Posts filed under ‘Lessons Learned’

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 (June 17, 2022)

LET IT SNOW — INDOORS.

(U.S. Air Force photo by William Higdon)

The U.S. Air Force can make it snow, indoors, in May — in Florida!

Team members at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory (MCL) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, use machines to create snow in the MCL Main Chamber on May 26, 2022 to prepare for environmental testing. The MCL recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The first tests at the MCL occurred in May 1947. In the 75 years since, the unique capabilities available at the MCL have allowed a variety of climatic testing for the Defense Department, other government agencies and private industry. From arctic freeze to blazing heat and desert sand to jungle humidity, any climatic environment in the world can be simulated in the facility.

When it first began operations, the MCL was part of the U.S. Army Air Forces. This component was soon separated from the Army and became its own military branch when the Air Force was founded on September 18, 1947.

Before the MCL was created, there was the Cold Weather Test Detachment stationed at Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Army Air Force designated that site as a cold-weather testing facility in 1940.

The MCL is operated by the 717th Test Squadron, 804th Test Group, Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

June 16, 2022 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: D-Day Remembered and Other Greatest Generation Notes

D-DAY, PLUS 78 YEARS.

One of the monuments to U.S. D-Day Landings in Normandy, France. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Akeel Austin)

D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, is the day when more than 160,000 Allied forces landed in Nazi-occupied France as part of the biggest air, land and sea invasion ever executed. It ended with heavy casualties — more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in those first 24 hours.

Still, D-Day is largely considered the successful beginning of the end of Hitler’s tyrannical regime and the war in Europe.

A bird’s-eye view of landing craft, barrage balloons and Allied troops landing in Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Photo By: U.S. Maritime Commission)

In the past we’ve mostly written about the airborne landings the night before D-Day, largely because 37 years ago your 4GWAR editor once interviewed a Catholic priest who jumped into the dark as a chaplain with the 101st Airborne Division. But this year, we thought we’d try something different.

Here’s a D-Day quiz that Defense Department had on their website for the 78th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. See how you do.

And here’s a 2016 article the Defense Department rolled out again this year: Five Things You May Not Know About D-Day.

And let’s not forget the Boys of ’44.

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Vincent Levelev)

These are some of the World War II Veterans, and representatives of those who could not be in attendance, receiving a challenge coin at the Eternal Heroes Monument in Normandy, France, on June 2, 2022. World War II Veterans and representatives of the 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division’s (Air Assault) came to honor fallen Paratroopers who liberated Ravenoville in June of 1944.

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BATTLE OF MIDWAY REMEMBERED.

Another decisive battle in World War II also took place in June — on the other side of the world against a different enemy.

June 4, marked the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, considered by most military historians to be the turning point in the Pacific during the Second World War.

Torpedo bombers on the flight deck of the US Enterprise CV-6 just before the Battle of Midway (Navy archival photo)

In 1942, a large Japanese fleet, led by four heavy aircraft carriers, planned to destroy the three U.S. carriers they missed during the Pearl Harbor attack six months earlier. But by early June, Naval Intelligence had cracked the Imperial Japanese Navy code and Admiral Chester Nimitz, the head of the Navy’s Pacific forces, knew where the enemy was and what their plans were.

After three days of battle, where the opposing surface ships never saw each other, Japan lost all four of its heavy carriers as well as hundreds of planes and thousands of sailors and pilots. U.S. losses were limited to one carrier – the USS Yorktown (CV-5) – a destroyer, the USS Hammann (DD-412), less than 150 planes and 305 men. After Midway, Japan was never able to launch a large naval offensive again.

To commemorate that historic victory, two EA-18G Growlers — electronic warfare aircraft — conducted a fly-by during a ceremony being held aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111). In the photo below one can see the Growlers approaching as the ship’s crew salute the ensign (flag) during the playing of the National Anthem.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor Crenshaw)

The Spruance is named for Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, considered the victor at Midway. He commanded Task Force 16, which included the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6). Once within range of the advancing Japanese fleet, he capitalized on the element of surprise to launch the decisive attack near Midway.

Spruance is part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in the Western Pacific. The June 4 ceremony was held less than 1,000 miles from the 1942 battle zone.

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GOLD MEDAL FOR MERRILL’S MARAUDERS.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded May 25 in a virtual Capitol Hill ceremony to a famed World War II Army special operations outfit, the 5307th Composite Unit, better known as Merrill’s Marauders.

