Archive for September 25, 2019

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Deadly Year for Green Berets; McRaven on Afghanistan; New Brazil Commando Unit

Every Single One.

Every single active-duty Special Forces Group has lost at least one soldier in Afghanistan or Syria this year, the Task & Purpose website reports.

Green Berets 2012 graduates

Special Forces Qualification Course graduates in 2012 wearing their green berets for the first time. (U.S. Army photo by Dave Chace, Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School)

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat. The most recent special operators to fall are: Sergeant 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 1st Special Forces Group, on September 16; Sergeant 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, also of the 1st Special Forces Group, on August 29; and Master Sergeants Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa and Jose J. Gonzalez, both of the 7th Special Forces Group and killed in the same action on August 21. All four soldiers were mortally wounded during combat operations with Afghan Army troops.

Ten of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan were Army special operators. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Another was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and one other was a Ranger, according to Task & Purpose.

“Green Beret teams are embedded with the Afghan commandos, which is doing the lion’s share of the fighting on the ground – that’s why they’re taking the lion’s share of the casualties,” Representative Michael Waltz (R-Florida) — a retired Special Forces officer —  told Task & Purpose. For a list of the Special Operations soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Syria this year, click here.

More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to topple the Taliban, which sheltered bin Laden.

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Ex-Top U.S. Commando on Afghanistan.

William_McRaven_commander_of_the_US_Special_Operations_Command

Admiral William McRaven speaks to Special Operations commanders in January 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Williams)

The former head of U.S. Special Operations Command ― who oversaw the mission that took out Osama Bin Laden ― believes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is far from over. “I’ve said we have to accept the fact — I think we do — that we’re going to be there for a very long time,” retired Navy Admiral William McRaven told an audience at the New America Special Operations Forces Policy Forum in Washington September 19.

McRaven, a Navy SEAL who headed SOCOM from 2011 to 2014, said it was a mistake to sit down with the Taliban, the Military Times reported. “I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” he said, “it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”

The Taliban and U.S. diplomats reportedly had reached an interim peace agreement this summer after nine rounds of peace talks in the Gulf State of Qatar. However, the deal fell apart just before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks when President Trump canceled a secret meeting with Taliban officials at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

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New Brazilian Commando Unit.

Brazil’s Navy plans to create its own maritime special operations command, to be designated as the Comando Naval de Operações Especiais (CoNavOpEsp), according to the Jane’s 360 website.

Brazil special ops-Forças_especiais,_Comandos_(26712384805)

Brazil’s Army has had special ops troops, Comando de Operações Especiais, (C Op Esp) since 2003.

The organization will be based in Rio de Janeiro under a rear admiral as part of the Naval Operations Command (ComOpNav). The plan calls for CoNavOpEsp — under a single command structure — to unify the direction and co-ordination of special operations missions, Jane’s reported.

Among the missions the existing Army commando unit, Comando de Operações Especiais, is tasked with: Direct action, airfield seizure, special reconnaissance, airborne and air assault operations, and personnel recovery.

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U.S., Estonian Commandos Train in Vertical Insertion.

Air Commandos with the U.S. Air Force 352nd Special Operations Wing, trained with Estonian and other U.S. special operations forces near Amari, Estonia, in early September. A NATO member since 2004, Estonia, like other Baltic nations once occupied by the Soviet Union, has been under pressure from Russia. A massive series of cyber attacks that paralyzed Estonia in 2007 was believed to be the work of Moscow, although the accusation was never proven.

From September 3 though September 9, the Estonian and U.S. commandos conducted a multitude of air operations out of an Air Force Special Operation Command CV-22 Osprey.  The tilt rotor aircraft is the Air Force’s premier Special Cops vertical lift assault platform. “Ospreys and their crews are capable of the full spectrum of SOF [Special Operations Forces] missions in all phases of conflict. They conduct the infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces throughout the European theater,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Clay Freeman, commander of the 352nd Special Ops Wing.

Estonian Fast roping Osprey.jpg

An Estonian Special Operations Forces operator fast ropes out the back of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey on a similar training mission in 2017.   (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Matt Britton)

U.S. and Estonian troops spent the week focused on three mission objectives: Familiarization with the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES) ;  casualty evacuation; and rapidly loading and off-loading a tactical vehicle from the aircraft.

During the FRIES training, U.S. and Estonia personnel practiced fast-roping from twilight and into the night. That new capability will allow forces to be inserted into small or confined areas were normal aircraft landings are impractical.

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More Training for USAF First Female Ranger.

Back in August, U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch made history by becoming the first female in the U.S. Air Force to graduate from the tough Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Ranger tab pinned

Air Force First Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, of the 821st Contingency Response Squadron, has her  Ranger tab pinned on after graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School August 30, 2019, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army photo John Tongret)

Hibsch, a security forces officer assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) at Travis Air Force Base in California,  will be back with her unit training for short-notice disaster response and combat zone airfield preparation worldwide, the website Military.com reported.

The 821st CRS is part of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, whose highly specialized personnel are trained to deploy quickly in order to open airfields or establish, expand, sustain and coordinate air mobility operations for wartime tasks or disaster relief.

Lt. Chelsey Hibsch Army Ranger tab.

Then-2nd Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, speaking at a Women’s History Month luncheon at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on March 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Hibsch, a former enlisted airman from Attica, New York, was in the process of transitioning to the 621st from a previous assignment in the Indo-Pacific region when she was selected for Ranger School — a challenging, two-month-long course. Competing in the Ranger Assessment Course at Camp Bullis, Texas prompted her to enroll in Army Ranger School.

After then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a ban on women serving in ground combat roles in 2013, the Army opened the Ranger School to female applicants two years later. Two female West Point graduates, Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver, were the first women to earn the coveted Ranger tab (shoulder patch). Now more than a dozen service women have completed Ranger school.

September 25, 2019 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment


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