Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

FRIDAY FOTO (July 24, 2020)

Lighting, Three Ways.

Lightning Forge 20 Night Air Assault

 (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Sarah D. Sangster)

The lighting in this photo is almost surreal. Hawaiian sunset, stars above and the lights from an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

It shows soldiers assigned to the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team preparing for air assault operations training in total darkness to accomplish their mission during exercise Lightning Forge 2020 at Oahu, Hawaii July 17, 2020.

Lightning Forge is an annual brigade-level training exercise that prepares units for a deployment certification exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana.

July 24, 2020 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 14, 2020)

Iron Fist Irony.

CRRC Operations Aboard USS Pearl Harbor

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Natalie Byers)

U.S. sailors pull a combat rubber raiding craft carrying Japanese soldiers aboard the amphibious dock landing ship, USS Pearl Harbor, in the Pacific Ocean on February 6, 2020.

The photo was taken during Iron Fist, an exercise designed to enhance the ability of U.S. and Japanese forces to plan and conduct combined amphibious operations.

Several U.S. Navy amphibious ships, like the Pearl Harbor, are named for a famous Navy and Marine Corps battles — like  Tripoli or Fort McHenry — but there are others named for World War II engagements in the Pacific: Bataan, Iwo Jima and Bougainville. Your 4GWAR editor has often wondered if these reminders of bitter defeats and costly victories more than 70 years ago cause any uncomfortable moments of reflection when the forces of the United States and Japan — now close allies — engage in joint exercises and operations.

Do the soldiers and sailors in the photo above feel any sense of irony that they are all on board a ship, the Pearl Harbor, named for the 1941 Japanese air attack on the eponymous naval base that shattered the U.S. Pacific Fleet and eventually led to the destruction of the Imperial Japanese Navy?

Probably not. And maybe that’s a good thing.

February 14, 2020 at 12:37 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 29, 2019)

Surreal Sunset.

MQ-9 Reaper and aircrew underneath Nevada sunset

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado)

An MQ-9 Reaper drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), sits on the flight line as the sun sets at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada on November 20, 2019. A larger and more heavily-armed version of the MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper  is the first attack drone also designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. Both UAVs — called remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the Air Force — are manufactured by California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Earlier this month, General Atomics announced that its Predator-series of drones, which includes the Predator, Predator B, Gray Eagle, Avenger and MQ-9B SkyGuardian lines, has surpassed six million flight hours.

November 29, 2019 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Somalia-Kenya Border Spat; Rival Libyan Government Attacks (Update)

Somalia-Kenya Dispute Heating Up. In less than a month, the United Mations International Court of Justice is slated to hold a hearing on territorial dispute between Somalia and Kenya but both East African neighbors are threatening to send troops to the disputed area on the Indian Ocean. Kenya’s parliament recently called on President Uhuru Kenyatta […]

Continue Reading August 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: The King’s Guard

Guarding History, Too


(Photo by John M. Doyle, copyright 4GWAR Blog)

OSLO, Norway — Members of His Majesty the King’s Guard march to their posts at Oslo’s historic Akershus Fortress Saturday, June 15. Your 4GWAR editor was touring the medieval complex when these troops passed by.

Norway’s King H Håkon V began building Akershus Castle and Fortress in 1299. The medieval castle had a strategic location and withstood a number of sieges throughout the ages. King Christian IV (1588-1648) had the castle modernised and converted into a Renaisssance castle and royal residence.

The complex today contains the castle, the Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum.  The Resistance Museum chronicles the heroic and harrowing  civilian and military struggle against the five-year Nazi occupation that began when the Germans invaded Norway on on April 9th, 1940.

The King’s Guard dates back to the late 1850s, when the Royal Norwegian Company of Marksmen was established to enhance security around King Oscar I in Stockholm (Sweden). The company was renamed His Majesty The King’s Guard in 1866, and was transferred to Kristiania (now Oslo) toward the end of the union between Sweden and Norway. Since 1888 the King’s Guard has been on duty at the Royal Palace and other Royal residences 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, according to the Royal House of Norway website.

Today the King’s Guard has permanent sentry duty at the Royal Palace, Skaugum Estate, Bygdø Royal Farm when in use, Akershus Fortress and Huseby military camp.

Your 4GWAR Editor is in Norway for the Climate Force Arctic Expedition 2019 to Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway — and a hotspot in both military and climate  strategies.  The rapid melting of sea ice in the Arctic and the opening of new sea lanes has raised U.S. Coast Guard concerns about safety, pollution and search and rescue operations. It has also sparked national security, environmental and economic concerns among the nations bordering the Arctic.

Longtime visitors to the blog may recall 4GWAR has been writing about the Arctic for nearly a decade. We’ll be so far north over the next week that internet connection will be weak, if not impossible, so we’ll be out of touch until late June.

*** *** ***

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.



June 17, 2019 at 6:15 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (April 19, 2019)

Abandon … Boat.

Sandhurst 2019

(U.S. Army photo by Amanda Lin)

Members of the U.S. Military Academy’s Black Team (there were also Gold and Gray teams) compete in the zodiac challenge at the 51st Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at West Point, New York,  on April 12, 2019.

The rigorous, two-day competition encompasses physical and mental challenges that reflect the tempo, uncertainty and tasks of combat operations — including physical fitness, marksmanship and land navigation challenges.

While it is called the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition after the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in the United Kingdom, the annual competition has always been held at West Point. Sandhurst was started in 1967 when RMAS presented West Point with a British Officer’s sword to use as the prize for a competition to promote military excellence.

Each team consisted of 9 primary and 2 alternate members, including at least one female team member.  Teams were assessed on a variety of individual and squad warrior tasks.

