Posts filed under ‘Disaster Relief’

FRIDAY FOTO (April 23, 2021)

Prepare to be Plucked.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe) Click on photo to enlarge the image.

An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter assigned to the Helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) Squadron based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada practices pinnacle landings and extractions during a mountain flying SAR training event. In this photo, taken April 8, 2021, Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Brandon Butler waits to be picked up by the helicopter.

The Navy currently has six dedicated “Station SAR” units around the United States: Lemoore SAR in California,  Fallon in Nevada,  Whidbey Island in Washington state, China Lake (VX-31) also in California, Pax River in Maryland and Key West in Florida.

Their primary mission is to provide search and rescue and first responder support to Fleet flight training operations for the jets in their designated areas of responsibility. Since 1996, Naval Air Station Fallon has been home to the Navy Fighter Weapons School, or TOPGUN, now known as the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC). Originally named Desert Angels and later renamed Longhorns, the Fallon SAR team’s mission is to provide SAR support for visiting Carrier Air Groups and other commands based at Fallon.

The station SARs also work closely with local first responder agencies for civilian SAR/MEDEVAC needs when not engaged in primary military duties. Other missions may include aerial firefighting and general utility helicopter operations.

The photo below shows mountain flying from a different perspective. A Longhorns Knighthawk conducts a “one wheel landing” (video) during another simulated SAR training exercise on  April 15. Click on the photo to enlarge the image and you’ll see a crew member’s legs dangling on the chopper’s far side.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

April 23, 2021 at 12:00 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 (April 17, 2020)

Keeping Their Distance.

Morning Sprints

(U.S. Army photo by Army Specialist Ryan Lucas)

Army paratroopers participate in physical training at Caserma Del Din, Italy on March 31, 2020. Note they’re practicing social distancing. All of the armed services are grappling with how, when and where to train a force that is supposed to be ready to protect the country any time, anywhere.

That’s been especially tricky in Italy — one of the European countries hardest-hit by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. That outbreak has sickened 168,941 people and killed 22,172 in Italy, according to the World Health Organization.

The pandemic’s devastation — 139,515 deaths worldwide — shows that the U.S. military must prepare to operate in a new domain besides land, sea, air, space and cyber, according to the top commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa.

“That seventh domain is just simply germs. It’s the biosphere we operate in,” Admiral James Foggo III said April 15 during a webcast for Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2020: Virtual Edition. “And I think we’re going to have to take that into account in our preparations for deterrence and defense in the future,” said Foggo.

April 17, 2020 at 11:53 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 10, 2020)

Change of Plans.

1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers make protective masks, Fight COVID-19

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Adam Armstrong)

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, these Army parachute riggers have turned into mask makers.

Parachute riggers assigned to the Group Support Battalion of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) sew protective masks for patients at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington on  April 1, 2020.

The 1st Special Forces Group (A) riggers repurposed their sewing machines — typically used to repair parachutes — to assemble surgical masks.  “The Aerial Delivery Platoon will be able to produce 200 [masks] per day initially, with only five lightweight sewing machines,” said the battalion’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Jones.

On April 8, the Defense Department issued guidance for all military commanders and managers on cloth face mask protection. It directed that “to the extent practical, all individuals on Department of Defense property. installations and facilities are required to wear cloth  face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers” like a submarine or airplane cockpit.

April 10, 2020 at 5:31 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 22, 2019)

Seems Like Old Times.

Tiger TRIUMPH Beach Landing

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Christian Ayers)

While military planners and strategists say the era of massive amphibious landings like Omaha Beach or Iwo Jima are over, the Marines aren’t getting rid of their landing craft just yet.

This November 19, 2019 photo shows U.S. Marines and Indian forces wading to shore at Kakinada Beach on the Bay of Bengal. The amphibious landing was part of a disaster response training scenario during Tiger Triumph, a humanitarian exercise that aims to improve partnership, readiness and cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries.

Organizers said the nine-day exercise on India’s eastern coast, was the first drill of its kind to include the U.S. military and all three of India’s armed services, according to Stars and Stripes, the American military newspaper.

India has held similar exercises — involving all three branches of its armed forces — with only one other country: Russia. During the Cold War, India was closer to the Soviet Union than to the United States, and much of the Indian arsenal still dates back to that era, according to the New York Times.

Tiger Triumph brought together 500 U.S. Marines and sailors, and about 1,200 Indian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel for side-by-side training. While the official focus was to prepare for rescue operations and disaster response, it also included search-and-seizure training and live-fire drills, the Times noted.

The exercise represents “a tangible and necessary implementation of a series of U.S. strategic pronouncements regarding the importance of U.S. international partnerships in general and India in particular,” according to an opinion piece by the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, appearing in Defense News.

November 22, 2019 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Deadly Year for Green Berets; McRaven on Afghanistan; New Brazil Commando Unit

Every Single One.

