Category Archives: Military Personnel

Sebastian Junger: Tim Hetherington Didn't Have to Die

Sebastian Junger: Tim Hetherington Didn’t Have to Die

U.S. Naval Institute’s Fred Schultz spoke with journalist and documentary filmmaker Sebastian Junger on Sept. 24 about Junger’s new organization dedicated to providing basic medical training to freelance frontline war reporters and photographers.

Junger created Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues following the 2011 death of photographer Tim Hetherington in Libya.
Hetherington was wounded by mortar fire while covering the conflict in Libya and died on the way to a local hospital. Junger said if fellow journalists on the scene were trained in basic first aid, Hetherington could have survived.

RISC has conducted its first intensive training session in April and his preparing for a second in New York.

Junger also discussed his view on the U.S. Afghanistan pullout and his responsibility for helping make the term “The Perfect Storm,” one of the most overused clichés in the last twenty years.

Embassy Security: The Strategic Context

Embassy Security: The Strategic Context

On the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, al Qaeda affiliates staged a series of attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East. Inciting protests against the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” or possibly taking advantage of existing demonstrations, militants with alledged links to Al Qaeda burned the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith and two contracted American security personnel. Within days, violent protests sprung up in over two dozen countries across the Muslim world. In Sana’a, Yemen, protestors forcibly entered the U.S. Embassy compound and burned the American flag, replacing it with a black flag bearing the Islamic shahada.

Since the Benghazi attack, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah have threatened U.S. personnel and facilities. In light of Ambassador Stevens’ death, and remembering the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days by “protestors” in Iran, there is growing concern about the ability of Americans to protect themselves inside diplomatic missions. While Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Teams (FAST) have been deployed to Yemen, questions remain as to why Marines or other U.S. military forces have not been sent to other embassies. Before we discuss the operational details of what U.S. forces are available, it is imperative that we understand the political context in which our military is used to protect U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Team during an international training exercise. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Team during an international training exercise. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

First, chiefs of mission, usually ambassadors, are the President’s personal representative to a given country. As such, the chief of mission has authority over every executive branch employee in that country except military personnel assigned to a theater commander. Also, according to the Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual, “The Secretary of State shall develop and implement policies and programs to provide for the safe and efficient evacuation of United States Government personnel, dependents, and private United States citizens when their lives are Endangered.” So, all activities related to diplomatic security and evacuation are under the purview of the State Department. Any U.S. military forces used to protect/evacuate diplomatic missions must be activated at the request and approval of both the secretary of State and the chief of mission.

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Pending Congressional Budget Measure Could Hurt Navy and Marines

Pending Congressional Budget Measure Could Hurt Navy and Marines

The Federal government’s fiscal year comes to an end on September 30, and for the sixth straight time, lawmakers will need more time to figure out how they will pay the bills for next year. This is the ninth time in 11 years that Congress has looked to a temporary spending measure, called a Continuing Resolution (CR), to delay decisions on the nation’s funding priorities, 56 times in all since 2001. Last year’s budget debate required seven CRs and took until April to resolve. In August, House and Senate leaders agreed to a longer term approach, announcing that Congress would move forward with a six month package, pushing-off the decision on specific funding levels until after elections are over and a new Congress is sworn-in.

While the CR will allow the federal government to continue spending money into the new fiscal year, it also puts limitations on how that money can be spent, and those limits are especially acute for the Defense Department (DoD). DoD has enjoyed more than a decade of increasing budget top-lines and used those funds to address the changing needs of a force at war, but lawmakers were poised to cut defense spending next year for the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Instead, the CR, approved last week by the House and set for a vote this week in the Senate, will boost the base budget by more than a half-percent to $519 billion. Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) would be funded at proposed fiscal year 2013 levels, a reduction of $26.5 billion.

As with any spending measure, there are winners and losers with the CR. Though Congress will provide DoD with more money than previously expected, the Department will lose some of its flexibility in spending it. The Navy is hit particularly hard by funding restrictions and policy caveats that could impact current operations, future readiness and long-term planning priorities.

