Posts filed under ‘Counter Terrorism’

AIR FORCE: Report Says Pentagon Rethinking Attack Plane’s Retirement

Warthog Reprieve.

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint bArmy-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint Army-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

According to a published report, the U.S. Air Force is halting immediate plans to retire the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet — which is playing a major role in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The website, Defense One, reports Pentagon officials are saying plans to retire the heavily armored Cold War era jet known as the Warthog, have been put on hold. This policy shift will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, Pentagon officials told Defense One, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the spending plan before its official release.

The Air Force has been trying to eliminate the 40-year-old aircraft since 2014, because of budget constraints which threaten funding for newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the planned long range strike bomber. Officials say the A-10 — called the Warthog because of its stubby appearance, punishment-taking air frame and lethal armament — is obsolete and vulnerable to modern air defense missile systems and fifth generation fighter jets.

They also said multi-role fighters like the F-35 could handle the Warthog’s main mission: close air support of ground troops. That claim is strongly denied by Warthog advocates, who include former A-10 pilots, members of Congress and Army and Marine veterans who say they were saved from being overrun in Afghanistan by the A-10’s fearsome Gatling Gun.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

Supporters say high speed fighter jets cannot linger over a battle zone and provide covering fire for an extended period of time like the low and slow-flying Warthog has. The photo above shows the A-10’s big gun (like a fat cigar clenched in its tiger shark teeth) the seven-barrel, rotating 30 milimeter GAU cannon. The gun, with a firing rate of over 4,000-rounds per minute, enables “hogs” to support ground troops by taking out enemy tanks and armored vehicles with its armor-piercing shells.

January 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Leadership Changes; New Gunships Defense; SEALS and Women

Votel & Thomas.

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army General Joseph Votel is likely to be the next chief of Central Command (CENTCOM), according to the Washington Post. And to replace Votel at SOCOM, the Post says Army Lieutenant General Raymond Thomas is the most likely candidate.

Votel, an Army Ranger and former head of the 75th Ranger Regiment, took over Tampa, Florida-based SOCOM as its 10th commander in 2014 from Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL.

Word of Votel’s planned transfer to CENTCOM, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Army Gen. and U.S> SOCOM commander Joseph Votel. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Army Gen. and U.S. SOCOM commander Joseph Votel.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Special Operations Forces include Army Green Berets, Rangers and Special Ops aviators, Navy SEALS and Special Warfare Combatant-craft crews, Air Force Pararescue jumpers and combat air controllers, Marine Corps Corps critical skills operators and special operations combat services specialists.

Thomas, also an Army Ranger, is currently the head of Joint Special Operations Command, the SOCOM unit that oversees terrorist-hunting missions from North Africa to Afghanistan, according to the Post. CENTCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for U.S. security interests an area consisting of 20 mostly Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

*** *** ***

Radio Countermeasures.

U.S. Special Operations Command has ordered radio countermeasures equipment for its AC-130J and MC-130J gunship  variants.

Under a $32 million contract with Northrop Grumman, the company’s Land and Avionics C4ISR division will supply radio frequency countermeasures (RFCM) for the planes, according to the C4ISR&Networks web site.

Jeff Palombo, Northrop Grumman division vice president and general manager, said N-G’s solution “is designed to detect and defeat not only current radio frequency threats, but also to have the flexibility to protect our warfighters as the threat evolves.” In a Northrop Grumman press release, Palombio said the solution “is built upon our high confidence aircraft protection systems of today, coupled with an open architecture approach that enables our offering to grow to a multi-spectral, multi-function capability for the future.”

*** *** ***

Mabus VS. SEALS

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is urging the Navy’s admirals to press forward with integrating women into the Special Ops Navy SEAL teams, over the concerns of Navy SEAL leaders.

140121-N-KB563-148 CORONADO, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2014) Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs) students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf Passage is one of many physically demanding evolutions that are a part of the first phase of SEAL training. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/Released)

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs)
students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st
Class Michael Russell/Released)

As Naval Special Warfare hammers out a plan to start admitting women into their very rugged training, Mabus is urging Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson to forge ahead. Mabus rebutted some of the concerns Navy brass raised about roadblocks to integration, the Navy Times reported.

In the plan it submitted, NSW argued that allowing women to join direct ground combat units would not increase readiness, and could even distract from it, according to the memo obtained by Navy Times.

January 12, 2016 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

SKILLS AND TRAINING: Marines Preparing for Future Actions in Coastal Mega Cities

Skyscraper Warfare?

Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers and U.S. Marines patrol streets in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal James J. Vooris)

Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers and U.S. Marines patrol streets in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal James J. Vooris)

Back in September, we told what challenges Marine Corps planners and strategists think the corps will face later in the 21st Century. Much talk at the Modern Day Marine expo in Virginia focused on the kind of hybrid warfare seen in eastern Ukraine and the rise of teeming coastal mega cities around the world.

The future battlefield will probably look nothing like Afghanistan and Iraq, where Marines have been fighting for the last 14 years. Instead, urban areas near the sea and river deltas are expected to be the most likely environment, said Brigadier General Julian Dale Alford, commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

During a panel discussion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Alford said the new environment will be “complex, congested, cluttered, contested, connected (with the cyber world), constrained and coastal.”

There’s plenty of evidence to back that conclusion.

A 2014 United Nations report noted that 54 percent of the world’s population already lives in urban areas — a proportion expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050.  Projections show that urbanization, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa, according to the 2014 revision of the U.N.’s World Urbanization Prospects report.

