Posts tagged ‘Navy SEALS’

FRIDAY FOTO (October 14, 2022)

GOING DEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Perlman (click on the photo to enlarge image)

Sailors assigned to various Naval Special Warfare (NSW) commands operate a battery-operated Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) during high-altitude dive training in northern California on September 5, 2022. The DPDs allow combat divers to travel faster and considerably farther under water, emerging less fatigued than when moving under their own power.

There are deepwater lakes in the mountains of California, Colorado and New Mexico, and other places on earth, like South America’s Lake Titicaca. But at such high altitudes,  thousands of feet above sea level, decompression requirements for divers can change. The dive plan to maintain proper decompression limits must be adjusted for safety based on the dive’s altitude.

The pressure a diver normally faces is a combination of the weight of the water and atmosphere. At high altitude, the weight of the ­water is the same as at sea level, but the ­atmospheric pressure is less and that can pose problems for divers returning to the surface — especially for technical divers who are going deep in the water. As divers reach the surface, they have to ascend more slowly and take a longer safety stop.

Naval Special Warfare Command is a component of U.S. Special Operations Command and includes Navy SEALS (Special Warfare Operators) and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (Special Warfare Boat Operators).

For another view of diver propulsion devices click here.

October 14, 2022 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Medal of Honor for Ranger (Updated); Al Qaeda Threat in Africa

Army Ranger Awarded Medal of Honor

Army Sergeant Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne conducting a security patrol while on a mission in northern Afghanistan in 2014. (Courtesy photo via U.S. Army)

Army Sergeant Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne — a Ranger in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command — received the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony on Friday (September 11, 2020) for heroics in 2015 when he and others rescued some 70 hostages facing imminent execution by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters.

Payne, then a Sergeant 1st Class, was the assistant team leader of a group of operators with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. They joined Kurdish commandos on the October 22, 2015, nighttime raid to free Iraqi hostages from the ISIS prison compound in the northern town of Hawija.

Payne will become the first living Delta Force member to receive the Medal of Honor, according to Military.com. Army officials have identified Payne as a Ranger, but they have not publicly confirmed his affiliation with the elite and highly secretive Delta Force, the website noted.

Intelligence reported the hostages were being housed in two buildings inside the heavily-fortified compound. Payne’s team would be responsible for clearing one of them. The raiders arrived by CH-47 Chinook helicopter, but a complete brownout ensued as the helicopter rotors stirred up dust. Using their night vision googles, Payne and others navigated to the wall of the compound as enemy gunfire erupted, according to an Army report of the incident.

Patrick’s team met light resistance as they cleared their assigned building. Once inside, they used bold cutters to break thick locks on two rooms with steel prison doors, releasing nearly 40 hostages. There was still an intense firefight going on at the other building. The other team radioed for assistance.

Under heavy machine-gun fire Patrick and others climbed a ladder to the roof of the one-story building, where they engaged the enemy with hand grenades and small arms fire. Insurgents below them detonated suicide vests, causing the roof to shake. At the same time, smoke billowed out from the roof and enemy gunfire targeted Patrick’s team.

They moved under heavy fire back to ground level and breached windows and walls to enter the building. Once inside, the fighting was intense and the Kurdish commandos began taking casualties.

In order to release the remaining hostages, Patrick reentered the flaming structure with bolt cutters despite heavy gunfire fire. Flames touched off ammunition from a nearby weapons cache. Amid the smoke and chaos, Patrick twice more entered the burning building and with the Kurds, helped release about 30 more hostages.

Patrick and the others did not learn that one of their team members Master Sergeant Josh Wheeler, had been killed in action, until they returned to base.

*** *** ***

Why Africa Matters.

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa says the continent is important in the effort to counter violent extremist organizations.

“Al Qaeda and Islamic State have both stated that they intend to attack and undermine the United States,” says Air Force Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, adding that both groups have found a safe haven in Africa. In Africa, Anderson told an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) virtual conference on countering violent extremism, “they can establish themselves, they can develop their means ,and then they can eventually establish — whether it’s a caliphate or their area of control that will give them resources” to undermine the international order and attack the United States and Western allies and partners.

