Posts tagged ‘Counter Insurgency’

AROUND AFRICA: African Lion 22 Exercise in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia; New AFRICOM Commander Tapped; Troubles in Mali

EXERCISES/TRAINING WITH PARTNERS.

AFRICAN LION 22: Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia.

U.S. Africa Command’s premier annual exercise, African Lion 22, ended nearly a month of training operations across four nations in north and west Africa on June 30.

Sergeant Anthony Ruiz, an infantry squad leader assigned to Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/6, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Tunisian troops participate in an integrated training event during African Lion 2022, near Camp Ben Ghilouf, Tunisia on June 21, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Marcela Diazdeleon)

African Lion 22 is a multinational, combined arms joint exercise focused on increasing training and interoperability between U.S. forces and  partners and allies on the African continent to increase security and stability within the region.

Led by the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force for Africa, the exercise saw operations ranging from maritime training exercises in the Mediterranean waters off Tunisia and Morocco’s Atlantic Coast to field training and combined arms exercises in Ghana and Senegal.

Military units from Brazil, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the African nation of Chad, joined U.S. and host nations’ troops in the exercises. A total of 7,500 troops, nearly 4,000 of them from the United States, participated in African Lion, which began on June 6.

African Lion also included a Special Operations cyber exercise, a medical readiness exercise, a humanitarian civil assistance program,  a joint forcible entry with paratroopers, an air exercise with U.S. heavy heavy lift transport, aerial refueling and bomber aircraft.

Approximately 80 Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers with the 1st Battalion of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, along other Guard units from from California, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin are training with the Royal Moroccan Army in the northern Sahara Desert as part of African Lion ’22.

(U.S. National Guard photo by Master Sergeant Becky Vanshur)

Historically, African Lion has taken place only in Morocco and Tunisia, but this year Ghana and Senegal were added.  While Ghana has participated in the past as observers, “This is the first time that we’re actually doing the exercise in Ghana,” Major General Andrew M. Rohling, Commander of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, told a June 28 U.S. State Department digital press briefing with African journalists. Speaking from Morocco, Rohling noted that Ghana “has chosen to partner with its African neighbors and the United States to help provide peace and security across the continent.  Ghana has a growing leadership role in regional security.”

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U.S. Africa Command.

President Biden has nominated Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael Langley to be the next commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the president’s decision June 9. Langley currently heads Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Northern Command. He is also the commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.

AFRICOM, based in Stutgart, Germany, oversees U.S. troops dispersed throughout Africa, including conflict zones such as Somalia, where Biden has decided to return up to 500 troops — withdrawn by the Trump administration — to expedite airstrikes for counter terrorism operations, according to Military Times.

If the Senate confirms Langley, he would succeed Army General Stephen Townsend, who has led AFRICOM since July 2019. As head of one of the geographical combatant commands, Langley would also be promoted to the rank of full general, making him the first four-star Marine Corps general.

Langley would be in charge of of all U.S. military operations in Africa. The continent is experiencing a rash of economic and security interests by Russia and China. Russia controls the private military company, Wagner Group, whose mercenaries operate in Libya and the Central African Republic, according to The Hill newspaper site.

Speaking from Morocco to a digital State Department press briefing June 28 about African Lion 22, Major General Andrew M. Rohling, Commander of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, brought up Wagner Group when asked about the rising number of foreign military operations and bases in Africa. The United States and China each have a base in the East African nation of Djibouti and French and U.S. troops have been assisting several West African nations resist terrorist groups like al Queda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

“I think it’s clear that we’ve seen the impact and the destabilizing effect that Wagner brings to Africa and elsewhere. And I think countries that have experienced Wagner Group deployments within their borders found themselves to be a little bit poorer, a little bit weaker, and a little bit less secure,” Rohling said. “So an exercise such as African Lion aims to build capacity as well as the trusted, long-term relationships to address future challenges.  And I think that’s the difference between United States and others that are operating here on the continent.”

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PEACEKEEPING/CONFLICTS

French Troops Leaving Mali.

Concerns have grown that the exit of 2,400 French troops from Mali – the epicenter of violence in the Sahel region and strongholds of both al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates – is worsening violence, destabilizing neighbors and spurring migration.

