Posts tagged ‘Marine Corps’
Hitting the Beach
The cloudy brown bursts above the water are simulated artillery fire from the beach defenders while the white smoke is being generated as a screen by the marines’ amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs). Ssang Yong, which stands for ‘Twin Dragons,” measures the amphibious capabilities of the South Korea-U.S. Navy-U.S. Marine Corps team.
For the exercise, both the ROK and U.S. AAVs were commanded by the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Click on the photo above to see an enlarged and more detailed version of this image. To see more photos of this beach assault exercise, click here.
Inside the Osprey
Cobra Gold, the largest and oldest military exercise in Southeast Asia, originally started as a training exercise to strengthen the relationship, mission readiness and interoperability between troops of the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States. This year, the 33rd iteration of Cobra Gold, the United States and Thailand welcomed participants from Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and, for the first time, the People’s Republic of China.
The exercise included an amphibious operations, helicopter assault, disaster site evacuation and training with live ammunition, according to the Pattaya Mail. The U.S. Marines seen here are with 2nd platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
To see what the Osprey tilt rotor aircraft looks like from the outside and other photos of the exercise, click here.
Trying Something New
The U.S. Navy has a nearly silent TV commercial that notes 70 percent of the world is covered by water, 80 percent of the people in the world live near water and 90 percent of all trade around the world travels by water.
The ad concludes with a massive aircraft carrier cruising past. Get the message?
But the Navy and the Marine Corps have both acknowledged that a lot of those people living near water reside in cities on the coast or along rivers where big ships can’t go. In future conflicts that could pose an access problem.
The solution was supposed to be the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – a vessel small and light enough to naviagte shallow coastal waters, but carrying enough armament to do the jobs of chasing submarines and clearing away mines in “premissive environments” where the opposition isn’t packing a lot firepower — think: pirate strongholds and failed states without an air force or long range missiles.
Since the $32 billion program began in 2002, the LCS development has encountered numreous problems including cost overruns and a complex competition that led to construction of two separate designs by Lockheed Martin and Austal (an Australian company). There have also been firepower, crew manning and vulnerability issues. Critics say it is too lightly armed and armored to survive battle in a contested area, like the waters off China or North Korea.
“LCS is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat,” according to a 2013 report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, because the LCS design requirements do not include “survivability features necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy’s other surface combatants.”
Facing severe post-Afghanistan budget cuts, the Pentagon wants to stop acquisition of both versions of the ship – at 32 vessels instead of the planned 52.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday (February 24) that he was concerned the Navy was “relying too heavily on the LCS” to achieve its long-term goals for expanding the size of the fleet to 300 ships to meet demands for global presence.
“We need to closely examine whether the LCS has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific,” Hagel said, noting that if the program is allowed to grow to 52 ships, the lightly armed LCS would represent one-sixth of the future 300-ship Navy.
“Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict,” Hagel concluded.
So he’s directed the Navy to submit alternative proposals for procuring “a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.”
Those proposals — to include a completely new design, existing ship designs and a modified LCS design — are due back to Hagel later this year in time for planning next year’s budget request.
Speaking at a defense industry conference in Washington today, Admiral James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the decision, calling it smart “to look at what else can we do” with the existing two LCS designs “or with a different concept to make sure we are covered in the future..”
However the new vessel turns out, Winnefeld told Bloomberg’s BGOV Defense Summit, he thinks there is great potential for it to perform additional jobs, including strike and special operations missions, as well as offering a potential platform for the Marines.
But the admiral indicated it was too soon to count the LCS out completely. “I think the LCS is going through it’s V-22 phase,” he said, harking back to the criticisms of the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft during its development, especially after several fatal crashes.
From Africa to Afghanistan to East Asia, V-22s are now very popular with area commanders. “There’s a demand signal out there in the real world today – I wish I could tell you all about it – for V-22s. I wish we had more out there,” Winnefeld said.
