Posts tagged ‘Special Operations’
Defeat and Retreat
Another hard week for American morale 200 years ago. A party of Indiana militia are ambushed and defeated at Wildcat Creek … and U.S. troops begin to withdraw – for the third time – from Canada.
Early in November, a large U.S. force consisting of three regiments of Kentucky infantry, a company of regulars from the U.S. 7th Infantry Regiment, a troop of mounted Indiana Rangers and a company of scouts march north from Vincennes on the Wabash River toward an Indian village near the scene of the Battle of Tippecanoe a year earlier. The punitive expedition, led by Major Gen. Samuel Hopkins, aims to destroy several Indian villages in retribution for attacks on Fort Harrison and Fort Wayne in Indiana as well as several Indian raids on civilian homes and farms along the frontier during the summer.
On November 20, a force of 300 from the Hopkins expedition burn an abandoned Kickapoo village near Tippecanoe on Wildcat Creek. The next day a scouting party is fired upon. One man is killed and the scouts retreat. A party of 60 Indiana Rangers set out the next day, Nov. 22, to retrieve the slain soldier’s body.
Lured up a narrow canyon by a taunting Indian warrior on horseback, the Indiana Rangers are ambushed by waiting Kickapoo, Winnebago and Shawnee warriors. More than a dozen soldiers are killed within minutes. The Rangers retreat in disarray back down Wildcat Creek.
Over the two days, Nov. 21-22, 17 regulars and militia men are killed and three wounded. An unknown number of Indians take part in the attack and their losses – if any – are also unknown.
Hopkins learns of a large force of Indians are coming to attack his troops and he prepares for battle but the weather turns bitter cold, a snowstorm threatens and Hopkins heads back on Nov. 24 to Fort Harrison and then Vincennes. More than 200 of his men are down with sickness or frostbite.
The troops that failed to invade Canada from northern New York and Vermont earlier in the month begin heading south on Nov. 23. The troops are part of a large army commanded by Major Gen. Henry Dearborn.
As we previously chronicled (Nov. 6), Dearborn’s advance guard — commanded by Major Zebulon Pike — was turned back by Canadian troops and their Indian allies.
Some of the militia in Dearborn’s army balk at invading Canada and the general gives up the idea of a large scale invasion and goes into winter quarters.
A British sniper from 5 SCOTS (center), an Air Assault infantry battalion, and French snipers of the 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment were among the participants in a company level live fire training exercise in Britain earlier this year.
They may look like a cross between Swamp Thing and Cousin Itt from the Addams Family, but all three are wearing versions of a camouflage outfit known as a ghillie suit. The suit, worn by civilian hunters and military snipers, is designed to look like heavy foliage in a forest or field. It was originally developed by Scottish gamekeepers as a portable hunting blind and first adopted for war in 1916. The name derives from a Scottish word for “lad” or “servant.”
To see a very brief Polish video about ghillie suits on YouTube, click here.
Here’s another one click here. It’s kind of long — after about 2-3 minutes you get the idea. There’s also an ad at the beginning you can zap after a few seconds.
Exercise Boar’s Head, held at the U.K.’s Otterburn Training Area included a British Army infantry company from 5 SCOTS– the fifth of five battalions in the Royal Regiment of Scotland — a unit of the 16th Air Assault Brigade. A company from 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, a unit of the French 11th Parachute Brigade, also participated.
Any small arms experts out there who can identify the sniper rifles these three shooters are carrying? Please post a comment at the bottom of this posting or email us at:
Numbers to Meet the Challenges
Emerging from more than a decade of unconventional warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military now confronts looming budget cuts in Washington, but leaders of the nation’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) say they don’t expect any slowdown in their operational tempo around the globe.
“We will likely remain engaged against violent extremist networks for the foreseeable future,” Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) told a Senate committee hearing earlier this year.
