Posts tagged ‘Unconventional Warfare’

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

SKILLS AND TRAINING: Marines Preparing for Future Actions in Coastal Mega Cities

Skyscraper Warfare?

Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers and U.S. Marines patrol streets in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal James J. Vooris)

Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers and U.S. Marines patrol streets in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal James J. Vooris)

Back in September, we told what challenges Marine Corps planners and strategists think the corps will face later in the 21st Century. Much talk at the Modern Day Marine expo in Virginia focused on the kind of hybrid warfare seen in eastern Ukraine and the rise of teeming coastal mega cities around the world.

The future battlefield will probably look nothing like Afghanistan and Iraq, where Marines have been fighting for the last 14 years. Instead, urban areas near the sea and river deltas are expected to be the most likely environment, said Brigadier General Julian Dale Alford, commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

During a panel discussion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Alford said the new environment will be “complex, congested, cluttered, contested, connected (with the cyber world), constrained and coastal.”

There’s plenty of evidence to back that conclusion.

A 2014 United Nations report noted that 54 percent of the world’s population already lives in urban areas — a proportion expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050.  Projections show that urbanization, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa, according to the 2014 revision of the U.N.’s World Urbanization Prospects report.

Of today’s 28 mega-cities (with a population of 10 million or more) 16 are located in Asia, four in Latin America, three each in Africa and Europe, and two in North America. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with 10 million inhabitants or more. Many of those cities are in the littoral areas close to the sea.”That’s where our Marines are  going to fight. That’s where we’re going to have to operate,” Alford said back in September.

Speaking at an industry training, simulation and education conference in Orlando, Florida last month, Alford asked industry attendees to help develop ways to better prepare troops to fight in high-rise warfare, Defense News reported.

Alford said training concepts need to move quickly from “the three-block war,”  to the “four-floor war.” “We are going to be on the top floor of a skyscraper . . . evacuating civilians and helping people. The middle floor, we might be detaining really bad people that we’ve caught. On the first floor we will be down there killing them. … At the same time they will be getting away through the subway or sub terrain,” Alford said, Defense News’ Jen Judson reported from Orlando. “How do we train to fight that? Because it is coming, that fight right there is coming I do believe with all my heart,”  Alford added.
Nighttime view of Israel's Urban Warfare Training Center. (Israeli Defense Forces photo)

Nighttime view of Israel’s Urban Warfare Training Center.
(Israeli Defense Forces photo)

Then U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno commissioned the Strategic Studies Group, to develop a study on the challenges of mega cities in 2014. Click here to see it.

January 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Elite U.S.-Canadian World War II Unit Honored by Congress

The Devil’s Brigade.

First Special Service Force patch

First Special Service Force patch

The U.S. Congress has bestowed a gold medal — the highest civilian award it can bestow — to a combined U.S.-Canadian military unit that fought under some of the toughest conditions in World War II — and paved the way of today’s Green Berets and other special operations forces.

The First Special Service Force — consisting of 900 American soldiers and 900 Canadians — was activated in July 1942, and after deployments to the Aleutians against the Japanese and Italy and Southern France to fight the Germans, was disbanded at the end of 1944.

But in that short space of time, this elite unit captured 30,000 prisoners and earned five U.S. campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors, according to the Associated Press.

The all volunteer 1,800-man brigade — called the “Black Devils” or “Devil’s Brigade” because they attacked the Germans stealthily at night with faces blackened by boot polish as camouflage — was made up of forest rangers, lumberjacks, ranchers, farmers and  other types of outdoorsmen.

The First Special Service Force troops, nicknamed "Black Devils"  by the Nazis, being briefed before a night patrol at Anzio, Italy, in 1944

The First Special Service Force troops, nicknamed “Black Devils” by the Nazis, being briefed before a night patrol at Anzio, Italy, in 1944

At Fort Harrison, Montana they trained in stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, skiing, rock climbing, demolition, amphibious and mountain warfare. Their exploits inspired a book by historian Robert H. Adleman and Colonel George Walton, a member of the brigade, as well as a 1968 movie starring William Holden and Cliff Robertson.

There were only 42 surviving members of the FSSF present for the February 3) Capitol Hill ceremony presided over by John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Few of the Devil’s Brigade are with us today.  The current average age of members of the unit is 92, noted CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In fact, one of their number, Al Wilson, 90, of Flamborough, Ontario, died the day before ceremony after a bout with pneumonia.

In addition to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, the ceremony was attended by Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, Erin O’Toole and Army General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command — which oversees Army Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Raiders and other U.S. commando groups.

“They were indeed, the elite forces of their time and thus the pioneers of our two nations’ special operations forces,” said Votel.

Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate present a Congressional Gold Medal to members of the First Special Service Force. From left to right: Speaker John Boehner; Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, Erin O’Toole;  Eugene Gutierrez, Jr.;  Charles W. Mann; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; and General Joseph Votel. -- (Official Photo by Caleb Smith)

Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate present a Congressional Gold Medal to members of the First Special Service Force.
From left to right: House Speaker John Boehner; Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, Erin O’Toole; American FSSF vet Eugene Gutierrez, Jr.; Canadian FSSF vet Charles W. Mann; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; and General Joseph Votel.

