Posts tagged ‘soft power’

FRIDAY FOTO (May 13, 2022)

DEEP BLUE.

(Canadian Armed Forces Photo by Corporal Hugo Montpetit, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

Members from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic and Pacific, assisted by U.S. Army Divers train Caribbean divers in search techniques training during Exercise TRADEWINDS 22 in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize on May 10, 2022.

To watch a video of this training exercise, click here, but you may want to skip it if you’re prone to seasickness.

May 13, 2022 at 1:14 am Leave a comment

LAT AM: SOUTHCOM Command Change; Regional Deal on Amazon Forests

First Female Commander for SOUTHCOM.

U.S. Southern Command has changed leaders and the new chief, U.S. Army General Laura Richardson, is the first woman to head the sprawling geographic combatant command.

U.S. Army General Laura J. Richardson, assumes command from Defense Secretary Lloyd  Austin at SOUTHCOM Headquarters in Doral, Florida, Oct. 29, 2021.  (SOUTHCOM photo by Master Sergeant Stephen J. Caruso)

In a command change ceremony October 29 at SOUTHCOM headquarters in Doral, Florida, Navy Admiral Craig Faller, turned over U.S. military responsibility for the Latin American and Caribbean regions to Richardson. The 57-year-old general is only the second woman, after Air Force General Lori Robinson, to lead a geographic combatant command.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the ceremony as did several dignitaries from the region, including Colombia’s Minister of National Defense Diego Molano.

Austin congratulated Molano on the recent capture of Colombia’s most-wanted cartel leader, Dario Antonio Úsaga (alias Otoniel). The two defense leaders discussed deepening cooperation on strategic issues including Colombia’s contributions to global and regional security, migration, cyber defense, and intelligence. They also stressed the importance of respect for democracy and human rights in all aspects of the bilateral defense relationship, according to the Pentagon.

SOUTHCOM is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation in its assigned area of responsibility which includes Central America (but not Mexico), South America and the Caribbean.

During the war in Iraq, Richardson commanded an assault helicopter battalion and flew missions to support troops on the ground, Austin noted. She later commanded U.S. Army North, before taking command of SOUTHCOM. “There isn’t a crisis that she can’t handle,” Austin said.

Reflecting on his nearly three years at SOUTHCOM, Faller noted that democracies in the Western Hemisphere have been under assault from a vicious circle of threats, the Tampa Bay Times reported. They include corruption, climate change, COVID-19, major hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes, and transnational criminal organizations as well as “the corrosive, malign influence of the People’s Republic of China.”

*** *** ***

Curbing Amazon Deforestation.

The week before the SOUTHCOM ceremony, after high-level talks in Colombia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a regional partnership to address deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

“We’ll give much-needed financial assistance to help manage protected areas and Indigenous territories, and we’ll help scale up low-carbon agricultural practices to farmers throughout the Amazon,” Blinken said October 21, in the capital, Bogota, the VoA website reported.

“This new regional partnership will help prevent up to 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere while capturing another 52,000 metric tons of carbon, and we estimate it will save — save — more than 45,000 hectares of forest,” he added.

Deforestation in the Maranhão state of Brazil, in 2016. (Photo by Ibama from Brasil – Operação Hymenaea, Julho/2016, via wikipedia)

The Amazon spans eight countries in South America, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The Amazon and other rainforests are crucial because they take in carbon dioxide and produce about one-fifth of the world’s oxygen. About a third of Colombia is in the Amazon.

October 31, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

PLANET A: Glasgow Climate Change Conference; Climate Risk Analysis by DoD, ONI

Climate Meeting in Glasgow.

World leaders, including President Joe Biden, will gather in Scotland Sunday (October 31, 2021) to discuss the threat posed by climate change, its ramifications and — hopefully — what more to do about it.

Known as the Conference of Parties or COP26, the 26th United Nations annual climate change summit, it will run for two weeks. This year’s summit will focus on negotiations to limit emissions, and could be “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control,” according to the summit’s website.

The meeting comes just a week after several U.S. government agencies, including the Defense Department, have issued reports expressing their concerns about the fallout from climate change — severe weather has caused billions of dollars in damage to U.S. military installations, like Tyndall Air Force Base on Florida’s panhandle and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, on coastal North Carolina. Other military bases on Guam in the Pacific are vulnerable to rising seas.

Damaged aircraft hangar at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, following Hurricane Florence in 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Allie Erenbaum )

And that’s not all, Pentagon planers are concerned that droughts, sea rise, ever fiercer cyclones and hurricanes will spawn massive migrations as people seek food, water, shelter and employment that could overwhelm other nations and spark political unrest and violence.