The Sahel Region of Africa. (Wikipedia)

Having lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State has been West, with the Islamic State Grand Sahara in the Mali region and the Islamic State West Africa, in Northeastern Nigeria. Even more disturbing, Anderson said, “we’re seeing them as they expand down the eastern coast, the Swahili coast of Africa. And so we see them established in Somalia. We see them going down into Mozambique, in Tanzania. And we see that these affiliates continue to expand and leverage each other.”

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda has been more patient, avoiding attention while it created two big affiliates — al Shabaab in Somalia and AQIM, al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb. 

“This is not a threat that one nation can take care of on its own. It’s not a United States problem. It’s an international problem,” Anderson said.

Special operations troops have long trained their counterparts in Somalia, Kenya, Niger and other countries, while civil affairs units have supported local goodwill projects, in countries like Cameroon, where Nigeria-based Boko Haram encroaches, notes Military Times.

*** *** ***

Silver Stars for Heroism.

Two Green Berets and an Air Force pararescueman were awarded Silver Star medals for their heroism during a nearly eight-hour firefight last year after the Special Forces team stumbled upon an elite Taliban force in a small Afghan village, according to Stars and Stripes.

All three Silver Stars were awarded at a small ceremony in the Rock Garden on the 7th Group compound at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida., in August, along with six Bronze Star Medals with Valor devices, three Army Commendation Medals with Valor devices and four Purple Hearts earned over the six-month deployment last year of the 7th Group’s 1st Battalion.

*** *** ***

SOCOM Modernizes Small Craft Fleet.

The small surface craft fleet that supports the clandestine operations of Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders is undergoing a modernization program, according to Seapower magazine.

The SEALs use special operations craft, to approach shores and insert and extract teams of special warfare operators. These craft are fast, quiet, capable of shallow-water operations, and armed with machine guns for use if their cover is blown. The small craft also can be used for coastal patrol missions and to interdict hostile craft and conduct visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) missions.

Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) operate the Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOC-R), which is specifically designed for the clandestine insertion and extraction of U.S. Navy SEALs and other special operations forces in shallow waterways and open water environments. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jayme Pastoric)

Navy Special Warfare Command, the parent unit of the SEAL teams, as a component of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), receives much of its equipment not through normal service acquisition channels but through SOCOM. SOCOM is a combatant command but is unusual in that it has its own acquisition budget and programs.

The special warfare community nearing completion of recapitalization of two classes of small boats and well along in a modernization program that will increase the capabilities of its special operations craft. See details here.

September 11, 2020 at 2:11 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 11, 2019)

SEALs at Sunrise.

FRIFO 10-11-2019 SEALS Sunrise

(U.S. Navy photo Senior Chief Petty Officer Jayme Pastoric)

Sailors assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 (NSWG2) participate in dive operations in the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 18, 2019.

Based at Little River, Virginia, NSWG2 consists of three SEAL teams (2, 4, 8 and 10), which conduct reconnaissance, direct action, unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense and other operations in maritime and riverine environments, according to the Federation of American Scientists’ Special Operations Forces Reference Manual.

NSWG2 also includes SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2, (which operates and maintains submersible systems to deliver and recover SEALs in hostile areas), Naval Special Warfare Unit 4 (a small command and control element located outside the continental United States)  and Naval Special Warfare Unit 10, according to the Global Security web site.

 

October 11, 2019 at 3:41 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 31, 2019)

Dead Serious.

military dive operations

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Jayme Pastoric)

Their swim fins hooked over their wrists and their weapons ready, Navy SEALs, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2, emerge from the shallows during military dive operations training in the Atlantic Ocean on May 29, 2019.

SEALs, it stands for Sea, Air, Land forces, “are expertly trained to deliver highly specialized, intensely challenging warfare capabilities that are beyond the means of standard military forces,” according to the Navy. SEAL teams are the maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command, however, they are trained to conduct missions from sea, air and land.

Before one gets to wear the distinctive gold SEAL insignia — an eagle clutching a Navy anchor, trident and flintlock style pistol — one must endure a lot of this:

110411-N-JR159-138

First Phase Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs (BUD/S) candidates participate in hours of crushing, physical training, in wet, sandy uniforms with little sleep at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

To get an idea of how difficult their training is, click here.

May 31, 2019 at 12:10 am 1 comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SO/LIC Conference, Yemen Raid,SOF Risks

Special Ops Conference.

