Saturday, August 31, 2013

Here Are The Key Military Targets In The Syrian Capital............

Here Are The Key Military Targets In The Syrian Capital

President Barack Obama seems committed to a limited strike on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of the capital on August 21.

The other day we illustrated the key Middle East assets of the U.S. and its allies as well as the locations of Assad's airports and chemical weapons sites.

Michael D. Weiss details the significance of Assad's airports in a comprehensive post on how to weaken Assad

Russian and Iranian military and commercial planes arrive daily to offload weapons (some of them advanced air or sea defense systems), ammunition, and personnel. Iran is spending an estimated $500 million a month to keep its ally afloat. ...

So, it's as simple as this: if you take out the runways, Iranian and Russian planes cannot land, nor can Syrian planes take off.

Weiss notes there are two key landing places for the extensive support delivered by Russia and IranDamascus International Airport (DIA) — which lies about 12 miles east of the city center — and Mezze airbase, which is controlled by the notorious and elite Fourth Armored Division and located just southwest of the capital.

The map below shows the key military infrastructure in Damascus. The DIA is probably out of range of U.S. cruise missiles, but a strike on the Fourth Armored Division would be significant.

Note that Israeli jets have targeted the DIA as well as the Syrian military's fortress on Mount Qasioun, which serves as the mountain headquarters of the Fourth Division, the command of the government's elite Republican Guard, and the Jamraya military research facility.

Syria

Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

And here's the view from Mount Qasioun into the city:

syria



Take A Tour Of The US Destroyer Poised To Attack Off The Coast Of Syria ............

Take A Tour Of The US Destroyer Poised To Attack Off 

The Coast Of Syria

The Navy arrived at 5 a.m. to put us on this water taxi by 7:00.

After an hour of heaving seas and whipping saltwater spray, the 505-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer came into sight idling off the Virginia seaboard.

At this point some visiting physicists realized how we'd be getting aboard.

The climb was more difficult than it appeared with a pack, but it was manageable.

Once aboard, sleeping assignments were provided. Dozens of enlisted sailors sleep down here, and the nights were filled with cellphone alarms.

We'd arrived far too late for breakfast in the mess hall. This is the only space on the ship where hats must be removed because during conflict it serves as a medical ward with bodies laid on the tables. Removing caps shows respect for the dead.

With a bit of time to roam about the Barry, we met this sailor listening for submarines. We asked if he hears whales, like in 'The Hunt For Red October' and he laughed. 'Yes, but I can't tell you anything about them aside from their size,' he said.

From the sonar room we head to meet the ship's Engineering Officer who oversees the Barry's entire power system. Until 2012, the panel of monitors to his right was a bank of dials, knobs, and buttons — no more sending sailors below to see if a problem was actually fixed from here.

Chief Francis is transferring from the enlisted ranks to Warrant Officer and receiving a new ship assignment. He's 36, has been in the Navy 19 years, and is the one sailor here probably not on the Barry off Syria's coast.

A Navy Chief is part of an elite group of very smart sailors. Chief Francis says he'll miss the camaraderie and fraternal environment of the Chief's Mess where the ship's Chiefs share meals, advice, and determination.

After leaving the Chief's Mess we met Petty Officer 1st Class Carr who was in the middle of an intense six week program leading up to the promotion of Chief. She enlisted in the Navy at 16 with her father's permission. The wooden box is a "Vessel" carried by all potential Chiefs and non-Chiefs have no idea what's in it.

Time for lunch, we find our way to the Officer's Mess. The white cards are menus. Officers circle what they want to eat, hand it to a steward and it's delivered.

While time savers like quick meals save officers valuable time, the Captain here in his chair on the bridge, doesn't often make it to eat — doesn't often make it to bed either — catching maybe four or five hours of sleep a night.

The Captain is waiting for the anchor test to conclude. At several-thousand-pounds, the anchor is attached to the ship by links weighing almost 40 pounds apiece. Here it is being snapped from a free-fall into hundreds of feet of water.

Once the anchor is back in the hold, the crew tests the CIWS Gatling gun. If the Barry is attacked while sending Tomahawk missiles into Syria— this last line of defense will shoot 4,500 rounds per minute creating virtually a solid stream of large, lead bullets.

