Saturday, May 26, 2018

Army's Recruiting Crisis - The Scariest Part According to Tim Kennedy

SFA Chapter IX Commo Sergeant Comment: Warning,......there is Adult - Team Room language included in this article. If you don't know who Tim Kennedy is, then here is a brief: Kennedy served in the 7th Special Forces Group deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom multiple times, and being awarded the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for valor. Recently Kennedy interjected into the debate over CIA Director nominee, Gina Haspel who allegedly played a role in enhanced interrogation of Terrorists during the Bush administration. Kennedy said "waterboarding is not torture" and posted a video of himself being voluntarily water boarded by friends. Perhaps best known to the public for his Mixed Martial Arts career, Kennedy fought professionally and retired with a record of 18 wins and 6 losses.

The Army’s been having a hell of a time filling its ranks. In late April, the service announced it would not meet its goal of picking up 80,000 new active-duty soldiers, with only 28,000 new recruits halfway through the annual recruiting cycle. Although Army Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey told the Associated Press that the branch had reduced its target to 76,500 new recruits, he insisted that higher reenlistment rates (86%, compared to 81% in years past) were making up the difference.

But there’s a subtler consequence to the Army’s recruiting problem: its potential to undermine the effectiveness of Army Special Forces. Green Beret turned UFC superstar Tim Kennedy eloquently pointed that out on The Joe Rogan Experience on May 17. “[For] Special Forces specifically, we are gonna have the biggest deficit of eligible… population, to select from,” Kennedy said of the Army’s recruitment troubles. “You have to have a certain level of intelligence, a certain level of physicality, just to be eligible for Special Forces to pick you… that pool is the smallest that has ever been in history.”

Now, I’ve jabbed Kennedy before about some of his more rambunctious public missives (see: backyard waterboarding), but he knows exactly how intense the Special Forces Qualification Course is, having gone through it himself. So why can’t today’s American youngsters hack it in the Green Berets? Because they’re fat, lazy fucks, that’s why.

“Kids are playing video games, they’re not eating, Cheetos, less participation in sports … I mean, if you could just go to a high school and look at a high schooler now compared to 20 years ago, it’s a different thing,” Kennedy said. “We weren’t, like, barely getting kids past obesity 20 years ago. Now in a high school, if you walk into a classroom half the kids are obese.”

“So you think this is just because they’re sedentary … because they’re playing video games and fucking around online all day?” Rogan asked. “It’s not just… it’s not me thinking this,” Kennedy responded. “It is us absolutely, quantifiably, saying ‘We do not have enough people to pick from.’”

He’s not wrong. While U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command officials told the Fayetteville Observer in February that they were striving to “fundamentally change the culture of fitness” within the Army, officials outside the military see America’s young fatasses as a “looming national security crisis.” A recent report revealed that some 71% of young Americans were ineligible to serve in the armed forces — a third of them because they were overweight.

Considering that Army Special Forces personnel are increasingly on the front lines of the Global War on Terror (beating the crap out of ISIS fighters in Niger, wading through vicious firefights against ISIS in Afghanistan, and so on), it’s likely, based on Kennedy’s logic, that Green Berets will likely experience the consequences of the Army recruitment crisis earlier and more acutely than any other part of the U.S. armed forces — and that’s going to end up as just one more obstacle to America’s road to extricating itself from the forever wars.

“We just need people like we’ve never needed them before,” Kennedy said. “It’s scary.”

Article from Task and Purpose

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Navy Cross recipient and Marine behind iconic Fallujah photo retires

A recipient of the Navy Cross and Marine behind one of the most iconic photographs from the Iraq War retired from the Corps after 34 years of service. Sgt. Maj. Bradley Kasal handed over the reigns as sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force to Sgt. Maj. James Porterfield at a ceremony held at Camp Pendleton, California, on May 18. Kasal was appointed I MEF sergeant major in February 2015. “I want every Marine and sailor to understand they enlisted for a reason and a purpose,” said Kasal in a command release. “That purpose was to do something better, to swear to support and defend the constitution, and to be a part of something greater. I ask the Marines and sailors to always be proud of that.”

Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross in 2006 for his heroic actions during one of the Corps’ most hallowed battles in Fallujah, Iraq, Operation Phantom Fury on Nov. 13, 2004. Freelance photographer Lucian Read snapped one of the most iconic pictures of the war showing a blood-soaked Kasal still gripping a pistol and Ka-bar knife exiting a house under the aid of fellow Marines.

Kasal, then a first sergeant with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, had entered the house after learning Marines were pinned down inside. The first sergeant and another Marine were severely wounded in the legs from enemy fire. Insurgents threw hand grenades to finish off the wounded Marines but Kasal “rolled on top of his fellow Marine and absorbed the shrapnel with his own body,” according to the award citation.

Kasal refused medical attention until other Marines were treated. A statute of Kasal’s storied heroics and the famous photograph was unveiled at the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West aboard Camp Pendleton in November 2014. “The monument is a symbol of camaraderie that’s important to Marines, not only in combat but in the healing process as well,” Robin Kelleher, president of Hope for the Warriors, which contributed to constructing the monument, said in a news release. “There’s a saying, ‘Never leave a Marine behind’, and I think the monument exemplifies that. It gives wounded warriors hope, and hope is important for them to be able to recover.”

With Kasal’s retirement, Porterfield has taken over as the sergeant major for I Marine Expeditionary Force. “I am both honored and humbled to continue to lead the legacy of I MEF,” Porterfield said in a command release. “Throughout our history I MEF has been the warfighting organization that our country and nation has leaned on.”

Article from the Marine Corps Times

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Special Forces Secretly Help Saudis Combat Threat From Yemen Rebels

For years, the American military has sought to distance itself from a brutal civil war in Yemen, where Saudi-led forces are battling rebels who pose no direct threat to the United States. But late last year, a team of about a dozen Green Berets arrived on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, in a continuing escalation of America’s secret wars.

With virtually no public discussion or debate, the Army commandos are helping locate and destroy caches of ballistic missiles and launch sites that Houthi rebels in Yemen are using to attack Riyadh and other Saudi cities. Details of the Green Beret operation, which has not been previously disclosed, were provided to The New York Times by United States officials and European diplomats. They appear to contradict Pentagon statements that American military assistance to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is limited to aircraft refueling, logistics and general intelligence sharing.

There is no indication that the American commandos have crossed into Yemen as part of the secretive mission. But sending American ground forces to the border is a marked escalation of Western assistance to target Houthi fighters who are deep in Yemen.

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the Armed Services Committee, on Thursday called the Green Berets mission a “purposeful blurring of lines between train and equip missions and combat.” He cited the report in The Times and called for a new congressional vote on the authorization for the use of military force — a war powers legislation used by three successive presidents in conflict zones around the world.

Beyond its years as a base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has been convulsed by civil strife since 2014, when the Shiite Muslim rebels from the country’s north stormed the capital, Sana. The Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, ousted the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Americans’ main counterterrorism partner in Yemen.

In 2015, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia began bombing the Houthis, who have responded by firing missiles into the kingdom. Yet there is no evidence that the Houthis directly threaten the United States; they are an unsophisticated militant group with no operations outside Yemen and have not been classified by the American government as a terrorist group.

The Green Berets, the Army’s Special Forces, deployed to the border in December, weeks after a ballistic missile fired from Yemen sailed close to Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The Saudi military said it intercepted the missile over the city’s international airport — a claim that was cast in doubt by an analysis of photos and videos of the strike. But it was enough for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to renew a longstanding request that the United States send troops to help the kingdom combat the Houthi threat.

A half-dozen officials — from the United States military, the Trump administration, and European and Arab nations — said the American commandos are training Saudi ground troops to secure their border. They also are working closely with American intelligence analysts in Najran, a city in southern Saudi Arabia that has been repeatedly attacked with rockets, to help locate Houthi missile sites within Yemen.

Along the porous border, the Americans are working with surveillance planes that can gather electronic signals to track the Houthi weapons and their launch sites, according to the officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the mission publicly.

