Archive for July, 2012

THIS WEEK in the the War of 1812 (July 29 – Aug. 4)

Baltimore Calms Down

Baltimore, a major Atlantic seaport is starting to settle down after weeks of periodic rioting since Congress declared war on Great Britain June 18, 1812. Federalists — the political party of Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton — are far from enthusiastic about the war. In New England, where the party is strongest, they fear war with the world’s most powerful navy will hurt the economically crucial maritime trade.

Closer to Washington, they suspected the war was a ploy to whip up patriotic fervor and re-elect President James Madison, a member of the Democratic-Republican party founded by Thomas Jefferson. Federalists also fear that after more than two decades of steering a neutral diplomatic course between warring Britain and France – this war would drive America into the arms of Napoleonic France.

A Baltimore privateer, the Chasseur, attacks a British ship. (Image courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England)

But the war is very popular in Baltimore, a Democratic-Republican stronghold and home to a number of privateers – civilian ships commissioned by the government to attack enemy vessels and seize them and their cargo. A British admiral calls the city a “nest of pirates.” Also much of Baltimore’s population consists of French, Irish and German immigrants who, for one reason or another, hate the British.

So when a pro-Federalist newspaper, the Federal Republican, begins printing attacks on Madison and his war, a mob of outraged Democratic-Republicans tears the newspaper’s offices apart. Editor and publisher Alexander Contee Hanson flees the city.

Pro-Federalist publisher Alexander C. Hanson. (Image courtesy the Library of Congress).

But on July 26, Hanson and some supporters return to Baltimore. Another mob gathers and begins throwing stones at the newspaper. The Federalists inside the newspaper fire on the mob, killing two. Baltimore officials convince Hanson and his followers that they will be safer locked inside the City Jail, where they are taken and promised protection. The next night, however, a pro-Madison mob breaks into the jail – or is let in by a co-conspirator – and attacks Hanson and company. The Federalists are beaten and tortured by the mob with penknives and hot wax poured into their eyes. One Revolutionary War veteran, James Lingan, dies of his injuries. Another Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee — the father of future Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — suffers permanent injuries in the attacks.

Left for dead by the mob, Hanson recovers and moves his newspaper to Georgetown, Maryland outside Washington, D.C. Eventually Hanson is elected to Congress representing Maryland where he serves first in the House (1813-1816) and then in the Senate (1816-1819).

July 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 27, 2012)

Fix Bayonets

Photo courtesy Ministere de la Defense

We can’t let the month of July go by without a photo from the French military parade on July 14 – Bastille Day – in Paris.

Almost every July 14 since 1880, the French military establishment dons its dress uniforms – resplendent in both color and tradition – and marches down the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

This year, the French Defense Ministry put a whole bunch of good photos on Facebook. Unfortunately the pictures are without captions, so if you know your French history you might be able to dope out which unit is which.

This photos shows infantrymen of the 1st Regiment of Spahis (North African cavalry) fixing bayonets to their FAMAS assault rifles. Spahis – the name means army or horsemen – were light cavalry regiments of the French army recruited from the local population in France’s former North African colonies: Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Their Maghreb heritage is displayed in the white cloaks and red sashes they still wear on ceremonial occasions

Today there is only one regiment of Spahis in the French Army – the First Regiment of Moroccan Spahis (1er Régiment de Spahis Marocains) founded in 1914. Instead of horses, the Spahis ride in armored personnel carriers as part of the 6th French Light Armored Brigade. Here’s what they look like drawn up on parade.

French Defense Ministry photo

To see more photos, click here.

July 27, 2012 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

A LOOK AHEAD: AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2012 conference

Viva Las Vegas

Photo courtesy of AUVSI

Robots, drones, unmanned aircraft and watercraft will be among the pilotless, driverless vehicles on display next month in Las Vegas at the annual conference sponsored by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

The four-day conference starts August 6 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The conference, which is held in Washington every other August and at venues around the country in alternate years, is a big draw with people who develop, make, service, supply or acquire unmanned vehicles – from bomb-defusing robots to bird-sized air vehicles to keep tabs on criminals and terrorists.

