Posts tagged ‘Navy’

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (February 22-28, 1815)

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ink and watercolor by John Rubens Smith. [circa 1814]

Ink and watercolor by John Rubens Smith. [circa 1814]

The war of 1812 is officially over but there are still a few chess moves to complete before the game is up. For instance, British troops in Canada haven’t gotten the word yet about the Treaty of Ghent

However, none of these events occurred this week.

Instead, we thought we’d share the list of books that have informed this weekly blog post for nearly three years.

1812: The War that Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman, 2004. Making sense and nation-building in “Mr. Madison’s War.”

1812: The Navy’s War by George C. Daughan, 2011. Despite its title, a detailed account of the war on land and sea.

Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence by A.J. Langguth, 2007. Profiles of the war’s winners and losers.

The Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord, 1972. The firts book we read on the War of 1812, an accessible, popular history.

Through the Perilous Flight: Six Weeks That Saved The Nation by Steve Vogel, 2013.  A Washington Post writer brings a historian’s eye and a reporter’s writing to the story of the battles that didn’t destroy the United States.

Our Flag Was Still There: The Sea History Press Guide to the War of 1812 by William H. White, 2012. As one would expect, lots of naval history, but key incidents on land are not ignored. Very accessible and simple.

The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory by Robert V. Remini, 1999.  Simply the best book on this momentuous battle.

Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars by Robert V. Remini, 2001. The Indians of the Southeast called him “Sharp Knife,” and it wasn’t a compliment.

Patriotic Fire, Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans by Winston Groom, 2006. Groom plugs some of the holes in Reminis ‘s battle narrative, and brings some insight — and interesting facts about the pirate who saved America.

This post isn’t the end of THIS WEEK in the War of 1812. There are still the formalities of war: turning over captured territory; determining the fate of captured privateers; seamen rioting in a notorious British prison, rising stars and shattered careers. And much more …!

February 24, 2015 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (February 15-February 21, 1815) [Update]

Peace.

COLUMBIAN CENTINEL, Boston, Massachusetts, February 22, 1815

COLUMBIAN CENTINEL, Boston, Massachusetts, February 22, 1815

Updates to add details to items on Harford Convention and USS Constitution and correct number of canon balls embedded in Constitution’s hull.

February 15-18, Washington City

The day after the peace treaty (already ratified by the British) arrives in Washington, President James Madison submits it to the Senate, which under the Constitution, must ratify all treaties for them to take effect. On February 16, the Senate ratifies the treaty unanimously — even though it does not resolve any of the issues that led to war: the impressment of American sailors by the Royal Navy; British attempts to incite Native Americans in the Upper Midwest against U.S. settlements; freedom of the seas for U.S. naval and merchant vessels. Instead both sides agree to return to borders and boundaries before the war: the British will evacuate Maine and the areas of the Upper Midwest they have seized and the United States will relinquish the bit of Upper Canada (Ontario) it captured.

Madison signs to treaty and on February 18 proclaims the United States and Great Britain are at peace officially. The war declared by the U.S. Congress on June 18 1812 is finally over.

Sometime between the word of Jackson’s victory at New Orleans and the delivery of the peace treaty, delegates from the Hartford Convention in New England arrived in Washington. They had  with them proposals hashed out in private in Hartford, Connecticut in late December 1814-to-early January 1815. All the New England states (except and Maine which was still a part of Massachusetts and not yet a state in its own right), sent at  least one delegate to Hartford. Secret_Journal_of_the_Hartford_Convention

New Englanders, mostly members of the Federalist Party, were disturbed that the war, which they did not support, was ruining their economy — especially maritime commerce after the British extended their naval blockade to New England.  They also felt that the Southern and new Western states and the Democratic-Republican Party were taking over the country and its political system. While there were brief discussions about possible secession from the union, it was not taken seriously. Instead, delegates drew up several proposed amendments to the Constitution. They ranged from requiring a two-thirds majority vote for all future declarations of war to limiting presidents to one term and ending the three-fifths compromise language of 1787, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of both representation in Congress and the direct taxation of states. Another proposal would have barred men from the same state from succeeding each other as president.  (Except for Massachusetts’ John Adams, every U.S. president up until then had hailed from Virginia — including pro-war-with-Britain Thomas Jefferson and Madison).  With the war with Britain over, and patriotic fervor at a fever pitch following the victory at  New Orleans, the Hartford Convention’s ideas are ignored or laughed off in Washington.

