Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’
Foreign Internal Defense
WASHINGTON – Michael Sheehan, the former top special operations adviser to the Secretary of Defense, says he doesn’t like to use the word “COIN” – as in COunter INsurgency – anymore.
“Because it’s so overused now,” Sheehan – former Assistant Defense Secretary for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) – told the International Stability Operations Association’s annual summit recently. “For me, counter insurgency is done by local forces and the U.S. helps them do it,” he told the conference of companies that provide services ranging from construction to air transport for humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and development organizations.
And for direct action – when U.S. advisers are doers, as well as teachers – Sheehan says he’s advocated for a long time “that we train the locals to go through the door – not the U.S.” In other words, train and advise foreign armies or rebels – depending on their politics – how to defend themselves, but then taking a step back and let the locals doing the shooting or “kinetic action.”
Sheehan has had a little experience in this field. A former Special Forces (Green Beret) officer, counter insurgency adviser in Latin America, adviser to U.N. Peacekeeping missions in Somalia and Haiti, National Security Council staffer at the White House, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for counter terrorism, a high-ranking official in the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner for Counter Terrorism – retired from the Pentagon this past summer. One of the key assignments of Army Special Forces and other special operators is Foreign Internal Defense: teaching the local population how to defend itself against terrorism by insurgents or a repressive regime.
“I believe this is the future, where we train, advise and assist from behind, both in counter insurgency and direct action strategy,” Sheehan said. That belief is held by other SO/LIC leaders, like Adm. William McRaven, the head of Special Operations Command, which oversees the commandos and unconventional warfare specialists in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
To see a video of McRaven and Sheehan both speaking about these issues at a counter terrorism panel at the Aspen Institute last summer, click here.
Explanation of “Give a man a fish…”
Maritime Weak Link
Maritime Domain Awareness – knowing who and what are in and around U.S. waters – is still “a major gap” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unit charged with securing the nation’s borders, according to a top official of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“Nobody has a good solution set for MDA. We don’t, neither does the Navy or the Coast Guard,” Randolph Alles, assistant CBP commissioner and head of the agency’s Office of Air and Marine told a recent homeland security conference in Washington.
The solution, he said, is a number of technology programs to help see bad guys at night, on the water and on land. To that end, Alles, a retired Marine Corps major general, plans to put sensors, on as many of his 260 aircraft – like Guardian Drones and Blackhawk helicopters – and 300 watercraft that budget restraints will allow.
Alles told the conference, sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA), that he wants to take a “building block approach rather than a large system approach” because of tight money. His estimated budget for technology appropriations will hover between $50 million and $70 million per year for the near term, he said.
Alles, who took over as head of OA&M in January, said he wants to link video and data from numerous sensors. “Integrating all of these systems is one of my technology objectives,” he told the IDGA conference Oct. 17 – the day the U.S. government shutdown ended.
Look, No Hands
A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hoists an Australian airman on a jungle penetrating cable during medevac training on Multinational Base Tarin Kot in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province.
To see a photo slideshow of this training exercise, click here.
U.S. and Philippine Marines slog through a jungle obstacle course during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014 (known as PHIBLEX 14) at Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, in the Republic of the Philippines.
PHIBLEX is a bilateral training exercise aimed at strengthening mutual security and the long-term partnership between the United States and the Philippines. It also ensures the readiness of a bilateral force to respond to regional humanitarian crises.
The participating U.S. Marines were from Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Raid Force, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The Philippine Marines were with Force Reconnaissance Battalion.
Training was split between four areas: Clark Air Field in Pampanga; Marine Barracks Gregario Lim in Cavite; Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui in Zambales; and Crow Valley in Tarla. That exposed the Marines and sailors of the 13th MEU a wide variety of terrain.
The battalion Landing Team of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, and Philippine forces conducted vehicle maneuver tactics, live-fire training and artillery firing, as well as small boat tactics, jungle survival training, a knife fighting skills session and sweeps for improvised explosive devices (roadside bombs.
The 13th MEU’s aviation combat and logistics combat elements — Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 13 — provided close air, logistic and medical support to the Marines training with the Filipino forces.
The final event of PHIBLEX for the 13th MEU at Crow Valley was the combined arms live-fire exercise.
Meanwhile, Marine Corps and Navy personnel provided medical treatment during a cooperative health care event at Victory Village in the Philippines’ Albay province (see photo below).
Despite continuing fiscal restraints, the U.S. military is trying to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region as part of the Obama administration’s strategic pivot from the Middle East and Afghanistan-Pakistan to Asia.
Another goal in current military thinking is to develop regional partners around the globe and have local militaries do the heavy lifting in future counter terrorism or counter insurgency operations, while U.S. forces maintain a “light footprint” in the conflict zone.
Countries like the Philippines, which asked the U.S. to close its bases there in the 1990s, are now moving closer to the Americans — particularly if they clashed with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
For more photos of the health event, click here.
(Updates with 7 aid workers kidnapped in northern Syria, four later released, 4 peacekeepers killed in Darfur))
The companies that that provide services ranging from translators to aircraft for humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and development organizations are meeting in Washington this week to discuss how to help people in an increasingly dangerous world.
That need was underscored over the weekend as seven relief workers — most working for the Red Cross — were kidnapped in Syria, according to the Los Angeles Times. All but three have been released but the continuing threat to aid workers in Syria and elsewhere remains.
And tree U.N. peacekeepers from Senegal were killed Sunday (October 13) in Sudan’s West Darfur region. Another peacekeeper from Zambia was stabbed to death Friday (October 11) in North Darfur. Nearly 170 U.N. personnel have been killed in Sudan since the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was established in 2007, according to the Voice of America.
