Posts tagged ‘Coast Guard’
Organized Crime Spreads
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — The head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) accepts the fact that he’ll be dealing with continued budget cuts into the forseeable future, but U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly says if he only had “13 or 14″ Coast Guard or Navy vessels to station off the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Central America, he could dramatically reduce the cocaine traffic coming into the United States.
Kelly, who took over as head of SOUTHCOM last Fall, says the key to hurting the multi-billion dollar drug trade in the Western Hemisphere is interdiction at sea — before the drugs make it ashore. At a conference on countering transnational organized crime, Kelly discussed the network running up from South America through Mexico that brings cocaine, heroin, illegal immigrants and enslaved sex workers into the United States.
He also talked about a surprising Central American ally in the war on drugs. To read more of this story go to Seapower magazine’s website.
Navy League’s Expo
Your intrepid 4GWAR editor is at the Navy League’s 2013 Sea-Air-Space Expo at the Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland (it’s across the Potomac from Alexandria, Virginia).
The annual gathering brings together Navy and Coast Guard officials from all over — including many foreign countries — as well as defense contractors — large and small — and scribes like your editor to find out what’s the Navy’s up to and where it thinks it’s going in the future.
We’re helping the folks at Seapower, the Navy League’s magazine, cover the scores of briefings by Navy and Coast Guard commanders, government officials, big defense contractors and organizations dedicated to the sea services.
On Monday we wrote about the Navy’s plans for unmanned aircraft on nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the successes of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and what Naval Air Systems Command is doing to integrate new systems into the fleet while making them interoperable with existing systems and platforms.
You can see all three stories among lots of others written by the staff of Seapower by clicking here.
In the days since the March 5 death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, security analysts have speculated on whether regime change in Caracas will have any effect on transnational narcotics cartels operating in Latin America.
Since 1999, when Chavez began his 14-year rule, Venezuela has been considered a major hub for the shipment of illegal narcotics from neighboring Colombia to the United States and Europe. The U.S. Treasury Department has added several high-level Venezuelan military and intelligence officials to its Foreign Narcotics Kingpin list, for alleged “material assistance” to the Colombian rebel group known as FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) which Washington has labeled a “narco-terrorist organization.”
In the last decade, the battle against transnational criminal organizations has stretched from Central and South America across the Atlantic to West Africa and beyond. Officials say drug trafficking is destablizing, promotes corruption and other illegal activity including human trafficking and piracy. Increasingly, U.S. and other militaries are helping local and national law enforcement agencies with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to battle criminal cartels.
By law, the U.S. Defense Department is the lead agency for the detection and monitoring of aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs, although federal law also limits the military’s assistance in U.S. territory to civil support. However, the Coast Guard, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, has dual military and law enforcement authority.
But as authorities increase pressure on them in the Western Hemisphere, narco-cartels have been turning to Africa, especially the politically unstable countries of West Africa, to use as transit points for Europe-bound illicit drug shipments.
A United Nations report released Feb. 25 listed the growing influence of narco-cartels both foreign and home-grown in West Africa. Cocaine trafficking remains the most lucrative criminal activity of international groups operating in the region, but one “worrying development” is the emergence of methamphetamine production and related trafficking, according to the report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The report also discussed human trafficking between West Africa and Europe and arms trafficking across Africa.
Top government officials from the United States and other countries are slated to discuss the toll of trafficking in drugs, guns and humans at the Countering Transnational Organized Crime conference in Alexandria, Va. next month. To read the whole story, visit the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement site (http://www.idga.org) or click here.
Hurricane Sandy: Before, During and After
See additional photo and video links below.
The damage and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy is still being tallied but we thought we’d bring you just a few of the images captured by Defense Department photographers.
Before the Storm Hit
Empty cots await guests at the National Guard Armory in Jersey City, N.J. on Oct 31. The Jersey City Armory prepared to take on 1,000+ local displaced citizens evacuated from areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy, providing them with medical facilities and hot meals.
Sailors assigned to Naval Submarine School place sandbags around the power plant at Naval Submarine Base New London, Connecticut in preparation for the storm surge expected from Hurricane Sandy. With Sandy’s arrival during a time of a full moon and high tide, storm surge was forecast to possibly top some of the base’s lower waterfront areas.
During the Storm
Virginia National Guard soldiers from G Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct reconnaissance patrols during Hurricane Sandy operations Oct. 29, 2012, in Norfolk, Va. The Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force staged throughout Virginia with personnel and equipment capable of performing high water transport, debris reduction and reconnaissance patrols.
Airmen in a WC-130J Hercules cargo aircraft fly into Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29, 2012, to collect weather reconnaissance data somewhere over the East Coast. The Hercules is assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.
The Coast Guard rescued 14 people from life rafts in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., on Oct. 29,. One person died and another was missing. The first MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted five people into the aircraft, and a second helo rescued nine people. Crews took all to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., with no life-threatening conditions.
Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard.
Soldiers prepare UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for further search and rescue missions on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 30, 2012, following the passing of Hurricane Sandy. The soldiers are assigned to the 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard.
Air Force crews offload Southern California Edison power repair equipment from a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane on Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2012. The Defense Department initiated the airlift operation to aid recovery efforts in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.
NEW Hurricane Sandy photos, videos and stories
To see more photos of National Guard assistance efforts in New York City, New Jersey and West Virginia click here.
For some surprising photos (downed tree clearance, generator assembly) of New York National Guard relief efforts in the
suburban counties outside New York City, click here.
To see the Maryland National Guard’s response to heavy snow in the Western part of the state due in part to Sandy, click here.
The Defense Department has an all Sandy Webpage featuring stories, photos and video here.
The Trouble with Isaac
Part of national security includes protecting Americans in times of natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Hurricane Isaac, which swept the gulf coast of Louisiana and Mississippi last month was one of those disasters.
Here we see U.S. Army Sgt. Lee Savoy lifting a child into a boat from floodwaters caused by Hurricane Isaac in La Place, La., on Aug. 30, 2012. Savoy is attached to the 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Louisiana Army National Guard.
In the photo below, a U.S. Coast Guard Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) returns from a medical evacuation of a truck driver along the flooded frontage road by the Highway 55 underpass in LaPlace, Louisiana Aug. 31, 2012.
For more photos of the rescue and relief work in Louisiana, click here.
For photos from Mississippi, click here.
This week’s FRIFO performs double duty. It gives an inside view of all the gauges, displays and switches that pilots of the HC-130H have to monitor to get where they’re going (always a popular topic with 4GWAR visitors). It also highlights this year’s Operation Arctic Shield exercise in the Far North of Alaska.
Arctic Shield, which runs until October is an exercise to determine what capabilities the Coast Guard needs to ensure it can respond to search and rescue or disaster relief missions — like an oil spill — in the harsh Arctic environment. With polar sea ice melting and the world’s thirst for fossil fuel sources of energy growing, more activity is expected in Arctic waters in the near future, including: oil and gas drilling, commercial fishing, tourism and trans-oceanic cargo transport.
But the nearest Coast Guard station to the Arctic is in Kodiak, Alaska – thousands of miles away. The Coast Guard’s only ice breaking vessel is even farther away, so during the summer and early fall, Arctic Shield will deploy a temporary Coast Guard air station at Barrow, Alaska on the Arctic Sea.
Fixed wing aircraft as well as two HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters will be deployed in and around Barrow and Coast Guard cutters will be on patrol at sea.
The photo below shows the big four-engine Hercules at Kodiak.
To see a Defense Department slideshow of preparations for Arctic Shield, click here.
For other photos, click here.
Nigerian Pirates Extending Range
Piracy is on the rise in the waters off west Africa – especially in an around Nigeria – according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Global Piracy Report.
While the number of incidents and ships seized by pirates is down for the 1st Quarter of 2012, compared to the first three months of 2011, the threat of Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden remains high, with attacks off Nigeria, Benin and other West African countries increasing, said the Kuala Lampur-based IMB.
Worldwide, there were 102 incidents of piracy or armed robbery at sea during January to March 2012, compared to 142 incidents for the same period last year. In 2012, 11 vessels were reported hijacked worldwide, with 212 crew members taken hostage and four slain. Additionally, 45 vessels were boarded with 32 attempted attacks and 14 vessels fired upon. Five locations were responsible for 70 percent of the 102 incidents: There were 28 incidents near Somalia, 18 near Indonesia, 10 in the waters near Nigeria, 8 in the Gulf of Aden and 7 in the Red Sea.
Nigerian piracy has been “increasing in incidence and extending in range,” says Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. The number of reported incidents is twice what it was for the same period last year. At least six of the Nigerian incidents occurred more than 70 nautical miles from the coast “which suggests that fishing vessels are being used as mother ships to attack shipping further afield,” Mukundan said.
But Somalia continues to dominate with 43 attacks including the hijacking of nine vessels and 144 crew members taken hostage. That’s down from 97 incidents and 16 hijackings in the 1st Quarter of 2011. The IMB report suggests actions by numerous navies off the Horn of Africa are responsible for the drop in incidents.
However “it is unlikely that the threat of Somali piracy will diminish in the short to medium term, unless further actions are taken,” the report concluded.
Here is a link to the IMB’s Live Piracy Incident Map.
Take a look at all that frozen wasteland. The Russian tanker Renda follows a path through the ice of the Bering Sea made by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB-20). The Seattle-based Healy – the only polar ice breaker in the U.S. fleet — assisted Renda on its mission to deliver more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel to Nome, Alaska, after a winter storm restricted a scheduled delivery by barge.
