Posts tagged ‘Afghanistan’

SHAKO: New Medal of Honor Museum; Movies About MoH Heroes; Medal of Honor Quiz

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.

Friday, March 25, was National Medal of Honor Day, established by Congress to “foster public appreciation and recognition of Medal of Honor recipients.”

Since the medal was created in 1861, 3,511 members of the U.S. military have received the Medal. Some of the names are quite famous like movie star and World War II legend Audie Murphy, frontier scout and showman Buffalo Bill Cody, and William “Wild Bill” Donovan, commander of the fabled Fighting 69th New York regiment in World War One and head of the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II.

But most are names that are famous briefly when they receive the Medal, like Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, cited for his heroism on Guadalcanal in 1942, but largely forgotten until the HBO Series The Pacific, rediscovered Basilone’s story.

Standards to award the Medal of Honor have evolved over time, but the Medal has always stood for actions that go above and beyond. The current criteria were established in 1963 during the Vietnam War, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor website.

The Medal is authorized for any military service member who “distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty

The Defense Department announced on March 25 that ground had been broken for a Medal of Honor museum in Texas.

Medal of Honor recipients are honored at the National Medal of Honor Museum’s groundbreaking ceremony in Arlington, Texas, March 25, 2022.

At the museum’s groundbreaking ceremony in Arlington, Texas, Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the stories of selfless service deserve a permanent home. Their stories of heroism, service and valor must be shared, he added. And that’s exactly what the museum will do.

Milley told stories of some of the 15 Medal of Honor recipients who attended the groundbreaking, as well as others not present.

“It’s those stories that will document our country’s bravery, that gives purpose to our entire military. It’s their heroism,” he said.

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Movies About MoH Heroism

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a moving picture is worth tens of thousands.

Here’s a short list of seven Hollywood movies over the years that told the stories of Medal of Honor awardees from the Civil War, the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, Somalia and Afghanistan.

 

1. Hacksaw Ridge (World War II, 1945)

This 2016 film recounts the selfless bravery of Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, during the Battle of Okinawa. A pacifist who refused to kill or even carry a weapon in combat, Doss became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

 

2. Sergeant York (World War 1, 1918)

Tennessee farmer and marksman Alvin York was another pacifist who didn’t even want to serve in the Army when he was drafted in 1917, according to this 1942 film. However, his nearly single-handed assault on German machine guns resulting in more than a dozen Germans killed and 132 captured earned him the nickname “One Man Army,” as well as the Medal of Honor. Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of York.

 

3. Black Hawk Down (Somalia, 1993)

This 2001 film recounts the story of 160 U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators who dropped into Mogadishu in October 1993 to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord, but found themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis. Posthumous MoH recipients Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart were played in the film by Johnny Strong and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

 

4. Lone Survivor (Afghanistan, 2005)

This 2013 film is about Marcus Luttrell, the only member of his SEAL team to survive a vicious running gun battle with Afghan insurgents during a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. The team commander, Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, portrayed by Taylor Kitsch, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

 

5. We Were Soldiers (Vietnam, 1965)

The story of the battle of Ia Drang Valley, the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War, pitting U.S. Air Cavalry troopers against North Vietnam Army regulars. The movie also shows the stress on soldiers’ families back home waiting for news of their loved ones. Helicopter pilot Major Bruce ‘Snake’ Crandall, the Medal of Honor for his heroism ferrying supplies and troops into and wounded soldiers out of a “Hot LZ,” a landing zone under heavy fire, was played by Greg Kinnear.

 

 

6. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (World War II, 1942)

Spencer Tracy plays then-Army Air Force Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, the commander of the first air attack on Tokyo less than six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Doolittle, who planned the mission, trained the crews of B-25 land-based bombers to take off from an aircraft carrier, and then flew the lead bomber in the risky all-volunteer mission, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

7. The Great Locomotive Chase (Civil War, 1862)

During the Civil War a Union spy and volunteer soldiers, who risked hanging as spies if captured, plotted to steal a Confederate train and drive it to Union territory while destroying the Confederate railway system along the way. The survivors of this daring raid were the first U.S. troops to receive the new Medal of Honor. The raid failed in its main objective and all the raiders were captured. Eight were hanged. Eight others escaped and the rest were traded in a prisoner exchange. In all, 19 were awarded the first Medals of Honor, including Private Jacob Parrott of the 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who is considered the first soldier awarded the MoH. Claude Jarman Jr., played Parrott in the 1956 Disney live action film about the raid.

