Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooks Graham (left) directs a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) into the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu following a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean, June 25, 2014.
The Peleliu was on its way to Hawaii to participate in the multi-national sea-and-air exercise, Rim of the Pacific 2014. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in what is billed as the world’s largest maritime exercise — commonly known as RIMPAC — in and around the Hawaiian Islands.
To see more photos of RIMPAC 2014, click here.
Video of an LCAC in action
4GWAR’s FRIDAY FOTO feature didn’t take a day off for the Fourth of July holiday. A summer storm in the Washington, DC area Thursday afternoon (July 3) caused a power outage at 4GWAR “World Headquarters” knocking out our cable/internet access until today. We apologize to our visitors for the delay.
HOT SPOTS: Nigeria.
Another bombing and more deaths in Nigeria where the government is battling radical Islamist militants. This time, the blast was at a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, the anti-Western extremisty group blamed for dozens of bombings, killings and kidnappings across Nigeria in recent weeks.
At least 56 people were killed by the car bombing, according to the Associated Press, which noted that Maiduguri, [see map] a city of more than 1 million people, has suffered several attacks. In March, twin car bombs killed more than 50 people at a late-night market where many were watching a football match on a big television screen.
But the violence has been widespread. On Sunday, suspected extremists sprayed gunfire on worshippers at four churches in a northeastern village and torched the buildings, killing at least 30 people, according to the AP. Last week, at least 42 people were killed in three blasts around the country, including 24 slain at the biggest shopping mall in Nigeria’s central capital Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan will be visiting Washington this summer to attend the United States-African Leaders Summit (August 5-6). On July 31 he will be speaking about his country’s turmoil at the National Press Club in Washington. Jonathan’s government has taken sharp criticism at home and abroad for its inability to stop the bombing attacks or rescue more than 200 high school girls kidnapped from a school in northeast Nigeria in April.
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A different kind of “summit” meeting is being held in Accra, Ghana where health ministers from 11 African countries are trying to “get a grip” on the worsening Ebola outbreak, the BBC reports.
So far, 763 people have been infected with the virus – and 468 of these have died. Most of the cases have been in Guinea where the outbreak started. But it has since spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The outbreak is the worst since the disease was identified in the 1970s, Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Voice of America. Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea. It is spread through contact with the blood or other fluids of infected people.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says anyone caught hiding suspected Ebola patients from authorities will be prosecuted. Sirleaf issued the warning on state radio Monday (July 1), expressing concern that some patients had been kept in homes and churches instead of receiving medical attention, al Jazeera America reported.
Sierra Leone issued a similar warning last week, saying some patients had discharged themselves from the hospital and gone into hiding. Health workers elsewhere in the region have encountered hostility and some have even been attacked.
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Drones Over the Congo
United Nations peacekeepers have begun flying unarmed, unmanned surveillance aircraft over the war-wracked eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Italian-made unmanned aircraft are the first acquired by the U.N. for peacekeeping missions but their presence is already posing questions about how the intelligence they collect will be used and who will get to see it, according to the New York Times. Another question is just how useful they will be in a country of distances far great than their 125 mile/200 kilometer flying range from their base in Goma [see map].
More and more, drones are flying over some of the toughest peacekeeping missions in the world, improving the United Nations’ intelligence-gathering capability, but also raising new issues about what to do with so much important data, the Times reported.
On to Canada (Again).
Despite thousands of British troops — newly freed from fighting Napoleon in Europe — massing in Canada and Bermuda in the spring and early summer of 1814, U.S. President James Madison and his war cabinet decide it’s a good time to invade Canada again. Seizing what is then known as Upper Canada (southern Ontario) is seen as a possible bargaining chip at the peace table – and a way to repair national honor bruised by many failed U.S. invasions of Canada since 1812.
Madison orders Major General Jacob Brown, commander of the Northern Army’s Left Division, to cross the Niagara River in force and attack Fort Erie, which overlooks Lake Erie at the head of the Niagara across from Buffalo, New York. Brown, a New York militia general who was born and raised a Quaker, is one of the most successful generals on the Northern Frontier and is made a brigadier general of regular Army troops in 1813. After capturing the fort, Brown is supposed to march north, attack the British near Chippawa Creek, and move on to capture Fort George at the other end of the Niagara River near Lake Ontario.
While the American Navy controls Lake Erie, it is not master of Lake Ontario where the British and Canadians have a strong naval presence. Brown will have no naval gunfire support in this campaign.
