18 December 2014

Nothing Says "We're Serious About Missile Defense" Like A Bunch of Balloons

Army to deploy new BA-1100N's that detect cruise missiles.

The U.S. Army plans to launch two stationary "blimps" at 10,000-feet in the air next week to better protect the Washington D.C. area from cruise missiles and other possible air attacks.
It's part of a three-year test by the North American Aerospace Defense Command of the so-called JLENS System, which is designed to work with already existing air defense technology.
The tethered large balloons, called aerostats, carry technology that will almost double the reach of current ground radar detection, officials said. The JLENS manufacturer, Raytheon Corp., says the system can provide radar coverage to an area the size of Texas.
It will "increase decision time available to respond efficiently and accurately for the defense of the National Capitol Region," NORAD said.
The JLENS system -- which stands for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor -- has no firing capability. Any response to missile attacks would still come from ground missiles, ships and airplanes, according to NORAD.
The balloons will fly above the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and do not carry any cameras.
"It's not for surveillance," said NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek. "It's simply for the detection of cruise missiles."
The 242-foot-long aerostats will be tethered to the ground by 1⅛-thick "super-strong" cables, according to Raytheon. The tethering system is designed to withstand 100 mph winds and had no problems in 106 mph winds during testing, the company said.
The helium-filled aerostats can stay aloft for up to 30 days at a time, making it five to seven times cheaper to operate than using aircraft for the task, Raytheon says.
NORAD says the JLENS system will be crewed by 130 personnel at the Maryland base.

h/t Gus

It's only taken 20 years...

Units who participated in the early-90s campaigns in Somalia are now eligible for campaign awards.

More than 200 units ranging in size from detachments to groups and brigades have been officially credited for participation in Operations Restore Hope and United Shield, the 2½-year relief and evacuation campaign in Somalia.

Soldiers who were assigned to these units and who participated in the campaigns generally are
eligible for the award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the United Nations Medal.

Full list of units here (PDF)

08 December 2014

A True Hero

SFC Cashe is the epitome of selfless sacrifice.

Nine years after the Iraq bomb attack, retired Sgt. Gary Mills has no doubt that Cashe deserves the Medal of Honor. Mills was inside the stricken Bradley fighting vehicle that day. He was on fire, his hands so badly burned that he couldn't open the rear troop door to free himself and other soldiers trapped inside the flaming vehicle.

Someone opened the door from outside, Mills recalls. A powerful hand grabbed him and yanked him to safety. He later learned that the man who had rescued him was Cashe, who seconds later crawled into the vehicle to haul out the platoon's critically burned medic while on fire himself.

"Sgt. Cashe saved my life," Mills said. "With all the ammo inside that vehicle, and all those flames, we'd have all been dead in another minute or two."

Four of the six soldiers rescued later died of their wounds at a hospital. An Afghan interpreter riding in the Bradley died during the bomb attack. Cashe refused to be loaded onto a medical evacuation helicopter until all the other wounded men had been flown.

A citation proposing the Medal of Honor for Cashe reads: "SFC Cashe's selfless and gallant actions allowed the loved ones of these brave soldiers to spend precious time by their sides before they succumbed."

Cashe's sister, Kasinal Cashe White, spent three weeks at her brother's bedside at a military hospital in Texas as doctors treated his extensive burns. She knew nothing of his actions during the bomb attack until a nurse asked her, "You know your brother's a hero, don't you?"

When Cashe was able to speak, White said, his first words were: "How are my boys?" — his soldiers, she said.

Then he began weeping, she said. He told her: "I couldn't get to them fast enough."

Cashe died Nov. 8, 2005.

"My little brother lived by the code that you never leave your soldiers behind," White said. "That wasn't just something from a movie. He lived it."

White says her family hopes Cashe is awarded the medal while his mother, who is 89, is still alive.

03 December 2014

Anniversary: Battle of Tora Bora

Today marks the start of the Battle of Tora Bora.

On December 3, a group of 20 U.S. commandos was inserted by helicopter to support the operation. On December 5, Afghan militia wrested control of the low ground below the mountain caves from al-Qaeda fighters and set up tank positions to blast enemy forces. The al-Qaeda fighters withdrew with mortars, rocket launchers, and assault rifles to higher fortified positions and dug in for the battle

What lessons should we have learned from this battle? How well are we applying them today? Sound off below!

By: Brant