Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (December 7-December 13, 1814)

Enter the Pirate.

Anonymous portrait claimed to be of Jean Lafitte in the early 19th century. (Courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas)

Anonymous portrait claimed to be of Jean Lafitte in the early 19th century.
(Courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas)

U.S. Major General Andrew Jackson is scrambling to find the men, weapons, ships and supplies to defend New Orleans from a pending British invasion — that may outnumber his 1,500 troops 10-to-1 — when he encounters the pirate Jean Lafitte and his brother, Pierre, on a New Orleans street corner in early December.

Since August, when first approached by the British to join their efforts against the United States, Lafitte has been trying to get a similar offer, first from Louisiana officials, and then, United States authorities.  After years of smuggling into New Orleans untaxed goods, mostly taken from captured Spanish ships by Lafitte and his fellow privateers, the so-called “pirate” wants to clear his record, help Jackson and the United States and — perhaps most of all — get about 80 of his men out of jail.

They were captured when the U.S. Navy attacked their hideout on Grand Terre Island in Barataria Bay, about 40 miles southwest of New Orleans, in September. The incarcerated pirates include Dominque You, a pirate captain who may be Lafitte’s eldest brother (historians disagree) and also may have been an expert cannoneer in Napoleon’s Grand Army. As the reader may surmise, little is known for sure about Lafitte. He may have been born around 1780 in France or in the French colony that became Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. He may or may not have been a pirate but he is certainly a smuggler of duty-free goods. And the new state of Louisiana (entered the union in 1812) as well as the federal government are looking to put Lafitte out of business after they collect the taxes owed them.

When first approached by the  Lafittes’ attorney, Edward Livingston a prominent member of New Orleans society, who also happened to be Jackson’s private secretary and adviser, the general balked at enlisting the help of shameless bandits (Jackson called them “hellish banditti).  But the surprisingly genteel and articulate Lafitte (he spoke English, Spanish, French and Italian) made his case again to Jackson at his headquarters on Royal Street (Rue de Royale). Lafitte explained he could supply gunpowder, shot, flints and cannon – which Jackson badly needed — as well as experienced gun crews that could man batteries on land or sea. Jackson relented. The jailed pirates were released and pardoned — if they enlisted in the defense force — and Jackson made Lafitte a member of his personal staff.

As we’ve said already, the facts of Lafitte’s life are hard to nail down beyond what he did during the Battle of New Orleans. However, there was enough swashbuckling to it, that Hollywood has made two fictionalized feature films about Lafitte. Click here to see a trailer (preview) of the second one, produced by Cecil B. DeMille in 1958.

We’ll have more on Monsieur/Capitane Lafitte in coming weeks as we approach the climactic battle of the New Orleans campaign.

BritAdvanceNewOrleans

December 12

Jackson closes his deal with Lafitte just in time. On December 12, the sails of the British invasion fleet are spotted approaching Lake Borgne (see map) 30 miles or so East of New Orleans.

December 8, 2014 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 5, 2014)

Simulated Trauma.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman

An airman role-playing as a simulated vehicle accident victim speaks with a first responder during an emergency response exercise on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. Between them is a less-responsive “victim,” a role being played by a medical training mannequin. Both airmen are assigned to the 18th Security Forces Squadron, part of the 18th Mission Support Group.

The exercise tested the abilities of Kadena emergency responders — from firefighters to security forces and medical personnel — to administer life-saving techniques quickly in a stressful environment.

Defense Department officials have warned that training — whether it’s landing troops on a beach, flying a plane, putting out a fire or working together with foreign military partners — is one of the essential areas facing cutbacks because of congressionally mandated and White House-approved across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

To see more photos of the exercise, click here.

December 5, 2014 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 28, 2014)

Underwater Exercise.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Devon Tindle

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Devon Tindle

U.S. Marines retrieve their fins and weight belts from the bottom of a 13-foot pool during a diver course on Camp Schwab in Japan, Nov. 18, 2014. This training prepares Marines for the Marine Corps Combatant Diver Course. an incredibly demanding program based at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida.

These Marines are assigned to the 3rd Marine Division’s 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

November 28, 2014 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 21, 2014)

Night Moves.

U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Steven Young. (Click on the photo to enlarge image)

U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Steven Young.
(Click on the photo to enlarge image)

An Army Green Beret has his parachute harness inspected by a jumpmaster before conducting a night jump on Eglin Air Base, Florida on November 4, 2014.

As we’ve said in recent weeks, it isn’t often we get to see Special Operations Forces training up close and personal. And you can click here to see all the photos of this training scenario. There are other, more informative photos on the Defense Department website, but we’ve decided to focus this week on the photo above. It’s subject matter isn’t all that unusual: men in work clothes performing a task in the dying light of sunset. But it captures the light between sunset and dusk. It reminds us of paintings by the Dutch masters or Frederic Remington that sought to convey what the light was like at that time.

