Posts tagged ‘Disaster Relief’
There’s a cautionary saying from the early days of aviation that “only angels have wings.” But here we have a photo of U.S. Air Force special tactics airmen demonstrating their skill with a HALO — high altitude, low opening parachute jump. The object of such a jump is to free fall from a high altitude then open the chute at a low altitude and descend without being detected from the ground.
These airmen are from the 24th Special Operations Wing, part of U.S. Special Operations Command and one of three Air Force wings dedicated to demanding and dangerous jobs like combat controllers, pararescuemen and special operations weather officers.
Combat controllers are special air traffic controllers operating from the ground in combat zones.They provide expert air support coordination and communications capabilities and often accompany Army Special Forces, Army Rangers and Navy SEALS when they deploy into hostile areas.They call in air strikes and control air traffic on and above landing strips and jump zones in hostile or austere environments. They were among the first U.S. troops on the ground during emergency relief efforts after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Pararescuemen, known as PJs, parachute over land or water to render medical assistance and rescue downed pilots and other personnel in combat or natural disaster situations. They are also lowered to ground or water level on a cable to rescue people. Among their many tasks, special operations weather officers and airmen deploy into combat and non-permissive environments (the ‘bad guys’ or ‘bad conditions’ on the ground don’t want you there) to collect and interpret meteorological data and provide ground force commanders with accurate intelligence during a special operations mission.
The HALO jump, from MC-130H Talon II special operations aircraft over Hurlburt Field, Florida, is designed to help participants maintain their qualification for special tactics airmen, trained to jump into hostile or austere environments not accessible to aircraft.
To see a photo slideshow of the pre-jump preparations and the jump itself, click here. As ever, to enlarge the image just click on the photo.
Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Cody Witherspoon keeps a lookout as his MH-60R search and rescue helicopter returns to guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Sampson is supporting Indonesian-led search efforts to locate AirAsia Flight 501, which disappeared from radar screens halfway through a two-hour flight between Surabaya, Indonesia, and Singapore on December 28. Sampson aided in the discovery of a debris field on December 30. An international rescue (later recovery) effort located some wreckage, including the plane’s tail section, on January 6 in the waters of the Java Sea off Borneo. So far the bodies of more than 40 passengers have been found on the surface. The Airbus A320-200 jet was carrying 162 passengers and crew. Witherspoon is assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35,
Reflecting Global Reach.
A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle jet fighter is reflected in the visor of Senior Airman Charlton Hampton during routine, but still risky mid-air refueling near Okinawa, Japan. As security threats and humanitarian crises continue to pop up around the world, mid-air refueling extends the range of Air Force aircraft and the global reach needed to respond to far-flung crises.
A soldier with a bike (and Christmas lights) tied to his back participates in a Toy Ruck March at Fort Polk, Louisiana, on December 18, 2014. During this holiday march, soldiers are encouraged to decorate their rucksacks and headgear for the holidays … and more than 600 toys were collected for distribution throughout the Fort Polk community. This soldier is assigned to the 94th Brigade Support Battalion.
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And, as you can see from the next photo, Toy Ruck Marches are conducted at several military installations across the nation.
A plush toy snowman peeks from a rucksack of as Massachusetts Army National Guard soldiers participate an another toy ruck march sponsored by the 164th Transportation Battalion. The troops trekked from the National Guard armory in Dorchester to Boston Children’s Hospital on December 18, 2014. The soldiers donated over 300 toys to the children’s hospital.
To see some more photos of the good deeds soldiers, Marines and airmen are doing in Alaska, California, Illinois, Japan and Liberia, this holiday season — click here.
This is what U.S. strategy planners are talking about when they discuss projecting power.
