Archive for January, 2014

COUNTER TERRORISM: U.S. Facing Continued Terrorist, Overseas Stability Threats

Security Challenges

Official seals of members of the U.S. Intelligence Community (ODNI photo via Wikipedia)

Official seals of members of the U.S. Intelligence Community
(ODNI photo via Wikipedia)

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and other leaders of the U.S. Intelligence community, known in Washington as the IC, were up on Capitol Hill this week to present their assessment of the global and regional threats facing the country.

But Clapper’s less-than-honest testimony before Congress last year about cell phone data collection seemed to gather most – but not all – of the news media attention – along with his continuing concerns about the disclosures of rogue National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

So 4GWAR would like to focus on the range of threats the IC – which includes the Office of National Intelligence, the NSA, CIA, FBI, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center – believes are facing the United States as of January 15, 2014 (when their assessment report was completed).

Global threats listed by the 31-page public report include cyber attacks by hostile nations like Iran and North Korea, terrorist organizations and criminals; homegrown and international terrorist plots by groups like al-Qaeda branches like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; transnational organized criminal groups like the Mexican drug cartels that are expanding their influence across the Atlantic Ocean to West and North Africa.

“Competition for and secure access to natural resources (like food, water and energy) are growing security threats,” the report states. Risks to freshwater supplies are a growing threat to economic development in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia and that could have a destabilizing effect not only on local economies but on governments and political institutions in many places where democracy is fragile or non-existent.

As polar ice recedes in the Arctic, “economic and security concerns will increase competition over access to sea routes and natural resources,” according to the report. Vast deposits of oil and natural gas – as much as 15 percent of the world’s undiscovered petroleum and 30 percent of its natural gas may lie beneath Arctic waters where the ice is receding more and more each year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The report predicts Sub-Saharan Africa will “almost certainly see political and related security turmoil in 2014.” The continent has become “a hothouse for the emergence of extremist and rebel groups,” threatening governments in Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania.

National Operations Center (Dept. of Homeland Security photo)

National Operations Center
(Dept. of Homeland Security photo)

The report also notes the attacks in Somalia and East Africa by the extremist Islamic al-Shabaab movement as well as sharp ethnic/religious/economic divides that are causing death, destruction, starvation and and mass migration in Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

4GWAR will have more on this report this weekend.

January 31, 2014 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 31, 2014)

Ready for “Harm’s Way”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michelle L. Turner)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michelle L. Turner)

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

–John Paul Jones

Today U.S. sailors take vessels like this riverine command boat (RCB) into harm’s way. Sailors assigned to Task Group 56.7.4 cross the Arabian Gulf in an RCB during a training exercise in the Arabian Gulf. RCBs provide a multi-mission platform for the U.S. 5th Fleet by focusing on maritime security operations, maritime infrastructure protection, and security cooperation efforts with other services and militaries. Oh, and they take part in offensive combat operations, too.

These fast moving boats ar armed with M240 7.62mm machine guns as well as heavier .50 caliber machine guns.

To see a short training video of an RCB in action in the Arabian Gulf, click here.

January 31, 2014 at 12:39 am 1 comment

AROUND AFRICA: African Union, Somalia, South Sudan


Ethiopia in Africa (Map from CIA World Factbook)

Ethiopia in Africa
(Map from CIA World Factbook)

With violence spinning out of control in several African countries, heads of state and government will meet in Ethiopia Thursday (January 30) for a summit organized by the African Union (AU).

The leaders will be discussing a development agenda, called Agenda 2063, at the meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ehiopian capital, but peace and security will also be high on the list of topics, the AU’s deputy chairman told Voice of America.

Somalia, South Sudan and Central African Republic are all dealing with insurgencies, near civil war or religious and ethnic strife. Founded in 1999, the AU is an international economic and development body seeking to integrate the continent into the world economy.

Erastus Mwencha noted the cooperation between the AU and its international partners, like France and the United States, but “at the end of the day peace cannot be brought from any external resources. It must be internally generated, the AU deputy chair said. He noted that the 28-member AU is moving forward on creating a standby force that could quickly engage in conflict resolution.

