Posts filed under ‘Unconventional Warfare’

SHAKO: Remembering D-Day 75 Years On

Invasion.

D-Day Ike paratroopers

The Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, talks with 101st Airborne Division paratroopers before D-Day. (Defense Dept. photo)

The night before the invasion of Normandy 75 years ago this week, a small French boy spent his fifth birthday huddled in a cellar 25 miles from Omaha Beach. That same night, Francis L. Sampson, a Catholic chaplain with the 101st Airborne Division flew through German anti-aircraft fire over Normandy, convinced he was going to die.

Your 4GWAR editor told the story of those two people and how they came to meet in Indiana 40 years later for the Associated Press in 1984. In addition to the priest and the little boy, the story has taken on a subplot — Father Sampson’s actions in the days immediately after D-Day, may have inspired – at least in part – the movie “Saving Private Ryan.”

You can read it all here.

As the war correspondent and author Cornelius Ryan found when he researched his bestseller, “The Longest Day,” there were many, many people with a story to tell about what happened to them in those historic 24 hours.

For instance there’s the significant role weather forecasters played 75 years ago.

A team of six meteorologists – two each from the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, the Royal Navy and the United States military – worked for months honing forecasting techniques, before advising Allied commanders, led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on when the optimal time for attack would arrive.

The Allies ended up sailing and landing in relatively calm waters, but documents released in the intervening years showed just how close bad weather came to making the operation a complete failure, according to The Weather Channel U.K.

Higgins Boat LCVP at Normandy photo from NARA

Higgins Boat LCVP at Normandy (photo from the National Archives and Records Administration)

The Voice of America website has a piece on the crucial role the city of New Orleans played in World War II. New Orleans businessman Andrew Higgins and his factories equipped the military with a vessel that became critical to the D-Day invasion — the flat-bottomed, shallow draft boat with a drawbridge life exit ramp.

The Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel or LCVP, often referred to as the Higgins Boat, allowed infantry or small vehicles to exit through a front ramp — a major shift in the way to conduct amphibious warfare, according to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

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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.

June 6, 2019 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 31, 2019)

Dead Serious.

military dive operations

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

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

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

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

110411-N-JR159-138

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

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

May 31, 2019 at 12:10 am 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 24, 2019)

Monuments Men.

10th SFG(A) conduct airborne operation near island of Mont Saint Michel

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Alexis Washburn-Jasinski)

 

Paratroopers from the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) land within sight of the world famous Mont Saint-Michel abbey in Normandy, France, during a May 18, 2019 airborne operation to commemorate the Allied liberation of France during World War II.

The abbey, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites, started as a small church in 709 C.E., dedicated to the Archangel Michael — who just happens to be the patron saint of paratroopers.

Three U.S. Air Force aircraft from 352nd Special Operations Wing and the 86th Airlift Wing, delivered more than 130 Green Berets to the drop zone, a little over a mile from Mont Saint-Michel, near Avranches, which was liberated by U.S. forces in 1944. A large crowd of residents from the commune of Avranches — which sponsored the event — attended the airdrop. The demonstration included both military free-fall and static-line parachute drops.

The jump celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the drop of “Jedburgh” teams into France ahead of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Just a year earlier, the Allies created 100 three-man special operations teams with personnel from the British Special Operations Executive, American Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA) and General Charles de Gaulle’s Free French organization. Known as Jedburghs, the teams also included individuals from Belgium, Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands. Instrumental to the allied liberation of France and occupied Europe, the Jedburgh teams trained, armed, and directed local resistance fighters from behind enemy lines.

Today’s Green Berets trace their history directly to the Jedburgh teams as well as the First Special Service Force, a combined Canadian-American unit, known as the “Devil’s Brigade.” The 10th Special Forces Group, the first such unit, was established in 1952 and immediately deployed to Europe during the Cold War. It’s worth noting the Army Special Forces motto “DE OPPRESSO LIBER” is Latin for “To Free the Oppressed.”

For more details of the air drop event and photos, click here.

May 24, 2019 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 29, 2019)

Ready to Rock.

FRIFO 3-28-2019 SPECIAL FORCES vehicles

((U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Muncy)

U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers in Ground Mobility Vehicles were preparing to launch a mock-nighttime assault on the Grenada Dam in northern Mississippi in this January 20, 2019 photo. The exercise involved a simultaneous assault from multiple points, to gain control over an “insurgent-held” dam. It was all part of Southern Strike 2019, a large-scale, joint multinational combat exercise aimed at  tactical level training for the full spectrum of conflict.

These special operators from the 3rd Special Forces Group and their equipment were transported on a C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft from the Hawaiian Air National Guard’s 204th Airlift Squadron.

Southern Strike, which ran from January 15-30, emphasized air-to-air, air-to-ground and special operations forces training opportunities including maritime operations and air support.

