Archive for August, 2012
Three Helos on Deck
An Aviation boatswain’s mate prepares for flight operations aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). The Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship in the only forward-deployed amphibious ready group now in the East China Sea.
In addition to five Harrier AV-8B jump jets, the Bonhomme Richard carries four Sea Knights and six anti-submarine warfare helos — either the the Sea Stallion or the Seahawk. Both of those aircraft can also serve as transport for personnel or supplies from one vessel to another in the ready group.
Billion Watt Quest
When officials broke ground on a $9.6 million solar power, renewable energy project at Utah’s Tooele Army Depot on Aug. 17, one of the VIPs on hand was the top U.S. Military commander – Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the ceremony at the 15-acre site west of Salt Lake City, Dempsey said it was “a glimpse of the future” because “public and private partnerships, industry, academia and government must work together.” Dempsey added that “tThe days when we, the U.S. military, could figure it out ourselves are long gone.” The Tooele project will house 430 solar collection dishes — like the one pictured above — eventually producing 30 percent of the ammunition depot’s electricity, according to the Army.
The energy-saving project is part of a wider Defense Department push to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reliance on an aging and sometimes undependable electric grid. The White House set a goal in April for the Army, Navy and Air Force to develop systems that will create three gigawatts – three billion watts – of renewable energy at their installations by 2025.
Cleric’s Death Questioned
Rioting has broken out in Mombasa — Kenya’s second-largest city — following the shooting death of a radical Muslim cleric with ties to the terrorist group al Shabaab.
At least four people have been killed — three of them policemen — in riots that broke out after the cleric, Aboud Rogo Mohammed was gunned down in a car on Monday (Aug. 27).
Muslim youths have put up roadblocks and attacked Christian churches and businesses in some parts of the East African port before being driven off by police. Many of the demonstrators believe Mohammed was killed by Kenyan police, a claim denied by Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, according to the Associated Press. He says the police are investigating the slaying.
Meanwhile, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga blames “enemies” of Kenya — trying to stir up religious animosity — for the cleric’s death, according to Reuters. At the same time, at least one Kenyan lawmaker says he is displeased with the pace of the police inquiry and wants authorities to investigate whether Mohammed’s death was an extra legal killing,. Mohammed had been identified by the U.S. and the United Nations as a fund raiser and recruiter for al Shabaab, the Somali militant group linked to al Qaeda, the New York Times says.
The group was angered by a Kenyan military expedition into Somalia to suppress the anti-western group, which Kenya blames for a spate of kidnappings and murders of foreign tourists and aid workers along its northern border, according to a Ugandan news website.
Ethiopia, What Next?
It’s been eight days since Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s prime minister for the last 21 years, died of an undisclosed illness in Belgium. The question on diplomats and political observers’ minds is what’s going to happen now? Zenawai ruled with a heavy hand, closing opposition newspapers and cloaking everything about him — including his own illness — in secrecy, The Economist reports.
But he also built up the nation’s economy, using money from donor nations to increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product by 10/6 percent, according to the World Bank. Zenawi also boosted agricultural and manufacturing in Africa’s oldest independent country.
But what does his absence mean for the internal politics of a country that has been a key player in the conflicts around the Horn of Africa? Zenawi formed a military and political alliance with the United States, which is worried about the rise of militant Islamism in parts of Africa, the BBC reported.
When the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) arrives in Africa next year it will be the first U.S. Army unit designated as the go-to outfit when the need for troops and equipment develops in Africa.
Known as the “Dagger Brigade,” the 2nd of the 1st, based at Fort Riley, Kansas, will become the main force provider for security cooperation and partnership-building missions in Africa.
Under the new arrangement, brigades will be on deck for their mission for a full year to perform security cooperation when needed, but not operational or regular warfare missions, Army officials said. The brigade will maintain “decisive action capability” with language, regional expertise and culture training. They will deploy as small units, rather than as a full brigade, to points in Africa for training and partnering missions, according to the U.S. Army.