But that engagement won’t be limited to night raids, hostage rescues and covert insertions into hostile territory. McRaven and other U.S. officials say special operators also will be partnering with the State Department and other federal agencies, as well as friendly foreign militaries, on non-kinetic programs like working with civil authorities and training indigenous troops. The aim of both types of operation is to prevent extremists from capitalizing on political discontent, ethnic rivalries and economic frustration to fuel their strategy of terror and violence in places like Yemen, the Horn of Africa and countries bordering the Sahara Desert.
The Defense Department plans to trim $478 billion in spending over the next 10 years, leading to force reductions among all the services – particularly the Army and Marine Corps. But USSCOM — a joint command that includes the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations commands as well as the Navy Special Warfare Command — expects its numbers rise from just over 66,000 personnel now, to 71,000 by Fiscal Year 2015.
Even as the number of conventional U.S. troops drops in Afghanistan between now and 2014, when U.S. and coalition forces turn national security responsibilities over to the Afghans, USSOCOM officials expect SOF troop levels there to remain stable, raising their size proportionally as the other troops depart.
To read the rest of my article on Special Operations Forces, please visit the IDGA website by clicking here.
Coalition force members watch as Afghan Local Policemen and villagers crowd around other coalition forces in Khost village, Farah province, Afghanistan.
Afghan National Security Forces have been gradually taking the lead in security operations, with coalition forces acting as as mentors.
The troops in this photo and others in this Defense Department photo slide show are identified as Special Operations Forces (SOF) although whether they are Navy SEALs, Green Berets or some other branch of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSCOM) is not specified. One wears a combat [air] controller patch. In another photo, an operator’s patch has been blacked out.
What is clear is that the beards, the SOF helmets with attached headsets and the absence of identifying insignia — except for numerous American flag decals — marks them as Special Operations Forces.
These troops — with their beards, unconventional look and sense of humor — are trying to connect with local villagers. And that is a key element of counter terrorism and smart power diplomacy: gaining the trust of the local population.
One of the programs in Afghanistan where Special Operations Forces have taken the lead is the recruitment and training of Afghan Local Police. As the size of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan shrinks between now and 2014, special operators’ numbers are expected to remain stable as they handle more unconventional warfare tasks like training security forces.
Northrop Grumman Corp. unveiled – literally – its entry in the competition for a new U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) high mobility ground vehicle Monday (Oct. 22) on the exhibition floor of the huge Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.
When officials from Northrop Grumman and partners BAE Systems and Pratt & Miller Engineering pulled away the camouflage cover, reporters and photographers got their first look at the Medium Assault Vehicle-Light, or MAV-L.
Designed from scratch by Northrop Grumman and Pratt & Miller – which designs, builds and races motor sports cars – the MAV-L looks like a combination Humvee and dune buggy with a tubular frame but no doors or solid roof.
The sand-colored, 13,000-pound vehicle (when fully loaded) is designed to travel at speeds over 80 miles per hour over paved roads and 60 mph on cross country trails – although it can take on muddy, rocky, sandy, uneven terrain where there are no trails at all.
It seats six – including a gunner in a sling-like seat in a bare-bones circular gun turret. But it can zoom out of the back a large helicopter or cargo plane for a rapid assault mission – like an airfield seizure — with eight more Special Forces troops hanging onto the vehicle’s sides, says Frank Sturek, Northrop’s MAV-L program manager.
The seats are built wide to accommodate Special Forces troops with all their equipment, weapons and body armor. The MAV-L has a modular design that allows rapid reconfiguration of storage areas and communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. Among the modules is an arctic one, that enables the engine to perform at extreme low temperatures.
One of Special Forces Command’s requirements for a new vehicle to replace its Humvees is that it can be driven on and off a cargo plane or helo, as is. The MAV-L fits on an Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane or an Army or Special Operations Aviation CH/MH-47 Chinook helicopter. A hydraulic system allows the vehicle’s 82-inch ride height to scrunch down to 72.6 inches – the way some city buses can “kneel” to allow handicapped passengers to board – and fit on an aircraft, Sturek added.