The annual multi-service training exercise was hosted by the Mississippi Air National Guard’s Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, and Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

March 29, 2019 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

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

Finally, a NATO UAV.

NorthGrum NATO drone

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

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

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

U.S.-Indian Drone Cooperation.

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

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

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

DARPA AI-Drone Program.

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

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

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

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

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Calendar.

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

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

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

FRIDAY FOTO (March 15, 2019)

Flying Squad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHAKO: Buffalo Soldiers UPDATE

Remembering the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buffalo Soldiers-2 10th Cav

The Buffalo Soldiers from A Company, 10th U.S. Cavalry regroup to move out after battle. Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson (center) issues orders to Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper (left), the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, to keep the Chiricahua Apache renegade Victorio bottled up near the Rio Grande. (Photo courtesy http://www.donstivers.com via U.S. Corps of Army Engineers, Southwest Division)

UPDATES and CORRECTS: To add material about Buffalo Soldiers serving as early park rangers, include a photo of Buffalo Soldiers in World War II and to CORRECT that Buffalo Soldier units did not fight in World War I and only the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments still existed in World War II.–the Editor

As February and Black History month draws to a close, here at 4GWAR we’ve been wracking our brains trying to decide how best to honor the month and the people it celebrates. Should we focus on individuals like Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Henry Johnson, or Dorie Miller, the first African American awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism at Pearl Harbor? Or should we examine a unit like the Tuskegee Airmen of the Second Word War or the Harlem Hellfighters of World War I?

In doing our research we came across four all-black units, the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments, in the segregated Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Collectively, they were known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” Created right after the Civil War, these four regiments at times battled or protected Native Americans on the plains, deserts and mountains of the American West. They charged up San Juan Hill in 1898. Five members of the 10th Cavalry were awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery above and beyond the call of duty in Cuba.  and fought insurgents in the Philippines in the early 20th Century after the United States annexed the islands in 1899. They also chased Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa with General John “Black Jack” Pershing in the 1916-1917 Mexican Punitive Expedition.

Buffalo_soldiers1

Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry, some wearing buffalo robes, at Fort Keogh, Montana. (Library of Congress)

None of the regiments served as units in France during World War I, although some veteran non-commissioned officers were dispatched to other segregated units that served on the Western Front. The two cavalry regiments were disbanded in World War II but the 24th Infantry and 25th Infantry, both served in the Pacific. In 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order eliminating racial segregation and discrimination in America’s armed forces; the last all-black units were disbanded during the early 1950s.

Between 1891 and 1913, Buffalo Soldiers served during the summer months in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks, in effect as the nation’s first park rangers, introducing the broad brimmed campaign hat that is now part of the standard park ranger uniform, according to historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.   Their duties in the parks included fighting wildfire, curbing poaching of the park’s wildlife, ending illegal grazing of livestock on federal lands, and constructing roads, trail and other infrastructure, according to the National Park Service.

Buffalo soldiers WWII

Troops of the 24th Infantry, attached to the Americal Division, wait to advance behind a tank assault on the Japanese, along Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville in 1944. (U.S. Army archive photo) 

An 1866 Act of Congress created six peacetime regiments of exclusively black soldiers. Later, these regiments were melded into four—two infantry and two cavalry—colloquially referred to as the Buffalo Soldiers. There are a few competing theories as to how they got this name, but as the National Museum of African American History and Culture notes, the soldiers “considered the name high praise.”) Throughout their history, the soldiers had a rocky relationship with the American government they served.

The regiments faced extreme and sometimes deadly racism. Especially in some towns near where they were based. Buffalo Soldiers were attacked during racial disturbances in Texas at Rio Grande City in 1899, Brownsville in 1906, and Houston in 1917. The regiments were first commanded only by whites, and the rank and file often faced extreme racial prejudice from the Army establishment, according to the museum. “Many officers, including George Armstrong Custer, refused to command black regiments, even though it cost them promotions in rank.

One who did, was Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a music teacher-turned Civil War cavalry officer (the 1959 John Wayne movie “The Horse Soldiers,” was based loosely on the long- range cavalry raid into Mississippi he led in 1863). Grierson organized the 10th Cavalry in 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Another officer was then-Lieutenant John J. Pershing who took command of a troop of the 10th Cavalry in 1895.  His nickname of “Black Jack,” stems from his service with the 10th Cavalry, although “Black” was a euphemism for the “N” word, which resentful white officers and West Point cadets attached to Pershing’s name. Tenth Cavalry troops were with Pershing’s expedition into Mexico to capture or kill Pancho Villa.  They participated in one of the last cavalry battles fought by U.S. troops at  Carrizal.

SHAKO

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.

February 28, 2019 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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