During a meeting on Capitol Hill in March, senators pressed Pentagon officials about the military’s role in the Saudi-led conflict, demanding to know whether American troops were at risk of entering into hostilities against the Houthis. Pentagon officials told the senators what had already been said publicly: that American forces stationed in Saudi Arabia only advised within the kingdom’s borders and were focused mostly on border defense. “We are authorized to help the Saudis defend their border,” Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the head of United States Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 13. “We are doing that through intelligence sharing, through logistics support and through military advice that we provide to them.”

On April 17, Robert S. Karem, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States had about 50 military personnel in Saudi Arabia, “largely helping on the ballistic missile threat.” The Green Berets have stepped in to deal with an increasingly difficult problem for the Saudi military. Their presence is the latest example of the expanding relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia under President Trump and Prince Mohammed.

Mr. Trump’s first overseas trip after taking office was to Riyadh, nearly one year ago. By contrast, President Barack Obama regularly criticized Saudi Arabia for civilian casualties inflicted by its bombing campaign in Yemen, and blocked arms sales to the kingdom. In March, as Prince Mohammed met with Mr. Trump and top national security officials in Washington, the State Department approved the sale of an estimated $670 million in anti-tank missiles in an arms package that also included spare parts for American-made tanks and helicopters that Saudi Arabia previously purchased.

“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” Mr. Trump said at the time. He called Prince Mohammed “more than the crown prince now” and displayed a poster featuring military aircraft worth $12.5 billion that the United States had agreed to sell to Saudi Arabia.

The American military’s support for the Saudi campaign against the Houthis is different from the Pentagon’s campaign against other militants in Yemen. Over the past two years, American-backed government troops from Yemen and the United Arab Emirates have expanded a shadowy war in Yemen’s central and southern regions. The effort has targeted more than 3,000 members of the Qaeda affiliate and its tribal confederates, driving them into the rugged, mountainous interior.

Last year, as part of Mr. Trump’s intensified campaign against terrorist organizations, the United States launched more than 130 airstrikes in Yemen, according to United States Central Command. Most of the strikes targeted Qaeda militants; 10 were launched against Islamic State fighters. By comparison, the American military launched 38 strikes in Yemen in 2016; airstrikes have continued this year.

Officials said American support for the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels, a campaign that includes the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt, was initially outlined in a 2015 document known as the Rice memo, named after Susan E. Rice, who was then Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.

The memo detailed military assistance and was intended to keep the United States out of offensive operations against the Houthis, focusing instead on helping the Saudis secure their border. Under the Trump administration, the scope of those guidelines appears to have grown — as evidenced by the addition of American surveillance planes and the Green Beret team.

The Saudi air campaign in 2015 initially was aimed at stockpiles of older Soviet ballistic missiles that were first used in Yemen’s 1994 civil war. The Saudi military reckoned those weapons could fall into Houthi hands. In April 2015, after a month of strikes, the Saudi-led coalition said it had accomplished its goals of destroying the missiles and the equipment used to launch them. But that June, Houthi rebels launched their first salvo of ballistic missiles, aimed at Khamis Mushayt, a Saudi city roughly 60 miles from the Yemen border.

Since then, Houthis have launched dozens of missiles, including shorter-range modified antiaircraft missiles and imported Iranian munitions. The White House and State Department have seized on the attacks to condemn not only the rebels but their Iranian supporters, underscoring the administration’s increasing hard line against Tehran. “Iran destabilizes this entire region,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Riyadh on Sunday. “It supports proxy militias and terrorist groups. It is an arms dealer to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.”

Since 2015, Mr. Karem said, Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 ballistic missiles and many more rockets against major population centers, international airports, military installations and oil infrastructure — all within Saudi Arabia. In the first four months of this year, the Houthis launched more than 30 missiles — roughly on par with the number fired in all of 2017, according to data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Saudi forces trying to counter weapons from Yemen’s west coast — like the Houthi-held port in Al Hudaydah, where officials in Riyadh believe components of the missiles are shipped — have only two viable options, said Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The first is to find the missiles where they are stored, which requires an extensive amount of intelligence, Mr. Knights said. The second is far harder: to attack the launch sites, he said. “They have a very difficult problem,” Mr. Knights said.

Houthi rebels could hide mobile missile launchers anywhere from inside culverts to beneath highway overpasses. They are easily moved for hasty launches. Dealing with that problem requires a well-orchestrated system by the Saudi-led coalition, extending from satellites to troops on the ground, to ensure aircraft can find and quickly destroy the missile launchers. “In a mobile-missile environment, that’s a challenge,” Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview.

Article from the the New York Times

Friday, May 11, 2018

After 74 years, Army veteran recognized for wreaking WWII chaos with OSS

The first director of the Office of Strategic Services at the start of World War II was looking for a unique combination of character traits to outfit a new team of combatants during World War II. “We need Ph.D.s that can win a bar fight.” Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan’s description was apt as he began assembling a force that could outwit and outmuscle the enemy.

In Marietta, Frank A. Gleason fit the bill. Fresh out of Penn State University with a degree in chemical engineering, Gleason was young, fit and ready to serve his country fighting the Empire of Japan. On his 24th birthday — Sept. 24, 1944 — he found himself in the plains of southern China as commander of a small band of troops whose mission was to create havoc and hamper the Japanese troops stationed in that country during WWII.

Gleason said that today his unit would be regarded as a “trained band of terrorists.” In carrying out their mission, the men of Gleason’s OSS command blew up more than 100 bridges, wrecked rail lines, destroyed communication systems and caused general destruction for the Japanese Army.

Seventy-four years later, these heroes received their medals. There are fewer than 100 members from the OSS ranks left. Gleason, 97, a resident of Sterling Estates of West Cobb, is among the latest to receive a Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian honor that can bestowed. After two years of discussions in Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan officially presented the medal to the Office of Strategic Services on March 21. “I got a phone call from the president of the OSS Society, Charlie Pinck, that he was sending me my medal through the mail. I received it a couple weeks ago,” said Gleason. “I am extremely honored and never expected anything like this. I would say it was the icing on the cake for my 30 years of military service in the United States Army.”

Gleason was recruited into the OSS by fellow Penn State University Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brother Charlie Parkin. After being trained at the OSS training camp in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland, he was sent to England to demolition school. The OSS was dissolved after World War II, and Gleason returned to the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers. He served during the Korean War, building anti-aircraft installations in Alaska over fears that the Russians might attack there.

During the Vietnam War, Gleason was in charge of an Army supply installation at Cam Ranh Bay located on an inlet on the South China Sea. His crew sent supplies to 49,000 troops fighting the enemy in the jungles of Vietnam. “I would spend $82 million a month on supplies to support my troops,” said Gleason.

The OSS, which is the predecessor of the CIA, recruited an interesting mix of members. Julia Child, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Western film director John Ford and German born actress and singer Marlene Dietrich all served in the spy agency. The exploits of the clandestine crew was the topic of Teddy White’s book, “The Mountain Road.” The book later became a movie in 1960 starring Jimmy Stewart who played a character based on Gleason’s OSS service. Gleason served as a technical adviser for the film.

He retired from Army in 1971 as a full colonel. “Who would ever dream that at 97 years old, I would get a Congressional Gold Medal,” he said. “I am over-awed.”

Article from the Army Times

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Remains of Green Beret missing since 1971 to be buried in Texas

The remains of a Green Beret from Texas who was missing in action since 1971 have been recovered and a service will be held Friday for the Vietnam War veteran. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency on Monday announced the remains of 32-year-old Army Maj. Donald G. Carr of San Antonio are being returned to his family. Burial will be at San Antonio National Cemetery, on May 1th. .

Records show Carr on July 6, 1971, was on a reconnaissance flight when the plane crashed during bad weather. A ground team failed to immediately locate the crash site. Carr was declared missing in action.

The narrative below is from the POW Network

On July 6, 1971, U.S. Army Capt. Donald G. "Butch" Carr, while assigned to the Mobile Launch Team 3, 5th Special Forces Group, was serving as an aerial observer aboard an Air Force OV10A Bronco aircraft flown by U.S. Air Force Lt. Daniel W. Thomas when the aircraft disappeared 15 miles inside Laos west of Ben Het. The aircraft had been on a visual reconnaissance mission over central Laos when it was lost. Thomas' plane was detailed out of the 23rd Tactical Aerial Surveillance Squadron and bore the tail number of 67-14634.

