Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’

SPECIAL OPERATIONS/INTELLIGENCE: Treasure Trove of Intel Found in Syria Raid

Rating the Raiders.

James R. Clapper official portrait.

James R. Clapper official portrait.

TAMPA, Florida — The Delta Force team that killed a key Islamic State leader in a raid into Syria last week also recovered a “treasure trove” of information about the violent extremist group, the president’s top intelligence adviser said Wednesday night (May 20).

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence saluted the special operations forces (SOF) that killed Abu Sayyaf, captured his wife and freed a young Iraqi woman reportedly being held as a slave by the couple. According to press and government accounts, the raid’s aim was to capture Sayyaf, described as the chief financial officer of IS, but a gun battle broke out and he and about a dozen IS fighters were killed.

“They collected, what appears to me to be a treasure trove of valuable intelligence,” Clapper told attendees at a black tie awards dinner at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). I congratulate and salute you,” Clapper told the SOF members in the audience, “it was well done.” Clapper noted that the raiders “got in and got out and no one from our side got hurt.”

Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general (three star) and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among other intel community posts, said the raid’s success illustrated the cooperation that now exists between the SOF community and the intelligence community.

He recalled the intelligence bonanza reaped by SOF when they raided a Pakistani compound in May 2011 and killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEALs that took out bin Laden stayed in the house long enough to collect books and papers as well as files from his computers. “I was blown away when I saw — not only by what was picked up but the care with which it was picked up,” Clapper said. He called the materials taken from bin Laden’s compound “invaluable in our fight against al Qaeda.”

Delta Force did exactly the same thing in Syria, Clapper said, noting that papers and other documents have given the intelligence community insight into ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), the Defense Department’s preferred term for the brutal extremist group.

Clapper said his staff has just released “a sizable tranche” of documents seized from the bin Laden raid, including what he termed bin Laden’s book shelf: a list of commercially available and public domain books found in the terrorist leader’s home. The documents were posted on ODNI’s unclassified public website.

“Those who want to see him as a super villain are going to be a little disappointed,” Clapper said. He read Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” But about half of the 38 English language books on bin Laden’s bookshelf included books about conspiracy theories and the Illuminati and Free Masons.

May 21, 2015 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Looks to Future Threats

Preparing for New Challenges.

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

TAMPA, Florida — Battling  pirates off the Horn of Africa, violent extremist groups across Africa and the Middle East, transnational crime organizations in Latin America and rogue states in Europe and Asia doesn’t begin to address all the threats facing America in the 21st century, says the head of U.S. Special Operations Command — known as SOCOM.

“SOCOM is looking beyond our current conflicts, in order to gain an understanding of the evolving strategic environment,” says Army General Joseph Votel, SOCOM’s commander. SOCOM’s success in that dynamic environment “hangs on this priority,” Votel stressed.

To that end, Votel told the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa on Tuesday (May 19) that SOCOM analysts were keeping tabs on worldwide technical progress, demographic changes and economic trends to avoid strategic surprise.

Votel, himself an Army Ranger, oversees training and equipping policies for U.S. commando units in all of the armed services: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Considering the many threat issues and the effect of the congressional budget- trimming strategy, known as sequestration, Votel said SOCOM needs to invest in equipment interoperability and integrate with “our international partners,” of which there are nearly 60.

Even if SOCOM continues to avoid the budget ax, cuts to the conventional forces could hurt the command’s abilities to perform its missions because SOCOM relies heavily on the services to supply transportation and logistical support among other things.

May 19, 2015 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOFIC Trade Show Opens

…in a Complex World.

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year's SOFIC in Tampa. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year’s SOFIC in Tampa.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

TAMPA, Florida — Few events could better illustrate the theme — Winning in a Complex World — of a special operations forces industry conference opening today than the good news/bad news coming the Middle East last week.

On Friday (May 15) U.S. Army Delta Force commandos killed a key leader of the Islamic State group in a daring helicopter raid inside war torn Syria. About a dozen Islamic State fighters were killed in the brief but intense firefight. No U.S. forces were killed or injured although at least one helicopter was riddled with bullets.

Two days later (May 17) word came that Islamic State fighters had captured Ramadi, seizing a large cache of weapons in the capital of Iraq’s largest province just 60 miles west of Baghdad — despite U.S. air strikes and other support.

The United States is being challenged on a number of fronts around the world from violent extremist organizations across Africa and the Middle East to transnational narcotics cartels corrupting governments in Latin America and West Africa.

Russia and China are flexing their muscles and bullying their neighbors. And there are still the challenges posed by North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan.

And on the front line of these and other hotspots around the world are U.S. special Operations Forces (SOF) tasked with training partner nation militaries, keeping tabs on threatening groups, rescuing hostages and killing or capturing terrorists.

In Tampa this week, leaders of U.S. Special Operations Command USSOCOM) — which oversees the training and equipping of Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Raiders, Air Commandos and other SOF units, will be explaining their needs — and their funding constraints — to industry.  At that same time, hundreds of manufacturers and vendors at the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference will be showing the equipment, technologies and services they believe will help SOCOM complete its varied missions. Your 4GWAR editor is here to listen to both groups.

