Amphibious Assault in the Pacific - We Are The Mighty
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Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

By 1943, the war in the Pacific burned in its full fury. On November 20th, the Allies launched the first amphibious assault against heavily defended beaches in US history. The 2nd division of the US Marine Corps, used amphibious tractors and assault boats to reach the beaches of the Tarawa atoll, an enemy stronghold protected by 5,000 hardened Imperial Japanese marines. Ed Moore and Tommy Reed were decorated veterans of the 2nd Marine Division during the island campaigns in the Pacific War.

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Romania’s navy is getting a complete overhaul

Romania has been a bit of an odd duck historically. It has the dubious honor of being home to Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula) and, under the Ceausescu regime, went its own way at times while nominally a member of the Warsaw Pact, even going as far as buying French equipment during the Cold War (which it refused to let the Soviets examine).


Now a NATO ally, Romania has been making do with a lot of ships that use old Soviet technology. Their most modern vessels are two heavily-modified British Type 22 Batch 2 frigates that have had their Sea Wolf surface-to-air missiles removed. Their most powerful ship is the 33-year-old destroyer Marasesti, armed with eight SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, two triple 533mm torpedo tube mounts, four AK-630 Gatling guns, and two twin 76.2mm AK-726 dual-purpose guns.

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific
Regele Ferdinand, one of two modified Type 22 frigates acquired by Romania. (Wikimedia Commons photo by MAPN)

That could be changing soon, however, according to a report by DefenseNews.com. Romania is now seeking to buy three submarines to replace its lone Kilo-class vessel, the Delfinul, and four new surface ships. While Romania has made no decision on which submarine design it will buy, it did, at one point, plan to buy four Sigma-class corvettes from the Netherlands.

The previous purchases indicate that the Romanian Navy may be looking to replace their Tetal-class corvettes. The corvettes, three of which were built in the 1980s, are armed with one or two twin AK-726 mounts, two twin 533mm torpedo tube mounts, and 30mm cannon, among other systems. Two of the Tetal-class corvettes can operate helicopters off decks.

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific
One of four Tetal-class corvettes in the Romanian Navy. The aft AK-726 mount marks this as a Tetal I variant. (Wikimedia Commons photo by MAPN)

Romania has also ordered 227 Piranha V infantry fighting vehicles. These eight-wheeled vehicles are comparable to the M1126 Stryker, with a crew of three and the ability to haul eight infantrymen.

Though it’s impossible to say exactly which upgrades Romania is to acquire, modernization seems to be an inevitability.

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This is why Iran is smuggling boatloads of weapons into Yemen

The top US admiral in the Middle East said on Sept. 18 that Iran continues to smuggle illicit weapons and technology into Yemen, stoking the civil strife there and enabling Iranian-backed rebels to fire missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia that are more precise and far-reaching.


Iran has been repeatedly accused of providing arms helping to fuel one side of the war in Yemen, in which rebels from the country’s north, Al Houthis, ousted the government from the capital of Sana’a in 2014.

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific
The Yemeni capital of Sana’a. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The officer, Vice Admiral Kevin M. Donegan, said that Iran is sustaining Al Houthis with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines, and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border. The US, the Yemeni government and their allies in the region have retaliated with strikes of their own and recaptured some Al Houthi-held coastal areas to help blunt threats to international shipping, but the peril persists, the admiral said.

“These types of weapons did not exist in Yemen before the conflict,” said Donegan. “It’s not rocket science to conclude that Al Houthwis are getting not only these systems but likely training and advice and assistance in how to use them.”

Donegan gave his assessment in an hour-long telephone interview from his 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain as he prepared to conclude his two-year tour, and take a new assignment at the Pentagon.

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His Majesty, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, with Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan (right). Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin Steinberg.

In the wide-ranging interview, Donegan said that the bitter rift between Qatar and many of its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who accuse Qatar of financing militants and having overly cozy relations with Iran, has not yet hindered coalition efforts to battle terrorism, piracy, or other mutual maritime scourges. Donegan’s most pointed accusations focused on suspected Iranian assistance to Al Houthi rebels. The US and other Western governments have provided vast quantities of weapons, and other forms of military support, to the embattled Yemeni government and its allies in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, contributing to violence that the UN says has caused more than 10,000 civilian casualties.

