come, and said it can penetrate any prospective missile defenses. Last week, Putin dismissed U.S. claims that missile defense sites Washington hopes to establish in Poland and the Czech Republic were intended to counter threats from Iran, and said Russia would respond by developing more efficient weapons systems.
In 2002, Putin and President Bush signed a treaty obliging both sides to cut their strategic nuclear weapons by about two-thirds by 2012, down to 1,700 to 2,200 missiles. But Russian-U.S. ties have since worsened steadily over disagreements on Iraq and other global crises, and U.S. concerns about an increasingly authoritarian streak in Russia's domestic policy.
"The Russian leadership believes that a nuclear parity with the United States is vitally important because it allows it to conduct an equal dialogue on other issues," said an independent military analyst, Alexander Golts.
A rising tide of oil revenues has enabled Russia to boost defense spending following a squeeze on the military in the 1990s. "The question now is whether the industries are capable of producing what the military needs," Ivanov said.
Analysts warn that building any sizable numbers of new weapons would pose a daunting challenge to the defense plants that received virtually no government orders for a decade following the 1991 Soviet collapse.
"Links to subcontractors have been broken, and the defense plants now need to rebuild them to produce weapons," Golts said.
Alexander Pikayev, a senior analyst at the Moscow-based Institute for World Economy and International Relations, said the military had failed to set the right priorities for weapons procurement in the past.
Russia's defense budget, which stood at $8.1 billion in 2001, nearly quadrupled to $31 billion this year, Ivanov said. While this year's military spending is Russia's largest since the 1991 Soviet collapse, it is still about 20 times less than the U.S. defense budget.
Ivanov said the military now has enough money to intensify combat training.
"Combat readiness of the army and the navy is currently the highest in the post-Soviet history," he said, adding the task now is to "exceed Soviet-era levels."
Ivanov said the military now has about 1.13 million servicemen, compared with 1.34 million in 2001. By 2015, the military plans to have about 1 million servicemen as Russia continues to reduce its bloated armed forces. "We can't go below that," he said.
The Kremlin has rejected liberals' calls to abolish the draft, saying Russia needs a large number of conscripts to protect its huge territory.

Ivanov said the weapons modernization program would allow the military to replace 45 percent of existing arsenals with modern weapons systems by 2015.
As part of the plan, the navy will commission 31 new ships, including eight nuclear submarines carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles, Ivanov said.
He played down recent failed launches of the Bulava missile being developed to equip these submarines. The Bulava, developed by the same design bureau that built the Topol-M, failed in three consecutive launches late last year.
"If we already had commissioned this missile and had failures, that would have been a nightmare," Ivanov said, adding that launch failures were "within the norm" in the testing phase.
He also said the government would decide in 2009-2010 whether to start the construction of a new shipyard for building aircraft carriers. Russia now only has one Soviet-built medium-sized aircraft carrier capable of carrying about 30 jets and helicopters.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beefing Up

Apparently Venezuela is trying to beef up its submarine fleet. It is taking bids from France, Germany and Russia to buy 9 additional diesel powered submarines. It currently has 2 submarines that it acquired from Germany in 1972, that are over 30 years old. With these nine additional subs, it would have the largest submarine force in South America. Chavez seems to be gearing up in case of a conflict with the U.S. I could be wrong, but I don't expect the U.S. to invade Venezuela anytime soon. Chavez seems to think that he is more important than he really is. It looks like he is trying to provoke the U.S. into a conflict with him. I do have to admit that diesel boats are pretty quiet, but they are severely disadvantaged when up against the submarines we currently have in our fleet. Diesel subs for one run on their batteries when submerged, which need to be recharged by the very loud diesel generator every once in awhile. They are also slower and cannot carry the payload that U.S. subs can. With the L.A. class subs and the new, highly technological Virginia class subs, Chavez doesn't stand a chance. All we would have to do is stay quiet and wait for his subs to surface to recharge the batteries, and bye-bye Venezuelan sub fleet.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

New Anti-Terrorism Weapons

The Navy has been training dolphins and sea lions to detect potential threats in the water. The base in Bangor, Washington is home to submarines, ships and labs that are potential targets for terrorist. The USS Louisiana, my old boat, just relocated there from Kings Bay, GA not too long ago. Apparently these animals have been deployed to Kings Bay. They have been used before for security in the US, and to patrol the port waters in the Gulf. Not only are these specially trained dolphins able to detect a person, but they can find mines as well. The sea lions even carry cuffs in their mouths that they can use to haul in potential threats! Animal Rights activists claim this is not a good idea, but it is a good way to deter potential attacks, because threats will not know if there are any trained dolphins or sea lions patrolling the waters. The Navy has been doing this since th 60's and treats the animals well. Until something else comes along this is just one way to keep potential threats away.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Story of Sacrifice

A North Carolina based Navy Corpsman was killed in Iraq, just 7 days after he arrived there. The story is reprinted below for you convenience.

EL PASO, Texas — A North Carolina-based Navy corpsman told his brother that if he died in Iraq, he wanted his two children to know he served so they could grow up free and without fear.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gilbert Minjares Jr., 31, died Wednesday - seven days after he reached Iraq - in a helicopter crash in Anbar province, the Department of Defense said Friday. Six others also died in the crash, which is under investigation.
"He gave me all his clothes and stuff, like he knew what was going to happen," said Jose Minjares, Gilbert's brother. "He told me, 'If anything happens, I want you to let my kids know I did it for them.'"
Minjares was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in Cherry Point, North Carolina His wife, 2-year-old son and 4-week-old baby live in North Carolina, said Eddie Pedregon, the seaman's cousin.
"He always wanted to give to others before he gave to himself," Pedregon said. "His dream was to save Marines."
A corpsman is the Marines' equivalent of an Army medic. Gilbert Minjares also worked as a recruiter in El Paso, Jose Minjares said.
Minjares played fullback and quarterback at Hanks High School in El Paso. He joined the Navy about a month after graduating in 1994, his brother said.
The seaman was happy-go-lucky, loved his family and his home and had no doubts about his service or heading to Iraq, his brother said.
"He said he'd rather go fight over there than have to fight (terrorism) over here," the brother said. "He was a brave, brave man."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Drug Raid!

"USS McInerney (FFG 8) added to its string of successes on her counter-narco terrorism (CNT) deployment by supporting the seizure of 2.3 metric tons of cocaine in mid-January from a fishing vessel off the coast of Costa Rica." According to this article, the US Navy teamed up with Costa Rica for the first time to thwart the transport of drugs. The USS McInerney is a Guided Missile Frigate, currently serving out of Mayport, FL. Frigates are just under 500 feet long and are armed with Harpoon missiles, MK-46 torpedos, one 76 mm (3-inch)/62 caliber MK 75 rapid fire gun, and one Phalanx close-in-weapons system. I think it is safe to say that the McInerney is well equipped for this type of mission.
Lt. Erik Bodiscomassink, McInerney’s Engineering Officer and a Tactical Action Officer (TAO), said “Any time you approach a vessel, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to encounter. Part of you always wonders what their intentions are. Just get as much information as you can and rely on your training.”
BZ to the hard work of the USS McInerney, the US Coast Guard and their Costa Rican counter-parts. It is successes like these that keep tons of cocaine off the streets!