Every single active-duty Special Forces Group has lost at least one soldier in Afghanistan or Syria this year, the Task & Purpose website reports.

Green Berets 2012 graduates

Special Forces Qualification Course graduates in 2012 wearing their green berets for the first time. (U.S. Army photo by Dave Chace, Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School)

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat. The most recent special operators to fall are: Sergeant 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 1st Special Forces Group, on September 16; Sergeant 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, also of the 1st Special Forces Group, on August 29; and Master Sergeants Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa and Jose J. Gonzalez, both of the 7th Special Forces Group and killed in the same action on August 21. All four soldiers were mortally wounded during combat operations with Afghan Army troops.

Ten of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan were Army special operators. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Another was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and one other was a Ranger, according to Task & Purpose.

“Green Beret teams are embedded with the Afghan commandos, which is doing the lion’s share of the fighting on the ground – that’s why they’re taking the lion’s share of the casualties,” Representative Michael Waltz (R-Florida) — a retired Special Forces officer —  told Task & Purpose. For a list of the Special Operations soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Syria this year, click here.

More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to topple the Taliban, which sheltered bin Laden.

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Ex-Top U.S. Commando on Afghanistan.


Admiral William McRaven speaks to Special Operations commanders in January 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Williams)

The former head of U.S. Special Operations Command ― who oversaw the mission that took out Osama Bin Laden ― believes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is far from over. “I’ve said we have to accept the fact — I think we do — that we’re going to be there for a very long time,” retired Navy Admiral William McRaven told an audience at the New America Special Operations Forces Policy Forum in Washington September 19.

McRaven, a Navy SEAL who headed SOCOM from 2011 to 2014, said it was a mistake to sit down with the Taliban, the Military Times reported. “I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” he said, “it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”

The Taliban and U.S. diplomats reportedly had reached an interim peace agreement this summer after nine rounds of peace talks in the Gulf State of Qatar. However, the deal fell apart just before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks when President Trump canceled a secret meeting with Taliban officials at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

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New Brazilian Commando Unit.

Brazil’s Navy plans to create its own maritime special operations command, to be designated as the Comando Naval de Operações Especiais (CoNavOpEsp), according to the Jane’s 360 website.

Brazil special ops-Forças_especiais,_Comandos_(26712384805)

Brazil’s Army has had special ops troops, Comando de Operações Especiais, (C Op Esp) since 2003.

The organization will be based in Rio de Janeiro under a rear admiral as part of the Naval Operations Command (ComOpNav). The plan calls for CoNavOpEsp — under a single command structure — to unify the direction and co-ordination of special operations missions, Jane’s reported.

Among the missions the existing Army commando unit, Comando de Operações Especiais, is tasked with: Direct action, airfield seizure, special reconnaissance, airborne and air assault operations, and personnel recovery.

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U.S., Estonian Commandos Train in Vertical Insertion.

Air Commandos with the U.S. Air Force 352nd Special Operations Wing, trained with Estonian and other U.S. special operations forces near Amari, Estonia, in early September. A NATO member since 2004, Estonia, like other Baltic nations once occupied by the Soviet Union, has been under pressure from Russia. A massive series of cyber attacks that paralyzed Estonia in 2007 was believed to be the work of Moscow, although the accusation was never proven.

From September 3 though September 9, the Estonian and U.S. commandos conducted a multitude of air operations out of an Air Force Special Operation Command CV-22 Osprey.  The tilt rotor aircraft is the Air Force’s premier Special Cops vertical lift assault platform. “Ospreys and their crews are capable of the full spectrum of SOF [Special Operations Forces] missions in all phases of conflict. They conduct the infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces throughout the European theater,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Clay Freeman, commander of the 352nd Special Ops Wing.

Estonian Fast roping Osprey.jpg

An Estonian Special Operations Forces operator fast ropes out the back of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey on a similar training mission in 2017.   (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Matt Britton)

U.S. and Estonian troops spent the week focused on three mission objectives: Familiarization with the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES) ;  casualty evacuation; and rapidly loading and off-loading a tactical vehicle from the aircraft.

During the FRIES training, U.S. and Estonia personnel practiced fast-roping from twilight and into the night. That new capability will allow forces to be inserted into small or confined areas were normal aircraft landings are impractical.

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More Training for USAF First Female Ranger.

Back in August, U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch made history by becoming the first female in the U.S. Air Force to graduate from the tough Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Ranger tab pinned

Air Force First Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, of the 821st Contingency Response Squadron, has her  Ranger tab pinned on after graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School August 30, 2019, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army photo John Tongret)

Hibsch, a security forces officer assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) at Travis Air Force Base in California,  will be back with her unit training for short-notice disaster response and combat zone airfield preparation worldwide, the website reported.

