Posts filed under ‘Washington’
Two deceased U.S. Army veterans of World War I — one Jewish, the other black — neither of whom received the full credit they deserved for their wartime heroism, have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military decoration for valor.
In a White House ceremony Tuesday (May 2) President Barack Obama presented the medals to Sergeant William Shemin and Sergeant Henry Johnson. Shemin, who was Jewish, was awarded the second-highest heroism medal, the Distinguished Service Cross in 1919 — even though his superior recommended him for the higher award. Johnson, who was black, received no U.S. medals although France awarded him one its highest military honor, the Croix de Guerre with Palm. In both cases racial and religious prejudice were believed to be the cause of the injustice.
“They both left us decades ago, before we could give them the full recognition that they deserved. But it’s never too late to say thank you,” Obama told the medal ceremony audience. “I want to begin by welcoming and thanking everyone who made this day possible — family, friends, admirers. Some of you have worked for years to honor these heroes, to give them the honor they should have received a long time ago,” Obama said, adding: “We are grateful that you never gave up.”
Shemin received his Medal of Honor for braving intense German machine gun and rifle fire three times to rescue wounded soldiers on August 7, 1918 near Bazoches, France. After his officers and senior non-coms were killed or wounded, Shemin took command of his platoon “and displayed great initiative under fire, until he was wounded, August 9, 1918,” according to the military. Shemin was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. Read the Medal of Honor citation here.
Johnson, then a private with Company C, of the 369th Infantry Regiment — an all-black National Guard unit known as the “Harlem Hellfighters” — was cited for his heroism on the night of May 15, 1918 on the Western Front in France. While on sentry duty with another soldier of the 369th, Johnson fended off a night raid by as many as a dozen German soldiers. Johnson and the other soldier fired on the Germans until they ran out of ammunition. They then used hand grenades and rifle butts to fight the Germans. When they other soldier was knocked unconscious, the Germans tried to carry him off as a prisoner, but Johnson battled back using his rifle as a club and then slashing at the Germans with his bolo knife. He may have killed four Germans single-handed in the dark while rescuing his comrade. Read the Medal of Honor of honor citation here.
Despite 21 wounds, Johnson did not receive the Purple Heart medal or any other citation from his country, even though ex-President Theodore Roosevelt described him as “one of the five bravest American soldiers in the war.” He received the Purple Heart posthumously in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002. Like Shemin, Johnson’s DSC was upgraded this year to the Medal of Honor.
Johnson’s regiment, the 369th, was one of the few black regiments sent to France, although they were transferred to fight with French troops, rather than American units who were hostile to the idea of blacks in combat.
As part of the French Army’s 161st Division, they took part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. On September 29, ater a brutal struggle during which heavy casualties were sustained, Sechault was taken and the 369th soldiers dug in to consolidate their advance position. That action is depicted in the photo above and earned the Croix de Guerre for the entire regiment. But the Meuse-Argonne claimed nearly one-third of the 369th as battle casualties.
[Digital] Help Wanted.
(REPEATING POSTING ON THIS WEB SITE AND OTHERS AFTER IT WAS APPARENTLY DELETED BY ACCIDENT FROM WORDPRESS.)
With every passing week, the necessity – and vulnerability — of cyberspace becomes more apparent.
Hardware and software failures on the Bloomberg LP network forced its iconic trading terminals to go dark for several hours on April 17 and financial markets across much of the globe ground to a halt.
The private correspondence of top executives and personal data of thousands of employees at Sony Pictures were revealed to the world last year by North Korean hackers after the movie company released a comedy about a plot to assassinate the dictatorship’s leader. The data was published again by WikiLeaks in mid-April.
And in the most recent incident, hackers, traced to Russia, penetrated an unclassified Pentagon network earlier this year before they were detected, identified and expelled. “They discovered an old vulnerability in one of our legacy networks that hadn’t been patched,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told an audience at Stanford University April 23.
The revelation came as Carter unveiled an updated version of the Defense Department security strategy for cyberspace. While the technology advances developed in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have made many things in modern life “easier, cheaper and safer,” Carter noted that “it’s become clear that these same advances and technologies also present a degree of risk to the businesses, governments, militaries, and individual people who rely on them every day … making it easier, cheaper, and safer to threaten them. The same Internet that enables Wikipedia also allows terrorists to learn how to build a bomb.”
