Posts filed under ‘Unconventional Warfare’

AROUND AFRICA: Nigeria’s Boko Haram Troubles

NIGERIA-Boko Haram.

Extremist attacks of military bases between November 2 and 18, killed 39 soldiers and wounded 43 more, Nigerian officials conceded Wednesday (November 28).

The attacks are an embarrassment and political setback for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has maintained the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram has been defeated. On Wednesday Buhari declared that Boko Haram and Islamic State-linked fighters should be wiped “from the surface of the earth.”

MAP-Nigeria

(Nigeria map: CIA World Factbook)

Shocked by the deaths, Buhari backed off past declarations that Boko Haram has been defeated and urged the military to “rise to the challenge.” He addressed security leaders in the turbulent northeast as he faces growing criticism ahead of next year’s election over the failure to end what he called a “must-win war,” the Associated Press reported.

The Islamic State West Africa Province, the largest IS-linked extremist group in Africa and a recent Boko Haram offshoot, claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack, a Nov. 18 assault on a military base in Metele. Concerns are growing that the group, which has killed two abducted health workers in recent months, is becoming more vicious, according to AP.

Mamman Nu, a slightly more moderate leader of the brutal terrorist group was killed three months ago by his more fanatical followers, according to The Economist.

Claims that the Buhari administration and the Nigerian military are inadequately equipping soldiers for the fight against Boko Haram are reminiscent of similar charges made against then-President Goodluck Jonathan at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency between 2014 and 2015, according to the Council on Foreign Relations blog. Then, as now, Nigeria faced upcoming presidential elections, which Buhari would go on to win. He campaigned on a platform of tackling corruption and restoring security, and central to his campaign was the defeat of Boko Haram.

nigerian-refugees-un-photo

A group of Nigerian refugees rest in the Cameroon town of Mora in 2015 after fleeing armed Boko Haram attacks.
(United Nations Photo by Mbaoirem)Enter a caption

“The apparent revival of Boko Haram therefore constitutes for President Buhari an electoral liability as well as added danger now faced by ordinary Nigerians in the northeast. Furthermore, according to officials from Niger, the terrorist group recently kidnapped around eighteen girls from two villages near the border with Nigeria. The episode recalls the Boko Haram kidnapping of school girls from Chibok in 2014, though the large-scale kidnapping of school girls has become a common feature of the Boko Haram insurgency. The failure of the Jonathan administration to provide adequately for the military was widely ascribed to corruption. President Buhari has launched a high-profile initiative against corruption, though many Nigerians see it as ineffective. Hence, the revival of Boko Haram and claims that the military is ill-provisioned may call to mind earlier allegations of the Jonathan government’s fecklessness and corruption that Buhari campaigned against,” writes John Campbell on the CoFR website.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian military says Boko Haram is using drones — unmanned aircraft — to gather intelligence on Nigerian troop movements, according to the BBC.

In a statement by Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman on Wednesday, the Army said “we have noticed daring moves by the terrorists, increased use of drone against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks, according the Nigerian news site Vanguard.

 

 

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November 30, 2018 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 26, 2018)

Close Quarters Combat

Pride of the Pacific: One Mind, Any Weapon

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Donald Holbert)

In this frozen moment of time, Marine Corps Corporals Matthew Teutsch and Brett Norman participate in hand-to-hand and close quarters combat training at Camp Pendleton, California The photo was taken October 2, 2018.

While we’re sure this confrontation led to some rough maneuvering before somebody went down, we can’t help but imagine what the face-off might have sounded like:

“Come any closer and I’ll poke you with my stick rifle!”

“Oh yeah? Try it and I’ll stick you with my plastic composite knife.”

All joking aside, this is a magnificent action photo.

 

October 26, 2018 at 11:59 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

Ground Combat Vehicles

Planning Ahead.

Back in the Fight!

A Bradley Fighting Vehicle moves into position during training at Fort Irwin, Calif., August 6, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Justin May).

The U.S. military is changing the way it will fight in the next 30 years. The rise of China as a global competitor and Russia’s increasing belligerence in the regions around the Baltic and Black seas, have U.S. military planners – especially in the Army — rethinking their procurement needs, including what kind of armored ground combat vehicles will be needed.