The Pentagon’s Climate Risk Analysis notes:

Climate change is reshaping the geostrategic, operational, and tactical environments with significant implications for U.S. national security and defense. Increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are exacerbating existing risks and creating new security challenges for U.S. interests.

“Climate migration is absolutely affecting the United States directly, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told  NPR in an interview October 26. In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America, “where farmers can’t grow crops, their traditional approaches to sustaining livelihood are very challenged. We’ve also seen that happen, of course, from Africa going up into Europe, other regions of the world,” she said.

*** *** ***

DOD Won’t be There.

Defense Department officials will not be attending the global climate conference in Scotland, the Defense One website reports.

Defense Department spokesman John Kirby told Defense One that no one from the Defense Department will accompany the president, but said officials “remain hard at work building climate resilience throughout the department and the force.”

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, and Joseph Bryan, the Defense Department’s senior advisor for climate, are participating in an event Friday (October 28) at the New America think tank to talk about the Pentagon’s new climate report.

*** *** ***

National Intelligence Estimate.

Another government report, by the National Intelligence Council finds that “climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to US national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge.”

An overloaded Haitian vessel with interdicted stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard on September 14, 2021, during extensive migrant interdiction operations in support of Operation Southeast Watch. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christian Homer)

The report, which examines climate change risks to U.S. nation security through 2040 arrived at three key judgments:

Geopolitical tensions are likely to grow as countries increasingly argue about how to accelerate the reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions that will be needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Debate will center on who bears more responsibility to act and to pay—and how quickly—and countries will compete to control resources and dominate new technologies needed for the clean energy transition.

–The increasing physical effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate cross-border geopolitical flashpoints as states take steps to secure their interests.

Scientific forecasts indicate that intensifying physical effects of climate change out to 2040 and beyond will be most acutely felt in developing countries, which we assess are also the least able to adapt to such changes. These physical effects will increase the potential for instability and possibly internal conflict in these countries, in some cases creating additional demands on US diplomatic, economic, humanitarian, and military resources.

*** *** ***

PLANET A is a new, occasional posting on climate change and the global impact it is having national security and the U.S. military. The name is derived from activists who warn that climate change is an urgent threat to the world because there is no Plan B to fix it — nor a Planet B to escape to.

October 27, 2021 at 11:58 pm 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..

*** *** ***

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.

*** *** ***

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 (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

FRIDAY FOTO (August 6, 2016)

Tree People.

FRIFO 8-6-2016 African Trees

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt

U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division cross some unusual terrain in Senegal West Africa. And, no, we don’t know for sure what kind of trees those are. Maybe baobab?

The troops were participating in a platoon-sized live-fire exercise during Africa Readiness Training 16 exercise in Thies, Senegal last month.

These soldiers are with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

To see more photos of Africa Readiness training 16, click here.

 

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August 6, 2016 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

SEASON’S GREETINGS: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines Show Holiday Spirit

Simon Says Do This.

 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan B)

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke

Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Godson Bagnabana supervises inflation of an inflatable snowman on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) at Yokosuka, Japan, December 17, 2015.

Young Santa.

U.S. Navy photo by Grady T. Fontana

U.S. Navy photo by Grady T. Fontana

Joe Gutierrez hands out gifts to students during a community outreach event at an elementary school in Chanthaburi, Thailand, December 21, 2015. Gutierrez, a midshipman cadet from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, is assigned to the USNS Walter S. Diehl.

Military Sealift Command Far East along with partners in Singapore donated more than 1,200 English books to the Pong Nam Ron, Pliu and Ban Trok Nong elementary schools. To see more photos from this event, click here.

Fun and Games.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melanye E. Martinez

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melanye E. Martinez

U.S. Marines, sailors, and soldiers play games at an early Christmas celebration with Romanian children at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, December 19, 2015. To see more photos from this event, click here.

Santa Wears Combat Boots.

U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

Alaska National Guardsmen and other volunteers deliver boxes of donated food and presents to the residents of St. Mary’s, Alaska, during Operation Santa Claus, December 5, 2015.

Nobody Gets Coal Here.

Air Force photo by Andrew Pena.

U.S. Air Force photo by Andrew Pena.

Service members and volunteers from approximately 30 groups and organizations came together to bring holiday cheer during Operation Santa Claus to the village of St. Mary’s, Alaska, Dec. 5, 2015. This year marks the 59th year of the program, which serves to bring Christmas to underserved, remote villages across Alaska each year. To see more photos from this event, click here.

Toys for Tots.