Rating the Raiders.
TAMPA, Florida — The Delta Force team that killed a key Islamic State leader in a raid into Syria last week also recovered a “treasure trove” of information about the violent extremist group, the president’s top intelligence adviser said Wednesday night (May 20).
James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence saluted the special operations forces (SOF) that killed Abu Sayyaf, captured his wife and freed a young Iraqi woman reportedly being held as a slave by the couple. According to press and government accounts, the raid’s aim was to capture Sayyaf, described as the chief financial officer of IS, but a gun battle broke out and he and about a dozen IS fighters were killed.
“They collected, what appears to me to be a treasure trove of valuable intelligence,” Clapper told attendees at a black tie awards dinner at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). I congratulate and salute you,” Clapper told the SOF members in the audience, “it was well done.” Clapper noted that the raiders “got in and got out and no one from our side got hurt.”
Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general (three star) and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among other intel community posts, said the raid’s success illustrated the cooperation that now exists between the SOF community and the intelligence community.
He recalled the intelligence bonanza reaped by SOF when they raided a Pakistani compound in May 2011 and killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEALs that took out bin Laden stayed in the house long enough to collect books and papers as well as files from his computers. “I was blown away when I saw — not only by what was picked up but the care with which it was picked up,” Clapper said. He called the materials taken from bin Laden’s compound “invaluable in our fight against al Qaeda.”
Delta Force did exactly the same thing in Syria, Clapper said, noting that papers and other documents have given the intelligence community insight into ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), the Defense Department’s preferred term for the brutal extremist group.
Clapper said his staff has just released “a sizable tranche” of documents seized from the bin Laden raid, including what he termed bin Laden’s book shelf: a list of commercially available and public domain books found in the terrorist leader’s home. The documents were posted on ODNI’s unclassified public website.
“Those who want to see him as a super villain are going to be a little disappointed,” Clapper said. He read Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” But about half of the 38 English language books on bin Laden’s bookshelf included books about conspiracy theories and the Illuminati and Free Masons.
No Drone Zone.
The Federal Aviation Administration has a message for hobbyists and commercial unmanned aircraft vehicle operators: keep your drones 15 miles away from the Nation’s Capital — or else.
The FAA announced this week (May 13) a public outreach campaign for the region around Washington, D.C. The purpose of the campaign is to reinforce the message that the city itself, and communities within a 15-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, are a “No Drone Zone.”
In short, if you come to Washington as a tourist, photographer or UAV enthusiast, the message is clear: “Leave Your Drone Home.” Don’t even think about taking video or still photos of the White House, Capitol Hill or the Pentagon with your camera attached to a quadcopter or other mini unmanned aircraft.
Rules put in place after the 9/11 attacks establish “national defense airspace” over the D.C. area and limit aircraft operations – including unmanned aircraft – to those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators may face stiff fines and criminal penalties.
The effort includes furnishing outreach materials to other federal, state and local partners around the National Capital Region. The agency wants to ensure residents and tourists all understand that flying an unmanned aircraft in this area for any purpose is against the law.
The ban took an urgent turn earlier this year when a government employee, flying a small quadcopter for fun late at night on the Washington Mall, accidentally crashed into a tree on the South lawn of the White House. No one was hurt but the inability of the Secret Service to track such a small intruder raised questions about White House security.
Just a day after the announcement, a 39-year-old California man was arrested and charged with violating the no drones zone. He and his UAV were seized when Secret Service officers saw a man flying a small, remote-controlled aircraft over Lafayette Park north of the White House.
Goin’ to the Show.
Updates with new photo, new information on FAA press conferences and include link to FAA proposed rules. Click on photo to enlarge.
ATLANTA — It’s early May, which to many people means hockey and NBA playoffs, or spring plants sales. But it also means a gathering of those who love machines that can free humans from having to do jobs that are dirty, dull and dangerous.
The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International — the folks who design, build, test, buy, sell and operate robots, drones and androids.
About 8,000 people from 55 countries are expected to attend AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2015 conference and expo here in Georgia through Thursday (May 7).
