Posts tagged ‘Marine Corps’

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

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 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

MARITIME DOMAIN: Sea-Air-Space Expo This Week

Three-Day Maritime Conference.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly)

Future challenges and current needs for the sea services – the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard – will be the hot topics this week at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo at National Harbor, Maryland.

Top officials, including Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Admiral James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford and naval commandants from Singapore, Australia and Japan will be among the speakers at the three-day event that starts Monday (April 13) across the river from Washington, D.C.

Big names in the defense and maritime industries like Northrop Grumman, Boeing, L-3, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal and BAE Systems will exhibiting their latest products for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Components of the services like the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) will also ne detailing their plans and equipment requirements in the coming fiscal year.

Your 4GWAR editor will be there too, as part of the small army of reporters covering the goings on for the Navy League’s Seapower magazine and its daily show publication. We’ll be focusing on unmanned aircraft and the Coast Guard’s strategic plan for the Western Hemisphere among other assignments.

If you can’t make it to the Gaylord Convention Center, you can catch the latest news at the Seapower website and on Twitter at @seaairspace and @SeapowerMag

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early)

April 13, 2015 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 10, 2015)

No Time to Stop.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jorge A. Dimmer

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jorge A. Dimmer

Now this is what we call multi-tasking!

A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion is refueled in the air by a KC-130 Hercules tanker while transporting a Humvee near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. The KC-130 is capable of refueling two aircraft at once. You can see a second fuel line and drogue refueling pod hanging from the tanker’s other wing.

The exercise was part of a Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1. MAWTS-1 provides standardized tactical training and certifies unit instructor qualifications to support.

April 10, 2015 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

AFRICA: Africa Command Tackling Violent Extremists and Other Challenges

Making Progress, but …

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills such as patrolling, offensive tactics, land navigation and mounted operations to aid in countering illicit trafficking.  (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 such as patrolling, offensive tactics, land navigation and mounted operations to aid in countering illicit trafficking.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

Africa’s security environment remains “dynamic and uncertain” with numerous countries through out the continent plagued by crime, corruption, as well as political and economic unrest, says the head of U.S. Africa Command.

Testifying today (March 26) before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army General David Rodriguez, AFRICOM’s commander, said the command has expanded collaboration with allies and partners to address the “growing threat in Libya, Mali and Nigeria” including “an increasingly cohesive network of al Qaeda affiliates a growing Islamic State (ISIL) … presence and Boko Haram.”

Rodriguez said al-Shabaab remains the primary security threat to U.S. interests in East Africa “despite progress by regional partners in liberating parts of southern and central Somalia from the group’s control.”  And in North and West Africa, Libyan and Nigerian insecurity “increasingly threaten U.S. interests. In spite of multinational security efforts, terrorist and criminal networks are gaining strength and interoperability,” he said.

Of five immediate priorities, the top two are countering violent extremism and enhancing stability in East Africa and in North and West Africa.

Rodriguez noted that AFRICOM’s engagement with partner nations has increased between Fiscal year 2013 and 2014.  “In Fiscal Year 2014, we conducted 68 operations, 11 major joint exercises, and 595 security cooperation activities,” he told the Senate hearing. By comparison, AFRICOM conducted “55 operations, 10 major joint exercises, and 481 security cooperation activities in Fiscal Year 2013.” But requirements are expanding faster than resources are increasing, he added.

More on this hearing later this weekend.

March 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Navy Commando Medic Awarded Silver Star for Heroism in Afghanistan

Corpsman Up!

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, was decorated with the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan April 25, 2013.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, was decorated with the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan April 25, 2013.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t have medics per se. Instead, their medical emergency needs aboard ship, back at base or on the battlefield are handled by sailors known as Hospital Corpsman.

These highly skilled and highly respected personnel don’t get as much attention as they should from this blog. But today is different.

Today (March 25) we learned one corpsman, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Baskin, was recently awarded the Silver Star Medal for valor during combat actions in Afghanistan.

A special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman (SARC) assigned to the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Baskin was awarded the Silver Star — the third-highest U.S. military decoration for valor — after saving the lives of four members of his unit, according to to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). SARCs are special operations-skilled trauma specialists who are trained in many of the commando skills of MARSOC operators including combatant scuba diving and parachute insertion.

Baskin was attached to Marine Special Operations Team 8224 with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion during the unit’s 2013 deployment to Herat province, Afghanistan, according to Marine Corps Times. On April 24, 2013, Baskin and his team members came under a barrage of enemy fire from insurgents near Kushe Village, in South Zereko Valley.  Disregarding his own safety, he ran through enemy fire, to provide aid to a wounded teammate. After stabilizing the wounded Marine and loading him into an evacuation vehicle, Baskin himself was shot in the back.

Baskin’s award citation reads, “Although wounded, he continued treating casualties while refusing medical treatment for his own injuries. Under intense fire, while simultaneously directing the evacuation of the wounded Marines, [Afghan National Army] partner forces and himself, he laid down suppressive fire until every team member had evacuated the kill zone. His actions ultimately saved the lives of four of his teammates.” 

SARC insignia (RekonDog via wikipedia)

SARC insignia
(RekonDog via wikipedia)

No matter where they serve, the Navy rating of hospital corpsman is the most decorated in the U.S. Navy with 22 Medals of Honor, 174 Navy Crosses. 31 Distinguished Service Medals, 949 Silver Stars and 1,582 Bronze Stars, according to wikipedia. Twenty naval ships have been named after hospital corpsman.

It is noteworthy that this all happened during Baskin’s second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His first tour, with the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, was cut short when he was wounded by fragments from a rocket-propelled grenade — earning him the first of two Purple Heart medals for wounds sustained in combat.

March 25, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

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