Posts filed under ‘Technology’
Dawn Blitz 2013
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are conducting a large amphibious exercise off the Southern California coast called Dawn Blitz 2013. But this year’s exercise, which runs from June 11-28, is a little different from previous ones. It has morphed into a multi-national exercise with troops from New Zealand and Canada and — for the first time — the Japanese Self Defense Forces participating.
In fact about 1,000 Japanese sailors and soldiers are taking part in the exercise as well as . New Zealand and Canada which have have sent company-sized contingents of between 150 and 200 troops. There are also small detachments serving as observers from Australia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
The participation of so many Latin American countries indicates that the shift — or pivot — in U.S. strategy to the Pacific takes in more than just the Far East. “When we talk pivot, it’s much more than Asia,” says Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow, commanding general of both the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The American contingent in the massive exercise is about 4,000 sailors and Marines, Broadmeadow told a defense bloggers roundtable today (June 13)
Dawn Blitz is a multilateral amphibious exercise designed to strengthen international partnerships by improving the ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.
But both Broadmeadow and Brig. Gen. Richard Simcock II — who spoke to the blogger’s group Tuesday (June 11) took pains to say the exercise had no political ramifications despite news reports in Asia that it was meant to send a message to China which is in a escalating dispute with Japan over possession of a group of uninhabited islands in the South China Sea.
Although amphibious operations on San Clemente Island are scheduled for June 17, the exercise “has nothing to do with retaking an island,” said Broadmeadow.
In addition to troops from Japan’s Western Army Infantry Regiment as well as helicopters and other units from the Western Army Aviation Group and Japanese Air Defense Command, the Japanese contingent included three ships from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force which sailed across the Pacific from Japan to California with a stop in Hawaii.
U.S. Navy vessels from the Expeditionary Strike Group 3, including the USS Boxer, USS Peleliu, USS New Orleans and USS Harpers Ferry — all amphibious assault or transport ships –and the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, are taking part in the Exercise.
Another first for the exercise was expected Friday (June 14) when a Marine Corps MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft lands aboard one of the Japanese ships, the Hyuga [see photo below], for the first time. Broadmeadow said it wasn’t the first time an MV-22 had landed on the deck of a foreign Navy vessel — just the first time for a Japanese ship..
Broadmeadow also said members of MARSOC, the Marine Corps special operations unit, would take part in the exercise.
Avoiding Nasty Surprises
The uproar over the National Security Agency’s wide-ranging cell phone and Internet surveillance revived a national debate about the necessity of intelligence gathering and what the federal government does with what it learns.
But the accumulation of “Big Data” – millions and millions of phone calls, text messages and emails — whether by government agencies or private corporations, underscores the urgency of acquiring intelligence that can be acted upon in real time. This is especially true in an era when the United States is confronted by near peer competitors like China and Russia, hostile nation states such as North Korea and Iran and non-state, violent extremist networks like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Actionable intelligence is simply that: information gleaned from a range of sources that enables decision makers – from political leaders to field commanders – to take appropriate and timely action when faced with a security threat like an imminent terrorist attack or the shipment of weapons of mass destruction.
The bottom line: preventing nasty surprises.
Next Gen GPS Satellite
U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced today (June 5) it has successfully completed final functional integration tests of the network communications equipment going on the next generation Global Positioning Satellite system known as GPS III.
GPS is a navigation system provided by two dozen medium earth orbit satellites maintained and operated by the U.S. Air Force. GPS allows users — both civilian and military — to track where they are on the Earth’s surface to within a couple of meters. The ageing system, first created during the Cold War, is to be replaced by the newer, more accurate GPS III satellites being built by a Lockheed Martin-led team. In addition to being more accurate, the new GPS satellites are said to be more resistant to signal jamming, a growing concern to the military and commercial air and maritime businesses.
