CENTCOM Twitter and Facebook Accounts Hacked

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial "Passing of the Colors."

(March 22, 2013) Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial “Passing of the Colors.”

Either a group or an individual claiming to be a part of the Islamic State (ISIS), hacked two social media accounts belonging to US Central Command, which oversees Department of Defense operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, according to Politico.

The first tweet following the hack read, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS,” and linked to a longer statement threatening American soldiers and their families. The hackers also targeted Centcom’s YouTube page, posting ISIS propaganda videos.

The attacks happened earlier in the day as President Barack Obama was emphasizing the importance of cyber security to keep citizens safe from identity theft. As of 1:15 p.m., Politico reports that Twitter has suspended the CENTCOM account. The YouTube account also is suspended.

Video: Air Strikes Against ISIL Refinery in Syria

syrian_refinery_ISILThe United States Central Command has released unclassified video of an air strike Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, on the Jeribe West Modular Refinery in Syria.

The Islamic State militants (ISIL) reportedly earn an estimated $2 million daily from several oil fields and refineries in the region.

The Associated Press reports:

“At least four oil installations and three oil fields were hit around the town of Mayadeen in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and two local activist groups. A third activist group loyal to the militants confirmed the reports.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the airstrikes killed 20 people, including 14 militants.

The U.S. CENTCOM Media desk released this Operational Video of Strike Against ISIL in Syria:

 

Tampa Business Leaders Honor the Military

Vice Admiral Mark Fox, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, is the scheduled keynote speaker. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

Vice Admiral Mark Fox, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, is the scheduled keynote speaker. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

The 2014 Military Appreciation Banquet March 4, 2014 will honor the Tampa Bay community’s military personnel. Awards will be presented to Officers of the Year, both commissioned and non-commissioned, for each branch of service, to civilians assisting the military community as well as recognizing the ROTC Cadet of the Year for the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa.

The U.S. Central Command deputy commander, Vice Admiral Mark Fox, is the scheduled keynote speaker. Fox was commissioned in June 1978 upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and designated a Naval Aviator in March 1980.

The vice admiral has flown more than 100 combat sorties, logged more than 4,900 flight hours and landed 1,348 times on 15 different aircraft carriers, according to his CENTCOM biography.

Fox has served in Iraq and throughout the CENTCOM area of responsibility in several different capacities. Here’s a Youtube video of Vice-Admiral Fox, giving a special lecture where he highlighted several threats facing ships in the high seas off Somalia, including threats from terrorism and piracy, as well as the problems that have faced maritime law enforcement efforts.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will also participate in the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Military Appreciation Banquet at the Marriott Waterside, Tampa, starting with a 6 p.m. reception.

Gen. Lloyd Austin Takes Command at U.S. Central Command

Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial "Passing of the Colors."

Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial “Passing of the Colors.”

The man who led the troops into Iraq and then oversaw their withdrawal in 2011 is the new commander at U.S. Central Command based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base.

General Lloyd Austin, III, officially took control at CENTCOM Friday during a ceremony officiate by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“With his calm demeanor, strategic vision, regional experience and knowledge, and proven judgment,” Hagel said, “I am confident General Austin is prepared to lead this command at a time of dramatic change, challenge, and turmoil in its area of responsibility.”

Central Command is responsible the “central area” of the globe including 20 countries from Afghanistan and Bahrain to Uzbekistan and Yemen.  Ambassadors from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates attended the formal ceremony. Continue reading

Gen. John Allen Under Investigation, Confirmation Delayed

Gen. John Allen. Photo courtesy of ISAF.

Below is a statement released early Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta addressing the latest revelations regarding  Gen. John Allen.

On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Today, I directed that the matter be referred to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for investigation, and it is now in the hands of the Inspector General.   I have informed the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The House Armed Services Committee has also been notified.

While the matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, General Allen will remain Commander of ISAF.  His leadership has been instrumental in achieving the significant progress that ISAF, working alongside our Afghan partners, has made in bringing greater security to the Afghan people and in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.  He is entitled to due process in this matter.

In the meantime, I have asked the President – and the President has agreed – to put his nomination on hold until the relevant facts are determined. I have asked both Senators Levin and McCain that the confirmation hearing on General Allen’s pending nomination to be Commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe be delayed.

The President has nominated General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, to succeed General Allen at ISAF.  I respectfully requested that the Senate act promptly on that nomination.

U.S. Central Command on the Move, into New Headquarters

Major Gen. Karl Horst, CENTCOM chief of staff.

Twenty years ago, congress was ready to shut down MacDill Air Force Base. That was until the Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) got a look at the top-secret work being done by U.S. Central Command at the Tampa base, according to Congressman C. W. “Bill” Young, (R) of Pinellas County.

“They moved our F-16s to Luke Air Force Base, and they set up the process to close MacDill,” Young said.

But instead of cutting the ribbon on a new condominium or commercial center, Young and Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D) of Tampa were at MacDill Monday to dedicate the new 266,000 square foot CENTCOM headquarters. It’s building is proof, Young said, that MacDill is no longer in danger of being closed down.

The new, 266,000 square-foot CENTCOM headquarters.

The joint command, overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has a staff of 2,000 who were previously housed in dozens of trailers, annexes and disconnected buildings. Coordinating that widely dispersed staff is the job of Major General Karl Horst, chief of staff at Central Command.

“When you live in a trailer park and you are sharing a cubicle with four other people, it doesn’t do a lot for morale when you know how important CENTCOM is and all of the missions you have,” Horst said. “So, I would tell you that this is a building that aligns quality of life commensurate with the level of U.S. Central Command has.”

The CENTCOM logo adorns a large carpet in the lobby of the new building that cost $75 million.

The new CENTCOM headquarters is a workplace to be proud of, Horst said. He said one quarter of it,  the entire second floor, is dedicated just to computer servers and switching units for their global communications network. It’s 13 feet above sea level to protect from hurricanes.

The building cost $75 million, but by the time parking and other finishing touches are included the price tag will be closer to $83 million.

Former CENTCOM Leader to Head Dover Port Mortuary Panel

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander, U.S. Central Command, on Aug. 21, 2003. DoD photo by R.D. Ward.

Retired Army Gen. John Abizaid will chair the panel overseeing the Dover port mortuary, according to Pentagon officials.

Abizaid is replacing former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, who stepped down so he could run for Senate.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked Abizaid to step in. Abizaid has 34 years service in the Army and is the former commander of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The Dover port mortuary review panel is charged with evaluating the efficacy of changes already made to procedures at Dover and to make recommendations for  additional changes if  required. The panel was formed after civilian whistle-blowers complained about how the remains of some fallen warriors were mishandled.

Abizaid will follow the same timeline laid out Nov. 8 for the original panel to report back within 60 days. You can read more about the review panel HERE.

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