Posts tagged ‘Disaster Relief’
Two U.S. Air Force pararescuemen — assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron — battle the elements to rush a simulated ” victim” to a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during Mass Casualty Exercise 12-1, which started in the Grand Bara Desert of Djibouti in September.
The exercise called for the employment of real-world assets. While French and U.S. forces conduct frequent combined training events, this was the first exercise of this type between the two nations in Djibouti. The U.S. forces involved are assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, or CJTF-HOA. CJTF-HOA which works with coalition partners, such as the French, and with countries in East Africa to promote regional security and stability. To enlarge the photo, just click on the image.
TAMPA, Florida – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to leverage the resources of several top universities to create its own “think outside the box” research entity to tackle overseas threats that can ignite conflict in struggling regions – like food and water shortages, infectious disease and rapid urbanization.
By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by two billion to nine billion people, straining food and water resources – especially in the developing world, Beth Cole, director of USAID’s Office of Military Cooperation told a Special Operations conference here in Tampa this week.
“We realize that if we want to get ahead of the curve, we’ve got to look out to the future and one of the ways we’re going to [do it] is create a DARPA-like entity in USAID,” she said, referring to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – the Pentagon’s high risk research arm that has achieved several high return successes like stealth technology and the Internet.
Last month, USAID announced it was launching the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), a partnership with seven American and foreign universities designed as scientific problem solvers for global development challenges.
According to USAID, the network was created to tap research institutions and their students to: catalyze global action; support entrepreneurship and foster multifaceted approaches to development. Each university will establish Development Labs to work with USAID’s field mission experts and Washington staff to apply science and technology to solve key problems in areas such as global health, food security and chronic conflict. To get the labs going, USAID is providing a total of $26 million to the seven institutions: MIT, the University of California-Berkeley, Michigan State, Duke, Texas A&M University, the College of William and Mary and Uganda’s Makerere University.
Cole enumerated some of the global challenges that will soon confront the world and the organizations trained to keep it safe and peaceful.
Nearly two billion people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Globally, there’s been a 10 percent rise in water-caused disease. The World Health Organization recorded 1,100 epidemics in the last year – many of them spread by animals. “I want you to think about chickens in large cities,” Cole said, noting that the developing world – where economic and educational disparities, food shortages and disease have fueled violent extremist movements – is fast becoming an urban world.
She noted that 75 percent of the world’s largest cities are in the developing world – many of them in the littoral areas close to the sea. The populations of Nigeria and Pakistan “two fragile, conflict-affected states – one of them with nuclear weapons” are projected to grow 30 percent in the near future.
“How are you going to deal with security in teeming cities affected by one of these challenges,” Cole asked attendees at the Special Operations Summit sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).
She noted USAID and U.S. Special Operations Command (which oversees Green Berets, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, Nightstalker helicopter pilots and other special operations personnel) have been cooperating for years in places like Afghanistan to improve security and economic conditions.
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.
U.S. Marines have begun arriving in Australia in the first six-month rotation as part of a cooperation agreement between the two countries. But the pact has raised concerns with China and at least one other country in the region.
About 200 members of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment arrived Tuesday (April 3) in the northern city of Darwin. They are the first contingent of 2,500 Marines expected to be deployed in Australia by 2017. It’s all part of an agreement signed by President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard when Obama was Down Under in November, the New York Times reported. At that time, Beijing criticized the move as a figment of “Cold War mentality” that would destabilize the region.
The Marines will be there largely to train with the Australian Defence Force – particularly in amphibious warfare operations, which the Marines see as one of their primary skills – and a primary reason for continued funding in hard budgetary times. The Third Marines are based in Hawaii.
The agreement between the U.S. and Australia also calls for greater access to Royal Australian Air Force bases for U.S. aircraft and eventually more visits by U.S. Navy vessels to the western Australian naval base outside Perth. The Marines, who will be stationed at Robertson Barracks outside Darwin, will also be better positioned to respond to natural disasters in Southeast Asia and provide humanitarian assistance, U.S. officials told the Voice of America. There will be no U.S. base in Australia, officials said.
Australia has been a close U.S. ally since World War II. Australia sent troops to the Korean and Vietnam wars and Australia has been one of the largest non-NATO contributors of military personnel in Afghanistan. Last year, for the fourth time, the U.S. and Australian militaries conducted a biennial training exercise, Talisman Sabre in northern Australia and adjoining waters. Fourteen thousand U.S. and 9,000 Australian troops participated in the exercise last July.