Riverine command boats GUNEX

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michelle L. Turner)

The annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium opens Monday in Bethesda, Maryland, tackling issues ranging from the acquisition and training needs of special operations forces (SOF) to budget challenges and the demand for cooperation and  information sharing with partner nations.

The four-day conference — sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) — will also address the widening challenge of creating a networked, connected and unified force of SOF, as well as U.S. and international law enforcement and intelligence organizations.

Speakers will include Army General Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and James Geurts, the civilian head of acquisition at SOCOM. [More on the conference at the bottom of this post.]

Yemen Raid.

A Navy SEAL was killed in a raid on an al Qaeda base in Yemen late last month. The Defense Department identified the slain sailor as Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois. He died January 29 from wounds sustained in the raid. He was assigned to an East Coast based Special Warfare unit, which most news organizations have identified as SEAL Team 6. map-yemen

The raid sparked controversy in both the United States and the Middle East.

A “chain of mishaps and misjudgments,” according to the New York Times, plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three other servicemen  wounded and forced the raiders to destroy a U.S. V-22 Osprey, when the $75 million tilt-rotor aircraft was unable to take off after making a hard landing during the fire fight. There are allegations — which the Pentagon acknowledged on February 1 as most likely correct — that the mission also killed several civilians, including some children, the Times reported.

Yemeni officials were unhappy about the raid and civilian casualties but they told the Reuters news agency that permission had not been withdrawn for the United States to carry out special ops ground missions. But they made clear their “reservations” about the latest operation, according to the Voice of America website. A statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington, VoA added, said the government “stresses that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism operations in Yemen with the United States Government.”

The White House called the raid, the first authorized by the Trump administration, a success. But Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee challenged that conclusion, telling NBC:  “When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost, I don’t believe you can call it a success.”

But White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the operation, calling it “absolutely a success,” VoA reported. “I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid, owes an apology and disservice to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer said, referring to the Navy SEAL who died.

Earlier, Spicer said it was “hard to ever call something a complete success when you have the loss of life, or people injured.  But I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions, and probably throughout the world in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards.”

SOF Deaths.

The  casualty rate for highly skilled and experienced special operators, like Chief Owens, has been on the rise as the United States relies more and more on elite forces.

In the past year — for the first time — according to a New York Times report (via the Seattle Times), special-operations troops have died in greater numbers than conventional troops. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan SOF made up only a fraction of the dead. That they now fill nearly the whole casualty list, the report continues, shows how the Pentagon, hesitant to put conventional troops on the ground, has come to depend almost entirely on small groups of elite warriors.

Meanwhile, Navy SEALS and other elite units are quietly battling a frightening rise in parachute deaths, according to a Military Times investigation.

Between 2011 and 2016, 11 special operators have died in high altitude, free fall training jumps. That is a 60 percent increase over the previous five-year period, according to 13 years’ worth or records analyzed by Military Times.

Southern Strike 17

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride.)

More SO/LIC

The four-day conference is being held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. All the commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations commands will take part in a panel discussion on the strategic and operational implications caused by the necessity to conduct coalition and inter-agency operations.

Another panel discussion on law enforcement special mission units will include representatives from several Department of Homeland Security units, including Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard.

February 12, 2017 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Leadership Changes; New Gunships Defense; SEALS and Women

Votel & Thomas.

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army General Joseph Votel is likely to be the next chief of Central Command (CENTCOM), according to the Washington Post. And to replace Votel at SOCOM, the Post says Army Lieutenant General Raymond Thomas is the most likely candidate.

Votel, an Army Ranger and former head of the 75th Ranger Regiment, took over Tampa, Florida-based SOCOM as its 10th commander in 2014 from Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL.

Word of Votel’s planned transfer to CENTCOM, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Army Gen. and U.S> SOCOM commander Joseph Votel. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Army Gen. and U.S. SOCOM commander Joseph Votel.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Special Operations Forces include Army Green Berets, Rangers and Special Ops aviators, Navy SEALS and Special Warfare Combatant-craft crews, Air Force Pararescue jumpers and combat air controllers, Marine Corps Corps critical skills operators and special operations combat services specialists.

Thomas, also an Army Ranger, is currently the head of Joint Special Operations Command, the SOCOM unit that oversees terrorist-hunting missions from North Africa to Afghanistan, according to the Post. CENTCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for U.S. security interests an area consisting of 20 mostly Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

*** *** ***

Radio Countermeasures.