The Bronco was among the aircraft most feared by the Viet Cong and NVA forces, because whenever the Bronco appeared overhead, an air strike seemed certain to follow. Although the glassed-in cabin could become uncomfortably warm, it provided splendid visibility. The two-man crew had armor protection and could use machine guns and bombs to attack, as well as rockets to mark targets for fighter bombers. This versatility enabled the plane to fly armed reconnaissance missions, in addition to serving as vehicle for forward air controllers.

At 1530 hours, Thomas radioed to the Army support facility that he was in his target area, but that he was unable to observe because of weather conditions. This was his last known radio contact. Thomas and Carr were due to depart the area at 1700 hours, and should have radioed then. Search efforts were conducted through July 10, with no results.

A ground reconnaissance team later reported hearing an impact or explosion at 1600 hours on July 6 in their vicinity, but they did not report seeing the aircraft.

A source reported that in early July 1971, he had seen an American POW in that area. The source learned from a guard that the POW was a pilot of an OV10 that had been downed a week prior. This information was thought to possibly correlate to either Carr or Thomas. Carr and Thomas became two of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos during the Vietnam War. Although Pathet Lao leaders stressed that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, no American held in Laos was ever released. In America's haste to leave Southeast Asia, it abandoned some of its finest men. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been received indicating that hundreds of Americans are still held captive.

In April 2014, a Vietnamese citizen contacted U.S. officials about possible American remains found in Kon Tum Province. The wreckage yielded personal items from Carr, who also was identified through DNA.

Article from the Army Times

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Future of SF Operational "A" Detachments

The below article was written by Howard R, Simkin, posted on Small Wars Journal, and was presented as part of the TRADOC G2's "Soldier 2050" Call for Ideas. This material will form a compendium of thoughts and ideas that will support the exploration of future bio-convergence implications on the Army of 2050 at the Mad Scientist Conference 8-9 March 2018 at SRI International.


This paper briefly examines a single future ARSOF Unit of Action in the 2030 – 2050 timeframe. It shapes the discussion with the following questions. What is the military problem? What does the Future Operating Environment (FOE) tell us? What will the Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) look like in 2035 -2050? It concludes with an operational vignette.

The Military Problem

How will ODAs conduct special operations and maneuver in the physical, cognitive, and virtual realms during a period of exponential technological change characterized by increasing adversary reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting capabilities in the hands of state and non-state actors in order to provide strategic value to the Nation in the 2035 – 2050 timeframe?

The Future Operating Environment (FOE)

A survey of the two most commonly available, authoritative sources on the FOE points to an ever- increasing rate of technological change, the growth of mega-cities, and the diffusion of cutting-edge technology into the hands of both state and non-state actors.2 Over the next ten to twenty years, the world will experience dramatic changes in technology, many of which will affect how ARSOF operates. Dr. James Canton, a noted technologist and futurist, observed that the five emerging technologies noted in Figure 13 are driving an exponential growth in AI. This growth rate will approximate that of Moore’s Law, doubling in power while dropping in price every two years. Increasingly capable AI will in turn accelerate the development of each of the five converging technologies. Our adversaries will undoubtedly seek to harness those trends to accomplish their ends.

Kevin Kelly, another futurist of note predicts that soon, AI will be both cheap and ubiquitous. He uses electricity as an illustration to describe the future of AI in society. In addition to being cheap and ubiquitous, it will also be diffuse, running many of the processes of society without even being noticed – until it doesn’t work. He forecasts, “You’ll simply plug into the grid and get AI as if it were electricity. It will enliven inert objects, much as electricity did more than a century past.”4 AI will enable the robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) that will be a significant part of future military operations and warfare. Another factor brought about by increasingly capable reconnaissance and surveillance technologies will be an increase in the lethality of weaponry. What can be seen can be targeted. That which can be targeted can be destroyed. As lethality increases, so does the need for dispersion (Figure 2). Future ARSOF units of action will tend to operate in an increasingly dispersed fashion, even more so than today. Their operations will tend to pulse, where widely dispersed operators and units mass quickly, act, and then disperse before the adversary can counter them effectively.

The Future ODA

The ODA will continue to derive its unique physical, cognitive, and virtual maneuver capabilities from the quality of their ARSOF Operators who will be a blend of Special Forces, Psychological Operations, and Civil Affairs personnel. It will also continue to accomplish its missions primarily by working with and through the indigenous population or partner forces. Unilateral operations will occur, but they will be the exception, not the rule. Often operating in areas where access to technology is limited or non- existent, the ODA will be technology enhanced but not technology driven.The proposed ODA constitutes a pool of operators with the physical, cognitive, and virtual skills required to succeed. Beyond the skill sets currently required of ARSOF, the ODA will require the ability to train and employ RAS and computational devices driven by AI. They will also require the capabilities to sabotage such systems. Where possible and appropriate, the ODA will employ advanced technologies to maneuver in the physical, virtual, and cognitive realms. This will include a full suite of land, water, and aerial RAS capable of reconnaissance, attack, or sustainment. Some advanced technologies that will sustain the ODA include additive manufacturing (3D Printing) and advanced biomedical technology. Quantum communications5 will enable secure communications with an extremely low signature. Enhanced reality6 will provide the ability to share experiences as well as information. The purpose of every technology is to enhance the mission effectiveness of the individual Soldier on the ODA.

Adversary advanced surveillance and targeting technology will make an ODA which is physically, cognitively, or virtually static an easy target. Instead, the ODA will operate in a dynamic, dispersed mode, concentrate only for action, and then disperse before the adversary can react.

The ODA will employ a blend of advanced and active support operators. Advanced operators are those who are able to make virtual and physical contact with the adversary or the indigenous population. They develop understanding and wield influence in an operational area based on traditional means of building trust. Active support operators provide organic and matrixed support by maneuvering across cognitive and virtual spaces to support the advanced operator or to carry out additional tasks. They can also develop understanding and wield influence, but in a different manner than the advanced operators. Regardless of the operation, there will always be a need for human interface with the indigenous population or partner forces. Technology may reduce the need for human contact in some cultures, but there will still be a need for face-to-face communication.

Operational Vignette

In 2030-2035, ARSOF operators will need to embody the four ARSOF pillars at the individual level— while also leveraging related capabilities within and across teams. Planning and conducting highly sensitive and frequently extended duration missions, ARSOF soldiers will operate forward of conventional/coalition force partners, often in areas where local adversaries may significantly reduce U.S. technological advantages. Cultivating local partners to resist adversary aggression, special operators will need to synchronize kinetic and non-kinetic activities, enabling strategic-level decision space by scaling effects to either achieve objectives within gray zone parameters or prepare the ground for large scale conventional deployments.

In the following vignette, an ARSOF Warrant Officer—Finn—executes unconventional warfare activities in a Western Balkan country, regions of which have been occupied by a foreign adversary. He and his teammates Ray, Travis, Lauren, Charlie, and Captain Russell advise and assist the local resistance, known as the Braca (Brothers). In an environment where the use of technology is both unsecure and degraded, their mission is to incline the leadership of a near-peer regional adversary to negotiate with the U.S. while deterring them from future aggression. Mission success hinges on restraining the Braca from actions which would lead to a major escalation of regional conflict. We join Finn here in the area of operations, as he proposes a plan enabling Braca activities targeting the foreign occupation:

“Let’s see if we can have the effect we want here, without a kinetic strike. I’d suggest that the occupation-controlled oil pipeline’s a good target to impact the way they think about things. A few considerations here: Given the adversary’s capabilities, we can’t risk either an electronic signature or any attribution to our cyber utility belt. Also, we don’t want to permanently damage the pipeline.

Period. We just need to disrupt the oil flow out of country.

Pausing to ensure there were no questions, Finn eyed the detachment members surrounding the campfire, gauging each of their reactions in turn as Captain Russell, Ray, Travis, and Charlie scratched their beards, Lauren ran her fingers through her hair but all remained silent, brows furrowed. The crackling and spitting of the fire echoing the regular twoo of dip spit feeding the black Balkan dirt. He went on:

“After nearly a year in country developing our indigenous networks, we know the Braca, especially those from the occupied parts of the country, have enough skin in the game and scores to settle that we have to limit escalation—or have a plan for exploiting a situation going sideways. For now, our plan is to have an auxiliary member, Brother Matthias, do a bit of simple sabotage. As you know, we recruited him for the sabotage cell because he is a maintenance worker who attends the pumps, SCADA7 devices, and valves along the pipeline. So, he flips a few switches and turns a few valves during his normal routine. This makes the pumps for the oil line run at top speed without any oil flowing through. In a few minutes, every pump overheats and is off line.” Finn smiled, “The reset process is a booger – Matthias assures me it will take at least 24 hours. Job done. Simple, yet effective.”