Your 4GWAR editor recently completed a magazine article on technologies to improve or even replace satellite-based navigation. The piece will be in the July issue of Unmanned Systems magazine, published by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
The Lockheed Martin team also successfully tested how the the spacecraft bus that will carry the GPS equipment and other payloads into space will integrate with other equipment on the satellite. That testing of the GPS III space vehicle — known as SV 1– assures that all the systems on the part of the space craft that carries mission payloads are functioning normally and ready for final integration with the satellite’s navigation system.
The systems that were tested include: guidance, navigation and control, command and data handling, on-board computer and flight software. The SV 1 satellite’s network communications equipment also passed all tests.
The successfull completion of the latest SV 1 testing “validates that the spacecraft is now ready to begin the next sequence of payload integration and environmental testing,” said Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martion’s Navigation Systems mission area.
The satellite remains on schedule for flight-ready delivery to the Air Force in 2014, company officials said.. Lockheed Martin is under contract for production of the first four GPS III satellites and advanced procurement funding for certain components of satellites five through eight.
Now That’s A Different Look
Army Sgt. Kyle Francione, wearing a uniquely decorated flying helmet (click on the photo to enlarge image), peers from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, as it flies to pick up soldiers attending the Mobile Pathfinder Course. The sergeant is with the 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard,
More than 40 soldiers tested their skills as they conducted parachute drops onto Malamute Drop Zone in Alaska. The three-week course, conducted by the U.S. Army Pathfinder School at Fort Benning, Georgia., instructs students in air traffic control, medical evacuation operations, sling load operations, helicopter landing zones, air assault planning, pathfinder employment, and drop zone operations.
Pathfinders are the soldiers who jump into a remote or hostile area before the other paratroops to mark and scout the area then coordinate the operation from the ground. Those soldiers who complete the course will earn the coveted Pathfinder Badge.
To see more photos of the Pathfinder Course including parachute drops, click here.
Arms Cache Found
Nigerian authorities say they have uncovered a large cache of automatic weapons and explosives belonging to the Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah, the BBC reports. Authorities say they found the weapons, including rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, AK-47 assault rifles and anti-tank mines in a warehouse in the northern city of Kano.
Three Lebanese were arrested, an Army spokesman said, insisting that officials had uncovered a Hezbollah cell. Northern Nigeria, where Kano sits, has been wracked by violence over the last three years since Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group launched an insurgency to overthrow Nigeria’s government and establish fundamentalist Sharia law in Nigeria. An estimated 3,000 people have died in Boko Haram-sparked violence, the government said.
President Gooluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three regions – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa – and he has admitted that the government has lost control in parts of those states, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Pirates Attack oil tanker
Armed pirates attacked an oil products tanker off the coast of Nigeria in West Africa and abducted an unknown number of crew, Reuters reports. Shipping costs have increased as acts of piracy increase in the Gulf of Guinea region, which includes Africa’s leading oil producer Nigeria. According to Reuters, gunmen boarded the Nigerian-flagged MT Matrix in the early hours Saturday (May 25) about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria in a stretch of water often targeted by pirates.
There were 12 Pakistani and five Nigerian crew members aboard the vessel when it was attacked, sources told Reuters. International navies have not launched counter-piracy missions in the Gulf of Guinea – as they have in East Africa – leaving the many vessels in Nigeria waters vulnerable to attack.
Piracy is on the rise in West Africa, according to a Reuters analysis, but the police and coast guard in most of the countries in the region, like Ivory Coast, are too weak and poorly armed to challenge the pirate gangs. In 2010, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has monitored global piracy since 1991, recorded 33 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. But that figure jumped to 58 last year.
Indian Army Private Anil Pawe and Spc. Henry Vaillancourt, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, partner up to fire an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Vaillancourt is familiarizing Pawe — an infantryman assigned to the Indian Army’s 99th Mountain Brigade — with the American machine gun prior to field training during the annual U.S. – India Yudh Abhyas training exercise, which ended May 17.
