Posts filed under ‘Indo-Pacific region’

SHAKO: U.S. Marine Corps Turns 247

HAPPY BIRTHDAY USMC

On this day, November 10, 247 years ago the Congress of Britain’s 13 American colonies decided it was time to start looking for a “a few good men” who could fight on land and sea.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia. The memorial was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Master Sergeant Adrian Cadiz) Click on photo to enlarge image

The Marine Corps was created by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 and since 1921, Marines around the world have celebrated the Corps’ founding under Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, issued by then-Commandant Major General John LeJeune. His order summarized the history, tradition and mission of the Marine Corps and directed that the order be read to every command on every subsequent November 10, the Marine Corps Birthday.

Since the 1950s, the Marines have marked the occasion with a birthday celebration and a cake cutting ceremony, where a senior Marine Corps officer slices the cake — usually with the traditional Mameluke officer’s sword, commemorating the Marines’ first overseas action near the shores of Tripoli in 1805. The first slice of cake is handed to the oldest Marine present. That senior Leatherneck then hands the slice to the youngest Marine on site.

In the photo below, retired Marine Colonel  Frank Harris III, representing the oldest Marine during the ceremony at Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ), receives a piece of cake from the base commander, Colonel Michael Brooks, at at MCBQ’s Butler Stadium on November 9, 2022.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Eric Huynh) Click on photo to enlarge.

After Congress ordered the establishment of two battalions of Marines in late 1775, Captain (later Major) Samuel Nichols — considered the Corps’ first commandant — advertised in and around Philadelphia for “a few good men” and signed them up at Tun Tavern in that city. Those early Marines first saw action in the Bahamas in a March 3, 1776 raid on New Providence in the Bahama Islands, to capture naval supplies from the British.

Three days before this year’s birthday celebration, General David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, advised his troops to “prepare for uncertainty.”

“When called, we will fight and we will win — today, tomorrow, and in the future,” Berger said in a video message released on YouTube and elsewhere. “These victories are not won by our technology or our equipment, but because of all of you, because of everything you do every day to remain the best trained, the most professional, most ready force in the world. That has not changed.”

The Marine Corps has made drastic changes in force size, composition and weapons to meet emerging threats in the coming decade, primarily from China. With his Force Design 2030 plan, Berger seeks to reshape the Corps so it can operate and survive inside the area of operations of a peer competitor equipped with advanced manned and unmanned aerial systems and cruise missiles.

Critics have questioned Berger’s decision to eliminate all of the Marines’ battle tanks and most of their towed artillery in favor of highly mobile rocket and missile launchers to control maritime choke points. He and other Marine Corps leaders have noted Ukraine’s success against Russian tanks, armored vehicles and distant command and supply centers, using kamikaze drones and the truck-mounted High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS) shows the vulnerability of tanks and the importance of logistics and reconnaissance, which are a key focus of Marine Corps planning.

Marines with 2nd battalion, 14th Marines regiment, 4th Marine division load rockets into a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System in California in 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal AaronJames B. Vinculado)

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SHAKO 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.

November 10, 2022 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 30, 2022)

NIGHT MOVES.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Rowe)

Sailors rig the flight deck barricade during a general quarters drill aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on September 15, 2022.

The barricade is an emergency recovery system used only for emergency landings when a normal tailhook arrestment cannot be made.  They are designed to stop an aircraft by absorbing its forward momentum in an emergency landing or an aborted takeoff.

Barricades are rarely used but flight deck crews train how to set up the barricade webbing in a matter of minutes. The barricade is normally in a stowed condition and rigged only when required. To rig a barricade, it is stretched across the flight deck between stanchions, which are raised from the flight deck.

Click here to see a very short video on flight deck barricades work.

The Nimitz is currently docked in San Diego due to jet fuel contamination of the ship’s drinking water.

September 29, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 12, 2022)

SPLASHING ABOARD.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Danny Gonzalez) Please click on photo to see larger image.

Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2/5, of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, throw and receive lines from sailors assigned to the amphibious warship USS New Orleans in the Philippine Sea, August 1, 2022.

These Marines, from Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment were conducting welldeck operations training at night. The well deck is a hangar-like deck located at the waterline at the rear (stern) of some amphibious warfare ships. By taking on water the ship can lower its stern, flooding the well deck and allowing boats, amphibious vehicles and landing craft to dock within the ship

The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the USS Tripoli Amphibious Ready Group in the 7th Fleet area of operations — the Indo-Pacific region.

The USS New Orleans is an amphibious transport dock ship (LPD 18).  An Amphibious Ready Group consists of a Navy element and several other parts, like the 31st MEU,  to provide the Geographic Combatant Commanders with forward-deployed sea-based expeditionary forces that can work across a range of military operations.