— — —


Map courtesy of University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center

Map courtesy of University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center

Sources in Somalia say a U.S. drone strike Sunday (January 26) nearly hit the leader of al Shbaab, the Voice of America reported.

A militant sopurce and sources close to the African Union mission in Somalia told VOA’s Somali service that Abdi Godane, head of the militant Islamist group, was in the vicinity of the drone strike — north of Barawe, in the Lower Shabelle region.

Meanwhile, a senior aide to Godane was killed by a missile on Sunday (January 27). Ahmed Abdulkadir Abdullahi, known as “Iskudhuuq,” was killed when a car he was riding in was struck by a missile in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, the VOA reported.

Rebel sources told VOA’s Somali service that the Abdullahi was a senior aide to Godane and was recently appointed the head of the group’s health unit.

A Somali intelligence official confirmed the attack, describing the dead man as a “dangerous” member of the group, the Associated Press reported. His driver was also killed in the attack, the official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to reveal the information. On Monday (January 27) a Pentagon spokesman confirmed the drone attack but gave few details.

The U.S. military launched several drone strikes targeting the al Qaeda-linked group’s leaders in Somalia. In October a missile strike killed al Shabaab’s top explosives expert.

— — —


U.S. Marines and sailors help U.S. citizens into a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules airplane in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III)

U.S. Marines and sailors help U.S. citizens into a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules airplane in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III)

South Sudan, the world’s newest country, is facing a humanitarian crisis with more than 825,000 people displaced by violence.

United Nations Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos said Wednesday (January 21) that more than 702,000 people are internal refugees and another 123,000 have fled to other countries, the VOA reported.

Aid workers have been unable to reach more than 300,000 displaced people because of security threats. Doctors Without Borders suspended activities in Malakal last week after its compound was looted by armed men and its staff threatened.

Just last week, after five weeks of fighting that left as many as 10,000 dead, South Sudan’s government and rebels signed a ceasefire agreement after talks in Ethiopia. Under the deal, signed in Addis Ababa, the fighting is due to come to an end within 24 hours, the BBC reported.

Neighboring countries and global powers, including the United States and China, pressured the two sides to reach an agreement because of fears the fighting could escalate into a protracted civil war or an even wider conflict, the New York Times reported. Ugandan troops have been fighting alongside government forces, helping to push back the rebels.

The ceasefire is merely a first step. The Associated Press reported that additional talks are scheduled to resume in early February. The government is concerned the rebel leaders will not be able to control disparate groups of fighters. The head of South Sudan’s negotiating team, was worried that since many on the rebel side are civilians who took up arms, and may not follow the cease-fire agreement.

The rebels are demanding that 11 former government leaders imprisoned by President Salva Kir must be released. Kir has said the 11 must first be subjected to South Sudan’s judicial process.

Seven of the 11 were released Wednesday (January 29) and turned over to officials in Kenya, according to Al Jazeera.

January 29, 2014 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 1814)

January 27 – Calabee Creek

The pro-British Red Stick faction of the Creek Indian Nation are emboldened by the withdrawal a week earlier of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s failed retaliatory expedition against their stronghold at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River in what is now Alabama. (Then part of the Mississippi Territory).

Creek War 1813-14 (PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

Creek War 1813-14
(PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

On Jan. 27, the Red Sticks launch a night attack on a force of Georgia volunteers and friendly Yuchi Indians under the command of Gen. John Floyd at Calebee Creek about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Fort Mitchell on the Alabama-Georgia border.

Floyd’s force of 1,200 infantry, a company of cavalry and 400 Yuchi repulsed the attacking Creeks. But afterward Floyd immediately withdrew to the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.

January 29-30 New Brunswick, Canada

Meanwhile, far to the north, officials in Canada are nervous about the disposition of their army and naval forces scattered along the frontier with the United States. While the Creeks battle U.S. forces in the South, and Army posts along the upper Mississippi River are threatened by the Sac, Fox and other Midwestern tribes, Canada’s Native American allies in the Great Lakes region have been crushed at the Battle of the Thames, which saw the death of charismatic Shawnee leader, Tecumseh.