The CIWS sounds like a thick piece of cloth being violently ripped in half over a loudspeaker. It's an incredibly sharp sound even far aft of the firing.

These are the 20mm rounds from the CIWS coming down in the water.

Once the CIWS quiets down, the weapons officer prepares the 20mm cannon for testing — first it is fired remotely with a joystick and camera here on the bridge.

Then one of the weapons crew grabs a helmet and a flak jacket before firing manually down on deck — the cannon would be used against small craft attempting to reach the Barry under combat conditions off Syria.

Following the cannon firing, we wait outside the bridge for the 5-inch gun test noticing small signs of wear on the 20-year-old ship.

Details like this were addressed long before the Barry and her crew's deployment to the Mediterranean so they can focus all their attention on missions — like a potential Syria strike.

When the 5-inch gun finally lets loose, the explosion is impressive and the tracking system lays down rounds on both sides of the vessel.

With several different types of rounds, the 5-inch is as versatile as it is effective — here are the timed rounds detonating in the distance.

With so many complex systems working together to target, track and fire, the 5-inch can be temperamental. Below deck we see the Barry's weapons crew named their big gun, Lucille.

While the 5-inch packs quite a punch — what makes the weapon so lethal is behind this door in the Combat Information Center (CIC). This room is buzzing like a hive right now on the Barry.

Since we were not allowed photographs, we found stock photos. This is largely what the CIC looks on the USS Barry as it scans the area for potential threats.

Underwater threats are monitored from the CIC's anti-submarine station, while about 10 sophisticated electronic systems do everything from guide Tomahawks to launch defensive buoys, if the ship's attacked.

During a Syrian mission these racks will hold missiles.

They're right next to the missile launching system that delivered 55 Tomahawk missiles into Libya in 2011.

When weapons firing concluded, the ship's flag was changed and the crew settled in for an unusual ride.

It's impossible to know what the ship will be required to do during combat and the final test of the day involved steering. This is the wake behind the Barry for the majority of the trip.

As part of the sea trials, though, the Barry was driven to her top speed of almost 38 mph causing this wake.

When top speed was reached the Captain called for 'hard rudder' — first one way ...

For what had become a still day, the chop brought about by the ship was immense. This blast caught us far above the waterline outside the bridge.

The final test of the day threw the ship in reverse. Here's the front of the ship trailing a wake as it travels in reverse.

Tests concluded, the crew cleaned weapons just like they do anytime they're fired. The red jacketed rounds are live, but un-fired.

This 20mm casing placed beside a quarter offers an idea of how large the 20mm rounds are.

The used belts are separated off and placed in ammunition cans.

And promptly 'Deep-Sixed' — tossed into the ocean.

After the weapons team removes the barrel to the 20mm gun, we took a last walk around Barry.

In the male head, or restroom, is a reminder of what the crew knows at all times: the Barry is designed for war. In a chemical/biological/radiological (CBR) environment, not even the toilet can be used.

Even in this main passageway a bright yellow sticker reminds crew that the ship could go down at any point.

But none of the Barry's sailors need to be reminded; almost all of them pull watch, looking for contact on the horizon and for fellow sailors who have fallen into the water. Just like they're doing on deployment now.

Getting ready for inspection is stressful and so is a combat deployment. Without many places to wind down but out here, sailors meet to grab a smoke at the rear of the ship.

To keep up morale, command sponsored an ice-cream social for the enlisted crew in their mess. 'The Avengers' was playing on a couple of small TVs to the right.

After some ice-cream, we head back on deck for an anti-sub exercise that runs hours late and we call it a night.

On all exterior passages and sleeping quarters, red lights provide illumination and security while preserving night vision.

It's dark in sleeping quarters and most crew carry a flashlight. Just one of the many tools the Barry's crew needs when they're deployed.

It's dark in sleeping quarters and most crew carry a flashlight. Just one of the many tools the Barry's crew needs when they're deployed.



A Guide To What A Cruise Missile Is, And How They Could Be Launched At Assad.............

A Guide To What A Cruise Missile Is, And How They 

Could Be Launched At Assad


If America bombs Syria over perceived chemical weapons use, the attack will most likely involve sea-launched  Tomahawk cruise missiles and last a couple of days.