August 12, 2022 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 22, 2022)

STEADY MEN.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal. Sydney Smith) CLICK on photo to enlarge.

U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion of the Okinawa-based, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7  and a Marine assigned to the Mexican Naval Infantry practice small boat flipping techniques at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on July 6, 2022, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

U.S. and Mexican Marines conducted small boat training with marines from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Australian soldiers in just one of the training exercises at RIMPAC from June 29 to August 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC 2022, the 28th exercise in the series first begun in 1971.

The photo below illustrates where these three soggy Marines started. So, you can see turning over an upside down rubber raft while both you and it are in the ocean isn’t easy — but a handy thing to know how to do.

The 4th Marine Regiment is slated to be transformed into one of the new Marine Littoral Regiments as part of the Marine Corps’ larger force design (Force Design 2030), intended to redesign the Corps for naval expeditionary warfare and to better align itself with the National Defense Strategy, in particular, its focus on strategically competing with China and Russia.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Sydney Smith) CLICK on photo to enlarge the image.

July 21, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 22, 2022)

Something Different.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart)

No this isn’t a new space age lighthouse or an upgraded version of the daleks from Dr. Who.

You ‘re looking at the first of the U.S. Navy Zumwalt-class stealthy, guided-missile destroyers, the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) steaming through the Pacific Ocean. Zumwalt is underway conducting routine operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet. The vessel’s distinctive knife-like appearance is designed to create a low radar cross-section — the equivalent area seen by a radar — making it harder for an enemy to spot.

Its wave-piercing  tumblehome hull,  whose sides slope inward above the waterline, dramatically reduces RCS by returning much less energy than a conventional flared hull. The Zumwalt class ships were designed to operate in littoral waters against threats of the post-Cold War world. However, the Navy decided to end the program with the completion of the third vessel. Originally, 32 ships were planned, with $9.6 billion research and development costs spread across the class.

The Zumwalts are classed as destroyers, but they are much larger than any other active destroyer or cruiser in the US Navy. Last year, the Navy announced the Zumwalt-class will be the Navy’s first platform to field hypersonic weapons.

USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) and USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) are in commission, while the third, the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson (DDG 1002), was undergoing sea trials earlier this year.

April 21, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Coast Guard Admiral Nominated to be First Woman Commandant

Another First for the Coast Guard.

Another glass ceiling in the military may be broken soon.

On April 5, word leaked out that President Joe Biden intends to nominate Admiral Linda Fagan to serve as the 27th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. If confirmed by the Senate, not only will Admiral Fagan be the first woman commandant of the Coast Guard, she would be the first woman in uniform to head one the military services.

Admiral Linda Fagan, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard since 2021, has been nominated to be the Coast Guard’s first woman commandant by President Biden. (Official U.S. Coast Guard portrait)

While the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, it operates under the Navy during times of war and by law is considered one of the six military services along with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force.

Fagan became the 32nd vice commandant of the Coast Guard on June 18, 2021, and the first female four-star admiral in the service’s history.

The vice commandant is the No. 2 commander in the Coast Guard and its chief operating officer, responsible for executing the Commandant’s Strategic Intent, managing internal organizational governance, and serving as the Component Acquisition Executive.

Pending confirmation, Fagan is expected to relieve the current commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Karl L. Schultz, during a change of command ceremony planned for June 1, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

“Admiral Fagan is an exceptional senior Coast Guard officer and nominee, possessing the keen intellect, the depth of operational experience, and the well-honed leadership and managerial acumen to serve with distinction as our Service’s 27th commandant,” said Schultz, SEAPOWER reported.

The potential gap in leadership between Schultz’s departure and his replacement’s confirmation raised concerns among lawmakers in recent weeks, On Monday (April 4) Senate Democrats Tammy Baldwin of  Wisconsin and Maria Cantwell of Washington, sent a letter to the White House urging the president to nominate a new Coast Guard leader as soon as possible, Military Times reported.

“Ensuring continuity of leadership is of the utmost importance to our national and economic security,” the pair wrote. “The Coast Guard is at the forefront of a number of strategic priorities for the United States, from the growing importance of security in the Arctic, to drug interdiction, environmental protection, and leading emergency response on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

Congress is scheduled to break for two weeks starting April 8, but could schedule confirmation hearings for Fagan in late April or early May, Military Times noted.

Previously, Fagan served as commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area and and Commander, Coast Guard Defense Force West. She has served on all seven continents, from Ross Island, Antarctica to the heart of Africa, and in many ports along the way. Her operational tours include: Commander of the New York sector;ore than 15 years as a Marine Inspector; and sea duty on the heavy ice breaker POLAR STAR — her first at-sea assignment.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, seen here on Jan. 2, 2020, was Adm. Linda Fagan’s first sea duty assignment as an officer. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi)

Fagan is also the Coast Guard officer with the longest service record in the Marine Safety field, earning the service’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident award.

