Posts tagged ‘amphibious warfare’

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

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 2, 2022)

TASK FORCE RED CLOUD.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jackson Kirkiewicz) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 6 (CLB-6), a unit of Combat Logistics Regiment 2 in the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, drive a Finnish G-Class landing craft while operating the Amy, an unmanned surface vehicle on the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland November 25, 2022.

CLB-6 trains organizes and deploys to provide logistical combat support to Regimental Combat Teams (RCT) in the field with supplies beyond their organic capabilities, so there’s no interruption to operations.

CLB-6 also supplies headquarters elements for Task Force Red Cloud,  which is deployed to Finland in support of exercises like Freezing Winds 2022, which ran from November 22 to December 2.  The exercise, in the Gulf of Finland and the constricted maritime terrain of the Finnish archipelago involved a total of 23 combat vessels, service and support vessels, transport vessels, as well as coastal and land troops, totaling about 5,000 personnel. The annual maritime defense exercise provided a unique opportunity to rehearse demanding combat tasks in the harsh November weather conditions of the Baltic Sea, according to Finland’s Chief of Staff of the Navy Command, Commodore Jukka Anteroinen.

The United States and NATO have stepped up military, air and naval exercises in the Baltic region with Sweden and Finland — which have both applied to join NATO — since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, leading to much destruction and loss of life.

December 1, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: U.S. Marine Corps Turns 247

HAPPY BIRTHDAY USMC

On this day, November 10, 247 years ago the Congress of Britain’s 13 American colonies decided it was time to start looking for a “a few good men” who could fight on land and sea.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia. The memorial was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Master Sergeant Adrian Cadiz) Click on photo to enlarge image

The Marine Corps was created by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 and since 1921, Marines around the world have celebrated the Corps’ founding under Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, issued by then-Commandant Major General John LeJeune. His order summarized the history, tradition and mission of the Marine Corps and directed that the order be read to every command on every subsequent November 10, the Marine Corps Birthday.

Since the 1950s, the Marines have marked the occasion with a birthday celebration and a cake cutting ceremony, where a senior Marine Corps officer slices the cake — usually with the traditional Mameluke officer’s sword, commemorating the Marines’ first overseas action near the shores of Tripoli in 1805. The first slice of cake is handed to the oldest Marine present. That senior Leatherneck then hands the slice to the youngest Marine on site.

In the photo below, retired Marine Colonel  Frank Harris III, representing the oldest Marine during the ceremony at Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ), receives a piece of cake from the base commander, Colonel Michael Brooks, at at MCBQ’s Butler Stadium on November 9, 2022.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Eric Huynh) Click on photo to enlarge.

After Congress ordered the establishment of two battalions of Marines in late 1775, Captain (later Major) Samuel Nichols — considered the Corps’ first commandant — advertised in and around Philadelphia for “a few good men” and signed them up at Tun Tavern in that city. Those early Marines first saw action in the Bahamas in a March 3, 1776 raid on New Providence in the Bahama Islands, to capture naval supplies from the British.

Three days before this year’s birthday celebration, General David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, advised his troops to “prepare for uncertainty.”

“When called, we will fight and we will win — today, tomorrow, and in the future,” Berger said in a video message released on YouTube and elsewhere. “These victories are not won by our technology or our equipment, but because of all of you, because of everything you do every day to remain the best trained, the most professional, most ready force in the world. That has not changed.”

The Marine Corps has made drastic changes in force size, composition and weapons to meet emerging threats in the coming decade, primarily from China. With his Force Design 2030 plan, Berger seeks to reshape the Corps so it can operate and survive inside the area of operations of a peer competitor equipped with advanced manned and unmanned aerial systems and cruise missiles.

Critics have questioned Berger’s decision to eliminate all of the Marines’ battle tanks and most of their towed artillery in favor of highly mobile rocket and missile launchers to control maritime choke points. He and other Marine Corps leaders have noted Ukraine’s success against Russian tanks, armored vehicles and distant command and supply centers, using kamikaze drones and the truck-mounted High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS) shows the vulnerability of tanks and the importance of logistics and reconnaissance, which are a key focus of Marine Corps planning.

Marines with 2nd battalion, 14th Marines regiment, 4th Marine division load rockets into a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System in California in 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal AaronJames B. Vinculado)

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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.

November 10, 2022 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 21, 2022)

ALL FALL DOWN.

  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Tyler W. Abbott) Click on photo to enlarge image.

No, they’re not practicing the gentle art of Tai Chi. These Marine Corps recruits of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, are executing a left break fall during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) at the Marines’ Recruit Depot San Diego on October 3, 2022.

According to the Marines, MCMAP is “an integrated, weapons-based system that incorporates the full spectrum of the force continuum on the battlefield, and contributes to the mental, character and physical development of Marines.” We think that means Marines are trained to handle themselves from gun to thumb — and everything lethal in between.

“The mental, moral, and physical resiliency of the Marine Corps’ warfighters will be of utmost importance towinning battles in future conflicts,” according to the 54-page document from Marine Corps headquarters explaining MCMAP, which aims to strengthen the individual Marine’s resiliency “through realistic combative training, warrior ethos studies, and physical hardening.”