The competition included 49 teams from around the world, including 14 teams from 13 countries: Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Korea, Thailand, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Chile and Brazil . The British fielded two teams, and West Point fielded 16.

In addition to West Point, the U.S. Air Force (last year’s winner), Coast Guard and Naval academies sent teams. There were also teams from ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs at the following U.S. universities: Austin Peay State University, California Polytechnic State University, Central State University, Creighton University, Florida State University, Lehigh University, Tarleton State University, University of Delaware, University of North Georgia, Utah Valley University, Virginia Military Institute, John Hopkins University, Embry-Riddle University, Marquette University, Edinboro University and the University of Hawaii.

The West Point Black Team won the competition. For details on how other teams fared  click here, and click here for more photos.

April 19, 2019 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment


Due to technical difficulties, the January 25, 2019 FRIDAY FOTO will be delayed until Saturday, January 26, 2019.

Sullivan Cup

Your 4GWAR Editor

January 25, 2019 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

LOOKING AHEAD: December defense and homeland security events

Busy December.


December 3-5

Egypt Defense Expo – At the  Egypt International Exhibition Centre, New Cairo, Egypt

December 5-6

IQPC Border Management Summit in San Antonio, Texas at the Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio-Live Oak Conference Center

December 5-7

IDGA’s Future Ground Combat Vehicles summit in Detroit, Michigan at the Sheraton Detroit Novi hotel.

December 5

9:00 a.m. – 10 a.m. The Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies presents  a discussion on “Air Force Operations: Increasing Readiness and Lethality” featuring Lieutenant General Mark Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, at the Key Bridge Marriott’s Potomac Ballroom, Salon A in Arlington, Virginia.

11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. —  Book launch event for Dr. Max Abrahm’s newly released Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History (Oxford University Press). Presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Transnational Threats Project at 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036.


(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Benjamin Nocerini)

12:30 p.m. — United States Coast Guard commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz, discusses America’s presence in the Arctic as a matter of national security at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045.

December 6

9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. — Richard V. Spencer, 76th Secretary of the Navy, discusses the state of the Navy and Marine Corps and innovation in the naval domain at a Maritime Security Dialogue jointly sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the United States Naval Institute (USNI). At CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036.

December 3, 2018 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment


Trident Juncture.

Marines conduct cold-weather training in Iceland

Before setting out for NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise in Norway, U.S. Marines took cold-weather training in Iceland in October.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Marine Corps Lance Corporal Menelik Collins)

Fifty thousand troops, 250 aircraft, 65 naval vessels and about 10,000 ground vehicles have converged on Norway — and nearby waters — for  Trident Juncture 2018, the largest  military exercise by western nations since the end of the Cold War.

Military and civilian personnel from the 29 member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and two Nordic neighbors, Sweden and Finland, are taking part in the enormous war game, which started October 25 and runs through November 7.

One of the largest contingents, after the Norwegian hosts, comes from the United States, which has sent some 14,000 personnel — including 6,000 sailors  from the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group and more than 1,000 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Truman was the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter Arctic waters since 1991.

U.S. Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion travel

Marines travel to the next objective during Trident Juncture 18 near Hjerkinn Norway, November 2, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Menelik Collins)

Other troops and weapons platforms included:

Eight Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack jets; Sweden’s 191st Mechanized Battalion; a joint Swedish-Finnish army battalion; the Spanish Navy frigate ESPS Cristobal Colon; the Dutch Navy frigate HNMLS De Ruyter, and four British Hawk light multirole fighters, four Royal Navy minehunters –HMS Cattistock, HMS Enterprise, HMS Grimsby and HMS Ramsey and two Type-23 frigates – HMS Westminster and HMS Northumberland.

NATO officials stressed Trident Juncture was a defensive exercise. “It is not directed against any country,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, adding “We are transparent in what we do. And we welcome the international observers — from Russia and many other countries.”

However, Stoltenberg noted : “We exercise to strengthen our ability to operate together, to test and certify the NATO Response Force, and to send a clear message.” While he didn’t specify what that message was, it was obvious to most observers the message was aimed at the increasingly aggressive Russian government.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (above) speaks with Canadian troops at exercise Trident Juncture 2018 while Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen (light blue jacket) listens. (Norwegian Armed Forces/Forsvaret photo by Torbjorn Kjosvold)

4GWAR has previously reported, Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its hybrid warfare campaign in support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, has alarmed Western nations — especially those bordering the Baltic Sea like Poland, Estonia, Sweden and Finland.

But Moscow has complained about what it sees as NATO provocation by holding a massive military exercise on its doorstep. It sent it’s own message by sending a low-flying Tupolev TU-142, a Cold War era plane, over the Norwegian exercise.



ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the Far North. The U.S. “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” describes the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security needs, protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation on a wide range of issues.”

November 4, 2018 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 31, 2018)

Prepare to Repel Boarders.


(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey Scoular)

OK, this is not your standard Navy drill — anymore. But in the Age of Sail, these long, spear-like poles with sharpened points on the end were a good way to discourage enemy sailors (or pirates) from trying to force their way aboard your ship.

Boarding in the Age of Sail was more difficult and dangerous than in previous eras of open-decked sailing vessels. Defenders could seek cover in “closed quarters” in the ship’s roundhouse or foredeck, shooting through small loopholes at the exposed boarders.  If not in closed quarters, defenders sometimes resorted to the boarding pike, trying to kill or wound boarders while keeping them at a distance, and of course might use any of the weapons that the boarders themselves used, according to a Wikipedia article on naval boarding.

These sailors, assigned to the historic USS Constitution, are conducting War of 1812-era boarding pike drills during weekly heritage training in Boston, near Old Ironsides’ berth at the Charlestown, Massachusetts Navy Yard. Launched in 1797, the Constitution is the oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world still afloat.

August 31, 2018 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

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