The MAV-L is one one of several vehicles offered by defense contractors in the U.S. Special Operations Command Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 competition. They include General Dynamics Land Systems’ GMV 1.1, the Navistar Defense Special Operations Tactical Vehicle and Humvee-maker AM General’s GMV.
The SOCOM GMV 1.1 program could purchase up to 1,300 vehicles for special operations missions requiring air transportability, weapons capabilities and high-performance ground mobility. No contract has been awarded but when SOCCOM makes its decision, production is expected to begin in 2013.
If the Northrop Grumman team wins, the vehicles will be manufactured at BAE Systems facility in Sealy, Texas.
Pirates Seize 7 Off Nigeria
Seven European sailors have been kidnapped by pirates who attacked a French company’s ship off the coast of Nigeria, the company said today (Oct. 17).
Paris-based Bourbon SA – an oil and gas services company – said in a brief press release on its website that the seven seamen – six Russian nationals and an Estonian – were taken after their ship, Bourbon Liberty 249 (click here for photo), was boarded on Oct. 15 in Nigerian waters. Nine other crew members remain aboard the oil rig support vessel, which is bound for the port of Onne in Nigeria, the company said.
According to the Associated Press, the assault took place off Nigeria’s oil rich delta region. A military spokesman told the news service that forward deployed units have been ordered to comb the area for the pirates and their hostages.
Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa but the poverty-stricken delta region has been rife with violence and unrest. While oil has made billions for Nigeria, inhabitants of the delta have complained they have seen little benefit in money or services such as education and health care. For years, pipelines and oil rigs have been attacked by militants and foreign oil workers have been kidnapped, although most are released unharmed after a ransom is collected. The AP said gunmen attacked another oil supply company’s vessel in August, taking four workers who were later released unharmed.
Sectarian Violence in Nigeria
At least 24 people have been killed by explosions and gunfire in what appears to be another outbreak in sectarian violence in northern Nigeria, according to the Voice of America.
Nigeria’s Joint Task Force says it has killed 24 suspected Boko Haram terrorists in the city of Maiduguri on Monday (Oct. 15). Boko Haram, the name means “Western education is sinful,” has been battling local governments and the Nigerian federal government since 2009. The group wants Nigeria – where Muslims predominate in the north while Christians are the majority in the south – to adopt strict Islamic law.
Nigerian officials blame Boko Haram for more than 1,500 deaths since 2009, but some human rights groups say both the authorities as wsell as the militants may be responsible for crimes against humanity.
A confidential United Nations reports says Rwanda and Uganda are arming rebels against the government of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The report, according to Reuters which got a look at the secret document, goes so far as to say that Rwanda’s Defense Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is directing the M23 rebels in the eastern DRC. The rebels have been battling Congolese troops for six months and the 44-page report, written by experts serving the UN Security Council, says both Rwanda and Uganda have been violating an arms embargo and supplying the rebels with weapons and other support.
Both Rwanda and Uganda deny the allegation and Ugandan officials angrily claim the U.N. is trying to undermine their efforts to bring peace to the DRC, which has been wracked by civil war, insurgencies and roaming bands of marauders like Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
More than 200,000 villagers have fled their homes in the DRC’s Kivu Province since the M23 uprising began in April. The M23 group — an outgrowth of a Congolese Tutsi rebel army created to fight Rwanda Hutu rebels who fled to the Congo – claims the DRC broke a 2009 peace deal that would integrate them into the regular DRC Army, the Associated Press reports.
Know Your Enemies — and Your Friends
The U.S. military has been trying to improve cultural sensitivity with classes, training programs, video simulations and rules of conduct to help its troops operate in a foreign environment. In an era of asymmetric warfare – where the enemy may be a small guerrilla band or a criminal network – an armed force can no longer ignore where they are fighting and the society occupying the battlespace space.