Death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames (Photo courtesy Canadian government War of 1812 Website)

Death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames
(Photo courtesy Canadian government War of 1812 Website)

The British build defenses on Bridge Island in what was then called Upper Canada to shelter supply boats traveling the St. Lawrence River. A 90-man cavalry barracks is constructed on a key road midway between St. Jean on the Richelieu River and the outskirts of Montreal in Lower Canada.

On January 10 an American patrol is captured by militia in Lower Canada near Missisiquoi Bay. A few days later British troops raid Franklin County in New York State.

Also in January, 217 men dispatched to crew two ships being built at Kingston, Upper Canada (in what is now the Province of Ontario) arrive at Saint John, New Brunswick by ship from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The citizens of Saint John respond overwhelmingly to a request for sleighs and sleds to convey the sailors to Fredericton on their way to their ships farther up the St. Lawrence. The Royal Navy men depart by land on January 29 and 30.

January 26, 2014 at 11:27 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 23, 2014)

Long Patrol

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bertha A. Flores

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bertha A. Flores

Afghan National Army commandos with the 3rd Special Operations Kandak (battalion) and U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) with a 12-man Operational Detachment-Alpha, or A-Team, approach a compound during a clearing operation in Dewai Kalay village, Maiwand district in  Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

To see more photos from this operation, click here.

January 24, 2014 at 12:32 am 1 comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (January 20 – January 25, 1814)

Retaliation Reversed

The Battle of Enotachopo Creek January 24, 1814 (Tennessee State Library Photograph Collection)

(Tennessee State Library Photograph Collection)

After units of his 2,000-man Tennessee Volunteers army defeated the Creek Indians on November 3 at Tallushatchee in eastern Mississippi Territory (today’s Alabama) and at Talladega six days later, Major General Andrew Jackson was in trouble.

He was short on supplies, most of his troops’ enlistments were up and winter was coming on. He had twice put down mutiny and mass desertion by sheer will and a few well-placed cannon. Jackson was also ill, suffering from a lack of sleep, dysentery and a still-throbbing shoulder wound received in a gunfight/duel with personal enemies a few months earlier back in a Nashville hotel.

By late December 1813, his forward base, called Fort Strother, was nearly deserted. The few troops remaining were set to march home in a few days when their enlistments were up.

But on January 14, without warning, nearly 900 raw recruits marched into the fort. Jackson didn’t waste any time and marched them right out again to attack the stronghold of the anti-American Creek faction known as the Red Sticks, at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River. Jackson had been spoiling to retaliate against the Creeks ever since they raided a small community on the Duck River in Tennessee, killing several people and taking a woman captive in 1812.

By January 21 Jackson’s force was camped at Emuckfaw Creek — just three miles from the Creek stronghold. But the Creeks attacked Jackson the next day. While his men drove the Red Sticks off, the element of surprise was lost and rather than face another assault, Jackson ordered a retreat back to Fort Strother.

Creek War Campaign (via

Creek War Campaign

But the Red Sticks followed his retreating army and attacked again while the troops were strung out fording Enotachopco Creek. Jackson ordered the rear guard to attack while other troops were summoned to cross back over the creek and surround the Red Sticks. But the green troops of the rear guard panicked and ran. Jackson rallied his forces and the other units crossed over and held off the Creeks, who withdrew.

After returning to Fort Strother, Jackson drilled his green troops for more than a month to prepare them for his next crack at the Horseshoe Bend stronghold in the Spring.

January 20, 2014 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

COMING ATTRACTIONS: THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 returns

Battle of the Chippewa (U.S. Army Center of Military History)

Battle of the Chippewa
(U.S. Army Center of Military History)

The 4GWAR blog is pleased to announce the return, starting Monday, January 20, of the weekly feature

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812

The final full year of America’s first declared war was a significant one … continued frontier battles with Native Americans…

the last big battles along the Niagara frontier … naval contests won and lost …

the rise to prominence of future presidents Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor …

the widening British blockade of U.S. ports … Washington is taken and burned while Baltimore resists under the Star Spangled Banner.