AFRICOM has no troops directly assigned to it for Africa. Instead, AFRICOM has relied on its service components: U.S. Army Africa, based in Vicenza, Italy; U.S. Air Forces Africa, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and U.S. Marine Forces Africa and Special Operations Command Africa, both based in Stuttgart, Germany. Many of AFRICOM’s training and partnering exercises have been conducted by reserve-component forces.
Ham said that situation won’t change with the arrival of an active Army brigade, tentatively set for March. “We will continue to rely very, very heavily on the National Guard and reserve component from all the services,” he said.
Storm Clouds Gathering
Things are quiet across the old Northwest Territory – the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and a small part of Minnesota – this week.
But trouble is brewing among the Native American tribes who have resented and feared the migration into their lands by American traders and settlers after Great Britain gave up the territory (and what would become the State of Ohio) to the newly independent United States of America in 1783.
The fall of Forts Mackinac and Detroit in Michigan with little or no resistance and the massacre of 28 soldiers and 14 civilians following the evacuation of Ford Dearborn in Illinois, have emboldened chiefs among the Miami, Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Winnebago. They think with Americans reeling from these defeats on the frontier, now is time to re-assert their sovereignty over the lands north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi.
After surrendering Fort Detroit, to the British, Brig. Gen. William Hull writesSecretary of War William Eustis to warn that every tribe in the Northwest Territory is against the United States. Even tribes that originally pledged their neutrality are starting to side with the British and Canadians.
Both forts are vulnerable. Fort Wayne, with a garrison of only 100 men, has fallen into disrepair since the Indian wars of the 1790s. Fort Harrison is newer, built in 18111, but manned by only 50 men – half of them sick.
Next Week: Under Siege
Here we see a supply chain of a different sort in Afghanistan. Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing have formed a kind of bucket-brigade to pass weapons from temporary storage to a new armory at Camp Cunningham at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on Aug. 19, 2012.
According to the Air Force, about 50 airmen volunteered to move up to 1,000 M9 automatic pistols and M16 assault riles from an older armory to a new, better equipped and more secure armory which is climate-controlled. That’s good idea in a place where the temperature can soar well over 100 degrees. The weapons will be stored in the new hardened — meaning modern, secure and safe — facility permanently.
It seems an odd way to transport so many firearms. Wonder why they didn’t use a truck or loader? An Air Force news account of the move has some more photos showing the old facility and the benefits of the new one — as well as the folks who pitched in to get this job done quickly. There’s also a video that shows the team effort and gives a better idea of why the move was needed. Maybe it would take longer to load a truck, drive to the new facility and then unload. Maybe there’s a security reason for this low tech operation. (Click on the photo to enlarge the image).
If anyone can explain why the move was done this way, please send us a comment or email us at 4GWARBlog@gmail.com
Blue Green Hawaii
For years, the U.S. Navy has been studying alternatives to the increasingly expensive fossil fuels that power its ships, boats and planes and last month (July) the service got to test its research and theories on a grand scale.
The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), heading a strike force of four other ships as well as a jet fighter wing, helicopters and other aircraft, demonstrated the viability of alternative fuels in the waters off Hawaii during Rim of the Pacific 2012 (RIMPAC), the world’s largest annual international maritime exercise.
Click here to view the complete article at the IDGA website.
Lucky Shot or Close Call?
Afghan militants are trying to get the biggest propaganda boost they can from a rocket attack early yesterday (August 21) on Bagram Airfield that damaged the transport plane used by the U.S. military’s top commander — Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman off the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The overnight attack, which is not that unusual according to NATO officials, damaged the Air Force C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft on which Dempsey flew into Afghanistan, CNN and other news outlets reported. Dempsey was in his quarters asleep and never in danger from the attack in the wee hours of the morning when two rockets landed on Bagram’s flightline. Two Air Force aircraft maintainers were slightly injured — suffering cuts and bruises from debris. The C-17 was not directly hit by the rockets but flying shrapnel damaged the crew door and the cowling on one of the big plane’s four jet engines.
Dempsey and his travelling party had to switch to another plane to fly out of Afghanistan for the rest of his trip to Iraq.