(Official Photo by Caleb Smith)

.west point cadets.pdfSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

February 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (August 8, 20104)

Fall Guys

U.S. Army photo by Maj. Edward Lauer

U.S. Army photo by Maj. Edward Laue

Special operations troops assigned to U.S. Southern Command track with their fellow parachutists from Colombia during an international free fall event at Fort Tolemaida, Colombia, July 30. The parachute drop was part of Fuerzas Comando 2014, a commando skills competition for military and polic special operations forces from the Western Hemisphere.

We know we just ran a photo from Fuerzas Commando last week as the Friday Foto. But were taken by the sharp colors and contrasts in this Army photo when we were looking fro this week’s FRIDAY FOTO.

This year, the U.S. team — including Green Berets from the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group — finished 2nd out of 17 teams, the best performance by a U.S. team since the competition began 10 years ago. By the way, the Colombian team came out on top, taking first place for the sixth time. The team from El Salvador finished third.

To see more photos of the free fall drop and the closing ceremonies, click here.


August 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: Updates on Abuja Bombing, School Girls Kidnapping

Boko Haram Mayhem

The radical and violent Islamist group Boko Haram is claiming responsibility for a bus station bombing in Nigeria’s capital that killed 75 people last week, according to press reports.

“We are the ones who carried out the attack in Abuja,” Boko Haram’s leader — Abubakar Shekau — said in a video message obtained by the French news service, AFP on Saturday (April 19).  The 28-minute video threatened future attacks with the ominous statement: “We are in your city but you don’t know where we are.” AFP reported.

Monday’s bombing in Abuja, which also injured 141 people, was the first attack in two years on Nigeria’s capital. The death toll is expected to rise, the Associated Press reported, as pathologists determine how many people were blown apart by the huge blast.

The Boko Haram video made no mention of the mass abduction of scores of high school girls from a school compound in turbulent northeast Nigeria. The Nigerian government and local officials in Borno state — where the school is located — have blamed Boko Haram.

Officials originally said all but 85 of the girls have escaped their abductors, but family members dispute those claims, saying 234 girls are missing, according to the AP.

The militant group, whose name is translated as either “Western education is sinful” or “Western education is forbidden,” in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria, has mounted numerous attacks on schools and students as well as churches and government facilities in a five-year campaign to have the largely northern part of Nigeria declared subject to Islamic, “sharia” law. Thousands have been killed in the conflict.

The bombing in the heart of Nigeria, hundreds of miles from Boko Haram’s strongholds has underscored the threat the terrorist group poses to Africa’s most populous nation and biggest economy and oil producer.

April 21, 2014 at 10:59 am 1 comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Cultural Awareness Then and Now

Of Monuments and Partners

TAMPA – “The Monuments Men,” the 2009 book on which the upcoming George Clooney-Matt Damon motion picture is based, highlights a little-known aspect of World War II.

Rouen Cathedral damaged by bombing in 1944 (Photo Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration -- via Robert Edsel's Blog)

Rouen Cathedral damaged by bombing in 1944 (National Archives and Records Administration photo — via Robert Edsel’s Blog)

The U.S. and British armies sent a small band of art hisorians, museum directors, conservationists and other art experts to Continental Europe in 1944 to prevent the destruction of monuments and other artifacts representing thousands of years of Western culture.

We don’t know if the movie will be entertaining, but the book is fascinating. Your 4GWAR editor is reading it during off-hours while attending the Special Operations Summit in Florida sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

It occurs to us that the reasoning behind the original Monument Men’s mission parallels much of what we’re hearing here in Tampa from officials representing Special Operations Command, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Defense University and the Naval Post Graduate School.

In short, war – whether conventional or irregular – is more than just neutralizing the enemy to achieve political and military objectives. Culture and place and community have to be kept in mind.

Special Operations Forces leadership has been saying for a while now that they have to adopt a policy of partnering with friendly nations and letting them do more of the heavy lifting – after training and equipping – in their own internal defense.

Speaker after speaker here discussed the need for intelligence about a place and its people as much as the best way to deter guerrillas, short-circuit insurgencies or eliminate terrorists by kinetic means. In the future, U.S. Government officials in the field – civilian as well as military – will have to strike partnerships with local militaries, leaders and communities to have any hope of success. U.S. Special Operations missions in Colombia and the Philippines were cited as true success stories.

Colombian marines board a U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle in Peru during Partnership of the America's Southern Exchange 2010 exercise. (USMC Photo by Lance Cpl. Ammon W. Carter)

Colombian marines board a U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle in Peru during Partnership of the Americas’ Southern Exchange 2010 exercise. (USMC Photo by Lance Cpl. Ammon W. Carter)

In “The Monument Men,” there’s a stark contrast between the Germans and the Allies. While Hitler’s retreating armies were looting France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands of their art treasures, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, issued an order a week before D-Day that said in part:

Shortly we will be fighting our way across the continent of Europe, in battles designed to preserve our civilization. Inevitably, in the path of our advance will be found historical monuments and cultural centers which symbolize to the world all that we are fighting to preserve.

