Posts filed under ‘Latin America’

FRIDAY FOTO (May 13, 2022)

DEEP BLUE.

(Canadian Armed Forces Photo by Corporal Hugo Montpetit, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

Members from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic and Pacific, assisted by U.S. Army Divers train Caribbean divers in search techniques training during Exercise TRADEWINDS 22 in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize on May 10, 2022.

To watch a video of this training exercise, click here, but you may want to skip it if you’re prone to seasickness.

May 13, 2022 at 1:14 am Leave a comment

LAT AM: SOUTHCOM Command Change; Regional Deal on Amazon Forests

First Female Commander for SOUTHCOM.

U.S. Southern Command has changed leaders and the new chief, U.S. Army General Laura Richardson, is the first woman to head the sprawling geographic combatant command.

U.S. Army General Laura J. Richardson, assumes command from Defense Secretary Lloyd  Austin at SOUTHCOM Headquarters in Doral, Florida, Oct. 29, 2021.  (SOUTHCOM photo by Master Sergeant Stephen J. Caruso)

In a command change ceremony October 29 at SOUTHCOM headquarters in Doral, Florida, Navy Admiral Craig Faller, turned over U.S. military responsibility for the Latin American and Caribbean regions to Richardson. The 57-year-old general is only the second woman, after Air Force General Lori Robinson, to lead a geographic combatant command.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the ceremony as did several dignitaries from the region, including Colombia’s Minister of National Defense Diego Molano.

Austin congratulated Molano on the recent capture of Colombia’s most-wanted cartel leader, Dario Antonio Úsaga (alias Otoniel). The two defense leaders discussed deepening cooperation on strategic issues including Colombia’s contributions to global and regional security, migration, cyber defense, and intelligence. They also stressed the importance of respect for democracy and human rights in all aspects of the bilateral defense relationship, according to the Pentagon.

SOUTHCOM is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation in its assigned area of responsibility which includes Central America (but not Mexico), South America and the Caribbean.

During the war in Iraq, Richardson commanded an assault helicopter battalion and flew missions to support troops on the ground, Austin noted. She later commanded U.S. Army North, before taking command of SOUTHCOM. “There isn’t a crisis that she can’t handle,” Austin said.

Reflecting on his nearly three years at SOUTHCOM, Faller noted that democracies in the Western Hemisphere have been under assault from a vicious circle of threats, the Tampa Bay Times reported. They include corruption, climate change, COVID-19, major hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes, and transnational criminal organizations as well as “the corrosive, malign influence of the People’s Republic of China.”

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Curbing Amazon Deforestation.

The week before the SOUTHCOM ceremony, after high-level talks in Colombia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a regional partnership to address deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

“We’ll give much-needed financial assistance to help manage protected areas and Indigenous territories, and we’ll help scale up low-carbon agricultural practices to farmers throughout the Amazon,” Blinken said October 21, in the capital, Bogota, the VoA website reported.

“This new regional partnership will help prevent up to 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere while capturing another 52,000 metric tons of carbon, and we estimate it will save — save — more than 45,000 hectares of forest,” he added.

Deforestation in the Maranhão state of Brazil, in 2016. (Photo by Ibama from Brasil – Operação Hymenaea, Julho/2016, via wikipedia)

The Amazon spans eight countries in South America, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The Amazon and other rainforests are crucial because they take in carbon dioxide and produce about one-fifth of the world’s oxygen. About a third of Colombia is in the Amazon.

October 31, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

PLANET A: Glasgow Climate Change Conference; Climate Risk Analysis by DoD, ONI

Climate Meeting in Glasgow.

World leaders, including President Joe Biden, will gather in Scotland Sunday (October 31, 2021) to discuss the threat posed by climate change, its ramifications and — hopefully — what more to do about it.

Known as the Conference of Parties or COP26, the 26th United Nations annual climate change summit, it will run for two weeks. This year’s summit will focus on negotiations to limit emissions, and could be “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control,” according to the summit’s website.

