Archive for January, 2010

FRIDAY FOTO (Jan. 29, 2010)

Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Laura Goodgame

On Top of Things

High above Ghazni Province in East Central Afghanistan, U.S. Army Specialist Kayla Moore covers her sector in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter traveling from Forward Operating Base Lightning to Contingency Base Ajiristan. Moore, a Black Hawk crew chief, is assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. (Click on picture to see larger image.)


January 29, 2010 at 7:41 am Leave a comment


Navy Standing Up Tenth (Cyber) Fleet

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst

The U.S. Navy will stand up its cyber operations unit, the so-called Tenth Fleet, this week, says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. Speaking at a Washington think tank gathering), Roughead said the new entity — Fleet Cyber Command — will open for business Friday (Jan. 29) at Fort Meade, Maryland, which is also home of the National Security Agency (NSA).

Fleet Cyber Command is the Navy’s component of U.S. Cyber Command, a joint services subcommand created by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last June as a way of unifying the defense of U.S. military computer systems and networks.  However, Senate confirmation hearings have yet to be held for Cyber Comand’s designated leader, Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA.

At a Center for New American Strategy (CNAS) panel discussion on defending the contested commons –the planet’s commonly-used areas: the high seas, the air, space and cyberspace — Roughead also said space and cyberspace were both crucial to Navy communications. Roughead noted that the Navy operates “the largest corporate internet in the world with over 700,000 users and 300,000 work stations.” He added that the Navy has created an “information dominance corps,” bringing intelligence and information technology specialists, cartographers and cryptologists together to keep ahead on information and intelligence.

Roughead was part of a panel, including the Air Force vice chief of staff, Gen. Carol Chandler, discussing the importance of a just-released CNAS report on securing the contested commons. The report states that U.S. dominance, or even access to, the global commons will not be a certainty in the future. The rise of often ruthless non-state actors, the effects of global climate change and easier access fro all to potent new technologies threaten the safety and accessibility of the commons.

The 200-page report, available on the CNAS Website, recommends that the U.S.: work with the international community in developing agreements that preserve the openness of the commons; enlist “pivotal” states and non-state actors in the protection of the global commons; and develop capabilities to defend and sustain the global commons including, long range reconnaissance and strike systems combined with cruise-missile equipped attack submarines. It also recommends building up the air forces of allies and partners and pursuing an international no-first use agreement against kinetic strikes on satellites (except to protect Earth’s population from out-of-control satellites.).

January 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment


CIA World Book via Wikipedia

All Politics is Local

The Washington Post had an interesting story Sunday on the political controversy over the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station on Okinawa. Built in 1947, the air station’s 8,000-foot runway is now in a densely packed urban area. Locals complain about the noise and possible danger from aircraft mishaps while the Marines’ air operations are hampered by flight restrictions. Under a 2006 agreement with then-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the air station was to move to a lightly populated area on Okinawa’s north shore. But a new Japanese government, elected last August, thinks the security relationship with the U.S. is too one-sided and wants the Marines off Okinawa – and possibly out of Japan completely. That would eliminate the only mobile ground force the U.S. has in East Asia, say the Marines.

However, the same issue of the Post had a brief story on a possible funding scandal involving a key strategist of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. That could affect the party’s voter support, according to a Reuters story out of Tokyo. Complicating matters: a candidate who opposes the existing plan to relocate the base won a local election on Sunday.

Disputin’ Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says now that things have calmed down somewhat in the North Caucasus region, which has been wracked by an Islamic insurgency, it’s time to improve the quality of life there by creating jobs, according to a Reuters story. Putin called for the creation of special economic zones to lure investors to the region, which Reuters notes is still “very tense” with a growing number of shootings and bomb attacks against police and officials.

But human rights groups say a lot of the recent violence has been directed against their workers looking into local police and security forces excesses, according to an Associated Press report. One leading rights group, Memorial, closed its Chechnya chapter following the July slaying of rights activist Natalya Estemirova. Putin, in televised remarks, called on regional authorities “to do everything for the support of normal work and daily activity of rights-defending organizations in the Caucasus,” the AP report said.

January 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (Jan. 22, 2010)

HAITI: Where do you begin?

Defense Dept. photo by Fred W. Baker III (click on image to enlarge)

Remember the scene in “Gone With the Wind” when Scarlett is looking for a doctor amid a train yard packed with Confederate soldiers wounded in the Battle of Atlanta? That image must have crossed the minds of some U.S. military and civilian aid workers when the reached Haiti after last week’s devastating earthquake. Tens of thousands died. Hundreds of thousands more were injured and left without food, water and shelter. Here Army Capt. Jon Hartsock of the 82nd Airborne Division oversees a crowd of mostly women waiting for distribution of food near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 19. Hartsock’s unit, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, has been providing security for aid workers as they distribute food and water to desperate quake survivors. The throng nearly became uncontrollable late in the day as record crowds pushed forward and the food supply dwindled. For more photos click here.

January 22, 2010 at 11:03 am 2 comments

FOOD FOR THOUGHT (China in Africa)

U.S. Navy photo

Where’s AFRICOM?

Just back from a trip to South Africa, and earlier travels to Rwanda and Kenya, Robert O’Brien writes at the CBS News website about China’s growing role in Sub Saharan Africa. “Beijing is on the move in Africa — using aid, diplomacy, weapons sales and Chinese ex pats in a bid to become the pre-eminent power in the region,” O’Brien writes.