Capture of the USS Essex (U.S. Naval Academy via Naval Historical Foundation)

Capture of the USS Essex
(U.S. Naval Academy via Naval Historical Foundation)

Read all about it! Starting Monday, January 20, 2014!

January 19, 2014 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 17, 2014)

Not Cars, Flying Boats

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Dietrich

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Dietrich

U.S. Sailors with Coastal Riverine Squadron 1 assemble a modular ramp before unloading a pair of 34-foot patrol boats from an Air Force C-5 Galaxy cargo plane at Camp Lemonnier in the East African nation of Djibouti, January 12, 2014.

CRS-1 will provide security and protection of strategic shipping and naval vessels operating in coastal areas and port facilities to ensure uninterrupted flow of cargo and units to combatant commanders. – See more at:
CRS-1 will provide security and protection of strategic shipping and naval vessels operating in coastal areas and port facilities to ensure uninterrupted flow of cargo and units to combatant commanders. – See more at:

In addition to training with the Air Force, CRS-1 conducts anti-terrorism, force protection and personnel recovery missions in the Horn of Africa area of operations.

Coastal Riverine Squadrons, formerly known as Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadrons, were established in the wake of terrorist attacks abroad, in particular the 2000 bombing of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). Coastal Riverine Squadrons provide rapidly deployable defense personnel and assets for force protection and anti-terrorism operations.

January 17, 2014 at 1:06 am 2 comments

SHAKO: War of 1812, Collision Course in Alabama

On the Warpath

Creek War 1813-14 (PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

Creek War 1813-14
(PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

All is quiet during the winter of 1813-1814 along the U.S.-Canadian border where U.S. Army regulars and state militiamen have been battling British troops, Canadian militia and Native American warriors since the summer of 1812.

But Army regulars and state volunteers are still battling the Creek Indians of the Southeastern United States in what has become known as the Creek War. That struggle erupted within the the Creek nation (also known as the Muskogee) — which inhabited parts of what is now Alabama and Georgia — over whether to join Shawnee leader Tecumseh‘s campaign against whites of the United States. The “Red Sticks” faction favored war with white America. Indian leaders from what was known as the Lower Creek towns were against war with the whites, with whom many had intermarried. They were known as the “White Sticks.”

In July 1813 at Burnt Corn Creek, Mississippi militiamen attacked and were defeated by members of the pro-British Red Sticks returning from Spanish Florida where they had gone to obtain arms and ammunition. On August 30, 1813, hundreds of Red Sticks attacked a poorly defended stockade known as Fort Mims in southern Alabama, killing more than 200 whites, black slaves and White Stick Creeks.

That led Tennessee Gov. Willie Blount to call for 3,500 volunteers to fight the Creeks, widening a tribal civil war into one between Indians and whites. After defeating the “Red Sticks” on November 9, 1813 at the Battle of Talladega, the Tennessee commander, Major General Andrew Jackson, was plagued by supply shortages and discipline problems among his rowdy frontier troops who had only signed short term enlistments.

Meanwhile, Jackson’s mounted rifles commander, General John Coffee, who had returned to Tennessee for fresh horses, wrote Jackson that his troops had deserted. By the end of 1813, Jackson was down to a single regiment whose enlistments were due to expire in mid January.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Although Gov. Blount ordered up another 2,500 troops, Jackson would not be up to full strength until the end of February. By the time 900 raw recruits arrived unexpectedly on January 14, Jackson’s original force of 2,500 had dwindled to 103 soldiers.

Since the new men had signed on for only 60 days, Jackson decided to get going before their enlistments ran out. He departed Fort Struther on January 17, and marched toward the village of Emuckfaw to support the Georgia Militia. But it was a risky strategy: a long march through difficult terrain against a numerically superior force. Making matters worse, Jackson’s  volunteers were green and insubordinate. By January 21, they had marched to within a few miles of the Red Stick settlement of Emuckfaw, setting the stage for another battle.