So, learning how to fall is important. When your 4GWAR editor visited an U.S. Army basic training base in the Midwest 10 years ago, we were shocked to see how many recruits were using crutches, or wearing casts or support boots as they limped behind the rest of their unit on the way to PT at 0-dark-30.

Notice the recruits in the photo above are all wearing mouth guards and knuckle protectors on their hands.  In these days of fewer recruits, military leaders don’t want to damage them before they begin their active service.

“While each of the services has been facing recruitment challenges ― which service leaders attribute among other things to the COVID-19 pandemic ― a low interest in military service and a declining eligible population, the Marine Corps managed to overcome its enlistment obstacles,” this year, according to Marine Corps Times.   The Corps met its recruitment goals for fiscal year 2022, making it one of the only branches to fully reach its target numbers this year, the paper added.

October 20, 2022 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 14, 2022)

GOING DEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Perlman (click on the photo to enlarge image)

Sailors assigned to various Naval Special Warfare (NSW) commands operate a battery-operated Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) during high-altitude dive training in northern California on September 5, 2022. The DPDs allow combat divers to travel faster and considerably farther under water, emerging less fatigued than when moving under their own power.

There are deepwater lakes in the mountains of California, Colorado and New Mexico, and other places on earth, like South America’s Lake Titicaca. But at such high altitudes,  thousands of feet above sea level, decompression requirements for divers can change. The dive plan to maintain proper decompression limits must be adjusted for safety based on the dive’s altitude.

The pressure a diver normally faces is a combination of the weight of the water and atmosphere. At high altitude, the weight of the ­water is the same as at sea level, but the ­atmospheric pressure is less and that can pose problems for divers returning to the surface — especially for technical divers who are going deep in the water. As divers reach the surface, they have to ascend more slowly and take a longer safety stop.

Naval Special Warfare Command is a component of U.S. Special Operations Command and includes Navy SEALS (Special Warfare Operators) and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (Special Warfare Boat Operators).

For another view of diver propulsion devices click here.

October 14, 2022 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Happy Birthday U.S. Navy!

Still Cruising for 247 Years.

Sailors heave mooring line on the fo’c’sle (forecastle) aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge on September 9, 2022, upon returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia from a nine-month deployment with the U.S. 5th and U.S. 6th Fleets. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Elexia Morelos)

On this day (October 13) in 1775, the Continental Congress voted for two vessels each to be fitted out and armed with 10 carriage guns, a proportional number of swivel guns, and a crew of 80. Lawmakers directed the pair of ships be sent out on a cruise of three months to intercept transports carrying munitions and stores to the British army in America.

So, like the U.S. Army, which the Continental Congress created on June 14, 1775 — months before the Declaration of Independence — the U.S. Navy is older than the country it serves.

The Defense Department website has an online quiz, testing your knowledge of America’s second-oldest military service. Check out your salty savvy here.

Meanwhile, the Military.com website has an item on the hilarious mistake some individuals, organizations and even government agencies have made wishing the Navy a happy birthday this year.  “Some have elected to use pictures of warships that don’t belong to the American fleets. They’re Russian,” the article notes. It seems lots of well wishers haven’t been too careful picking the photos of naval vessels to congratulate the U.S. Navy.

And, as the song goes … here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR Blog posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako (Pronounced SHOCK-O) 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.

West Point cadets in dress parade uniform. (U.S. Military Academy)

October 13, 2022 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 23, 2022)

ON A (ROTARY) WING AND A PRAYER.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jonathan L. Gonzalez)

A Bell UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter (left) and a Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 773, conduct flight operations near the Christ the Redeemer statue at Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during exercise UNITAS LXIII, on September 12, 2022.

We haven’t focused much on U.S. Southern Command in a while here at 4GWAR, so this photo presents an opportunity to spotlight the work of this regional combatant command based at Doral, Florida near Miami. SOUTHCOM is responsible for defending U.S. security and interests of Latin America south of Mexico, including the waters adjacent to Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Conducted every year since 1960, UNITAS (Latin for “unity’), is the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise. 4GWAR has been writing about UNITAS since 2015.

HMLA 773, headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force UNITAS LXIII.

This year Brazil celebrated its bicentennial, a historical milestone commemorating 200 years of the country’s independence.

September 22, 2022 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 12, 2022)

SPLASHING ABOARD.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Danny Gonzalez) Please click on photo to see larger image.

Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2/5, of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, throw and receive lines from sailors assigned to the amphibious warship USS New Orleans in the Philippine Sea, August 1, 2022.

These Marines, from Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment were conducting welldeck operations training at night. The well deck is a hangar-like deck located at the waterline at the rear (stern) of some amphibious warfare ships. By taking on water the ship can lower its stern, flooding the well deck and allowing boats, amphibious vehicles and landing craft to dock within the ship

The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the USS Tripoli Amphibious Ready Group in the 7th Fleet area of operations — the Indo-Pacific region.

The USS New Orleans is an amphibious transport dock ship (LPD 18).  An Amphibious Ready Group consists of a Navy element and several other parts, like the 31st MEU,  to provide the Geographic Combatant Commanders with forward-deployed sea-based expeditionary forces that can work across a range of military operations.

August 12, 2022 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

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