Initially, Finn had struggled with the lack of kinetic options, but had put serious thought behind his plan, leveraging the understanding he’d gained from a semester at the university in the country’s capital. But this was a team, and everyone before him had to buy-in for it to work. He had talked at length with Lauren, the team’s PSYOP and cyber expert, and had explored potential downstream effects of his proposal with Charlie, the team’s UW8 economics SME and machine learning expert, whose parents were emigres to the U.S. from the Balkans. Integrating their insights meant the detachment as a whole would likely be able to convince their Braca partners about his plan.

“Guys, this is the right call. Cavalry is not waiting over the next hill. With our comms degraded from the recent EMP9 we are going to do things the old school way. This is exactly why we train digital and analog. If we hadn’t recovered our emergency resupply last week, we’d be toast. For communications with higher we will continue to stick to an OPSKED10 via HF11 burst. Internally we will use our established networks. We need to play this smart and quiet.” He paused for a moment to be sure everyone was following him. “Lauren and Charlie, accompany a Braca squad and link up with Team Bravo to coordinate our activities; I want to synchronize our operations to ensure we get the occupation’s attention without provoking a disproportionate response. Ray, Travis—I want you to have eyes on the pipeline no later than 24 hours prior to execution. Finn—you link up with Matthias and give him the green light. We execute on target in 48 hours. Tracking?” Everyone nodded, so CPT Russell concluded, “I need to head back and link up with the Area Command, so I know what we are up to.”

Captain Russell, sitting across from Finn dragged one massive paw down his face, pulling at his beard thoughtfully. A large, sandy haired man, he let out a long sigh and put his hands on his knees, shifting his weight as he stared into the fire. After a long silence, he nodded and spoke:

Turning on his heel, CPT Russell gestured to his two resistance escorts and vanished into the darkness as the ring of team members sat in silence. Well, not really silence. The cacophony of natural sounds in the dense forest had seemed to only grow in both pitch and volume in the weeks following the EMP. All SAT- and cyber-based comms had gone out for the team and around the country, except the occupied territories. This was in addition to targeted rolling blackouts, seemingly designed to punish uncooperative populations in areas not affected by the EMP while attempting to blame the blackouts on the Braca. If it weren’t for the emergency resupply and their EMP hardened combat-suits equipped with solar-collectors and advanced batteries, Finn and his team would have been in the Industrial Age, like the Brothers themselves.

After the EMP hit, the team immediately retrieved cached generators, MREs, 3D feedstock, and additive manufacturing units (placed a year ago by other US/coalition SOF) but they were like a Snoopy band aid for a bullet-hole. The EMP hadn’t just knocked out the power, it had derailed the entire digital infrastructure and economy. Without access to the internet, citizens in unoccupied areas were unable to access their E-wallets or accounts, rewinding the march of progress to pre- Copernican levels. And foreign occupation of the oil-rich territory and seizure of water filtration facilities left the civilian population at the mercy of the adversary backed government. This had brought the country to a rapid boil against the occupying forces.

In the first weeks following their insertion, a number of composite, task-organized ARSOF detachments like Finn’s had capitalized on this confusion by helping the resistance to organize. Following their advice, the Braca set up an Area Command, a shadow government, guerilla forces, and auxiliary and an underground. They then began aggressive MISO campaigns and recruiting efforts. The resistance had no trouble getting local men—and women—to join the Braca, but now it was a question of keeping this conflict from boiling over, as simmering agitation threatened to explode into open revolt.

With limited communication with either the government-in-exile or the Coalition Command, both the Area Command and the ARSOF soldiers were largely limited to what information they could pass directly to each other, via HF burst, or through vetted underground human networks. Still, the message came through from higher just the same, as mission type orders whose gist was, “Execute sabotage and subversion with and through the Braca but do not provoke the adversary into a disproportionate response. On order, be prepared to execute unilateral precision targeting operations and guerrilla warfare.”

And that was fine by Finn; this was what made his team “special” after all. Years of language and cultural training, both in country and in a virtual environment, and opportunities to develop personal relationships in country over several pre-conflict deployments had prepared them to engage with the Braca effectively. Finn himself had trained the Brothers in sabotage, subversion, and small-unit tactics. He had advised his resistance counterparts as they developed intelligence networks for the resistance and underground, and conducted targeted PSYOP to subvert adversary’s effort to annex the occupied regions.

But, as his resistance science professor had reminded him, ARSOF engagement, during what the Braca knew as “Wartime,” eventually would lead them to become impatient, eager to take the fight to the occupation forces. He mused, “I’ve already had to persuade Dino to abort an assassination attempt on a local occupation-backed police chief. But there is no guarantee I can restrain him from his next attempt.” He sighed. “That is the problem in UW. You work with and through the resistance but it is still their show.” The resistance needed to act but to confine most of their actions to simple sabotage and subversion. Finn hoped that their coordinated, non-kinetic actions would be enough to occasion dialogue between POTUS and the adversary leadership, and scratch the Braca itch for action—so they, in turn could remain credible with their countrymen.

Twenty-four hours later, as Ray, Travis and Braca partners surveil the pipeline:

“0400: 2-man patrol team approaching from the SW facility to relieve the 2-man team currently on duty. Second observed shift change in the 12-hour period, suggests regular 6-hour shifts consistent with HUMINT reporting. Waiting to confirm reports that guards conduct random checks of civilian IDs. Logged.”

From their overlook position, Ray, Travis, and four Braca had eyes on the targeted section of pipeline and the surrounding terrain. As it was an aboveground oil pipeline, they were out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around for miles except farmland, a set of long abandoned Soviet- era tracks, and a local path, no more than worn dirt, which ran parallel to the pipeline and connected the neighboring villages. After 28 hours on target, the six-man team was tired but pleased; everything had gone smoothly. The quiet, agile hoverbikes had allowed them to quietly cover the sweeping forest terrain with ease, without sacrificing weapons or supplies for speed of movement. The Braca’s local area knowledge and the two ARSOF NCOs’ land-nav skills more than made up for the inability to use the GPS tracking system.

Travis would have preferred to operate the “Brilliant Grasshopper” UAS network to sniff out any emplaced sensors around the exposed pipeline but couldn’t risk the small signature in the EMP affected boonies. It would have lit up the occupation sensors like the Fourth of July. The upside of the situation was that, post-EMP, pipeline workers had taken to walking the small footpath from the villages to the oil plant, granting Matthias natural access to his targets – the SCADA device and valves along the exposed pipeline. With rising oil prices and demand at an all-time high, even the slightest disruption in oil leaving the country for the adversary’s homeland would raise a red flag.

While he would normally sight in his scope on the faces of the occupation soldiers and run their images immediately through the integrated WOG-IC12 database to ascertain their identities, the EMP necessitated he do it the old-fashioned way. Wanting to be certain he understood his Braca teammates, he activated the translation chip in his helmet before asking the closest Braca member if they recognized the new guards. The guards were wearing unmarked uniforms and Travis wanted to know if they were adversary or local muscle. After sighting in on their faces, the Braca operator replied and inside Travis’ helmet he heard the clipped, robotic voice say, “These are not the occupiers. These are local dogs.” He made a note to tell CPT Russell and Finn that patrols now included local support, suggesting the occupation forces were either spread thin or were conducting Counter Insurgency Operations of their own, seconded by the locals. Regardless, Travis saw no reason to abort the planned operation and dispatched Ray and two Braca to rendezvous with the rest of the team.

