Posts filed under ‘Weaponry and Equipment’

FRIDAY FOTO (February 3, 2023)

BRADLEYS ON THE WAY.

Ukraine-bound U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicles (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Oz Suguitan) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

After weeks of discussions and negotiations with Germany and other NATO allies, the United States has agreed to send its top ground war machine, the Abrams M1A main battle tank, to Ukraine.

But its going to take several months to get the world’s most capable — but also one of the most complicated — armored vehicle systems to the front. The Pentagon says it’s going to take months to train Ukrainian troops on the Abrams and ready to face an expected Russian offensive late this year.

In the meantime, the U.S. is sending about five dozen M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles to help Ukraine in the war against Vladimir Putin’s ruthless attacks. The Bradley is tracked like a tank, but smaller and in certain circumstances more maneuverable. Unlike the Abrams, the Bradley is considered a mechanized infantry vehicle that can carry a squad of seven soldiers into the combat zone as well as its three-person crew.

Bradleys have both offensive and defensive capabilities and provide “a level of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield as the Ukrainian military continues to defend their homeland,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder told a January 5 news conference.

The Bradley’s primary weapon is the M242 25 mm Automatic Cannon. Other weapons include a 7.62 Coaxial Machine Gun and a Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wireless-Guided (TOW) Anti-Tank Missile Launcher. The M2A4 also has a commander’s independent viewer that allows the commander to scan for targets and maintain situational awareness while remaining under protective armor and without interfering with the gunner’s acquisition and engagement of targets.

In the photo above, stevedore drivers work through the night of January 25 to load Bradleys onto the transport ship ARC Integrity at the Transportation Core Dock in North Charleston, South Carolina. More than 60 Bradleys were shipped by U.S. Transportation Command as part of the U.S. military aid package to Ukraine. USTRANSCOM is a combatant command focused on projecting and sustaining U.S. military power around the globe when needed.

(U.S. Transportation Command photo by Oz Suguitan) Click on photo to enlarge image.

Operations hatch foreman Sergeant Ryan Townsend, of the Army’s 841st Transportation Battalion, inspects Bradley Fighting Vehicles as they are parked within the ARC Integrity. Integrity is an American Roll-on, Roll-off Carrier equipped with ramp access and a system of fixed and liftable cargo decks which constitute the main cargo section. This system enables the vessel to be reconfigured quickly to accommodate different cargoes and maximize lift capacity. The ramp systems make the vessels able to load and discharge cargo vehicles without cranes or other port loading facilities. ARC is the American-flagged ship operator moves tanks, helicopters and other equipment for the U.S. government and its various agencies.

February 3, 2023 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (January 27, 2023)

THE COLOR OF THE WIND.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Jesus Sepulveda Torres) Click  on the photo to enlarge the image.

MV-22 Osprey aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162  prepare to take-off for a simulated raid during Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise I at Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina on December 20, 2022. The raid was the culminating Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) mission for the exercise.

The colorful circles are made by two LED tip lights on the end of each rotor blade as they rotate. The colorful display has a practical safety purpose, it makes the Osprey more visible to other squadron aircraft in night flight formations (in a non-combat situation). On the ground, in the dark, the lights also alert other aircraft well as ground personnel nearby where the spinning blades are.

The Osprey can take off and land vertically like a helicopter but also fly horizontally (and faster) like and airplane when the rotors are tilted forward. These Ospreys are with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26 MEU). An MEU, with about 2,000 Marines, a composite helicopter/tiltrotor squadron and a combat logistics battalion, is the smallest type of MAGTAF (pronounced MAG-TAFF) unit.

January 27, 2023 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (January 20, 2023)

NATURE’S SPECIAL FX.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Diana M. Cossaboom). Click on photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Air Force pilots flying a KC-135 Stratotanker, get a first hand look at the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire while flying through weather in the Middle East on January 6, 2023.

St. Elmo’s Fire occurs through electric friction caused by specific weather conditions. St. Elmo’s fire, or corona discharge, is commonly observed on the periphery of propellers and along the wing tips, windshield, and nose of aircraft flying in dry snow, ice crystals,or near thunderstorms, according to the Britannica website, where you can see a more thorough explanation of the phenomenon, also known as Witchfire or Witch’s Fire.