The joint exercise dates to 2004. Yudh Abhyas means “training for war,” in Hindi. About 200 Indian troops from units including the 50th Independent Para Brigade and the 5th Gurkha Rifles participated.
For more photos of this training exercise, click here.
Reading Micro Expressions
ARLINGTON, Virginia – Think you know when someone’s lying – because they won’t meet your gaze, or they can’t sit still or they’re sweating profusely?
You’re probably wrong says San Francisco State University professor David Matsumoto.
“There is no such thing as a Pinocchio response,” Matsumoto, founder and director of the Culture and Emotion Research Laboratory at San Francisco State, told a Human Geography conference outside Washington, D.C. recently. “There’s no set of behaviors that reliably differentiate” between who’s telling the truth and who isn’t, he said. At least none that the average interrogator can spot.
Hundreds of studies conducted with thousands of participants in recent years indicate that the average accuracy rate for an individual to detects liars and truth tellers is just 54 percent. “Bottom line: we’re no better [at it] than flipping a coin,” Matsumoto said.
But his research indicates that there are tiny facial expressions – micro-expressions he calls them – that can give away what a person under stress is thinking. They’re hard to spot with the naked eye but readily visible on slow motion video.
As an example, he showed video of a witness testifying at the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Some visible signs – breathing, blinking – indicated the witness was agitated. But when Matsumoto stopped the video, a facial expression not readily visible at normal speed was now apparent. Video usually shows movement at 30 seconds per second but the micro-expression image was captured in just three frames, indicating it took just one-tenth of a second.
Most people don’t see the changes but if they do “they don’t know what it is. But if I freeze frame on it, it’s very clear what his emotional state is,” Matsumoto said. And they “seem to be culturally universal,” he added.
He cautioned that such split second expressions are not a guaranteed indicator of lying but that the person being questions bears careful scrutiny. His program has been able to train law enforcement and other professionals how to spot micro-expressions.
Matsumoto is also studying whole body gestures and movements as indicators of intent and whether people who have experienced violent attacks can identify potentially violent persons by their facial expressions. So far his research indicates two types of potentially threatening facial expression: one contemplating premeditated assault (like an assassin or terrorist) and one indicating the loss of impulse control (someone who suddenly snaps and attacks.) But more research is needed, he said.
Human geography is a multi-discipline study of not only the physical nature of the earth but the people who live on it and how they relate among themselves and with others along political, economic, cultural, linguistic, geographic lines.
The two-day conference was sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).
The Big Lonely
The commanders of the Joint Tactical Group and the Régiment de marche du Tchad (a unit of the French 2nd Armored Brigade) observe maneuvering ground troops from a sand dune near Qatar’s Al Qalayel military camp during Exercise Gulf Falcon 2013.
(Click on the photo to see a larger image)
For three weeks, nearly 3,000 French and Qatari military participated in the bilateral exercise. The effort is planned and conducted under cooperation agreements between the two countries that were reached in 1994.
The French military see the exercise as an opportunity to toughen the men and materials of the Army, Air Force and Navy to harsh desert conditions.
To learn more about the exercise and see more photos, click here. Be advised the site in in French.
Tag, You’re It
Marines of the 5th Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment fire an M777 A2 howitzer during a series of exercises at Twentynine Palms, Calif., April 26, 2013.
Big Boat, With Friend
The High-Speed Vessel Swift (HSV-2) got underway in Key West, Florida recently (April 24) with a tethered Aerostat balloon. The crew of the Swift will conduct a series of capabilities tests to determine if the aerostat, TIF-25K — a lighter than air unmanned air vehicle– could participate in U.S. Southern Command’s Operation Martillo.
Aerostats are like blimps but instead of cruising in the air, they are tethered to one spot. They can be used for persistent coastal surveillance when equipped with up to 420 pounds of sensors and other surveillance equipment.
That is a joint, interagency and multinational effort to block transnational criminal organizations from using air or maritime access to the littoral (coastal) regions of the Central America.