At the Braca camp, Finn completes planning:

With Lauren and Charlie having confirmed that Team Bravo would synchronize its neutralizing of adversary HUMINT sources with Finn’s oil-line operation, all there was left to do was to square- away the details with Brother Matthias. Finn had only met Matthias in person once before and was unsure of the younger man’s mettle. His cousin Dino had been one of the stand-out Braca during Finn’s small unit tactics instruction but Matthias had remained outside the active resistance and on the peripheries of the auxiliary, choosing to keep his head down—and his job. Finn could not fault the man for his decision but he needed to assess the man’s commitment to the operation before he staked his own men’s and Braca lives on it. Their interaction had been a “success,” with Matthias agreeing to short out the SCADA device controlling the pumps and turn the appropriate valves as well. Finn had tried to calm Matthias’ fears by explaining that several Braca would distract the local patrol team by offering them some food and a bit of slivovitz. Still, Finn’s cortical implant had registered abnormal pupil dilation and speech patterns. This was not out of the ordinary; the man was in a stressful situation and was rightfully afraid of what he had (or his cousin) had signed him up for. But it did not sit well with Finn.

He rarely relied solely on his cortical implant’s outward-directed biometric sensor or his combat suit’s neurolinguistics sensors, but this time they reinforced the uneasiness he felt in his gut. He wished that he could communicate with the other ARSOF teams and with command and postpone operations. But he could not afford to wait. The Area Command’s plan required several activities to converge in time: Team Bravo’s string of neutralizing targeting occupation counterintelligence agents, Team Charlie’s snap-protest outside the adversary’s embassy 50 kilometers away, and Team Alpha’s disruption of the oil pipeline. All of these events, a detailed physical, cognitive and virtual maneuver, had to occur simultaneously, without public attribution of U.S. involvement, in order to facilitate the POTUS communication, thus allowing the two powers to off-ramp the escalating crisis.

He sighed to himself. You fight with the army you have. He whispered a quiet prayer as he kitted up and prepared the rest of the team for that night’s operation.

At the pipeline, events take their own course:

Brother Matthias executed his end of the plan flawlessly, in spite of his nervousness. The distraction had gone according to plan with the on-duty guards subsiding into an alcoholic stupor.

Unfortunately, during exfiltration, the team had encountered an unanticipated two-man adversary security patrol. A brief close-range firefight ensued in which both of the enemy soldiers died in a hail of suppressed weapons fire. The single shot they fired had hit Dino in the leg, severing his femoral artery.

Dino quickly fainted, from the combination of blood loss, shock, and pain. Ray sprayed bandages on to the wound to stop the bleeding, the foam substance hardening as the blood clotted, his HUD providing him with Dino’s vital signs. Based on the readings, he had jabbed a medi-tube into Dino’s leg above the wound, stabilizing the area as best he could to transport him back to the Braca camp. As bad as the wound was, Ray knew that with the new medical technology he would be able to save Dino. Even a few years before, that would not have been the case.

“Great,” Finn thought. “Now I’ve got a wounded man to carry and two occupation force bodies to dispose of. We are way too close to the pipeline to just leave the bodies.” Acting quickly, they stripped the dead men of their weapons, gear, and clothing. After covering the bodies with forest debris, Finn dispatched a Braca to get some Auxiliary members to bring a cart and dispose of the bodies.

As he watched, Ray worked on Dino’s leg. Finn sensed the Braca and their adversaries would quickly move the conflict farther along the kinetic spectrum. He and the team needed to support the Braca in the kinetic domain as well, while restraining them from provoking overwhelming adversary reprisals and avoid backing U.S. leaders into a decision corner.

Under the culminating conditions in this vignette, an ARSOF operator would need to think, make decisions, and act on three levels simultaneously—geopolitically, operationally, and tactically. An operator would also need to consider indigenous dynamics at every step while nesting actions across quickly telescoping time.

Finn—and his counterparts across the other ARSOF teams in country—would need to act independently and in concert with Braca to enable Joint and allied forces’ entry into theater, by tearing holes in parts of the occupation A2/AD fabric and disabling critical adversary sustainment and C2 nodes. Preparing the Braca to support conventional forces would also include significant cognitive and virtual maneuver with joint and coalition SOF to bring the local population firmly into the Braca camp.

Exploiting the physical as well as electromagnetic/cyber domains, Finn’s counterparts in country and beyond would act to demoralize occupation forces as well as critical population sectors on the adversary’s own soil. Conversely, as the ARSOF teams prepared to integrate and ensure interoperability with a potential invasion force, they would in the meantime need to remain intact, coherent elements in the face of heavy adversary mechanized and air mobile forces operating in the offensive mode, and employing growing numbers of air- and ground-based unmanned mobile sensor and weapons systems.

ARSOF activities in country would therefore need to preserve their clandestine nature while generating adequate cascading effects to provide U.S. leaders with decisive advantage in the geopolitical realm.

Frequently, ARSOF elements would need also to ensure covertness—enabling deniability for the U.S., and thus an off-ramp for adversaries.

Article from the Small Wars Journal

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Message from an Army Doctor

I am a doctor specializing in the Emergency Departments of the only two military Level One-Trauma Centers, both in San Antonio, TX. We care for civilian emergencies as well as military personnel. San Antonio has the largest military retiree population in the world living here. As a military doctor, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous. One tends to become jaded by the long hours, lack of sleep, food, family contact and the endless parade of human suffering passing before you. The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work. Most often,it is a victim from a motor vehicle crash. Often it is a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed.

With our large military retiree population, it is often a nursing home patient. Even with my enlisted service and minimal combat experience in Panama, I have caught myself groaning when the ambulance brings in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees. I had not stopped to think of what the citizens of this age group represented.

I saw 'Saving Private Ryan.' I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage, but by the sacrifices of so many. I was touched most by the scene of the elderly survivor at the graveside, asking his wife if he'd been a good man. I realized that I had seen these same men and women coming through my Emergency Dept. and had not realized what magnificent sacrifices they had made. The things they did for me and everyone else that has lived on this planet since the end of that conflict are priceless.

Situation permitting, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences. They would never bring up the subject without my inquiry. I have been privileged to hear an amazing array of experiences, recounted in the brief minutes allowed in an Emergency Dept. encounter. These experiences have revealed the incredible individuals I have had the honor of serving in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital.

There was a frail, elderly woman who reassured my young enlisted medic, trying to start an IV line in her arm. She remained calm and poised, despite her illness and the multiple needle-sticks into her fragile veins. She was what we call a 'hard stick.' As the medic made another attempt, I noticed a number tattooed across her forearm. I touched it with one finger and looked into her eyes. She simply said, ' Auschwitz.' Many of later generations would have loudly and openly berated the young medic in his many attempts. How different was the response from this person who'd seen unspeakable suffering.

Also, there was this long retired Colonel, who as a young officer had parachuted from his burning plane over a Pacific Island held by the Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he had a minor cut on his head from a fall at his home where he lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been delayed until after midnight by the usual parade of high priority ambulance patients. Still spry for his age, he asked to use the phone to call a taxi, to take him home, then he realized his ambulance had brought him without his wallet. He asked if he could use the phone to make a long distance call to his daughter who lived 7 miles away. With great pride we told him that he could not, as he'd done enough for his country and the least we could do was get him a taxi home, even if we had to pay for it ourselves. My only regret was that my shift wouldn't end for several hours, and I couldn't drive him myself.

I was there the night MSgt Roy Benavidez came through the Emergency Dept. for the last time. He was very sick. I was not the doctor taking care of him, but I walked to his bedside and took his hand. I said nothing. He was so sick, he didn't know I was there. I'd read his Congressional Medal of Honor citation and wanted to shake his hand. He died a few days later.

I have also seen a gentleman who served with Merrill's Marauders, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, a survivor of Omaha Beach, a the 101 year old World War I veteran, a former POW held in frozen North Korea, a former Special Forces medic - now with non-operable liver cancer, a former Viet Nam Corps Commander.

I may still groan when yet another ambulance comes in, but now I am much more aware of what an honor it is to serve these particular men and women.

I have seen a Congress who would turn their back on these individuals who've sacrificed so much to protect our liberty. I see later generations that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing these same liberties, won with such sacrifice.

It has become my personal endeavor to make the nurses and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing individuals when I encounter them in our Emergency Dept. Their response to these particular citizens has made me think that perhaps all is not lost in the next generation.

My experiences have solidified my belief that we are losing an incredible generation, and this nation knows not what it is losing. Our uncaring government and ungrateful civilian populace should all take note. We should all remember that we must 'earn this.'