The Mitchell Raiders receive the first Medals of Honor in The Great Locomotive Chase. (Disney via Military.com)

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Last, but not Least — a Quiz.

The Pentagon web site asks how much do you know about the the nation’s highest medal for valor in combat?

Click here, to take the quiz.

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York in the photo.

West Point cadets in dress parade uniform. (U.S. Military Academy)

March 28, 2022 at 2:05 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 27, 2021)

No Better Friend

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla)

A U.S. Marine with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) escorts a boy to his family during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 24.

The Marines have a saying about themselves: “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.” This photo illustrates the first part of that saying.

Two days after the photo was taken, 11 Marines and a Hospital Corpsman — one of the Navy medics who take care of Marines in the danger zone — were killed by a terrorist bomb just outside the airport. Fifteen other U.S. service members were injured in the blast. Scores of Afghans were also killed and more than 100 injured.

The attack is believed to be the handiwork of a violent extremist group that calls itself ISIS-K, an offshoot of the Islamic State terrorist organization that established a sprawling caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The group was all but destroyed by a U.S.-led campaign but affiliates like ISIS-K have since emerged and drawn recruits from other local and regional militant groups.

Despite the tragic loss of life, the mission to evacuate American citizens and vulnerable Afghan civilians from Afghanistan will continue undeterred, Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, said during a briefing Thursday (August 26) at the Pentagon.

“Let me be clear: while we’re saddened by the loss of life, both U.S. and Afghan [citizens], we’re continuing to execute the mission,” the general said. Currently, there are now some 5,000 individuals awaiting evacuation from the country, McKenzie added.

Since August 14, more than 104,000 civilians have been evacuated — including about 5,000 Americans. McKenzie said he believed there are a little over 1,000 American civilians still left in the country. “We’re doing everything we can, in concert with our Department of State partners, to reach out to them and to help them leave, if they want to leave. And remember, not everybody wants to leave,” he said.

At the White House, President Joe Biden said “We must complete this mission and we will.” He also vowed to hunt down the perpetrators. “We won’t forgive. We won’t forget. We’ll hunt you down and we’ll make you pay,” Biden promised the attackers at a press conference hours after the attack.

We have a feeling that sometime in the not too distant future, the Marines, or some other unit of the U.S. military, will come knocking to collect that payment from ISIS-K.

August 27, 2021 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 16, 2021)

Not Your Father’s Warthog.

(Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sergeant Vincent De Groot)

Paul Grigsby, a technician at the Air National Guard (ANG) Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa, cleans up stenciling on the nose of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II on June 29, 2021.

Instead of the standard two-tone gray, this aircraft, from the 122nd Fighter Wing — known as the Blacksnakes –has been painted to look like a threatening snake, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of aviation in the Indiana National Guard.

The paint is a mixture of black and dark gray, with colors breaking along standard A-10 paint lines on the wings, engines and fuselage. The aircraft’s nose features a distinctive 122nd Fighter Wing (FW) green-eyed snake, complete with fangs, surrounding the 30 mm rotary cannon

Although the Air National Guard was not officially established as a separate service until 1946, some ANG units like the 122nd can trace their beginnings to the interwar period.

Following World War I, the War Department recognized the necessity of including aviation in national defense. The Indiana National Guard began its flying mission in 1921 with the establishment of the 137th Observation Squadron, which was initially based at Fagley Field in Kokomo, just north of Indianapolis.

Now based at Fort Wayne, the 122nd FW has been flying single-seat fighter aircraft for most of its history. Today the Blacksnakes are equipped with the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, used primarily for close air support.

The 1970s-era tank buster, known affectionately as the Warthog, for its homely – some would say ugly – appearance as well as its sturdy, resilient airframe and fearsome armament. The A-10 packs a 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun, located in front of, and below, the cockpit, like a cigar clenched in its “teeth.” (Click on this link to see it in action).

Master Sgt. William Hopper, 122nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs superintendent, said the 122nd adopted the Blacksnake moniker from Revolutionary War General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, the namesake of the city of Fort Wayne.

Native Americans who battled U.S. forces in Ohio the 1790s, gave Wayne the title “Black Snake.” Wayne was known for a methodical fighting style where he instructed his soldiers to lie in wait for the right moment to strike, similar to the actions of a North American Black Snake.