February 20, Off the West Coast of Africa

The 44-gun frigate USS Constitution, unaware that peace has come, plies the South Atlantic looking to disrupt British commerce. Four days after the peace treaty is ratified,  the fabled ship — known as “Old Ironsides” encounters two Royal Navy ships, the 34-gun HMS Cyane and the 21-gun HMS Levant off the coast of Africa.

USS Constitution takes on HM Cyane and HMS Levant. (usconstitutionmuseum.org)

USS Constitution takes on HMS Cyane and HMS Levant.
(usconstitutionmuseum.org) C

Constitution’s captain, Charles Stewart, first defeats, Cyane, and after a running gun battle, Levant strikes her colors. The British ships suffer about 40 killed and 80 wounded, while Constitution’s  losses are four killed and 11 wounded. Constitution suffers little damage although 12  32-pound British canon balls are found  embedded in Old Ironsides’ hull — but none penetrated the ship’s interior.

Stewart  places some of his officers and crew aboard the two British ships to sail them back to the United States as prizes of war. But after a stop in the Cape Verde Islands, Constitution and her two prizes encounter a three-ship British squadron, which re-captures Levant. But Stewart and his other prize get away. Cyane reaches a U.S. port in April. Constitution continues its raiding cruise but during a stop in Brazil to drop off her British prisoners, Stewart hears a rumor the war may be over and sets sail for America, arriving in New York May 15.

Following the rules of the day, Cyane is ruled a prize of war and not returned to Britain, but renamed USS Cyane and absorbed into the U.S. Navy.

February 16, 2015 at 12:58 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Nordic Defense Worries; Special Ops Up North; Alaska Oil Fight; Canadian Patrol Boats

Russia’s Nordic Neighbors Worried.

A Swedish JAS-39 Gripen during a flight exercise in 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Christopher Mesnard)

A Swedish JAS-39 Gripen during a flight exercise in 2013.
(U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Christopher Mesnard)

Sweden’s military is trying to get the country’s new government to boost long-term defense spending by adding as much as $620 million.

Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine and suspicions that unidentified underwater craft violating Sweden’s territorial waters in late 2014 were Russian have onvinced military planners that more defense spending is needed to acquire needed upgrades to fighter aircraft and submarines., as well as financing military exercises, according to Defense News.  Unlike all its Baltic and North Sea neighbors (except Finland), Sweden is not a member of NATO.

The Armed Forces Command (AFC) is pushing the newly elected socialist-green government to add between $380 million and $620 million to the spending plan, which is set at about $5.5 billion in 2015. The AFC’s position is that $380 million is the absolute bare minimum amount required to cover the Swedish Armed Force’s basic needs in operations and procurement in 2015-2020.  Defense chief General Sverker Göransson has warned the government that if the annual budget remains at $5.5 billion, the armed forces could not finance key or even small scale programs, such as the next-generation Gripen fighter or submarine modernization projects. Meanwhile, funds would be stretched to pay for equipment for soldiers, multi-branch military exercises or vehicles.

Sweden’s Parliamentary Defense Committee roundly supports increasing the defense budget, Defense News said.

Meanwhile, the other non-NATO in the High North may be drawing closer to the Western alliance.

According to Alaska News Dispatch, a recent poll in Finland shows  63 percent of Finns surveyed say that an advisory referendum would be the best way to decide whether or not Finland should join NATO.

In the poll, commissioned by Yle and carried out by Taloustutkimus Research, 63 percent respondents supported a referendum — even if the president, government and a majority of parliamentarians hold the same view regarding NATO membership. Only 27 percent of respondents felt that Parliament should make the NATO membership decision.

Ten percent of respondents said they did not know how the matter should be decided.  Just over one thousand people were polled between December 29 and January 8.

The strongest referendum supporters were Finns Party and Left Alliance voters. The conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) and Swedish Peoples Party were least enthusiastic about the idea. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that a solid majority of Finns are against joining NATO, so a referendum would be unlikely to rubber-stamp membership, the Dispatch noted.

*** *** ***

USSOCOM-Norway

Two members of the Norwegian Naval Special Operations Command.  (Photo by Torbjørn Kjosvold, Norwegian Armed Forces)

Two members of the Norwegian Naval Special Operations Command.
(Photo by Torbjørn Kjosvold, Norwegian Armed Forces)

WASHINGTON – The head of U.S. Special Operations Command and top theater commanders will be going to Norway soon to discuss how to deal with aggressive Russian behavior in the Arctic region.

