Posts tagged ‘Taliban’

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Deadly Year for Green Berets; McRaven on Afghanistan; New Brazil Commando Unit

Every Single One.

Every single active-duty Special Forces Group has lost at least one soldier in Afghanistan or Syria this year, the Task & Purpose website reports.

Green Berets 2012 graduates

Special Forces Qualification Course graduates in 2012 wearing their green berets for the first time. (U.S. Army photo by Dave Chace, Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School)

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat. The most recent special operators to fall are: Sergeant 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 1st Special Forces Group, on September 16; Sergeant 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, also of the 1st Special Forces Group, on August 29; and Master Sergeants Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa and Jose J. Gonzalez, both of the 7th Special Forces Group and killed in the same action on August 21. All four soldiers were mortally wounded during combat operations with Afghan Army troops.

Ten of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan were Army special operators. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Another was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and one other was a Ranger, according to Task & Purpose.

“Green Beret teams are embedded with the Afghan commandos, which is doing the lion’s share of the fighting on the ground – that’s why they’re taking the lion’s share of the casualties,” Representative Michael Waltz (R-Florida) — a retired Special Forces officer —  told Task & Purpose. For a list of the Special Operations soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Syria this year, click here.

More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to topple the Taliban, which sheltered bin Laden.

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Ex-Top U.S. Commando on Afghanistan.


Admiral William McRaven speaks to Special Operations commanders in January 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Williams)

The former head of U.S. Special Operations Command ― who oversaw the mission that took out Osama Bin Laden ― believes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is far from over. “I’ve said we have to accept the fact — I think we do — that we’re going to be there for a very long time,” retired Navy Admiral William McRaven told an audience at the New America Special Operations Forces Policy Forum in Washington September 19.

McRaven, a Navy SEAL who headed SOCOM from 2011 to 2014, said it was a mistake to sit down with the Taliban, the Military Times reported. “I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” he said, “it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”

The Taliban and U.S. diplomats reportedly had reached an interim peace agreement this summer after nine rounds of peace talks in the Gulf State of Qatar. However, the deal fell apart just before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks when President Trump canceled a secret meeting with Taliban officials at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

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New Brazilian Commando Unit.

Brazil’s Navy plans to create its own maritime special operations command, to be designated as the Comando Naval de Operações Especiais (CoNavOpEsp), according to the Jane’s 360 website.

Brazil special ops-Forças_especiais,_Comandos_(26712384805)

Brazil’s Army has had special ops troops, Comando de Operações Especiais, (C Op Esp) since 2003.

The organization will be based in Rio de Janeiro under a rear admiral as part of the Naval Operations Command (ComOpNav). The plan calls for CoNavOpEsp — under a single command structure — to unify the direction and co-ordination of special operations missions, Jane’s reported.

Among the missions the existing Army commando unit, Comando de Operações Especiais, is tasked with: Direct action, airfield seizure, special reconnaissance, airborne and air assault operations, and personnel recovery.

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U.S., Estonian Commandos Train in Vertical Insertion.

Air Commandos with the U.S. Air Force 352nd Special Operations Wing, trained with Estonian and other U.S. special operations forces near Amari, Estonia, in early September. A NATO member since 2004, Estonia, like other Baltic nations once occupied by the Soviet Union, has been under pressure from Russia. A massive series of cyber attacks that paralyzed Estonia in 2007 was believed to be the work of Moscow, although the accusation was never proven.

From September 3 though September 9, the Estonian and U.S. commandos conducted a multitude of air operations out of an Air Force Special Operation Command CV-22 Osprey.  The tilt rotor aircraft is the Air Force’s premier Special Cops vertical lift assault platform. “Ospreys and their crews are capable of the full spectrum of SOF [Special Operations Forces] missions in all phases of conflict. They conduct the infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces throughout the European theater,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Clay Freeman, commander of the 352nd Special Ops Wing.

Estonian Fast roping Osprey.jpg

An Estonian Special Operations Forces operator fast ropes out the back of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey on a similar training mission in 2017.   (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Matt Britton)

U.S. and Estonian troops spent the week focused on three mission objectives: Familiarization with the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES) ;  casualty evacuation; and rapidly loading and off-loading a tactical vehicle from the aircraft.