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SHAKO 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.

April 7, 2022 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: New Medal of Honor Museum; Movies About MoH Heroes; Medal of Honor Quiz

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.

Friday, March 25, was National Medal of Honor Day, established by Congress to “foster public appreciation and recognition of Medal of Honor recipients.”

Since the medal was created in 1861, 3,511 members of the U.S. military have received the Medal. Some of the names are quite famous like movie star and World War II legend Audie Murphy, frontier scout and showman Buffalo Bill Cody, and William “Wild Bill” Donovan, commander of the fabled Fighting 69th New York regiment in World War One and head of the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II.

But most are names that are famous briefly when they receive the Medal, like Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, cited for his heroism on Guadalcanal in 1942, but largely forgotten until the HBO Series The Pacific, rediscovered Basilone’s story.

Standards to award the Medal of Honor have evolved over time, but the Medal has always stood for actions that go above and beyond. The current criteria were established in 1963 during the Vietnam War, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor website.

The Medal is authorized for any military service member who “distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty

The Defense Department announced on March 25 that ground had been broken for a Medal of Honor museum in Texas.

Medal of Honor recipients are honored at the National Medal of Honor Museum’s groundbreaking ceremony in Arlington, Texas, March 25, 2022.

At the museum’s groundbreaking ceremony in Arlington, Texas, Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the stories of selfless service deserve a permanent home. Their stories of heroism, service and valor must be shared, he added. And that’s exactly what the museum will do.

Milley told stories of some of the 15 Medal of Honor recipients who attended the groundbreaking, as well as others not present.

“It’s those stories that will document our country’s bravery, that gives purpose to our entire military. It’s their heroism,” he said.

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Movies About MoH Heroism

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a moving picture is worth tens of thousands.

Here’s a short list of seven Hollywood movies over the years that told the stories of Medal of Honor awardees from the Civil War, the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, Somalia and Afghanistan.

 

1. Hacksaw Ridge (World War II, 1945)

This 2016 film recounts the selfless bravery of Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, during the Battle of Okinawa. A pacifist who refused to kill or even carry a weapon in combat, Doss became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

 

2. Sergeant York (World War 1, 1918)

Tennessee farmer and marksman Alvin York was another pacifist who didn’t even want to serve in the Army when he was drafted in 1917, according to this 1942 film. However, his nearly single-handed assault on German machine guns resulting in more than a dozen Germans killed and 132 captured earned him the nickname “One Man Army,” as well as the Medal of Honor. Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of York.

 

3. Black Hawk Down (Somalia, 1993)

This 2001 film recounts the story of 160 U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators who dropped into Mogadishu in October 1993 to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord, but found themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis. Posthumous MoH recipients Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart were played in the film by Johnny Strong and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

 

4. Lone Survivor (Afghanistan, 2005)

This 2013 film is about Marcus Luttrell, the only member of his SEAL team to survive a vicious running gun battle with Afghan insurgents during a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. The team commander, Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, portrayed by Taylor Kitsch, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

 

5. We Were Soldiers (Vietnam, 1965)

The story of the battle of Ia Drang Valley, the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War, pitting U.S. Air Cavalry troopers against North Vietnam Army regulars. The movie also shows the stress on soldiers’ families back home waiting for news of their loved ones. Helicopter pilot Major Bruce ‘Snake’ Crandall, the Medal of Honor for his heroism ferrying supplies and troops into and wounded soldiers out of a “Hot LZ,” a landing zone under heavy fire, was played by Greg Kinnear.

 

 

6. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (World War II, 1942)

Spencer Tracy plays then-Army Air Force Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, the commander of the first air attack on Tokyo less than six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Doolittle, who planned the mission, trained the crews of B-25 land-based bombers to take off from an aircraft carrier, and then flew the lead bomber in the risky all-volunteer mission, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

7. The Great Locomotive Chase (Civil War, 1862)

During the Civil War a Union spy and volunteer soldiers, who risked hanging as spies if captured, plotted to steal a Confederate train and drive it to Union territory while destroying the Confederate railway system along the way. The survivors of this daring raid were the first U.S. troops to receive the new Medal of Honor. The raid failed in its main objective and all the raiders were captured. Eight were hanged. Eight others escaped and the rest were traded in a prisoner exchange. In all, 19 were awarded the first Medals of Honor, including Private Jacob Parrott of the 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who is considered the first soldier awarded the MoH. Claude Jarman Jr., played Parrott in the 1956 Disney live action film about the raid.

