Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’

AROUND AFRICA: U.S. Ebola Response, Nigeria College Attacked, U.N. Peacekeepers Killed in Mali UPDATE

Ebola Roundup.

UPDATES Ebola Roundup with aid pledge from Canada, Sierra Leone shutting down for three days and report of health workers and journalists found dead in Guinea.

Disinfecting personal protective garb and equipment at the J. F Kennedy Treatment Center in the capital of Liberia. (WHO photo by Christina Bamluta)

Disinfecting personal protective garb and equipment at the J. F Kennedy Treatment Center in the capital of Liberia. (WHO photo by Christina Bamluta)

The death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has gone over 2,600, according to the World Health Organization.

At least 2,630 people have died and at least 5,357 people have been infected, the WHO said Thursday (September 18), according to Reuters.

In an update on the epidemic, which is raging through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – and has spread to Senegal and Nigeria, the U.N. health agency said there were no signs of the outbreak slowing, said Reuters.

Several Western governments – criticized for not doing enough — have stepped up their assistance in fighting the fast-moving virus, for which there is no known cure.

President Barack Obama says the United States will send 3,000 military personnel to West Africa where they will erect new treatment and isolation facilities, train health care workers and increase communications and transportation support, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama convenes briefing on the Ebola virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama convenes briefing on the Ebola virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
(White House Photo by Pete Souza)

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the 3,000 troops would not provide direct care to Ebola patients, the AP reported. A substantial number will be stationed at an intermediate base in Senegal, Earnest said, with others at locations in Liberia where they will provide logistical, training, engineering and other support.

Obama said the Ebola outbreak is now an epidemic “of the likes that we have not seen before. It is spiraling out of control … The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” Obama said during a visit to the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) where he consulted with health officials about the U.S. response to Ebola. “Right now, the world has the responsibility to act – to step up, and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more,” Obama added.

France says it will set up a military hospital in West Africa as part of its contribution to the fight against Ebola. President Francois Hollande said Thursday (September 18) that the facility will be set up “in the forests of Guinea, in the heart of the outbreak,” according to Reuters.

UPDATE:

Earlier this week, Canada said it will donate $2.5 million worth of the specialized medical gear used to protect health-care workers who are treating Ebola patients, The Canadian Press reported.

In a bid to reduce its Ebola infection rate, Sierra Leone will “close down” the country for three days beginning Friday (September 19), according to information minister Alpha Kanu.

Current figures show there are 1,400 cases of the Ebola disease in Sierra Leone, according to Kanu, the Voice of America reported. Sierra Leone is one of three hard-hit Western African nations being overwhelmed by the rapidly spreading deadly virus.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports officials in Guinea searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies.

A spokesman for Guinea’s government said the bodies included those of three journalists in the team. The group was reported missing after being attacked Tuesday (September 16) in a village near the southern city of Nzerekore.

Guinea and its neighbors (CIA World Factbook)

Guinea and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

On Thursday night, a Guinea government spokesman, Albert Damantang Camara, said eight bodies had been found, including those of three journalists.

He said they had been recovered from the septic tank of a primary school in the village, adding that the victims had been “killed in cold blood by the villagers”.

The reason for the killings is unclear, but correspondents say many people in the region distrust health officials and have refused to co-operate with authorities, fearing that a diagnosis means certain death, the BBC said. Last month, riots erupted on rumors that medics who were disinfecting a market were contaminating people.

*** *** ***

Nigeria College Attack

Gunmen have attacked a teacher training college in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, and officials say at least 15 people have been killed, the BBC reports. Another 34 people were injured in the Wednesday (September 17) attack.

The gunmen exchanged fire with police outside the college before running inside. While it is not clear who was responsible for the attack, the BBC said, suspicion will fall on the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009. The group which wants to set up a separate Islamic state in Africa’s most populous country has already killed 2,000 people this year and kidnapped hundreds of high school-age schoolgirls.

*** *** ***

Peacekeepers Killed

A French AMX-10RCR armored reconnaissance vehicle in convoy near Gao, Mali in the drive against Islamist fighters in 2013. (Copyright French Ministry of Defense)

A French AMX-10RCR armored reconnaissance vehicle in convoy near Gao, Mali in the drive against Islamist fighters in 2013.
(Copyright French Ministry of Defense)

The United Nations mission in Mali says five of its peacekeepers from Chad were killed and another three wounded when their vehicle was hit by an explosive device in the north of the country on Thursday (September 18).

The attack brings the number of U.N. peacekeepers killed in the country this month to 10, according to Reuters. The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, said the blast happened between the desert towns of Aguelhok and Tessalit, in the Kidal region of the Wester African nation.

MINUSMA was deployed last year to help stabilize Mali following a three-pronged crisis which began with a Tuareg separatist uprising, followed by a military coup in the southern capital and a nine-month occupation in the north by al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants.

The militants were chased out by a French-led intervention, but pockets of insurgents remain in Mali’s vast desert north from where they have launched attacks on the U.N. peacekeepers.

September 18, 2014 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 12, 2014)

Horizontal While Vertical

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Julio Miranda Jr. rappels down a cliff during Mountain Exercise 2014 at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center  (MCMWTC)  in Bridgeport, California.

Miranda is a rifleman with the 3rd Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Marines with the 3rd Battalion will become the ground combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in October.