Norway, a NATO member that shares a  195.7-kilometer (121.6 mile) land border with Russia, announced in December it was suspending bilateral military activities with Russia — because of Russia’s aggressive activities in Ukraine — until the end of 2015. “Military bilateral cooperation has been suspended since March 2014, since the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilization in eastern Ukraine,” said a press release from Norway’s Ministry of Defense

Army General Joseph Votel said the main concern is “Russia and its coercive activities” in the Arctic. “It’s important to engage and understand what’s happening out there and understand the spaces in which they can exert their influence,” he told a SOF-industry conference last week (January 27).

To that end, Votel said he and U.S. SOF commanders (probably from Northern Command, European Command and Pacific Command – which all border the Arctic) will meet in a few weeks with their Norwegian counterparts who are “paying significant attention to this.” Norway, a member of NATO, is one of five nations that border the Arctic. The others are Canada, Denmark (which controls Greenland), the United States and Russia.

Russia has been taking increasingly aggressive steps to assert control in the Arctic where the rapid melting of sea ice is expected to open access to the polar region — which is projected to contain 25 percent of the world’s untapped oil, as well as other valuable minerals. To see more, click here.

*** *** ***

 Obama-Arctic

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to increase environmental protections for millions of acres of pristine animal habitat in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, in a move that has already led to fierce opposition from the state’s Republican lawmakers.

The White House announced last week (January 25) that Obama would ask Congress to designate 12 million of the refuge’s 19 million acres as wilderness. The wilderness designation is the strongest level of federal protection afforded to public lands, and would forbid a range of activity that includes drilling for oil and gas and construction of roads. If the proposal is enacted, the area would be the largest wilderness designation since Congress passed the Wilderness Act over 50 years ago. But the proposal seems unlikely to find support in Congress, according to the New York Times.

The policy won’t have much effect on the nation’s oil production—Alaska accounts for only 7 percent of it, and most of the protected areas have been off-limits to industry for decades. And it didn’t really change the status quo or offer anywhere near the environmental protection the president could have conveyed. But he sure ticked off some Alaskans, according to National Geographic.

*** *** ***

Slush Breakers?

The design of the Canadian patrol boats will be modeled on this Norwegian Coast Guard vessel class: NoCGV Svalbard. (Photo by Marcusroos via wikipedia)

The design of the Canadian patrol boats will be modeled on this Norwegian Coast Guard vessel class: NoCGV Svalbard.
(Photo by Marcusroos via wikipedia)

Already five years behind schedule, Canada is finally getting underway with the construction of a small fleet of Arctic patrol boats to project a Canadian military presence in the High North where melting sea ice is opening up new maritime shipping routes – and access to underground riches.

The $3.2 billion ($3.5 billion Canadian) project will produce five ships – down from a planned eight vessels. But critics complain that none of the vessels will be ice breakers, as originally planned, and none will have landing craft equipped with an over-the-snow ground vehicle, according to Defense News. The ships weaponry is also said to be scaled back. Some critics in the military have called the planned ships “slush-breakers” since they won’t be able to break through heavy Arctic ice.

The ship-building plan was originally announced in 2007 by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The patrol vessels were supposed to be in the water by 2013. Under the new deal, construction will begin in September, with the first ship ready by 2018. The last ship is expected to be delivered by 2022, according to the builder, Canada’s Irving Shipbuilding. Lockheed Martin is set to supply the onboard combat systems.

“The Arctic offshore patrol ships will enable us to become a truly Arctic, rather than just northern, Navy with the capability to operate in the Canadian Arctic archipelago on a sustained and persistent basis,” Vice Admiral Mark Norman, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy told a naval conference in October, Defense News said.

*** *** ***

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the Arctic. The U.S. “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” describes the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic Region.” Those interests include national security needs, protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening “international cooperation on a wide range of issues.”

Polar bears explore a surfaced U.S. submarine in the Arctic. U.S. Navy photo. (Click on the image to enlarge)

Polar bears explore a surfaced U.S. submarine in the Arctic. U.S. Navy photo.
(Click on the image to enlarge)

 

February 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: USSOCOM Chief to Meet With Norwegians on Arctic Tensions

Special Ops in the Arctic.

The Norwegian Brigade North advances during a live-fire exercise in the Setermoen Shooting Range during exercise Cold Response. The heavy Leopard 2 main battle tanks in the background. (Photo by Simen Rudi, Norwegian Armed Forces)

The Norwegian Brigade North advances during a live-fire exercise in the Setermoen Shooting Range during exercise Cold Response in 2014. The heavy Leopard 2 main battle tanks in the background.
(Photo by Simen Rudi, Norwegian Armed Forces)

WASHINGTON – The head of U.S. Special Operations Command and top theater commanders will be going to Norway soon to discuss how to deal with aggressive Russian behavior in the Arctic region.

Army General Joseph Votel said the main concern is “Russia and its coercive activities” in the Arctic. “It’s important to engage and understand what’s happening out there and understand the spaces in which they [special operations forces (SOF)] can exert their influence,” he told a SOF-industry conference last week (January 27).

To that end, Votel said he and U.S. SOF regional commanders (probably from Northern Command, European Command and Pacific Command – which all border the Arctic) will meet in a few weeks with their Norwegian counterparts who are “paying significant attention to this.” Norway, a member of NATO, is one of five nations that border the Arctic. The others are Canada, Denmark (which controls Greenland), the United States and Russia.

Russia has been taking increasingly aggressive steps to assert control in the Arctic where the rapid melting of sea ice is expected to open access to the polar region — which is projected to contain 25 percent of the world’s untapped oil, as well as other valuable minerals.

In 2007, a Russian mini sub deposited a metal Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole. Russia’s new military doctrine, signed by President Vladimir Putin in December, calls for a more aggressive stance toward NATO and boosting its military presence in the Arctic. Those plans include setting up an Arctic Strategic Command and opening 14 operational airfields in the Arctic by the end of 2015.

Sweden has tracked unidentified undersea vehicles – believed to be Russian submarines — violating their territory. In December, a Russian military aircraft flying with radar-evading stealth technology nearly crashed into a commercial passenger plane taking off from Copenhagen, Denmark. In April, Russian fighter jets carried out a simulated bombing raid on Stockholm, Sweden’s capital.

Add to these incidents Russia’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and ongoing fighting between Ukraine’s military and Russian-supported separatists and  U.S. military leaders and their NATO allies have reasons to be concerned.

“I consider this a current and future challenge for us,” Army General Joseph Votel, SOCOM’s commander, told the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium & Exhibition. He conceded that the harsh Arctic environment poses a different challenge after more than a dozen years fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is something we can deal with. While we have engaged in the Middle East, we have not forgotten about the other areas,” Votel said, adding that with industry’s help “I feel confident we would be able to address that relatively quickly.”

Army Gen. and U.S> SOCOM  commander Joseph Votel. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Army Gen. and U.S> SOCOM commander Joseph Votel.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

On other issues, Votel said the flow of foreign fighters joining the violent extremist organization styling itself an Islamic State “is staggering.” IS (also called ISIS and ISIL) has attracted more than 19,000 foreigners from 90 different countries to fight with them in Syria and Iraq, he noted. Counter terrorism experts at the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security worry about the threat these fighters pose when they return home to countries in the West.

Votel said SOCOM and law enforcement were also seeing “a growing nexus” between terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations because the crime groups’ ability to move money, people and weapons across borders is very attractive to terrorists. While officials don’t fully understand how these networks interact yet, what is known is “the more they cooperate, the greater the threat,” Votel said.

The SOCOM commander and Army Ranger added that airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance-gathering “remains one of our chief concerns.”

SOCOM is “a global synchronizer of SOF forces, focusing on activities ranging from counter terrorism to foreign internal defense and from unconventional warfare to combatting weapons of mass destruction,” Votel added

February 1, 2015 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 30, 2015)

Molto Impressionante!

Defense Dept. photo by D. Myles Cullen

Defense Dept. photo by D. Myles Cullen

U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walks with his Italian counterpart Admiral Luigi Binelli-Mantelli during a pass and review ceremony in Rome on January 19.

Make sure you click on the photo to enlarge the image and get a good look at the spectacular uniforms of this Italian honor guard: red and white ostrich feather plumes, Napoleonic hats, white gloves, sashes and gaiters, shakos, capes, boots and lances! The general and the admiral aren’t doing too badly themselves in the brass and gold braid department.

Dempsey stopped in Italy to meet with Binelli-Mantelli and Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti on his way to NATO meetings in Brussels. Fighting terrorism and countering Russia’s aggressive behavior in Ukraine were key topics of discussion.

Italy has made major contributions to NATO and United Nations international missions, Dempsey said. Thousands of Italian troops are currently deployed in Iraq, Kosovo, the Horn of Africa, and with the United Nations mission in Lebanon. Italy and the United States are the top contributors of on-the-ground trainers and advisors with the Kurds and Iraqis in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/IS extremists, defense officials noted.