The reason: oil, minerals and other natural resources that China lacks. O’Brien says the U.S., with an African-America president and no colonial past to overcome on the continent, has an opportunity to counter Chinese inroads diplomatically and culturally.

He also argues that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) — the newest U.S. joint regional command — should move its headquarters from Germany to somewhere in Africa. Moving AFRICOM “would immediately provide the host country with an economic boost. It would also allow us to work closely on the ground with the AU (African Union) on peace keeping logistics and training,” O’Brien says.

Only problem, according to the Pentagon, just one country — Liberia — has expressed any interest in hosting AFRICOM HQ, and several governments — Nigeria, for one — have been hostile to the idea of a U.S. military presence nearby.

Chinese Building Boom — in Algeria

Meanwhile, “some 50 Chinese firms, largely state-controlled,” have been awarded $20 billion in Algerian government construction contracts  — or 10 percent of the massive investment plan including housing, highway and airport improvements promised by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, according to an Associated Press story on the ABC News site.

China is a latecomer to the North African nation’s biggest asset, the oil and gas under its portion of the Sahara Desert, which is dominated by U.S. firms, says the AP story.  “But we’re very active for the prospecting of new fields,” says Ling Jun, deputy head of the Chinese Embassy in Algiers, according to the piece by Alfred de Montesquiou.

Noting the Competition

Last March, in written testimony submitted to both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Gen. William (Kip) Ward, AFRICOM’s commander noted:

“Over the last ten years, China’s interests in Africa have increased significantly. China is the world’s leading consumer of copper, steel, cobalt and aluminum, and is second only to the United States as an importer of African oil. India, as of April 2008, pledged to invest $500 million over the next five years in development projects in Africa, and also pledged to double financial credit to African countries from $2 billion dollars during the past five years to $5.4 billion over the next five years. The actions and contributions of both of these nations demonstrate the active role they play in Africa today.”

AFRICOM says its mission is to promote “a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.”  Although tiny (1,300 personnel) compared to other regional commands, AFRICOM seeks to partner with African nations to  maintain professional military organizations that operate with integrity, deter or defeat transnational threats — including terrorist organizations like al Qaeda — and support peace efforts

The command received $75.5 million for Fiscal Year 2008 and $310 million for Fiscal 2009. The Obama administration has requested $278 million for U.S. Africa Command for Fiscal Year 2010.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Andre Amantine trains Ugandan soldiers/students in Counter Terrorism at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda. (Photo by Master Sgt. Loren Bonser)

January 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm 1 comment

INTERNATIONAL RELIEF (Haiti-Jan. 16, 2010)

Marines (and Navy) Bound for Haiti

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Map

The 2,200 marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are headed for Haiti to provide earthquake relief assistance on shore and off. The MEU will provide engineering support, medical assistance and water purification equipment.

The MEU, which includes aircraft and logistics elements, is leaving its tanks and Harrier fighter jets behind but bringing trucks, earth moving equipment and light armored vehicles.

The force is deploying aboard three Navy ships – USS Bataan, USS Carter Hall and USS Fort McHenry – with CH-53 Super Stallion and UH-1 Huey helicopters.  The ships are expected to reach Haitian waters Tuesday (Jan. 19).

USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) loads equipment at Little Creek, Va., before departing for Haiti. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Watson)

The Bataan (LHD 5) is an amphibious assault ship equipped with a 600-bed hospital. It also carries large air cushioned landing craft (LCAC) that can move large loads of equipment and personnel to shore quickly. A video at the Marine Corps Times gives a good idea of the size and capability of the Bataan.

Both the USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and Carter Hall (LSD 50) are amphibious dock and landing ships that will also help move equipment in large amonts to shore. The port facilities in Port-au-Prince were wrecked by the 7.0-magnitude arthquake on Tuesday.

The 22nd MEU, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will deploy with additional French- and Creole-speaking interpreters, public affairs specialists and possibly more medical personnel and engineers from other Marine units, according to Marine Corps Capt. Clark Carpenter.

The 22ns MEU consists of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (three infantry companies, a weapons company, artillery battery and headquarters and service company), the 22nd Combat Logistics battalion (with military police, medical, maintenance, motor transport, engineering and landing support units) and — for this trip — eight CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., according to Marine Corps Times.

Amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) heading for Haiti with 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Watson)

January 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (Jan. 15, 2010)

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Edgington

Patrolling for Pirates

With all the excellent news coverage of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, 4G WAR thought it might be worth noticing what the U.S. military is doing elsewhere in the world, say, in the waters between Africa and the Middle East. Here we see Coast Guard Ensign Victor Nitividad (left) and Navy Cryptology Technician 3rd Class Matthew Hunter– both from the guided missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG65) — prepare to board a dhow in the Gulf of Aden. The Ticonderoga-class Chosin is the flagship of Combined Joint Task Force 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counterpiracy off the coast of Somalia. The ensign is a member the Coast Guard’s maritime safety and security team, while the sailor is a member of Chosin’s visit, board, search and seizure team. They both look like they’re prepared for more than just a visit. (Let us know if you disagree with our decision to skip Haiti for the Friday Foto.)

January 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

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