“This isn’t easy for someone doing it their first time,” said Sergeant. Andrew Rector, a unit training instructor with MCMWTC. “Everything in your body is telling you no, don’t walk off that ledge, but you have trust in your equipment and follow the technique.”

The training started with classes on tying basic knots and rappel harnesses, as well as getting a feel for what it’s like to rappel with no gear, according to Sergeant Emmanuel Ramos, who took this photo. After learning the basics, the Marines made their way through the mountainous terrain to a location two kilometers from their camp to begin their rappel assault with day packs and rifles.

The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center teaches a variety of high altitude survival skills as well as mountain and cold weather operations. The center last year started an advanced horsemanship course to teach Special Operations Forces including Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command the necessary skills to enable them to ride horses and move through terrain that can’t be navigated by motor vehicles — as was the case in the early days of the Afghanistan war.

September 12, 2014 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 28, 2014)

Dismount!

U.S. Army Photo by Sergeant Christina Dion

U.S. Army Photo by Sergeant Christina Dion

Estonian soldiers leave their armored vehicle and take a defensive position during a simulated training exercise at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany during Saber Junction 14. Saber Junction is an annual large-scale, multinational military exercise, involving hundreds of aircraft and vehicles and thousands of personnel from 16 different nations.

The exercise prepares brigade-level units for worldwide contingency operations. With continuing budget constraints for the foreseeable future, current Pentagon strategy calls for the U.S. military to rely on partner nations — like Estonia – to carry out operations with minimal U.S. presence in their country.  The United States has also been sending U.S. troops to train in Eastern Europe, including Lativia, Lithuania and Estonian as a sign of solidarity with Baltic states and to discourage Russia from further military adventures in Eastern Europe — like the Russian annexation of Ukraine.

The exercise also focuses U.S., NATO, and partner forces on concepts such as decisive land operations through the simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive and stability operations and on interoperability with partnered nations.

August 29, 2014 at 12:20 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (Saturday, August 23, 2014

Editor’s Note: We’re back from some time off in the Rockies, so here’s the Friday Foto — a little later than usual.

Optical (Tactical) Illusion.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Scott Reel

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Scott Reel

The headline of this Marine Corps photo should be “That’s why they call it camouflage.” Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force-Darwin report by radio under camouflage netting that makes an interesting — and confusing — shadow pattern. These two Marines are radioing in a mock mass casualty report during a rehearsal of a live-fire artillery exercise at Bradshaw Field Training Area in Australia’s Northern Territory.

It’s all part of Exercise Koolendong 2014. In addition to mass casualty medical response in a remote area, combat air control and air-ground coordination, and combat engineer explosives training, the 16-day bi-lateral exercise focused on establishing a U.S. Marines-Australian Defence Forces combined headquarters element, and directing ground, aviation and logistics capabilities in austere conditions.

To see more photos of this part of the exercise click here.

Since 2012, U.S. and Australian forces have been working closely on training and operational exercises in the hot, remote scrubland at the northern tip of Australia,. The planned rotation of up to 2,500 Marines for six months every year in Darwin starting in 2016, is part of the U.S. strategic “pivot” to Asia after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

August 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 15, 2014)

Hats of India

Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt

Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was in India earlier this month to meet with top officials of the new government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as well as military leaders.

Among the formal events during the visit — a wreath-laying ceremony at the Amar Jawan Jyoti War Memorial at India Gate in New Delhi, the capital.

Longtime visitors to the 4GWAR blog know your humble editor is fascinated by the traditions and ceremonies of militaries around the world. Needless to say we were taken with the ceremonial uniforms in this photo including the cockscomb-like folds of the headgear worn by the two military policemen carrying the wreath. We’ve looked in vain for what this not-quite-a-turban is called. Anyone who knows, please email us at 4gwarblog@gmail.com or post a comment below.

We do know the officer walking behind Secretary Hagel is wearing the campaign hat of India’s  the Gorkha Regiments – the fierce mountain fighters first recruited by the British from Nepal in colonial days. And in the background a soldier wears a red beret which may, or may not, signify he is a member of the paratrooper regiment. Again, anyone with knowledge, please email or comment.

The only uniquely subcontinental headgear missing from this photo appears to be the colorful turbans of the Sikh and Punjab regiments.

To see more photos of this visit, click here.

August 15, 2014 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 1, 2014)

Knotty Problem

 U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Alex Licea

U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Alex Licea

A soldier from El Salvador tries to get out of the spider web obstacle during the Fuerzas Comando obstacle course July 29 at Fort Tolemaida, Colombia. The course was the final event of the competition. Fuerzas Comando 2014, established in 2004, is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored special operations skills competition and fellowship program for militaries in the Western Hemisphere.

To se more photos from this commando competition, click here.

To read an article about it in Spanish (En Espanol) click here:

 

August 1, 2014 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 25, 2014)

Belize River Patrol

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew  Schneider

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Schneider

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Galla trains with the Belize Special Boat Unit during Southern Partnership Station 2014 on the Moho River, Belize, July 8, 2014.

Southern Partnership is a U.S. Navy deployment, sponsored by U.S. Southern Command, focusing on exchanging expertise with partner nation militaries and security forces.

Galla is a gunner’s mate assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron 2.

To see more photos of this riverine training exercise, click here.

 

 

 

July 25, 2014 at 12:42 am Leave a comment

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