July 16, 2021 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 1, 2021)

Hard Core, Old School.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Michael Washburn)

The U.S. Air Force isn’t just about jets, missiles and drones. It’s about the power of human strength and intelligence, too.

The red berets these airmen are wearing means they are part of Air Force Special Operations — combat controllers and tactical air control party members, who wear scarlet berets and pararescuemen, who wear maroon ones — in short, commandos.  They fly, parachute or chopper into hostile environments — often behind enemy lines — to pave the way for other troops and aircraft operations.

And this is not a photo of ordinary morning PT exercises. Instead, it shows Staff Sergeant Alaxey Germanovich, a combat controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, leading Air Force and Army special operators in pushups following a ceremony where he received the Air Force Cross, a heroism award second only to the Medal of Honor.

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, presented the Air Force Cross to Germanovich during a December 10, 2020 ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, in New Mexico.

Germanovich was cited for his actions as the air-to-ground liaison for his special ops team during a fierce 2017 firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. His efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. After the award ceremony, Germanovich led the troops in pushups to commemorate the event, the firefight and the ultimate sacrifice paid during the clash by Army Staff Sergeant Mark De Alencar, a Special Forces Soldier assigned to the team in which the combat controller was also embedded.

January 1, 2021 at 7:00 pm 2 comments

SPECIAL OPS: Medal of Honor for Green Beret; Niger Ambush Heroes Recognized

Medal of Honor.

Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony

Medal of Honor recipient Army Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams is inducted into the Hall of Heroes by Defense Secetary Mark T. Esper at the Pentagon on October. 31, 2019. (Defense Department photo by Marine Corps Corporal Marcos A. Alvarado)

Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Matthew O. Williams has been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award of valor, for his combat actions in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan in  2008.

At the time of the battle, Williams — then a sergeant — was a a weapons sergeant with Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 3336, of Special Operations Task Force 11. On April 6, 2008, the ODA was on a mission to capture or kill high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin in Shok Valley, Nuristan Province.

Williams was part of an assault element — several American soldiers and a larger Afghan commando force — inserted by helicopter. As they were moving up a mountain toward their objective, they were engaged by intense enemy machine guns, snipers and rocket-propelled grenades.

Williams heard that the lead element had sustained several casualties and was in danger of being overrun. He immediately gathered the commandos around him while braving intense enemy fire and led a counterattack across a 100-meter long valley of ice-covered boulders and a fast-moving, ice-cold, waist-deep river.

During the course of a six-hour battle, Williams rescued other members of the assault element and evacuated numerous casualties while continuously exposing himself to insurgent fire.

Williams is the second Medal of Honor recipient from this engagement. He joins former Staff Sergeant Ron Shurer II,  a medical sergeant with ODA 3336, who received the top valor award on October 1, 2018.

Like Williams, Shurer, battled his way across icy terrain under heavy enemy fire to reach the pinned down lead element.  For the next five and a half hours, Shurer helped keep the large insurgent force at bay while simultaneously providing care to his wounded teammates. Overall, Shurer’s actions helped save the lives of all wounded casualties under his care.

Originally, Williams was awarded the Silver Star medal, the third-highest decoration for valor in combat. The Army reviewed and upgraded the award to the Medal of Honor for gallantry and heroism above and beyond the call of duty.

Medal Of Honor Ceremony

Williams was joined by Ronald J. Shurer II after Williams’ Medal of Honor Ceremony at the White House on October 30, 2019. (Defense Department photo)

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Nigerien Heroes.

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded six medals to Nigerien soldiers who fought alongside Army Special Forces in a 2017 ambush near the village of Tongo Tongo that claimed the lives of four Green Berets and four Nigerien soldiers.

Army General Richard Clarke, the SOCOM commander, presented the awards in Niamey, Niger’s capital, along with the U.S. Ambassador Eric Whitaker, to four surviving soldiers, and family members of two others who were killed, Army Times reported.

MAP-Niger

(Map of Niger: CIA World Fact Book)

The honors included two Bronze Star medals, one Army Commendation Medal and three Army Achievement medals. The four surviving Nigeriens who received awards were Corporal Moustapha Kakalé, Soldier 2nd Class Ibrahim Assoumane, Soldier 2nd Class Abdou Kane and Soldier 2nd Class Kamel Issoufou Oumar.