There will be indoor demonstrations of small unmanned aircraft and ground vehicles. Devices showing off their capabilities are slated to include Indago, Lockheed Martin’s five-pound multi-use quad copter and Ontario Drive & Gear’s ARGO J5 extreme terrain-capable unmanned ground vehicle.
Panel discussions include topics like what international opportunities are there for American unmanned aircraft systems and what kinds of payloads the Pentagon is exploring for unmanned aircraft. Another discussion will address the ethical use of drones and still another will explore emerging commercial markets for unmanned aircraft in the oil and gas industry.
But a hot topic likely to run through the whole week is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed rules for small commercial unmanned aircraft (55 pounds and under).
The FAA’s proposed rules would speed up, somewhat, the glacial pace for getting FAA permission to fly unmanned air systems (UAS) for commercial purposes, such as monitoring crops and livestock or filming movies, TV shows and commercials. But the rule still places restraints on operators’ ability to fly their drones beyond their line of sight — or to fly at night. Farm interests in particular, pushed back on this policy, saying the line of sight rule would make it much harder for a lone farmer to check a large spread economically without multiple drones or assistance.
The FAA hasn’t said what it is going to do next, but they are holding a double press briefing on Wednesday (May 6) presided over by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Ex-Green Beret, Ex-CIA, Now Ex-Pentagon Official.
Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence for the past four years, announced Thursday (April 30) that he was stepping down.
A former U.S. Army Green Beret, CIA operations officer, and top Pentagon official since 2007, Vickers was the first person to hold the position of assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities from July 23, 2007 to March 17, 2011. President Obama asked Vickers to stay on in that post when his administration took office in 2009.
Vickers is probably best known as the principal strategist for the largest covert action program in the CIA’s history: the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan — popularly known from a non-fiction book and movie as “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
But success doesn’t come easy or all the time, Vickers told DoD News. He noted the United States and the West were caught by surprise by Russia’s aggressive behavior in Ukraine, slipping in Russian special ops soldiers pretending to be Ukrainians. But Vickers said “the intelligence community quickly adapted to the situation and was able to track things very well since then.”
He noted that the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS or simply the Islamic State) and their rapid advance through Iraq were also surprises.
Obama nominated Vickers to be the third Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence on September 29, 2010, and he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on March 17, 2011. Vickers served as Acting USDI for about two months in early 20111. As USDI, he played a critical policy and planning role in the operation that hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden.
As the SO/LIC&IC assistant secretary, he was, in effect, the civilian chief of all U.S. Special Operations Forces, and the senior civilian adviser to the Secretary of Defense on counterterrorism, irregular warfare and special activities. He played a central role in shaping U.S. strategy in the war with al Qaeda and the war in Afghanistan, and led the largest expansion of SOF capabilities and capacity in history.
From 1973 to 1986, Vickers served as an Army Special Forces enlisted man and officer, and CIA Operations Officer. He had operational and combat experience in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia. His operational experience spans covert action and espionage, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defense, according to his Pentagon bio.
NIGERIA: Jonathan Concedes, Buhari Winner.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan conceded to his opponent Muhammadou Buhari today (Tuesday, March 31) in the closest presidential election since democratic rule was restored to Africa’s most populous nation in 1999.
Although the final tally isn’t known yet, Jonathan — who defeated Buhari in 2011 — called his rival to concede defeat and congratulate the retired major general. It is the first time a sitting president has lost an election in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer, according to the BBC, Reuters, VoA and CNN.
More than 20 million votes were cast in an election marred by insurgent attacks, charges of fraud and technology glitches at polling places. Saturday’s voting had to be extended to a second day, Sunday (March 29), as tens of millions turned out to vote, either to stay the course with Jonathan or try Buhari’s promise of change — including a more robust campaign against violent Islamist insurgents who have killed thousands.
By late Monday (March 30) the 72-year-old Buhari had a growing lead — 2.5 million votes — over Jonathan, some 23 million votes counted in 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, according to Reuters. The announcement of further results will resume Tuesday morning, said Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
Buhari, a Muslim from Nigeria’s north, promised to root out the corruption that has plagued Jonathan’s administration and the ruling People’s Democratic Party. Buhari also vowed to crush the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, whose attacks over the last five years have killed 10,000 people and driven thousands more. Buhari seized power in a military coup and ruled Nigeria for almost two years in the 1980s.