The International Stability Operations Association, which has members ranging from BAE Systems and DynCorp to IAP Worldwide Services and Global Fleet Sales, is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday (October 15-16) at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
One of the technologies some peace and relief organizations are interested in is unmanned systems – unmanned aerial systems, in particular. Jessica Mueller, director of programs and operations for the ISOA, says non-governmental organizations and relief agencies are very interested in obtaining intelligence about what dangers await in the next village, where refugees have fled to or where the greatest need for food is in a vast region with few roads. She thinks unmanned drones could be a big help obtaining that kind of information.
Industry experts say potential platforms range from small versions of the unmanned aircraft use for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, to unmanned helicopters, like the Lockheed Martin K-MAX cargo helicopter system being tested by the Marine Corps in Afghanistan (see photo). Sikorsky Aircraft plans to produce,through its Matrix Technology program, variants of all its rotary wing aircraft that are unmanned and autonomous.
To read more on this topic see your 4GWAR editor’s story in this week’s Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine (subscription required).
Another Busy October
October 14-16 – The International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) holds its annual summit at the National Press Club in downtown Washington. This meeting brings together private sector and non-governmental organizations representing the stabilization, humanitarian aid and development communities. Details at http://www.stability-operations.org/?page=AS13_Home
October 15-18 – The Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA) holds its biggest event of the year, its annual Homeland Security Expo at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest Washington, DC. Much of the four-day event focuses on border and martitime security. Details at http://www.homelandsecurityexpo.com/Default.aspx
October 17-18 – Military Reporters and Editors, an association of journalists who cover military affairs, will meet for two days in Washington at several locations. Defense compensation reform, women in combat, the Asia-Pacific pivot and sexual assault in the military will be among the topics discussed. Details at http://militaryreporters.org/2013/10/mre-annual-conference-agenda/
October 21-23 – The Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) holds its annual meeting and expo at the Washington Convention Center. One of the biggest defense-related expos in the U.S. – if not the world – AUSA will have speeches and briefings by Army leaders and two floors of exhibits by contractors, manufacturers and suppliers. Details at http://ausameetings.org/annual/
Special Ops in Africa
U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) launched two separate raids on terrorists in Africa over the weekend – with mixed results.
In Libya, Delta Force operators and FBI and CIA agents captured a long sought al Qaeda operative and spirited him without incident onto an amphibious Navy transport ship in the Mediterranean for interrogation and eventual trial in federal court in New York.
The objective of the Saturday (Oct. 5) raid was capture of Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai – known as Anas al Libi – who was wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200 people.
“As a result of the Libya operation, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists was captured and is now in U.S. Custody,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement Sunday (Oct. 6). “Abu Anas al Libi was designated as a global terrorist by Executive Order, was a subject of the U.S. Rewards for Justice Program, and is on the UN Al Qaeda sanctions list. He was also indicted for his alleged role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, and other plots to conduct attacks against U.S. interests,” Hagel added.
The Associated Press reported that members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force l- which has responsibility for counter terrorism operations in North Africa – led the operation against al Libyi. He was taken without incident on the street in front of his house in Tripoli.
In another commando mission on Saturday Navy Seals stormed a beachside compound in Somalia, reportedly to capture another alleged terrorist leader. This time the target was a Kenyan national of Somalia descent, known as Ikrema, a planner for al Shabab, an al Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia, the Voice of America reported.
After a brief firefight outside the compound where Ikrema was thought to be, the SEALs withdrew without casualties. One or two al Shabab fighters are believed to have been killed, according to the AP, which reported the raiders were from SEAL Team 6 which attacked and killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in a helicopter raid into Pakistan in 2011.
According to CBS news, Ikrema was planning attacks on Kenya’s parliament building and the U.N. Headquarters in Nairobi. The raid took place just two weeks after a terror attack on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi that left at least 67 soldiers and civilians dead. Al Shabab took crfedit for that attack. CBS also said the SEALs called off the mission because there were too many civilians – including children – to call in an airstrike to get Ikrema.
“We will continue to maintain relentless pressure on terrorist groups that threaten our people or our interests, and we will conduct direct action against them, if necessary, that is consistent with our laws and our values,” Hagel said.
Commando School, French Style
During their initial training, cadets from France’s elite Saint-Cyr Special Military School undergo a four-week training session at Les Saint-Cyrien au Centre national d’entrainement commando (CNEC) — National Commando Training Centre. There they can earn the designation “monitor commando.”
Training ranges from alpine climbing and rapeling to martial arts and aquatic skills as we see here. After jumping from a motorboat going full speed, these cadets have to swim to zodiac boats and clamber aboard.
To see a slide show of all the tricks of the trade that must be mastered, click here on the French Defense Ministry website. Caution, it’s all in French.
Shadow of a Black Hawk
Troops troops prepare to be hoisted up to a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hovering above them during training at Forward Operating Base Farah in Afghanistan. The training included instructions on how to load and secure a rescue stretcher or a single- or two-person sling.
Click on the photo to see a larger image.
A U.S. Marine assigned to a Force Reconnaissance Platoon in the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), rises from the depths with M-4 carbine at the ready as his teammates conduct an amphibious insertion while training foreign Marines in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
The 26th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group serving as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious operations across the full range of military operations.
Meanwhile, some of this sea swimmer’s teammates made it to shore on the interesting little gadget below, known as a diver propulsion device.
To see more photos of this interesting exercise, click here.
To see a brief video of the DPD in action, click here.