During the FRIES training, U.S. and Estonia personnel practiced fast-roping from twilight and into the night. That new capability will allow forces to be inserted into small or confined areas were normal aircraft landings are impractical.

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More Training for USAF First Female Ranger.

Back in August, U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch made history by becoming the first female in the U.S. Air Force to graduate from the tough Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Ranger tab pinned

Air Force First Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, of the 821st Contingency Response Squadron, has her  Ranger tab pinned on after graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School August 30, 2019, at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army photo John Tongret)

Hibsch, a security forces officer assigned to the 821st Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) at Travis Air Force Base in California,  will be back with her unit training for short-notice disaster response and combat zone airfield preparation worldwide, the website reported.

The 821st CRS is part of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, whose highly specialized personnel are trained to deploy quickly in order to open airfields or establish, expand, sustain and coordinate air mobility operations for wartime tasks or disaster relief.

Lt. Chelsey Hibsch Army Ranger tab.

Then-2nd Lieutenant Chelsey Hibsch, speaking at a Women’s History Month luncheon at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on March 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Hibsch, a former enlisted airman from Attica, New York, was in the process of transitioning to the 621st from a previous assignment in the Indo-Pacific region when she was selected for Ranger School — a challenging, two-month-long course. Competing in the Ranger Assessment Course at Camp Bullis, Texas prompted her to enroll in Army Ranger School.

After then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a ban on women serving in ground combat roles in 2013, the Army opened the Ranger School to female applicants two years later. Two female West Point graduates, Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver, were the first women to earn the coveted Ranger tab (shoulder patch). Now more than a dozen service women have completed Ranger school.

September 25, 2019 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: Taliban Leader Reported Dead for Years; Mumbai Bombing Money Man Executed

Mullah Omar Dead?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady)

The Afghan government made a surprising announcement Wednesday (July 29) that Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban movement was dead — and had been for more than two years.

Officials said the one-eyed insurgent leader had died more than two years ago in a Pakistani hospital. He had not been seen in public since 2001, not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, carried out by a terrorist group to which he had given safe harbor. The New York Times has details here.

Analysts speculate that the Taliban leader’s death could spark defections from the Islamist insurgent group and might drive many to sign up with the hyper violent Islamist State gtoup, also known as ISIS and ISIL, according to CNN.

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Bomb Plot.

India has executed the man convicted of financing a deadly string of bombings in Mumbai in 1993.

Yakub Memon was hanged at a prison in Nagpur in the western state of Maharashtra, the BBC reported.

The serial blasts killed 257 people, and were allegedly to avenge the killing of Muslims in riots a few months earlier.

There was tight security around the Nagpur prison today (July 30), and in parts of the state capital, Mumbai.

The March 1993 blasts targeted a dozen sites, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, the offices of national air carrier Air India and a luxury hotel.

India (CIA World Factbook)

(CIA World Factbook)

July 30, 2015 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

TERRORISM: Student, Top Police Official Die in Pakistan Attacks

Two Deadly Incidents

Two recent incidents have resulted in death at the hands of terrorists in Pakistan: A brave 15-year-old high school student and a senior police official in Pakistan’s struggle against the Taliban.

Pakistan map via CIA World Factbook

Pakistan map via CIA World Factbook

Tributes have been pouring in for the Pakistani teenager who was killed on Monday (January 6) when he tackled a suicide bomber targeting his school in northwest Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the BBC reports.

Fifteen-year-old Aitzaz Hasan was with friends outside school when they spotted a man wearing a suicide vest. Despite the pleas of his classmates, he decided to confront and capture the bomber who then detonated his vest, his cousin told the BBC.

Aitzaz is being hailed as a hero in an outpouring of praise on social media. He has has been declared a “great hero” by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinvial government, according to The News International. Locals are calling for the boy’s sacrifice to be acknowledged on a federal level “as he not only demonstrated bravery but also intelligence and courage,” the Pakistani news website said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, a senior Pakistani policeman was killed in a bombing as his convoy was travelling through Karachi. He was killed along with at least two other officers, The Independent reported.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, following up on repeated vows through the years to have him killed, the New York Times reported.