The 821st CRS is part of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, whose highly specialized personnel are trained to deploy quickly in order to open airfields or establish, expand, sustain and coordinate air mobility operations for wartime tasks or disaster relief.

Lt. Chelsey Hibsch Army Ranger tab.

Then-2nd Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, speaking at a Women’s History Month luncheon at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on March 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Hibsch, a former enlisted airman from Attica, New York, was in the process of transitioning to the 621st from a previous assignment in the Indo-Pacific region when she was selected for Ranger School — a challenging, two-month-long course. Competing in the Ranger Assessment Course at Camp Bullis, Texas prompted her to enroll in Army Ranger School.

After then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a ban on women serving in ground combat roles in 2013, the Army opened the Ranger School to female applicants two years later. Two female West Point graduates, Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver, were the first women to earn the coveted Ranger tab (shoulder patch). Now more than a dozen service women have completed Ranger school.

September 25, 2019 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: U.N. Health Agency Declares International Ebola Emergency

Global Health Emergency in DR Congo.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern.”

MAP-DR Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo (CIA World Factbook)

The public health emergency provision, announced in Geneva July 17, is the highest level of alarm the WHO can sound and has only been used four times previously. But the organization stopped short of saying borders should be closed, saying the risk of the disease spreading outside the region was not high, the BBC reported.

The outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has killed more than 1,600 people, according to the latest WHO report, which noted a confirmed case of Ebola virus disease was reported in Goma, a city of two million inhabitants close to the Rwandan border.



Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat. It progresses to vomiting, diarrhea and both internal and external bleeding. Infection is caused by direct contact through broken skin — or the mouth and nose — with the blood, vomit, feces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola.

Critics have said the emergency declaration was long overdue. A WHO expert committee declined three times previously o advise the United Nations agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, even though other experts say it has long met the required conditions, the Associated Press reported.

While the risk of regional spread remains high, the risk outside the region remains low, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the announcement in Geneva.

The international emergency “should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help,” he said. Tedros insisted that the declaration was not made to raise more money — even though WHO estimated “hundreds of millions” of dollars would be needed to stop the epidemic, according to AP.

The U.S. Agency for International Development applauded the WHO decision and said agency officials would “continue to scale up life-saving support” to end the outbreak.

WHO Ebola vaccination team in Butembo.

Over 160,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been vaccinated against Ebola at facilities like this one in Butembo. (WHO photo)

It was the fifth such declaration in history. Previous emergencies were declared for the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people, the emergence of Zika in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio.

The current outbreak has raged for a year. The virus flared up in spots where it had once been contained and the epidemic hot zone has geographically expanded in northeastern Congo near Rwanda and into Uganda, the New York Times noted.

Violence against health workers has been a constant worry, and intensified after two Congolese workers were killed in their homes last week in Beni, a city in northeast DRC close to the world famous Virunga National Park near the border with Uganda.

July 18, 2019 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 14, 2019)

Enter the Dragon.

Global Dragon EMs play in Level-A Olympics

(Photo by Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Matthew Matlock) 

U.S. Air Force personnel wear Level A protective suits during Global Dragon, a biannual exercise for Air Force emergency management personnel at Perry, Georgia on June 3.

Hazardous Materials Level-A and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear suits used by first responders to enter immediate-danger-to-life and health-contaminated or toxic environment.

June 14, 2019 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 7, 2019)

A Different Kind of Pole Dance.

NCTC Gulfport Prepares Seabees to Work on Utility Poles

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Construction Electrician Lace Johnson)

Last week the Friday Foto showed you Navy SEAL candidates straining under a heavy log or pole as part of their rugged training. This week, we’ve got Navy Seabees high up a pole.

The Navy’s Construction Battalions (CBs or “Seabees”) form the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The Seabees in this photo are attending a Construction Electrician (CE) class at the Naval Construction Training Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.  The three-week course in power distribution systems and line vehicles will advance their skills in  wooden power pole utility work.

With hands-on-instruction, the students gain confidence with using safety gear and climbing equipment — as well as experience in climbing to heights of nine, 18, 27 and 36 feet, while circling the utility pole 360 degrees in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.

Formed during World War II, the Navy Construction Battalions (CBs or “Seabees”) replaced civilian construction workers who were building naval bases and other Navy facilities in the Central Pacific prior to Pearl Harbor.  Under international law, civilians who took up arms against an enemy attack could be summarily executed as guerrillas when captured.

The first Seabees were skilled construction workers, trained by the Navy and Marine Corps, to fight as well as build in theaters of war.  In all, 325,000 men served as Seabees during the war.

Today Seabees perform a number of tasks from building and repairing bases, airfields, bridges and roads in war zones, to disaster relief work — including debris removal, setting up expeditionary medical facilities, and restoring power and water supplies. Click here to see a short video on the work of modern day Seabees.

June 7, 2019 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 5, 2019)

Whites (and) Lighning


(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

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