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NATO drops Wolverines video

The above video is pretty interesting if you know the history of the guerrilla war in the Baltic states that was fought by as many as 50,000 Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans against the Red Army from the tail end of WWII through the early 1950s. It’s an unsung war, and the various “Forest Brothers” groups (whose members included several former German soldiers as well as Waffen SS members of the various Baltic legions, a facet often glossed over) that were backed in part by Western intelligence agencies.

The above video was put out this month by NATO, which, especially when combined with other similar videos about modern equivalent of stay-behind units, is probably meant to provide a moment of pause to the big bear on the Baltic states’ Eastern border.

And cue the Russian butt hurt, which is rich considering the little green men running around the Ukraine and Crimea, and the fact that they annexed the Baltics in 1939 by force.

A slice of the Wehrmacht, heading home

This is just dying for Osprey to make a uniform plate:

National Archives 80-G-353582

Here we see a group of German WWII Prisoners of War arriving at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, on 9 June 1945. The date is important because it is more than a month after VE-Day, the end of the war in Europe. The men are a mix of Heer, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe non-commissioned officers wearing a variety of tropical (Afrika Korps, anyone?) and continental uniforms. All have U.S. raincoats with “P.W.” stenciled on each arm.

Odds are the group had been in an EPW camp somewhere in the South and are heading back home to a Germany that looks very different from the one they left. For train buffs, note the old Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) cars in the background.

Also, note the U.S. Army (or more likely Florida Defense Force) personnel including a corporal with a M1917 revolver in a M1911 shoulder holster. Contrast it below with the very sweaty Florida Defense Force personnel at the Jacksonville USO in late 1942, outfitted with a variety of 1903s and M1917 rifles.

Spottswood Studio Collection

USCG keeps swelling FRC ranks

The big 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, built to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats of the 80s and 90s, (which in turn replaced the 1950s era 95-foot Cape-class cutters, et.al) are fast becoming a backbone asset for the Coast Guard. Designed for five day patrols, these 32-knot vessels have a stern boat ramp like the smaller 87-foot WPBs, but carry a stabilized 25mm Mk38 and four M2s as well as much more ISR equipment. In a hattip to the fact they are so much more capable, the USCG uses the WPC hull designation, used last by the old “buck and a quarter” 125-foot cutters of the Prohibition-era with these craft, rather than the WPB patrol boat designation of the ships they are replacing.

You can bet these cutters are being looked at for littoral work such as in the Persian Gulf where the Navy has a whole squadron of 170-foot Cyclone-class (PCs) that are showing their age.

The latest FRC accepted, USCGC Oliver Berry (WPC 1124), is the 24th of 58 envisioned for the service.

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) cruises out of Key West, Fla., following the cutter’s delivery to the Coast Guard, June 27, 2017

And kudos to the worst-funded branch of the military for keeping to solid naval naming conventions in honoring past heroes by naming these ships after them, rather than for politicians and the like.

From the presser this week on Berry‘s acceptance:

The cutter’s namesake, Oliver Berry, is the first enlisted helicopter mechanic in naval aviation history and was an instrumental part in pioneering the use of the helicopter for search and rescue after World War II. In September 1946, he successfully disassembled a helicopter in Brooklyn, New York, organized transportation from New York to Newfoundland, Canada, and reassembled the helicopter for use to rescue 18 stranded passengers of a Belgian airliner that crashed near Gander, Newfoundland. He subsequently received the Silver Medal of the Order of Leopold II from the Belgian monarchy for his efforts.

Go for a ride on a Boomer

The Navy just released this really great 11-minute doc about life aboard the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) as she takes part in a regularly-scheduled patrol in the Atlantic Ocean. Entitled “On Our Depth One-Six-Zero Feet” it is sure to become a classic in future generations and is notably devoid of rah-rah-rah, simply giving the viewer a “fly on the wall” experience.

Commissioned in 1996, the motto of the Kings Bay-based Trident slinger is Cedant Arma Toga, “Force must yield to law”

What’s in the DPRK’s nuke bin?

Really interesting info from Stratfor about coping with the Nork’s missile arsenal. (More here)

Happy 100th to the most forgotten service

This week is the 100th birthday of one of the most unsung of the U.S.’s seven uniformed services– the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

USS Albatross, or as NOAA thinks of her now, Albatross I

Dating back to the Coast & Geodetic Survey and United States Fish Commission which used seconded Navy ships for its blue water work (see former Warship Wednesday alumni, the USC&GSS Pathfinder and USS Albatross) and Army officers for land surveys (the first commander of the Corps was an Army colonel from the intelligence branch), the force today amounts to some 400 uniformed officers who operate the agency’s dozen ships (some as large as frigates) and half-dozen aircraft including two converted P-3 Orions used as Hurricane Hunters.

