Posts filed under ‘Army’
Sweden to Resume Draft.
(A Swedish amphibious assault vehicle participating in NATO exercise BALTOPS 2015.)
Concerned about Russia’s aggressive actions in the Baltic region, and mounting uncertainty over Europe’s alliance with the United States, Swedish authorities have announced mandatory military service will return for men and women next year.
Sweden, which abolished the draft in 2010, plans to conscript 4,000 men and women in 2018, according to the New York Times. Unlike most of its neighbors in the region (Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) Sweden is neutral and not a member of NATO.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Baltics became a region of stability. But all that changed with Russia’s annexation of Crimea three years ago and the Russian support for the insurgency in Ukraine, the Times said. Swedish military spending last year was up 11 percent.
“The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighborhood are some of the reasons,” Marinette Nyh Radebosaid, a Swedish defense ministry spokesperson, told the BBC.
In recent years, Baltic and Nordic nations have been rattled by Russia’s antagonistic behavior. There have been numerous reports of Russia probing Nordic defenses, from an underwater vehicle entering Swedish waters to Russian bomber flights violating Swedish and Finnish airspace. Estonia was hit by a massive cyber attack, believed to be Russian in origin, in 2007.
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Norway Boosts Defense Budget.
Last year, Norway announced a 1.9 billion krone ($230 million) increase in defense spending for 2017, bringing the country’s total military spending to 50.9 billion krone. More than 12 billion of that amount was to go to procurement, IHS Jane’s reported last October.
The increase, part of Norway’s Long Term Defence Plan, drew criticism from opposition lawmakers who didn’t like where the money would come from — the Government Pension Fund. But according to Defense News, cross-party support for the boost in defense spending was fueled by two concerns: keeping pace with Russia’s military buildup in the High North (above the Arctic Circle) and whether the Trump White House might weaken U.S. spending on maintaining European security.
The Norwegian Defense Ministry wants to buy more F-35 strike fighters, three helicopter-equipped Coast Guard vessels and CV-90 combat armored vehicles, as well as armored reconnaissance systems and artillery equipment. Longer term acquisition plans would seek a new air defense system and multi-role drones.
“Given all that is happening in the region, Norway needs to have the strongest defense that it can afford,” Bård Vegard Solhjell, a Socialist Left Party member of parliament told Defense News last month.
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U.S. Troops in Romania.
Meanwhile, the United States military is training with NATO militaries and partner nations in and around the Black Sea.
(A U.S. Marine, center, watches Ukrainian soldiers in action during Exercise Platinum Eagle at Smardan Training Area, Romania, on February 24, 2017. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Sean J. Berry.)
The latest operation: Soldiers, tanks and M88 recovery vehicles from the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment’s “Fighting Eagles” recently arrived in Romania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The soldiers and equipment traveled more than 1,100 miles from western Poland, where the battalion and the rest of the 3,500 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), deployed to Europe, initially assembled.
Participating in Atlantic Resolve means the 3rd ABCT will conduct bilateral and multinational training with allies in eight different countries, according to the Army. The emphasis will be increasing interoperability with Romanian and Bulgarian land forces over the next six months.
The 3rd ABCT began arriving in Europe from Fort Carson, Colorado in January. The 3rd ABCT is bringing approximately 3,500 personnel and 87 tanks, 18 Paladin self-propelled guns; 419 humvee variants; 144 Bradley Fighting Vehicles; (446 tracked vehicles, 907 wheeled vehicles, 650 trailers).
Major Royce Baker, chief of fires with the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element, meets Colonel Catalin Ticulescu, commander of the Romanian NATO Force Integration Unit, during a Multinational Division-South East Command staff exchange. (Photo by Army Staff Sergeant Diandra J. Harrell)
In February 2017 units began distributing across region with to Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany and several Baltic nations.
Special Ops Conference.
The annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium opens Monday in Bethesda, Maryland, tackling issues ranging from the acquisition and training needs of special operations forces (SOF) to budget challenges and the demand for cooperation and information sharing with partner nations.
The four-day conference — sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) — will also address the widening challenge of creating a networked, connected and unified force of SOF, as well as U.S. and international law enforcement and intelligence organizations.
Speakers will include Army General Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and James Geurts, the civilian head of acquisition at SOCOM. [More on the conference at the bottom of this post.]
A Navy SEAL was killed in a raid on an al Qaeda base in Yemen late last month. The Defense Department identified the slain sailor as Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois. He died January 29 from wounds sustained in the raid. He was assigned to an East Coast based Special Warfare unit, which most news organizations have identified as SEAL Team 6.
The raid sparked controversy in both the United States and the Middle East.
A “chain of mishaps and misjudgments,” according to the New York Times, plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three other servicemen wounded and forced the raiders to destroy a U.S. V-22 Osprey, when the $75 million tilt-rotor aircraft was unable to take off after making a hard landing during the fire fight. There are allegations — which the Pentagon acknowledged on February 1 as most likely correct — that the mission also killed several civilians, including some children, the Times reported.
