Posts tagged ‘Special Operations’

ARCTIC: Troops From 13 Nations Train in High North

Cold Response 2016.

Norwegian tanks Cold Response 2016

Norwegian Leopard tanks get ready for a training scenario during Operation Cold Response 2016.   (Norwegian Defense Forces photo)

Elements of the U.S. 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade are in Norway until later this month as part of Exercise Cold Response 16, which has brought together 132 NATO Allied and partner nations and approximately 16,000 troops to practice joint crisis response capabilities in cold weather environments.

The multinational force comprises personnel from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands — as well as the U.S. Marine Corps..

BSRF supports exercise Cold Response 16 in Norway

Marine Corps photo by Corporal Immanuel Johnson

Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force (above) maneuvered across the Northern Trøndelag region of Norway last month to prepare for Cold Response 16.

Hosted by the the Norwegian military, Cold Response  — which runs from February 19 to March 22 — is held every two years to prepare NATO and partner nations like Sweden to coordinate operations under extreme winter conditions.

The Marines have brought mobile artillery, special operations units, Abrams tanks, amphibious assault vehicles as well as light armored and combat vehicles to Norway.

Allied Strong: Norwegian Minister of Defense visits Cold Response 16 forces

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Dalton Precht.

Norwegian Minister of Defense Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide (above) talks with Lieutenant Colonel Justin Ansel, commanding officer of Task Force 1/8, and officers from Norway and Sweden at a training location near Steinkjer, Norway, March 2, during Cold Response 16.

We’ll have more photos and news from this exercise in coming days.

 

March 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO:

Ewww.

Jungle Survival Training Cobra Gold 16

U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sergeant Ismael Pena

Adding a whole new dimension to the phrase “Stay Hungry,” U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Sam Teifke  eats a live scorpion during Exercise Cobra Gold 16, at Sattahip, Thailand.

Teifke, with Maritime Raid Force of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, was taking part in jungle survival training course led by the Royal Thai Reconnaissance Marines. If you look closely, you can see his amused fellow Marines reflected in his sunglasses.

Cobra Gold, in its 35th iteration, is a multi-national exercise designed to increase cooperation and interoperability through solving solutions for common challenges.

Troops from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand participated in this year’s Cobra Gold, which is aimed at advancing  regional security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area.

February 19, 2016 at 12:50 am Leave a comment

AIR FORCE: Report Says Pentagon Rethinking Attack Plane’s Retirement

Warthog Reprieve.

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint bArmy-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint Army-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

According to a published report, the U.S. Air Force is halting immediate plans to retire the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet — which is playing a major role in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The website, Defense One, reports Pentagon officials are saying plans to retire the heavily armored Cold War era jet known as the Warthog, have been put on hold. This policy shift will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, Pentagon officials told Defense One, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the spending plan before its official release.

The Air Force has been trying to eliminate the 40-year-old aircraft since 2014, because of budget constraints which threaten funding for newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the planned long range strike bomber. Officials say the A-10 — called the Warthog because of its stubby appearance, punishment-taking air frame and lethal armament — is obsolete and vulnerable to modern air defense missile systems and fifth generation fighter jets.

They also said multi-role fighters like the F-35 could handle the Warthog’s main mission: close air support of ground troops. That claim is strongly denied by Warthog advocates, who include former A-10 pilots, members of Congress and Army and Marine veterans who say they were saved from being overrun in Afghanistan by the A-10’s fearsome Gatling Gun.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

Supporters say high speed fighter jets cannot linger over a battle zone and provide covering fire for an extended period of time like the low and slow-flying Warthog has. The photo above shows the A-10’s big gun (like a fat cigar clenched in its tiger shark teeth) the seven-barrel, rotating 30 milimeter GAU cannon. The gun, with a firing rate of over 4,000-rounds per minute, enables “hogs” to support ground troops by taking out enemy tanks and armored vehicles with its armor-piercing shells.

January 13, 2016 at 11:35 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

AFRICA/COUNTER TERRORISM: U.S. Troops Helping African Forces in Fight with Boko Haram

New Drone base.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline rewritten to clarify U.S. forces not engaged in combat, just aiding ISR effort.

Cameroon (CIA World Factbook)

Cameroon
(CIA World Factbook)

The United States has quietly sent hundreds of troops to West Africa, to help Cameroon’s army hunt the terrorists along the Nigerian border, according to a CBS News report Wednesday (December 16).

They’re searching for Boko Haram, the extremist group that has aligned itself with the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIl and Daesh). Boko Harma has killed more than 20,000 people in the region, mostly in Nigeria, over the past six years.

Cameroon is getting help from the U.S. military, which is setting up another drone base in Africa. Cameroon soldiers are learning how to use their own unarmed drones for surveillance. The U.S. base won’t be fully operational until next month, CBS says.

“The U.S. is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the Cameroonian forces,” Army Captain Victor Guzman told CBS News. He said the plan is for the Cameroonian troops to take the lead and fight the local threat.

The United States started unarmed drone surveillance flights out of Niger, to the north of Cameroon, in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali.

December 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 4, 2015)

One Minute.

U.S. Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Sean A. Foley

U.S. Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Sean A. Foley

An Army jumpmaster gives a one-minute time warning from the troop door of a C-27 Spartan tactical transport aircraft during airborne operations over the St. Mere-Eglise drop zone, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The soldiers are assigned to the 112th Signal Battalion, 528th Special Operations Sustainment Brigade, Airborne.

To see more photos of this exercise, click here.

December 4, 2015 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

WASHINGTON: Pentagon Opens All Combat Roles to Women in All Services

Historic Decision.

Capt. Kristen Griest, a military police officer and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot at their Army Ranger course graduation. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright)

Capt. Kristen Griest, a military police officer and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot at their Army Ranger course graduation.
(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright)

Back in August we wrote about two female soldiers who were the first women to graduate from the Army’s grueling Ranger course. At the same time, we noted that Army Captain Kristen Griest and 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver could not apply for a job with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. The elite unit has a separate selection process, which wasn’t open to women.

Well, on Thursday (December 3) that all changed.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that he is opening all jobs in U.S. combat units from the infantry to Special Operations Forces to all “who can meet operationally relevant and gender neutral standards.” That policy change will open all jobs to female soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen — including positions in elite units like the Army Rangers and Navy SEALS — if they meet physical and other standards.

Carter’s decision caps of trend that began in 2013 when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced he was dropping a longtime ban on women serving directly in ground combat units. Since then the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps launched studies of the potential impact of gender integrated combat units. “Both the Army and Marine Corps studies found that women participating in ground combat training sustained injuries in higher  rates than men, particularly in occupational fields requiring load-bearing,” said Carter’s guidance memorandum on implementing the change.

The Marine Corps was the only service to seek exemptions from the rule change, asking to continue excluding women from certain combat jobs. But that idea was strongly criticized by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has authority over the Marine Corps. And Carter’s decision negated the Marines request for exemptions. The top Marine officer who sought the exemptions was General Joseph Dunford, who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the Washington Post. Dunford did not attend the Pentagon press conference where Carter revealed and explained the new policy. But in a statement issued by his office, the Post reported, Dunford said. “In the wake of the Secretary’s decision, my responsibility is to ensure his decision is properly implemented. Moving forward my focus is to lead the full integration of women in a manner that maintains our joint warfighting capability, ensures the health and welfare of our people, and optimizes how we leverage talent across the Joint Force.”

Members of the female engagement team assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment teach a hygiene class to children at a village medical outreach in Boldak, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2010.   (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Marionne T. Mangrum)

Members of the female engagement team assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, teach a hygiene class to children at a village medical outreach in Boldak, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2010.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Marionne T. Mangrum)

The services and Special Operations Command have until January 1 to submit their final, detailed implementation plans to Pentagon officials. They are all required to begin executing their individual plans no later than April 1, 2016.

December 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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