Merrill’s Marauders crossing a jungle river with pack animals.
(U.S. Army photo)

Created as a long range, light infantry unit trained in jungle warfare, the 5307th, code-named Galahad, was tasked with penetrating deep into Japanese-held territory to disrupt communications, cut supply lines and capture an airfield in Burma.

The volunteer unit was formed in 1943, with more than 900 jungle-trained officers and men from Caribbean Defense Command, 600 Army veterans of Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands campaign, a few hundred more from Southwest Pacific Command, veterans of the New Guinea and Bougainville campaigns, and another 900 jungle-trained troops from Army Ground Forces stateside. Fourteen Japanese-American (Nisei) Military Intelligence Service translators were also assigned to the unit. In just five months in 1944, the Marauders fought often larger Japanese forces in 32 engagements including five major battles across some of the toughest conditions of the war: the disease-infested jungles of Burma and the rugged foothills of the Himalayas.

“Merrill’s Marauders stand among the great heroes of our history. Nearly 80 years later, Americans remain in awe of their courage, valor and patriotism – willing to go where no others would dare,” Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said during the gold medal ceremony.

“On behalf of the United States Congress and all Americans, I’m honored to present this Congressional Gold Medal to Merrill’s Marauders in recognition of their bravery and outstanding service. May this medal serve as an expression of our nation’s deepest gratitude and respect. And may its place in the Smithsonian remind future generations of the Marauders’ fight for freedom and democracy,” Pelosi said.

She also cited lawmakers who worked for years to get the congressional recognition for the Marauders — the late Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Congressman Sanford Bishop Jr. of Georgia and former Congressman Peter King of New York.

Dubbed Merrill’s Marauders after their commander, then-Brigadier General Frank Merrill, the men were tasked with a “dangerous and hazardous mission” behind Japanese lines in Burma, where the fall of the country’s capital of Rangoon had severely threatened the Allied supply line to China. In their final mission, the Marauders were ordered to push enemy forces out of the town of Myitkyina, the only city with an all-weather airstrip in Northern Burma, according to Military Times

Brigadier General Frank Merrill, commander of “Merrill’s Marauders,” poses between two of the 14 Japanese-American interpreters assigned to the unit, Tech Sergeants Herbert Miyasaki and Akiji Yoshimura in Burma on May 1, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Weakened by disease, malnourishment and enemy attacks during their march through Burma, the Marauders, effective force dwindled from nearly 3,000 men to 1,500. Even with reduced numbers of the 5307th was still able to take the airfield on May 17, 1944. But the nearby town of Myitkyina proved to have a larger Japanese garrison than intelligence reports indicated. It was only with Chinese reinforcements that the town fell to Allied troops on August 3. After five months of combat, 95 percent of the Marauders were dead, wounded, or deemed no longer medically fit for combat.

Although operational for only a few months, Merrill’s Marauders gained a fierce reputation for hard fighting and tenacity as the first American infantry force to see ground action in Asia. Considered a forerunner of today’s Special Operations troops, the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment’s distinctive unit insignia honors the legacy of the Marauders by replicating the design of their shoulder shoulder sleeve insignia.

The colors used to identify the Marauders can be found on every tan beret worn by a Ranger, said Colonel J.D. “Jim” Keirsey, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. The Rangers’ crest displays a star, sun and lightning bolt to symbolize the “behind enemy lines, deep-strike character” of their predecessors, he said, according to the Stars and Stripes website.

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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.

June 6, 2022 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

BALTIC-2-BLACK: Tensions Grow on Ukraine-Russia Border; Moscow Eyes Svalbard Presence in Hybrid-Strategy

UKRAINE:

Biden Reassures Ukrainian President.

President Joe Biden has reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, as the country steels itself for a potential Russian invasion on its eastern frontier.

According to a White House readout of the December 9 call, “President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of a further military intervention.”

Biden also told Zelenskyy that the United States and its allies were “committed to the principle of ‘no decisions or discussions about Ukraine without Ukraine,’” reiterating his calls for Russia to de-escalate tensions and choose diplomacy, POLITICO reported.

*** *** ***

(Black Sea region map Norman Einstein via wikipedia)

Seeking Help from Parners, Allies.