Family members representing Adjutant Chief Soumana Bagué and Soldier 2nd Class Abdoul Rachid Yarima received posthumous awards and condolences from Clarke and Whitaker, according to embassy officials.

The four Americans killed in the attack were: Sergeant First Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright and Sergeant LaDavid Johnson.

Sergeant LaDavid Johnson and Staff Sergeant Wright were awarded the Silver Star Medal posthumously for bravery. Johnson and Black received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor posthumously. Other members of the 11-man Special Operations team also received commendations.

However, Army Times noted, the mission and the Defense Department report on the fatal ambush remain controversial.  A lack of air support or persistent overhead surveillance aircraft worsened the disaster near the Niger-Mali border when the U.S. troops and their Nigerien partners were ambushed by an Islamic-State aligned force three times their size.

EII-bajXkAY_3TH

U.S. Army General Richard Clarke, head of Special Operations Command, pins a medal on one of six Nigerien soldiers decorated for bravery in a 2017 terrorist ambush that left four of their comrades and four U.S. Green Berets dead. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Niamey via Twitter) 

The investigation, conducted by U.S. Africa Command, identified “individual, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies that contributed to the tragic events of 4 October 2017,” but it concluded “no single failure or deficiency was the sole reason for the events” on that day.

 

 

November 8, 2019 at 12:24 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Deadly Year for Green Berets; McRaven on Afghanistan; New Brazil Commando Unit

Every Single One.

Every single active-duty Special Forces Group has lost at least one soldier in Afghanistan or Syria this year, the Task & Purpose website reports.

Green Berets 2012 graduates

Special Forces Qualification Course graduates in 2012 wearing their green berets for the first time. (U.S. Army photo by Dave Chace, Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School)

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat. The most recent special operators to fall are: Sergeant 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 1st Special Forces Group, on September 16; Sergeant 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, also of the 1st Special Forces Group, on August 29; and Master Sergeants Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa and Jose J. Gonzalez, both of the 7th Special Forces Group and killed in the same action on August 21. All four soldiers were mortally wounded during combat operations with Afghan Army troops.

Ten of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan were Army special operators. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Another was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and one other was a Ranger, according to Task & Purpose.

“Green Beret teams are embedded with the Afghan commandos, which is doing the lion’s share of the fighting on the ground – that’s why they’re taking the lion’s share of the casualties,” Representative Michael Waltz (R-Florida) — a retired Special Forces officer —  told Task & Purpose. For a list of the Special Operations soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Syria this year, click here.

More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to topple the Taliban, which sheltered bin Laden.

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Ex-Top U.S. Commando on Afghanistan.

William_McRaven_commander_of_the_US_Special_Operations_Command

Admiral William McRaven speaks to Special Operations commanders in January 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Williams)

The former head of U.S. Special Operations Command ― who oversaw the mission that took out Osama Bin Laden ― believes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is far from over. “I’ve said we have to accept the fact — I think we do — that we’re going to be there for a very long time,” retired Navy Admiral William McRaven told an audience at the New America Special Operations Forces Policy Forum in Washington September 19.

McRaven, a Navy SEAL who headed SOCOM from 2011 to 2014, said it was a mistake to sit down with the Taliban, the Military Times reported. “I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” he said, “it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”

The Taliban and U.S. diplomats reportedly had reached an interim peace agreement this summer after nine rounds of peace talks in the Gulf State of Qatar. However, the deal fell apart just before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks when President Trump canceled a secret meeting with Taliban officials at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

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New Brazilian Commando Unit.

Brazil’s Navy plans to create its own maritime special operations command, to be designated as the Comando Naval de Operações Especiais (CoNavOpEsp), according to the Jane’s 360 website.

Brazil special ops-Forças_especiais,_Comandos_(26712384805)

Brazil’s Army has had special ops troops, Comando de Operações Especiais, (C Op Esp) since 2003.

The organization will be based in Rio de Janeiro under a rear admiral as part of the Naval Operations Command (ComOpNav). The plan calls for CoNavOpEsp — under a single command structure — to unify the direction and co-ordination of special operations missions, Jane’s reported.

Among the missions the existing Army commando unit, Comando de Operações Especiais, is tasked with: Direct action, airfield seizure, special reconnaissance, airborne and air assault operations, and personnel recovery.