Thsee aerial refueling tanker pilots are assigned to the 91st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, part of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

January 20, 2023 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (January 6, 2023)

DELIVERY AT SEA.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Negron) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

We wonder if Amazon ever delivers this way. Sailors aboard the Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur receive supplies on pallets from the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe during  a seaborne resupply on December 28, 2022 in the Philippine Sea.

Replenishment at sea is a method of transferring fuel, ammunition, food and other supplies from one ship to another while under way. It’s a tricky, inherently dangerous procedure. Both ships have to maintain the same speed as they send and receive fuel hoses and other lines and cables to pump fuel and swing cargo over the water separating the two ships. Click here to see a video explaining the procedure and what the risks are.

A shot line is fired from the receiving vessel to the supply vessel. That line is used to pull across a messenger line. The messenger is used to pull across other lines and equipment.

Civilian-manned ships of the Military Sealift Command like the Guadalupe are not commissioned ships; their status is “in service,” rather than “in commission.” They are, nonetheless, Navy ships in active national service, according to the Navy, and the prefix “USNS” (United States Naval Ship) was adopted to identify them.

USS Decatur is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. Part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Decatur is currently underway with the U.S. 7th Fleet conducting routine operations. The 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed, numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

January 6, 2023 at 3:41 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (December 30, 2022)

HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD … ON HIS SIX.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Rufus) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Air Force Colonel Cameron “GLOVER” Dadgar, commander of the Nevada Test and Training Range flies over the range during an Exercise Red Flag 22-3 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on July 12, 2022.

For THE FRIDAY FOTO’s last posting of 2022, we thought we’d feature one of the many spectacular photos included in the Defense Department’s DOD in Photos 2022 collection. To see some more photos, click here. You’ll notice several of the pictures taken by service members over the past year have apeared in THE FRIDAY FOTO.

The Nevada Test and Training Range is the U.S. Air Force’s premier military training area with more that 12,000 square miles of air space and 2.9 million acres of land.

The “SIX” in this week’s headline refers to the military term “Check Your Six,” which means “Check Behind You” to avoid a sneak attack from the rear. For a more detailed explanation, click here.

Almost forgot, thanks for visiting 4GWAR Blog and our weekly FRIDAY FOTO featuring the wonderful, informative and sometimes quirky photographs taken by members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR. See you in 2023!

December 30, 2022 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Amphibious Assault Ship, USS Fallujah and Other Name Controversies UPDATE

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

“What’s in a name,” the poet and playwright William Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet. Quite a lot, apparently, for many people in the United States — especially in Congress and the Defense Department.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody, and the ensuing societal reckoning on racial injustice and the enduring legacy of slavery, public opinion turned against honoring the men who rebelled against the United States and fought to defend slavery.

More than 100 monuments and statues of Confederate leaders were removed by local officials in cities like Richmond, Virginia, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Others in Birmingham, Alabama; Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. were toppled by protestors.

Confederate War Memorial of Dallas, Texas was removed in 2020 and put in storage. (Photo by MarK Arthur, via Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

And in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law No: 116-283), Congress directed the establishment of “a commission relating to assigning, modifying, or removing of names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia to assets of the Department of Defense that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.”

In its final report, the commission recommended new names for nine military bases all named after Confederate officers (Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; and Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett — all in Virginia).

The commission also made recommendations for renaming buildings, streets and other facilities, and removing monuments honoring Confederate leaders at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York and the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Maryland.

During the same period the commission looked at Navy ships and facilities, leading Navy Secretary Carlos Del Torro to announce in September that the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, named for an 1863 Civil War battle the Confederacy won, and the oceanographic survey ship USNS Maury, named for Confederate Navy officer Matthew Fontaine Maury, would be renamed.

Needless to say, many groups and individuals pushed back against changing the names of storied buildings at their academy, or the base where they trained before going off to war. Associations and societies of the descendants of Confederate warriors and some local politicians also took a dim view of name changes and statue removals, which they saw as an assault on their heritage and culture — and their ancestors.

Dallas Confederate War Memorial site after removal (Photo by Pete Unseth via Wikipedia)

But a controversy from an unexpected source developed recently with plans to name a new ship after a battle that had nothing to do with the Civil War or slavery.  Del Torro announced on December 13 that the Navy’s newest large amphibious assault ship would be named the USS Fallujah, to commemorate two fierce battles the Marines fought in the Iraq War.

However, a Muslim civil rights group is protesting the selection of the name of the Iraqi city because the battle resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and the locals are still suffering health issues they suspect are caused by the remains of weapons used in the fighting.

