Posts filed under ‘Special Operations’

FRIDAY FOTO (November 30, 2018)

Underwater Promotion.

FRI FO test 11-30-2018

(NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory photo)

Army astronauts Colonel Andrew “Drew” Morgan (left) and Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain prepare to be promoted to their current ranks while underwater following required training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas.

This photo was taken in September, but now Lieutenant Colonel McClain is in Star City, Russia, preparing for a December 3 launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station.

“I am so happy that I’m going to have six months in space,” McClain — who is part of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s small astronaut detachment — said during an early November teleconference press briefing. “We’re not just going to space to visit, we’re going to go there to live.”

A West Point graduate, test pilot and combat helicopter pilot, McClain was selected for NASA’s human spaceflight program in 2013, along with fellow West Pointer, Colonel Morgan, a medical doctor, Special Forces emergency physician and former Army parachutist and skydiver.  His space mission is slated for launch in July.

If her launch goes as planned, McClain will be the first active-duty Army officer in space since 2010. Her three-person crew is expected to launch from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft and rocket.

“Feeling the thrust of the rocket is going to be something that I am really looking forward to,” she said. “It is going to be a completely new experience.” McClain, 39, of Spokane, Washington, will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 58/59.

While her crew prepares to lift off on a rocket similar to one that suffered a malfunction October 11 — triggering an automatic abort and emergency landing, McClain says she’s not worried. The Soyuz rocket, she noted, has had an amazing track record. Before last month’s incident, the rocket’s previous aborted mission was in 1983.

“I saw that October 11 incident, not as a failure, but as an absolute success,” she said. “What this really proved was that the Russian launch abort system is a really great design and for that reason we have that backup plan.

McClain’s crew also received a debriefing from both astronauts in the aborted mission — Air Force Colonel Nick Hague and his Russian counterpart, Alexey Ovchinin.

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November 30, 2018 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 12, 2018)

Remembering “A Bridge Too Far”

All American Engineers Honor Valor, Sacrifice of WWII Waal River Crossing

(U.S. Army photo by Major Thomas Cieslak)

Paratroopers paddle rubber boats across a pond at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on October 3, 2018, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the crossing of the Waal River under heavy German fire by 82nd Airborne Division troops during World War II.

The near suicidal mission — the boats were canvas and wood, there weren’t enough paddles to go around so soldiers used their rifle stocks, they launched the attack in broad daylight and the Germans knew they were coming — was part of the failed British plan to leapfrog across the Netherlands and into Germany, known as Operation Market Garden.

Led by Major Julian Cook’s 3rd Battalion of the 82nd’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the attack crossed the 250-foot wide Waal under blistering mortar, machine gun and rifle fire and took the north end of the bridge. That allowed Allied tanks to cross on their way to Arnhem to relieve British paratroopers holding another bridge. However, heavy German resistance along the exposed, narrow roads thwarted the advance, proving Arnhem was just “a bridge too far.”

Here’s a brief video of 82nd Airborne veteran, James “Maggie” Megellas, describing the attack. Operation Market Garden inspired a book, and later a feature film — both called “A Bridge Too Far.”

In the movie, Robert Redford portrays Cook leading a crossing he knows is insanely dangerous, with a non-stop “Hail Mary,” prayer. Here’s a film clip, that puts the action in perspective. It starts with Allied tank and artillery fire trying to dislodge the entrenched Germans across the river, and German officers planning to blow the bridge in the unlikely event the Americans make it across the river.

October 12, 2018 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September16, 2018)

Spy Plane Selfie.

FRIFO 9-16-2018 U@-Dragon Lady

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lieutenant Colonel Ross Franquemont)

We confess we’re a little confused as to what we’re seeing here in this photo. The official caption reads: An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady pilot flies the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft approximately 70,000 feet above an undisclosed location [on] August 13, 2018. The Dragon Lady is a single-seat, near space reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft that flies so high its pilots must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts.

Jammed with high tech sensors like infrared, and synthetic aperture radar, the Dragon Lady is the latest iteration of the Cold War-era U-2 Spy plane, which caused an international incident back in 1960 when one of the top secret, high-flying jets was shot down by a Russian missile.

