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September 4, 2014

News Briefs September 4, 2014

U.S. military targets extremists in Somalia

U.S. military forces targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network in an operation Sept. 1 in Somalia, the Pentagon said.

Spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. was assessing the results and would provide more information when appropriate. No further details were available.

A senior Somali intelligence official said a U.S. drone targeted al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane as he left a meeting of the group’s top leaders.

The Somali official, speaking on condition of anonymity since the official was not authorized to speak to the media, said intelligence indicated Godane ìmight have been killed along with other militants.

The official said the attack took place in a forest near Sablale district, 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, where the group trains its fighters.

The governor of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, Abdiqadir Mohamed Nor, told The Associated Press that as government and African Union forces were heading to a town in Sablale district, they heard something that sounded like an ìearthquake as drones struck al-Shabab bases.
ìThere was an airstrike near Sablale, we saw something, Nor said.

The U.S. action comes after Somalia’s government forces regained control of a high-security prison in the capital that was attacked Sunday by seven heavily armed suspected Islamic militants who attempted to free other extremists held there. The Pentagon statement did not indicate whether the U.S. action was related to the prison attack.

Somali officials said all attackers, three government soldiers and two civilians were killed. Mogadishu’s Godka Jilacow prison is an interrogation center for Somalia’s intelligence agency, and many suspected militants are believed to be held in underground cells there.

The Somali rebel group al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack that shattered a period of calm in Mogadishu after two decades of chaotic violence. The attack started when a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of the prison, followed by gunmen who fought their way into the prison.

It was al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, with guns and grenades last September, killing at least 67 people. Al-Shabab had threatened retaliation against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia against the extremists. Godane said the attack was carried out in retaliation for the West’s support for Kenya’s Somalia invasion and the ìinterest of their oil companies. AP

U.S. helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

A Marine Corps helicopter carrying 25 people crashed Sept. 1 in the Gulf of Aden, and all aboard were rescued, the Navy said.

The 17 Marines and eight Navy sailors were recovered and were on board the USS Mesa Verde, and some who sustained minor injuries were treated on the ship.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed as it attempted to land on the ship, which has a big landing deck on the back. The Navy said the crash was not the result of hostile activity, but the aircraft was transferring troops back to the ship from training in nearby Djibouti.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS Mesa Verde, an amphibious transport dock ship based at Norfolk, Virginia, into the Persian Gulf earlier this summer as concern grew over the Islamic State terrorist group’s advance on Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

The ship transports and lands Marines and other troops, their equipment and supplies, aided by helicopters and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. AP

Military survivor organization wants boots

A group working on behalf of the families of soldiers is seeking military boots in any condition to represent fallen soldiers.

Each boot received will represent a fallen service member as part of a display that will be put together by volunteers, hopefully in time for ìGold Star Week, Oct. 27 to Nov. 1. That’s when Fort Campbell hosts surviving family members for a series of events including the Hero and Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll event.

Survivor Outreach Services Director Suzy Yates told The Leaf-Chronicle donations of desert boots, jungle boots, cold-weather boots, jump boots from any era are welcome
Boots can be mailed into the Army Community Services SOS office located at 2703 Michigan Ave., Fort Campbell, Kentucky 42223 at Fort Campbell via FedEx or UPS. AP

NATO plans high-readiness force to counter Russia

NATO leaders this week will be asked to approve creation of a high-readiness force and the stockpiling of military equipment and supplies in Eastern Europe to help protect member nations there against potential Russian aggression, the alliance’s secretary general said Sept. 1.

ìThe Readiness Action Plan will ensure that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place, at the right time, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. ìNot because NATO wants to attack anyone. But because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible. And we will do what it takes to defend our allies.

President Barack Obama and leaders of NATO’s other member countries open a summit Sept. 4 in Wales that is expected to be dominated by how the U.S-led alliance should react over the long term to Russian actions toward Ukraine and the implications for security in Europe.

Rasmussen told a news conference the proposed new force could be composed of several thousand troops contributed on a rotating basis by the 28 NATO countries.

Backed by air and naval assets, the unit would be a ìspearhead that could be deployed at very short notice to help NATO members defend themselves against any threat, including Russia, Rasmussen said.

Since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia in March, Poland and other Eastern European members of NATO have demanded the alliance take a more active and high-profile role in their defense. Other allies, though, have been wary of doing anything that might endanger a 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to base substantial forces in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis.

The compromise NATO officials appear to have worked out is the pre-positioning of equipment and supplies in Eastern Europe ìso this force can travel light, but strike hard if needed, in Rasmussen’s words. AP




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