It is the responsibility of every commander to protect and respect these symbols wherever possible.”

Ike went on to say that in some cases – like the destruction of the monastery of Monte Cassino in Italy – necessity dictates that the lives of Allied troops come before “some honored site.” But in other circumstances damage and destruction “are not necessary and cannot be justified,” the order noted.

It’s remarkable to think that in the midst of the biggest war in human history, the good guys – at least some of them – were thinking about the big picture … Asking what good would it do to liberate Europe if you wrecked it and destroyed the national identity of the people living there.

It just goes to show that good ideas often have a history.

4GWAR will have more on the conference – which had a surprisingly large turn-out for these budget-constrained times – in the coming days.

December 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm 4 comments

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (Sept. 20, 2013)

Commando School, French Style

Photo by xxxx xxxxxx, French Defense Ministry

Photo by R. Connan, copyright French Defense Ministry

During their initial training, cadets from France’s elite  Saint-Cyr Special Military School undergo a four-week training session at Les Saint-Cyrien au Centre national d’entrainement commando (CNEC) — National Commando Training Centre. There they can earn the designation “monitor commando.”

Training ranges from alpine climbing and rapeling to martial arts and aquatic skills as we see here. After jumping from a motorboat going full speed, these cadets have to swim to zodiac boats and clamber aboard.

To see a slide show of all the tricks of the trade that must be mastered, click here on the French Defense Ministry website. Caution, it’s all in French.


September 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Navy SEAL Killed in Afghan Rescue Mission

Rescue Raid

A U.S. Navy SEAL has been killed in an operation to rescue an American doctor kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan.

The Defense Department identified the SEAL killed in the weekend raid as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

An official statement said Checque died “of combat related injuries suffered Dec. 8, while supporting operations near Kabul, Afghanistan.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque is shown in an undated family photo. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa., died of combat related injuries suffered Dec. 8 while supporting operations near Kabul, Afghanistan.

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque is shown in an undated family photo. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa., died of combat related injuries suffered Dec. 8 supporting operations near Kabul, Afghanistan.

CNN, NPR and other news outlets that Checque was a member of SEAL Team 6, the fabled special operations unit that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout last year. It was not known if Checque, who had been a SEAL since 2004, took part in the bin Laden raid.

Checque was killed during the mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Joseph a medical adviser to the Colorado Springs based aid group Morning Star Development, was kidnapped Dec. 5 near the Sarobi district of Afghanistan’s Kabul province. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said the three men were kidnapped by the Taliban. But CNN says local Afghan officials said the men were kidnapped by smugglers. The other two men, who were not identified, were released about 11 hours before the raid after protracted negotiations. here were conflicting reports about whether ransom was paid to release the men.

Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan ordered the rescue mission when intelligence reports indicated Joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death. ISAF officials said it was a joint Afghan-U.S. rescue operation.

“Tragically, we lost one of our special operators in this effort,” President Barack Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” Obama said, adding: :He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong and safe and free.”

“Our relief in the safe rescue of Mr. Joseph is now tempered by our deep grief over the loss of this true hero,” Morning Star said in a statement from its headquarters in Colorado. “We offer our deepest condolences to his family and to his fellow team members. We want them to know that we will always be grateful for this sacrifice and that we will honor that sacrifice in any way we can,” Morning Star added.

U.S. Navy Special Warfare Trident insignia worn by Navy SEALS. (U.S. Navy file photo)

U.S. Navy Special Warfare Trident insignia worn by Navy SEALS.
(U.S. Navy file photo)

December 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Shrinking World, Growing Problems

Numbers to Meet the Challenges

U.S. Army Rangers training
(Army photo)

Emerging from more than a decade of unconventional warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military now confronts looming budget cuts in Washington, but leaders of the nation’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) say they don’t expect any slowdown in their operational tempo around the globe.

“We will likely remain engaged against violent extremist networks for the foreseeable future,” Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) told a Senate committee hearing earlier this year.

But that engagement won’t be limited to night raids, hostage rescues and covert insertions into hostile territory. McRaven and other U.S. officials say special operators also will be partnering with the State Department and other federal agencies, as well as friendly foreign militaries, on non-kinetic programs like working with civil authorities and training indigenous troops. The aim of both types of operation is to prevent extremists from capitalizing on political discontent, ethnic rivalries and economic frustration to fuel their strategy of terror and violence in places like Yemen, the Horn of Africa and countries bordering the Sahara Desert.

The Defense Department plans to trim $478 billion in spending over the next 10 years, leading to force reductions among all the services – particularly the Army and Marine Corps. But USSCOM — a joint command that includes the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations commands as well as the Navy Special Warfare Command — expects its numbers rise from just over 66,000 personnel now, to 71,000 by Fiscal Year 2015.

Even as the number of conventional U.S. troops drops in Afghanistan between now and 2014, when U.S. and coalition forces turn national security responsibilities over to the Afghans, USSOCOM officials expect SOF troop levels there to remain stable, raising their size proportionally as the other troops depart.

To read the rest of my article on Special Operations Forces, please visit the IDGA website by clicking here.

November 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment


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