U-2 New York Times, May 1960

For an easy-to-understand appreciation of that incident and the times it happened in, we recommend viewing the 2015 Steven Spielberg movie “Bridge of Spies,” starring Tom Hanks.

What confuses us at 4GWAR in this week’s FOTO is the American flag, which appears to be on display inside the U-2 cockpit, or else it is painted on the wing or fuselage and through some trick of light or photography, appears to be inside the plane.

Anybody with knowledge of the the real situation, please let us know.

At any rate, since U-2 photos from inside the super secret cockpit don’t come along very often, we decided to run this Air Force photo as this week’s Friday Foto.

September 16, 2018 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 20, 2017)

Eerie.

Special Operations Recruiters at Battlefield Airman Training

(U.S. Defense Department photo by E.J. Hersom)

What in the world is going on here? The headline says it all: Eerie lighting and imagery like a scene from a science fiction horror movie.

Actually, Air Force Staff Sergeant Robert Jette (on the right) was undergoing a body composition measurement test when this photo was taken on June 28, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas.

Body composition testing determines how much of one’s body is fat and how much isn’t. The non-fat part is called lean tissue, which includes muscle, water, bone and organs.

Jette is a Special Operations recruiter based in Fresno, California. He is one of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who specialize in recruiting troops for Special Operations Command, like Army Green Berets, Navy Seals and Air Force combat controllers.

Because of high attrition rates in its special operations career fields — like para-rescue jumpers — the Air Force created the 350th Battlefield Airman Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, and the 330th Recruiting Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, to use human performance monitoring and a data collection system, as well as specialized recruiters.

The new 330th Recruiting Squadron pulled recruiters from 27 different squadrons across the Air Force who showed an aptitude and interest — as well as other qualifications — to head up this new squadron, specializing in recruiting for the three Air Force special forces career fields and career fields in supporting areas.

While not special operators themselves, these special ops recruiters have to understand and be able to explain the demands of the job to potential recruits. Click here to see a photo essay about a leadership program designed for Air Force special operations recruiters.

Here’s a sample photo:

Special Operations Recruiters at Battlefield Airman Training

Air Force special operations recruiters navigate a leadership obstacle course at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, June 28, 2018, where they experienced the training undertaken by recruits. (Defense Department photo by E.J. Hersom)

July 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 15, 2018)

Found Ya’ Staff Sergeant.

Many Happy Returns

(U.S. Army photo by John Pennell)

This little girl couldn’t wait for ceremonial proceedings to end before greeting a loved one at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. This photo was taken June 2, 2018, as nearly 400 paratroopers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne)  returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Note all these soldiers are wearing the paratroopers’ maroon beret. Displayed on their left sleeve is the 25th ID’s Tropic Lighting patch (a lightning bolt superimposed over a taro leaf, commemorating the division’s Hawaiian origins) with the AIRBORNE tab above it.

June 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 18, 2018)

Marines in Norway.

CB90's and Water Casting

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Miguel A. Rosales)

U.S. Marines  and Norwegian Costal Ranger Commandos (KJK) conduct water casting training aboard a CB90-class fast assault craft during Exercise Platinum Ren at Fort Trondennes, Harstad, Norway, on May 14, 2018.To see the Swedish designed CB90 put through its pages by the Brazilian navy, click here.

Water casting is the technique of casting off troops from a low flying  helicopter or fast-moving boat and then retrieving them from the water when the job is done.

Here’s another video showing the work of the KJK, also known as the Kystjegerkommandoen.

The Platinum Ren exercise with KJKs is a security cooperation training event aimed at strengthening coalition partnerships and sustaining mission-essential tasks in a harsh operating environment.

The Marines in the photo are with the 1st Platoon, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the 1st Marine Division.

May 18, 2018 at 10:51 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 20, 2018)

So Where’s the Plane?

Pararescue Airmen practice military free fall

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Gustavo Castillo)

Illustrating the “Free” in free fall, this photo shows Air Force para rescue jumpers (PJs) performing a military free fall jump over Djibouti in East Africa on April 17, 2018. The airmen are assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. They are deployed in support of humanitarian aid and contingency operations in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa area of responsibility.

April 20, 2018 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

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