“Russia and China continue to assert themselves in an effort to gain dominance in key regions and are developing advanced weapons to achieve parity both strategically and in close combat,” Army Secretary Mark Esper told a Senate appropriations panel in May. The potential threat was on full display in mid-September when Russia conducted its largest military exercise since the Cold War in Eastern Siberia.  The week-long Vostok 2018 maneuvers, involved not only 300,000 Russian personnel, but 3,200 Chinese troops and 36,000 tanks and other armored ground vehicles.

But prototypes of the Army’s future ground combat vehicles are not expected to be delivered for another two or three years. So U.S. military leaders are looking for interim defensive systems that can protect tank and armored vehicle crews from advanced armor-piercing shells and missiles. The usual solution–adding more armor– isn’t feasible with 70-ton M1A Abrams tanks already too heavy for Eastern European bridges to accommodate.

The added weight of heavier armor–sometimes several tons–can slow the vehicle down, make it less maneuverable and complicates logistics from transportation to maintenance to repair. Instead, the Defense Department is looking at lightweight, off-the-shelf solutions utilizing active or passive technology. Active protection systems, or APS, use physical countermeasures, such as blast or projectiles that destroy or limit the impact of incoming fire.

In February, officials announced the Army would buy the Trophy active protection system — made by Israel’s Rafael — for more than 250 of the Abrams main battle tanks. Currently deployed with the Israeli Defense Force, Trophy is the only battle-tested APS in the Western world, although Russia has had success with its own APS in Ukraine. Trophy maintains a ring of radar around the vehicle to detect threats in all directions. Once the system detects an incoming weapon, Trophy tracks it, determines its trajectory and destroys it with a blast of metal pellets like a shotgun.

Bravo Company, 1/4 Mechanized Raid

(Marines operate an assault amphibious vehicle during a simulated mechanized raid at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., on August 28, 2018. The shaped steel Enhanced Applique Armor Kit is visible on the AAV’s flank. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Private First Class Brendan Mullin).

There are also “passive” solutions of specialized armor plating that use composite materials to simply deflect or absorbs blasts and projectiles, like the EAAK (Enhanced Applique Armor Kit), developed by Rafael and installed on the U.S. Marine Corps’ ageing Assault Amphibious Vehicles. Baseline protection was increased through a shaped-steel external armor fitting. However, that forced modifications to the engine and suspension system to counter the additional weight of the EAAK installation.

A survivability upgrade that would have replaced the EAKK armor with more advanced defensive and amphibious technology was cancelled by the Marine Corps in late September, according to USNI News.

Metal Foam

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a range of composite metal foams that are lighter and stronger than the materials they are made of. The composite material offers much more protection that all other existing armor materials while lowering the weight by as much as one-third, say researchers. (Photo by Afsaneh Rabiei)

One promising composite solution is metal foam, literally metal with sponge-like holes, that combines strength, thermal shielding and both ballistic and thermal radiation detection. Developed by researchers at North Carolina State University and the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, composite metal foam, or CMF, “offers much more protection than all other existing armor materials while lowering the weight remarkably,” according to Afsaneh Rabiei, senior author of the paper outlining CMF’s benefits. “We can provide as much protection as existing steel armor at a fraction of the weight – or provide much more protection at the same weight,” added Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at N.C. State.

Advanced armor materials will be among the topics discussed at IDGA’s Future Ground Combat Vehicles summit in Detroit, December 5-7. Click here for more information.

September 27, 2018 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTOS (August 10, 2018)

Over Africa.

75 EAS C-130s deliver cargo in East Africa

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Pilots of an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules fly a mission over East Africa on July 24, 2018. These airmen are assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which supports Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa with medical evacuations, disaster relief, humanitarian and airdrop operations.

Meanwhile, on the other side of what was once called the Dark Continent …

Under Africa.

U.S. Army Soldiers participate in Jungle Warfare School in Ghana

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Brandon Ames)

An Army staff sergeant slogs through muddy water during Jungle Warfare School training at Achiase Military Base in Akim Achiase, Ghana, on August 4, 2018. The exercises train participants in counter-insurgency and internal security operations.

August 9, 2018 at 11:53 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 (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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