U.S. Special Operations Command has ordered radio countermeasures equipment for its AC-130J and MC-130J gunship  variants.

Under a $32 million contract with Northrop Grumman, the company’s Land and Avionics C4ISR division will supply radio frequency countermeasures (RFCM) for the planes, according to the C4ISR&Networks web site.

Jeff Palombo, Northrop Grumman division vice president and general manager, said N-G’s solution “is designed to detect and defeat not only current radio frequency threats, but also to have the flexibility to protect our warfighters as the threat evolves.” In a Northrop Grumman press release, Palombio said the solution “is built upon our high confidence aircraft protection systems of today, coupled with an open architecture approach that enables our offering to grow to a multi-spectral, multi-function capability for the future.”

*** *** ***

Mabus VS. SEALS

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is urging the Navy’s admirals to press forward with integrating women into the Special Ops Navy SEAL teams, over the concerns of Navy SEAL leaders.

140121-N-KB563-148 CORONADO, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2014) Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs) students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf Passage is one of many physically demanding evolutions that are a part of the first phase of SEAL training. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/Released)

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs)
students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st
Class Michael Russell/Released)

As Naval Special Warfare hammers out a plan to start admitting women into their very rugged training, Mabus is urging Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson to forge ahead. Mabus rebutted some of the concerns Navy brass raised about roadblocks to integration, the Navy Times reported.

In the plan it submitted, NSW argued that allowing women to join direct ground combat units would not increase readiness, and could even distract from it, according to the memo obtained by Navy Times.

January 12, 2016 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Exercise Jade Helm 15 Begins in Seven States — Arousing Conspiracy Theorists

Jaded About Jade Helm.

 

Chilean and U.S.  Army  Special Forces troops train together in bilateral exchange in April at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Osvaldo Equite)

Chilean and U.S. Army Special Forces troops train together in bilateral exchange in April at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Osvaldo Equite)

Exercise Jade Helm 15 a massive special operations forces (SOF) exercise involving hundreds of troops across seven states in the Deep South and Southwest got underway this week — after months of speculation by conspiracy theorists and right wing talk radio hosts that it was part of some dark plan to overthrow the Constitution and/or seize locals’ guns.

The Army says its just a big exercise in relatively unpopulated areas with challenging terrain and summer weather conditions to prepare as realistically as possible for whatever overseas crisis comes down the road in the future

According to U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), they will be training with other U.S military units from July 15 through Sept. 15 in the multi-state exercise.

“USASOC periodically conducts training exercises such as these to practice core special warfare tasks, which help protect the nation against foreign enemies. It is imperative that Special Operations Soldiers receive the best training, equipment and resources possible,” USASOC said in a March press release to counter rising concerns — especially in Texas, where the governor ordered the National Guard to keep a close eye on the Army exercise

“While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart,” the March press release noted. To stay ahead of the environmental challenges faced overseas, Jade Helm will take place across seven states. However, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) will only train in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas.”

An updated Army press release issued Wednesday (July 15) listed the various military installations where parts of the exercise will take place:
• Arizona: National Guard Training Centers and at an Army Reserve Center
• Florida: Eglin Air Force Base
• Louisiana: Camp Beauregard
• Mississippi: Camp Shelby, Naval Research Laboratory ˗ Stennis Space Center, and U.S. Navy Seabee Base at Gulfport/Biloxi
• New Mexico: Cannon Air Force Base, and tentatively in Otero County
• Texas: Camps Bullis and Swift, and in Bastrop, Burleson, Brazos, Edwards, Howard, Hudspeth, Kimble, Martin, Marion, Real, Schleicher and Tom Green Counties
• Utah: Carbon and Emery Counties

EDITOR’s COMMENT: We find it worth mentioning that the fears of some of the good folks of Texas seem to parallel the plot of the 1964 film, “Seven Days in May.” However, that  scenario described an attempted coup by right wing politicians and military leaders aimed at a liberal president they perceived as weak in dealing with the Soviets. To us that seems a more likely — if far-fetched — movie plot than a military coup to support the “liberal” policies of gun seizure etc.