Under the November agreement, the U.S. troops will be rotated in an out of Australia but not permanently based there. The deployment is part of the Obama administration’s strategy shift focusing on the Asia Pacific region after more than 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. has also reached an agreement with the island nation of Singapore to base two of the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) there. Singapore has been a key player in the efforts to halt piracy in the area near the Malacca Strait, a major maritime choke point through which much of the world’s oil is shipped. Australia is also negotiating with Washington about allowing U.S. unmanned aircraft to fly surveillance missions out of the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean about 1,700 miles/2,750 kilometers from Perth.
The Philippines is also in negotiations with the U.S. to allow a large U.S. troop presence in the former American colony, which evicted U.S. forces from a large air base and naval station there in the 1990s. Filipino law bars U.S. troops from fighting on Philippines oil although there are U.S. military advisers providing medical, veterinary and educational assistance as well as instruction in counter insurgency tactics. But like many of its neighbors, the Philippines has had territorial – and sometimes physical – confrontations with the China, which claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea.
In addition to alarming China, the Marine deployment and the other military moves in Asia raised concerns in Indonesia, according the Australian Boadcasting Corp.
Congo Election Violence
A United Nations report say security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) committed numerous human rights violations – including murders, shooting into crowds and arbitrary arrests – during contentious national elections late last year.
Investigators at the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC found at least 33 people were killed in the nation’s capital, Kinshasa, by security forces during November and December, the Associated Press reported. At least 83 other people were wounded and more than 250 were detained.
President Joseph Kabila won election Nov. 28 for a second-five year term with a reported 49 percent of the vote. But foreign observers, including the European Union and the United States said voting was marred by violence and intimidation.
The human rights abuses were attributed to elements of Kabila’s Republican Guard and the National Congolese police with armed forces troops involved to a lesser extent, Reuters reported.
The DRC – the second largest and fourth most populous country in Africa – has been wracked by civil war, invading armies and militias – including the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army – as well as a refugee crisis for decades. But is has some of the world’s largest copper and cobalt deposits – as well as gold, diamonds and oil.
Mali Soldiers and Rebels
Updates with White House condemnation of coup violence
The North African nation of Mali has been battling an uprising by Tuareg tribesman for months and now the army is up in arms over poor equipment, supplies and compensation for the families of slain soldiers.
As soldiers fired their guns into the air Wednesday (March 21) in Bamako — the land-locked desert nation’s capital– and seized the government’s radio and TV broadcasting center, the question arose: Is it a coup, a mutiny or simply a protest?
The answer is now apparent: It’s a coup. On Thursday leaders of the rebellious soldiers announced on state television that they were ending “the incompetent rule” of President Amadou Toumani Toure and suspending Mali’s constitution to protest the poorly led campaign against the Tuareg rebels, the Voice of America reports.
In Washington, the White House issued a statement strongly condemning the coup’s violence and calling for “the immediate restoration of constitutional rule in Mali, including full civilian authority over the armed forces …” The statement added that the U.S. stood by Toure’s “legitimately elected government.”
Soldiers in a base outside the capital. and at another one closer to the fighting with the Tuaregs, began their protest complaining about the government’s inept response to the Tuareg rebellion that has seen several northen towns fall to the nomadic tribesmen and many soldiers killed or captured
Previously, according to the Associated Press, a Twitter message from Malian President Toumani Toure proclaimed: “There is no coup in Mali. There’s just a mutiny.” Now Toure’s whereabouts are unknown and several cabinet ministers have been arrested, according to reports out of Bamako.
The Tuaregs have sought an independent state in northern Mali for decades but the latest uprising was spurred by the recent return of heavily-armed Tuareg fighters from Libya where they served as mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi before the Libyan strongman was deposed and killed.
Many Malian soldiers have been killed in the fighting for which they claim they are poorly armed and equipped. The Tuaregs have seized several northern towns.
Early reports Wednesday (March 21) said the Army revolt was merely recruits venting their frustration for how the Tuareg conflict was being handled but by late in the day parts of the capital were under the muntineers’ control and Toure was holed up in his presidential palace guarded by his elite Red Berets, according to the AFP news agency.
Meanwhile the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is calling on the Tuareg group known as the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad to halt their attacks and take the Malian government up on its offer of peace talks, the AP reported.
Chad: Sahel Hunger Crisis
In another Northern African desert country, children are starting to die from malnutrition as a hunger crisis looms across the Sahel, the arid borderland that stretches across the continent south of the Sahara.