The police official, Muhammad Aslam Khan — widely known as Chaudhry Aslam — had survived at least nine previous assassination attempts. His hard-charging public crusades against Karachi’s entrenched criminal enterprises and sectarian violence earned him many admirers, but also many enemies, officials said, according to the Times.

January 9, 2014 at 11:48 pm 1 comment

AFGHANISTAN: Insurgents Damage Top U.S. Commander’s Plane

Lucky Shot or Close Call?

Afghan militants are trying to get the biggest propaganda boost they can from a rocket attack early yesterday (August 21) on Bagram Airfield that damaged the transport plane used by the U.S. military’s top commander — Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman off the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prepares to board a CH-47 at Kabul International Airport Aug. 20.
(Defense Dept. photo by D. Myles Cullen)

The overnight attack, which is not that unusual according to NATO officials, damaged the Air Force C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft on which Dempsey flew into Afghanistan, CNN and other news outlets reported. Dempsey was in his quarters asleep and never in danger from the attack in the wee hours of the morning when two rockets landed on Bagram’s flightline. Two Air Force aircraft maintainers were slightly injured — suffering cuts and bruises from debris. The C-17 was not directly hit by the rockets but flying shrapnel damaged the crew door and the cowling on one of the big plane’s four jet engines.

Dempsey and his travelling party had to switch to another plane to fly out of Afghanistan for the rest of his trip to Iraq.

NATO officials said rockets or other explosive projectiles are fired into the airfield once or twice a month, usually with little effect, the New York Times reported. But according to the Times and other news outlets, the Taliban claimed it had deliberately targeted Dempsey’s plane. A Taliban spokesman claimed the chairman’s plane was targeted “using exact information” about where it would be, the Associated Press reported. The Taliban also claimed to have shot down a U.S. helicopter last week, killing seven Americans and four Afghans. But U.S. officials have said enemy fire was not responsible for that fatal crash.

Dempsey was in Afghanistan to speak with NATO coalition and Afghan leaders about the increasing problem of Afghans in uniform — whether actual policemen and soldiers or Taliban infiltrators — attacking coalition forces. There have been 32 attacks so far this year — 11 more than for all of 2011.

August 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm 4 comments

COUNTER INSURGENCY: Kamikaze Drone in Afghanistan

Little and Lethal

The U.S. military has secretly deployed small, portable, kamikaze unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to Afghanistan for use against Taliban insurgents, Bloomberg News reported this week.

Launching a Switchblade UAV. Photo courtesy of AeroVironment Inc.

The little, lethal UAV is known as Switchblade. It weighs less than six pounds, can be carried in a soldier’s backpack and is launched from a mortar-like tube. Once airborne, Switchblade, manufactured by AeroVironmentc Inc., sends back color video imagery and GPS (global positioning system) coordinates which the soldier can view on a hand-held ground controller. It’s the same controller that operates AeroVironment’s other small unmanned air systems (SUAS) like the hand-launched Raven. The 24-inch-long Switchblade is battery-powered and can stay aloft — at around 500 feet — for between five and 10 minutes.

But what makes Switchblade unique is the ability to transition from a low-flying reconnaissance drone to small bomb with the flick of a switch by the soldier operating the ground controller. It can then be aimed at a nearby — but out of sight — target  such as an un-armored vehicle or small enemy group on a rooftop or in a  shallow cave. When detonated, it acts like a flying shotgun blast, an Army official told Bloomberg. But the small, controlled explosion cuts down on the risk of harming nearby non-combatants and bystanders, according to AeroVironment. The soldier on the ground can also call off the attack even after the switch to flying bomb is made, AeroVironment says.

The Army secretly deployed the attack UAV to Afghanistan last year and plans to order more and deploy them where needed, according to the Bloomberg report.

For it’s part, AeroVironment announced in September that it had received a $4.9 million contract from the Army’s Close Combat Weapons Systems office. “The award is  for rapid fielding of this capability to deployed combat forces,” AeroVironment said in a press release, which did not specify where Switchblade would be deployed.