Of today’s 28 mega-cities (with a population of 10 million or more) 16 are located in Asia, four in Latin America, three each in Africa and Europe, and two in North America. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with 10 million inhabitants or more. Many of those cities are in the littoral areas close to the sea.”That’s where our Marines are  going to fight. That’s where we’re going to have to operate,” Alford said back in September.

Speaking at an industry training, simulation and education conference in Orlando, Florida last month, Alford asked industry attendees to help develop ways to better prepare troops to fight in high-rise warfare, Defense News reported.

Alford said training concepts need to move quickly from “the three-block war,”  to the “four-floor war.” “We are going to be on the top floor of a skyscraper . . . evacuating civilians and helping people. The middle floor, we might be detaining really bad people that we’ve caught. On the first floor we will be down there killing them. … At the same time they will be getting away through the subway or sub terrain,” Alford said, Defense News’ Jen Judson reported from Orlando. “How do we train to fight that? Because it is coming, that fight right there is coming I do believe with all my heart,”  Alford added.
Nighttime view of Israel's Urban Warfare Training Center. (Israeli Defense Forces photo)

Nighttime view of Israel’s Urban Warfare Training Center.
(Israeli Defense Forces photo)

Then U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno commissioned the Strategic Studies Group, to develop a study on the challenges of mega cities in 2014. Click here to see it.

January 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Veteran Reporter’s Thoughts on Media and National Security

Food for Thought: Walter Pincus.

Food for ThoughtIn his latest — and perhaps last — column in newsprint, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus offers some opinions and concerns about the state of journalism and how the media covers national security, a beat Pincus has covered for decades.

Like a lot of journalists who started out in the business using typewriters and carbon paper instead of computers and mobile devices, Pincus is concerned that in the era of 24-hour cable news, the Internet and Twitter “we have been moved further into a PR society and, sadly public relations has become a key part of government in our politics.”

On national security, Pincus says “the reality of the threat from terrorism” and terror groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda “needs to be put in some perspective.” He believes that even at the height of the Cold War, the United States did not “institute the security actions at home that have been taken and are being contemplated to meet what’s been described as a terrorist threat.”

He also believes, as many do, that when contemplating military involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia, one should remember the experience in Vietnam showed “that the American form of government is not easily transferred to other countries.”

It should be noted that Pincus spent a large part of his journalistic career writing about nuclear weapons, politics and arms control and is finishing a book about the U.S. nuclear weapons program. He’s won several awards but has also been controversial. In February, he says, he will be writing his column for the website, the Cipher Brief.

December 31, 2015 at 12:17 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 25, 2015)

The Force Is Still Strong.

U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergean. Robert Cloys

U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergean. Robert Cloys

In a war zone far, far away, U.S. service members cheer and clap before they get to see the first showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on December 22.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service partnered with Walt Disney Studios to give troops a chance to see the movie at a deployed location.

Lately, the news from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, Paris, San Bernardino and elsewhere around the world has been just awful during what is supposed to be a season of joy and peace. We thought this light moment in a dangerous place –notice the M-16s– might bring you some Christmas cheer.

Here at 4GWAR, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season … and may the force be with you.

December 25, 2015 at 12:25 am Leave a comment

AFRICA/COUNTER TERRORISM: U.S. Troops Helping African Forces in Fight with Boko Haram

New Drone base.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline rewritten to clarify U.S. forces not engaged in combat, just aiding ISR effort.

Cameroon (CIA World Factbook)

Cameroon
(CIA World Factbook)

The United States has quietly sent hundreds of troops to West Africa, to help Cameroon’s army hunt the terrorists along the Nigerian border, according to a CBS News report Wednesday (December 16).

They’re searching for Boko Haram, the extremist group that has aligned itself with the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIl and Daesh). Boko Harma has killed more than 20,000 people in the region, mostly in Nigeria, over the past six years.

Cameroon is getting help from the U.S. military, which is setting up another drone base in Africa. Cameroon soldiers are learning how to use their own unarmed drones for surveillance. The U.S. base won’t be fully operational until next month, CBS says.

“The U.S. is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the Cameroonian forces,” Army Captain Victor Guzman told CBS News. He said the plan is for the Cameroonian troops to take the lead and fight the local threat.

The United States started unarmed drone surveillance flights out of Niger, to the north of Cameroon, in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali.

December 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: DHS Comes Up With New Warning System

Six Month Warning.

Department of Homeland Security seal

Department of Homeland Security seal

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled a new terrorism alert system Wednesday (December 16) while advising concerns about “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice.

According to the Associated Press, DHS is adding a new “Bulletin” category to two existing alert categories: elevated and imminent. An elevated warns of a “credible terrorism threat” while imminent alerts advise the public of a “credible specific and impending terrorism threat.”

This is the first change to the National Terrorism Advisory System since it replaced the color-coded system in 2011.

The first bulletin informed Americans that while there is no new intelligence of a specific, credible threat, the public should remain vigilant, according to NBC News. The bulletin will remain in effect until June 16, 2016. That’s right, until the middle of next year.

“We are in a new phase in the global threat environment, which has implications on the homeland. Particularly with the rise in use by terrorist groups of  the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice,” the bulletin stated, adding that recent attacks in Paris as well as San Bernardino, California “warrant increased security, as well as increased public vigilance and awareness.”

December 17, 2015 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

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