Our friend and colleague, Aviation Week’s Mike Fabey, is the winner of the 2014 Timothy White Award, given by the American Business Media association to a journalist who demonstrates “bravery, integrity, passion and quality of product.” Fabey, Aviation Week’s Naval Editor, was cited for his work detailing design, fabrication and operational problems with the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship. To see more, click here.
Ride Hike the High Country
Lance Corporal Eleanor Roper hauls a Marine Corps Cold Weather Infantry Kit sled during a field exercise at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California.
Roper is a field radio operator with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
The 228 Marines and sailors with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, conducted cold-weather mobility training at the Mountain Warfare Training Center between January 14 and 28.
It’s all in preparation for the upcoming NATO exercise, Cold Response 2014, next month in Norway. The biennial exercise, hosted by the Norwegian Armed Forces will run from March 10 to 21.Some 16,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen from 16 countries are expected to participate this year, according to the Barents Observer. Last time, participating countries included Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Britain and France.
“The main thing is getting used to operating in extreme cold-weather environments and getting the benefits of the opportunity to train in the mountains, train our basic rifleman skills and provide logistics for 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines,” said 1st Lt. Owen Trotman, a platoon commander and assistant operations officer with Ragnarok Company.
For more photos, click here.
BTW, we don’t know the significance of the Marine company’s name, except Ragnarok was Norse mythology’s version of the “Twilight of the Gods.” In short, the end of the world after a tremendous battle. And some believers say the Viking apocalypse will happen this weekend.
A U.S. Marine and two South Korean marines attempt to flip a boat as they conduct amphibious operations drills during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014, Asia’s biggest military exercise, at Hat Yao in Rayong,Thailand.
The exercise is designed to advance regional security and effective response to regional crises through a multinational force created out of the nations that share common goals and common security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.
The exercise also reaffirms the commitment by the United States and Thailand to their 181-year-old alliance and regional partnership in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year’s participants come from the U.S. and Thailand, but also Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
For the first time, China will participate with a tiny contingent in the exercise, the Straits Times website reported. Beijing has had disputes with several nations — including the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam — over territorial boundaries in the South China Sea.
The Cobra Gold drills started in 1982 and have developed in to the largest multinational military exercise. China has been an observer since 2002 but has never been invited to take part before, according to CCTV.com.
The U.S. Marines participating in the exercise come from the 3rd Marine Division’s 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.
America’s First Defenders
We almost let November go by without mentioning this is National Native American Heritage Month.
The Department of Defense has acknowledged the contributions of Native Americans to the country’s defense in a number of ceremonies, exhibits and performances. On Capitol Hill earlier in the month, Native American “code talkers” who used their tribal dialects to confuse and stymie the enemy in both Word War I and World War II, were honored in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.
The Marine Corps’ Navajo code talkers have gotten a lot of attention, due in part to the 2002 Nicholas Cage film “Wind Talkers,“ but soldiers and Marines from several other tribes including the Comanche, Choctaw and Meswaki thwarted German and Japanese troops listening in on U.S. field telephone and radio communications in both world wars.
According to the U.S. Army, Choctaw Soldiers joined the 36th Infantry Division in October 1918, becoming some of the Army’s first code talkers. The commander of the 142nd Infantry Regiment, said of them: “The enemy’s complete surprise is evidence that he could not decipher the message.” Within 24 hours after the Choctaw sent their first message, the tide of battle turned and U.S. soldiers drove the Germans out of Foret Ferme, France and the Army set up a Choctaw training program.
Native Americans didn’t just serve as code talkers. In the Civil War, the Cherokee and other tribes living in what is now the state of Oklahoma fought for both the Blue and the Gray. The War of 1812 also split the Creek (Muscogee) Indians and other tribes in the Southeastern United States. There were Indians with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War and Indians fought on both sides in the Revolutionary War.
Click here to see a list of American Indians who were awarded the Medal of Honor by the U.S. Army. And click here for some first person accounts of Native Americans who served in World W II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Visit the Defense Department web page to learn more about Native Americans in uniform.
SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.
U.S. Scaling Back
Nearly three weeks after first responding to the typhoon that ravaged the central Philippines, U.S. Marines are reducing their presence in the disaster zone as the need for their unique skills decrease, officials say. Priorities are shifting from emergency relief to long term recovery operations.