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U.S., Estonian Commandos Train in Vertical Insertion.

Air Commandos with the U.S. Air Force 352nd Special Operations Wing, trained with Estonian and other U.S. special operations forces near Amari, Estonia, in early September. A NATO member since 2004, Estonia, like other Baltic nations once occupied by the Soviet Union, has been under pressure from Russia. A massive series of cyber attacks that paralyzed Estonia in 2007 was believed to be the work of Moscow, although the accusation was never proven.

From September 3 though September 9, the Estonian and U.S. commandos conducted a multitude of air operations out of an Air Force Special Operation Command CV-22 Osprey.  The tilt rotor aircraft is the Air Force’s premier Special Cops vertical lift assault platform. “Ospreys and their crews are capable of the full spectrum of SOF [Special Operations Forces] missions in all phases of conflict. They conduct the infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces throughout the European theater,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Clay Freeman, commander of the 352nd Special Ops Wing.

Estonian Fast roping Osprey.jpg

An Estonian Special Operations Forces operator fast ropes out the back of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey on a similar training mission in 2017.   (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Matt Britton)

U.S. and Estonian troops spent the week focused on three mission objectives: Familiarization with the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES) ;  casualty evacuation; and rapidly loading and off-loading a tactical vehicle from the aircraft.

During the FRIES training, U.S. and Estonia personnel practiced fast-roping from twilight and into the night. That new capability will allow forces to be inserted into small or confined areas were normal aircraft landings are impractical.

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More Training for USAF First Female Ranger.

Back in August, U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch made history by becoming the first female in the U.S. Air Force to graduate from the tough Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Ranger tab pinned

Air Force First Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, of the 821st Contingency Response Squadron, has her  Ranger tab pinned on after graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School August 30, 2019, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army photo John Tongret)

Hibsch, a security forces officer assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) at Travis Air Force Base in California,  will be back with her unit training for short-notice disaster response and combat zone airfield preparation worldwide, the website Military.com reported.

The 821st CRS is part of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, whose highly specialized personnel are trained to deploy quickly in order to open airfields or establish, expand, sustain and coordinate air mobility operations for wartime tasks or disaster relief.

Lt. Chelsey Hibsch Army Ranger tab.

Then-2nd Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, speaking at a Women’s History Month luncheon at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on March 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Hibsch, a former enlisted airman from Attica, New York, was in the process of transitioning to the 621st from a previous assignment in the Indo-Pacific region when she was selected for Ranger School — a challenging, two-month-long course. Competing in the Ranger Assessment Course at Camp Bullis, Texas prompted her to enroll in Army Ranger School.

After then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a ban on women serving in ground combat roles in 2013, the Army opened the Ranger School to female applicants two years later. Two female West Point graduates, Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver, were the first women to earn the coveted Ranger tab (shoulder patch). Now more than a dozen service women have completed Ranger school.

September 25, 2019 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPS: Green Beret Killed; Combat Controller Honored; SOCOM Brain Trauma Concerns

Veteran Green Beret Killed.

A highly decorated Army Special Forces sergeant major, on his seventh combat deployment, died July 13 from injuries sustained during combat operations in Afghanistan, according to the website Task & Purpose.

The Pentagon identified the slain Green Beret as 40-year-old Sergeant Major James G. Sartor, a member of 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Green Beret Sgt Maj

Special Forces Sergeant Major James G.  Sartor, was killed July 13, 2019 in Afghanistan. (Army Special Operations Command photo)

Sartor, of Teague, Texas, was killed by enemy small arms fire in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.

“He led his soldiers from the front and his presence will be terribly missed,” Colonel  Brian Rauen, commander of the 10th Special Forces Group (SFG) said in a statement.

Sartor joined the Army in June 2001 and was assigned as an infantryman with the 3rd Infantry Division. He deployed to Iraq in 2002. After passing his Special Forces qualification Sartor joined the 10th SFG in 2005. He deployed to Iraq as a Green Beret in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. He later deployed to Afghanistan in 2017 and 2019, according to U.S. Special Operations Command.

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Silver Star for Combat Controller.

An Air Force combat air traffic controller has been awarded the Silver Star medal for his heroic, quick action during an intense, 2018 green-on-blue insider attack in Afghanistan.

Technical Sergeant Michael Perolio with the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron, quickly took charge and rallied his teammates after an ambush erupted in a village in Nangarhar province on January 11, 2018.