Coups in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso have weakened France’s alliances in its former colonies, emboldened jihadists who control large swathes of desert and scrub, and opened the door to greater Russian influence.

All the logisticians of France’s Barkhane force are involved in the transfer of military equipment out of Mali after nearly eight years fighting armed terrorist groups in the Sahel and supporting the armed forces of partner countries against the threat. (French Ministry of the Armed Forces photo)

With the withdrawal from Mali expected to be completed by the end of the summer French officials were negotiating in neighboring Niger  to redefine France’s strategy to fight Islamist militants in the Sahel as concerns mount over the growing threat to coastal West African states, Reuters reports.

France’s plan calls for Niger will become the hub for French troops, with some 1,000 soldiers based in the capital Niamey along with fighter jets, drones and helicopters. Some 300-400 French troops would be dispatched for special operations with Nigerien troops in the border regions with Burkina Faso and Mali, French officials told reporters.

West Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Another 700-to-1,000 would be based in Chad with an undisclosed number of special forces operating elsewhere in the region. French troops will no longer carry out missions or pursue militants into Mali once the exit is complete, the officials said.

A key area of concern is how and whether French and European troops will used to support countries in the coastal Gulf of Guinea nations such Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast, where there has been a rise in attacks. Al Qaeda’s regional arm has said it would turn its attention to the region.

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Trouble between Mali and Ivory Coast.

Meanwhile, the military-led government in Mali says it is suspending all new rotations of United Nations peacekeeping troops due to national security reasons, the BBC reports. The action comes days after soldiers from the Ivory Coast were arrested on arrival in Mali on suspicion of being mercenaries.

Officials in Ivory Coast said they were there to support the U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, under an agreed contract between the two countries. The junta in Mali, which is trying to put down an Islamist insurgency, says its foreign ministry was not informed of the deployment via the official channels.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, said the troops were not officially part of MINUSMA but came as “support of their contingents,” what he described as “a common practice in peacekeeping missions,” the VoA website reported. The Malian government labeled them “mercenaries.” Ivory Coast has called for their release.

Peacekeepers serving with the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). (Photo: MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko)

The arrests were not mentioned in the statement announcing the peacekeeper suspension.

Since April, the U.N. has been seeking access to the town of Moura, where locals told human rights investigators and journalists that the army and Russian mercenaries carried out a massacre over five days.

The mandate for the mission in Mali was renewed during a Security Council meeting on June 29. During renewal talks, Mali’s U.N. representative said the government would not allow the United Nations to carry out investigations of alleged human rights abuses as part of its mandate.

The U.N. mission in Mali has almost 12,000 troops and 1,700 police officers. It is a visible presence in many of Mali’s northern cities, which were taken over by Islamist militants in 2012 and have seen increasing insecurity in recent months following the French army’s withdrawal from the country, according to VoA.

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Egypt Halts Its Mali Troop Rotation.

Egypt has told the United Nations it will temporarily suspend the activities of its contingent in a Mali peacekeeping mission, citing increased attacks on its peacekeepers who escort convoys supplying U.N. bases, Reuters reported July 15.

The attacks have caused the death of seven Egyptian soldiers since the beginning of the year. Egypt has 1,072 troops and 144 police in the U.N. mission in Mali known as MINUSMA.

July 17, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 24, 2022)

21st CENTURY GUNSLINGER.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal David Intriago) Click on photo to enlarge image.

Corporal Monica Pomales, a crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773’s Detachment A, conducts live fire shooting drills in a UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter during exercise Gunslinger 22 at Smoky Hill Range, Kansas on June 17, 2022.

Gunslinger 22 is a joint Marine Corps exercise with the Kansas Air National Guard designed to increase aircraft control and training for potential real world contingencies. Pomales’ Venom was accompanied by an AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter and both provided close air support and deep air support to the Ground Combat Element at Smoky Hill Range.

HMLA 773 Detachment A, based in New Orleans, is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey — a 2009 amalgamation of three military facilities in the Garden State: McGuire Air Force Base, the Army’s Fort Dix and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, once the home of the Navy’s rigid airships and non-rigid blimps.

To see more photos of this helicopter live fire drill, click here.

June 24, 2022 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 29, 2022)

Desert Water Hazard.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake Wiles)

OK, hold on tight. This one will make your head spin.