But these men are going to jump out of a large helicopter at night, in Alaska, in winter.  Tough stuff.

The Green Berets are assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, Airborne, and jumped from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with combat equipment to maintain proficiency in airborne operations.

November 21, 2014 at 3:42 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 14, 2014) RESENDING

Light up the Night.

Marine Corps Photo by Corporal Jonathan R. Waldman

Marine Corps Photo by Corporal Jonathan R. Waldman

U.S. Marines fire at fixed targets from Light Armored Vehicles (LAV-25s) during training in D’Arta Plage, Djibouti in East Africa.  Note that despite the bright light thrown off by tracer bullets, you can still see the stars in the sky if you click on the photo to enlarge it.

The LAV-25s are assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance detachment, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

They were participating in a combined arms engagement range during sustainment training. The 11th MEU is deployed as a reserve and crisis response force throughout U.S. Central Command and the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

WHOOPS!

We created today’s Friday Foto in the wee hours after midnight, but apparently we neglected to click the all important PUBLISH button after editing this post.

We apologize for the error — and the delay in discovering it until a few minutes ago.

The Editor.

 

 

November 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 7, 2014)

Have (Big) Gun Will Travel.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Randy Florendo

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Randy Florendo

U.S. soldiers check the perimeter of an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during exercise Combined Resolve III  at the Army’s Hohenfels Training Area in Germany.

Combined Resolve III, a multinational exercise on the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas, includes more than 4,000 participants from NATO and partner nations. The soldiers in this photo are assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. (Phew, that’s a mouthful.)

The Paladin, by the way is not a tank but a self-propelled 155-millimeter cannon, called a howitzer. It comes with its own defensive weapons like the machine gun atop the turret. First manufactured in 1962 to fight potential Cold War battles, the Paladin has been upgraded several times since then, including a $141.8 million contract to modify 18 Paladins and their companion tracked ammunition carrier, the M992A3, (see photo below)  according to Defense Industry Daily.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Randy Florendo)

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Randy Florendo)

To see more photos of the Combined Resolve III exercise, including Moldovan and Albanian troops, click here.

If you don’t know the significance of the headline accompanying today’s FRIFO, click here.

November 7, 2014 at 2:05 am Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: New Threats, Tight Money

Protecting the Border — and Everywhere Else.

U.S. Border Patrol would rather send robots than agents to investigate drug smuggling tunnels, like this one in Nogales, Arizona, between the U.S. and Mexico. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Josh Denmark)

U.S. Border Patrol would rather send robots than agents to investigate drug smuggling tunnels, like this one in Nogales, Arizona, between the U.S. and Mexico. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Josh Denmark)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for protecting Americans from terrorism, transnational organized crime and natural disasters, but new threats continue to spring up.

In the past year, DHS confronted unexpected challenges like the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and the massive influx of illegal immigrants, most of them children unaccompanied by adults.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently cited his biggest threat concerns. One is the lone wolf, self-radicalized gunman with no known connection to terrorist groups. Johnson said that is the threat he worries about most because it’s the hardest to detect and “could happen on very little notice.” The recent attacks on uniformed soldiers in Canada and police in New York City underscored the danger. Johnson also has concerns about Americans returning from fighting in Syria and the Islamic State, radicalized by Islamist extremists and armed with the skill sets to commit mayhem.

Those threats, and ways to deal with them, were discussed Oct. 6-9 at a homeland security conference in Washington sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

Officials from one of DHS’s biggest components, Customs and Border Protection, said congressional budget cuts require them to look for equipment and technology that will help them do their job with less people and, for less money. “We’re about managing risk now,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher.

Wolf Tombe, CBP’s chief technology officer outlined several areas where new technology could help. Tombe said DHS was dealing with massive amounts of data from biometric identification systems like fingerprints.

“The real ideal capability is to use all of them – fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scan – to see if they all match” the people presenting themselves for entry into the United States at airports, seaports and land border crossings, Tombe said. Right now fingerprints are the core biometric technology. Facial recognition “is in its early stages” of use and iris identification and verification “is being evaluated,” he added.

“The U.S. border is tens of thousands of miles and it is impossible to cover with a human presence alone,” Tombe said. Cross-border tunnels used by drug, gun and people smugglers are getting bigger and more sophisticated with lighting and their own sensors and communications, Tombe said, adding that CBP “would much rather send a robot” to investigate a tunnel than endanger an officer.

To see the rest of this story, click here or go to:

http://www.idga.org/homeland-security/articles/as-new-threats-rise-and-budgets-fall-dhs-looks-for/

October 29, 2014 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

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