Posts filed under ‘Special Operations’

LOOKING AHEAD: Upcoming Defense and Homeland Security events

JANUARY 2019

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CYBER

Dawn of the Code War

John P. Carlin, Former Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; and John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division discuss responses to national security threats in cyberspace.

January 15, 2019, 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Center for Strategic & International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington

LATIN AMERICA

How to Deal with Venezuela’s Mafia State-post January 10

An armchair discussion about the international community’s policy options in responding to Venezuela’s mafia state. Nicolas Maduro is set to be sworn in as president although the 2018 elections were widely considered to be unfree and unfair. Speakers – including former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, Nicholas Brownfield and former National Security Council director for South America, Fernando Kutz — will discuss the political, diplomatic and legal implications post-January 10th and how the international community should respond.

January 11, 2019, 10:30 am to noon

Center for Strategic & International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington

FEBRUARY 2019

SPECIAL OPERATIONS

NDIA SO/LIC Symposium

Information warfare, weapons of mass destruction, artificial intelligence, robotics and rapid acquisition will be among the tactics at the National Defense Industry Association’s  (NDIA) 30th annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium.

February 5-7, 2019

Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport, Arlington, Va.

MILITARY AVIATION

International Military Helicopter

IQPC’s conference will bring government and private sector interests  together to define future threats, including the need to develop capabilities to counter the growing electronic warfare threat, increasing survivability and assessing the operational requirements of platforms.

February 5-7, 2019

Park Plaza London Victoria, London, United Kingdom

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UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

FAA UAS Symposium 2019

The FAA is bringing stakeholders together from all sectors to help define the rules and concepts — including safety issues — that will govern the future of drone (unmanned aircraft systems) operations.

February 12-14, 2019

Baltimore Convention Center

January 6, 2019 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 28, 2018)

Macbeth, Act IV, Scene II

Advanced Skills Sniper Training

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Connor Mendez)

This photo, taken December 12, 2018, shows Army Special Forces (Green Beret) snipers sprinting uphill during advanced skills sniper training at Fort Carson, Colorado.

The camouflage outfit they wear is known as a ghillie suit. We’ve written about ghillie suits several times in the past. Designed to look like heavy foliage in a forest or field, it was originally developed by Scottish gamekeepers as a portable hunting blind and first adopted for war in 1916. The name derives from a Scottish word for “lad” or “servant.”

Speaking of Scotland, these ghillie men remind us of a key scene in William Shakespeare’s drama, Macbeth, by longstanding theater world superstition, referred to simply as “the Scottish play.”

In Macbeth, the murderous title character has usurped the crown of Scotland and fears retribution, but three witches — or weird sisters — conjure an apparition that promises  Macbeth will never be defeated until Birnam Wood marches to fight him at Dunsinane Hill.

Since trees can’t uproot themselves and march, Macbeth thinks he has nothing to fear, but later in the play he is defeated by an army emerging from the woods using felled branches as camouflage — so it looked like the woods were walking indeed.

December 28, 2018 at 12:15 am Leave a comment

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.

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

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