NOAA Ship (NOAAS) Albatross IV

They are the smallest of the U.S. uniformed services and, while they have a provision for a single O-9, the branch typically exists with a RADM as a senior officer. They wear Navy dress blues and dress whites and Coast Guard working uniforms, all with NOAA devices. Since 2013, they have conducted their 18-week OCS at the USCGA in New London, Conn.

NOAA 42 “Kermit” (N42RF) is a Lockheed WP-3D Orion used by the service for the past quarter-century.

The corps was born in battle.

From NOAA:

With America’s entry into the World War I, a commissioned service of the C&GS was formed on May 22, 1917 to ensure the rapid assimilation of C&GS technical skills for defense purposes. During World War II, officers and civilians of the C&GS produced nautical and aeronautical charts, provided critical geospatial information to artillery units, and conducted reconnaissance surveys.

Continuing in the tradition of their C&GS predecessors, NOAA Corps officers continue to play a vital role in the acquisition and analysis of environmental data that aid NOAA and other agencies in meeting the national security, economic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. NOAA Corps officers command ships that scan the seafloor for potential hazards to shipping, monitor oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, and study ocean resources. They also pilot NOAA’s highly specialized aircraft that collect environmental and geographic data necessary for weather and flood prediction, nautical charting, disaster response, and resource management.

As noted by John Hopewell of the Washington Post’s Weather Gang:

There are two clear advantages of having nearly 400 uniformed specialists. Unlike civilians, they can be moved rapidly from project to project and — in the case of war — can be deployed quickly to support the military itself.

In fact, that’s why the NOAA Corps was established as a commissioned officer group 100 years ago. If one of the officers is captured by an enemy, they could not be executed as a spy — something their civilian predecessors risked.

The corps operates and maintains much of NOAA’s hardware, including Hurricane Hunter aircraft fisheries ships (but not satellites). They conduct special missions after disasters, such as the 2016 blizzard or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to gather data and provide support. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the corps surveyed the seafloors of New York City and Virginia channels and ports for hazards.

That’s some funny looking bugspray

As reported by Defense Web:

The US government is yet to approve the sale of 12 armed Air Tractor aircraft to Kenya as IOMAX and a US congressman continue to dispute the proposed sale.

The contract, submitted to the US Congress for approval in January, seeks to provide the Kenyan air force with weapons to fight al Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia. However, the contracting of L-3 Technologies has been vehemently opposed by US Congressman Ted Budd who said the contract was awarded secretively and without going through open tender processes.

Further, he said at $418 million, the L-3 package for up to 12 Air Tractor AT-802L and two AT-504 trainer aircraft, weapons and technical support was hugely inflated and awarded to a contractor with no manufacture or conversion experience on the type of aircraft.

Budd said IOMAX, which never submitted a bid although it has previously supplied armed AT-802 aircraft to the UAE, could supply the same package at a much lower cost. Budd’s congressional district falls in the same area as IOMAX’s headquarters.

On Wednesday last week, L-3 Technologies apparently reduced the price of the package and added some new components to the bid.

On Friday, IOMAX said it could provide Kenya with ‘superior’ aircraft, weapons, technical support and program management at a cost of $237 million, which is $181 million lower than the contract ceiling of L-3 Technologies.

What is the “superior aircraft” to the Air Tractor AT-802L, a up-armored crop duster? Who is Iomax?

Glad you asked.

Based on the Thrush S2R-660, another crop-duster, Ionmax’s Archangel runs on a P&W PT61 and can stay aloft for 10 hours in an ISR mode– that’s almost drone endurance without having to have a satlink. When used in a strike mode, the former pestiside pusher has 6 underwing hardpoints and a centerline point for COIN ops and, using EO/IR/LRF/LD sensors, can carry either:

-12 AGM-114 Hellfires or UMTAS AGMs
-10 GBU-58 laser-guided Mk-81 bombs (a 250-pound Paveway II)
-6 GBU-12 laser-guided Mk-82 500-pounders
-48 Roketsan CIRIT 2.75in laser-guided missiles

Or a combination of the above.

Note the CIRIT 4-packs and targeting pods

Those LGBs and Hellfires…

Pretty neat stuff overall.

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