Posts tagged ‘Special Operations Forces’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 (July 13, 2018)

Underwater Raiders.

MRF conducts bi-lateral dive training with Jordanian SOF

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jon Sosner)

Marine Raiders swim underwater during dive training in Aqaba, Jordan, on July 8, 2018. The Marines are assigned to Maritime Raid Force of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Marine Special Operations officers, specialists and critical skills operators — collectively known as Marine Raiders — are the Marine Corps component of Special Operations Command.

And yes, it’s the same Aqaba captured by T.E. Lawrence in the film, Lawrence of Arabia.

 

July 13, 2018 at 12:42 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 17, 2017)

Sky Divers/Space Divers.

103rd Rescue Squadron Assists NASA during SENTRY ALOHA

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher Muncy.)

Airmen practicing new spacecraft recovery techniques jump from a C-17 cargo plane into the waters off Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii on March 7, 2017.

The white ring near the diver on the right is not a cloud or smoke but the wake of a small boat circling the orange target in the water far below these parachutists.

These pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 103rd Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing, are training with the equipment and  techniques that will be used to recover the crew module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The skydivers got their lift to the exercise on a C-17 supplied by the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, 204th Airlift Squadron.

To see more photos of this operation, click here.

 

March 17, 2017 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOFIC Trade Show Opens

…in a Complex World.

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year's SOFIC in Tampa. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year’s SOFIC in Tampa.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

TAMPA, Florida — Few events could better illustrate the theme — Winning in a Complex World — of a special operations forces industry conference opening today than the good news/bad news coming the Middle East last week.

On Friday (May 15) U.S. Army Delta Force commandos killed a key leader of the Islamic State group in a daring helicopter raid inside war torn Syria. About a dozen Islamic State fighters were killed in the brief but intense firefight. No U.S. forces were killed or injured although at least one helicopter was riddled with bullets.

Two days later (May 17) word came that Islamic State fighters had captured Ramadi, seizing a large cache of weapons in the capital of Iraq’s largest province just 60 miles west of Baghdad — despite U.S. air strikes and other support.

The United States is being challenged on a number of fronts around the world from violent extremist organizations across Africa and the Middle East to transnational narcotics cartels corrupting governments in Latin America and West Africa.

Russia and China are flexing their muscles and bullying their neighbors. And there are still the challenges posed by North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan.

And on the front line of these and other hotspots around the world are U.S. special Operations Forces (SOF) tasked with training partner nation militaries, keeping tabs on threatening groups, rescuing hostages and killing or capturing terrorists.

In Tampa this week, leaders of U.S. Special Operations Command USSOCOM) — which oversees the training and equipping of Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Raiders, Air Commandos and other SOF units, will be explaining their needs — and their funding constraints — to industry.  At that same time, hundreds of manufacturers and vendors at the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference will be showing the equipment, technologies and services they believe will help SOCOM complete its varied missions. Your 4GWAR editor is here to listen to both groups.

May 19, 2015 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan President Wants U.S. Special Operations Out

Special Operators Told to Leave

Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Army file foto.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Army file foto.

U.S. Special Operations forces are getting the boot from a strategically important Afghan province outside the capital.

On Sunday (Feb. 24), Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered all U.S. special operations troops out of Wardak Province southwest of Kabul, the capital. Karzai blamed “this suspicious force,” in a statement issued by his office for “harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people,” the Washington Post and other news outlets reported. A Karzai spokesman, seeking to clarify that statement, said the Kabul government actually blamed Afghans “working within these Special Forces groups” for the abuses.

The strategically significant, central province of Wardak has been the recent focus of counter-insurgency operations, noted the BBC.

The Afghan statement said all special operations forces must be gone from Wardak in two weeks.

NATO said Monday it has found no evidence to support Karzai’s allegations, CNN reported. The U.S. military has said it is investigating and officials of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force plan to hold talks about the allegations with Afghan officials.

Karzai’s demand is “an ominous development for future U.S. and NATO plans, which are expected to rely heavily on special operations forces to take on a greater role as the bulk of conventional forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan” in 2014, according to The Long War Journal.

Wardak Province is located below and to the left of Kabul in the map below.

Institute for the Study of War map

Institute for the Study of War map

February 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment


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