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

USAF Combat Controller TSgt John Chapman, approved for MOH

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, the combat controller who was killed during the fierce Battle of Roberts Ridge in Afghanistan in 2002, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Chapman would be the first airman to receive a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, for actions since the Vietnam War. Chapman originally received an Air Force Cross, the second-highest valor award an airman can receive, for his heroism during the March 4, 2002, battle against al Qaida fighters.

But newly-enhanced video from a Predator drone showed more evidence that Chapman was not dead, but instead unconscious, when a team of Navy SEALs withdrew from the battle under withering fire. The video analysis suggested Chapman regained consciousness and resumed fighting al Qaida members approaching on three sides. Chapman is believed to have crawled into a bunker, shot and killed an enemy fighter charging at him, and killed another enemy fighter in hand-to-hand combat.

This new evidence prompted former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in 2016 to recommend his Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The video analysis suggested Chapman regained consciousness and resumed fighting al Qaida members approaching on three sides. Chapman is believed to have crawled into a bunker, shot and killed an enemy fighter charging at him, and killed another enemy fighter in hand-to-hand combat.

This new evidence prompted former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in 2016 to recommend his Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The helicopter left the area and made an emergency landing seven kilometers away, the citation said. Chapman contacted an AC-130 gunship to secure the area and provide close-air support for the team, and then directed the gunship to look for the missing SEAL.

Chapman also “requested, coordinated and controlled the helicopter that extracted the stranded team and aircrew members,” the citation said, which limited how much hostile fire the aircrew and team were exposed to. “Without regard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman volunteered to rescue his missing team member from an enemy stronghold,” the citation said. Chapman killed two enemy fighters, and continued advancing to the enemy position. He then engaged a dug-in machine gun nest, at which point the rescue team came under fire from three directions, the citation said.

Chapman exchanged fire with the al Qaida members at close range, with little cover, “until he succumbed to multiple wounds,” the original Air Force Cross citation said. “In his own words, his Navy [SEAL] team leader credits Sergeant Chapman unequivocally with saving the lives of the entire rescue team. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and the dedication to the service of his country, Sergeant Chapman reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

But it now appears he did not die at that point in the battle. The New York Times reported in 2016 that the Air Force’s autopsy analysis found evidence that Chapman woke up and continued fighting. The bullets that killed Chapman struck him at an angle that would have been impossible if he had been lying dead in the position where the SEALs thought he fell. The autopsy analysis also found he had bruises on his forehead, which he could not have received if he was dead, bolstering the theory that he was instead knocked unconscious.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, also sent James a letter in 2016 urging Chapman be awarded the Medal of Honor. “Sgt. Chapman is an American hero who demonstrated courage and selflessness against extraordinary odds and certain death,” Hunter said in the 2016 letter.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein has a framed tribute to Chapman hanging in his Pentagon office, as well as a propeller from Wildfire 54, the MQ-1 Predator that flew over Roberts Ridge during that battle. Chapman was the first combat controller in history to earn the Air Force Cross.

Article from the Air Force Times

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

RIP - Legendary Green Beret Iron Mike Healy has crossed over

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Healy, 91, died Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, according to officials. The general served in the military for 35 years, spending much of his career at Fort Bragg. A native of Chicago, Healy enlisted in the Army at the age of 19 at the end of World War II.

When he retired in 1981, Maj. Gen. Healy was the nation’s most senior Special Forces soldier. He was a veteran of wars in Korea and Vietnam, with his service in the latter spanning a decade and ending with him overseeing the withdrawal of troops from the country. And he was the inspiration for John Wayne’s character, “Col. Iron Mike Kirby,” in the 1968 film “The Green Berets.”

Maj. Gen. Healy is also a former commander of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg. On Tuesday, the current commanding general of SWCS said Maj. Gen. Healy left an indelible mark on the organization. “Maj. Gen. Mike Healy is a true Special Forces legend, not only for his actions during war, but for his leadership and vision during a pivotal time in the Regiment’s history,” said Maj. Gen. Kurt L. Sonntag. “As the commander of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, then called the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance, he streamlined training, and aligned it to deal with modern threats. During his tenure, he solidified the role and value of Army Special Operations to the Army and the Nation.” “We owe a debt of gratitude to him for his vision, leadership, and for the professionalism he brought to the force,” Maj. Gen. Sonntag added. “His passing is truly a loss that we all feel, and we’re keeping his loved ones are in our thoughts.”

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Cliff Newman, executive director of the Special Forces Association headquartered in Fayetteville, said Maj. Gen. Healy’s legacy would not be forgotten in the close-knit Special Forces community. “He was one of the first Americans to go into Vietnam and one of the last to leave,” he said. Newman said he was fortunate to meet Maj. Gen. Healy - “He just did some amazing things,” he said. “He was just an icon in Special Forces. Everyone knew who he was and he was just a presence — you knew you were talking to somebody who was somebody.”

Maj. Gen. Healy earned the nickname “Iron Mike” while serving as a young officer leading Army Rangers on combat patrols deep behind enemy lines in Korea in the early 1950s. According to the SWCS, then-Lt. Healy was commander of the 4th Airborne Ranger Company during an airborne operation at Munsan-Ni in South Korea. When a platoon under his command was pinned down and under heavy fire, he and four others weaved their way through trenches to hold the high ground until reinforcements arrived.

The nickname would follow Maj. Gen. Healy throughout his career, including during five tours — nearly eight years in all — in Vietnam.

Maj. Gen. Healy's numerous awards and decorations include: Combat Infantry Badge (two awards), Distinguished Service Medal (2 OLC), Silver Star (1 OLC), Legion of Merit (2 OLC), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with "V" (Valor) Device (5 OLC), Air Medal with "V" Device (4 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (1 OLC), Navy Commendation Medal with "V" Device, Purple Heart Medal (1 OLC), twelve Decorations of Republic of Vietnam. He received Parachute badges from Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Iran and Pakistan, as well as a Master Parachutist Badge from the U.S. Army. He is also a member of the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. Special Forces Association Chapter 37 in Chicago is named in Maj. Gen. Healy’s honor.

Maj. Gen. Healy is survived by his wife of 67 years, Jacklyn, and their sons Michael Jr., Daniel, Timothy, Sean, Kirk and Patrick. He also has 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. His son, Sean, told the Florida Times-Union that he enjoyed hearing others speak of his father. “I would talk to people, and especially if they brought something up about the military, I would ask them if they had heard of Iron Mike,” Mr. Sean Healy said. “If they knew who that was I would let them go on for a while, and then I would say ‘that’s my dad.’”

Thursday, April 12, 2018

2018 Jerry P. Rainey Scholarship

The Special Forces Association Chapter IX, Isaac Camacho Chapter, has established a memorial scholarship in the name of Jerry P. Rainey. The scholarship is available to students who have completed a minimum of 24 credit hours and have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Three scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each will be awarded in person on or before August 19, 2017. At least two of the three scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students unless there are less than two qualifying undergraduate students, at which point more than one scholarship can be awarded to a masters or doctoral student. The review process will be limited to the first 50 applications received. Additional scholarships may be awarded at the discretion of the review committee. The window for applying is from May 12 through June 16, 2018.

The Jerry P. Rainey Scholarship Fund focuses on assisting qualifying students who display outstanding potential in their chosen major. Academic excellence, community involvement, and personal character are the primary considerations weighted for selecting a recipient. The fund was established in memory of Jerry P. Rainey, a U.S. Army Special Forces Medic. Mr. Rainey’s lifelong endeavor, driven by his infectious optimism, to assist those with which he came into contact inspired this fund. His belief that each individual possesses the ability to positively impact others is the basis for the intent of the fund. The intent is twofold; assist a student in obtaining his or her educational objectives and perpetuate the spirit of selfless giving to others, a standard which Mr. Rainey so admirably inspired those around him to follow. Three (3) scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded in person annually on or before the third Saturday in August. This years’ scholarship presentation is August 18, 2018. The review process will be limited to the first 50 applications received NLT June 16, 2018.

