Friday, November 24, 2017
Military News

U.S. strike against Syria planned by CentCom commanders at MacDill Air Force Base

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — U.S. Central Command planned Thursday night's U.S. military air strike against Syria from its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, according to a spokesman.

Two Navy vessels fired a total of 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian government airbase in Shayrat airbase, outside the west central city of Homs, said Air Force Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for CentCom.

Syrian fighter aircraft, fuel storage and ammunition dumps were the targets, he told the Tampa Bay Times.

"We did not target anything we thought to be chemical weapons, for obvious reasons," Thomas said. "We did not target any Russians or Russian facilities on the base."

But the U.S. did warn Russian military forces about the impending strike through the usual communications channels, Thomas said, which are used to avoid conflict.

Neither Syrian officials, nor any forces aligned against them, were given any warning.

From his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, President Trump told the nation that he ordered the air strikes in response to the government of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad killing more than 80 civilians in a chemical weapons attack this week.

Thomas said about 20 Syrian fighters, stored on the flightline and in bunkers, were hit.

"All indications are that we hit the targets we wanted to, about 20 aircraft in bunkers and exposed," Thomas said.

However, he said military commanders won't be able to assess the extent of the damage inflicted until daylight. There is a seven-hour time difference between Syria and Tampa.

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, released this statement:

"The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars. As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.

"The strike was a proportional response to Assad's heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4 (Tuesday.) The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again."

Both Navy vessels are Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. They were operating in the Mediterranean and under the technical control of CentCom at the time of the attack, said Thomas.

The commander of CentCom is Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who signed off on the order to fire. Then it was sent up the chain of command, through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense to the president, who made the final call.

CentCom, which oversees U.S. military operations in the region and works closely with allied nations, is observing what, if any, effect the attack on the Syrian airbase will have on the fight against the Islamic State, where forces are marshalling for an eventual attack against Raqqa, the putative capital of the jihadi group's withering caliphate.

The missile attack "does have an impact on operations against Raqqa," said Thomas. "We have to manage the impact the strike may have on the fight in Syria."

There are about 1,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Syria, said Thomas.

"We will certainly be vigilant for force protection in Syria," he said.

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Comments
SOCom asking rifle makers for single weapon to serve many sniper roles

SOCom asking rifle makers for single weapon to serve many sniper roles

When Ryan Cleckner was an Army Ranger sniper in Afghanistan, he had as many as nine rifles he would use in different situations. But whenever a mission would evolve quickly, he would have to choose which ones to lug onto a helicopter. Even narrowing ...
Published: 11/22/17
Howard Altman: SS American Victory will host cruise to mark Pearl Harbor Day

Howard Altman: SS American Victory will host cruise to mark Pearl Harbor Day

Looking for a unique way to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day and celebrate the military’s nautical traditions?Check out the SS American Victory, which will set sail Dec. 2. for a two-hour cruise at 1:30 p.m.Registration will begin at noon to ride the car...
Published: 11/22/17
U.S. Navy plane with 11 aboard crashes into Pacific; 8 rescued

U.S. Navy plane with 11 aboard crashes into Pacific; 8 rescued

TOKYO — Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said. The C-2 "Greyhound" transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southe...
Published: 11/22/17
Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

TAMPA — The number of sexual assaults reported to officials at MacDill Air Force Base has decreased dramatically during the past three years even as reports across the military have increased slightly, new Pentagon statistics show.Officials at MacDil...
Published: 11/20/17
Cyber firm accesses CentCom cloud information, gives command low security score

Cyber firm accesses CentCom cloud information, gives command low security score

Every day, military and civilian personnel stationed at the MacDill Air Force Base headquarters of U.S. Central Command use the Internet to reach out to foreign audiences in an effort to combat Islamic State propaganda.To help measure the success of ...
Published: 11/17/17
VA’s quiet plan to widen private care with TRICARE stirs concern

VA’s quiet plan to widen private care with TRICARE stirs concern

WASHINGTON — As part of its effort to expand private health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been developing plans to merge its health system with the Pentagon’s, a cost-saving measure that veterans groups say could threaten the viability...
Published: 11/17/17
Howard Altman: Missing records confound veterans on base exchange website

Howard Altman: Missing records confound veterans on base exchange website

In the more than three decades that I have been toiling at various paragraph factories, few stories have elicited as much response as the one I wrote about the new program to allow all honorably discharged veterans to shop at military base exchanges ...
Published: 11/17/17
She was an artist who answered a Craigslist ad. Next thing she knew she was best friends with a 93-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor

She was an artist who answered a Craigslist ad. Next thing she knew she was best friends with a 93-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor

University of Miami architecture student Emi Kopke still cannot believe her luck. She answered a Craiglist ad asking for an artist to do hand drawings for a special project. The self-taught artist sent in 15 of her hand drawings — including some of b...
Published: 11/11/17
As fewer serve, burden of war falls heavier on families with tradition of service

As fewer serve, burden of war falls heavier on families with tradition of service

When Lauren Price’s youngest son went off to fight in Iraq in 2008, she handed him a going-away present few parents could offer."I gave him my Iraqi cell phone," said Price, 52, a Navy veteran from New Port Richey who served in the same region of Ira...
Published: 11/10/17
Howard Altman: Army settles flap over who will wear the Green Beret

Howard Altman: Army settles flap over who will wear the Green Beret

I have a hard time picturing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, a no-nonsense guy with plenty on his plate, taking time out of his busy day sorting through color swatches.But thanks to one of two recent victories in the battle for Army tradition, ...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/10/17