Posts filed under ‘Coronavirus pandemic’

LAT AM: China, Russia Capitalizing on Organized Crime Chaos; Politics and COVID-19 in Brazil.

Dual Threat.

The chaos created by transnational organized crime groups in Central and South America is creating opportunities for China and Russia to undermine United States influence in the Western Hemisphere, two top U.S. military commanders say.

The littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) conducts a bi-lateral maritime exercise with naval counterparts from the Dominican Republic on March 24, 2021. Wichita is deployed to support the Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter narcotics trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo)

“Two of the most significant threats are China and transnational criminal organizations,” Navy Admiral Craig Faller told a House Armed Services Committee hearing April 14. Faller, the commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), said China is the “Number One strategic threat of the 21st century,” adding that the Chinese Communist Party — with what he called its “insidious, corrosive and corrupt influence” was seeking “global dominance.”

Faller said China was increasing its influence in the Western Hemisphere with more than 40 commercial seaport deals, making significant loans for political and economic leverage, pushing its IT structure and “engaging in predatory practices” like illegal fishing by industrial fleets.

Southcom’s 2021 posture statement to Congress noted that South and Central America have been reeling under a wave of challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic that has savaged Brazil, political instability and corruption in Venezuela and back-to-back hurricanes that devastated Central America,  prompting mass migrations north. The statement notes external state actors like China and Russia are “looking to exploit the conditions posed by these threats.”

Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), agreed, saying the rise of transnation criminal organizations and the “subsequent instability they create, has generated opportunities for our competitors to exploit.”

To read more of this article by your 4GWAR editor, click here.

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Brazil’s Troubles.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has suggested that the army might be called into the streets to restore order if lockdown measures against COVID-19 — that he opposes — lead to chaos.

In an April 23 television interview with TV Criticia in the Amazon city of Manaus, Bolsonaro repeated his frequent criticism of restrictions imposed by local governments to curb infections — measures he claims do more harm than good, the Associated Press reported (via the Stars and Stripes website).

(Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
(Photo by Marcos Corrêa/PR via wikipedia)

The right-wing populist president called lockdowns and quarantine “absurd,” adding “If we have problems … we have a plan of how to act. I am the supreme head of the armed forces.”

Concerns about a military takeover in Brazil — like the one in 1964 that lasted for 20 years — have grown after the leaders of Brazil’s army. navy and air force all resigned March 30 when Bolsonaro replaced the defense minister. The government shake-up began, according to NPR, after Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo tendered his resignation. A few hours later, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva said that he too was leaving the government.

Bolsonaro, is under intense pressure and mounting criticism as Brazil’s coronavirus cases spin further out of control. The departures accompany lawmakers’ threats to impeach Bolsonaro as well as his dropping popularity with the public.

Bolsonaro said April 7 that he had asked the armed forces if they had troops available to control possible social unrest from the COVID-19 crisis — adding to fears that he is pushing the military into a political role.

Critics fret that Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, aims to marshal the army and police as a political force ahead of a fraught 2022 election, Reuters reported.

Bolsonaro has long sought to minimize the coronavirus, has shunned masks and was slow to purchase vaccines. Recently, he has suggested Brazilians could revolt against stay-at-home measures imposed by governors and mayors.

Brazil’s health crisis is being described as a “humanitarian catastrophe” by the international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym, MSF), which has teams in parts of the country, NPR reported.

“The Brazilian authorities’ … refusal to adopt evidence-based public health measures has sent far too many to an early grave,” MSF’s international president Dr. Christos Christou said in a statement on April 14.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths remain high in Brazil as the country’s campaign to vaccinate against the disease stumbles, according to the VoA website.

With more than 386,414 total deaths, Brazil has the second highest toll in the world from the pandemic, behind only the United States, which has recorded 571,883 COVID fatalities, as of April 24.

People wait in the observation area after receiving their COVID-19 vaccination at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City April 13, 2021. The convention center serves as a mass vaccination site with more than 600 National Guard personnel assisting. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Specialist Li Ji)

Just over 5 percent of the population of South America’s largest nation’s has been fully vaccinated. The United States has fully vaccinated more than 26 percent of its population, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

ICU wards in cities within Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area are reportedly nearly full, with many patients sharing space and oxygen bottles. Brazil’s vaccination campaign has been slow because of supply issues. The country’s two biggest laboratories face supply constraints.

The nation’s health ministry bet on a single vaccine, the AstraZeneca shot, and after supply problems surfaced, bought only one backup, the Chinese-manufactured CoronaVac.

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More Covid Woes.

