Posts tagged ‘Marine Corps’

AFRICA: Africa Command Tackling Violent Extremists and Other Challenges

Making Progress, but …

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills such as patrolling, offensive tactics, land navigation and mounted operations to aid in countering illicit trafficking.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills such as patrolling, offensive tactics, land navigation and mounted operations to aid in countering illicit trafficking.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

Africa’s security environment remains “dynamic and uncertain” with numerous countries through out the continent plagued by crime, corruption, as well as political and economic unrest, says the head of U.S. Africa Command.

Testifying today (March 26) before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army General David Rodriguez, AFRICOM’s commander, said the command has expanded collaboration with allies and partners to address the “growing threat in Libya, Mali and Nigeria” including “an increasingly cohesive network of al Qaeda affiliates a growing Islamic State (ISIL) … presence and Boko Haram.”

Rodriguez said al-Shabaab remains the primary security threat to U.S. interests in East Africa “despite progress by regional partners in liberating parts of southern and central Somalia from the group’s control.”  And in North and West Africa, Libyan and Nigerian insecurity “increasingly threaten U.S. interests. In spite of multinational security efforts, terrorist and criminal networks are gaining strength and interoperability,” he said.

Of five immediate priorities, the top two are countering violent extremism and enhancing stability in East Africa and in North and West Africa.

Rodriguez noted that AFRICOM’s engagement with partner nations has increased between Fiscal year 2013 and 2014.  “In Fiscal Year 2014, we conducted 68 operations, 11 major joint exercises, and 595 security cooperation activities,” he told the Senate hearing. By comparison, AFRICOM conducted “55 operations, 10 major joint exercises, and 481 security cooperation activities in Fiscal Year 2013.” But requirements are expanding faster than resources are increasing, he added.

More on this hearing later this weekend.

March 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Navy Commando Medic Awarded Silver Star for Heroism in Afghanistan

Corpsman Up!

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, was decorated with the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan April 25, 2013.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, was decorated with the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan April 25, 2013.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t have medics per se. Instead, their medical emergency needs aboard ship, back at base or on the battlefield are handled by sailors known as Hospital Corpsman.

These highly skilled and highly respected personnel don’t get as much attention as they should from this blog. But today is different.

Today (March 25) we learned one corpsman, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Baskin, was recently awarded the Silver Star Medal for valor during combat actions in Afghanistan.

A special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman (SARC) assigned to the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Baskin was awarded the Silver Star — the third-highest U.S. military decoration for valor — after saving the lives of four members of his unit, according to to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). SARCs are special operations-skilled trauma specialists who are trained in many of the commando skills of MARSOC operators including combatant scuba diving and parachute insertion.

Baskin was attached to Marine Special Operations Team 8224 with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion during the unit’s 2013 deployment to Herat province, Afghanistan, according to Marine Corps Times. On April 24, 2013, Baskin and his team members came under a barrage of enemy fire from insurgents near Kushe Village, in South Zereko Valley.  Disregarding his own safety, he ran through enemy fire, to provide aid to a wounded teammate. After stabilizing the wounded Marine and loading him into an evacuation vehicle, Baskin himself was shot in the back.

Baskin’s award citation reads, “Although wounded, he continued treating casualties while refusing medical treatment for his own injuries. Under intense fire, while simultaneously directing the evacuation of the wounded Marines, [Afghan National Army] partner forces and himself, he laid down suppressive fire until every team member had evacuated the kill zone. His actions ultimately saved the lives of four of his teammates.” 

SARC insignia (RekonDog via wikipedia)

SARC insignia
(RekonDog via wikipedia)

No matter where they serve, the Navy rating of hospital corpsman is the most decorated in the U.S. Navy with 22 Medals of Honor, 174 Navy Crosses. 31 Distinguished Service Medals, 949 Silver Stars and 1,582 Bronze Stars, according to wikipedia. Twenty naval ships have been named after hospital corpsman.

It is noteworthy that this all happened during Baskin’s second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His first tour, with the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, was cut short when he was wounded by fragments from a rocket-propelled grenade — earning him the first of two Purple Heart medals for wounds sustained in combat.

March 25, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 20, 2015)

Foreground, Background.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Gallagher/Released)

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean P. Gallagher

While Marines doing PT jog in the background, Sailors perform maintenance on an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) in the Pacific Ocean.