The storm prevented November’s scheduled delivery, leaving Nome’s 3,500 residents without enough gasoline and diesel fuel before the next scheduled delivery in late May or June. The 370-foot tanker set out from Russia in mid-December. It stopped in South Korea to pick up diesel fuel and then called at Dutch Harbor, Alaska to load up unleaded gasoline. Renda left the Alaskan port — accompanied by Healy — on Jan. 3.
The 420-foot Healy — yes, the ice breaker is bigger than an oil tanker — is designed to break 4 ½ feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero (Farenheit).Unlike most ocean-going vessels, the Healy has a blunt, rounded bow that enable it to ride up on top of the ice. As the bow goes up and the stern (rear) sinks below the water, the force of buoyancy acting on the submerged part of the stern create a lever-like action bringing Healy’s 16,000 tons down onto the ice — breaking it, according to Lt. Commander Kristen Serumgard of the Coast Guard’s Office of Cutter Forces.
After a 5,000-mile journey, the Renda made it — almost — into port at Nome on Jan. 14. Because of the tremendous amount of ice that was as hard as concrete, the Renda pumped out its cargo through hoses that stretched over 500 yards to the distribution facility. See photo below. The Renda completed pumping out its cargo on Jan. 19.
To see a slideshow of the two vessels’ mercy mission through 500 miles of ice-packed Bering Sea, click here.
For more information on the Healy’s mission breaking up the ice for the Renda, click here.
To see a short (27 second) video on You Tube of the two ships in the frozen north, click here.
NORAD Tracking Santa
As we write this, Santa Claus is somewhere over New England on his annual whirlwind trip around the world dispensing toys and other presents.
We know this because NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is tracking the jolly old elf through one of the most effective radar detection systems the world has ever seen. The joint U.S.-Canadian air and space defense operation headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, has been keeping an eye on Santa’s yearly itinerary since 1955 when a child’s errant call to a department store hotline was answered at the air defense command by an Air Force colonel with a sense of whimsey. What started out as a kind gesture has turned into a tradition involving hundreds of volunteers including First Lady Michelle Obama.
But that’s not all the defenders of liberty and democracy doing this holiday season. From North Carolina to Japan, from Bahrain to Arizona and lots of places in between, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are keeping people safe, spreading a little seasonal cheer in their communities and bringing joy to some deserving little people. Below is a sample of some of the doings.Please click on the photos to enlarge them.
Your 4GWAR editor wishes all our visitors a happy and safe holiday season … and urges you all to keep watching the skies — you never know who may be flying by.
More than 2,000 guests are entertained by 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, accompanied by the Craven Community Choir, during the annual Christmas Concert 2011 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
Santa Claus greets sailors and their families a San Diego, California after landing in a Navy HS-60F Seahawk helicopter for the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 10 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 children’s Christmas party. The First Class Petty Officer Associations from both commands sponsored the event, which included bounce houses, balloon, animals, and gifts from Santa.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Loadmaster Flight Non-commissioned officer in charge, pushes a pallet of fuel onto a C-17 Globemaster III prior to a mission Dec. 23. The 816th EAS airdropped 40 pallets of fuel to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The fuel will be used for generators, heaters and vehicles. Morris is deployed from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.
Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division — and toys — prepare for the 14th annual Randy Oler Toy Drop at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The toy drop is an annual event where soldiers donate new, unwrapped toys and also get a chance to train and jump with international jumpmasters. The donated toys are distributed to underprivileged children within the community.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Martin Platek
U.S. Marine Corps Medium Helicopter Squadron 764 (HMM-764) of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, flew CH-46E helicopters into the Grand Canyon, over Supai Village, during the beginning stages of Operation Havasupai. HMM-764′s mission was to join the Flagstaff Community Toys For Tots Organization in delivering Santa Claus and toys to children of the Havasupai tribe, as well as conduct training operations throughout the Grand Canyon.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of the rough and remote country the Marine helos visited.
Children from the Bahrain School sing Christmas carols to U.S. service members and civilian employees at the Naval Support Center on the Middle East island nation.
Sometimes the troops and their families are on the receiving end of holiday generosity. More than 800 tree growers and their customers donated about 900 trees to Fort Bragg soldiers through the Christmas Spirit Foundation’s Trees for Troops program.
Cold Air Drop
Petty Officers 2nd Class Chris Smith (right) and Jared Morrison prepare a canister with equipment to be dropped to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis St. Laurent near the North Pole Sept. 7, 2011. Smith and Morrison conducted three canister drops to the two icebreakers. Both Coast Guardsmen are HC-130 Hercules airplane crewmen assigned to Air Station Kodiak, Alaska.
The Healy, based in Seattle, Washington, is the Coast Guard’s newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker. It is designed to break 4.5 feet-thick ice continuously at three knots. The ship can operate in conditions as low as 50 degrees below zero (Farenheit).
The Healy crew is working with the Canadian crew to map the Arctic sea floor and conduct scientific research.
Friday Foto Two-fer
Here is a shot showing what a tough target the two ice breakers made.