U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

Marine Corps Sergeant Mauricio Sandoval, front, and Master Gunnery Sergeant Jason Milbery, drive snowmobiles between McGrath and Takotna, Alaska, during Toys for Tots, December 10, 2015. Sandoval and Milbery are assigned to Delta Company, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion and 2nd Maintenance Battalion. To see more photos of this event, click here.

Seranading Seniors.

 New Jersey Air National Guard photo by Master Sergeant Mark C. Olsen

New Jersey Air National Guard photo by Master Sergeant Mark C. Olsen

U.S. airmen sing along with fourth graders from the Seaview School in Linwood, New Jersey, during the 15th Annual Holiday “Songfest” at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Vineland, N.J., Dec. 16, 2015. To see more photos from this event, click here.

December 28, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA/COUNTER TERRORISM: U.S. Troops Helping African Forces in Fight with Boko Haram

New Drone base.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline rewritten to clarify U.S. forces not engaged in combat, just aiding ISR effort.

Cameroon (CIA World Factbook)

Cameroon
(CIA World Factbook)

The United States has quietly sent hundreds of troops to West Africa, to help Cameroon’s army hunt the terrorists along the Nigerian border, according to a CBS News report Wednesday (December 16).

They’re searching for Boko Haram, the extremist group that has aligned itself with the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIl and Daesh). Boko Harma has killed more than 20,000 people in the region, mostly in Nigeria, over the past six years.

Cameroon is getting help from the U.S. military, which is setting up another drone base in Africa. Cameroon soldiers are learning how to use their own unarmed drones for surveillance. The U.S. base won’t be fully operational until next month, CBS says.

“The U.S. is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the Cameroonian forces,” Army Captain Victor Guzman told CBS News. He said the plan is for the Cameroonian troops to take the lead and fight the local threat.

The United States started unarmed drone surveillance flights out of Niger, to the north of Cameroon, in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali.

December 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: U.N. Seeks $2 Billion to Head Off Desert Migration Crisis

Sahel Imperiled.

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

The United Nations is seeking a record $2 billion in aid for North Africa’s Sahel region to counter poverty, insecurity and climate change that could tip the area over, generating a new wave of mass migration, Reuters reported Wednesday (December 9).

The U.N. has increased its appeal for the nine countries of the semiarid band stretching from Senegal on the Atlantic to Eritrea on the Red Sea more than tenfold over the last 10 years, but funding has fallen short each year.

Attacks by militants from the radical Islamist group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin, as well as efforts by regional armies to counter them, have already forced 2.5 million people to flee their homes — a figure that has tripled in 12 months, according to Reuters.

Toby Lanzer, a U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator, noted the thousands of refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East flooding into Europe. “Eventually, you are going to have thousands or tens of thousands of people [from the Sahel] who will seek opportunities elsewhere or, if worse comes to the worst, be forced to flee,” he told Reuters.

A portion of the 2016 funding, part of a $20.1 billion record U.N. humanitarian appeal, will also go toward education, which Lanzer hopes will encourage young girls to finish schooling and cap population growth in a region ill-equipped to cope with a forecast sixfold increase in population by 2100.

The biggest recipient in 2016 will be Chad with $567 million, which has suffered a series of Boko Haram suicide bombings in recent months, followed by Mali with $354 million and Niger with $316 million. Other countries in the Sahel include Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Sudan

The refugee appeal comes just a day after U.N. Security Council appealed for greater international security cooperation and more humanitarian aid to bring stability to sub-Saharan Africa.

Concern about terrorist safe havens in Libya and the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, are at the heart of the Security Council’s warning.

In a presidential statement issued two weeks after the top U.N. regional official warned that the sub-Saharan Sahel region will become fertile ground for recruiting terrorists among its tens of millions of disadvantaged people, the 15-member Council called for a dual policy of combatting terrorism and its havens while eliminating its root causes through aid and development.

December 9, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 20, 2015)

Golden Light/Green Beret.

New York National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

New York National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

An Army Special Forces Green Beret takes a knee during a noncombatant evacuation exercise as part of Southern Strike 16 at Meridian Naval Air Station in Mississippi.

The exercise emphasizes air-to-air, air-to-ground and special forces training opportunities.

To see some photos of the Air National Guard’s participation in this exercise, click here.

(We feel it is important to note the term Special Forces, refers to the U.S. Army unit known as the Green Berets. When speaking in general of specially trained, elite small units, the term special operations forces should be used.  Special operations forces — under the direction of Special Operations Command — includes units like Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, Marine Raiders, special aircraft crews in the Army and Air Force, as well as several specialist Air Force positions such as combat (air traffic) controllers and para rescue jumpers.)

November 20, 2015 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

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