The sailors are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21. The Marines are with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Marines and sailors are training to coordinate, integrate and work together within the confines of the 844-foot-long,  40,000-ton ship before deployment.

According to the Navy, LHDs provide transportation, command and support for all elements of a Marine landing force of over 2,000 troops during an assault by air and amphibious craft.

Editor’s Note:

The one time we took a vacation on a cruise ship, we jogged on the top deck (dodging waiters, other joggers and small children). We can’t imagine what it must be like jogging on the flight deck of what’s essentially a busy, mini aircraft carrier.

March 20, 2015 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Seven MARSOC Marines Among 11 Aboard Missing Blackhawk

Lost in the Fog.

A UH-60 Black Hawk from the 1st Battalion 244th Assault elicopter Battalion, Louisiana National Guard,  flies over a mosque in Baghdad in February 2009. (U.S. Army photo)

A UH-60 Black Hawk from the 1st Battalion 244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Louisiana National Guard, flies over a mosque in Baghdad in February 2009.
(U.S. Army photo)

A U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed in the water during a routine exercise along the Florida coast near Eglin Air Force Base, according to the Pentagon and new outlets.

The wreckage of the chopper, which disappeared in heavy fog Tuesday (March 10), was discovered in the waters off Florida’s Panhandle on Wednesday (March 11). There were apparently no survivors on the Blackhawk, which carried a flight crew of four Army National Guardsmen and seven Marine commandos from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

All 11 service members aboard the aircraft are believed dead, and the operation has transitioned from search and rescue to recovery, an Air Force official said Thursday (March 12), CNN reported.

The helicopter was attached to the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion based at Hammond, Louisiana. They were participating in a routine night training mission involving the Marine Special Operations Regiment from Camp Lejeune, officials said. A second Louisiana Guard Blackhawk participating in the same training exercise returned to base safely, the Guard said.

At a March 11 news conference, Major  General Glenn H. Curtis, the Adjutant General for the Louisiana National Guard, said the Black Hawk pilots had thousands of hours of flight experience and were “instructor pilots,” indicating they were experienced and qualified enough to train other pilots, the Washington Post reported. According to Curtis, it is one of the highest designations pilots in the Army can receive.

The Marines on board the downed helicopter were members of the Marine Special Operations Regiment, a unit of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

March 12, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 6, 2015)

And This is Just Practice.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Justin T. Updegraff

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Justin T. Updegraff

You’ve seen it dozens of times in the movies and on TV. A SWAT team or commando group blows up a door and then rushes in to save hostages or take down the bad guys. Well, here is what it really looks like.

U.S. Marines seek shelter behind a blast blanket as detonation cord ignites, blowing the door in and giving them a clear passage to make their way into the building during an urban breaching course, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. on (Tuesday) March 3, 2015. For each breach, the Marines would stack up behind a blast blanket, which allows them to stand closer to the blast by protecting them from shrapnel and debris.

The Marines in the photo are assigned to the Mobility Assault Company, of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.

March 6, 2015 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 20, 2015)

Desert Lights.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal William Hester

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal William Hester

A U.S. Marine Corps assault amphibious vehicle (AAV) pauses during the Integrated Training Exercise 2-15 Tank Mechanized Assault Course (TMAC) at Marine Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. AAVs are used to get infantry in the fight fast. But they are an aging technology that has been part of the Corps since the early 1970s. The AAVs used during the TMAC are with Company D, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. 

(Click on the photo to see enlarged image.)

February 20, 2015 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 6, 2015)

Cold Plunge.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal  Charles Santamaria

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Charles Santamaria

Marine Corps Staff Sergeant John Freeseha begins singing the Marines’ Hymn after completing a plunge into freezing water during an ice-breaker drill.

The drill — plunging chest deep into icy cold water and then dragging oneself  out using ski poles — is part of the Winter Mountain Leaders Course at Levitt Lake on Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California.

To see other photos of this grueling survival exercise click here and here.

Once students got out of the water, they sprinted to the warming tents, where they stripped off their wet clothing and put on dry clothes to restore the body’s normal temperature.

The six-week course, which began January 5 and is scheduled to end February 18, is designed to train Marines on what to expect in a cold weather environment.

February 6, 2015 at 8:09 am Leave a comment

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