Biden also held a separate call December 9 with the Bucharest Nine,” a group of NATO members on Europe’s eastern edge close to Russia — including the Baltics and Poland — that are particularly sensitive to aggressive moves by Moscow, the Washington Post reported.

Thursday’s conversations took place roughly 48 hours after Biden spoke on a two-hour video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he warned the Kremlin leader that severe economic consequences would follow if he once again decides to invade neighboring Ukraine.
During their call, Biden and Putin agreed that their teams would arrange talks on what the Kremlin calls sensitive European security issues, including Putin’s complaints about NATO activities in and around Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. The Kremlin has denied any plans to invade, accusing Washington of fueling a war scare.
*** *** ***
U.S. Not Sending Troops
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that U.S. support for Ukraine against a worrisome buildup of Russian forces will not include additional U.S. troops, at least for now.

“That is not on the table,” Biden told reporters December 8 at the White House. “The idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not on, in the cards right now,” Defense One repored. 

Ukraine is not a member of NATO and does not enjoy the collective protection of Article 5, which calls every alliance member to arms when one is attacked. Ukraine seeks to join NATO but Russia opposes its entry into the alliance.

In an exclusive interview for Defense One’s Outlook 2022, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Biden emphasized in his phone call with Putin that if Russia moves against Ukraine, the United States would levy economic consequences; provide more military gear to Kiev; and deploy an “increased U.S. troop presence and increased capabilities in countries like Poland, the Baltics, [and] Romania.”

But Sullivan reiterated that the U.S. does not intend to send more troops to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the final elements of a $60 million security systems package to Ukraine — initially announced in August — will ship this week, a Pentagon spokesman said December 9.

U.S. Marines, assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, cut through barbed wire during the Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 in Oleshky Sands, Ukraine, July 2, 2021. The multinational maritime exercise cohosted by U.S. Sixth Fleet and the Ukrainian Navy in the Black Sea since 1997, is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen maritime security and peace in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trey Fowler)

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters that the last portions of the existing security package, which includes small arms and ammunition, is shipping now. Other parts of that security assistance package, meant to help Ukrainians defend their sovereignty against Russian aggression, included the Javelin missile system, which is already in the hands of Ukrainian servicemembers.

The $60 million package previously included 30 Javelin Command Launch Units and 180 missiles. The Javelins were delivered to Ukraine on October 23. “The United States has committed more than $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine in 2021, and this is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting Ukraine’s ability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Anton Semelroth, a Defense Department  spokesman said in an email to reporters.

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Putin’s No-Ukraine-in-NATO Demand.

On December 1, Vladimir Putin demanded ‘‘legal guarantees’’ that NATO would never expand eastward, ratcheting up the stakes as the West scrambled to respond to Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, the New York Times reported.

Putin, who sees Ukraine’s deepening military partnership with the United States and other NATO countries as an existential threat, wants to start talks with the West to reach an agreement that would block the alliance’s expansion. He spoke in the midst of what Western officials describe as a growing threat of military action by tens of thousands of Russian troops massing close to the border with Ukraine — a former Soviet nation that seeks to join NATO.

‘‘The threat on our western borders is, indeed, rising, as we have said multiple times,’’ Putin said at a ceremony for ambassadors at the Kremlin December, according to the Times. ‘‘In our dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on developing concrete agreements prohibiting any further eastward expansion of NATO and the placement there of weapons systems in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory.’’

Putin’s demand is a nonstarter for NATO. ‘‘It’s only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO,’’ Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general told reporters in Riga, Latvia. ‘‘Russia has no veto, Russia has no say, and Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence trying to control their neighbors.’’

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ARCTIC:

From the Barents Sea to the Baltic to the Black Sea

An expert on Polar geopolitics warns that Russia to enhance its presence in Svalbard, a Norwegian-controlled archipelago in the Arctic, the Independent Barents Observer reports.

In an interview with the Norwegian-based Arctic news site, Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan, says “a hybrid-strategy is underway in which Russia bolsters its legitimate presence in Svalbard on one hand while raising tensions in the maritime space on the other hand.” A lecturer in strategic studies at Australia’s Deakin University, says Moscow “isn’t about to annex Svalbard, Russia doesn’t want such a fight.”

Instead, she says Russia will try to assert its rights under a 1920 Treaty that gave Norway sovereignty over the islands, but Russia coal limited mining and other economic and scientific rights.