Applicants will meet the following requirements in order to be considered for the scholarship:

Must reside in the greater El Paso, Texas/Las Cruces, New Mexico area
Must be enrolled in an accredited university, college, or technical school
Must have completed at least 24 credit hours of college coursework
Must have maintained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
Must have contributed or are contributing to the local community
Must not have previously been awarded the Jerry P. Rainey Scholarship

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

New custom stealth dirt bikes made for Navy SEALs and Green Berets

When the U.S. military is looking for a custom bike, they look to DARPA. This time, they needed a stealthy dirt bike that could handle rough terrain… and maybe a few other tasks SEALs and Green Berets might need during an operation. Two potential models were the frontrunners for DARPA's project. The Silent Hawk, designed by Logos Technology, and the Nightmare, built by LSA Autonomy. They are both hybrids, capable of running on lithium-ion batteries or a variety of fuels, including JP-8, propane, or even olive oil.

Both are about as loud as a garbage disposal while running on fuel and about as loud as an indoor conversation when running on batteries. The differences are where it gets interesting. The Nightmare weighs 400 pounds while Silent Hawk weighs 350. Those extra 50 pounds go toward generating additional horsepower for the Nightmare's all-wheel drive. Silent Hawk was built with a battery pack that has a higher density and active cooling system to keep lithium-ion batteries from exploding.

The two bikes can also provide power to external devices, including medical equipment, blue force trackers, and communications gear. Bikes — especially dirt bikes — aren't new to the military. Veteran and active bike enthusiasts have been building their own custom bikes for years. One retired Marine Corps First Sergeant even founded a vocational therapy non-profit centered on building custom dirt bikes, called Warrior Built.

Dirt bikes and motorcycles are also a reliable means of communication in large-scale combat. It was used as recently as the Millennium Challenge Exercise, where a Marine General was able to take on an entire carrier group maintaining comms using messengers on dirt bikes.

Chapter IX Commo Sergeant comment: In 1995 the 5th Special Forces Group in conjunction with the Special Warfare Center Force Modernization began development of the Desert Mobility Vehicle System (DMVS) which was comprised of five components: the Desert Mobility Vehicle (DMV); the Desert Mobility Trailer; the Desert Mobility Motorcycle; a vehicle mounted GPS unit; and, a On Board Water Generation Unit. 5th SFG sent two "A" teams to Fort Bliss, Texas to develop and test candidate items from Commercial Off The Shelf products to Custom developments. For the Desert Mobility Motorcycle, the unit tested several motorcycles - Honda XR-250R, Honda XR-350R and Yamaha TT-550. Night rides, sometimes 100 miles in duration, wearing night vision goggles and sometimes wearing chemical MOPP suits were common. The role of the motorcycle was to deploy a commo package from a vehicle Laager Site (LS) in order to make communications with higher and allow the LS to maintain a safe distance from possible enemy RDF capability. The motorcycles were also used for route reconnaissance and surveys of possible chemically contaminated areas - hence the chemical MOPP suits. One of the main disadvantages of the motorcycle is that over rough terrain it required two hands to operate and engine noise could give the rider away and keep him from hearing other vehicles or noises. Easily ambushed or having a wreck were common worries, so a Telonics Transmitter was attached to the handlebars with a suspension line tether from the rider to a magnet on the telonics transmitter. If the rider fell off motorcycle the tether would yank the magnet off the transmitter, turning it on and sending a signal to the main body well behind the motorcycle section and letting the main column know that the rider was separated from his bike.

Article from Business Insider

Friday, April 6, 2018

Green Beret Snipers Victorious at International Competition

A two-man Green Beret sniper team emerged victorious at the elite U.S. Army Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition at the end of March, distinguishing themselves as among the most lethal sharpshooters in the special operations community.

Master Sgt. David and Sgt. 1st Class Cuong from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), whose full names were withheld by officials given the sensitive nature of their assignment, bested dozens of snipers in the 22 events spread over five days of grueling precision fire challenges — even after a rocky start. “We started off poorly on the first day due to some sleep deprivation,” Master Sgt. David said in an Army release. “We really started clicking and things began to fall into place after we regrouped and got some rest between events.”

More than 40 sniper and special operations forces teams from across the U.S. armed forces — including the Army Sniper School, Marine Corps Scout Sniper School, and Naval Special Warfare Command — and foreign militaries from France to Singapore turned out at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for the illustrious shoot-off hosted by the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne). “It is the level of competitors, the cadre, and the competition that make this event so unique,” Master Sgt. David added. “At this level, all of these guys are the best of the best.”

Now, we love to read stories of superhuman snipers taking out a dozen ISIS commanders with one bullet from two miles away, but the USASOC sniper competition is less about jaw-dropping sharpshooter feats and more about teamwork, communication, and focus under pressure — skills that actually matter when you’re downrange. Here’s a vignette from this year’s competition from Fayetteville Observer military editor Drew Brooks:

At Range 67, snipers raced against the clock as they moved from one firing point to the next, engaging a series of 12-inch by 16-inch targets that were up to 600 meters away.

At Range 62B, their communications skills were further tested. Twenty targets were mixed amid a range that includes numerous obstacles, buildings and mock vehicles. Each was marked by a symbol and a color denoting the type of weapon that should be used — pistol, carbine or sniper rifle.

Working together, the competitors had to look at a card shown to them by an instructor, find that symbol and shoot the target with the appropriate weapon.

“It’s essentially ‘Where’s Waldo,’” said a Special Forces Sniper Course instructor overseeing the event. “It’s designed to suck them in, get them distracted or moving faster than [they] needed to be.” I may be a sloppy civilian, but I’d much rather have a sniper team that’s flexible and versatile (and can ruck hard between positions, the focus of Range 42’s required 90-pound kettlebell according to the Fayetteville Observer) than a one-shot, one-trick pony.

Article from Task and Purpose

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Delta Force commando killed in Syria

The U.S. soldier killed in Syria Friday was taking part in a mission to capture or kill an ISIS leader, U.S. military official confirmed Monday. “Coalition forces, in an advise, assist and accompany capacity with our partners, were conducting a mission to kill or capture a known ISIS member when they were struck by an improvised explosive device,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S. lead anti-ISIS collation. “This operation was part of the Coalition's mission to defeat ISIS, and we remain focused on our mission.”

Master Sgt. Jonathan Dunbar was assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Special Operations Command, which is the designation often used for the Army’s secretive Delta Force. The Pentagon described Dunbar as a “team member,” who had deployed three times in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The force going after the ISIS leader also included British commandos. Sgt. Matt Tonroe, a British soldier who served in the 3rd Battalion of the elite Parachute Regiment, was also killed in the explosion.

Article from the Washington Examiner

Monday, March 26, 2018

National Medal of Honor Day

Article written by Major (ret) Drew Dix.

On a hilltop in Arlington National Cemetery, servicemen from our nation’s wars, whose names we don’t know but whose service and sacrifice we will always remember, have found their final resting place in the Tomb of the Unknowns. It’s fitting that these courageous Americans, who represent all who have worn the cloth of our great country, received our nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. In addition to these unknown heroes, for many of us Medal of Honor recipients, and for many veterans, Arlington National Cemetery evokes specific memories of incredible people we served with and long-ago battles we fought. Photo at right: Medal of Honor recipients Mike Fitzmaurice and Will Swenson, center, participate in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating valor and sacrifice on National Medal of Honor Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on March 25. 2017.

There are 71 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, and this week, 31 of my brothers are in our nation’s capital to commemorate National Medal of Honor Day, which falls every year on March 25. While they lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and render salutes as a lone bugler plays “Taps,” all of us, no matter where we are, will be paying our respects to the men and women who have served our great nation in uniform.

To a man, the privilege and burden of wearing the Medal of Honor is our opportunity to represent the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have served, fought, and in some cases sacrificed their lives to preserve America’s liberty. All 71 of us have witnessed firsthand the ravages of the battlefield. We all have one thing in common: We fought side-by-side with Americans from all walks of life. We wear our medals for all of them, and especially for those who didn’t come home.

As Medal of Honor recipients, we have the opportunity to travel around the country and meet patriotic Americans striving every day to improve their communities and our nation. We understand you don’t have to wear a uniform for service or sacrifice. That’s why in 2008, we created the Citizen Honors Awards to recognize everyday Americans for their extraordinary acts of courage and selfless service. And that’s why we’ve made Citizen Honors a significant part of our National Medal of Honor Day commemoration.

