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Today’s FRIDAY FOTO (Jan. 4, 2013) has been delayed.
It will be posted later this morning by 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
We regret the delay.
Your 4GWAR Editor
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.
In fact, visits per year to 4GWAR more than doubled from 62,552 in 2010 to 134,856 in 2011.
Go for Broke
Nearly 70 years after they marched off to fight for the same government that interned their families during World War II, the Japanese-Americans veterans of three special Army units were honored by Congress.
Surviving members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service received congressional gold medals — the highest civilian awards Congress can bestow — at a ceremony Wednesday (Nov. 2) on Capitol Hill in Washington.
The 442nd RCT — which included the 100th Battalion after June 1944 — was made up of young men of Japanese descent from Hawaii, California and other Western states. It was the most decorated unit in U.S. military history winning 18,143 military awards. including 21 soldiers who received the nation’s highest award for military heroism, the Medal of Honor. Fifty-two were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 560 got the Silver Star medal, 4,000 the Bronze Star medal and an astounding 9,486 Purple Heart medals for wounds or death in battle. At any given time, the 442nd only numbered about 4,000.
The 442nd fought in Italy, France and Germany, winning eight presidential unit citations.
The men of the 442nd were all volunteers, most of whom had family interned in camps that were little better than prisons. After Pearl Harbor was attacked most Japanese Americans were declared enemy aliens and barred from the military draft. The men who eventually formed the 442nd petitioned Washington to be allowed to serve their country. The 100th Battalion was made up mostly of men from Hawaii who had been drafted into the Army or were serving in the Hawaii National Guard before Pearl Harbor. The 100th, which first fought at Salerno, Italy in 1943, later became the 1st Battalion of the 442nd.
The 6,000 members of the Military Intelligence Service — civilian and military — served as interpreters and interogators in the Pacific Theater of Operations. They translated captured Japanese documents, questioned prisoners and persuaded Japanese troops to surrender.
Here’s a link to a 1950s MGM film about the 442nd using their unit motto “Go For Broke” as the title.
Napolitano Outlines Changes
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says her agency has been working on ways to deal with home-grown terrorists, many of whom are individuals radicalized by the Internet.
While al Qaeda-inspired groups outside the U.S. still pose a threat to the U.S. So-called lone wolf terrorists or lone wolf actors pose “a very difficult threat to detect” because they are not part of larger networks, Napolitano said.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been “devising strategies for dealing with the growth of lone wolf actors,” Napolitano said, adding that homeland security also needs to be a shared responsibility of ordinary citizens as well as government – especially to thwart lone wold attacks.
Local citizens need to report unusual activities or things that don’t look right, she said, citing the New York City street vendor who reported a van with smoke coming out of it, preventing a bombing in Times Square. Another example was the street sweeper in Spokane, Washington who spotted an unusual package before a Martin Luther King Day parade and reported it. The package turned out to be a bomb that could have killed and injured many.
Napolitano spoke at a gathering sponsored by the Aspen Institute to launch its new Homeland Security Group. The think tank has gathered a panel of Washington heavyweights to discuss and advise government on ways to improve homeland security.
The group is co-chaired by Michael Chertoff, the second head of the Department of Homeland Security, and Jane Harman, a former California congresswoman. Other members of the group include: Richard Ben-Veniste, a former member of the 9/11 Commission; Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA, Michael Leiter, until recently the director of the National Counterterrorism Center; and James Loy, who served as Coast Guard commandant, head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and deputy Homeland Security secretary in the Bush administration.
On other topics, Napolitano said disaster relief and recovery programs were the most likely to be hurt if Congress proceeds with major budget cuts to DHS funding. The agency’s 2011 budget was $40.3 billion.
“The fight we’re in now is to get the money for the disaster relief fund. We do not have enough money, given all the number of [natural] disasters we’ve had this year, to finish out the fiscal year,” Napolitano said.
On a positive note, she said the TSA will be able to eliminate several onerous airport checkpoint practices in the near future. “The overall goal is to be able to separate passengers who are low risk from passengers for whom we have little or no knowledge or, for a variety of reasons, [passengers] we might privately denominate as higher risks,” Napolitano said.
Under new policies Napolitano explained to a Senate committee hearing Sept. 13 children under the age of 12 won’t have to removed their shoes and will be exempt from most searches when they pass through airport security checkpoints. And when they are subject to secondary screening, they won’t be patted down the way adults are. Internet videos of TSA personnel searching crying children sparked widespread complaints about the agency’s security measures – especially among some conservatives, who termed it a form of child abuse.