With requirements imposed by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration is working on rules for integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Air Space by 2015. Just how that will be accomplished while keeping drones and commercial aircraft out of each other’s way is expected to be a hot topic at the conference. The FAA predicts there could be as many as 20,000 unmanned aircraft flying in U.S. skies within the next 10 years.

Speakers and panel discussion will also address cyber security challenges, as well as privacy and ethics issues posed by smaller and smaller unmanned surveillance systems, civil and law enforcement uses for robots and drones, new developments in maritime systems, export regulations on selling unmanned technology overseas and the latest technology developments.

Keynote speakers will include the acting head of the FAA, the secretary of the unmanned aircraft systems study group for the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence and the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems.

Your 4GWAR editor will be among the thousands of attendees, bringing you word of the latest developments in unmanned systems – especially for special operations, intelligence and surveillance, law enforcement and homeland security.

July 26, 2012 at 11:11 pm 1 comment

AROUND AFRICA: The Hunt for Kony, First Woman AU Chief, Big China Loans (UPDATE)

Hunting for Joseph Kony

Updates with Mali interim president returning and additional background on China in Africa

The head of the African Union force that is supposed to hunt a vicious rebel group that has terrorized Central Africa for decades says he doesn’t have enough troops, equipment or funding.

Ugandan Army Col. Dick Olum told the Associated Press recently that he doesn’t have the force yet to start the mission: hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its notorious leader, Joseph Kony. For decades Kony and thr LRA have terrorized the remote jungle areas of Uganda, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo – killing, raping and looting.

The LRA has also kidnapped hundreds of children, turning the boys into soldiers and the girls in sex slaves. Last year President Obama sent 100 special operations troops into Uganda to help track Kony, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The African Union was supposed to gather troops to track and capture Kony and his estimated 200 followers, but Olum says the money, troops and logistics just aren’t there to proceed. Currently about 2,000 Ugandan soldiers and 500 troops from South Sudan have joined the manhunt.

African Union Taps It’s First Female Head

New AU Commission chair. (AU photgraph)

For the first time, the 54-member African Union has elected a woman to serve as chairman of the AU Commission. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa’s minister for home affairs, was selected in a closely contested process July 15, garnering 37 votes.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, was the first black health minister in South Africa under Nelson Mandela. She is a former wife of the current South African President Jacob Zuma.

The commission acts as the administrative/executive branch of the AU.

China to Loan Billions

China is offering $20 billion in loans to African countries to build infrastructure, and develop agriculture, manufacturing and small-to-mid size enterprises, according to The Guardian, a British newspaper, and other publications.

Chinese President Hu Jintao made the announcement in Beijing July 19 during a gathering of African leaders for the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation. The new loan guarantees are twice what Beijing pledged in 2009.

Analysts have noted that China in recent years has moved aggressively into Africa, which has been a key source of raw materials — such as oil, metals and other minerals — for Chinese factories.  Critics –including South African President Jacob Zuma — have said China needs to better balance its trade with African nations, which totaled $166.3 billion last year. But Zuma and others note China also exports manufactured goods to Africa but is importing little beyond commodities from African nations. Chinese companies have also been involved in infrastructure projects such as highway, housing and airport improvements in Algeria. And China paid about $200 million for the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Mali Madness Continues

Mali’s interim president returned to the West African nation today (July 27) after a two-month hospital stay in Paris following an attack in his office by an angry mob. Seventy-year-old Dioncounda Traore plans to address the nation on Sunday (July 29), AFP reported.

Mali has been plunged into chaos since a March 21 military coup ousted the democratically elected president. At the same time, Tuareg fighters who had been waging an independence revolt in the northern deserts have swept over the northern half of the country, seizing control of the legendary caravan city and Islamic learning center, Timbuktu.

The 15-nation economic bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS is waiting for United Nations approval to send a peace-keeping force of 3,000 troops into troubled Mali.


July 25, 2012 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 July 22-July 28

Paralysis on the Northwest Frontier

Since invading what is now southern Ontario, Canada on July 12, Brigadier Gen. William Hull has made little progress against the much smaller force of British regulars, Canadian militia and Native Americans (called First Nations in Canada today) arrayed against him.