The international relief agency, Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger), says malnutrition has soared in western Chad.
Aid agencies like Action Against Hunger have been warning for months that the Sahel faces a food crisis because of drought, poor harvests and population dislocated by the war in Libya and the Tuareg revolt in Mali.
The United Nations estimates the crisis could affect at least 15 million people across Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkino Faso, Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania.
All maps, CIA World Factbook
Republic of Congo
At least 200 people were killed when a series of blasts rocked an arms depot in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo.
The explosions were felt across the three-mile-wide Congo River in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as Zaire.
It’s not clear what started the fire at a tank regiment’s barracks located in a densely populated neighborhood, the Associated Press reported. The depot is used to store weapons, including mortars, according to an official at President Denis Sassou-Nguesso’s office told the AP.
Among the dead and injured were several Chinese construction workers building low income housing near the depot, according to China Daily.
An al Qaeda splinter group in northwest Africa is seeking $39 million (30 million euros) for the release of three aid workers kidnapped in Algeria last Fall, the AFP news agency says.
The group, which calls itself “The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa,” is claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of two Spanish nationals and an Italian. The two women and one man were seized in October at Tindouf, a refugee camp in western Algeria. The splinter group is led by Malians and Mauritanians, experts told AFP.
The group broke off from al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb to focus on spreading jihad to west Africa, according to experts.
Afghan Avalanche Rescue
U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Todd Peplow, a helicopter gunner from the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, watches as injured villagers are carried off his Mi-17 helicopter to awaiting ambulances at Fayzabad, Afghanistan. That’s right, his ride is a Russian-made, twin turbine Mi-17 Afghan transport helicopter. The 438th is part of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing which has been training Afghan Air Force pilots, air and ground crews in tasks ranging from maintenance to flight discipline.
In this photo (click on it to enlarge) you can see some of the tools of the trade that the master sergeant carries, including a helmet-mounted video camera, 9 mm pistol, work gloves, a GPS (global positioning system) and a first aid kit.
Peplow was part of a U.S.-Afghan rescue mission in Badakshan province, after an avalanche trapped and injured residents of Shewa Village in northern Afghanistan.Two Mi-17s were sent to rescue the injured as well as the crew of a downed Afghan Mi-17. The downed aircrew supplied triage information about the victims — many suffering frostbite — and helped villagers shovel out a landing zone in minus-15-degree-temperatures.
See the photo below for an idea of the terrain and weather the helo crews faced at the landing site — 9,000 feet above sea level.
For additional photos of the rescue operation, click here.
A formation of U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft fly past Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji during a training mission known as Samurai Surge on Nov. 4, 2011. The object of Samurai Surge is to launch as many available aircraft simultaneously from Yakota Air Base in Japan. In this instance, seven of the 36th Airlift Squadron’s 40-year-old turboprop C-130s were dispatched within minutes of each other.
Yakota is home to the 374th Airlift Wing, which includes the 36th Airlift Squadron. The Air Wing supplies the tactical airlift capability for the western Pacific region. “We go to places like Thailand, Australia, anywhere in the Pacific Command area of responsibility to deliver whatever needs to be delivered,” says Capt. Michael Makaryk of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, one of the air wing’s four groups. The others are the 374th Operations Group, 374th Mission Support Group and the 374th Medical Group.
The 36th Squadron is the only forward-based tactical airlift squadron in the Pacific. It provides C-130 aircrews to transport cargo and personnel, and conduct airdrops, medical evacuation, search and rescue and humanitarian relief missions.
Don’t forget to click on the photo to see a larger image of the C-130s and the mountain.
Water, Water Everywhere
A U.S. Navy SH-60F Seahawk helicopter carrying U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney conducts an aerial survey of flooded areas in and around Bangkok on Monday (Oct. 24). A 10-member survey team from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force assessed the damage to develop a plan for deploying humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
Heavier-than-usual rains during the monsoon season flooded 61 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, affecting 8.2 million people. The deluge, which has killed more than 370 people since July, is threatening to flood parts of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, with as much as six feet of water in coming days.
The 3rd MEF regularly trains to respond to natural disasters during exercises held on Okinawa, where it is based, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Click on the photo to enlarge the image.
To see a photo slide show of the Thai flooding and what the U.S. military is doing to assist the Royal Thai Armed Forces, click here.
To see another slideshow of flood relief efforts, click here.
To view an interactive Google map of the flooded region, click here.