NATO officials said rockets or other explosive projectiles are fired into the airfield once or twice a month, usually with little effect, the New York Times reported. But according to the Times and other news outlets, the Taliban claimed it had deliberately targeted Dempsey’s plane. A Taliban spokesman claimed the chairman’s plane was targeted “using exact information” about where it would be, the Associated Press reported. The Taliban also claimed to have shot down a U.S. helicopter last week, killing seven Americans and four Afghans. But U.S. officials have said enemy fire was not responsible for that fatal crash.
Dempsey was in Afghanistan to speak with NATO coalition and Afghan leaders about the increasing problem of Afghans in uniform — whether actual policemen and soldiers or Taliban infiltrators — attacking coalition forces. There have been 32 attacks so far this year — 11 more than for all of 2011.
Having narrowly escaped a British squadron off New England a month earlier, the U.S.S. Constitution and her captain, Isaac Hull, are hungry for action when the 55-gun American frigate sails out of Boston Harbor on Aug. 2.
Hull briefly cruises the waters off Halifax, Canada without any luck and then heads south. On Aug. 19, 700 miles east of Boston, a lookout spots a sail on the horizon. It is the HMS Guerriere, a 49-gun frigate.
The two ships maneuver for advantage for 45 minutes before opening fire. Hull sails up on the British ship and unleashes a broadside that staggers the Guerriere. In half an hour, the British ship, her masts shot away and her gun deck awash, surrenders before the American warship can fire another broadside. It is the first major naval engagement of the war.
During the sea battle — so the story goes — a young sailor watching British cannonballs bounce harmlessly off Constitution’s side, exclaims “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron.” And thus the legend of ‘Old Ironsides” is born. Now that may be more story than fact but there’s no doubt that Oliver Wendell Holmes penned the poem “Old Ironsides,” in 1830 when the Navy was considering whether to repair or retire the old ship. The public outcry to save the historic vessel persuaded the government to restore “Old Ironsides,” according to Thomas C. Gillmer in his book Old Ironsides, The Rise, Decline and Resurrectin of the USS Constitution.
Guerriere is so badly damaged that Hull decides to sink her. After transferring the British crew to his ship, Hull has Guerriere set afire on Aug. 20..
In the North Atlantic, another American frigate, the U.S.S. President, commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur captures the British schooner L’Adeline on Aug. 17.
Two hundred years later, the U.S.S. Constitution, berthed in Charlestown, Massachusetts outside Boston, is the oldest ship still in the U.S. Navy. and the oldest commissioned warship in the world.
By the (Power) Book
Frankly, we just think this is a cool photo.
It shows Airman Dalvin Troublefield working on the tailhook damper on an F-15 Eagle while Airman Basic Jonathan Sanchez reads off step-by-step instructions (note the laptop, which — despite the headline — may not be an Apple product). This photo was taken at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, August 1.
Tailhook arresting hooks usually come to mind when we think of aircraft carrier landings by Naval aviators but most U.S. Air Force tactical jet aircraft have tailhooks for emergency use only. The airmen in the photo are part of the 362nd Training Squadron.
The Ugly Angels
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, known as the “Ugly Angels,” completes a memorial flight over Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 9. The squadron was created in 1952 and holds the distinction of being the first Marine helicopter squadron to arrive in country during the Vietnam War (1962).
Later this year, the CH-53D Sea Stallions of HMH-362 will return to their home station of Marine Corps Base Hawaii to be retired and the squadron will be deactivated after 60 years of service. In addition to seven years duty in Vietnam, the squadron has been deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm (the first Gulf War) and twice to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Ugly Angels are winding up their fourth deployment to Afghanistan, ferrying troops and supplies where needed.
On April 15, 2009 — the 57th anniversary of its arrival in Vietnam — the squadron touched down in Afghanistan. The Ugly Angels had been deployed, not from their home base at Kaneohe, Hawaii but straight from Iraq where they had been sent just three months earlier. That transfer required major engine work by the squadron’s mechanics and maintenance crews to adapt the big birds to the high altitudes of Afghanistan.
Click here to see a YouTube video of the Squadron on a vehicle interdiction mission In Helmand Province.