Posts tagged ‘winter warfare’

FRIDAY FOTO (May 29. 2015)

Keep it Simple … etc.

 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal. Paul S. Martinez)

Sometimes, even in this digital world we live in, it’s easier to use some old fashioned tools like this rope line.

This week’s FRIFO shows Marine Corps Lance Corporal Maximilian Roth crossing a gorge on a rope during his final Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity assessment at the Marines’ Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. Roth is a rifleman assigned to Alpha Company, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force.

May 29, 2015 at 3:02 am Leave a comment

HIGH NORTH: Latvian MoD Says NATO Base Needed in Baltic Region

Baltic to Potomac.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work (right) and Latvia's Minister of Defense Raimond Vejonis pass through an honor cordon in order to discuss matters of mutual importance at the Pentagon Apr. 23, 2015.  (Photo by Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Latvia’s Minister of Defense Raimond Vejonis (left) arrives at the Pentagon to discuss matters of  mutual importance with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work April 23, 2015.
(Photo by Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

It seems like nearly every day Russia is doing something new to provoke, irritate or worry its Western neighbors, from flying combat aircraft dangerously close to Swedish and Finnish airspace to a senior Moscow official’s recent unannounced and uninvited visit to one of Norway’s Arctic islands.

In response to the potential threat, several Scandinavian nations are planning to increase their defense spending and reaching out to their neighbors across the Baltic Sea for mutual security exchanges. All three of the so-called Baltic states — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — as well as Poland are NATO members.

Latvian Minister of Defense Raimond Vejonis was in Washington this week, speaking at a think tank and meeting with Pentagon officials. According to a Pentagon spokesman, Vejonis met for about 30 minutes with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work (Defense Secretary Ash Carter was out of town) to discuss “the importance of clear NATO unity against Russian aggression, continued presence of U.S. forces in the region, and ways to work together to better support NATO deterrence measures.”

Work also praised the Latvian government for committing to raise its defense spending to 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (an agreed upon, but sparsely reached, NATO target for member nations) and to increase the size of Latvia’s armed forces from 15,000 to 17,000 by 2018.

Paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade iduring a training exercise with Latvian troops to show commitment to NATO obligations and interoperability with allied forces as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.  (U.S. Army Photo by Sergeant Michael T. Crawford)

Paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade during a training exercise with Latvian troops to show commitment to NATO obligations as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sergeant Michael T. Crawford)

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington policy institute (April 21), Vejonis said having U.S. and other NATO troops in Latvia for exercises like Operation Atlantic Resolve was helpful but to effectively deter further Russian aggression “we really need a visible NATO presence in the region … on a rotational basis.”

Such a strategy, he said, will keep Moscow from making a dangerous miscalculation because they think NATO is weak after President Vladimir Putin successfully annexed  Crimea from Ukraine without a NATO military response. (Ukraine is not a NATO member nation). He noted Russia’s economy “totally depends on its raw materials, especially energy.” And with oil prices slumping, “there is a requirement to deliver military victories to the Russian public to cover [the] economic gap.”

Vejonis added that Russia rebuilt a former helicopter base less just 15 miles from Latvia’s eastern border to house Moscow’s newest combat helicopters. Finland, which also borders Russia, has reported Russia is building new bases and conducting large training activities near the Finnish border.

Countries bordering the Baltic Sea. (Map via wikipedia)

Countries bordering the Baltic Sea.
(Map via wikipedia)

April 23, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

HIGH NORTH: Nordic Nations Plan Closer Defense Ties vs. Russia

Eyes on the Bear.

Norwegian F-16 fighter jets during Exercise Cold Response in 2014. (Photo by Torbjorn Kjosvold, Norwegian Armed Forces) CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE IMAGE

Norwegian F-16 fighter jets during Exercise Cold Response in 2014.
(Photo by Torbjorn Kjosvold, Norwegian Armed Forces)
CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE IMAGE

After months of Russian probes, intrusions and military provocations, the countries of Scandinavia have agreed to build closer defense ties among themselves and with the neighboring Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Writing in a joint declaration, the defense ministers of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland said Northern Europe must prepare for possible crises or incidents because of Russia, according to a dispatch from Reuters (via Army Times’ Early Bird).

“Russia’s leaders have shown that they are prepared to make practical and effective use of military means in order to reach their political goals, even when this involves violating principles of international law,” the ministers wrote in a joint statement in the daily Aftenposten.

Over the last year, there have been numerous reports of Russia probing Nordic defenses from an underwater vehicle — believed to be a Russian submarine — entering Swedish waters and Russian bomber flights violating Swedish and Finnish airspace. Estonia was hit by a massive cyber attack, believed to be Russian in origin, in 2007.  Then there is Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed rebels.

“Russia’s actions are the biggest challenge to the European security,” the ministers said. “Russia’s propaganda and political maneuvering are contributing to sowing discord between nations, and inside organizations like NATO and the EU.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We recommend clicking on the photo above to enlarge it and get the full impact of its technical achievement).

April 10, 2015 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Joint Viking; Norway Defense Budget; Arctic Caucus; Ice Melt

Big Norwegian Exercise.