NEXT WEEK: The Return of THIS WEEK in the War of 1812

The weekly feature, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, returns on Monday, January 20.

*** *** ***

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.

January 16, 2014 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

LAT AM REVIEW: Mexican Vigilantes, Ecuador’s Drone, Colombian Ceasefire Ends

Soldiers vs Vigilantes vs Drug Gangs

The Mexican government’s attempts to quell violence between vigilantes battling drug gangs in the southwesterrn state of Michoacan have turned deadly in a confrontation between the military and civilians.

Mexican military forces in Michoacan state in 2007 (Photo by Diego Fernandez via Wikipedia)

Mexican military forces in Michoacan state in 2007
(Photo by Diego Fernandez via Wikipedia)

There are contradictory reports on the number of casualties in the town of Antunez where soldiers were reported to have opened fire early Tuesday (January 14) on an unarmed crowd blocking the street. The Associated Press is reporting that its reporters saw the bodies two men said to have died in the incident. AP journalists said they also spoke with the family of a third man reportedly killed in the same incident.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 12 people were said to have died in the clash, according to the Mexican newspaper Reforma. The self-defense groups began organizing last year to protect local people from the drug gang known as the Knights Templar, who were extorting and otherwise terrorizing residents of Tierra Caliente, an important farming region west of Mexico City.

Local citizens said they had to arm themselves because federal troops failed to guarantee their security. On Monday (January 13) Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, urged the vigilantes to lay down their arms, the BBC reported.

The Knights Templar, who control much of the methamphetamine trade to the United States, say the vigilantes have sided with a rival gang, the New Generation cartel. But the self-defense groups fiercely deny that.

— — —

Ecuador’s First Drone

Ecuador map from CIA World Factbook

Ecuador map from CIA World Factbook

Ecuador has developed its first domestically made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa revealed the country’s first drone on local television Saturday (January 11), according to the Russian television network, RT (Russia Today).

The drone, called the UAV-Gavilan (Spanish for hawk), cost half a million dollars, a significant savings for Ecuador — which, 2007 paid $20 million for six Israeli-made UAVs, according to the Associated Press.

The gasoline-powered, carbon fiber and wood UAV was designed by the Ecuadorian Air Force to help the country, which borders both the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, fight drug trafficking, Correa said. He added that the Gavilan tracked a ship loaded with drugs for six hours before authorities intercepted the vessel.

Its video cameras and sensors will help the Euadorian Air Force monitor the country’s borders and hard-to-reach areas, like the Amazon rainforest, as well as assisting investigations. Ecuador plans to produce four of the UAVs for itself and then sell others to interested countries in Latin America.

— — —

FARC Ends Ceasefire

Colombia’s Marxist rebels announced  Wednesday (January 15) that they were ending their unilateral holiday ceasefire with government forces.

Colombia map by CIA World Factbook

Colombia map by CIA World Factbook

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — widely known by their Spanish acronym FARC –announced in Havana, Cuba, where it has been in peace negotiations with the government that it was ending the ceasefire it declared December 15, Reuters reported.

The rebels, who have battled the government in Bogota for five decades, accused government armed forces and police units of pursuing “aggressions and provocations.”s

theThe FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, declared a one-month ceasefire on December 15 and said in a statement issued on Wednesday, “we lived up to our word… despite permanent aggressions and provocations by the government’s armed forces and police units.”

While the FARC has repeatedly called for both sides to end hostilities, President Juan Manuel Santos has refused to agree. The rebels previously observed another unilateral cease-fire that lasted two months, the Associated Press reported.

The FARC has been fighting the government in a brutal guerrilla war that has claimed more than 200,000 lives in jungle and urban attacks. The revolt began as a peasant movement seeking land reform but in recent years the FARC — branded a terrorist organization by the United States — is reported to have aligned itself with Colombian drug cartels, obtaining much of its funding through narcotics sales. The FARC is the oldest active guerrilla army — estimated to number 8,000 — in the Western Hemisphere..

January 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm 2 comments

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