The area in and around Tacloban City on the island of Leyte was destroyed November 8 when Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda) struck the area, packing winds reaching over 200 mile per hour. The island of Samar was also hard hit by the super storm. More than 5,000 people died during and after the storm, according to CNN.. Thousands more were injured and more than 1 million people were left homeless.
The first U.S. military assistance arrived on November 10 with two KC-130J Super Hercules tanker/transport aircraft carrying about 80 Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3rd MEB). The Marines’ MV-22 helicopter/fixed wing hybrid has also been flying relief missions in the Philippines as well as MH-60s Seahawks helos and Navy P-3C maritime surveillance and Air Force C-130 Globemaster heavy lift transport airplanes.
The were quickly joined by an eight vessel strike force headed by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The task force includes two guided missile cruisers, two guided missile destroyers and a dry cargo transport ship. On November 22, two amphibious dock landing ships – the USS Ashland and the USS Germantown – replaced the aircraft carrier and its 21 helicopters which delivered relief supplies including food and bottled water to devastated areas of the Philippines.
The Air Force has also been flying its large surveillance drone, the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk over the Philippines disaster area, to help relief workers plan helicopter landing zones and check the status of storm damaged roads and bridges, according to Maj. Ryan Simms, chief of remotely piloted aircraft policy at Air Force headquarters Executive Action Group. The high flying drone has completed three missions, supplying 50 hours’ worth of images, he told a session on non-military uses of unmanned aircraft at the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.
The Ashland and Germantown each carry landing craft for moving large amounts of cargo and equipment ashore. The 900 Marines aboard the two workhorse ships bring heavy equipment which can clear debris.
Joint Task Force 505 (JTF 505) was created by U.S. Pacific Command on November 13 to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the Philippine government and its armed forces.
At its height, JTF 505 included nearly 850 personnel on the ground and an additional 6,200 in the George Washington Strike Group. An additional 1,000 Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) also were sent to aid the Philippines. Personnel and equipment from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have come from Hawaii, Okinawa, Japan and the continental United States, according to the Defense Department.
The British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is also in the Philippines carrying about 500 tons of aid supplies and seven helicopters to deliver them, Sky News reports. Sailors from the HMS Darling supplied fresh water and other relief aid to starving, homeless villagers on remote islands, the Telegraph reported. Japan has sent three naval warships and more than 1,000 personnel to the Philippines on a relief mission, according to the website Euronews.
And Canada has sent a 200 member Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), including Canadian soldiers, three CH-146 Griffon helicopters and a water purification system that can produce 50,000 liters of pure water a day, reported Canadian Press via the Huffington Post.
U.S. humanitarian assistance — especially from the U.S. military — has been a goodwill bonus to America, which has seen its popularity battered internationally because of controversial drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and meta data collection by the National Security Agency. By contrast, China — which at first donated only $100,000 in assistance — suffered a public relations black eye in world opinion. Beijing scrambled to improve its reputation by increasing its aid donation to $1.6 billion and sending a hospital ship, the 300-bed Peace Ark to Philippine waters, the BBC reported.
Like many of its neighbors around the South China Sea, the Philippine government has been in a bitter territorial dispute with China.
Money’s Tight but Threats Are Growing
U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) may be best known for rescuing pirate captives in and around the Horn of Africa and taking out al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan …
… but that’s only a small part of what the SOF community does, says Adm. William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command – which oversees the organization, training and equipping of SOF in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
“Our core competency is understanding this human domain,” McRaven, a Navy SEAL, said during a panel discussion at last month’s Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) conference in Washington. He was referring to understanding the language, culture, history and human networks of any given battle space before operations begin – whether counter insurgency or hostage rescue.
And that competency will be crucial in future conflicts where landpower intersects with the human and cyber domains, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, another member of the panel discussing the human nature of war and its implications for strategic landpower at AUSA. “Human interaction in a complex environment is going to be key to our success in the future,” Odierno said, noting: “I see SOF as the connective tissue between the [local] population and the conventional forces.”