Hull’s forces land at Sandwich (now Windsor, Ontario) across the Detroit River from Fort Detroit in Michigan Territory. Numbering about 300 U.S. Army regulars and 1,600 Ohio and Michigan militiamen, they see little action except for some raids northeast along the Thames River. Those raids by mounted troops discourage Canadian militia from opposing the Americans.

Map courtesy of U.S. Army Office of Chief of Military History

On July 16 some of Hull’s troops drive off a much smaller British-Canadian force at River Canard near the fort guarding Amherstburg, about 20 miles father down the peninsula that divides Lake Erie from Lake Huron. One British soldier is killed. Another is wounded and captured. They are the first British casualties in the war. After the war, the fort was rebuilt and re-named Fort Malden.

But Hull, a revolutionary war hero now almost 60, is reluctant to take on the fortified position without artillery. His cannon have unsound gun carriages that need repair and can’t be brought up from the landing place at Sandwich. Hull is also concerned about reports that Indians allied with the Canadians are gathering in greater numbers against him on both sides of the Detroit River.

Despite his urgings – even before the Michigan-Canada campaign began – the U.S. Military command has not built or dispatched sufficient warships to protect Hull’s supply lines from Ohio along the western Lake Erie and Detroit River shorelines. Hull believes this will leave several outposts with tiny garrisons like Fort Dearborn (present day Chicago) and Fort Mackinac (at the northern tip of lower Michigan) vulnerable to attack.

His worries grow after receiving word in August that the Army post at Mackinac far to the north has fallen to British-Canadian-Indian forces on July 17 – without a shot. Hull decides to pull back toward his beach head at Sandwich.

Several of Hull’s officers disagree with this timidity and discuss removing him from command. The Ohio militia colonels are especially hostile to Hull. The bickering will continue at Hull’s frequent council of war meetings well into August.

Next Week: Rioting in Baltimore

July 23, 2012 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 20, 2012)

Fast Exit

(Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

A sailor assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, fast ropes out of a U.S. Navy MH-60S Nighthawk helicopter in Hawaii during Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2012. For more photos of U.S., Canadian and Australian sailors partcipating in rapid exit from a hovering helicopter click here.

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to August 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

We couldn’t decide on which photo to pick for the FRIFO this week, so we’re using three to illustrate the scope of  RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul Seeber)

Here we see U.S. Marines about to enter a Mexican navy MI-17 helicopter aboard the Mexican navy transport ship ARM Usumacinta (A-412).

The U.S. Defense Department says RIMPAC provides a unique opportunity to foster and sustain cooperative relationships among the participating militaries and their personnel. RIMPAC’s goals include training and command coordination critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

In the photo below, Royal Australian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force divers train together aboard the Japanese minesweeper tender JS Bungo (MST-464).

(Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force photo by Photographer PO1 Takahiro Ito)

For more photos of seaborne training at RIMPAC 2012, click here.

July 20, 2012 at 9:04 am Leave a comment

TECHNOLOGY: Indian HVAC for Russian-made Tanks

Keeping Cool in the Indian Desert

DETROIT — An air conditioning company based in India wants to add climate controls to Russian-made tanks sold to Middle East and African militaries.

Officials at Fedders Lloyd Corporation Ltd. say they have already supplied over two thousand military grade ruggedized air conditioning and heating systems for mine-protected vehicles and main battle tanks for the Indian Army, like the T-72M1 Ajeya, T-90S Bishman and the Arjun. The company is also in the process of supplying air conditioning and heating units for 150 armored ambulance vehicles – both tracked and wheeled versions — and mobile radar stations.

Fedders Lloyd CEO Nagarajan Sridharan speaks at IDGA’s Military Vehicle conference. (Photo courtesy of IDGA)

The Fedders Lloyd units can cool a tank or armored vehicle to 23 degrees Celsius (73.4 degrees Fahrenheit) when it is 55 degrees C (131 degrees F) outside, Nagarajan Sridharan, CEO and director of marketing for the New Delhi-headquartered company, told a military vehicles conference in Detroit recently.