On July 2, 1814, Brown orders a night attack on the lightly defended Fort Erie. The 3,500 Americans surround and overwhelm Fort Erie’s 137 defenders, who surrender after firing just a few canon rounds.
Establishing control at Fort Erie, Brown’s troops march north toward Chippawa Creek. The Anglo-Canadian commander, Major Gen. Phineas Riall opposes the Americans with 1,350 British regulars, 200 Canadian militia and about 350 Native Americans (Indians).
On July 5, the British attack Brigadier General Winfield Scott’s brigade of 1,300 regulars from the U.S. Army’s 9th, 11th, 22nd and 25th Infantry Regiments. Largely untested, they are nevertheless considered the best trained troops in the American army due to Scott’s relentless drilling and discipline in camp. Because the American suppliers have run out of blue uniform cloth, Scott ordes up short gray uniform jackets to clothe his men.
Riall mistakes the gray uniforms for militia. He and his men expect the Yankees militia will break and run shortly after coming under fire. Instead the U.S. troops stand and fight. “Those are regulars, by God,” Riall exclaims – according to legend. It is the first time regular American Army troops go toe to toe with European regulars in open battle. They take a beating but inflict a worse one on the British troops.
As Scott’s left and right wings spread out, they curve in to catch the advancing ranks of the British 1st (Royal Scots) Regiment of Foot, the 100th Foot and the 8th (King’s) Foot in a virtual cross fire of muskets and canon.
Riall withdraws across the Chippawa to fight another day. The battle toll is heavy on both sides. The British lose 485 killed, wounded, missing and captured. The U.S. losses in killed, wounded and missing total 319. The bloody Niagara campaign of 1814 is just getting underway, however, as Brown begins to march north.
Another legend has it that the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York wear gray dress parade uniforms to honor the victory of Scott’s troops at Chippawa. Some historians dispute that story, saying it may have been started by Scott himself.
A four-legged robot, known as the Legged Squad Support System, follows Lance Corporal Timothy Knaggs (center), a team leader with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during an exercise at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows in Waimanalo, Hawaii.
The LS3 is designed to carry Marine’s supplies like water, food and ammunition through rough terrain and is undergoing concept-based experimentation. The machine is operated with a Tactical Radio Control (TRC) worn on the operator’s back. The LS3 operates in three modes; Joystick Mode allows for manual operation with a handheld controller; Go-To Mode, in which the operator sets a waypoint for the LS3 to travel to, and Follow Me Mode, where the machine uses sensors on the TRC to follow the operator as in this photo.
The Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, tested the LS3 as part of a wider testing of new equipment for the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory during Rim of the Pacific 2014 (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise in and around Hawaii.
LS3, also known as Robo Mule, was developed by Massachusetts robot manufacturer Boston Dynamics with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). and the Marine Corps. DARPA is the Pentagon’s think-outside-the-box research unit. Over the years it has come up with such breakthroughs as the predecessor to the Internet and radar-evading stealth technology.
To see a fascinating — and somewhat creepy — video of the LS3 in action, click here.
Needs and Wants, Part III.
TAMPA, Florida – At last month’s National Defense Industry Association’s Special Operations Industry Conference (SOFIC), the generals and admirals who oversee Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Air Force combat controllers and other Special Operations Forces explained what they need to operate in vastly different environments. Today we finish our roundup with a focus on another world region followed by the 4GWAR Blog: The Arctic.
THE HIGH NORTH
“It’s said by some of our European partners that Africa is the challenge for this generation and the Arctic will be the challenge for the next,” said Air Force Major General Marshall Webb, the head of Special Operations Command Europe, one of three three theater special operations commands that share responsibility for the Arctic region. He noted that communications north of the Arctic Circle was “a challenge” for his people “as they operate in that environment.”
He also noted that high tech airborne intelligence gathering and surveillance is important but “the ability to share [ISR] with our European partners is paramount from my perspective.”
U.S. Northern Command’s area of responsibility includes Alaska and Canada. And Pentagon officials have said that as polar sea ice melts — as it has been doing for several years — maritime access will open up in the high north and present a “true strategic approach to the [U.S.] homeland.” Northern Command has been working with Canada to develop communications, maritime domain awareness (both on and under the sea) and infrastructure for safety, security and defense needs.