Twenty-four big U.S. Air Force cargo airplanes prepare to take off Dec. 6, 2014, from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas in support of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School’s Joint Forcible Entry Exercise 14B. This gathering of eagle includes 11 C-130H Hercules and 13 C-130J Super Hercules heavy lift aircraft. The C-130H models are from various Air National Guard units and the C-130J models are from the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
In addition to the C-130s, the JFEX included approximately 20 C-17 Globemaster IIIs and various other aircraft.
French Hostage Released.
A Frenchman kidnapped by Islamist terrorists in North Africa more than three years ago has been freed, the French government announced today (December 9).
Details of the release of Serge Lazarevic were not disclosed but French officials have insisted that no ransom is paid or prisoners released in exchange for any French hostages. At one time 14 French citizens were being held by terrorists in Africa. A Malian security source told AFP that Lazarevic was released at Kidal in northern Mali.
French President Francois Hollande said there are “no more French hostages in any country in the world.” Another, Phillipe Verdon, who was abducted with Lazarevic in 2011 by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed last year in retaliation for France’s military intervention in Mali to halt a revolt by Islamic extremists and nomadic Tuaregs.
While authorities denied or wouldn’t comment on reports that ransom was paid, a retired French anti-terrorism judge, Alain Marsaud, was more frank. He told France’s RTL radio: “There is no reease if there is no payment. Someone paid, if not the government, a business or insurance company.
A Malian newspaper and two sources, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that several Islamist-linked militants held in Mali were freed.
A Dutch tourist, Sjaak Rijke, kidnapped in Timbuktu in November 2011, has not been seen or heard from since he appeared alongside Lazarevic in a November AQIM video, the BBC reported.
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The World Health Organization reports new cases of Ebola are still rising in West Africa, with Sierra Leone overtaking Liberia with the highest number of cases.
Data published Monday (December 8) by the WHO shows Sierra Leone has recorded 7,798 cases of the deadly virus, making it the country with the fastest growing infection rate, according to the Voice of America website. Meanwhile, infection rates are dropping in Liberia, which now has just over 7,700 cases – but Liberia still has more Ebola deaths than any other country: a little more than 3,100.
Overall, Ebola has infected 18,000 people in Africa and killed 6,346. The vast majority of those cases have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and neighboring Guinea.
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International Court Drops Kenyatta Charges.
The International Criminal Court has dropped its case against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta for alleged crimes against humanity.
The prosecution withdrew the charges Wednesday (December 5) against Kenyatta, citing a lack of evidence. But there were also allegations that because the Kenyan government did not cooperate with the international court’s investigation, the case was unable to proceed, according to the Voice of America website.
The ICC’s lead prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said there was not enough evidence to prove the charges against Kenyatta beyond a reasonable doubt. Bensouda said Kenya’s government failed to provide key documents to the prosecution, which undermined her investigations and “had a severe, adverse impact” on the case. She also said she reserved the right to file charges again if more evidence becomes available.
Kenyatta was charged for his alleged role — before he was president — in the ethnic violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan elections. More than 1,000 were killed and a half million more were displaced by the violence, which prosecutors claimed Kenyatta and his deputy president, William Ruto, incited.
After the ICC dropped the case, Kenyatta – son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta — called it a “travesty” adding that he felt vindicated, the BBC reported. In the Hague, prosecutors accused the Kenyan government of refusing to hand over evidence vital to the case and said officials in Nairobi had intimidated potential witnesses.
An airman role-playing as a simulated vehicle accident victim speaks with a first responder during an emergency response exercise on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. Between them is a less-responsive “victim,” a role being played by a medical training mannequin. Both airmen are assigned to the 18th Security Forces Squadron, part of the 18th Mission Support Group.
The exercise tested the abilities of Kadena emergency responders — from firefighters to security forces and medical personnel — to administer life-saving techniques quickly in a stressful environment.
Defense Department officials have warned that training — whether it’s landing troops on a beach, flying a plane, putting out a fire or working together with foreign military partners — is one of the essential areas facing cutbacks because of congressionally mandated and White House-approved across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.
To see more photos of the exercise, click here.