“The name selection follows the tradition of naming amphibious ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles [like Makin Island or Tripoli],  U.S. sailing ships [like USS Boxer and USS Kearsarge] or earlier carriers from World War II [like USS Essex], Del Torro said.

The First Battle of Fallujah occurred in April 2004 in an effort to capture or kill insurgents responsible for the killing of four U.S. contractors. The Second Battle of Fallujah, fought between November 7 and December 23, 2004, was a major U.S- led offensive to retake control of the city from insurgents and foreign fighters. With over 100 coalition forces killed and over 600 wounded, Operation Phantom Fury is considered the bloodiest engagement of the Iraq War and the fiercest urban combat involving U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War’s Battle of Hue City, according to the Navy.

“Under extraordinary odds, the Marines prevailed against a determined enemy who enjoyed all the advantages of defending in an urban area,” the Commandant of the Marine Corps,  General David H. Berger, said in the Navy press release announcing the new ship’s name. “The Battle of Fallujah is, and will remain, imprinted in the minds of all Marines and serves as a reminder to our Nation, and its foes, why our Marines call themselves the world’s finest,” Berger added.

Two America-class amphibious assault ships, USS Tripoli (LHA 7) and USS America (LHA 6) sail side-by-side during a photo exercise in the Philippine Sea, September 17, 2022. The future USS Fallujah (LHA 9) will be similar to these ships but equipped with a well deck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Christopher Lape)

But the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), self-described as the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, “called on the U.S. Navy to change the name of the future America-class amphibious assault ship ‘USS Fallujah,’” the SEAPOWER magazine website reported December 15.

The battles in Fallujah were the bloodiest fighting of the Iraq War and a painful memory for the people still living there. “Hundreds of civilians – including women and children – were killed during the battles. To this day, the civilian population is reportedly being negatively impacted by the weapons used in those battles,” CAIR said in a press statement, urging the Navy to pick another name.

“Just as our nation would never name a ship the ‘USS Abu Ghraib,’ the Navy should not name a vessel after notorious battles in Fallujah that left hundreds of civilians dead, and countless children suffering from birth defects for years afterward,” said CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. “There must be a better name for this ship,” Mitchell added, saying “one that does not evoke horrific scenes” from what he called “an illegal and unjust war.”

When we first heard about the naming of the Fallujah, your 4GWAR editor wondered if it was too soon, in a region where U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists, to bring up a painful memory — not just for the Iraqis but for Americans and allies who fought there or lost loved ones.

Similarly, in 2020, your 4GWAR editor was struck by a FRIDAY FOTO we ran of U.S. sailors pulling a combat rubber raiding craft carrying Japanese soldiers aboard the amphibious dock landing ship, USS Pearl Harbor, in the Pacific Ocean. 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.

As mentioned, several U.S. Navy amphibious ships, like the Pearl Harbor, are named for famous Navy and Marine Corps battles — like  Belleau Wood or Fort McHenry — but others have been 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.

For that matter, we wonder if the ships named USS Alamo (signature battle of the Texas Revolution) or the USS Normandy (World War II) or USS Hue City (Vietnam War) cause any irritation or ill will in Mexico, Germany or Vietnam, countries with which we now have friendly relations.

UPDATES with photos and correction, substituting USS Alamo for USS Monterey

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SHAKOSHAKO 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.

December 28, 2022 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Marines Have Their First Black Female Two-Star General

ANOTHER FIRST FOR THE MARINES.

The U.S. Marine Corps now has its first black female (two star) major general.

Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4), on August 31, 2018. (Department of Defense photo)

The Senate confirmed Major Gen. Lorna Mahlock for promotion on December 15, nine days after President Joe Biden nominated her for promotion along with seven other Marine Corps brigadier generals, according to the Pentagon.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Mahlock, 54, immigrated to Brooklyn, New York at the age of 17 in 1985. She enlisted in the Marine Corps three months later and became an air traffic controller. She became an officer through the Marines’ Enlisted Commissioning Education Program in 1991 after graduating from Marquette University.

Since then she has amassed multiple higher degrees including two masters degrees in Strategic Studies from the Army War College and the Naval Postgraduate School, according to Marine Corps Times.

Mahlock is currently serving as deputy director of Cybersecurity for Combat Support, at the National Security Agency, in Fort Meade, Maryland. Previous posts have included U.S. European Command in German, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Japan and Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38 in Southern California, Stars and Stripes reported.