The meeting comes just a week after several U.S. government agencies, including the Defense Department, have issued reports expressing their concerns about the fallout from climate change — severe weather has caused billions of dollars in damage to U.S. military installations, like Tyndall Air Force Base on Florida’s panhandle and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, on coastal North Carolina. Other military bases on Guam in the Pacific are vulnerable to rising seas.

Damaged aircraft hangar at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, following Hurricane Florence in 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Allie Erenbaum )

And that’s not all, Pentagon planers are concerned that droughts, sea rise, ever fiercer cyclones and hurricanes will spawn massive migrations as people seek food, water, shelter and employment that could overwhelm other nations and spark political unrest and violence.

The Pentagon’s Climate Risk Analysis notes:

Climate change is reshaping the geostrategic, operational, and tactical environments with significant implications for U.S. national security and defense. Increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are exacerbating existing risks and creating new security challenges for U.S. interests.

“Climate migration is absolutely affecting the United States directly, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told  NPR in an interview October 26. In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America, “where farmers can’t grow crops, their traditional approaches to sustaining livelihood are very challenged. We’ve also seen that happen, of course, from Africa going up into Europe, other regions of the world,” she said.

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DOD Won’t be There.

Defense Department officials will not be attending the global climate conference in Scotland, the Defense One website reports.

Defense Department spokesman John Kirby told Defense One that no one from the Defense Department will accompany the president, but said officials “remain hard at work building climate resilience throughout the department and the force.”

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, and Joseph Bryan, the Defense Department’s senior advisor for climate, are participating in an event Friday (October 28) at the New America think tank to talk about the Pentagon’s new climate report.

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National Intelligence Estimate.

Another government report, by the National Intelligence Council finds that “climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to US national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge.”

An overloaded Haitian vessel with interdicted stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard on September 14, 2021, during extensive migrant interdiction operations in support of Operation Southeast Watch. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christian Homer)

The report, which examines climate change risks to U.S. nation security through 2040 arrived at three key judgments:

Geopolitical tensions are likely to grow as countries increasingly argue about how to accelerate the reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions that will be needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Debate will center on who bears more responsibility to act and to pay—and how quickly—and countries will compete to control resources and dominate new technologies needed for the clean energy transition.

–The increasing physical effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate cross-border geopolitical flashpoints as states take steps to secure their interests.

Scientific forecasts indicate that intensifying physical effects of climate change out to 2040 and beyond will be most acutely felt in developing countries, which we assess are also the least able to adapt to such changes. These physical effects will increase the potential for instability and possibly internal conflict in these countries, in some cases creating additional demands on US diplomatic, economic, humanitarian, and military resources.

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PLANET A is a new, occasional posting on climate change and the global impact it is having national security and the U.S. military. The name is derived from activists who warn that climate change is an urgent threat to the world because there is no Plan B to fix it — nor a Planet B to escape to.

October 27, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 10, 2021)

Summertime in Chile.

(U.S. Army Photo by Sergeant Gregory Muenchow)

Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division cross-country ski at the Chilean Army Mountain School in Portillo, Chile on August 21, 2021. That’s right August 21. It’s winter that far south and that high up — over 9,000 feet.

About 120 soldiers, of the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, learned the basics of cold weather mountain warfare including survival, movement and combat fundamentals as part of the Southern Vanguard 2021 exercise between U.S. and Chilean soldiers.

They also practiced casualty rescue via rappelling down a cliff and how to traverse a mountain aboard a mule among other skills troops need in mountain warfare.

September 10, 2021 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: WAR WITH MEXICO — 1846

Invasion.

On this date 175 years ago, August 17, 1846, Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, commanding the U.S. Army’s 1st Dragoons Regiment entered Santa Fe (in what is now the state of New Mexico) and occupied the town without resistance from the local populace.

Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny, U.S. Army 1st Dragoons (via wikipedia)

It was the first time since the War of 1812 that a large U.S. force crossed an international boundary to invade another country.

It was also the first time U.S. forces planned to take permanent control of an area populated by people who spoke a different language and generally had a different culture than that of the United States.

Kearny was dispatched from Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) to Santa Fe by President James Knox Polk on June 16, 1842. It was just a month since Congress passed war legislation and two battles had been fought in the disputed border area along the Rio Grande.

After a difficult, horse-killing trip with little water or forage along the Santa Fe Trail, Kearny issued a proclamation before he arrived in Santa Fe, that said in part, he came to “New Mexico with a large military force for the purpose of seeking union with, and ameliorating the condition of the inhabitants.” He advised the locals that “so long as they continue in such [cooperative] pursuits they … will be respected  in their rights, both civil and religious.”

Mexican-American War map.

The colonel wasted no time, however, building a fort overlooking the main plaza of Santa Fe to remind the New Mexicans and Indians — who had been raiding villages in the region — of U.S. authority.

This blog is the first in a series of, at first occasional and later regularly scheduled, posts taking a look at the war between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 and its implications for both countries.

It was a war of many firsts from the first large-scale joint Army-Navy amphibious landing in a foreign country, at Vera Cruz, to the Army’s first encounter with bloody urban warfare in Monterrey. The rugged geography of Mexico, desserts, mountains,  challenged U.S. planning, transportation and logistics. The war also was a training ground for the most recent graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Young officers like Ulysses Grant, George Meade, P.G.T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg and Thomas Jackson would rise to command troops on both sides in the American Civil War.

There were also moral issues. As young Lieutenant Grant would write years later, after his term as the 18th U.S. president, that it was “the most unjust war ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”

U.S. infantry and dragoon on the march in Mexico.

August 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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 (March 12, 2021)

Tree Talk.

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Aaron Schaeper) Click on photo to enlarge image.

A member of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) prepares a sniping position with Guatemalan Special Forces operator prior to a training exercise in Guatemala, March 3, 2020.While it has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in previous years, the 7th Special Forces Group focuses on Latin America (except for Mexico) as it’s area of operations.

The 7th SFG traces its heritage back to the 1st Special Service Force on 9 July 1942 at Camp William Harrison, Montana. This specialized Canadian-American unit was organized and trained to conduct commando raids against Nazi Germany’s fledgling nuclear weapons capability in the Scandinavian region of occupied Europe. However, the unit was diverted to the campaign in the Aleutian Islands, where they were confronted by not only Japanese, but the brutal arctic climate. Upon successful culmination of the Aleutian Campaign, the Special Service Force was transferred to the European theater. They fought with distinction in both southern France and Italy, where they earned the nickname “The Devil’s Brigade.”

The soldier on the right is wearing what is known as a ghillie suit.   Worn by civilian hunters and military snipers, the ghillie suit is designed to look like heavy foliage in a forest or field. It was originally developed by Scottish gamekeepers as a portable hunting blind and first adopted for war in 1916. The name derives from a Scottish word for “lad” or “servant.”

March 12, 2021 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 8, 2021)

Sunup or Sundown?

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite)

We don’t know if this photo was taken at the end of a day or the beginning. What we do know is that it shows Sailors lowering a pilot ladder from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn on December 17, 2020. The John Finn is conducting routine operations with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group in the U.S. Third Fleet‘s area of operations — the Eastern Pacific Ocean from Alaska to the Antarctic.

With all the “stuff” that’s been going on for the last few days, we thought 4GWAR FRIDAY FOTO visitors might enjoy a calm, quiet moment at sea.

January 8, 2021 at 1:10 am 2 comments

SHAKO: Women’s History Month 2019, Part III

Women in the Navy.

Here is the third installment of 4GWAR’s tribute to Women’s History Month featuring  photos illustrating the contributions of women in the four armed services. With the exception of one historic first or trailblazer for each service, these pictures focus on women doing their jobs — some dirty, difficult or dangerous — but all essential to keeping the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps ready to defend the United States of America. This week we look at women Sailors.