In recent years, the islands have risen in strategic importance as they reside just north of the intersection of the Barents, Greenland and Norwegian seas (see map above) . Whomever controls Svalbard is also likely to control the important gateway from the shallow Barents Sea to the deeper North Atlantic. For Russia’s Northern Fleet, the so-called Bear Island Gap between mainland Norway and the archipelago’s southernmost island is key to conducting sea denial operations in and over the maritime areas further south, potentially threatening NATO’s transatlantic sea lines of communication, according to the Observer.

*** *** ***

BALTIC-2-BLACK is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the rising tensions between Russia and the West in the regions of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, where former Russian satellite nations like Poland and Romania border against Russian territory. Both NATO, and the United States in particular, have stepped up their presence in the region since Russia began throwing its weight around after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Since then, some Scandinavian countries have been boosting defense budgets even restoring a military draft as Russian aircraft and naval vessels have acted more aggressively in the region.

December 10, 2021 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 26, 2021)

Native American Heritage Day.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery ) released)

November is National American Indian Heritage Month, honoring the hundreds of Native American tribes and peoples of the United States. And the day after Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day.

Mindful of that, we thought this would be a good FRIDAY FOTO as we near the end of November. It shows Vincent Goesahead Jr. of the Crow Nation during the opening ceremony commemorating the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on November 9, 2021.

The road to a national commemoration of that heritage has taken several twists over the 20th Century. Originally treated as members of sovereign “nations” for treaty-making purposes, Native Americans were not extended U.S. citizenship — and the civil rights that went with it — until 1924.

Nevertheless, a significant number of Native Americans have served in all of the nation’s wars beginning with the Revolutionary War, according to the Defense Department website.

Twenty-nine service members of Native American heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest medal for valor: 25 soldiers, three sailors and one Marine. That Marine is the fabled Greg “Pappy” Boyington of the Cactus Air Force in World War II — who a member of the Brule Sioux tribe.

In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial commemoration, President Gerald Ford proclaimed October 10-16, 1976, as “Native American Awareness Week.”

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 23-30, American Indian Week.

It wasn’t until November 14, 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month to honor the hundreds of Native American tribes and people in the United States, including Alaska. Native Hawaiians and those in U.S. territories in the Pacific are honored in Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month each May.

Those who claim to be American Indians in the active duty force as of July 2021, number 14,246, or 1.1 percent of the total force, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.

In the past, we here at 4GWAR Blog have celebrated the Native American code talkers: Navaho Marines and Comanche, Choctaw and Meswaki Soldiers who thwarted German and Japanese troops listening in on U.S. field telephone and radio communications in World War I and World War II.

On the Pentagon website there are feature stories on Comanche, Lakota and Lumbee Native Americans serving in today’s Army and Navy.

For those who see bitter irony in celebrating the Native Americans who wore the uniform of the national government that frequently warred on them, took their land and tried to obliterate their culture, we offer this photo, of the Apache leader Geronimo, and a caption dripping with irony, that grew out of the response to the 9/11 attacks on the Homeland.

November 27, 2021 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 22, 2021)

Preparation is Everything.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aaron Lau)

Firefighters and Sailors, assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7), respond to simulated fires during a fire drill aboard the ship on October 6, 2021. The Detroit is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

We thought the lighting and composition of this photo is amazing. Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The U.S. Navy takes fires very seriously. At Naval Service Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois — the Navy’s only enlisted boot camp – recruits are trained in firefighting as one of five basic competencies, which also include: Damage control, watch standing, seamanship and small-arms handling/marksmanship.

The importance of firefighting aboard ship was driven home in July 2020 when the amphibious assault ship, USS Bonhomme Richard, caught fire beside the pier at Naval Base San Diego, California and burned for four days. No lives were lost but the 22-year-old Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) was a total loss. It had been in San Diego since 2018 undergoing more than $250 million in modernization improvements. When the fire was finally out and the damage assessed, Navy leaders determined it was too costly to rebuild and decided to scrap the huge vessel.

*** *** ***

Latest Developments in Bonhomme Richard fire investigation.

The Navy issued two devastating reports October 20, following a lengthy investigation into the causes and response to the fire. The suspected arson fire that destroyed the $2 billion combat ship spread uncontrollably because of a cascading chain of errors including insufficient training of the crew, an accumulation of combustible repair and maintenance materials, and most of the ship’s fire stations being out of commission at the time of the fire.