The alternative could lead to blunders like the burning of Korans by clueless U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The process of studying not only your enemy and his tactics but the people around him who could give him shelter or turn him in to the authorities is a big part of the discipline known as human geography. It is cultural awareness – how to avoid social gaffes or breaking taboos – raised to a critical level for intelligence gathering and tactical decision making.
To read more of this story, click here.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Perry ( right) and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Darryl Honick work together to control and coordinate a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet — hence the headline “Triple Play” — during Operation Spartan Shield in Southwest Asia.
Perry is a radio operator-maintainer-and-driver (ROMAD) assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron. ROMADs are considered Joint Terminal Attack Controllers in training and help coordinate and control combat helicopter and fixed wing aircraft as well as unmanned aerial vehicles from all U.S. services as well as coalition partners. (See the photo below). Honick, a joint fire observer, is assigned to 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.
This photo shows the objective of all this inter-service ground-to-air coordination: A Navy Super Hornet uses an inert laser-guided bomb against a target during Operation Spartan Shield.
Joint Terminal Attack Controllers establish and maintain command and control communications, control air traffic, naval gun fire and attack guidance for close air support of friendly troops on the ground. And here’s another cool photo of one, Air Force 1st Lt. Drew Parks of the 82nd Air Support Expeditionary Squadron, in action under a starry desert sky.
To see some more photos of this training exercise, click here.
Storm Clouds Gathering
Things are quiet across the old Northwest Territory – the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and a small part of Minnesota – this week.
But trouble is brewing among the Native American tribes who have resented and feared the migration into their lands by American traders and settlers after Great Britain gave up the territory (and what would become the State of Ohio) to the newly independent United States of America in 1783.
The fall of Forts Mackinac and Detroit in Michigan with little or no resistance and the massacre of 28 soldiers and 14 civilians following the evacuation of Ford Dearborn in Illinois, have emboldened chiefs among the Miami, Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Winnebago. They think with Americans reeling from these defeats on the frontier, now is time to re-assert their sovereignty over the lands north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi.
After surrendering Fort Detroit, to the British, Brig. Gen. William Hull writesSecretary of War William Eustis to warn that every tribe in the Northwest Territory is against the United States. Even tribes that originally pledged their neutrality are starting to side with the British and Canadians.
Both forts are vulnerable. Fort Wayne, with a garrison of only 100 men, has fallen into disrepair since the Indian wars of the 1790s. Fort Harrison is newer, built in 18111, but manned by only 50 men – half of them sick.
Next Week: Under Siege
Viva Las Vegas
Robots, drones, unmanned aircraft and watercraft will be among the pilotless, driverless vehicles on display next month in Las Vegas at the annual conference sponsored by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
The four-day conference starts August 6 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The conference, which is held in Washington every other August and at venues around the country in alternate years, is a big draw with people who develop, make, service, supply or acquire unmanned vehicles – from bomb-defusing robots to bird-sized air vehicles to keep tabs on criminals and terrorists.
With requirements imposed by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration is working on rules for integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Air Space by 2015. Just how that will be accomplished while keeping drones and commercial aircraft out of each other’s way is expected to be a hot topic at the conference. The FAA predicts there could be as many as 20,000 unmanned aircraft flying in U.S. skies within the next 10 years.
Speakers and panel discussion will also address cyber security challenges, as well as privacy and ethics issues posed by smaller and smaller unmanned surveillance systems, civil and law enforcement uses for robots and drones, new developments in maritime systems, export regulations on selling unmanned technology overseas and the latest technology developments.
Keynote speakers will include the acting head of the FAA, the secretary of the unmanned aircraft systems study group for the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence and the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems.
Your 4GWAR editor will be among the thousands of attendees, bringing you word of the latest developments in unmanned systems – especially for special operations, intelligence and surveillance, law enforcement and homeland security.