Then Brigadier Gen. Lorna Mahlock, Chief Information Officer of the Marine Corps, networks after addressing Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF) 18th Annual Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Corporal Naomi May). Click on photo to enlarge image.

It has been a remarkable year of firsts for women and minorities in the armed services:

Master Chief Information Systems Technician (Submarine) Angela Koogler was named the first female top enlisted sailor on a U.S. Navy submarine, reporting for her new post in late August. Koogler’s appointment as chief of boat on the ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana is a historic first for the Navy, which only began assigning female officers to submarines in 2011 and female enlisted sailors in 2016.

Also in August, the U.S. Senate confirmed Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael E. Langley for promotion to the rank of general, becoming the first Black Marine appointed to the rank of four-star general in Marine Corps history. He was also confirmed as head of U.S. Africa Command.

Additional similar achievements this year were identified by Military.com website, noting other firsts for women in the Navy and Marine Corps.

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, cylindrical headgear with a bill or visor worn by soldiers in 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.

 

December 20, 2022 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 16, 2022)

MARINE CORPS CHIAROSCURO.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Averi Rowton) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Members of the U.S. 2d Marine Division light a Small Unit Expeditionary stove at their campsite during the NATO Cold Weather Instructor Course (NCWIC) in Setermoen, Norway on November 24, 2022.

Here at 4GWAR Blog we were struck by this photo,  which reminds us of the 17th Century Italian painter Caravaggio, one of the early masters of chiaroscuro, the art of using light and dark to create the illusion of three-dimensional volume on a flat surface. The term translates to “light-dark” — chiaro meaning bright or clear and scuro meaning dark or obscure, in Italian.

NCWIC is designed to develop Marines and other service members to be instructors of cold weather survival training in preparation for future deployments in the harsh environment of the High North regions. NATO is increasing its attention to the region, in response to the Russian war with Ukraine, Moscow’s military buildup in the Arctic and China’s expanding reach, declaring itself a “near Arctic state”  and planning a “Polar Silk Road” linking China to Europe via the Arctic, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

December 16, 2022 at 12:43 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 9, 2022)

WINTER STILL LIFE WITH SOLDIERS.

(Army National Guard photo by Sergeant Seth LaCount, 134th Public Affairs Detachment) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Alaska Army National Guardsmen — assigned to the appropriately named Avalanche Company — patrol at sunset on December 3, 2022  during an Air Assault training exercise at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The exercise, part of the drill weekend for these members of the 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, sought to enhance the unit’s combat readiness while evaluating their proficiency in an arctic environment.

We note only a couple of the soldiers are wearing winter white garb.

December 8, 2022 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 25, 2022)

HORSELESS HORSEMEN.

              (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sergeant Gavin K. Ching)

Soldiers from the British Army’s Royal Horse Artillery and the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division call for fire support during a live fire exercise with NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Poland. Despite their storied histories dating back to the days of horse-drawn cannon and boots and saddles bugle calls, there was nary a horse in sight at Toruń, Poland when this photo was taken on November 3, 2022.

The Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) was formed in 1793 as a distinct arm of the Royal Regiment of Artillery (commonly termed Royal Artillery) to provide mobile artillery support to the fast moving cavalry units. It served in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of the 18th and early 19th centuries, as well as in the Crimean War, the Indian Rebellion of 1857,  Anglo-Zulu War, Boer War and the First and Second World Wars. Horses are still in service for ceremonial purposes, but were phased out from operational deployment in the 1930s.

The 1st Cavalry Division is a combined arms division based at Fort Hood, Texas. It was formed in 1921 largely from horse cavalry regiments and other units dating back to the Indian Wars of the America West. The division served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan and in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.  A horseback cavalry division until 1943, the 1st Cav has since been an infantry division, an air assault division and an armored division. A black horse head above a diagonal black stripe continues to adorn the division’s uniform shoulder patch. While its troops operate battle tanks and armored vehicles now, the 1st Cavalry Division also has a mounted ceremonial unit.

Pictured in this photo are soldiers assigned to the 1st Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division; United Kingdom soldiers assigned to N Battery, Eagle Troop, Royal Horse Artillery.

The United States and allies in NATO have made reinforcing Poland and the nearby Baltic states a focal point since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, U.S. tanks from units rotating overseas have been a consistent forward presence in Poland, home to the Army’s V Corps at Camp Kościuszko.

November 25, 2022 at 10:07 pm Leave a comment

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