There were four categories of causal factors that allowed for the accumulation of significant risk and led to an ineffective fire response, according to the Navy. They included the material condition of the ship, the training and readiness of the ship’s crew, the integration between the ship and supporting shore-based firefighting organizations, and lastly, the oversight by commanders across multiple organizations. The investigation concluded “a lack of familiarity with requirements and procedural noncompliance at multiple levels of command” contributed to the loss of ship.

“The loss of this ship was completely preventable,” said the Navy’s Number 2 commander, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Bill Lescher.

The investigation also found that a raft of systemic reforms put in place following a 2012 shipyard fire in Maine that destroyed the submarine USS Miami were not followed, helping fuel Bonhomme Richard’s demise in the process, according to the Navy Times.

Additionally, the report recognized the “bravery, ingenuity, and resourcefulness in the actions of Sailors across the San Diego waterfront and others who had a role in the response,” and identified 10 meritorious performance recommendations for actions taken during the firefighting efforts, SEAPOWER reported.

The cascade of errors and breakdowns involved 36 Navy personnel, the investigation found, including the commander of the Bonhomme Richard and five admirals, who failed to maintain the ship, ensure adequate training, provide shore support, or carry out proper oversight, according to CNN.

The preliminary hearing for the crew member charged with starting the fire, who has not been identified, is scheduled for November 17.

October 23, 2021 at 12:53 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 3, 2021)

Son of a Sailor.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)

Seaman Dominick Mazuera, with his father at his side, lifts his son Mateo in the air after seeing him for the first time since joining the Navy and graduating from Recruit Training Command.

More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy’s only boot camp based at Great Lakes, Illinois.

In addition to the technical difficulties that delayed this week’s FRIFO, your 4GWAR Editor was faced with some tough choices for this week’s subject matter. We try to give each of the services their fair share of attention, we also try for a really beautiful photo, or else one that may not be great art but has an important story behind it. Nothing like that leaped out at us until we saw this sweet little image. The caption provided by the Navy gives the basic information, the imagery itself does the rest.

Your 4GWAR editor has been on the road a lot over the past two months from Pittsburgh, PA to the rocky coast of Maine and most of the mid-Atlantic states in between. In every city and town we visited there were vacant, boarded up businesses, big hotels empty as ghost towns and local restaurants and night spots struggling to survive with a skeleton staff. And yet everywhere — literally everywhere — we saw help wanted signs.

During this time we visited with old classmates, family and friends, all of whom have been through a rugged year and a half, battered by fire and flood — literally — long hours with little respite as nurses, teachers and other critical workers, all manner of physical and mental health challenges from depression and stress to COVID and cancer. (If you click on the second highlighted item above you’ll see the pains the Navy has taken to protect its recruits and other personnel from the pandemic) To paraphrase Thomas Paine, These are the times that try people’s souls.

So this little happy moment in time made the final FRIDAY FOTO cut. We hope you experience some of the joy, optimism — and a bit of pride — it gave us.

On that note, we leave you with the Jimmy Buffett song that inspired the headline for this week’s posting.

October 3, 2021 at 1:27 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

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (June 19, 2021)

Eagle Has Landed.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Kristjan Petersson) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle — “America’s Tall Ship” — arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 9, 2021.

The Eagle is a three-masted sailing barque and the only active (operational) commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. And here’s something for you Master and Commander fans, the Eagle is an actual war prize, taken from the Nazis.

The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel. (Can you believe it?) Four identical sister ships were also built. Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew – aided by the German crew still on board – sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its new homeport in New London, Connecticut.

Today, a permanent crew of eight assigned officers and 50 assigned enlisted personnel maintain the ship year round. They provide a strong base of knowledge and seamanship for the training of up to 150 cadets, or officer candidates, at a time.

Eagle is currently conducting summer U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet training in at-sea leadership and professional development. Their first port call was Portugal in late May. Since 1946, Eagle has been giving future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom.

For more on Eagle — including photosclick here and here.

*** *** ***

For regular 4GWAR Blog visitors who expected to see a pretty picture or an interesting one with a story behind it in yesterday’s FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO posting, thanks for your patience. We hope this FOTO fits the bill.

June 19, 2021 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

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