Posts filed under ‘Counter Terrorism’

FRIDAY FOTO (May 31, 2019)

Dead Serious.

military dive operations

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Jayme Pastoric)

Their swim fins hooked over their wrists and their weapons ready, Navy SEALs, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2, emerge from the shallows during military dive operations training in the Atlantic Ocean on May 29, 2019.

SEALs, it stands for Sea, Air, Land forces, “are expertly trained to deliver highly specialized, intensely challenging warfare capabilities that are beyond the means of standard military forces,” according to the Navy. SEAL teams are the maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command, however, they are trained to conduct missions from sea, air and land.

Before one gets to wear the distinctive gold SEAL insignia — an eagle clutching a Navy anchor, trident and flintlock style pistol — one must endure a lot of this:

110411-N-JR159-138

First Phase Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs (BUD/S) candidates participate in hours of crushing, physical training, in wet, sandy uniforms with little sleep at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

To get an idea of how difficult their training is, click here.

May 31, 2019 at 12:10 am 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 5, 2019)

Whites (and) Lighning

USS WASP (LHD 1) OPERATIONS AT SEA

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Barker)

Sailors man the rails aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD1) as it arrives for Exercise Balikatan at Subic Bay in the Philippines. This March 30, 2019 photo practically spans the long history of the Navy and Marine Corps — from the sailors in their summer bell-bottomed dress whites, “dixie cup” hats and black neckerchiefs to the Marines’ newest aircraft, the F-35B  Lightning II jet fighter, parked behind them.The stealthy F-35B is a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, designed to meet the land and ship-based needs of the Marines.

Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military training exercise focusing on missions ranging from humanitarian assistance and counter-terrorism.

April 5, 2019 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

DRONES AND and ‘DROIDS: NATO UAVs; Indian-U.S. drone development; DARPA smart drones

Finally, a NATO UAV.

NorthGrum NATO drone

Northrop Grumman officials and NATO leaders unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in  2015. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

After years of delays, NATO will be getting its own surveillance drones for the first time, according to the German government. NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) drone — a variant of Northrop Grumman’s high altitude — is slated for delivery to an air base in Sigonella, Italy, sometime in the third quarter of 2019. Four additional systems, including drones and ground stations built by Airbus, will be delivered later in the year.

The trans-Atlantic alliance plans to use the aircraft  for a variety of missions from protecting ground troops to border control and counter-terrorism. The NATO drones will be able to fly for up to 30 hours at a time in all weather, providing near real-time surveillance data, writes Reuters’ Anderea Shalal.

U.S.-Indian Drone Cooperation.

The United States and India are working together on developing a small unmanned aerial system that could be launched from a cargo aircraft.

It’s all part of a broader technology effort known as the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), which looks for opportunities between the two countries  for co-production and development of military technologies, according to Defense News. The Pentagon’s acquisition chief, Ellen Lord, discussed the drone project with reporters on March 15 — the day after she hosted a delegation from India to discuss DTTI programs.

Lord said the system would have three targeted uses: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, “cross-border operations,” and cave and tunnel inspection.

DARPA AI-Drone Program.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s think-outside-the-box scientific research unit, is studying how to equip reconnaissance drones with artificial intelligence (AI) to rapidly distinguish friend from foe in complex urban environments. Most military leaders believe conflicts in the near future will take place in large cities teeming with innocent, and not-so-innocent civilians. The congested urban landscape could pose a nightmare scenario of friendly fire incidents or civilian casualties.

DARPA’s Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) aims to develop technology to enable autonomous systems — supervised and operated by humans — to detect hostile forces and establish positive identification before any U.S. troops come in contact with them.

To overcome the complexity of the urban environment, URSA seeks to combine new knowledge about human behaviors, autonomy algorithms, integrated sensors and measurable human responses, to pick up the subtle differences between hostile and innocent people.

However, URSA’s program manager, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Root, says developing  such technology is “fraught with legal, moral, and ethical implications,” so  DARPA brought in ethics advisors from the project’s start, Defense One reports.

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Calendar.

April 24-25 — National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) Robotics Capabilities Conference, Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center, Columbus, Georgia, http://www.ndia.org/events/2019/4/24/2019-ndia-robotics-conference-and-exhibition.

April 29-May 2 — Association of Unmanned Vehicle System International (AUVSI) Exponential trade show, McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, https://www.xponential.org/xponential2019/public/enter.aspx.

March 20, 2019 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 15, 2019)

Flying Squad.

CJTF-HOA Reinforces Commitment to Djibouti’s Rapid Intervention Battalion

(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Ahearn)

No, they didn’t forget to pay the gravity bill. These soldiers from Djibouti’s Rapid Intervention Battalion  (RIB) were performing a traditional Somali dance welcoming new RIB graduates.

The Rapid Intervention Force is a U.S. Army-trained unit formed to respond to crises and promote regional security and stability in East Africa, where Djibouti is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal from the Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea.

One-hundred twelve Djiboutian soldiers joined the ranks of the RIB following a graduation ceremony last June (June 28, 2018), when this photo was taken at a training site outside Djibouti City.

Soldiers from the U.S. 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team provided training in U.S. Army basic warrior tasks, including hand-to-hand combat techniques and combat life saving. The U.S. Army personnel are part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

March 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: AFRICOM Logistics Hub; West African Violence;

AFRICOM-Ghana .