“Our focus is improving crew efficiency, which is a battlefield factor and therefore a force multiplier,” he said, adding. “Where the mind can work peacefully, and action can be taken swiftly.”

The company, started in 1957, making consumer air conditioning units and later supplying air conditioning to passenger train carriages. Fedders Lloyd branched out to telecommunications and then military HVAC.

In the past, said Fedders Lloyd Senior Vice President Vivek Mehta, a retired brigadier general in the Indian Army tank corps, the comfort of tank crews was “expendable.” But with the introduction of climate sensitive computer technology for tracking, targeting and communications, climate control became essential, he added.

The challenges include the extremely hot and dusty conditions of the Indian deserts. One requirement of the power units for HVAC systems on tanks like the Russian T-90 or T-72 is that there still be power for the air conditioning as well as moving the gun and turret when the main engine is shut down, Sridharan said.

Russian-made T-90 tanks in India. (Photo by Cell 105 via Wikipedia)

Mehta told your 4GWAR editor that most Russian equipment sold to India or African nations had only heating units. “The Russians never picked up expertise in air conditioning,” he added. Mehta said Fedders Lloyd has retrofit Russian equipment with air conditioning units for Bangladesh, and countries in the Middle East and southern Africa.

Fedders Lloyd also makes radiators and oil coolers for ground vehicles.

The four-day Military Vehicles Exhibition & Conference at Detroit’s Cobo Center was sponsored by an industry group, Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

July 18, 2012 at 2:38 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (July 15-July 21)

War on the Great Lakes and at Sea

Surprise at Mackinac

Map courtesy of the Michigan Society, Sons of the American Revolution

In another instance of slow traveling war news, U.S. Army Lt. Porter Hanks and about 60 troops under his command at Fort Mackinac in northern Michigan Territory are unaware that the United States has declared war against Great Britain. Pronounced Mack-in-aw, the fort sits on an island commanding the Straits of Mackinac, a strategically important link between two of the Great Lakes: Huron and Michigan.

On the morning of July 17, 1812 a combined force numbering about two hundred British and Canadian troops, plus 100 or more Native Americans (Indians), landed on the island and stole up on the fort. The British fire their two canon on the fort, and Lt. Hanks – realizing his men were outnumbered and fearing a massacre by the Indians allied with the British — agrees to surrender the fort.

Shortly after that, two American schooners, the Chippewa and the Friends Good Will – also unaware that war had broken out and that the fort had been captured – sail up to Mackinac’s dock and are promptly captured by the British.

News of Mackinac’s fall unnerves Gen. William Hull who has crossed the Detroit River from Fort Detroit in Michigan to invade Canada. After failing to capture what is now called Fort Malden near Amherstburg, Hull will retreat back to Detroit in August.

Chasing U.S.S. Constitution

USS Constitution today. (U.S. Navy photo by Sonar Technician 2nd Class Thomas Rooney)

One of the U.S. Navy’s few large warships, the 44-gun frigate U.S.S. Constitution, sails out of Chesapeake Bay in early July with orders to join an American squadron already in the Atlantic. Late in the day on July 16, the Constitution spies four ships in the distance Capt. Isaac Hull thought they might be ships from the American squadron. But the lead ship fails to respond to Hull’s signals through the night and he begins to suspect it was a British warship.

At daybreak on July 17, the Constitution’s crew sees the other ship, now within gunshot range, is a British frigate with four or five more ships a mile or two behind it. Capt. Hull – who is  a nephew of Gen. Hull at Fort Detroit – determines that discretion is the better part of valor, especially when outnumbered, and flees south. But the wind dies and the British ships are gaining on Constitution. Hull dispatches his vessel’s crew into longboats with tow lines to row and tow the the 1,500-ton ship out of harm’s way – much the way Capt. Jack Aubrey’s ship evaded a French warship in the 2003 Russell Crowe film “Master and Commander.: The Far Side of the World.”