We detailed 20 reasons why the specter of Tomahawk missiles should concern Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but here's the simplest explanation:

"Tomahawks have a range of 1,000 nautical miles; Assad's most advanced anti-ship missile, the P-800 Yakhont, has a range of 180," Michael D. Weiss notes in a comprehensive deep dive about what it would take to degrade Assad's power.

Reuters made this handy graphic illustrating the range and features of various cruise missiles that are in America's arsenal.

cruise


STATE BY STATE...........INTERESTING STUFF!


The United States prides itself on being a union of independent states, each with their own unique reputation, personality, and aesthetic. 

We asked respondents — 1603 of them — to answer each question with a state that wasn't their own. 

The following maps show that data. Look under each map for details when it comes to the color scale. The darkest color had the highest number of votes, the whitest color had next to none. 


Massachusetts has the weirdest accent. Trailing close behind are Alabama, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey.

US State Poll Maps question 01

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Massachusetts, 264 of 1603 votes, 16%


New York scored around 20% of the vote for best food. California and Louisiana get honorable mentions.

US State Poll Maps question 02

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: New York, 305 of 1603 votes, 19%


Hey Alaska, the rest of America thinks your food sucks. 

US State Poll Maps question 03

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Alaska, 85 of 1603 votes, 5%


Besides their own state, people had the highest opinion of California. Colorado is also pretty popular. 

US State Poll Maps question 04

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey


That's what you get, Texas, for always pulling the "We can leave America whenever we feel like it" card. 

US State Poll Maps question 05

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Texas, 167 of 1581 votes, 11%


California is considered the craziest state...

US State Poll Maps question 06

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: California, 403 of 1581 votes, 25%


...but California is also the hottest. Funny how things always seem to turn out like that. This question wasn't even close, it appears that Katy Perry was right. 

US State Poll Maps question 14

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: California, 713 of 1411 votes, 51% (!)


America had trouble deciding which state was the ugliest. We know it's in the south somewhere, with Alabama in the lead.

US State Poll Maps question 15

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Alabama, 113 of 1442 votes, 9%


Colorado has the most beautiful scenery in the country, followed closely by Hawaii. Honorable mentions to Alaska, Montana and California. 

US State Poll Maps question 12

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Colorado, 228 of 1545 votes, 15%


Kansas has the worst scenery. People also went out of their way to pick on Jersey on this one. 

US State Poll Maps question 13

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Kansas, 174 of 1487 votes, 12%


Louisiana go home, you're drunk. 

US State Poll Maps question 08

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Louisiana, 174 of 1568 votes, 11%


People love to vacation in Hawaii, Florida, and California. 

US State Poll Maps question 07

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Hawaii, 498 of 1568 votes, 32% (!)


New York is the most arrogant. 

US State Poll Maps question 09

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: New York, 612 of 1568 votes, 39% (!)


New York is also the rudest. Who could have guessed.

US State Poll Maps question 11

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: New York, 680 of 1545 votes, 44%


Georgia is the nicest, followed by Minnesota. The South gets high marks here, potentially because the rest of the country doesn't understand that "Bless your heart" is facetious.

US State Poll Maps question 10

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Georgia, 104 of 1545 votes, 7%


Massachusetts is the smartest. All those colleges probably. 

US State Poll Maps question 16

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Massachusetts, 342 of 1442 votes, 24%


Mississippi is believed to be the dumbest. 

US State Poll Maps question 17

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Mississippi, 237 of 1442 votes, 16%


New York is the home of the best sports fans.

US State Poll Maps question 19

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: New York, 193 of 1442 votes, 13 percent


Most likely due to the fact that most Americans have never been to Philadelphia, the rest of the country believes New York also has the worst sports fans. I blame John Rocker.

US State Poll Maps question 20

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: New York, 158 of 1442 votes, 11%


America is pretty down to mess with Texas on anonymous surveys.

US State Poll Maps question 21

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Texas, 301 of 1422 votes, 21%


All the usual suspects are considered overrated. 

US State Poll Maps question 22

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: California, 394 of 1422 votes, 28%


While this was the most competitive category by far, people seem to believe that Oregon, Alaska and Maine are the most underrated. 

US State Poll Maps question 23

Walter Hickey / BI, Poll by SurveyMonkey

Max: Alaska, 78 of 1422 votes, 5%