May 19, 2015 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 15, 2015)

Human Need, Human Support.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Gomez-Hickman holds a young earthquake victim before loading her into an ambulance at a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal. U.S. Joint Task Force 505, along with other multinational forces and humanitarian relief organizations, is providing aid after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal April 25. U.S. Pacific Command sent JTF 505, at Nepal’s request, to provide unique assistance capabilities — including helicopter search and rescue and mobile emergency medical facilities. (Click on the photo to enlarge the image).

A Marine Corps UH-1Y “Huey helicopter from  Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 went missing May 12 near Charikot, Nepal, while conducting humanitarian assistance. Six Marines and two Nepalese service members were aboard the aircraft, which crashed in the rugged terrain. Wreckage was spotted by Nepalese troops Friday and it is not believed there are any survivors of the accident, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. Marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors have been providing search and rescue, logistical, medical, communications and transportation support to the shattered area along with U.S. AID and State department workers and civilian urban search and rescue teams from California and Virginia. For more details on this humanitarian relief effort, click here.

To see more photos, click here, here and here.

 

 

 

 

May 15, 2015 at 9:22 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO: May 8, 2015

Jet Wash.

 (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson) Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group deputy commander, navigates her F-35A through the “bird bath” after returning from her first flight on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 5, 2015. Mau, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female F-35 pilot in the program.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marleah Robertson)

Ever wonder how you clean a multi-million dollar U.S. Air Force jet? Well, here’s how. Lieutenant Colonel Christine Mau, deputy commander of the 33rd Operations Group, navigates her F-35A Joint Strike Fighter through the “bird bath” after returning from her first flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida earlier this week.

But wait, there’s a bigger story. The colonel, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female pilot in the latest American fighter program.

 (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson) Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group deputy commander, puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 5, 2015. Mau, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female F-35 pilot in the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marleah Robertson) 

Here’s a photo of Lieutenant Colonel Mau readying for her first flight in the Air Force variant of the multi-role fighter on May 5. Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

May 8, 2015 at 1:30 am Leave a comment

UNMANNED SYSTEMS: Drone Trade Group Renames Annual Conference

AUVSI to Xponential.

A New Name for Unmanned Systems conference. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

A New Name for Unmanned Systems conference.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

ATLANTA — The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is a big, clunky name with a clunky acronym (AUVSI), but officials of the robotics trade group say the name has to cover a wide area of interests and technologies from aerial drones of all sizes to self-driving cars … from robots that can clean gutters to those that can neutralize mines and bombs … from autonomous ocean-going gliders that measure water salinity and temperature to underwater robots that can inspect the hulls of ships and harbor infrastructure beneath the surface.

So when your 4GWAR editor crossed paths Tuesday (May 5) with AUVSI’s new president, Brian Wynne, at the group’s annual conference, we asked what happened to the suggestion at last year’s conference that a committee would soon start investigating the feasibility of a new name — perhaps something flashier or at least shorter.

“There’s no plan to change the name at this time,” Wynne said over the din of the exhibit hall floor. But he said there would soon be news about the name of the AUVSI’s moveable feast, known simply as Unmanned Systems 2015 (or ’14, or ’13 — you get the idea.)

A busy corner of Unmanned Systems 2015's exhibit hall. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

A busy corner of Unmanned Systems 2015’s exhibit hall.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Well this morning (May 6) there was a new display on the exhibit hall floor (see above photo) and an announcement at the day’s opening general session that next year’s conference and expo — in New Orleans — would be known as Xponential 2016.

In a press release, AUVSI officials called it a “rebranding and evolution” of the annual event, which this year drew 600 exhibitor and 8,000 attendees from more than 50 countries (including Britain, Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands and South Korea).

“Xponential encapsulates the tremendous growth and innovation in the unmanned systems industry, as well as the broad societal benefits of the technology,” the release said, quoting Wynne. “Xponential will help the world understand the potential of this industry by providing a single gathering place where people can see and interact with the technology and systems that will soon become part of our everyday lives,” Wynne added.

According to the release, more information about the changes can be found at www.xponential.org.

May 6, 2015 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 1, 2015)

Green Cockpit.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory D. Payne) Click on image to enlarge for full effect.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory D. Payne)
Click on image to enlarge for full effect.

An Air Force pilot and co-pilot return to base in an AC-130W Stinger II a multi-role aircraft capable of close air support and armed reconnaissance, after a live-fire mission to support Exercise Emerald Warrior on Hurlburt Field, Florida on April 27, 2015.

Emerald Warrior is an annual joint exercise to train special operations, as well as conventional and partner nation forces to sharpen special operations air and ground combat skills. The operation is the Defense Department’s only irregular warfare exercise allowing representative units from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard to train together with units from partner nations and prepare for real-world contingency operations. U.S. soldiers, airmen and Marines as well as British and Dutch troops participated in this year’s exercise.

 The airmen in this photo are assigned to the 73rd Special Operations Squadron, part of U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, out of Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

For more photos of this big undertaking, click here and here.

 

May 1, 2015 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

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