This week’s photo shows U.S. troops with the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) performing a swimming obstacle course during a French Desert Commando Course (FDCC) pre-assessment  — that’s right a Desert Commando Course — in the East African nation of Djibouti on April 19, 2022.

During the FDCC, participants are evaluated on mountain confidence, knot tying, night obstacle courses, aquatic obstacle courses, and battle maneuver tactics as well as physical challenges like timed pushups.  Since 2015, the French Forces stationed in Djibouti, a former French colony, have invited U.S. service members at Camp Lemonnier (the only U.S. base on the African continent) to participate in the course at the 5th Overseas Interarms Regiment base in Dijbouti.

The 5th OIR is a troupes de marine regiment, and has been the Djibouti garrison since November 1969. Despite its name, the Marine troops are part of the French Army, not the Navy.

April 28, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Ethiopia-Tigray Conflict; Into Somalia; Savage Attack in DRC

EAST AFRICA

Ethiopia-Tigray War

A convoy of food and other supplies arrived safely in the capital of Ethiopia’s war-torn region of Tigray on Friday (April 1). It was the first aid to arrive in Mekelle since December, the United Nations said.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said that more trucks and fuel would follow on Saturday morning (April 2) – a week after a humanitarian truce was agreed between the government and Tigrayan forces.

War broke out in the Tigray region in November 2020, pitting Ethiopia’s government and its allies against rebellious Tigrayan forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The TPLF is the political party that controls the Tigray region.

Last week, the federal government declared an immediate, unilateral truce to allow aid into Tigray. Tigrayan forces said they would respect the ceasefire as long as sufficient aid was delivered “within reasonable time”, Reuters reported.

It is unclear how much more aid might follow or how quickly. More than 90% of the 5.5 million people in the northern province of Tigray need food aid, according to the United Nations.

Around 100 trucks of aid per day need to enter to meet the population’s needs. No trucks have been able to enter since Dec. 15, due to a combination of bureaucratic problems and fighting.

WFP Ethiopia said another convoy with more than a thousand metric tons of food would be soon sent to the neighboring region of northern Afar “to communities in dire need”.

This week roads to Tigray from the Afar region had remained closed despite the ceasefire – with the warring parties trading accusations over who was to blame, according to the BBC.

Earlier a senior official of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front welcomed the truce as “a step in the right direction” but said there should be “a system in place to ensure unfettered humanitarian access for the needy.” The government has said it is committed to helping the safe passage of aid.

Malnutrition and food insecurity are rampant in northern Ethiopia, where an estimated 9 million people across the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions need critical food assistance due to conflict, WFP says.

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Fighting al Shabab from Afar.

More than 13 months after President Donald Trump decided to pull U.S. troops out of Somalia, the head of U.S. Africa Command says the strategy is not working.

Previously, about 700 U.S. troops rotated in and out of Somalia, to train the east African nation’s and help with their operations against al-Shabab, the largest and most well-funded wing of al Qaeda. But now, says Army General Stephen Townsend, AFRICOM troops based in Kenya and Djibouti are only making visits to Somalia, Military Times reported.

Townsend said he believes periodic engagement, “commuting to work,” as some have called it, has caused new challenges and risks for the troops. The AFRICOM chief told a March 15 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that by his assessment the change “is not effective, it’s not efficient, and it puts our troops at greater risk.”

The issue is that though the Trump administration pulled troops out of the country, there was no change to the mission in Somalia, where the U.S. supports that government’s efforts to fight al-Shabab. Though U.S.-led strikes have continued, it’s a harder mission to do when it’s mostly remote, according to Military Times.

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WEST AFRICA

Bloody Attack in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Fourteen people, including seven children, were killed with machetes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the Red Cross, Al Jazeera reports.

The attack took place in a displaced people’s camp in the country’s northwestern Ituri province on March 19, the humanitarian aid group reported.

Jean D’Zba Banju, a community leader in Ituri’s Djugu area, said the attacks belonged to the CODECO armed group, which has been blamed for a string of ethnic massacres in the area.

“CODECO militiamen entered Drakpa and started to cut people with machetes. They did not fire shots in order to operate calmly,” Banju told the news agency AFP March 20. “The victims are displaced people who had fled Ngotshi village to set up in Drakpa,” he said, adding that five others were wounded.

Gold-rich Ituri province has been plunged into a cycle of violence since late 2017 with the rise of CODECO, which has since split into rival factions. The group is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

Ituri and neighboring North Kivu have been under a state of siege since May 6, in an effort to combat armed groups including CODECO and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The ISIL (ISIS) armed group describes the ADF as its local affiliate.

Despite the crackdown, and support from the Ugandan military since late November, attacks have continued and more than 1,000 civilians have been killed from May 2021 to January this year, figures according to the Danish Refugee Council.

April 1, 2022 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

BALTIC-2-BLACK: Tensions Grow on Ukraine-Russia Border; Moscow Eyes Svalbard Presence in Hybrid-Strategy

UKRAINE:

Biden Reassures Ukrainian President.

President Joe Biden has reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, as the country steels itself for a potential Russian invasion on its eastern frontier.

According to a White House readout of the December 9 call, “President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of a further military intervention.”

Biden also told Zelenskyy that the United States and its allies were “committed to the principle of ‘no decisions or discussions about Ukraine without Ukraine,’” reiterating his calls for Russia to de-escalate tensions and choose diplomacy, POLITICO reported.

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(Black Sea region map Norman Einstein via wikipedia)

Seeking Help from Parners, Allies.

Biden also held a separate call December 9 with the Bucharest Nine,” a group of NATO members on Europe’s eastern edge close to Russia — including the Baltics and Poland — that are particularly sensitive to aggressive moves by Moscow, the Washington Post reported.

Thursday’s conversations took place roughly 48 hours after Biden spoke on a two-hour video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he warned the Kremlin leader that severe economic consequences would follow if he once again decides to invade neighboring Ukraine.
During their call, Biden and Putin agreed that their teams would arrange talks on what the Kremlin calls sensitive European security issues, including Putin’s complaints about NATO activities in and around Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. The Kremlin has denied any plans to invade, accusing Washington of fueling a war scare.
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U.S. Not Sending Troops
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that U.S. support for Ukraine against a worrisome buildup of Russian forces will not include additional U.S. troops, at least for now.

“That is not on the table,” Biden told reporters December 8 at the White House. “The idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not on, in the cards right now,” Defense One repored. 

Ukraine is not a member of NATO and does not enjoy the collective protection of Article 5, which calls every alliance member to arms when one is attacked. Ukraine seeks to join NATO but Russia opposes its entry into the alliance.

In an exclusive interview for Defense One’s Outlook 2022, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Biden emphasized in his phone call with Putin that if Russia moves against Ukraine, the United States would levy economic consequences; provide more military gear to Kiev; and deploy an “increased U.S. troop presence and increased capabilities in countries like Poland, the Baltics, [and] Romania.”

But Sullivan reiterated that the U.S. does not intend to send more troops to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the final elements of a $60 million security systems package to Ukraine — initially announced in August — will ship this week, a Pentagon spokesman said December 9.

U.S. Marines, assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, cut through barbed wire during the Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 in Oleshky Sands, Ukraine, July 2, 2021. The multinational maritime exercise cohosted by U.S. Sixth Fleet and the Ukrainian Navy in the Black Sea since 1997, is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen maritime security and peace in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trey Fowler)

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters that the last portions of the existing security package, which includes small arms and ammunition, is shipping now. Other parts of that security assistance package, meant to help Ukrainians defend their sovereignty against Russian aggression, included the Javelin missile system, which is already in the hands of Ukrainian servicemembers.

The $60 million package previously included 30 Javelin Command Launch Units and 180 missiles. The Javelins were delivered to Ukraine on October 23. “The United States has committed more than $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine in 2021, and this is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting Ukraine’s ability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Anton Semelroth, a Defense Department  spokesman said in an email to reporters.

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Putin’s No-Ukraine-in-NATO Demand.

On December 1, Vladimir Putin demanded ‘‘legal guarantees’’ that NATO would never expand eastward, ratcheting up the stakes as the West scrambled to respond to Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, the New York Times reported.

Putin, who sees Ukraine’s deepening military partnership with the United States and other NATO countries as an existential threat, wants to start talks with the West to reach an agreement that would block the alliance’s expansion. He spoke in the midst of what Western officials describe as a growing threat of military action by tens of thousands of Russian troops massing close to the border with Ukraine — a former Soviet nation that seeks to join NATO.

‘‘The threat on our western borders is, indeed, rising, as we have said multiple times,’’ Putin said at a ceremony for ambassadors at the Kremlin December, according to the Times. ‘‘In our dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on developing concrete agreements prohibiting any further eastward expansion of NATO and the placement there of weapons systems in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory.’’

Putin’s demand is a nonstarter for NATO. ‘‘It’s only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO,’’ Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general told reporters in Riga, Latvia. ‘‘Russia has no veto, Russia has no say, and Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence trying to control their neighbors.’’

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ARCTIC:

From the Barents Sea to the Baltic to the Black Sea

An expert on Polar geopolitics warns that Russia to enhance its presence in Svalbard, a Norwegian-controlled archipelago in the Arctic, the Independent Barents Observer reports.

In an interview with the Norwegian-based Arctic news site, Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan, says “a hybrid-strategy is underway in which Russia bolsters its legitimate presence in Svalbard on one hand while raising tensions in the maritime space on the other hand.” A lecturer in strategic studies at Australia’s Deakin University, says Moscow “isn’t about to annex Svalbard, Russia doesn’t want such a fight.”

Instead, she says Russia will try to assert its rights under a 1920 Treaty that gave Norway sovereignty over the islands, but Russia coal limited mining and other economic and scientific rights.

In recent years, the islands have risen in strategic importance as they reside just north of the intersection of the Barents, Greenland and Norwegian seas (see map above) . Whomever controls Svalbard is also likely to control the important gateway from the shallow Barents Sea to the deeper North Atlantic. For Russia’s Northern Fleet, the so-called Bear Island Gap between mainland Norway and the archipelago’s southernmost island is key to conducting sea denial operations in and over the maritime areas further south, potentially threatening NATO’s transatlantic sea lines of communication, according to the Observer.

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BALTIC-2-BLACK is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the rising tensions between Russia and the West in the regions of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, where former Russian satellite nations like Poland and Romania border against Russian territory. Both NATO, and the United States in particular, have stepped up their presence in the region since Russia began throwing its weight around after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Since then, some Scandinavian countries have been boosting defense budgets even restoring a military draft as Russian aircraft and naval vessels have acted more aggressively in the region.

December 10, 2021 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 26, 2021)

Native American Heritage Day.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery ) released)

November is National American Indian Heritage Month, honoring the hundreds of Native American tribes and peoples of the United States. And the day after Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day.

Mindful of that, we thought this would be a good FRIDAY FOTO as we near the end of November. It shows Vincent Goesahead Jr. of the Crow Nation during the opening ceremony commemorating the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on November 9, 2021.

The road to a national commemoration of that heritage has taken several twists over the 20th Century. Originally treated as members of sovereign “nations” for treaty-making purposes, Native Americans were not extended U.S. citizenship — and the civil rights that went with it — until 1924.

Nevertheless, a significant number of Native Americans have served in all of the nation’s wars beginning with the Revolutionary War, according to the Defense Department website.

Twenty-nine service members of Native American heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest medal for valor: 25 soldiers, three sailors and one Marine. That Marine is the fabled Greg “Pappy” Boyington of the Cactus Air Force in World War II — who a member of the Brule Sioux tribe.

In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial commemoration, President Gerald Ford proclaimed October 10-16, 1976, as “Native American Awareness Week.”

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 23-30, American Indian Week.

It wasn’t until November 14, 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month to honor the hundreds of Native American tribes and people in the United States, including Alaska. Native Hawaiians and those in U.S. territories in the Pacific are honored in Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month each May.

Those who claim to be American Indians in the active duty force as of July 2021, number 14,246, or 1.1 percent of the total force, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.

In the past, we here at 4GWAR Blog have celebrated the Native American code talkers: Navaho Marines and Comanche, Choctaw and Meswaki Soldiers who thwarted German and Japanese troops listening in on U.S. field telephone and radio communications in World War I and World War II.

On the Pentagon website there are feature stories on Comanche, Lakota and Lumbee Native Americans serving in today’s Army and Navy.

For those who see bitter irony in celebrating the Native Americans who wore the uniform of the national government that frequently warred on them, took their land and tried to obliterate their culture, we offer this photo, of the Apache leader Geronimo, and a caption dripping with irony, that grew out of the response to the 9/11 attacks on the Homeland.

November 27, 2021 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Illegal Fishing Threat; Expeditionary Sea Base off Africa; Super Tucanos to Nigeria

Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing.

The vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard says Vice Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan said illegal fishing is replacing piracy as the top global maritime security threat’.

“It’s a sovereignty issue, it’s a maritime security issue and it jeopardizes nations’ economic food security,” Admiral Linda Fagan told a panel discussion on the economic and security threats posed by Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2021 expo August 4.  “It weakens the global rules-based order that we all rely on for our standard of living,” she added.

Gulf of Guinea via Wikipedia

Tackling IUU, Fagan said, will require both experienced leadership and close work in both building new partnerships and fostering existing ones around the globe.

“We recently had the Mohawk, a 270-foot cutter, with another nation’s coast guard on board enforcing fisheries rules,” Fagan said. “It’s those types of partnerships where we provide an asset and the other nation provides their expertise and authority to get after the threat.”

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, the former director of intelligence at U.S. Africa Command, said IUU fishing created challenges it created in other areas. She specifically cited the effects caused by China’s growing presence and activity.

“In the Gulf of Guinea, [China] is now devasting those economies,” Berg said. “They engender corruption. They continue to act to support authoritarian regimes that can ensure their continued access.”

Other crimes, such as weapons and drug trafficking, are on the increase as a direct result, Berg said. Terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Taliban are gaining influence as well, she added. To read the complete story, click here.

(©FAO photo by Matthew Camilleri/FAO)

In addition to IUU fishing, the activities of fishers and vessels that engage in IUU fishing can constitute, lead to, or go hand-in-hand with, other crimes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Fisheries-related crimes are closely linked with the fishing operation –even if not considered illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing — because they may not constitute fishing as such. Examples of fisheries-related crimes include document fraud, for example forged fishing licenses, tax crimes, money laundering or inappropriate working conditions.

Crimes associated with the fisheries sector are crimes that have no direct connection with fishing operations but take place on fishing vessels, or during a fishing operation and using the fishing operation as a cover or means to commit such crimes as drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking even piracy, the FAO says..

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Woodie to African Waters.

The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.

Officers assigned to ESB 4 participated in a maritime interoperability planning event with leaders from the Nigerian Navy, on August 7 and later joined a three-day at sea training exercise with Nigerian offshore patrol vessels and members of Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS). Over the last decade, Gulf of Guinea nations have steadily increased their capability of working together and sharing information.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelly M. Agee)

“Woody” Williams made a scheduled port visit to Dakar, Senegal from June 21 to June 25. , 2021.

In May, ESB 4 conducted interoperability exercises with Algerian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Spanish, and Tunisian Naval forces during the at-sea portion of exercise Phoenix Express in the Mediterranean Sea.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Expeditionary Sea Base vessels are optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions and designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets. ESBs can be enhanced to meet special operations force missions through increased communications, aviation and unmanned aircraft system support.

Attached to the U.S. Sixth Fleet and based at Souda Bay, Greece plies the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility, which includes the Mediterranean Sea and waters off East, West and South Africa.

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Super Tucanos to Nigeria.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) officially welcomed six A-29 Super Tucanos, light turboprop aircraft manufactured by Brazil’s Embraer and the U.S.-based Sierra Nevada Corporation at a ceremony in Abuja, the capital, hosted by Nigerian Minister of Defense Bashir Salihi Magashi on August 31, according to U.S. Africa Command.

(Photo by U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa.)

Six more Super Tucanos will be delivered later this year in a deal set to cost the Nigerian government about $500 million, according to the Council on Foreign Relations website.

The aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organizations including the Islamic State West Africa Province. The joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.

A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA. Training also emphasized the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.

September 9, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 16, 2021)

Not Your Father’s Warthog.

(Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sergeant Vincent De Groot)

Paul Grigsby, a technician at the Air National Guard (ANG) Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa, cleans up stenciling on the nose of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II on June 29, 2021.

Instead of the standard two-tone gray, this aircraft, from the 122nd Fighter Wing — known as the Blacksnakes –has been painted to look like a threatening snake, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of aviation in the Indiana National Guard.

The paint is a mixture of black and dark gray, with colors breaking along standard A-10 paint lines on the wings, engines and fuselage. The aircraft’s nose features a distinctive 122nd Fighter Wing (FW) green-eyed snake, complete with fangs, surrounding the 30 mm rotary cannon

Although the Air National Guard was not officially established as a separate service until 1946, some ANG units like the 122nd can trace their beginnings to the interwar period.

Following World War I, the War Department recognized the necessity of including aviation in national defense. The Indiana National Guard began its flying mission in 1921 with the establishment of the 137th Observation Squadron, which was initially based at Fagley Field in Kokomo, just north of Indianapolis.

Now based at Fort Wayne, the 122nd FW has been flying single-seat fighter aircraft for most of its history. Today the Blacksnakes are equipped with the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, used primarily for close air support.

The 1970s-era tank buster, known affectionately as the Warthog, for its homely – some would say ugly – appearance as well as its sturdy, resilient airframe and fearsome armament. The A-10 packs a 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun, located in front of, and below, the cockpit, like a cigar clenched in its “teeth.” (Click on this link to see it in action).

Master Sgt. William Hopper, 122nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs superintendent, said the 122nd adopted the Blacksnake moniker from Revolutionary War General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, the namesake of the city of Fort Wayne.

Native Americans who battled U.S. forces in Ohio the 1790s, gave Wayne the title “Black Snake.” Wayne was known for a methodical fighting style where he instructed his soldiers to lie in wait for the right moment to strike, similar to the actions of a North American Black Snake.

July 16, 2021 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO (June 18, 2021)

JUNETEENTH!

It’s June 19, or Juneteenth, – the holiday marking the last gasp of legal slavery in the United States. What started out as a holiday in Texas has been gaining recognition and popularity — especially in this very troubled time of police shootings, protest marches and the still evolving reckoning about the place of race in American history.

At 4GWAR, we thought we’d take a look at the events that led to the Juneteenth tradition in the waning days of the Civil War — harking back to a posting we created in 2015 to mark the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth

EDITOR’s NOTE: That’s how we started our blog posting a year ago. Little did we know those words would foreshadow recent events in Washington and around the country. You can see that 2020 blog posting in it’s entirety here.

But tomorrow marks the first time June 19th will be celebrated as a federal holiday since Congress passed legislation and President Biden signed it into law on Thursday (June 17) . Some people are already worried whether the U.S. Mail will be delivered or the banks will be open on the 19th. Here at 4GWAR we’ll let other folks worry about all that.

We do have one concern that arose when we read a news story about the 14 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against making June 19th a federal holiday. That news didn’t surprise us, not nearly as much as the news that the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make this date a federal holiday.

The 14 House members gave various reasons for their “No” vote — some of them pretty lame, like the added cost to taxpayers of another day off for federal workers. But a few voiced concern that the official name of the new holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, would confuse people about the July 4 holiday — or worse, “push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity,”as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said.

That did concern us at 4GWAR. The last thing the United States needs right now is something to divide us even more. And at 4GWAR, where we’ve been writing about Juneteenth (off and on) since 2011, we feel any holiday that celebrates the fight for freedom from oppression — even if it commemorates somebody else’s history, like Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo or Hanukkah — is still worth appreciation.

We’ve been wracking our brain to find a military image in U.S. history, emblematic of the fight for freedom in the American Civil War for today’s FRIDAY FOTO. We thought about the opening battle scene in Lincoln or the final one in Glory, but on their simplest level they show white guys (the oppressors) and black guys (the oppressed) in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Neither looked like material to bring people together in today’s hair-trigger atmosphere.

Finally, we thought of Gettysburg, the epic 1993 film about the epic 1863 battle. It, too, can be problematic. Its even-handed portrayal of the soldiers and leaders of the Confederacy has been criticized as Southern propaganda. And there are next-to-no people of color in it, except for one scene with a runaway slave. However, there is a scene that captures the one difference between the soldiers in blue and those in gray (or butternut brown) — slavery. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine’s speech to a group of hard-headed soldiers from another Maine regiment who refuse to fight because their enlistment has run out. Here’s a shortened version, with very clear imagery.