Yemeni officials were unhappy about the raid and civilian casualties but they told the Reuters news agency that permission had not been withdrawn for the United States to carry out special ops ground missions. But they made clear their “reservations” about the latest operation, according to the Voice of America website. A statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington, VoA added, said the government “stresses that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism operations in Yemen with the United States Government.”
The White House called the raid, the first authorized by the Trump administration, a success. But Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee challenged that conclusion, telling NBC: “When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost, I don’t believe you can call it a success.”
But White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the operation, calling it “absolutely a success,” VoA reported. “I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid, owes an apology and disservice to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer said, referring to the Navy SEAL who died.
Earlier, Spicer said it was “hard to ever call something a complete success when you have the loss of life, or people injured. But I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions, and probably throughout the world in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards.”
The casualty rate for highly skilled and experienced special operators, like Chief Owens, has been on the rise as the United States relies more and more on elite forces.
In the past year — for the first time — according to a New York Times report (via the Seattle Times), special-operations troops have died in greater numbers than conventional troops. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan SOF made up only a fraction of the dead. That they now fill nearly the whole casualty list, the report continues, shows how the Pentagon, hesitant to put conventional troops on the ground, has come to depend almost entirely on small groups of elite warriors.
Meanwhile, Navy SEALS and other elite units are quietly battling a frightening rise in parachute deaths, according to a Military Times investigation.
Between 2011 and 2016, 11 special operators have died in high altitude, free fall training jumps. That is a 60 percent increase over the previous five-year period, according to 13 years’ worth or records analyzed by Military Times.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride.)
The four-day conference is being held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. All the commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations commands will take part in a panel discussion on the strategic and operational implications caused by the necessity to conduct coalition and inter-agency operations.
Another panel discussion on law enforcement special mission units will include representatives from several Department of Homeland Security units, including Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard.
Muscle Power, Part II.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Ken Scar)
We thought this photo of an Army Reserve sergeant doing pushups was remarkable for two reasons. First, it captures the moment when the soldier has launched himself off the ground to clap his hands between repetitions.
Secondly, the sergeant’s name captured our attention. Meet Sergeant Wenceslaus Wallace, a team leader assigned to Company C of the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
This photo was taken January 21, 2017 at the headquarters building of 335th Signal Command (Theater) in East Point, Georgia.
Why It’s Called Camouflage.
U.S. soldiers’ uniforms blend in with the rugged terrain as they move through a trench in Thies, Senegal during Africa Readiness Training 16, a joint U.S.-Senegalese exercise last July in West Africa.
These troops from 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat team, were taking part in a company level combined arms live-fire exercise.
This photo is taken from the Army’s 2016 Year in Photos collection.
Now that winter is underway in the Northern Hemisphere, we thought we’d run a series of photos illustrating U.S. forces dealing with cold and snowy weather around the world.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Kirstin Merrimarahajara.)
The first photo (above) comes from Lithuania, where a Marine works his way through sun beams and snow in a field training exercise November 29, 2016 during Iron Sword 16, at the Rukla Training Area.
As snow streams down, sailors change a propeller on an EP-3E Aries II aircraft during a night check at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Washington. The sailors are assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman.)
Senior Airman Carlos Aleman and Technical Sergeant Craig Slaten drill a hole in the frozen Tanana River in Fairbanks, Alaska on December 5, 2016. The airmen, both assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron, drilled in the area to build up the ice and create a stable bridge for transporting equipment and supplies.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher.)
Army Specialist Joseph Feola loosens the frozen ground so his fellow soldiers can drive tent stakes while conducting cold weather training in single-digit temperatures at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska on November 29, 2016. Feola is assigned to the 95th Chemical Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Elizabeth Tarr.)
Ukrainian and U.S. soldiers exit an armored vehicle during suppressive fire training in Yavoriv, Ukraine, November 18, 2016.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Michelle Reif.)
Marines and Norwegian soldiers operated a variety of armored vehicles including this tank in Setermoen, Norway, during a live-fire exercise to acclimate troops to mountainous regions and extreme cold weather conditions, November 17, 2016.
(Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Muncy.)
Airman 1st Class Avery Friedman performs taps during training at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, Dec. 15, 2016. Friedman is a member of the 106th Rescue Wing Honor Guard.
Purple Smoke for Iron Sword.
Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade work their way through purple signal smoke during Exercise Iron Sword in Pabrade, Lithuania last month. Iron Sword is an international training exercise featuring 11 NATO countries and about 4,000 troops.
The participating NATO countries included Estonia, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and Germany.
Military observers from Belarus and Kazakhstan visited the two-week exercise, which ended December 2. NATO partners Sweden and Ukraine also sent military observers.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours, according to the U.S. Army.