The admiral’s charges appear supported, at least in part, by findings in a report late last year by Conflict Armament Research, a private arms consultancy. The report concluded that the available evidence pointed to an apparent “weapon pipeline, extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific
A cache of weapons seized from a stateless dhow which was intercepted on March 28, 2016. The United States assessed that the cache originated in Iran and was likely bound for Houthi insurgents in Yemen. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Darby C. Dillon.

For years, Iran has been under a series of international sanctions prohibiting it from exporting arms. The US has frequently claimed that Tehran has violated the sanctions in support of proxy forces in many conflicts, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and the Palestinian territories.

Between September 2015 through March 2016, allied warships interdicted four Iranian dhows that yielded, in total, more than 80 anti-tank guided missiles and 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles as well as sniper rifles, machine guns and almost 300 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to data provided by the US Navy.

Donegan said that while there have been no seizures since, he said he suspects Iran’s hand in Al Houthis’ apparent ability to replenish and improve their arms stockpiles. “It is not something that was a one-time deal and stopped,” Donegan said. “It appears to be progressive.”

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The German military has a reality show and it’s actually awesome

The modern German Armed Forces, the Bundeswher, are more or less the pioneers of good ideas within NATO. The HK G36 is a beautiful rifle, beards are encouraged in the service, they promote drinking beer during ruck marches, and, more recently, they started an official YouTube series that showcases the lives of their troops.


Writer’s Note: Bear in mind, the episodes are in German, so you’ll need to turn the subtitles/CC on and, in settings, turn the text to “Auto-translate: English” to understand what’s going on.

Starting last year with the show Die Rekruten, or The Recruits, the show follows the lives of twelve recruits as they enter training and, eventually, as they move on with their career. The recruits are from each branch of the Bundeswher and the series gives viewers a taste of what’s to be expected from a life in the service. Die Rekruten ran almost daily for over three months. After the recruits graduated and moved on to their unit, they were each given what’s essentially a where-are-they-now special.

 

(YouTube | Bundeswehr Exclusive)

 

After Die Rekruten was over, the official Bundeswher YouTube channel transitioned into a spotlight for deployed German troops. Along with troops in Afghanistan, Germany also has a large contingent of deployed troops in Mali in support of the Global War on Terror.

The Mali series began by following soldiers as they were deployed and finished last month with the troops returning back to Germany in time for the holidays.

 

(YouTube | Bundeswher Exclusive)

 

Germany has always held up its end of the NATO bargain, falling shy of only the United Kingdom in NATO military spending, troops, equipment, and vehicles. However, with each year, their number of active duty troops shrinks. The reality shows are an attempt to recuperate those losses.

The idea behind the YouTube channel was to raise recruitment in the post-conscription era by showing troops as ordinary people doing extraordinary things. When mandatory conscription was abolished six years ago, recruitment numbers plummeted. The channel is relatively cheap to maintain and has since become Germany’s most successful social media project to date.

 

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First Helicopter Combat Rescue Mission

Welcome to the first episode of Season Two of Warriors In Their Own Words. This episode is about the first Combat Helicopters. Today these aircraft carry the firepower of an artillery battery and can strike targets deep behind every lines, flying day or night in any weather. But back in 1944 helicopters were a brand new technology.  Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky supplied the first primitive choppers to the US Army and four pilots were trained to fly the untested aircraft in the jungles of Burma.  Carter Harman was one of those first courageous pilots and he performed the world’s first helicopter combat rescue mission. 

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Special operators are hunting Osama bin Laden’s son in ‘kill or capture’ mission

Osama bin Laden’s 28-year-old son Hamza is being hunted in a “kill or capture” mission by Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit which includes UK special forces, according to British media reports.


Hamza has become active as an al-Qaeda propagandist since his father’s death at the hands of US special forces in May 2011.

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific
Former President Barack Obama and members of the national security team receive updates on Operation Neptune’s Spear, a target and kill operation against Osama bin Laden in the White House Situation Room, May 1, 2011 (White House photo)

“A Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit, including 40 SAS soldiers, have reportedly been flown in to Syria on a covert mission to find Hamza and his gang,” The Mirrror reported.

“He is now considered in the top 10 ‘high-value’ targets being hunted by Coalition forces deployed on Operation Shader.”