Thousands of Norwegian soldiers, sailors and airmen are converging on the northernmost county in Norway as part of joint service exercise called “Joint Viking.”

Norwegin troops guide a Bell 412SP helicopter in during Exercise Joint Viking. (Norwegian Armed Forces photo)

Norwegian troops guide a Bell 412SP helicopter in during Exercise Joint Viking.
(Norwegian Armed Forces photo)

Some 4,000 soldiers and 400 vehicles will take part in the largest winter exercise near the Russian border in almost 50 years. Submarines, surface ships and aircraft will also be part of the exercise

The object of the 10-day arctic exercise that began Monday (March 9) is to perfect a concept called “Joint Operative Arenas,: which fuses several sea-air-land-specific exercises together “in order to give all players an increased outcome,” according to the Norwegian Armed Forces website.

Another, pointed but less direct object of the exercise — the largest near Norway’s border with Russia since 1967 — is to send a message to Moscow. Since the end of the Cold War, Norway (a member of NATO) and Russia have conducted several joint exercises in the Barents Sea region — the latest was in 2013. But with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Norway as ended all military cooperation with Russia, according to the Barents Observer.

Meanwhile, Russia has launched numerous military exercises near the borders of NATO nations — including an air force war game last week over the Barents Sea.

*** *** ***

Oslo’s Arctic Buildup.

Norway, Sweden  (CIA World Factbook via University of Texas Libraries)

Norway, Sweden
(CIA World Factbook via University of Texas Libraries)

As we have said in previous posts, Russia’s new aggressiveness all along its borders with former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries (like Estonia and Ukraine) has provoked several Nordic countries to reevaluate their military spending – particularly on equipment and manpower in the High North.

Norway, for one, is planning on an $8 billion defense budget in 2015. Norway is beefing up manpower and equipment for Arctic combat units as part of the Norwegian Defense Forces’ Smart Defense Strategy. The strategy places a higher priority on Arctic-class specialized equipment procurement and more intensive training for Arctic-deployed units.

According to Defense News, a Joint Operational Command Headquarters “is overseeing the evolution of Norway’s High North defenses into a centralized command and coordinated fighting structure” that will be able to rely on air force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, army battalions deploying CV90 tracked armored infantry fighting vehicles and Archer self-propelled artillery units, naval surface vessels like anti-aircraft and anti-submarine Arctic-class Fridtjof Nansen frigates and Skjold corvettes.

*** *** ***

Congressional Arctic Caucus.

Two U.S. senators are forming an Arctic Caucus in the Senate to focus on building U.S. leadership in the region.

Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said March 4 that she and Maine Independent Senator Angus King are forming the caucus to initiate discussions on a range of issues including defense, energy, environment and trade. “I’m calling on colleagues in the Senate to join me, to step up, to help us not only build out policy initiatives, but really take that leadership role we should be doing as an Arctic nation,” Murkowski said from the Senate floor, adding: “Embrace your inner-Arctic self,” The Hill newspaper reported.

The new caucus comes as the United States is poised next month to begin a two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group that focuses on cooperation in the region.

King said his priorities include: appointing a U.S. ambassador to the Arctic; ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, examining the need for infrastructure investments — such as building more ice-breakers, evalue tthe challenges of Arctic shipping and how the United States might work cooperatively with Russia on Arctic issues, according to the Portland Press  Herald.

*** *** ***

Arctic Sea Ice Melt.

Sea ice still thinning. (Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory website)

Sea ice still thinning.
(Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory website)

Research shows that Arctic sea ice is not only covering less of the planet, but it’s also getting significantly thinner. That makes it more susceptible to melting, potentially altering local ecosystems, shipping routes and ocean and atmospheric patterns, The Guardian newspaper and other news outlets report.

“New data compiled from a range of sources – from Navy submarines to satellites – suggests that thinning is happening much faster than models have estimated, according to a study aiming to link those disparate data sources for the first time,” the Guardian said.

According to the report from the National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, the extent of Arctic sea ice is well below average, but it remains to be seen whether March will see a rise or set a record low maximum. “Regionally, Arctic ice extent is especially low in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. In the Antarctic, sea ice shrank to the fourth highest minimum in the satellite records,” the report said.

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the  High North. 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. “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)

March 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 27, 2015)

Boots on the … Air.

Information Specialist Jason Johnston/Released)

Photo by U.S. Army Specialist Jason Johnston

A U.S. Green Beret with the 1st Battalion,  10th Special Forces Group salutes his fellow soldiers while jumping from a C-130 Hercules aircraft over a drop zone in Germany, Feb. 24, 2015. 

February 27, 2015 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 13, 2015)

Big Sky, Big Mountain.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Johnston

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Johnston

Please click on photo to enlarge.

Air Force First Lt. Greg Johnston (left) and Capt. R.J. Bergman fly their UH-1N Iroquois helicopter (popularly known as a Huey) over a mountain range near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

The flight took the crew over a variety of terrain and altitudes, from flatlands to valleys and mountains. Both Airmen are 40th Helicopter Squadron rescue pilots.

February 13, 2015 at 2:43 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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