The Mitchell Raiders receive the first Medals of Honor in The Great Locomotive Chase. (Disney via Military.com)

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Last, but not Least — a Quiz.

The Pentagon web site asks how much do you know about the the nation’s highest medal for valor in combat?

Click here, to take the quiz.

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SHAKO 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 in the photo.

West Point cadets in dress parade uniform. (U.S. Military Academy)

March 28, 2022 at 2:05 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: 100 Years of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers

Milestone for Flatops.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt)

This month marks the 100th anniversary of aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy.

On March 20, 1922, following a two-year conversion at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the former USS Jupiter (a coal transport ship) was recommissioned as the United States Navy’s first aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV 1).

The ship was named in honor of Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American aircraft pioneer and engineer, CV 1 started as an experimental platform but quickly was shown to be an invaluable weapons system that changed how the US Navy fought at sea.

Langley (CV-1) at anchor with an Aeromarine 39-B airplane landing on her flight deck, circa 1922. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog #: NH 63545.)

By the end of its first year as an aircraft carrier, USS Langley had been the site for numerous historic events: the first piloted plane launch from an aircraft carrier, the first landing in an Aeromarine, airplane and the first aviator to be catapulted from a carrier’s deck.

“For 100 years aircraft carriers have been the most survivable and versatile airfields in the world,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said during a Navy League centennial celebration Monday (March 21) in Norfolk, Navy Times reported. “Perhaps no single military platform distinguishes what our nation is … and what it stands for … more than the aircraft carrier.”

In the 100 years since — from CV 1 to the newest nuclear-power carrier CVN 78 — aircraft carriers have been the Navy’s preeminent power projection platform and have served the nation’s interest in times of war and peace.

“The advent of the aircraft carrier and the commissioning of the first aircraft carrier 100 years ago really started our Navy and our nation on a path of having the most formidable, mobile, survivable sea bases and aviation platforms in the world,” said Rear Admiral John Meier,  commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, which provides operationally ready air squadrons and aircraft carriers to the fleet.

Today, the Navy currently has eleven commissioned aircraft carriers in its arsenal.

Meier noted the carrier Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) is in the Mediterranean, “demonstrating our resolve and our partnership with our NATO allies, as we watch the horror unfolding of Russian aggression into Ukraine.”

Newport News Shipbuilding, a unit of Huntington Ingalls Industries, is the world’s only maker of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

The most recently completed carrier — USS Gerald R. Ford — is scheduled to make its first overseas deployment sometime later this year.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck, March 22, 2022. Ford is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting flight deck certification and air wing carrier qualifications as part of the ship’s preparation for operational deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary Melvin)

Ford-class carriers are twice as long and weigh eight times as much as their 1922 counterpart, yet they are twice as fast and carry nearly three times as many aircraft. The nation’s newest most advanced aircraft carrier, CVN 78, will be in service until at least 2070. All U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers operating in the Navy fleet today were built at Newport News Shipbuilding. USS Enterprise (CVN 65) was first in 1961, serving the nation more than 50 years, before being decommissioned in 2017, according to SEAPOWER.

Three other Ford-class aircraft carriers are currently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding. They include John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), Enterprise (CVN 80) and Doris Miller (CVN 81). In addition, Newport News Shipbuilding is conducting mid-life refueling complex overhauls on two Nimitz-class aircraft carriers: USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). These overhauls will extend the service life for each platform by another 25 years.

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SHAKO 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.

March 25, 2022 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 11, 2021)

Shooting Over the Waves.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Thomas Contant)

Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) participate in small arms qualification shooting on one of the ship’s aircraft elevators.

We’ve often seen photos of this kind of target shooting, usually taken from behind the shooters.

But this one really puts in perspective where such live-fire handgun testing occurs — high above the ocean. We wonder if that makes it harder to concentrate on the target, or eliminates distractions on a big, busy warship.

Click on the photo below of the USS America at sea to enlarge the image. You will see where this elevator is located, at the far end of the ship (upper right corner of photo), sticking out from the flight deck high above the sea. Granted, this week’s FRIFO appears to show the elevator is down on the hangar deck — not dizzyingly high in the air, but still over water.

 

(U.S. Navy photo via wikipedia)

America, lead ship of the America Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of responsibility, as part of a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

February 11, 2022 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 28, 2022)

Jungle Training.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Jonathan Willcox) Please click on the photo to enlarge image.

Marines participate in a squad competition at Camp Gonsalves, Okinawa, Japan on January 6, 2022.

The week-long competition tests jungle survival skills, basic infantry tactics and weapons handling.

January 27, 2022 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

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