Archive for July 15, 2011
Copyright Ministère de la Défense
This is one of the more arresting images from the Bastille Day 2011 parade in Paris this week. July 14 marks the storming of the Bastille, a notorious prison in Paris, sparking the French Revolution in 1789. Every year on that date, there is an enormous military parade in Paris with Foreign Legionnaires in their white kepis and red and green epaulettes, sabre-brandishing cavalry of the Republican Guard in plumed helmets, sailors in white caps topped by red pompoms, pilots in flightsuits and all manner of military cadets, national police and speciality troops like those pictured above.
There is usually one or more contingents of foreign troops, invited to participate by the French government to the Bastille Day parade. In 2002, cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point joined the parade, along with New York City firefighters, survivors of the 9/11 attacks on the Word Trade Center.
We assume the troopers above — in camouflage paint and carrying assault rifles — are Special Forces or commandos of some type but unfortunately the photo slideshow on the French Ministry of Defense website doesn’t come with captions (Quel dommage!). If anyone can identify this unit, please let us know in the comment box below or send us an email at:
Update: Apparently this is a unit of French Air Force Parachute Commandos, known as Commandos Parachutistes de l’Air. See the comment below. You can learn more about them at this website:
To see more official photos of the the pageantry click here.
For some absolutely spectacular Reuters photos of the event — with captions — click here.
The Highest Honor
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, who lost his right hand to an exploding grenade while protecting two fellow soldiers, has been awarded the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest military award for bravery. Petry, a native of New Mexico is only the second living service member to receive the Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The veteran Army Ranger was decorated by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony July 12 and later inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes.
Petry, a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, was a staff sergeant with Company D, 2nd Battalion of the 75th Rangers May 26, 2008 during a daylight raid on an insurgent compound in search of an al Qaeda leader. Already shot through both legs, Petry grabbed the grenade that landed within feet of himself and two other Rangers and began to throw it away just as it exploded. Despite the shock and pain, Petry put a tourniquet around his mangled arm himself and radioed for help.
It wasn’t the first time Petry was cited for bravery and faithful service, in addition to the Medal of Honor, he has been awarded: two Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Combat Star and the Iraq Campaign Medal with Combat Star. The father of four has served two tours of duty in Iraq and six in Afghanistan.
Equipped with a robotic hand — with which he shook hands with the president — Petry intends to stay in the Rangers.
Petry is only the second living service member to receive the Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s puzzling — and troubling — considering that the military has been at war for 10 years now, notes Rebekah Sanderlin, an Army wife and freelance writer, in a blog at the New York Times site.
As it did for Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta — the first living Medal of Honor recipient in the Afghan and Iraq wars — the Army has created a Website about 1st Sgt. Petry and the medal.
To read the Medal of Honor citation for 1st Sgt. Petry, click here.
To see a slideshow of the White House ceremony, click here.
An Update on Missing MANPADS Threat
Remember this picture? We have an update on the March 4 post it illustrated: the disappearance of small anti-aircraft missiles from the armories of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, and the continued risk of them making their way into terrorists’ hands.
The missiles, known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems or MANPADS, are shoulder-fired, heat-seeking weapons that government officials around the world fear could be used against commercial airliners, the New York Times reports. Since the 1970s, MANPADS attacks have been launched against more than 40 civilian aircraft in more than 18 countries (but not Libya). Twenty-five planes have been shot down, killing more than 800 people, according to the U.S. State Department.
Back in February, as anti-Qaddafi rebels seized the regime’s weapons depots in the western part of the country, concerns were raised that the surface-to-air missiles might make their way onto the black market and wind up with terrorists. There have been no reports of Libyan rebels selling seized weapons on the black market.
Qaddafi’s forces are believed to have amassed as many as 20,000 of the mostly Soviet-made SA-7 missiles. It is not known how many were seized by rebels, most of whom have little or no military training.
Now the Times’ C.J. Chivers reports coming across boxes and boxes of empty SA-7 containers near an arms depot recently seized by anti-Qaddafi rebels in western Libya.
Since the uprising began, officials in neighboring Chad and Algeria have said MAPADS taken from Libya have been taken across their borders, winding up in the hands of a North African offshoot of al Qaeda: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The U.S. has contracted with two international organizations, Britain’s Mines Advisory Group and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action to help secure the MANPADS stockpiles and prevent them from leaving the country, Chivers reports.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government today (July 15) recognized the rebels‘ National Transitional Council as the legitimate government in Libya — until a fully representational interim government can be established.