July 16, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: International Special Ops Exercise in Tampa

Land, Sea and Air

TAMPA, Florida – Special Operations Forces from the United States and other nations converged on the waterfront of downtown Tampa today (May 21) via parachute, helicopter, inflatable assault boat, all terrain vehicle and swimming underwater in a demonstration of international commando skills at a defense industry conference today.

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

Your 4GWAR editor saw it all while covering this annual conference where special operators explain their technology and equipment needs to contractors and manufacturers.

The lunchtime event was conducted in the waters just outside the Tampa Convention Center where this year’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference is being held.

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

The idea behind the exercise was to showcase the tactical capabilities of commandos from different nations working together. In addition to U.S. Navy SEALS and special boat operators,, Army Rangers, Army and Air Force pilots, the 30-minutes exercise included special ops troops from Britain, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Sweden among others.

The scenario included the “rescue” of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn from “terrorists.” Two MH-6 Littlebird helicopters delivered snipers to cover the rescue. Two rigid hull inflatable assault boats stormed the water front with covering fire from the two small helicopters. An MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter delivered additional troops via rappel rope down to the ground. Still more troops jumped into the water from the Blackhawk and parachutists from the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland jumped from an MC-130 airplane from 8,000 feet and landed in the water near the convention center.

The conference, sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association, drew more than 300 exhibiting companies and nearly 8,000 attendees.

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

 Click on the photos to enlarge.

 

May 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 25, 2014)

Da Bomb

U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Nathaniel Spencer

U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Nathaniel Spencer

Now this is a different kind of photo bomb.

These two U.S. Navy parachutists are conducting free fall training above Naval Station Rota, Spain. They are assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians are the Navy’s bomb squad, but they are much more than that. They are highly trained in parachuting and underwater diving as well as explosives handling and removal.

EODs “clear the way” for Special Operations Forces including Army Green Berets as well as Navy SEALS. For more information on this military specialty, click here.

For another view of this high altitude training, click here.

 

April 25, 2014 at 1:54 am 1 comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Special Ops Command Seeks $7.7 billion for 2015

By the Numbers UPDATE

UPDATES with new spending numbers and McRaven testimony

The Defense Department budget request for fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015) seeks $7.7 billion for U.S. Special Operations Command, including $1.52 billion for procuring weapons, equipment and supplies.

Army Rangers wearing night vision goggles provide security during a multilateral airborne exercise at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

Army Rangers wearing night vision goggles provide security during a multilateral airborne exercise at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

That procurement figure includes $112.2 million for rotary wing upgrades and sustainment, $25.6 million for modifications to CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft, $25.5 million for underwater systems, $144.3 million for ordnance, $81 million for communications equipment and electronics, $63 million for tactical ground vehicles and $38 million for “global video surveillance activities.”

The total defense budget request – capped at $496 billion by a congressional budget deal in December – is actually $495.6 billion. But the Pentagon has yet to specify what it will seek for what is known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO, for short) to pay for the war in Afghanistan and unforseen costs like disaster relief missions after earthquakes and typhoons.

But the Obama administration is seeking an additional $26.4 billion in defense funding from Congress through what it terms the Opportunity, Growth and Security initiative (OGS). The White House claims there will be mandatory spending cuts and tax loophole closings to offset the additional spending. The administration’s budget documents maintain OGS will be “fully paid-for,” but many critics are skeptical.

With that extra money, the Pentagon has laid out what it would be used for, including: $300 million for an increase at SOCOM in training, readiness and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); $100 million for SOCOM recapitalizing command, control, communications, computers and intelligence activities.

Pentagon officials have said repeatedly that they were willing to cut other parts of the military – including weapons programs and the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps – to protect “key capability areas” like special operations and counter terrorism from the budget ax.

Unlike the rest of the military, Special Operations Command won’t be seeing a reduction in its current force of approximately 66,000 in fiscal 2015. In fact, the Pentagon is seeking to add 3,700 personnel. That’s still below the 72,000 end strength planned just a few years ago, but Admiral William McRaven, the SOCOM commander, told the emerging threats panel of the Senate Armed Services Committee this week (March 11) the lower number will mean “we’ll have to prioritize our efforts globally.”

Noting that SOCOM has about 7,000 people deployed in 84 countries now, McRaven said the challenge would be “making sure we can continue to meet priority demands globally,” which he said he could do with 69,700 instead of 72,000.

March 13, 2014 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

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