To see more photos, click here.

January 30, 2015 at 12:03 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Still Gung-ho on “Iron Man”-like Protective Suit

TALOS Project.

Testing preliminary TALOS prototype technologies. (Courtesy of Revision Military).

Testing preliminary TALOS prototype technologies. Note the lower body support.
(Courtesy of Revision Military).

WASHINGTON — Despite uncertain defense funding and a Pentagon strategy shift to get partner nation militaries to take a more direct role in commando operations, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), is still bullish on developing a lightweight ballistic protective suit for American forces.

Army General Joseph Votel has dispelled any speculation that support for the Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit (TALOS), may have waned since he took over as commander of SOCOM from Navy Admiral William McRaven, the super suit’s biggest booster. The futuristic commando body armor has been likened to the suit worn by the superhero, “Iron Man,” a characterization SOCOM has not discouraged – although TALOS won’t be able to fly.

Votel, an Army Ranger, told a defense industry-special operations conference Tuesday (January 27) that SOCOM’s goal remains to have a deployable suit ready for field testing a little over three years from now.

“Although many significant challenges remain, our goal of a Mark V prototype suit by August 2018 is on track right now,” Votel told the first day of the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium and Exhibition. The two-day gathering, sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), discusses the strategic and tactical needs of special operations forces (SOF) to fight small wars and prevent them from becoming big ones.

The TALOS suit, as envisioned by McRaven, will provide ballistic protection with advanced, lightweight armor and sensors to monitor the wearer’s heart rate, temperature and other vital signs. Using an integrated system of systems combiningg sensors, communications equipment and an electrically-powered exoskeleton, TALOS advocates say it will not only protect SOF troops but will make them run faster, hear and see better and carry heavy loads without excessive fatigue. “If we do TALOS right,” McRaven told the SO/LIC conference last year, “it will provide a huge comparative advantage over our enemies and give our warriors the protection they need.” McRaven, a Navy SEAL, retired from the military in August.

“TALOS was charted to explore and catalyze a revolutionary integration of advanced technologies to provide comprehensive ballistic protection, peerless tactical capabilities and ultimately enhance the strategic effectiveness of the SOF operator of the future,” Votel said in his keynote address at the annual NDIA gathering.

Two early prototype suits, MK I with an early exoskeleton design, and MK II an assault suit, were delivered to SOCOM headquarters at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida in June. SOCOM is working on TALOS with input from the Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency, the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command and the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center – as well as numerous corporations, universities and national laboratories.

January 28, 2015 at 1:06 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Leaders to Speak at Industry Conference and Expo

SO/LIC.

Air Force special tactics forces navigate their Zodiac

Air Force special tactics forces navigate in a Zodiac boat.  (U.S. Air Force photo.)

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and the civilian executive in charge of the command’s equipment acquisition will be among the speakers at this year’s Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium and Exhibition this week in Washington.

Sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA), the gathering brings together Special Operations leaders from all the U.S. armed services and several foreign countries, as well as industry, foreign embassies and academics to discuss the role of Special Operations Forces in a rapidly changing world.

U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, SOCOM’s new commander is slated to be the keynote speaker Tuesday (January 27), the gathering’s first full day. Later Tuesday, Michael Dumont, a civilian and principal deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) will be the luncheon speaker.

On Wednesday, attendees will hear from James “Hondo” Geurts, SOCOM’s acquisition executive, who is expected to outline what products are required to meet the needs of troops involved in SO/LIC activities.

Members of the U.S.  Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines work side-by-side with Philippine troops in a non-combat, training and advisory role to battle terrorists.  (Defense Dept. photo)

Members of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines work side-by-side with Philippine troops in a non-combat, training and advisory role to battle terrorists.
(Defense Dept. photo)

As in past gatherings, money constraints are expected to be a hot topic as SOCOM deals with terrorism in Africa and the Middle East, countering ISIS and training local defense forces in places like Latin America. Special Operations Forces number about 67,000 — one of the fastest growing segments of the military. American SOF are working as trainers and observers at any given time in 90 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, Colombia and the Philippines. Their portfolio also includes rescuing hostages or capturing leaders of violent extremist organizations .

Special Operations Forces include Army Green Berets, Rangers and Special Ops aviators, Navy SEALS and Special Warfare Combatant-craft crews, Air Force Pararescue jumpers and combat air controllers, Marine Corps Corps critical skills operators and special operations combat services specialists.

January 26, 2015 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

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