FRIDAY FOTO (May 19, 2017)

The Starting Lineup.

US, Italy and Jordan special operations conduct combat search and rescue

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

We haven’t had many photos of special operations forces lately, and since Special Ops is one of the topics we focus on here at 4GWAR, we’re glad to share this photo.

Here U.S. Air Force special tactics airmen, Italian special operations forces and members of the Jordanian Armed Forces Special Task Force conduct a simulated assault on a compound during exercise Eager Lion 17.

Eager Lion is being conducted at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center in Amman, Jordan. This photo was taken May 11, 2017.

Air Force special tactics airmen are highly skilled operators trained and equipped to operate in difficult conditions with stealth, speed and teamwork. Their specialties include: combat controllers, para-rescuemen (or PJs), Special Operations Weather Team members, Tactical Air Control Party members and the Special Operations Surgical team.

To see what people with these specialties do, click on the highlighted words above.

May 19, 2017 at 3:44 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Gen. Beauregard’s Retreat.

Statue Removed.

Beauregard's Statue New Orleans

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle.)

When your 4GWAR editor took this photo of the imposing statue of Civil War general Pierre G.T. Beauregard in New Orleans in January, we did not think it would soon be a figure of controversy — and eventually removed from public view.

The heroic bronze stood outside New Orleans’ City Park and your editor had just gotten off one of the Big Easy’s lovely streetcars on our way to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which we had never visited in several previous trips to New Orleans.

The statue of the Confederate general, who ordered the first shots of the Civil War to be fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, is one of many civic artworks around the city.

But it was one of four monuments to heroes of the Confederacy that the New Orleans City Council voted to remove last year. The city already has removed one statute of Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, as well as a memorial to a white rebellion against a biracial Reconstruction-era government in the city, according to the Miami Herald.  The last memorial to come down will be a landmark statue of General Robert E. Lee atop a pillar at a prominent downtown traffic circle.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for removing the monuments in the aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos, recharging the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage, the Herald noted.

Beauregard, a French creole from Louisiana is credited with championing the design of that now-incendiary battle flag. A West Point graduate, Beauregard ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New Orleans in 1858 and was in command of the troops that fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor three years later, the New York Times noted.

Beauregard was second-in-command at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) but his star faded during the war, partly because of his vanity and grandiosity — his detractors dubbed him “Little Napoleon” — and partly because of a long-running feud with Davis, the prickly Confederate  president, who was also a West Point grad and hero of the Mexican-American War.

According to the New Orelans Times-Picayune (and who would know better?) Beauregard was appointed superintendent of West Point in January 1861 but the appointment was rescinded one day later when Louisiana seceded from the Union. Although he came from a slave-owning family and fought for the Confederacy, Beauregard argued after the war for black voting rights and integrating schools, transportation and public places. He also had a hand in developing the city’s streetcar system after the war and headed the Louisiana Lottery, the biggest gambling operation in 19th Century America.

The Times-Picayune piece answered a question that had been bothering your editor since we first read the inscription at the statue’s base. The general’s full name was Pierre Gustav Toutant-Beauregard, yet the statute identified him simply as G.T. Beauregard. Why? It turns out Beauregard, who didn’t learn to speak English until he was sent away to school at age 12, nevertheless hated his first name, dropped it and the hyphenated last name when he enrolled at West Point.

By the way, not all of the statues in New Orleans are controversial For example, take this gilded statute of Joan of Arc near the French Market.

Joan of Arc

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

SHAKOSHAKO 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.

May 18, 2017 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 12, 2017)

Dramatic Demonstration.

FRIFO 5-11-2017 Apache Wall of Fire

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Technical Sergeant Jorge Intriago)

Here at  4GWAR, we don’t think we’ve seen a photo quite as cinematic as this one. It shows an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter flying in front of a wall of fire during the South Carolina National Guard’s Air and Ground Expo at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. on May 6, 2017.

This two-day event featured more than 100 static displays of aircraft and ground vehicles, military equipment from the past and present, as well as aerial and ground demonstrations “with lots of pyrotechnics,” according to a National Guard press release. The photo above proves they weren’t kidding.

 

May 12, 2017 at 12:12 am 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 5, 2017)

Projecting Power.

FRIFO 5-5-207 F-18s on USS Theodore Roosevelt

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Clayton)

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) travels in the Pacific Ocean during a training event off the coast of Southern California on April 30, 2017.

One of the main functions is to project U.S. power into remote areas of the world, a mission flattops have been performing since the 1940s.

Parked on the flight deck are the Roosevelt’s main offensive weapon, the F/A-18C Hornet jet fighter. You can also see the shadow of the helicopter used to take this photo.

 

May 5, 2017 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

CALENDAR: Unmanned Systems; Veterans’ Healthcare and Close Air Support.

May Events.

Calendar1

Here at 4GWAR we’re reviving our monthly calendar of newsworthy military, aviation, unmanned systems and homeland security events. May is shaping up to be a busy month starting with the annual unmanned systems industry event meeting and trade show in Dallas May 8-11.

New treatment techniques and new technology will be among the topics discussed May 15-18 at VA Healthcare 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

And from May 22-24 the best ways to support and protect ground troops from the air will be discussed at the Close Air Support Summit in Washington, D.C.

Robots, Drones and Droids.

More than 7,000 industry leaders and professionals from over 55 countries are expected to attend XPONENTIAL 2017, the annual unmanned systems and robotics trade show and conference, at the Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas next week.

AUVSI Atlanta 2015

AUVSI’s 2015 conference and trade show in Atlanta. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

The exhibit hall will showcase more than 600 companies from around the world, representing more than 20 industries, including energy and construction, defense, automated vehicles and cinematography. Speakers slated to attend include: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich,  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and executives from Airbus Defence and Space, GE Oil & Gas, and Northrop Grumman.

The event is hosted by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

VA HEALTHCARE.

Government officials, healthcare executives, medical educators and technology experts and companies will meet at the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel in northern Virginia (May 15-18).

VA Healthcare 2017 comes as the VA health care system copes with a surge of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts seeking physical and mental health services. The number of veterans enrolling for VA healthcare grew from 7.9 million in 2006 to nearly 9 million last year.

Topics will include the VA nursing shortage, training personnel, the effect of combat deployments on women vets and their healthcare needs, advanced medical simulation systems and alternative medical treatments for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The event is organized by Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT.

Top Air Force officials from the United States, Germany and other NATO nations will  discuss the future of close air support in an era of unconventional warfare that could see conventional conflicts break out in the Middle East, Eastern Europe or the Korean peninsula.

300px-A-10_Thunderbolt_II_In-flight-2

The A-10 Lightning II, better known as the “Warthog.

The event is sponsored by IDGA, a division of IQPC.

Topics of discussion at the Close Air Support Summit will include future use of the AC-130 gunship, A-10 ground attack jet and F-35 fifth generation fighter/bomber. Also of concern: the U.S. Air Force’s close air support strategy in future operations; the challenge of conflicts in urban environments; training tactical air traffic controllers, developing light attack aircraft to fill the gap between the heavily armored, slow-moving A-10 and the supersonic F-35, which is more lightly armed for ground attack.

The event was organized by IDGA, a division of IQPC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 28, 2017)

Tradition meets Tradition.

FRIFO 4-28-2017

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Devan K. Gowans)

Folk dancers in Papua New Guinea line up with U.S. Marines and sailors during a  closing ceremony banquet for a military tactics training exchange at Taurama Barracks, Papua New Guinea.

Marines and sailors assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted the training with Papua New Guinea Defense Force service members.

 

 

April 28, 2017 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

AIRCRAFT: The Close Air Support Debate

Supersonic Swiss Army Knife Vs. Flying Tank.

Here is a photo of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, America’s newest fighter/bomber and the most expensive military acquisition program in U.S. history.

f-35a-lightning-ii_008-ts600

A Fifth Generation Fighter with a host of targeting and surveillance sensors, the Lockheed Martin F-35 was develop[ed with the ability – depending on the variant – to fly off an aircraft carrier or take off and land vertically on an amphibious ship or tiny airstrip. Some have called this multi-role aircraft a flying Swiss Army knife because of its advanced integrated avionics and next generation radar-evading stealth technology. It is also a flying intelligence platform with enormous processing power and sophisticated sensors.

The F-35, officially known as the Lightning II, has a range of capabilities including: air-to-air combat; close air support; ground attack and intelligence gathering for joint and coalition irregular warfare operations, as well as major combat ops.

The next photo is the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Sporting the latest 1970s technology, it was built to blow up Soviet tanks in Cold War battles that never happened.  Better known as the “Warthog,” for its homely appearance, punishment-absorbing air frame and ferocious attack capabilities, the hog has won the respect of pilots and the love of ground troops in deployments from Bosnia to Iraq and Afghanistan and currently against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

A-10 Warthog

The single seat, twin engine jet’s sturdy airframe and fearsome armament, including a 30-milimeter, seven-barrel GAU-8/A Gatling gun, have led some to call it a flying tank. But those features made it ideal for delivering close air support to troops on the ground.

Because of congressionally-mandated budget constraints, the U.S. Air Force has been trying, since 2014, to retire the approximately 300 remaining A-10s. The cost of maintaining and upgrading the 40-year-old Warthogs threatened funding for the F-35 and two other top priority Air Force programs: the long range strike bomber and a new aerial refueling tanker. The Pentagon said the Air Force could save $3.5 billion over five years by retiring the A-10 fleet rather than upgrading it. Instead, said then- Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh — himself a former A-10 pilot — the  F-35 could handle the A-10’s single mission of close air support.

But the A-10’s very vocal supporters in Congress, like Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), disputed that claim. They maintained the F-35, flying at Mach 1.6 (approximately 1,200 mph), moved too fast to loiter over a battlefield, while its lighter 25-milimeter canon only carried 182 rounds in the Air Force variant ( 220 rounds in the Navy and Marine Corps versions), compared to the Warthog’s 1,100-round capacity.

General Electric GAU-8/A

A size comparison of the GE GAU-8 Gatling gun, used on A-10 Thunderbolt II, and a Volkswagen Beetle. (U.S. Air Force photo via wikipedia)

Other advocates argued the A-10 could also fly combat search and rescue and surveillance missions. McCain noted in a white paper that funding constraints led the Air Force to slow procurement to a maximum 48 aircraft a year between Fiscal years 2018 and 2022. He has called for buying 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters” to bridge the gap. The Air Force plans to test light attack aircraft at the OA-X demonstration this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The Air Force also says it will not begin retiring the A-10 fleet before 2021, but Congress put language in the latest defense authorization bill barring the Air Force from parking the A-10s until it proves the F-35 can take over the close air support role.

To learn more, visit the Close Air Support Summit 2017 page on the IDGA website.

April 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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