Metro-East News

Roger That: It’s been 14 years since the start of America’s longest war

Fourteen years ago today, and less than a month after the 9/11 terror attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom began.

On Oct. 7, 2001, the United States and its allies launched air strikes on Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan. The United States linked the 9/11 attacks to al Qaeda, a group that operated under the Taliban regime’s protection in Afghanistan. President George W. Bush ordered the air strikes as part of a strategy to stop the Taliban from providing a safe haven to al Qaeda and to stop al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.

Operation Enduring Freedom was the first chapter of an armed conflict that Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began calling the Global War on Terrorism.

In 2013, President Barack Obama announced that the United States was no longer pursuing a War on Terror, as the military focus should be on specific enemies rather than a tactic. Nonetheless with U.S. troops still in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with calls to re-build the American presence in both countries because of local troops’ battlefield setbacks, it appears the war that started officially on Oct. 7, 2001 will be continuing for years to come.

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Are Tops in Blue's days numbered?

The Air Force is surveying thousands of airmen to find out if they think the service's six-decade-old traveling showband should be continued as-is, should be modified to be brought in line with current trends – or should be scrapped to save money, according to Air Force Times.

The Air Force has long touted surveys showing that after Tops in Blue shows, 96 percent of commanders feel it provides an excellent value to airmen and the Air Force, and a 2011 survey of major command commanders that was overwhelmingly positive. But absent from those surveys has been the voice of everyday airmen – until now.

The Air Force has attached a Tops in Blue question to an Internal Communication Assessment Group survey that went out on Monday to 2,249 enlisted airmen, 961 officers and 1,464 civilian employees – for a total of 4,674 surveyed.

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Cyberespionage for economic gain by China is putting “enormous strain” on U.S.-China relations and needs to stop, President Barack Obama's national security adviser said Monday, according

Susan Rice was speaking on relations between the two world powers at George Washington University ahead of a high-profile state visit this week by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Rice urged China to join the U.S. in promoting responsible forms of state behavior in cyberspace. She said it would be a "critical factor" in determining trajectory of US-China ties.

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Cruise missiles are about to get a whole lot faster. Engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce Liberty Works and Williams International are both developing small turbine engines for a new generation of faster cruise missiles, according to Popular Mechanics magazine.

How much faster? How about five times faster?

As part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) supersonic turbine engine for long-range (STELR) program, both are working on compact jet engines that would propel cruise missiles at speeds of up to Mach 3.2, or 2,435 miles an hour.

Such a missile would be as fast as the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane ever built. The venerable Tomahawk cruise missile, by comparison, is powered by a small turbojet engine that flies at relatively pokey 550 miles an hour.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000