But the British also begin towing their ships and start drawing dangerously close to Constitution. That’s when one of the Constitution’s officers suggests the strategy of kedging: rowing out in front of the ship with two of its smaller anchors, dumping the anchors into the water and winding the ship’s capstan to pull the Constitution to where the anchors rest and then starting the process over again. In effect, the Constitution is dragging itself across the water – and away from the British – like a man crawling with two broken legs. Hull keeps Constitution’s sails rigged to catch whatever breeze might come. After a tortuous 60-hour slow motion race, the wind picks up again and Constitution escapes to fight another day and eventually earn the nickname “Old Ironsides.”

British Attack Repulsed

On July 19, the American brig U.S.S. Oneida and a shore battery repulse an attack on the U.S. Navy shipyard at Sackets Harbor, New York on Lake Ontario. The British attacking force consists of two sloops, two schooners and a brig. The 24-gun British sloop-of-war, HMS Royal George, is struck by canon fire that kills eight crewmen, and damages the ship’s top mast and rigging.

The British force withdraws. But because Sacket’s Harbor is a key Army supply base and the largest U.S. shipyard on the Great Lakes, the British will try again to take Sacket’s Harbor the following year.

First Battle of Sacket’s Harbor (Image courtesy of the Flower Memorial Library)

July 16, 2012 at 1:11 am 3 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (July 13, 2012)

Cockpit Challenge

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Randall Black, an HC-130H Hercules cargo plane pilot, flies over the Bering Sea en route to Operation Arctic Shield. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

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.

Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth

To see a Defense Department slideshow of preparations for Arctic Shield, click here.

For other photos, click here.

July 13, 2012 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: Detroit Police Use APC for Forcible Entry

Don’t Mess with Inspector Johnson’s “Toys”

DETROIT — Here in Detroit, iron doors and homemade fortifications don’t keep drug gangs and barricaded gunmen beyond the reach of the police, thanks to the DPD’s armored personnel carrier (APC).

The 13-ton, four-wheel, bullet-resistant behemoth has a hydraulic boom to batter down doors.

Detroit police also have a Lenco Bearcat armored vehicle. (Photo via wikipedia)

“We call it the ‘Key to the City of Detroit’ because it can open any door,” says Inspector Donald Johnson Jr., head of the police department’s Homeland Security and Tactical Support operations.

Detroit police got the APC in 1988 from the military and have been using it ever since to convince suspected lawbreakers to ‘Open up in the name of the law.’

Detroit averages 45 barricaded gunman calls a year, Johnson told the Military Vehicles Exposition and Conference in Detroit’s Cobo Center today (Thursday). “Instead of putting officers in harm’s way,” he explained, the APC is used to take down the door. Usually after that, “the individual elected not to play with us,” Johnson added.

The APC has also been used to rescue Detroit cops trapped behind a car or building by hostile fire, to pick up a wounded citizen lying in the street during a gunbattle and to serve search warrants on the fortified lairs of drug and outlaw motorcycle gangs, said Johnson. The aging APC requires a lot of maintenance, he said, adding “we have had some challenges” keep it running.

Two years ago the Police Department acquired a more modern Lenco Bearcat with the aid of a law enforcement grant. Johnson said the Bearcat cuts down on the number of police vehicles needed to respond to situations like a civil disturbance or hostage siege. Police have used its infrared sensor to spot a fugitive hiding in the brush of a vacant lot at night, said Johnson, who calls the armored vehicles his “toys.” He oversees 18 units including the bomb squad, hostage negotiators, gang enforcement and the Special Response Team.

Since 9/11, cities like Detroit have obtained APCs through federal homeland security and law enforcement grants. New York and Los Angeles are among those that have them. But citizens in other cities and towns from Berkeley, California to Keene, New Hampshire have questioned the need for  authorities to acquire armored vehicles.

The Detroit P.D. holds an annual Family Day to introduce the community to the department and its assets such as robots, aviation units and the APCs. Residents’ reaction to the APC and Bearcat have been generally positive, Johnson said. Public officials and community leaders have been more resistant to the concept of high tech surveillance technology like unmanned aircraft, citing privacy and civil liberties concerns. The city council voted against funding for a police request to acquire computerized accoustic detection technology that pinpoints when and where a gunshot was fired.

Johnson said he’d like to acquire another APC but budget constraints have put those plans on hold.

The conference, sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, ends Friday.

July 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


July 2012


%d bloggers like this: