Posts tagged ‘Counter Insurgency’

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

Robots, Droids & Drones: Navy “Bullish” on Aerial Refueler Drone; Air Force Testing Ways to Use MQ-9 Drone.

DEFENSE.

CNO Bullish on Drones.

Unmanned systems — in the air and both on, and under the sea — will help maximize the U.S. Navy’s range across the Pacific Ocean in the future, according to the Navy’s top commander.

The MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling vehicle, along with other unmanned aircraft, surface and under-sea vessels, will help maximize the U.S. Navy’s future range across the Pacific Ocean, according to Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations. The Navy plans to procure 72 Stingrays from Boeing. (Photo of Boeing)

Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, says the Navy’s “very bullish” about the MQ-25A Stingray, a carrier-based, aerial refueling drone. Once it’s integrated into carrier operations, Gilday told a think tank webinar April 27, the Boeing-built Stingray will extend aircraft carrier reach. In addition to being an unmanned fuel tanker,the Stingray can also provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance around the carrier strike group.

Gilday said he sees unmanned systems as a path to affordability and lethality in future defense budgets, which will likely be leaner in coming years. “Probably by the  mid-to-late 2030s, we think up to a third of the fleet could be unmanned, if everything goes right,” Gilday explained. “And for the air wing of the future, we think about the same, initially about 40 percent — potentially going to 60 percent — unmanned,” he added.

The Navy’s strategy in the Great Power competition with China calls for fielding highly mobile and distributed maritime operations across the Pacific. But during the question and answer session at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Gilday noted that with  ubiquitous satellite imagery, “it’s going to be difficult to hide” in the future. And that’s why unmanned vessels armed with directed energy weapons like high-energy lasers could become “really important” in force protection, Gilday said.

To see your 4GWAR editor’s story on this topic on the Seapower magazine website, click here.

*** *** ***

Naval Exercise (UxS IBP)

A number of unmanned systems were put to the test in the air and on and below the waters off the coast of California April 19-26 during Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP).

The Pacific Fleet exercise was designed to integrate manned and unmanned capabilities into operational scenarios to generate advantages in conflict. The week-long event involved surface, subsurface, and aerial unmanned assets, operating with littoral combat ships, guided-missile destroyers, guided-missile cruisers, submarines and helicopter squadrons.

It was the first large-scale unmanned systems (UxS) integrated battle problem (IBP) involving manned/unmanned teaming. One goal was  to develop a targeting solution for a planned missile shoot, which was accomplished. Participants successfully teamed air and surface, manned and unmanned capability, to put an SM-6 missile well over the horizon from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn to target, according to Seapower.

The manned/unmanned chain of events for the missile shoot was totally passive, [without] any active sensor. The target was detected by a combination of manned and unmanned platforms and a space system to locate and identify the target, track it with electronic support measures (ESM) bearings, and pass the information to the John Finn, which was able to shoot the SM-6 at range, well beyond line of sight.

Unmanned systems participating in the IBP included two medium-displacement unmanned surface vessels, Sea Hunter and its new sister ship, Seahawk; an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV); an MQ-9 Sea Guardian UAV; a Vanilla ultra-long-endurance UAV; the Office of Naval Research’s Super Swarm Project; and the Ocean Aero Triton-Class Dual-Modality Underwater and Surface Autonomous Vehicle.

In  the photo below, sailors attached to Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Squadron 1 monitor the launch and operation of an unmanned undersea vehicle at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport’s UUV Operations Center in Washington state as part of Battle Problem 21 on April 21. To see more photos of this part of UxS IBP, click here.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Foley)

Unmanned surface and air systems were used to prosecute a submarine-like target. This event included an MQ-9 SeaGuardian UAV dropping sonobuoys and up-linking data after a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft departed station.

According to MQ-9-manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the event demonstrated a number of actions for the first time including: successful Link connectivity with U.S. Navy surface ships and aircraft; cooperative anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, with the first successful high-altitude sonobuoy drop from an unmanned aircraft; Automatic Identification System (AIS) correlation with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and a MH-60R Seahawk helicopte;r and long-range over-the-horizon targeting from drone to a U.S. Navy Destroyer.

In the photo below, an MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft system flies over the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) during U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21, April 21.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe)

*** *** ***

Marines Dropping their Blackjacks.

According to the Drive, the Marine Corps has announced it was retiring all of its RQ-21 Blackjack drones and is shifting attention to other unmanned platforms, including the MQ-9 Reaper and the V-Bat. (see related story below).

The Marines announced earlier this week that they had “initiated the divestment of all RQ-21 aircraft” in the first annual update on the Corps’ progress with the Force Design 2030 effort, publicly unveiled last year. The restructuring plan scaled back infantry and artillery units and eliminated tank battalions, in favor of a lighter, more nimble force with a renewed emphasis on expeditionary and distributed operations.

The Blackjack, built by Boeing’s Insitu, is a twin-boom, single-engine, small tactical unmanned aerial vehicle that carries modular payloads mostly for surveillance. It is pneumatically launched and is recovered using a skyhook arrestment system. A single Blackjack system includes five UAVs, two ground control stations, various payloads and a set of launch and recovery systems.

The fielding of the RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial system achieved full operational capability in 2019. All 21 systems for the Marine Corps and 10 for the Navy had been delivered to fleet and training units, by Fall 2020, according to Seapower.

*** *** ***

Navy Picks Martin UAV V-BAT

The Navy has selected Martin UAV’s V-BAT for a vertical take-off and landing unmanned aircraft system (UAS) prototyping and development effort to fulfill new technological requirements, the Plano, Texas company announced April 28.

V-Bat stationary (Courtesy Martin UAV)

Those requirements were driven by the changing nature of threats in austere operating environments.

Martin UAV was one of thirteen respondents to the Navy’s Mi2 Challenge and was later down selected with L3Harris Technologies to compete in a technology demonstration at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona. The competition sought maximum portability, self-sufficiency and modularity in UAS hardware and payload capabilities without the need for ancillary support equipment.

The BAT system offers vertical takeoff with a single-engine ducted fan, automatic transition to straight and level flight, easily commanded hovers and stares, interchangeable payloads, and an open architecture.

According to the company. the V-BAT is currently deployed in various areas in support of Defense Department activities including the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical UAS program as well as with a Marine Corps expeditionary unit, and with the U.S. Coast Guard.

*** *** ***

Air Force testing  MQ-9 Drone for New Mission.

The Air Force is testing ways to use the MQ-9 UAS in island-hopping missions, military.com reports.

Long used for the counter terrorism mission, the Air Force’s principal hunter-killer drone is finishing up a joint exercise (Agile Reaper) with the Navy and Marine Corps at Naval Air Station Point Mugu and San Clemente Island in California. The aim was to prepare crews to use fewer personnel and less equipment at forward-deployed locations as the MQ-9 takes on more maritime missions, officials said, according to the website.

Like the Marines, who are shifting from counter-terrorism, counter insurgency operations to prepare for possible conflict with China in the Indo-Pacific region, the Air Force drone operators practiced enhanced maritime surveillance missions and moved toward close-air support strike, to back up Marines going ashore.

Read more here.

April 29, 2021 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 5, 2021)

Sunny Snowy Italy.

(U.S. Army photo by Paolo Bovo)

U.S. Army Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade exit a  C-130 Hercules aircraft over Frida Drop Zone near Aviano NATO base in northern Italy on February 1, 2021 The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe — capable of projecting ready forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Commands’ areas of responsibility. The C-130 is assigned to the U.S. Air Force 86th Air Wing.

February 4, 2021 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 22, 2021)

…Until the Paperwork’s Done.

(U.S. National Guard photo by Sergeant Chazz Kibler)

Soldiers in the Maryland Army National Guard use the backs of the soldiers in front of them to fill out medical paperwork to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the U.S. Capitol Complex in Washington, D.C., on January 14, 2021.

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from all 50 states states traveled to the District to provide support to federal and district authorities leading up to the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th president.

More than 26,000 members of the National Guard were on the ground in Washington to assist D.C. and federal authorities through the inauguration festivities. In addition, 6,565 Guard members provided security at state capitals across the nation.

Maryland was among the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia to deploy Guardsmen and women in Washington, according to the National Guard Bureau. A platoon-sized element of approximately 30 Soldiers from Guam flew  7,900 miles to Washington to assist in the operation.