USS Theodore Roosevelt undergoing a complex overhaul in 2011 at Newport News, Va. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Theodore Roosevelt undergoing a complex overhaul in 2011 at Newport News, Va. U.S. Navy Photo

At the top of the priority list for the sea service is the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The 26-year old ship is in the final stages of a three-year-long maintenance and modernization period in Newport News, Virginia that the Navy calls a Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH). By the time the TR sets back to sea in 2013, the ship will have new nuclear fuel in its two reactors, upgraded combat and communication systems throughout, and repairs will be made to the ship’s hull, mechanical and electrical systems to keep her viable until at least 2036. The process costs nearly $2.5 billion, but funding for the current phase will dry-up in less than 5 months unless Congress approves new spending for the work. So far, though, this year’s CR does not include funding to finish the overhaul.

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Outgoing Fleet Forces CO: 'I Could Have Done Better'

Outgoing Fleet Forces CO: ‘I Could Have Done Better’

More than a decade ago, Navy leaders decided to abandon historic standards for ship-manning levels and for shipboard maintenance, supposedly to make the Navy more “business-like” and “efficient” and to make more money available to buy a new generation of ships and weapons.

But the result instead was a sharp drop in the material readiness of the surface ships and a continued decline in fleet size, which forced the leadership to work the remaining operational ships and their smaller crews harder, thus aggravating the problems.

With congressional committees, Navy inspectors and a high-level outside panel issuing increasingly shrill alarms, the leadership finally is acting to correct those mistakes.

A sailor removes deteriorated paint and rust with a disc sander on a weather deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on Sept. 6, 2012. U.S. Navy Photo

A sailor removes deteriorated paint and rust with a disc sander on a weather deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on Sept. 6, 2012. U.S. Navy Photo

This week, as he prepares to retire and turn over Fleet Forces Command on Friday, Adm. John C. Harvey has fired off a lengthy message to the surface warfare community and its supporting organizations warning that “the cumulative impact of individual decisions made over long periods of time had put the future readiness of our surface force at risk.”

And he charged those who will remain on watch to adhere to the old proven standards and procedures to restore the surface fleet to its historic state of combat readiness.

It was a strong message from Harvey, who had remained surprisingly quiet about the growing readiness crisis earlier in his tour at FFC.

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One Giant Leap

One Giant Leap

In preparation of the nation’s first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, crew members underwent training to practice activities they would be performing during the mission. In this photograph Neil Armstrong approaches the helicopter he flew to practice landing the Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon.

In preparation of the nation’s first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, crew members underwent training to practice activities they would be performing during the mission. In this photograph Neil Armstrong approaches the helicopter he flew to practice landing the Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon.

Before Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, he was a naval aviator and flew one of the U.S. Navy’s first carrier-based jet fighters the F9F Panther in the Korean War. He left the Navy, went to college and joined NASA as a test pilot before being selected as the second generation of American astronauts, ultimately bound for the moon.

In memory of Armstrong’s passing, we are presenting a Proceedings photo gallery from 2009 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Remembering Tony Scott

Remembering Tony Scott

Dave Baranek was a technical advisor for the film, “Top Gun.” 

When Tony Scott was hired to helm the motion picture “Top Gun,” he had been directing television commercials and music videos during a time-out from Hollywood after his first movie failed to achieve expectations. Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer wanted offered Scott the job of director, thinking his talent for 30-second spectacles would give the film a look of tightly controlled chaos of the dog fighting and life onboard an aircraft carrier. Scott quickly fell in love with the concept and signed on.

To use fighter pilot lingo, Scott re-engaged into movie making with a bag full of knots and guns blazing. The result was not only the highest-grossing movie of 1986, but an enduring film that still finds an audience on television and it continues to be the most familiar image of Naval Aviation for a great many people.