Brazil is far from the only South American country hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Peru has one of the highest COVID-19 totals in Latin America, with more than 1,745,000 cases and 59,012 deaths as of April 24, according to Johns Hopkin University Covid Resource Center

Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America.

Peru began new nationwide restrictions for one month starting April 19, a day after reaching a new record of COVID-19 deaths. The country’s health ministry registered 433 COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday April 18, following a steady increase in deaths this month, the VoA website reported.

The new government order also places limits on the size of gatherings and the mandatory social curfew accordance comes with threat alert levels, beginning with moderate, high, very high, and extreme risk.

The capital, Lima, is listed at the extreme risk level, meaning residents are prohibited from going outside on Sundays, the state run Andina News Agency reported. The decree also extends the national state of emergency for 31 days (about one month), beginning May 1.

Other countries south of the U.S. border with high COVID-19 infection and death rates include: Argentina with 2,824,652 cases and 61,474 deaths; Colombia with 2,740,544 cases and 70,886 deaths; Mexico,  2,323,430 cases, and 214,841 deaths; Chile 1,162,811 cases and 25,742 deaths; Panama 362,358 cases and 6,207 deaths; Venezuela with 185,278 cases and  2,028 deaths, as of April 24.

April 24, 2021 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 2, 2021)

Haul Away Joe!

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb J. Sarten)

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Global Positioning, cyber warfare — and a coronavirus pandemic,  the 21st century has gotten pretty complicated for the U.S. Navy. But some things never change, like hauling a line.

Here we see Sailors heave in line as the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) prepares to depart Souda Bay, Greece, on March 24, 2021. Mitscher is operating with the IKE (USS Dwight Eisenhower) Carrier Strike Group on a routine deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national interests and security in Europe and Africa.

Click on the photo to enlarge the image. For a little atmosphere try listening to the age-old sea shanty (you say shanty, I say chanty) “Haul Away Joe.” There are two versions below.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem,accompanied by historic 19th century Navy pictures. OR try members of the U.S. Navy Band in full evening dress, or as they call it, mess dress.

Let us know which one you liked, or if you can recommend an even better version.

Please note: These Sailors are wearing masks while doing some strenuous work. If they can do it, you should, too. Please, mask up until we’re all safer.

April 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 5, 2021)

Sunny Snowy Italy.

(U.S. Army photo by Paolo Bovo)

U.S. Army Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade exit a  C-130 Hercules aircraft over Frida Drop Zone near Aviano NATO base in northern Italy on February 1, 2021 The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe — capable of projecting ready forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Commands’ areas of responsibility. The C-130 is assigned to the U.S. Air Force 86th Air Wing.

February 4, 2021 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 22, 2021)

…Until the Paperwork’s Done.

(U.S. National Guard photo by Sergeant Chazz Kibler)

Soldiers in the Maryland Army National Guard use the backs of the soldiers in front of them to fill out medical paperwork to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the U.S. Capitol Complex in Washington, D.C., on January 14, 2021.

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from all 50 states states traveled to the District to provide support to federal and district authorities leading up to the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th president.

More than 26,000 members of the National Guard were on the ground in Washington to assist D.C. and federal authorities through the inauguration festivities. In addition, 6,565 Guard members provided security at state capitals across the nation.

Maryland was among the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia to deploy Guardsmen and women in Washington, according to the National Guard Bureau. A platoon-sized element of approximately 30 Soldiers from Guam flew  7,900 miles to Washington to assist in the operation.

The Guard has supported presidential inaugurations since 1789 when local militia units took part in George Washington’s inaugural events in New York City. But this year’s inaugural assistance was the “most extensive ever,” the Bureau said.

January 21, 2021 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 15, 2021)

Rock’em, Sock’em Recruits.


(U.S. Marine Corps Photos By Gunnery Sergeant Tyler Hlavac)

Recruits with Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, engage pugil sticks at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on January 11, 2021. Body sparring and pugil sticks help recruits apply the fundamentals of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

Notice not only are those recruits waiting to participate, wearing masks, but so are the combatants. If they can do it under such strenuous conditions, you can to when you go out and can’t keep six feet away from other people. We guess the referee had to pull his mask down to blow the whistle.

According to the website MafrineCorpsParents.com, a pugil stick is a heavily padded training weapon used by military personnel for bayonet training since the 1930s or 1940s. Similar to a quarterstaff, the pugil stick may be marked at one end to indicate which portion represents the bayonet proper and which the butt of the rifle.

Pugil bouts are usually conducted with hard contact while wearing protective gear such as football helmets, flak jackets, groin protectors, and gloves. Many recruits have never experienced the realities of inter-personal violence found in close combat, and pugil sticks provide effective, but safe, “full contact” combative training at the entry level. It is also an effective tool for enhancing the endurance and improvisation that are building blocks to developing the physical skills and mental toughness vital to success on the battlefield.

