Posts tagged ‘Special Operations’

FRIDAY FOTO (November 20, 2015)

Golden Light/Green Beret.

New York National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

New York National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

An Army Special Forces Green Beret takes a knee during a noncombatant evacuation exercise as part of Southern Strike 16 at Meridian Naval Air Station in Mississippi.

The exercise emphasizes air-to-air, air-to-ground and special forces training opportunities.

To see some photos of the Air National Guard’s participation in this exercise, click here.

(We feel it is important to note the term Special Forces, refers to the U.S. Army unit known as the Green Berets. When speaking in general of specially trained, elite small units, the term special operations forces should be used.  Special operations forces — under the direction of Special Operations Command — includes units like Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, Marine Raiders, special aircraft crews in the Army and Air Force, as well as several specialist Air Force positions such as combat (air traffic) controllers and para rescue jumpers.)

November 20, 2015 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

DEFENSE/PEACEKEEPING: Big Week Coming

Two Big Conferences.

Calendar14GWAR was lying low last week after a busy conference season — Air & Space — Modern Day Marine — Military Reporters and Editors and one of the biggest, the Association of the U.S. Army.

But this week, we want to call your attention to two important conferences running almost simultaneously in the Washington D.C. area.

UNMANNED SYSTEMS DEFENSE

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the trade group of robotic and autonomous systems makers, researchers, developers and users — holds their annual meeting with the military, technology experts and the defense industry. Presentations and panel discussions will review the Pentagon’s programs for drones and robots that fly in the sky, roll or walk across the ground or swim in or under the sea. In fact, the gathering used to be called the program review but now it’s called Unmanned Systems Defense.

It runs for three days, starting Tuesday (October 27) at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Arlington (Pentagon City), Virginia. Each day is dedicated to a different battlespace: maritime, air and ground. Speakers will include program managers and officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard — along with several congressmen and officials from Special Operations Command and DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

For more information, click here.

ISOA SUMMIT

The companies and organizations that supply goods, servcies and technology to peacekeepers, relief groups, advisers and other non-governmental organizations are also meeting in the Washington area this week. The International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) is holding its 10th summit at the National Press Club starting Wednesday (October 28).

ISOA says it represents companies and organizations “whose work lays the foundation for long term stability and growth in the world’s most unstable places. We serve the implementing community, providing member services focused on contracting, partnerships, regulatory and legal developments, research initiatives, policy movement, and whatever else our members deem important.”

We last wrote about ISOA in 2013, when some ISOA members expressed interest in possible using drones to obtain intelligence about possible danger in remote locations, finding refugees who have fled violence or food shortages and where the greatest need for food is in vast regions with few roads.

Among the speakers ISOA members will hear from at the two-day event: the former head of U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham (ret.); Ambassador Brett McGurk, the deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS and the Islamic State); the former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), rerired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Program Support), Gary Motsek.

October 25, 2015 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: U.S. Troops Staying in Afghanistan; Going to Cameroon

It Ain’t Over Yet.

President Barack Obama announced Thursday (October 15) that U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan will not be going down anytime soon.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Crisp

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Crisp

Obama said the  policy shift is necessary because Afghan security forces aren’t ready to defend their country by themselves while the Taliban insurgency is on the rise again, especially in rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is sending 300 U.S. service members to the west African nation of Cameroon to conduct drone surveillance of the violent extremist group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in the region.

Flanked by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice President Joe Biden at a short White House briefing, Obama announced the current force strength level of 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will continue through 2016. In 2017, U.S. forces in Afghanistan will shrink to 5,500 — still far more than the embassy protection force previously envisioned by administration planners.

Those 5,500 troops, to be based in a few locations around the country — including Bagram, Jalalabad in the east, and Kandahar in the south. They

Afghanistan (Map courtesy of Institute for the Study of War)

Afghanistan
(Map courtesy of Institute for the Study of War)

will continue their current two-part mission of training Afghan forces and counterterrorism operations, Obama said. The advising and training will have a special emphasis on Afghanistan’s elite counterterrorism forces, according to the Washington Post. “The United States would also maintain a significant counterterrorism capability of drones and Special Operations forces to strike al Qaeda and other militants who may be plotting attacks against the United States,” the Post said.

“Afghanistan is a key piece in the network of counter terrorism partnerships we need from South Asia to Africa to deal more broadly with terrorist threats quickly and prevent attacks against our homeland,” Obama said. The so called Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) has emerged as a threat in Afghanistan and Boko Haram leaders have pledged allegiance to the extremely violent group, which wants to establish a Islamic caliphate through out the Middle East and Africa. It already controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. troops going to Cameroon were invited by that country’s government as part of a larger international effort to stop the spread of violent extremists in West Africa, a U.S. defense official told the Voice of America news site.

The need for international action has become “more urgent as Boko Haram and other organizations ramped up their violent activities,” the official added.

The violent extremist group has been active in northern Cameroon, which is across the border from its home base of northeastern Nigeria.

Cameroon (CIA World Factbook)

Cameroon
(Map: CIA World Factbook)

In a letter to Congress Wednesday (October 14), Obama said 90 military personnel had already deployed to Cameroon ahead of the arrival of additional troops “to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region”.

“The total number of U.S. military personnel to be deployed to Cameroon is anticipated to be up to approximately 300,” Obama said, according to the Al Jazeera website. “These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” Obama said.

October 15, 2015 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

ARMY: New Combat Ground Vehicles Debut at AUSA Expo [UPDATE]

First Look.

Northrop Grumman's Hellhound Light Reconnaissance Vehicle prototype draws a crowd at AUSA exhibit hall. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Northrop Grumman’s Hellhound Light Reconnaissance Vehicle prototype draws a crowd at AUSA exhibit hall.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

UPDATE adds additional Hellhound photo and information about the Oshkosh Defense M-ATV 6 X 6

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Six hundred companies exhibited their wares this week at the annual Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) conference and trade show and, as usual, several new platforms — from ground combat vehicles to helicopters — were on display.

Northrop Grumman introduced the world to the Hellhound, a light reconnaissance vehicle prototype. The glossy black 4 by 4 vehicle at the show seats sixscouts (two in the front and four in the back) from a reconnaissance platoon and comes with an ATK M230LF 30mm gun on the roof that can be folded down for easier air transport. The gun is operated remotely by a gunner sitting inside the vehicle.

The Hellhound, named for Grumman’s F6F Hellcat, a World War II carrier-based fighter plane, is the company’s offering for the Army’s upcoming light reconnaissance vehicle acquisition program. Designed with the crew and mission in mind, the Hellhound is designed for off-road operation. It can be transported by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter either under the helo with an outside sling or — after hydraulic system lowers the vehicle’s height to fit inside the aircraft.

It also has 120 kilowatt generator manufactured by a German company, Jenoptik, that can produce 100 kW more than the vehicle needs to operate. That extra power can run sensors, radios, electronic warfare equipment or turn the Hellhound into a remote command center. With its 250 horsepower Cummins engine, the Hellhound can travel at speeds up to 70 miles an hour and has a range of 400 miles.

 

Another look at Northrop Grumman's Hellcound LRV prototype. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Another look at Northrop Grumman’s Hellound LRV prototype.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Attendees at AUSA also got a first look at Oshkosh Defense’s bigger, badder mine-resistant all terrain vehicle: the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle 6 X 6 technology demonstrator. MRAP stands for mine resistant ambush protected. The heavy armored vehicles were developed in response to roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were killing and maiming U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan who were riding in lightly armored vehicles like the Humvee.

The 42,000-pound, six-wheeled vehicle builds on the technology of Oshkosh Defense four-wheeled M-ATVs. The 6 X 6 has two hatches in the rear and on passenger’s side and can seat 15 soldiers. Overall the big rig can carry an additional 12,000 pounds of payload above its own 42,000-pound weight.  It also comes with all-wheel steer to enhance maneuverability.

The 6 X 6 can his a top speed of 70 miles per hour and has a range of 300 miles.

Possible missions  could include troop transport, explosive ordnance disposal or command and control.

Oshkosh Defense M-ATV 6X6 at AUSA 2015 (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Oshkosh Defense M-ATV 6X6 at AUSA 2015
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Click on photos to enlarge image.

October 14, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

ARMY: Big Army Expo Opens This Week

Win in a Complex World.

Combat vehicles, communications and protective gear will all be on display at the AUSA 2015 conference and trade show. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Combat vehicles, communications and protective gear will all be on display at the AUSA 2015 conference and trade show.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — All things Army — from ground combat vehicles, protective gear, unmanned vehicles, drones, sensors, small arms, strategy and tactics will be on display and under discussion at the Washington Convention Center this week as the Association of the U.S. Army holds its annual conference and exposition.

Among the speakers will be outgoing Army Secretary John McHugh and the new Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. They will discuss the challenges facing today’s Army with the threat of more budget cuts and planned reductions in the size of the force.

Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology — she’s in charge of figuring out what the Army needs to buy or develop and whether and how much it will cost — is another anticipated speaker, as is General Dennis Via, commanding general of Army Materiel Command. Both of them will provide an update on Army modernization plans.

The theme of the conference is Winning in a Complex World and General David Perkins, commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command will discuss what that will take.

With conflicts, insurgencies and threats in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, East and West Africa as well as Asia, the U.S. military has said it will be increasingly leaning on partner nations and allies to help bear the burden of dealing with crises around the world.

And foreign militaries and defense contractors will have a big presence at the already huge expo. There will be 62 countries represented at the event, including eight international pavilions on the exhibit hall floor, according to retired Lieutenant General Roger Thompson, AUSA’s vice president for membership and meeting. Turkey will have the largest pavilion, he told the Defense News weekly military affairs broadcast Sunday.

Several U.S. contractors, including  Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh Defense, will be unveiling new ground vehicles. Northrop will be showing off its Hellhound prototype Light Reconnaissance Vehicle and Oshkosh Defense will unveil its MRAP 6-by-6 All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV). MRAP stands for mine resistant ambush protected, in other words an armored vehicle that can protect occupants from roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

October 12, 2015 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 9, 2015)

Devil Dogs’ Dog.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Austin A. Lewis)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Austin A. Lewis)

The story goes that after the hard-fought battle of Belleau Wood in World War I, the Germans — shocked by the tenacity and marksmanship of the U.S. Marines — said the Marines fought like “Teufel hunde,” devil dogs. The story may be apocryphal but the Marines had a new nickname: Devil Dogs.

Well here is one of their military working dogs all kitted up with protective goggles, muzzle and safety harness before the start of special patrol insertion and extraction training at the Marines’ Camp Lejeune, North Carolina late last month.

During this kind of exercise the Marines fast rope down from a hovering helicopter. That begs the question: How do you get a dog down from a helicopter that can’t land in hostile territory?

Here’s the answer:

 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Austin A. Lewis)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Austin A. Lewis)

This Marine and his canine colleague, both with Marine Raider Regiment, hang from a UH-1Y Huey chopper assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 167, during special patrol insertion/extraction training at Stone Bay, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 23, 2015. HMLA-167 Marines flew from Marine Corps Air Station New River to assist Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) with the training.

The Raider Regiment and MARSOC are part of U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees all the services’ elite specialty units like Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Air Force combat air controllers and Marine Raiders

To see more photos of this doggy and his Marine Raider companions, click here.

October 9, 2015 at 12:03 am Leave a comment

UNMANNED SYSTEMS: Robotic Transport/Supply Vehicles Deliver the Goods

By Land, Sea or Air.

The K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

The K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter.
(Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

The military is exploring ways that unmanned systems, from helicopters to submarines, can be used to transport supplies in hostile or dangerous areas.

Last year, Lockheed Martin and Kaman’s unmanned K-MAX helicopter returned from nearly three years of transporting cargo for the Marine Corps in Afghanistan — the first unmanned helicopter to do so.

With their supply truck convoys frequent targets of roadside bombs and insurgent attacks, the Marines were looking for a safer alternative. K-MAX’s cargo transportation was able to take an estimated 900 trucks off the road and their drivers and escorts out of harm’s way.

But transporting supplies isn’t limited to unmanned aircraft. Manned ground vehicles–from small, rugged all-terrain vehicles to heavy cargo trucks are being converted into autonomously operating vehicles.

The same is true of the optionally manned Proteus, a dual mode underwater vehicle that can deliver special operations forces swimmers or their equipment and supplies to shore from a submerged submarine.

Battelle and Huntington Ingalls Industries' Proteus submersible is a dual mode underwater vehicle. The battery-powered 8,240-pound craft can transport up to 3,600 pounds of cargo autonomously from the dry deck shelter of a submarine to shore. (Photo courtesy Batelle)

Battelle and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Proteus submersible is a dual mode (manned/unmanned) underwater vehicle. The battery-powered 8,240-pound craft can transport up to 3,600 pounds of cargo autonomously from the dry deck shelter on a submarine to shore.
(Photo courtesy Battelle)

Originally developed by as a swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) for up to six Navy SEALS, Proteus, a massive 8,000-pound submersible, is now being leased by the Navy for testing as a dual mode vehicle that can operate as manned SDV or a cargo-carrying unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). “The idea of using it as an unmanned mule is very feasible,” says George Geoghegan, maritime systems manager for Battelle — which together with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries — owns and operates Proteus.

The almost 26-foot-long Proteus has 170 cubic feet of space in its cargo area and exterior side rails that can carry bulkier cargo, although the maximum total payload is limited to 1,100 pounds. Cargo will either have to be sealed in watertight packaging or be water resistant because the cabin is flooded when underway as part of its original mission: to allowing divers to enter and exit the vehicle while submerged. But that also means there’s more room for payload.

Powered by 20 lithium polymer batteries that weigh about 100 pounds each when underway, Proteus has a range of about 350 nautical miles at an energy-saving low speed of 3 knots, and a maximum speed of 9 knots fully-loaded, according to Geoghegan. Like an SDV, Proteus can be transported to a denied area in the dry deck shelter of a submarine. It can work at depths of 150 feet when manned, 200 feet unmanned.

Unmanned, the vessel can be pre-programmed to run underwater from point to point but it does not have obstacle avoidance capability. However, Geoghegan says that’s just another payload that can be added.

A Polaris xxxxxxx used in the GUSS autonomous squad vehicle study by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. (Photo courtesy of Polaris Defense)

A Polaris 6X6 used in the GUSS autonomous squad vehicle study by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.
(Photo courtesy of Polaris Defense)

Polaris Defense offers their entire line of rugged ground vehicles as capable of manned or unmanned operation. “We build our vehicles with the ability to be optionally unmanned. And it’s everything from tele-operated to fully unmanned,” said General Manager Rich Haddad, adding “we’re not an autonomy company. We’re agnostic about whose autonomy package goes on the vehicle.”

But the company has acquired a ground guidance software package called Primordial “that could easily morph into a mission planning type of capability. We are integrating that into our vehicle but it is not in itself an autonomy package,” Haddad said.

Polaris supplies a range of all terrain vehicles for elements of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Polaris supplied the ground vehicles that contestants were required to drive in DARPA’s Robotic Challenge to identify robots that could perform human tasks in disasters. And a Polaris 6×6 vehicle was converted by TORC Robotics into the autonomous and semi-autonomous Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) that is being studied by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

To read more on this topic, click here to see our story in Military Logistics Forum magazine’s September issue (pages 8-9).

October 6, 2015 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

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