Recruit Training Command Graduation

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling)

Sailors celebrate after graduating from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois on January 4, 2019. Great Lakes, on the western shore of Lake Michigan north of Chicago, is the Navy’s only recruit training  facility, or boot camp. The workload is heavy and the recruits must adjust to a completely new way of life during the eight-week training program. In addition to classroom instruction, recruits spend time learning the fundamentals of small arms marksmanship, seamanship, water survival, line handling, and fire fighting. Long days and intensive training leave the recruits little free time. While male and female recruits train together they have separate sleeping quarters, known as “ships.”

WOMEN NAVY ID3

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ford Williams)

Navy Seaman Aliyah Smith (above) stands watch aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) as the ship transits the Bosporus, the entrance to the Black Sea, on February 19, 2019.

Sailors and Marines aboard USS Ashland (LSD 48) execute CRRC operations

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda)

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nia Baker supervises Marines preparing to depart the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-48) with combat rubber raiding crafts in the Philippine Sea, January 25, 2019.

U.S. Sailor paints a cowling for an MH-60S Sea Hawk

(Navy photo by Seaman Jarrod Schad)

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Itzel Samaniego paints an engine cover for an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in the Pacific Ocean on February 16, 2019.

190115-N-PX867-1223

(Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin Whitley)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brittany McGhee signals an AV-8B Harrier to take off during flight deck operations aboard the USS Boxer (LHD 4), an amphibious assault ship, in the Pacific Ocean on January 15, 2019. Each crewman has a different task on a very busy and noisy flight deck of assault ships and aircraft carriers, depending on the color of their jacket. Yellow jackets are worn by aircraft handling officers (like petty officer McGhee), catapult and arresting gear officers and plane directors.

WOMEN NAVY ID6

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anaid Banuelos Rodriguez)

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley Zappier fires an M240B machine gun aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD-20) in the Gulf of Thailand, Feb. 17, 2019, during Cobra Gold, a multinational exercise focused on supporting the humanitarian needs of communities in the region.

190102-N-KW492-0077

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryre Arciaga)

Navy Seaman Sierra Hogard adjusts the rotations of the ship’s shaft aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in the Mediterranean Sea on January 2, 2019.

WOMEN NAVY ID8

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Chandler Harrell)

Navy Hospial Corpsman 2nd Class Victoria Robinson performs a dental examination on Seaman Tyler D’Angelo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) in the Indian Ocean on January 21, 2019.

NAS OCEANA FLYOVER

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks)

Honoring a Trailblazer: Naval aviators participating in a flyover to honor the life and legacy of retired Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner pose for a photo at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia on February 2, 2019. It was the first ever all-female flyover as part of the funeral service for Mariner, a female Naval aviation pioneer. She was one of the Navy’s first female pilots, the first to fly a tactical (jet attack) aircraft and the first woman to command a naval aviation squadron. Captain Mariner was a leader of the organization Women Military Aviators. In 1992, she worked with members of Congress and a Defense Department advisory board to overturn laws and regulations keeping women from combat.

WOMEN NAVY NO ID.JPG

Enter a caption

U.S. Pacific Fleet Band musicians, male and female, perform during a celebration at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on February 27, 2019. Navy Musicians attend the Armed Forces School of Music, located in Little Creek, Virginia, for 21 weeks. The active duty Musician rating requires a 48 month (4 year) minimum enlistment contract.

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SHAKO-West Point cadetsSHAKO 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 24, 2019 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Women’s History Month 2019, Part I

Women in the Air Force.

Today and for the next three Sundays in March, 4GWAR will feature photo essays illustrating the contributions of women in the four armed services. For the most part the pictures do not recall historic firsts or heroines of the past. Instead, they focus on women doing their jobs — some difficult or dangerous — but all essential to keeping the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps ready to defend the United States of America. This week we look at the Air Force.

Displaying the Colors

(Photo by Army Specialist Dana Clarke)

There’s more to the U.S. Air Force than airplanes, helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It’s also people, missions and traditions. Here’s one example: an airman first class, participating in a multi-service honor guard, carries the Air Force flag during a Presidents’ Day wreath-laying ceremony at Mount Vernon in Virginia on February 19, 2019.