To see a 5 minute video of what this training looks like, click here. Also, click on the photo itself to enlarge the image.

January 15, 2021 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 25, 2020)

Happy Holidays

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Grant G. Grady). Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The USS Constitution displays holiday lights and decorations during a snow storm while moored to the pier at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Massachusetts.

Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. Dubbed “Old Ironsides” in 1812 when British cannon balls seemed to bounce off the ship’s sturdy oak hull, Constitution actively defended sea lanes from 1797 to 1855.

Here at 4GWAR blog we wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday time to help put this very trying year behind us.

Please stay safe: keep your distance at least six feet apart and wear a mask or face-covering when you can’t. It they can do it under these circumstances, you can too.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist George M. Bell/Released)

 

December 25, 2020 at 12:36 am 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (October 16, 2020)

Uniform Excellence.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Christopher McMurry)

Marines with Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, stand at parade rest during a Battalion Commander’s inspection on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, on October 2, 2020. (Click on photo to enlarge)

The Battalion Commander’s Inspection is the final check and last chance to correct any discrepancies before the Marines graduate. Graduation ceremonies, usually a celebratory display for friends and family, have been closed to the public since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Notice that the non-commissioned officer checking these newly-minted Marines is not the usual staff sergeant or gunnery sergeant drill instructor. This Marine is a sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank in the Marines except for the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, who advises the Marines’ commanding general, the commandant. The sergeant major in this photo is the senior sergeant for the whole 4th training battalion.

Those four red service stripes on her lower sleeve mean she has served at least 16 years in the Corps — four years for every stripe.

Notice all of the Marines in this photo are female. Unlike the other services, the Marines have segregated male and female recruits at the platoon level during basic training. That is scheduled to change under orders from Congress over the next five years.

October 15, 2020 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 7, 2020)

A Lot of Brass.

Friday Evening Parade 07.24.2020

 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. John Jackson)

Buglers with the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, conduct a fanfare during a Friday Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2020.

Located near Capitol Hill, the Barracks at 8th and I Streets is the oldest post in the Corps.  The drum and bugle corps is known as “The Commandant’s Own,” and the host for the evening was, in fact,  the 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berger. Virginia congressman Rob Wittman, the ranking Republican on the House Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, was the guest of honor.

Formed in 1934 to augment the United States Marine Band, “The President’s Own,” the drum and bugle corps performs martial and popular music for hundreds of thousands of spectators each year.

The photo of these musical Marines is among the few on the Defense Department website of personnel who are NOT wearing masks. After all, it is hard to toot your horn wearing a face covering.

August 6, 2020 at 11:53 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (July 3, 2020)

Solemn Masked Men.

Military Funeral Honors with Modified Funeral Escort are Conducted for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse Lewis Jr.

(U.S. Army Photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon conducts military funeral honors with a modified escort for Navy Commander Jesse W. Lewis Junior at Arlington National Cemetery on June 29, 2020.

It was the first funeral service since March 26 to include a caisson, the next step in Arlington National Cemetery’s phased plan to resume greater support to military funeral honors as COVID-19 cases within the national capital region trend downward.

According to the Arlington website:

 Military funeral honors with modified escort consists of individual service branch body bearers, a firing party, an escort commander with guidon, escort, bugler, drummer, national colors and chaplain. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment’s caisson platoon may also be requested. Additionally, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps service members with ranks O-6 [colonel] and above may receive a caparisoned horse and flag officers [generals and admirals] from all services may receive the appropriate presidential salute battery (PSB) gun salute. 

The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard also participated in the ceremony for the Navy veteran.

Military Funeral Honors with Modified Funeral Escort are Conducted for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse Lewis Jr.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

July 3, 2020 at 4:42 pm 1 comment

SHAKO: Memorial Day 2020

Tradition, Updated.

Flags-In 2020

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

A soldier assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” places flags at headstones as part of Flags-In at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on May 21, 2020.

For more than 50 years, soldiers assigned to the unit have honored the nation’s fallen military heroes by placing U.S. flags at grave sites of every service member buried at Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., just before Memorial Day weekend.

Things are a little different at Arlington this year, from the face coverings members of the “Old Guard” wear as they plant the flags to the terse message on the National Cemetery’s website:

ANC remains open only to family pass holders during the Memorial Day weekend. You must be in possession of a both a face covering and a valid family pass to enter. Access is for gravesite visitation only, no touring.

As we’ve said in the past, everything’s different in the midst of World War CV.

*** *** ***

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.

 

 

May 24, 2020 at 11:57 pm 2 comments

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