McRaven has been telling audiences that as threats rise globally – but defense funding dwindles in coming years – SOF is going to have to partner with foreign allies, NATO forces and other agencies within the U.S. government like the State Department to accomplish its missions.
“We have limited resources, we have to figure out where we’re going to apply those resources,” McRaven told the Aspen Institute Security Forum in July. But he noted that working with partners is nothing new to SOF. “The larger part of what we do is help build partner capacity,” McRaven told the Aspen, Colorado conference.
To read more of this article, go to the Institute of Defense and Government Advancement‘s website.
Racing Against Time
In the typhoon-ravaged Philippines there is finally a speck of good news. The country’s president says the death toll is expected to be far lower than the early estimates of at least 10,000 dead.
But the region hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan is still largely cut off from humanitarian aid and rescue workers by debris, blocked roads and a near total infrastructure collapse.
The official death toll stood at 1,833 Wednesday (November 13) morning – including nearly 1,300 in the province of Leyte. At least 244 people were killed in Tacloban City, Leyte’s provincial capital, NBC reported.
On Sunday – two days after the storm smashed into the Philippines, packing winds of 195 miles per hour – a regional police official estimated the death toll could hit 10,000. But President Benigno Aquino told CNN that the figure might go above 3,000 dead. But “ten thousand, I think, is too much, Aquino said.
Meanwhile, hungry thirsty survivors are scouring the wreckage hoping to find scraps of food and water.
Rescue operations are being hampered by the devastation, the New York Times reported, with aid supplies piling up but few ways to distribute it. The are plentiful gasoline supplies but no merchants willing to sell it. And there is no place to house the growing number of emergency volunteers, the Times reported.
The Philippine government says it is facing the biggest logistical challenge it has ever encountered. As many as 11 million people have been affected by the monster storm, the BBC reported. Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said the government had been overwhelmed by the storm’s impact, one of the most powerful storms on record.
U.S. military planes have been arriving at Tacloban’s shattered airport, delivering supplies from the World Food program, which is then transported by helicopter to hard-hit areas. The BBC said a French-Beligian field hospital has been set up in Tacloban.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said 250 sailors and Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) are on the ground operating from Philippine air bases. The Marines have four KC-130 transport aircraft and four MV-22 Osprey aircraft to bring in supplies and evacuate the injured and displaced. The key supplies include water, food, shelter, hygiene products and medical supplies. Another four Ospreys were sent from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan — bringing the number of MV-22s sent as aide to Japan — as eight.
The Philippine government says it is facing its biggest ever logistical challenge after Typhoon Haiyan, which affected as many as 11 million people. Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said the government had been overwhelmed by the impact of Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record.
Monster Storm’s Aftermath
Update Includes new photos.
A powerful typhoon struck the central Philippines Friday (November 8) and thousands of people are believed dead with as many as 600,000 left homeless, officials said.
Rescue workers struggled to reach ravaged towns and villages in the area Monday (November 11) as they tried to deliver aid to survivors. Quoting an area police chief, Reuters reported an estimated 10,000 people were killed.
The typhoon destroyed countless lives, houses and other buildings and left Tacloban, the capital city on the island of Leyte without power or communication on Sunday (November 10). Residents were running out of food, water and other vital supplies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Relief operations were hampered because roads, airports and bridges had been destroyed or were covered in wreckage, according to the United Nations.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed U.S. Pacific Command to support U.S. Humanitarian relief operations – requested by the Philippine government – in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
Initially, those efforts will focus on surface maritime search and rescue operations, transport of relief supplies by helicopter and fixed wing aircraft and airborne search and rescue, the Defense Department announced.
DOD is coordinating relief efforts with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Ambassador in Manila.
“The Department of Defense will continue to monitor the effects of Typhoon Haiyan and stands ready to help our ally recover from the storm,” the Pentagon said.
The storm made landfall in north Vietnam, near the Chinese border, the BBC reported. The typhoon still carried wind gusts up to 98 miles an hour (157 kilometers per hour) as if arrived close to the Ha Long Bay tourist destination.