U.S. Africa Command plans to begin routing cargo flights through Accra, Ghana, as the hub of a new logistics network to ferry supplies and weapons to U.S. troops operating across the continent’s increasingly turbulent western region, reports Defense One.

Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn

Air Force C-17s may soon be making weekly supply hops to Ghana for U.S. troops in West Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

As part of a defense-cooperation agreement with Ghana reached in May, a weekly flight from AFRICOM’s home base in Germany to Accra will deliver cargo to be sent out on smaller planes and trucks to the approximately 1,800 American dispersed across nearly 20 locations in West Africa, according Defense One.

Brigadier General Leonard Kosinski, head of logistics at AFRICOM, says the operation will be like a bus route carrying arms, ammunition, food, and other supplies to special  forces troops. At first, the flights will be U.S. military cargo planes supporting American personnel. But after the first year, AFRICOM hopes that African contractors, European allies, and partner nations will plug into the network.

However, the launch of this West Africa Logistics Network suggests that at least for now, AFRICOM is planning a consistent presence in the western reaches of the continent, writes Defense One senior national security correspondent Katie Bo Williams.

West Africa Attacks.

Attacks by violent extremist groups have been on the rise in West Africa. Ten U.N. peacekeepers from Chad were killed in a January 20 attack in northern Mali. An al-Qaeda-linked group —   Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — claimed responsibility for the attack which also wounded 25 Chadian troops when gunmen stormed the U.N. camp in Aguelhok.

Chad funeral MINUSMA

Tribute ceremony in N’Djamena for the 10 Chadian peacekeepers who were killed on 20 January in a terrorist attack in northern Mali. (United Nations mission in Mali photo)

The death toll from a February attack by gunmen in northwestern Nigeria has doubled to more than 130, Al Jazeera reported. The attack appeared to have been a deliberate plan to “wipe out certain communities,” Kaduna state Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said,  without elaborating.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Abuja, said the increase in death toll was “expected from the beginning” as 130 people had been marked as missing in the aftermath of the attack.

The attack took place the day before Nigeria was supposed to hold a presidential but electoral authorities delayed the vote by one week citing logistical challenges.

February 22, 2019 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 1, 2019)

Winter Blast.

frifo2-1-2019armyblowtorchft.drum_

 (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant James Avery)

How cold was it a week ago at Fort Drum in upstate New York near the Canadian border? This photo says it all.

It shows Army Private Ryan Trumm using a blowtorch to melt the ice off tie-down chains that secure vehicles to flatbed trucks or railroad flatcars during railhead operations at Fort Drum on January 23, 2019.

Fort Drum — about 38 miles (61 kilometers) from Kingston, Ontario, where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario — is home to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, a rapidly deployable light infantry unit.

The temperature Thursday night (January 31) at Fort Drum was 2 degrees above zero. Due to inclement weather on Friday (February 1, 2019) the Garrison Commander issued a DO NOT REPORT ORDER for non-emergency/non-essential uniformed military personnel and civilians. Of course emergency and essential personnel will still be on duty at Fort Drum.

10thmountaindivisionpatchfor2-1-2019

Considering the 10th Mountain was created in World War II as an Alpine unit, fighting the Germans in the mountains of Italy during the winter of 1944-1945, and has served often in the mountains of Afghanistan — among other places including Iraq and Somalia — the commandant’s order says a lot about the extreme weather conditions at Fort Drum lately.

Surprising fact: Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division are considered founders of today’s ski industry in the United States by creating ski resorts,  opening ski schools and establishing ski areas when they came home from World War II.

January 31, 2019 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 18, 2019)

Sending a “Stinging” Message.

Stinger Missile Exercise

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rachel K. Young)

Here we have “before and after” photos of a Stinger anti-aircraft missile launch. In the first, we see Marine Corps Provate First Class Scout Mohrman testing  Stinger during a training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California on January 14, 2019.

In the photo below, we see the same weapon, same day, same place — same photographer — but a different Marine, Private First Class Joshua English. as the Stinger leaves the launch tube.

Stinger Missile Exercise

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rachel K. Young)

The Stinger, a Cold War weapon that is making a come-back with the U.S. military, is part of a group of anti-aircraft weapons known as Man Portable Air Defense Systems, or  MANPADS.  After the Soviet Union invadede Afghanistan, the United States supplied anti-Soviet Afghan insurgents with Stingers.  Between 1986 and 1989, Afghan forces used the missiles to down an estimated 269 aircraft and helicopters. (See video clip  from the 2007 motion picture Charlie Wilson’s War) Many Stingers, however, remained unaccounted for after the conflict despite U.S. efforts to have unused missiles returned to U.S. control. Some of the missiles made it into the international black market and the hands of terrorists.

After the 9/11 attacks, the proliferation of Stingers and other shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons was by the U.S. State Department as a “serious potential threat to global civilian aviation,” 4GWAR reported numerous times. Those concerns sparked both efforts to collect and destroy unsecured stockpiles of portable anti-aircraft missiles as well as industry efforts to equip commercial aircraft with counter MANPADS technologies.

With the rise of unmanned aircraft technology, security concerns have shifted to inadvertent or malicious drone interference with civil aviation.

January 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

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