The Guard has supported presidential inaugurations since 1789 when local militia units took part in George Washington’s inaugural events in New York City. But this year’s inaugural assistance was the “most extensive ever,” the Bureau said.

January 21, 2021 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 1, 2021)

Hard Core, Old School.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Michael Washburn)

The U.S. Air Force isn’t just about jets, missiles and drones. It’s about the power of human strength and intelligence, too.

The red berets these airmen are wearing means they are part of Air Force Special Operations — combat controllers and tactical air control party members, who wear scarlet berets and pararescuemen, who wear maroon ones — in short, commandos.  They fly, parachute or chopper into hostile environments — often behind enemy lines — to pave the way for other troops and aircraft operations.

And this is not a photo of ordinary morning PT exercises. Instead, it shows Staff Sergeant Alaxey Germanovich, a combat controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, leading Air Force and Army special operators in pushups following a ceremony where he received the Air Force Cross, a heroism award second only to the Medal of Honor.

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, presented the Air Force Cross to Germanovich during a December 10, 2020 ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, in New Mexico.

Germanovich was cited for his actions as the air-to-ground liaison for his special ops team during a fierce 2017 firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. His efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. After the award ceremony, Germanovich led the troops in pushups to commemorate the event, the firefight and the ultimate sacrifice paid during the clash by Army Staff Sergeant Mark De Alencar, a Special Forces Soldier assigned to the team in which the combat controller was also embedded.

January 1, 2021 at 7:00 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (December 11, 2020)

Brown Water Sailors.

(Photo by Michael Williams)

International students at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) participate in an exercise on Mississippi’s Pearl River, near the John C. Stennis Space Center on December 2, 2020.

These students are participating in the seven-week Patrol Craft Officer Riverine course, which is designed to provide Foreign Security Force personnel with the specialized training to plan and execute security actions in riverine and littoral environments. Missions in the rivers and shallows include supporting interdiction, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations . The current semester course includes representatives from the African nations of Chad, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo.

NAVSCIATTS is a security cooperation training command operating under U.S. Special Operations Command in support of Security Force Assistance and Geographic Combatant Commanders’ security cooperation priorities. To date, NAVSCIATTS has trained with more than 12,000 students from 121 partner nations.

December 11, 2020 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 20, 2020)

Stringing Along.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Dalton J. Payne)

U.S. Marines with the Third Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), conduct special patrol insertion/extraction and helicopter repel training at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan on October 23, 2020. T

hese Marines belong to the Expeditionary Operation Training Group (EOTG), which trains Marines before they are  attached to Marine Expeditionary Units, where they will be using these techniques. The UH-1Y helicopter is from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 (HMLA-469).

November 20, 2020 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 13, 2020)

Somewhere Over Asia.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Joey Swafford)

Refueling a fighter jet in the air is tough enough in daylight, but imagine how hard it must be to do at night.

We picked this photo because of the unusual scenery below these two aircraft. And since the official caption merely says the photo was taken over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, we doubt if they’ll share much more information about those brilliantly-lit geometric shapes on the ground.

U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (Image. Central Command)

This photo shows a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon receiving fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker on November 4, 2020.

November 14, 2020 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 30, 2020)

No Trick, Just Treats.

(U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sergeant Michael West)

A U.S. soldier serving in Operation Inherent Resolve offers a treat to a child while meeting with villagers in northeastern Syria on October 15, 2020.

While the aim of such visits is to strengthen ties with local folks, the troops that are part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve mission work in a dangerous neighborhood. If you click on the photo to enlarge the image, you’ll notice this soldier has in his vest, six spare clips of ammunition for his M-4 automatic weapon, and an additional clip or two for the pistol strapped to his hip.

The mission, according to the Army, is working by, with and through coalition members and partners in the area to ensure the defeat violent extremists of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh — and that they stay defeated.

Soldiers involved in the village meeting on the day this photo was taken were from the 1st Armored Division (1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team) and the 82nd Airborne Division (1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team).

October 30, 2020 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts Newer Posts


Posts

September 2022
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Categories


%d bloggers like this: