Posts tagged ‘Special Operations’
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.
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say the A-10 — called the Warthog because of its stubby appearance, punishment-taking air frame and lethal armament — is obsolete and vulnerable to modern air defense missile systems and fifth generation fighter jets.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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.”
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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.
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.
New Drone base.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline rewritten to clarify U.S. forces not engaged in combat, just aiding ISR effort.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Expeditionary Targeting Force.
The Obama administration is sending more Special Operations Forces (SOF) to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a congressional hearing Tuesday (December 1) that the Pentagon was deploying “a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist” Iraqi and Kurdish forces and put “even more pressure” on the leadership of the so-called Islamic State — also known as ISIS and ISIL (for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).
Eventually, Carter said, special operators will be able to “conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.”
Carter did not detail how many SOF troops would be sent to the region or where they would be deployed. But Pentagon officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to several news organizations, said this new force was expected to be based in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. The number of SOF operators could be between 150 and 200, it was reported by USA Today, the Washington Post and Reuters.
President Obama has already sent 3,500 troops to Iraq and the surrounding region to advise and support — but not fight alongside — Iraqis, Kurds and moderate Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime. In October Obama authorized the deployment of 50 special ops troops to advise and train Arab and Kurdish anti-ISIS fighters in Syria.
Before that, Obama was — and remains — reluctant to commit U.S. ground forces to fight ISIS, preferring to rely on U.S. led airstrikes on ISIS targets in support of Kurds, Iraqis and Syrians fighting the Islamist terror organization, which has captured chunks of Iraq and Syria.
Carter told the House Armed Services Committee the the air campaign has intensified against ISIS’s main revenue stream: oil exports. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also at the hearing, said the air attacks had disrupted 43 percent of ISIS oil production. But under sometimes testy questioning, Dunford conceded that “we have not contained” ISIS.
“We are at war,” Carter told the hearing, adding that he meant “this is a serious business … it has that kind of gravity.” ISIS has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian jetliner over Egypt, killing all 224 people on board, and a string of attacks in Paris last month that left 130 dead.
Carter said the new SOF presence in Iraq will raise uncertainty among ISIS leaders. “It puts everybody on notice in Syria. You don’t know at night who’s coming through the window,” he added.