Napolitano cautioned that random searches of passengers – including children or old people – will have to continue to prevent terrorists from gaming the system. “If you totally exempt a group, that group will be exploited as a terrorist weapon,” she said.
TSA is also testing a new trusted traveler system that could allow passengers who supply verifiable identification information to pass through security without removing their shoes – another widespread complaint of air travelers. The practice was put in place in 2002 after an al Qaeda agent tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes aboard a U.S.-bound flight from Europe.
Obama Security Team: Musical Chairs
President Obama is going to nominate CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to the Associated Press and several other news outlets including the Washington Post, New York Times, and Bloomberg.
Additionally, Panetta will be replaced at CIA by Army Gen. David Petraeus, current commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to reports. And Ryan Crocker, President George Bush’s envoy to Iraq is said to be Obama’s choice for ambassador to Afghanistan.
The Panetta- Petraeus move had been rumored for months. Panetta, 72, a former California congressman (1977-1993) served as President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff. Previous turns as chairman of the House Budget Committee and head of the Office of Management and Budget (1993-94) in the Clinton administration are expected to be major assets as Obama seeks to trim the Pentagon’s budget by hundreds of billions of dollars in an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Petraeus, a former commander of the 101st Airborne Division and U.S. Central Command, is popular on Capitol Hill and is seen as mastermind of the successful surge of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007 when sectarian violence began to spin out of control. Obama picked Petraeus, 58, to command in Afghanistan after removing Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal in June 2010.
Gates, himself a former CIA director, was tapped for the Defense post by President George W. Bush in 2006 and retained by Obama when he became president. Gates has been talking about leaving the grueling Pentagon post to return to private life for more than a year. Gates said recently that Petraeus would issue an assessment soon on how many troops can leave Afghanistan in July, as part of Obama’s promised start of U.S. troop reduction there in 2011.
If confirmed by the Senate, Crocker would replace former Army general Karl Eikenberry, who has had difficult relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 62,000 times in 2010. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would have performed about 3 times.
In 2010, there were 143 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 152 posts. There were 280 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 478mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was August 3rd with 610 views. The most popular post that day was FRIDAY FOTO (July 30, 2010).
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were aviationweek.com, Google Reader, ericpalmer.wordpress.com, dodlive.mil, and facebook.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for submarine, machete, korean war memorial, virginia class submarine, and world map.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
FRIDAY FOTO (July 30, 2010) July 2010
SPECIAL OPERATIONS January 2010
SPECIAL OPERATIONS (updated March 11, 2010) March 2010
FRIDAY FOTO (August 20, 2010) August 2010
FRIDAY FOTO (Feb. 5, 2010) (Updated) February 2010
Food Glorious Food
China, the world’s biggest wheat producer, is in the middle of a drought and a United Nations agency says that could devastate the Chinese harvest in June. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says rain and snowfall well below average have hit eight provinces in China’s winter wheat-growing belt and that could mean the People’s Republic will have to buy additional wheat on the world market, say analysts. That could upset already rising food prices, according to The Economist. Drought in Russia last year and floods in Australia in 2011 cut crop yields in those wheat exporting countries.
Food prices around the world have hit record highs in January – for the seventh consecutive month – and food experts say the rise in prices for crop staples like grains may have contributed to popular unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, according to The Guardian. While food is not the biggest driver of Middle East unrest, there has been widespread discontent over price inflation. Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat.
Patriot Act, Act II
House Republicans cited comments by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the U.S. is facing “heightened” threats of extremist attacks as they argued for extending provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at the end of the month.
In testimony Wednesday (Feb. 9) before the House Homeland Security Committee, Napolitano said the threat of terrorist attacks may be the highest since the 9/11 attacks nearly 10 years ago.
But a day earlier, a coaltion of Democrats and Tea Party and libertarian-leaning Republicans surprised House leaders by blocking an extension of provisions to the 2001 law. The measures, which the Obama administration favors, would allow:the FBI to: continue using roving wiretaps to listen to terror suspects’ phone calls; sift library records and other items to spy on suspected terrorists and monitor so-called “lone wolf” suspects with no known ties to terrorist groups. Liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans say that tramples First and Fourth Amendment constitutional rights.
After some back room briefings and negotiations, the measures are expected to be back on track for a vote early next week.
Mammalian Mine Hunters
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Gerstel, a diver and handler assigned to the Marine Mammal System Company of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1, rewards a bottlenose dolphin after a successful training exercise at Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., June 8, 2010.