Individually, the stories of these heroic and selfless Americans are amazing and inspiring. Collectively, they’re an example for all of us to emulate. The 2018 recipients are no exception. Robert Engle subdued a gunman in a Tennessee church and prevented further loss of life. Matthew Cobos shielded and provided lifesaving medical treatment to concertgoers injured in the mass shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas. Kimberly Scofi selflessly serves veterans in Georgia through her United Military Care organization, providing them with immediate access to food and housing.

Virgil Smith, our Young Hero Award recipient, used an air mattress to rescue 17 people during Hurricane Harvey. The Veterans Heritage Project in Phoenix is receiving our Community Service Hero Award for a program that connects students with veterans to conduct oral history interviews that are donated to the Library of Congress.

These stories are reminders that you don’t have to serve in combat or experience a life-threatening situation to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes doing the right thing may not have an immediate or obvious effect, but the long-term impact can be just as powerful for the person you helped. Courage, service and sacrifice come in many forms, and they all matter. Doing the right thing always makes a difference.

My fellow recipients and I encourage you to take a few minutes on National Medal of Honor Day to reflect on the blessings we have as Americans and thank those who have willingly and selflessly served and sacrificed to protect our way of life, as well as those who choose every day to do the right thing. We also challenge you to help make your communities and our country better for everyone by embracing the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage and sacrifice, commitment and integrity, citizenship and patriotism. Drew Dix (see photo at left) earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in South Vietnam’s Chau Doc province in 1968 as an Army staff sergeant; his citation, and those of other Medal of Honor recipients, can be viewed at The Hall of Valor Project. Dix is president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

We believe there’s a hero in everyone. How will you make a difference? 

Article from the Military Times

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Green Berets awarded Silver Stars for bravery in Afghanistan

Nineteen Special Forces soldiers with the Utah National Guard were awarded on Sunday for their acts of valor during their 2017 deployments to Afghanistan. Several of these soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group teams returned home wounded, and one — Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler — was killed in combat. Four of the Green Berets were awarded Silver Stars during the ceremony in Draper, Utah. Five soldiers earned the Bronze Star with V device, seven soldiers received the Army Commendation Medal with V device and three were awarded the Purple Heart.

Capt. Nelson, Sgt. 1st Class Madsen, Staff Sgt. Walrath and Staff Sgt. Caldwell were awarded the Silver Star for their actions in May and August 2017. The soldiers’ first names were not announced for security reasons. On May 21, 2017, Nelson was commanding a clearance operation in Afghanistan to drive enemy fighters out of village homes they were occupying, according to Nelson’s Silver Star narrative.

The mission was to secure a new position to disrupt enemy operations in the area. Nelson had led his troops through the ISIS-Khorasan, an offshoot of the Islamic State group stronghold of Maktaab Bazaar when they were hit with machine gun and sniper fire, the narrative said. The trail vehicle’s gunner was shot in the head by a sniper, and Nelson ran to the wounded soldier amid the continued enemy fire.

He pulled the gunner from the vehicle, called for a medic, requested a medevac and directed close-air support and artillery fire missions. The captain exposed himself to fire to encourage the Afghan forces traveling with his team to suppress the enemy and shield the soldiers’ movement. Nelson made sure his dismounted troops had gotten into the armored vehicles while remaining dismounted himself as he ran in front of the casualty evacuation vehicle, drawing fire from multiple enemy positions as he cleared a route for the convoy, the narrative said.

Nelson guided the convoy to the improvised helicopter landing zone, where he helped load the injured soldier onto the medevac. “His independent actions that day inspired many to fight back in the face of overwhelming and unrelenting enemy fire, ensuring the safe evacuation of a critically wounded U.S. casualty,” the narrative said.

Less than 24 hours after this ambush, Nelson commanded another dismounted patrol of Special Forces soldiers and Afghan local police. Even though his team had fought to defend its new stronghold the day before, the surrounding area needed to be cleared to keep the enemy from attacking. After leaving their covered position at the police compound, Nelson and his team came under interlocking machine gun fire, which split the element into three groups. One group took cover behind a small wall, one group moved back to the compound for cover, and the group with Nelson was pinned down behind small rocks in an open field, the narrative said.

Nelson came out from under cover and drew the fire to himself so two of his soldiers could run back to the compound. He then ran through more enemy fire to encourage the first group to find a safer spot. He stayed in an exposed area until everyone from his team safely made it back to the police compound. “Captain Nelson constantly demonstrated an unbreakable devotion to his U.S. and Afghan soldiers through his inspiringly persistent disregard for his own safety and his violently tenacious protection of his subordinates,” Utah Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn said during the ceremony.

Three months later

On Aug. 16, 2017, U.S. soldiers with the Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan conducted a dismounted mission alongside the Afghan National Army’s 8th Special Operations Kandak Commandos. The goal was to clear the area in the highly contested Mohmand Valley in Southern Nangarhar, Afghanistan, to dislodge entrenched ISIS-K fighters.

The element had taken heavy fire for eight hours, and as darkness fell, an explosive weapon detonated inside the building the team had been preparing to occupy, according to the Silver Star narratives. The enemy fighters launched a coordinated attack, using the explosion that injured more than 30 troops to their advantage. After the explosion, three Special Forces soldiers stood out for their actions.

‘Courageous and determined’

Despite his wounds, Sgt. 1st Class Madsen crawled into an armored vehicle and pulled his way to the turret while directing the U.S. soldiers around him to return fire on the enemy. Madsen took control of the vehicle’s MK19 automatic grenade launcher and began delivering “punishing suppressive fire upon the emboldened ISIS-K fighters,” his Silver Star narrative said.

Once he was out of ammunition, he switched to a light machine gun, firing on the enemy until he used up that ammo, too. But he wasn’t done. He then unleashed an MK14 grenade launcher on the enemy as his fellow soldiers matched his volume of fire, the narrative said. “Sergeant First Class Madsen’s courageous and determined example inspired the limited number of troops who were not already wounded or rendering aid, to violently strike back at their attackers, ultimately suppressing the threat long enough for the medical evacuation helicopters to load the most critical patients,” according to his narrative.

‘Disregarded his own suffering’

Staff Sgt. Walrath was one of the soldiers injured from the explosion, with hundreds of fragments of shrapnel and concrete lodged in his body. But that didn’t stop him from ignoring his own injuries and turning his attention to his teammates. “Though Staff Sergeant Walrath was bleeding freely from his own wounds, he completely disregarded his own suffering to immerse himself in the care of his wounded comrade,” his Silver Star narrative said.

He assessed and aided the injured soldiers closest to him, then moved throughout the blast area to help move and treat a mortally wounded soldier. Walrath did this while exposing himself to enemy fire, the narrative said. At one point, he used his own body to shield one of the wounded soldiers from an incoming rocket-propelled grenade.

In the middle of the chaos, Walrath calmly communicated with the caregivers under his direction so they could provide aid to the wounded. He ensured that as many wounded troops as possible were placed on the overcrowded medevac helicopters, declining to evacuate himself before anyone else. “On his own accord, he ignored all sense of self-preservation and continued to maneuver dismounted with his element, exchanging fire with the enemy until he was no longer able to walk under his own power,” the narrative said.

‘Judgment matched with devoted care’

Staff Sgt. Caldwell also began to collect and assess the wounded after the explosion went off. He began directing the organization and management of the patients, stopping only to deliver critical life-saving interventions, the narrative said. Caldwell performed at least four surgical procedures in the field, according to his Silver Star narrative.

He raced from patient to patient while under heavy enemy fire and made sure no troops or weapons had been left behind in the building. Caldwell then communicated critical information to the ground force commander related to the medevac, all while intermittently exchanging fire with the enemy. “While inescapably exposed at the staging area, he displayed exemplary clinical judgment matched with devoted care as he prioritized patients for MEDEVAC and helped coordinate the load-out of the arriving aircraft himself,” his narrative said.

For their bravery, these four soldiers received the Silver Star during Sunday’s ceremony. The Colorado National Guard has also approved a Silver Star for a soldier from Bravo Company, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). This is along with seven Purple Hearts, 10 Bronze Stars with V device and eight Army Commendation Medals with V device. Details of the Colorado soldiers awarded and the actions involved were not yet available. These soldiers were deployed to the same missions as the Utah soldiers, but two separate ceremonies were held to minimize the travel impact on service members.

Article from the Army Times