In a statement quoted by the New York Times, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas (she represents the Houston area) and a lead sponsor of the bill, said “Juneteenth is as significant to African Americans as July 4 is to all Americans.” We hope that Juneteenth will grow to be appreciated by all Americans, and that whites will see it as something more than a black holiday marking beginning — just the very beginning — of the United States of America doing the right thing about racial inequality. To paraphrase Henry Fonda’s character in The Ox-Bow Incident, a cowboy trying to stop a lynching who’s been told its none of his business. Slavery “is any man’s business that’s around.”

And we hope people of color will realize than in addition to the 180,000 black soldiers who fought for freedom, thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of white men and boys died, not just to preserve the union, but to set other people free.

We all have a stake in the meaning of Juneteenth.

ANOTHER EDITOR’s NOTE: For regular 4GWAR visitors who expect to see a beautiful photo, or at least an interesting one with a story behind it on Fridays. We will post one on Saturday as a FRIDAY FOTO EXTRA.

June 18, 2021 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: AeroVironment Moves East; First In-Flight Drone Refueling of Fighter Jet

Leaving California.

California-based drone and robotic system-maker AeroVironment, is moving its base — East to Arlington, Virginia.

Aerovironment, which manufactures the Puma, Raven and Wasp small, hand-launched  unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) for the U.S. and other militaries, announced the move June 15. AeroVironment also makes the loitering munition, Switchblade, also known as a kamikaze drone.

A Marine launches a Puma UAV by hand in Afghanistan. (Photo by Sergeant Bobby J. Yarbrough)

“The greater Washington D.C. area is where many of our key customers are located and expanding our presence in the region will further our access to decision makers, influencers and talent,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment’s president and CEO.

“Our recent acquisition of Progeny Systems ISG and our new Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center expand our footprint near the Beltway and build on our momentum as we continue to grow our portfolio and global scope. We look forward to growing our Washington, D.C., presence and continuing to serve our customers with solutions that help them proceed with certainty.”

*** *** ***

Making History.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) made aviation history on June 4 with a successful air-to-air refueling of another aircraft. Boeing’s MQ-25 Demonstrator, T1, refueled a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter, a major step in the MQ-25A Stingray’s journey to become the Navy’s carrier-based aerial refueler, according to Seapower magazine.

The MQ-25 T1 test asset refuels the Navy F/A-18 during a flight June 4 at MidAmerica Airport in Illinois. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

Boeing’s T1 and the F/A-18F  were flown by a crew from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23. The two aircraft joined up and the MQ-25 passed a total of 325 gallons of fuel to the Super Hornet in two separate refueling events.

The MQ-25 carried a Cobham-built refueling store with a drogue refueling hose, the same type currently used in the fleet by Super Hornets. The Navy plans to use the MQ-25 in the refueling role to free more Super Hornets for the combat operations they were designed to perform.

*** *** ***

Testing Gremlins

The Defense Department, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and industry partners will hold the next demonstration of the drone swarming concept this fall, Military.com reports.

At an event hosted by Defense News, the deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, Lieutenant General Brian Robinson said revealed the next test for the program, known as Gremlins, will occur in the October to November timeframe.

In concert with Dynetics, a subsidiary of Leidos, Kratos Defense and DARPA, have been working on the project, in which controlled drones are dropped out of cargo planes — such as the C-130 Hercules — to swarm enemy defenses ahead of fighters, ships or ground vehicles.

For more on this topic, click here.

*** *** ***

Skyborg AI Test

Earlier this Spring, the U.S. Air Force flew an artificial intelligence (AI) system onboard a subsonic autonomous drone for the first time.

The Skyborg autonomy core system, or ACS, was loaded into a Kratos UTAP-22 “Mako” drone for a 130-minute flight test at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on April 29, the Air Force announced. The Skyborg ACS conducted a basic flight and “responded to navigational commands while reacting to geo-fences, adhering to aircraft flight envelopes and demonstrating coordinated maneuvering,” the May 5 news release stated.

Skyborg is one of three initiatives under the service’s Vanguard Program for rapid prototyping and development of new technologies it can leverage for multiple operations, according to the Military.com website. The goal is for drones loaded with the Skyborg network to fly alongside manned fighters, so the machine can learn how to maneuver and even train with the pilot.

Follow-on test events will include manned-unmanned teaming with the Skyborg ACS-controlled system, according to the Air Force. To read more, click here.

June 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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