An estimated 2,500 Canadian and U.S. military and civilian agency personnel participated in Frontier Sentinel 2010, a week-long maritime homeland security training exercise in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay near Hampton Roads, Va. EOD Mobile Unit 1 was conducting an underwater search and mapping mission as part of the exercise.
Now the Navy hopes the dolphins can help locate four unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) that went missing during the exercise. The 62-inch long, cigar-shaped underwater drones are not armed and considered harmless.
The Marine Mammal Company is based at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, San Diego, Calif. The Navy uses dolphins and California sea lions to hunt for underwater mines. They are also used to spot — but not attack — unauthorized swimmers and divers in security areas. Despite fictional accounts like the 1973 movie “Day of the Dolphin,” the Navy Marine Mammal Program does not train sea creatures to attack underwater vessels or people because they would not be able to identify friend from foe.
Not Looking for Trouble
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is not involved in any military activities inside Somalia – either against insurgents or pirates, AFRICOM’s deputy military commander says.
U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Robert Moeller says AFRICOM also is not involved in any formal cooperation or joint exercises with the Chinese in Africa – but that’s not to say the Pentagon’s regional combatant command for Africa doesn’t want to work with the People’s Republic and its military.
In recent years, China has often been described as a potential near peer military rival and, at best, a commercial competitor in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere for iron, oil and other commodities needed by its relentless, export-driven economy.
U.S. officials — including President Barack Obama — however, have been making overtures to Peking for more cooperation on a range of political, economic and environmental issues include efforts to block North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons proliferation and Iran’s nuclear weapons development program.
No Somalia Military Ops
Despite recent press reports – especially in the African media which have been suspicious of any U.S. military presence on the continent – Moeller says the U.S. military is not involved in any ground operations in Somalia, despite Somali pirate incursions in the waters around the Horn of Africa and growing threats from radical Islamic groups like al-Shabab.
“Those reports are simply not true,” Moeller told a recent bloggers roundtable. Speaking from AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Moeller added: “We don’t plan, nor direct, nor coordinate the military operations” of Somali government forces. He said the U.S. was not providing military advisers or “direct support for any potential military offensives.”
As for the pirate problem, Moeller said “there are at, this point, no counter-piracy activities” occurring “from or in Somalia.” He noted that U.S. Central Command has the primary responsibility for the majority of the counter-piracy activities “going on in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia.”
Winning Hearts and Minds in the Philippines (updates with new link and photo)
The Jan. 30 issue of The Economist (subscription required) has an interesting — and unexpected – article about the success of the U.S. military mission in the Philippines, started in 2002 to counter the rise of Islamist terror groups like Abu Sayaf.
Philippine regulations forbid foreign troops from fighting on their soil, so the Armed Forces of the Philippines handle combat duties while Americans “keep busy with aid projects designed to woo locals in areas thick with militants,” according to the British-based magazine. Insurgents numbers are down, the Philippine military is getting both training and experience and the U.S. is reaping the public relations benefits with a minimal outlay of money and personnel.
The strategy is working according to the The Economist, which highlights the work of Lt. Col. Stephen Goldsmith, an Army veterinarian, who has been treating villagers’ cattle, goats and poultry for malnutrition and parasites. In the photo above, Goldsmith — assisted by an unidentified Army Special Forces soldier — deals with an uncooperative goat in Sulu, Philippines. Healthy livestock means a healthier economy and the magazine says U.S. military thinkers are wondering if the experience of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines is applicable to other parts of the world facing insurgencies.
The U.S. mission isn’t limited to agricultural assistance. At the request of the government in Manila, the JSOTF-P — with less than 600 members — partners with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on a number of humanitarian, engineering and educational projects. JSOTF-P personnel also advises Philippine military and police units on techniques like bomb detection and disposal. In the photo below, Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jonathan
Porter assists a dehydrated patient at an elementary school in Zamboanga. Last fall, the JSOTF-P assisted a Philippine armed forces unit in treating more than 1,000 patients over a three-day period.
Despite the successes — 15 of 24 high value targets on a list of insurgent leaders have either been killed or captured — a Christian Science Monitor article notes that keeping things stable on the violence-wracked island of Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines could take years.
In the photo below, Philippine National Police Officer Efrem Sissay (left) and Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class Dave Friedman assemble an explosive device during a training exercise at the Regional Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Detection Unit 9 headquarters in Zamboanga. Friedman and two other members of the JSOTF-P Explosive Ordnance Disposal Task Unit conducted a two-day bomb detection course, instructing members of the Philippine National Police bomb squad on what types of chemicals can make up a homemade bomb.