WOMEN AIR FORCE ID

(Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Darnell T. Cannady)

The missions can be big or small. Most Air Force vehicles — whether they fly in the sky or travel on the ground — need wheels to get around when they are earthbound. Here see Airman 1st Class Sarah Derringer (left) and Airman 1st Class Mia Duran work on a vehicle wheel at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on February 11, 2019.

56th Fighter Wing Quarterly Load Crew Competition

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Caleb Worpel)

Airman Amanda Knutson prepares an inert bomb for loading onto an F-35A Lightning II the newest, Fifth Generation multi-role jet fighter at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona on January 10, 2019.

Airmen de-arm F-16 during base readiness exercise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

The original Air Force caption for this photo was all about the pilot, his squadron, the 52nd Fighter Wing and their base at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany during a base-wide readiness exercise in  September 2018. But as one can see in this photo, the ground crew that keeps this F-16 Fighting Falcon flying is made up of female airmen.

WOMEN AIR FORCE ID4

(Air Force photo by Major Ray Geoffroy)

Now here’s another F-16 pilot, Captain Michelle “Mace” Curran, a member of the Thunderbirds, the Air Force flight demonstration team. Only the fourth female pilot in the aerobatic team’s history, she’s seen here preparing for the final training sorties of 2018 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Staff Sergeant Bernadette Kroondyk, whose name appears just below the cockpit, is an avionics systems technician whose duties include inspecting, removing, installing and checking out aviation electronic systems on the Thunderbirds’ F-16s.

Enduring Promise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Gregory Brook)

Captain Susan Jennie is a pilot on  much bigger plane, the C-17 Globemaster III.  She was part of a team that delivered humanitarian aid, intended for economically wracked Venezuela to South America. Three C-17s flew from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, to Cucuta, Colombia in February. Tons of aid was airlifted to the Colombian town on the Venezuelan border as part of an effort to help the Venezuelan people during their humanitarian and political crisis.

386th ESFS demonstrates K-9 capability at MWD Expo

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Robert Cloys)

Air Force Staff Sergeant Samantha Gassner stands with Lloren, a patrol and explosive detector dog, during a military working dog expo at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, on December 27, 2018. Most of the U.S. military dogs used for security patrolling and drug and explosives detection are trained at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

MTIs Molding BMT Flights

(U.S. Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

The photo above shows Air Force Staff Sergeant Brooke Held, 324th Training Squadron instructor, and her basic training flight practicing for a graduation parade ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio, December 12, 2018. The Air Force Military Training Instructor plays a role similar to drill instructors in the Army and Marine Corps. Like their male counterparts, female MTIs wear a distinctive wide-brimmed hat. Joint Base San Antonio includes the Army’s Fort Sam Houston and Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases. Lackland is also the basic training base for Air Force recruits.

Celebration of the life and legacy of Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Rusty Frank)

One trailblazer we’d like to mention in this post is Major General Marcelite J. Harris, who passed away last fall. At her retirement in 1997, General Harris was the highest ranking female officer in the Air Force and the highest-ranking African American woman in the entire Defense Department.

Her other accomplishments included being the first woman aircraft maintenance officer, one of the first two women air officers commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the first woman deputy commander for maintenance. She also served as a White House aide during the Carter administration.

The photo above shows General Harris’ son, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Harris, kneeling at his mother’s gravesite after her funeral with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on February 7, 2019.

BDS strengthens airfield security capabilities

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

This last photo shows airmen preparing to exit an HC-130J Combat King II — a specialized transport aircraft — during airfield security training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia on January 28, 2019. The  HC-130J is the Air Force’s only fixed-wing aircraft dedicated to recovering personnel in difficult circumstances and it’s flown by Air Combat Command. This C-130J variation specializes in avoiding detection in tactical operations and recovery operations in austere environments.

We will be posting similar looks at women in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Look for them on the next three Sundays in March, Women’s History Month.

*** *** ***

.west point cadets.pdfSHAKO 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 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm Leave a comment

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