Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’
Protecting the Border — and Everywhere Else.
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.
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Pair of Hunters
Two U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II aircraft prepare to take off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The Harriers, which can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, were participating in Red Flag-Alaska 15-1.
Red Flag-Alaska is a series of Pacific Air Forces field training exercises for U.S. and partner nation forces. It hones skills in combined offensive counter-air, interdiction and close air support missions as well as practicing large force training in a simulated combat environment.
The pilots are assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 311.
To see more photos of Harriers, F-16 Fighting Falcons and EA-18G Growlers as well as runway operations coping with heavy snows in Alaska, click here.
This Way Out.
U.S. paratroopers rush from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during Operation Silver Arrow in Adazi, Latvia, Oct. 5, 2014. The helicopter engines are so powerful, look at how the heat wave distorts the background to the right of the Chinook. Looks almost like an impressionist painting.
The multinational exercise includes forces from Latvia, Estonia, Great Britain, Norway and the Michigan Army National Guard, and is being held in conjunction with U.S. Army Europe and Operation Atlantic Resolve. The paratroopers are assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Airborne, Vicenza, Italy. Elements of the 173rd have been conducting exercises with troops in Poland and the Baltic states (like Latvia and Estonia) to show these NATO countries their partners support them in and response o Russian aggressive behavior in Eastern and Central Europe.
Hitting the Beach.
This photo is so sharp, you can almost hear the splashing water as U.S. and Filipino Marines (in camouflage helmets) wade toward the beach during a simulated raid for Amphibious Landing Exercise at PHIBLEX15 in Palawan, Philippines on October 2. (Make sure to click on the photo to see a larger image).
PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy to strengthen interoperability across a range of skills including disaster relief and amphibious warfare operations. U.S. Army officials this past week in Washington at the Association of the United States Army conference stressed the importance of such multi-national training exercises to solidify both militaries’ readiness for amphibious operations in times of crisis.
The Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) holds its annual meeting and trade show this week in Washington starting Monday.
Thousands of visitors in and out of uniform are expected to visit the Washington Convention Center Monday through Wednesday to hear Army leaders and experts talk about where the Army is going and where it should be going in the future.
Speakers include Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno.
The exhibit halls will be filled with all manner of armored vehicle, unmanned aircraft systems, combat gear, communications and sensor technology and smalls arms and protective clothing.
New this year in the exhibit hall: a Homeland Security Pavilion where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will have a display and companies and organizations offering products and services to support the homeland security mission will be showing their wares.
Since 4GWAR views itself as a counter terrorism blog focusing on the intersection of homeland security and asymmetric warfare, we’ll be taking special interest in this new feature at AUSA.
It’s been said that the only living creature that runs towards fire is a firefighter. No offense to ‘America’s Heroes,’ but this image seems to indicate there are some other equally brave people out there.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 40th Cavalry Regiment conduct fire phobia training during at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany. The soldiers in this training exercise are part of a rotation designed to prepare the unit for peace support, stability, and contingency operations.
According to the Facebook page of the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry: “this training not only prepares the soldiers to deal with fire during a riot, but it builds confidence in their assigned equipment and uniforms.”
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, towing their equipment, swim across Santa Rosa Sound in Northern Florida.
We rarely get to see photos of Green Berets or other Special Operations Forces (SOF) in action – whether in training, as they are here, or in the field.
These troops are from the 7th Special Forces Group, which is based at nearby Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and focuses on Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. In this exercise they were honing their waterborne infiltration skills before conducting additional missions that included hostage rescue and sensitive site exploitation.
As one can see in the photo below, these swimmers aren’t wearing wet suits or even swim suits. They make their way through the water in their combat uniforms – boots and all.
To see more photos of this exercise, click here.
The new command, officially activated September 19 at the Gamerra barracks in Pisa, has been in development for the last 18 months under Brigadier General Nicola Zanelli, who was appointed September 1, 2013, IHS Jane’s said.