While some follow-on news accounts herald Switchblade as a “new weapon,” your 4GWAR editor first wrote about Switchblade in a posting at Defense Technology International’s ARES on Defense blog last year.

Here’s an AeroVironment promotional video of how the Switchblade could be used on TIME’s website.


October 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm Leave a comment

PAKISTAN: Naval Base Attack Fallout

Heads Roll, Shoes Drop

Pakistan has removed the commander of a naval air base attacked by Taliban insurgents May 22. The raid, on the edge of Karachi, Pakistan’s main port and financial center, left a dozen dead, two maritime surveillance aircraft destroyed and deeply embarrassed the Pakistani military establishment.

CIA World Factbook

Pakistani military leaders are still reeling from the May 1 raid in which Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by U.S. commandos in a compound just 35 miles outside the capital, Islamabad. Further revelations indicated that bin Laden had been living quietly there for years and Pakistani security officials — who claimed they had no idea he was so close — appeared to be either incompetent or in cahoots with bin Laden. Some American lawmakers have called for cutting the billions of dollars Islamabad gets in foreign aid.

While Pakistan’s military may be embarrassed, politicians there are furious with the U.S. and have been turning more and more toward China. In a recent visit there, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called China “our best and most trusted friend.”

Several years ago Beijing largely funded and built a commercial seaport at Gwadar about 300 miles up the coast from Karachi. Another shoe dropped when it was reported Pakistan has asked China to run the strategically located port — just down the coast from Iranian territory and overlooking vital sea lanes between Asia and Middle East oil ports. Returning from the Chinese trip with Gilani, Pakistan Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said Beijing agreed to take over operation of the deepwater port — currently run by a company in Singapore — and that Islamabad asked the Chinese to build a base for the Pakistani navy.

That news got analysts and diplomats worrying about China’s expanded presence in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. China has also funded construction at ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). Along with the port in Pakistan, they speculated, China’s navy would have a series of potential naval bases surrounding India. It’s been likened to a “String of Pearls.”

But China says there is no deal to operate the port or help build a naval base there. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said she had not heard of the Gwadar port deal.She added that the topic did not come up during Pakistani leaders’ visit to China, the Voice of America reported.

May 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

PAKISTAN: Militants Attack Karachi Naval Base (Update 5/23/2011)

Another Blow to the Military Establishment

Heavily armed gunmen attacked a Pakistani naval base outside the economic center of Karachi Sunday night (May 22), killing at least a dozen people and destroying two long-range naval surveillance aircraft presented to Pakistan by the U.S., according to te Washington Post and other news outlets. Pakistani security forces did not regain control of the base until late Monday afternoon (May 23), the Los Angeles Times reported

P-3C aircraft in Pakistan after delivery from the U.S. (Central Command photo)

The Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack, saying it was to exact vengeance for the U.S. commando raid inside Pakistan that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden on May 1.

It was the second attack on Pakistani naval forces in as many months. In April, three people were killed and more than 30 wounded when bombs were detonated near two buses carry navy personnel. The Karachi attack was the worst on Pakistani military installation since extremists attacked Pakistan army headquarters in 2009, leaving 23 people dead, including nine militants. The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency – the main Pakistani intelligence service — has also seen its headquarters bombed.

The attacks call into question how well Pakistani security forces can safeguard their own military facilities, especially the country’s nuclear arsenal — believed to contain about 100 warheads, said the Financial Times. Seventeen U.S. and Chinese technicians at the naval aviation facility were evacuated safely, Pakistani officials said.

Authorities said 12 Pakistani commandos and soldiers were killed in the attack. Another 14 were injured. Officials did not reveal how many of the militants were killed. The Karachi attackers also destroyed two Lockheed Martin Orion P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft transferred to the Pakistani Navy in 2010. The four-engine, turboprop aircraft were deliberately targeted in the attack, the Pakistani Navy said. The P-3Cs were the first of eight to be handed over to Pakistan by 2012, according to U.S. Central Command.

Updates with attack ending, new casualty figures, Chinese and U.S. technicians safe, blow to Pakistani security services’ prestige, and two aircraft destroyed.

May 22, 2011 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment


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