He swiftly organized fields of fire, called in airstrikes and rendered aid to his wounded comrades — all while repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine-gun fire — as he hurried his team out of the kill zone and back to their camp, according to Air Force Times.

Perolio was the Joint Terminal Attack Controller for a team of Army Green Berets with Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 0221. The Green berets were partnered with the Afghan 8th Special Operations Kandak Commandos in Mohmand valley in Nangarhar’s Achin district.

“Perolio saved my life and the lives of several of my guys,” said Army Captain William Clark, the ground force commander for the team, who was severely wounded in the ambush, Air Force Times reported. The five-man team — Perolio, Clark and another Green Beret and two Afghans, an interpreter and a militia commander — were leaving a meeting with what they thought was a friendly village elder when heavy machine gun fire raked their unarmored all-terrain vehicle. The Green Beret captain and both Afghans were shot. The militia commander did not survive.

Perolio took command, organized a defense, called in an air strike and radioed back to base to be ready for incoming casualties before roaring out of the kill zone and making the normally 25-minute drive over rough terrain back to base in 15 minutes

Combat controllers are specially trained, FAA-certified air traffic controllers who parachute or helicopter into enemy territory with ground troops to coordinate close air support, establish assault zones or airfields and supply fire control and reconnaissance. They are also among the first on the ground at the scene of natural disasters, like the 2010 Haitian earthquake,  to guide in relief flights when normal air traffic is disrupted.

combat controllers

In addition to being expert divers, rock climbers, snowmobile and motocross riders, Air Force Special Operators are also expert parachutists. (U.S. Air Force photo)

For more information about Air Force Special Operations assignments, click here.

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SOCOM Brain Trauma Study.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is studying how brain trauma injuries during the 17-year war on terror is affecting elite U.S. troops like Navy SEALS and Army Rangers.

Joint SF team participate in exercise Emerald Warrior 2018

Special operations forces move out of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey aircraft in 2018, at Melrose Training Range, New Mexico. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Cupit)

SOCOM, which oversees the training and equipping of special operations troops in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, is examining whether trauma suffered by special operators — including brain fatigue and abnormalities in the visual cortex — affect the ability of special operations forces to make snap decisions in the field, according to the Middle East news site Al-Monitor.

The program includes an eight-year neurological testing effort by Army Special Operations Command, supported by the National Football League and the University of North Carolina, to establish a baseline for treating mild traumatic brain injuries, according to military officials and documents reviewed by Al-Monitor.

July 25, 2019 at 11:56 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (January 4, 2019)

Combat Light Show.

Night Fire

(U.S. Army photo by Army Captain Johnathan Leigh)

Like some modernistic painting, this December 20, 2018 photo shows soldiers conducting a night fire mission while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.

As Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman reportedly said: “A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets.”

January 4, 2019 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 8, 2018)

Like a thunderbolt.

KC-135 refuels A-10's over Afghanistan
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook)

The very landscape of Afghanistan appears to be dressed in camouflage colors as an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II heads for an aerial refueling rendezvous with a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Longtime visitors to 4GWAR know we are big fans of the Cold War-era A-10, better known by its nickname, Warthog. The 40-plus-year-old attack aircraft, designed as a tank destroyer, has also won the affection of numerous ground troops for its tenacity in close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here’s a closer look at the A-10 …

KC-135 refuels A-10's over Afghanistan

(U.S.Air Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook)

These photos were taken May 28, 2018 during an aerial refueling mission over Afghanistan with A-10s from the 163rd Fighter Squadron and a KC-135 Stratotanker from the  340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

To see more photos, click here.

June 8, 2018 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January, 5, 2018)

In the Red.

Eyes in the Sky: Afghan Air assists ANDSF offensive maneuver during Maiwand 10

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Justin T. Updegraff)

In case you forgot, there’s still a shooting war going on in Afghanistan, although U.S. troops are deployed largely in advisory and support roles.

As a reminder, here we see U.S. soldiers firing an 81 mm mortar to support Afghan soldiers during Operation Maiwand 10 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on December 26, 2017. The U.S. soldiers — assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment — fired multiple illumination rounds to light the nearby area of Marjah, in southern Afghanistan, where Afghan soldiers encountered a nighttime ambush.

January 5, 2018 at 12:06 am 2 comments

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