Rear Admiral Kerry Metz, commander of Special Operations Command-North, said like Africa Command, the Arctic poses communications challenges over vast distances “as SOF [special operations forces] re-engages in extreme cold weather maritime operations — both surface and subsurface.”
Needs and Wants, Part II
TAMPA, Florida – At the National Defense Industry Association’s Special Operations Industry Conference (SOFIC), the generals and admirals who oversee Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Air Force combat controllers and other Special Operations Forces explained what they need to operate in vastly different environments. Today we focus on another of the three world regions the 4GWAR Blog follows closely: Central and South America.
In some ways, the special operators of U.S. Southern Command (SOCSOUTH) have it easy. Most people in Latin America speak one of two languages: Spanish or Portuguese, although there are 31 countries and numerous cultures from the Andes to the Pampas. (French is spoken in Haiti and several current and former French territories like Guiana.)
But South and Central America is another vast area with climates ranging from bone dry desert, ice covered mountains and equatorial jungles to teeming cities. Four of the world’s top 25 cities by population are in Southern Command’s area of responsibility. Two of them, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are in Brazil.
While most of the region’s countries are democracies and the region’s economy is booming – like Africa’s — there is “a technology gap” between U.S. forces and partner nations who don’t have the air or computer power of their neighbors to the north, according to SOCSOUTH commander, Army Brigadier General Sean Mulholland. But Mullholland notes there is no silver bullet solution. “In SOUTHCOM, we need workable solutions,” he said, adding that solutions must be simple enough to work for foreign partners while being interoperable with existing U.S. systems. “In essence, in SOUTHCOM we are always looking for the next AK-47,” he said referring to the Soviet designed automatic assault rifle that has been manufactured and sold all over the world.
The region is plagued with landmines from past wars and insurgencies – especially in Colombia, which has the second highest land mine problem in the world after Afghanistan. Other technology priorities include riverine patrol boats, persistent intelligence, surviellance and reconnaissance (ISR) through manned surveillance aircraft or drones. And non-lethal technology to deal with the speed boats and semi-submersible drug smuggling vessels that ply the Atlantic and Pacifc coasts of South and Central America. “We have a very serious problem in SOUTHCOM with the rise in drug trafficking,” Mullholland says. While U.S. ground troops can only advise Latin American militaries in counter narcotics operations, U.S. air and naval assets help in tracking and intercepting drug dealers at sea.
TOMORROW: The Arctic
Needs and Wants, Part I.
TAMPA, Florida – At the National Defense Industry Association’s Special Operations Industry Conference (SOFIC), the generals and admirals who oversee Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Air Force combat controllers and all the other specialists in Special Operations explained what they need to operate in vastly different environments.
Over the next three days, we’ll focus on what they said about the three areas of the globe we follow closely at 4GWAR Blog: Africa, Latin America and the Arctic. Today we start with Special Operations Command-Africa.
Army Brigadier General James Linder, the head of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) is responsible for an area three-and-a-half times the size of the United States with 54 countries spanning 11 million square miles. Despite weak infrastructure in many of its countries, the continent as a whole, is booming with 5.4 percent Gross Domestic Product, compared to 3.2 percent for the whole world.
Linder, whose headquarters is based in Germany, said his biggest challenges are “how do we move across vast distances” and “how do we maintain situational awareness?”
And it’s not just distance he’s concerned about, but how intelligence is gathered about potential threats or trouble spots – and how is it conveyed in a helpful fashion to allies who don’t have the communication and encryption technology the United States does.
In a place where nearly everybody has a mobile phone, Linder said he needs to keep an eye on social media as well as more traditional forms of communication to keep tabs on public sentiment and spot potential trouble spots. The cyber environment and social media is driving the way the people act,” said Linder.
His main task is to counter VEO – Violent Extremist Organizations – of which Africa seems to have more than its share – like al Shabaab, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and now, Boko Haram. “Make no mistake, that is a mammoth task,” he said.
To help out, Linder is looking for tools and technology that will help his special operators set up airfields for manned and unmanned aircraft and secure areas – combat outposts, if you will – where a contingent of 50-to-100 U.S or partner country personnel can be moved quickly to jungle or desert environments and sustained for up to eight weeks.
But like most of the special operations commanders in the regional combatant commands, Linder said he’s looking for technology — including unmanned aircraft — that will meet his intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs. But the immediate challenge, he said, was getting that ISR into a format that can be passed to partner militaries quickly and can be quickly interpreted so they can take the proper action.
TOMORROW: Latin America