The United States added Hamza bin Laden to its terrorist blacklist in January.

The US Treasury estimates that he was born in 1989 in the Saudi city of Jeddah. His mother was Khairiah Sabar, one of the Al-Qaeda founder’s three wives.

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Army photo by Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander

Last year, the fifth anniversary of the death of the man who ordered the 9/11 attacks on the United States, experts began to note his son’s increasing prominence in the movement. The State Department has designated him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” freezing any assets he holds in areas under US jurisdiction.

Experts believe Hamza is preparing to take over the leadership of al-Qaeda and exploit ISIS defeats in Syria and Iraq to unify the global militant movement under the banner of al-Qaeda.

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March through Russia with the ‘Immortal Regiment’

Every May, in celebration of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), thousands of people take to the streets all over Russia with portraits of their ancestors who fought in World War II. They mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in an event called the “Immortal Regiment” march.


Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin led the march through Red Square, one of the largest turnouts in memory, carrying a portrait of his father, who fought the Russians in The Great Patriotic War, what the Soviet Union called WWII. The final tally saw 12 million people march across the country in 2015. They march to remember those who fought in the conflict and remember the sacrifices their forebears made.

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

Felipe Tofani is a photographer and Art Director based in Germany who happened to be in St. Petersburg, Russia during 2015’s Immortal Regiment March. He marched with the Russians and took a beautiful series of photos for his photography blog, Fotostrasse.  He also recorded his thoughts as he marched in the parade that day.

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“Russians seem to go crazy with at the Victory Parade,” Tofani wrote. “There were a lot of people dressed in the military uniforms from the Soviet Union.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“We grew up in Brazil and we never learned about the importance of Russia in the Second World War. In Brazil, you learn about the Allied Victory over Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union gets a secondary importance in the fight.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“Everything changed when we moved to Berlin and learned about the Cold War and the Second World War from a different point of view. From that day, we knew we had to visit Russia and pay our respects to all those who died.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“There were soldiers in this greenish uniform marching and a lot of red Soviet flags. It was our first sight of the Victory Parade and we were amazed by that.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“The idea behind the Immortal Regiment is to honor the memory of the heroes who earned a hard-won victory over Nazi Germany.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“The Immortal Regiment is to immortalize family memory. The Immortal Regiment brings people together to remember the grandparents and parents that fought from 1941 to 1945.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“We read about the veteran parade a little later. But we didn’t know what it was since most of the people that were veterans during the Second World War were already dead.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

“We took pictures of everything and that includes a SUV that was transformed into a Katyusha rocket launcher.”

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

All photos are owned by Felipe Tofani, and used by permission. See Tofani’s original post on Fotostrasse.

NOW: 17 Insane Russian military inventions

OR: The Russian Air Force is trolling the West

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Bat 21Rescue in Vietnam

On Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, two EB-66 aircraft, call signs Bat 21 and Bat 22 were flying pathfinder escort for three B-52s, which were assigned to bomb the two primary access routes to the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos.  Gene Hambleton, a navigator aboard Bat 21, was shot down behind North Vietnamese lines. His rescue became known as the largest, longest, and most complex search-and-rescue operation during the entire Vietnam War.  In this episode, Gene Hambleton recounts his dramatic story, in his own words. 

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Peter Everest Air Force Test Pilot

General Frank “Pete” Everest was a record-setting U.S. Air Force Test pilot. As a fighter pilot in World War II he flew over 150 combat missions. He then went on to lead the Air Force flight test program, flying with other legendary pilots like Chuck Yeager and George Welch.

From 1950 to 1956 he flew an average of eight newly designed aircraft a month, setting records like taking the Bell X-1 to an altitude of 73,000 feet and the X-2 to a speed of over 1900 miles per hour, making him the “fastest man alive” at the time. In this episode Pete Everest tells stories of those pioneering days of experimental aircraft and daring test pilots.

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Here’s why the Coast Guard’s HH-65 Dolphin is so awesome (Video)

The HH-65 Dolphin is the Coast Guard’s most ubiquitous helicopter. The search and rescue aircraft is certified for operation in all-weather conditions and at night. While typically deployed from shore, HH-65s can also be operated from Coast Guard cutters and polar icebreakers.


The HH-65 isn’t the only cool toy the Coast Guard has. Check out 6 cool Coast Guard systems from the past.