Tony Scott died last week, an apparent suicide at age 68.

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The Smooch that Ended World War II

The Smooch that Ended World War II

kissingOn August 14, 1945, President Harry Truman took to the airwaves to announce that Japan had accepted the terms of surrender and that the war was over. The news sparked spontaneous celebrations across the United States, including in Times Square where photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured a joyous sailor kissing a passing nurse. First published in Life magazine as part of a pictorial titled Victory, Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square has since become one of the most iconic images of the Second World War. Although several people have claimed to be the kissing couple, their true identities were a mystery until the 2012 book The Kissing Sailor revealed the results of extensive forensic analysis which determined that George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman were the sailor and nurse in the photo. Interestingly, helping establish the identity of Mendonsa’s as the sailor is that fact that his future wife can be seen just over his right shoulder. The two had been out on a date when Mendonsa felt compelled to kiss the first nurse he saw in appreciation for what they had done for the wounded during the war.

Like Joe Rosenthal’s Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square has been endlessly copied, reenacted and parodied.
Here are examples of the photo’s impact on pop culture:

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The original: V-J in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt

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Rise of The Asian Cyber Armies

Rise of The Asian Cyber Armies

States are increasingly standing up military and intelligence organizations for computer network operations. While countries everywhere perceive a need to attack and defend in cyberspace, cyber forces are of particular interest to security in Asia because they coincide with a regional investment in naval, air, and command, control and communications systems. And although American society may be vulnerable to disruption, highly technical and increasingly informatized Asian societies also face complex security challenges.

For years, most understood Asian cyber issues through the prism of China. Since the early 1990s, the Chinese have evinced an intense doctrinal and practical interest in information warfare. The Chinese simultaneously desired to “informatize “their conventional forces in imitation of the United States while developing command and control warfare tools as part of a larger asymmetric warfare strategy.


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India is centralizing network defense around the National Critical Infrastructure Protection Centre, with the Intelligence Bureau in charge of patrolling government networks. The Indian Defense Intelligence Agency may be vested with power to conduct offensive attack. While India has not developed a cyber strategy like the United States, it is taking cyber seriously. As in the United States, India’s cyber efforts are split between civilian cybersecurity and the offensive tools of the state. Symantec recently decried a lack of security knowledge.

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At Sea in the Great War: A Coast Guardsman’s Letters Home

At Sea in the Great War: A Coast Guardsman’s Letters Home

You may send my new camera to me, without the tripod, as I am allowed to use it.” So wrote Frederick Richard Foulkes in a letter home on 17 April 1917, just four days after enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard. Seaman Foulkes, the son of a Presbyterian minister, very quickly had acquired the nickname “Parson.”

When the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, the Coast Guard had been transferred from the Treasury Department to the Navy Department. Veteran crews were augmented with fresh recruits; Foulkes was assigned to the cutter Manning . A small warship by today’s standards, she was 205 feet long and displaced 1,155 tons. Commissioned on 8 January 1898, the Manning was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, one of the last class of U.S. revenue cutters rigged for sail, and the first to carry electric generators.

Powered by one steam engine, she could attain 17 knots and boasted two 3-inch gun mounts and two 6-pounder rapid-fire guns. Filled out to a full complement of 8 officers, 4 warrant officers, and 100 crew, the Manning was deployed to Gibraltar. She escorted her first convoy out through the danger zone, some 215 miles, on 19 September 1917.

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Next Generation USMC Unmanned Vehicles

Next Generation USMC Unmanned Vehicles

Today the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory will complete a more than weeklong experiment to test unmanned ground vehicles designed to lighten the load for embarked fleet Marines.

Limited Objective Experiment 2.2 featured a modified Polaris all-terrain vehicle designed to assist dismounted Marines carry ammunition, supplies and provide deployed Marines to more easily evacuate casualties.

The Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) isn’t a final program of record for the service but a platform to prove concepts that could be useful for Marines in the future.

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