Friday, October 20, 2017

General Kelly sets the record straight

Many of us were shocked to read or hear News coverage of President Trump's call to the family of one of the 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers recently killed in action in Niger. The News only reported a selected portion of the President's call, received via Florida Congresswomen Frederica Wilson who eavesdropped on the conversation and used that selected portion to further advance her hatred of President Trump and demonstrate her contempt for the military and disrespect for the ultimate sacrifice any service member can make.

John F. Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, delivered an emotional statement on Thursday in the White House briefing room, defending Mr. Trump’s call to the widow of a slain soldier and responding to criticism from Representative Frederica S. Wilson, Democrat of Florida.

The following is a transcript of those remarks, as prepared by the White House:

JOHN F. KELLY, White House chief of staff: Well, thanks a lot. And it is a more serious note, so I just wanted to perhaps make more of a statement than an — give more of an explanation in what amounts to be a traditional press interaction.

Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens:

Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine, and sends them home. Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead. And then they’re flown to, usually, Europe where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.

A very, very good movie to watch, if you haven’t ever seen it, is “Taking Chance,” where this is done in a movie — HBO setting. Chance Phelps was killed under my command right next to me, and it’s worth seeing that if you’ve never seen it.

So that’s the process. While that’s happening, a casualty officer typically goes to the home very early in the morning and waits for the first lights to come on. And then he knocks on the door; typically a mom and dad will answer, a wife. And if there is a wife, this is happening in two different places; if the parents are divorced, three different places. And the casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member and stays with that family until — well, for a long, long time, even after the internment. So that’s what happens.

Who are these young men and women? They are the best 1 percent this country produces. Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any one of them. But they are the very best this country produces, and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required. But that’s all right.

Who writes letters to the families? Typically, the company commander — in my case, as a Marine — the company commander, battalion commander, regimental commander, division commander, Secretary of Defense, typically the service chief, commandant of the Marine Corps, and the President typically writes a letter.

Typically, the only phone calls a family receives are the most important phone calls they could imagine, and that is from their buddies. In my case, hours after my son was killed, his friends were calling us from Afghanistan, telling us what a great guy he was. Those are the only phone calls that really mattered.

And yeah, the letters count, to a degree, but there’s not much that really can take the edge off what a family member is going through. So some Presidents have elected to call. All Presidents, I believe, have elected to send letters. If you elect to call a family like this, it is about the most difficult thing you could imagine. There’s no perfect way to make that phone call.

When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do, in my opinion, in any event.

He asked me about previous Presidents, and I said, I can tell you that President Obama, who was my Commander-in-Chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family. That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any President, particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high — that Presidents call. But I believe they all write.

So when I gave that explanation to our President three days ago, he elected to make phone calls in the cases of four young men who we lost in Niger at the earlier part of this month. But then he said, how do you make these calls? If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call. I think he very bravely does make those calls.

The call in question that he made yesterday — or day before yesterday now — were to four family members, the four fallen. And remember, there’s a next-of-kin designated by the individual. If he’s married, that’s typically the spouse. If he’s not married, that’s typically the parents unless the parents are divorced, and then he selects one of them. If he didn’t get along with his parents, he’ll select a sibling. But the point is, the phone call is made to the next-of-kin only if the next-of-kin agrees to take the phone call. Sometimes they don’t.

So a pre-call is made: The President of the United States or the commandant of the Marine Corps, or someone would like to call, will you accept the call? And typically, they all accept the call. So he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could. And he said to me, what do I say? I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.

Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.

That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying, and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery. I went over there for an hour-and-a-half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed.

I’ll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. (note: The F.B.I. agent for which the building is named was named Jerry L. Dove, not Duke.)

Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, and now retired. So we go down — Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well, and law enforcement so well.

There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were three or four years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there, and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.

And a congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, O.K., fine So I still hope, as you write your stories, and I appeal to America, that let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society — a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country — let’s try to somehow keep that sacred. But it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.

So I’m willing to take a question or two on this topic. Let me ask you this: Is anyone here a Gold Star parent or sibling? Does anyone here know a Gold Star parent or sibling?

(pointing to a reporter who raised his hand) O.K., you get the question.

Question: Well, thank you, General Kelly. First of all, we have a great deal of respect — Semper Fi — for everything that you’ve ever done. But if we could take this a bit further. Why were they in Niger? We were told they weren’t in armored vehicles and there was no air cover. So what are the specifics about this particular incident? And why were we there? And why are we there?

GENERAL KELLY: Well, I would start by saying there is an investigation. Let me back up and say, the fact of the matter is, young men and women that wear our uniform are deployed around the world and there are tens of thousands, near the DMZ in North Korea [sic], in Okinawa, waiting to go — in South Korea — in Okinawa, ready to go. All over the United States, training, ready to go. They’re all over Latin America. Down there, they do mostly drug and addiction, working with our partners — our great partners — the Colombians, the Central Americans, the Mexicans.

You know, there’s thousands. My own son, right now, back in the fight for his fifth tour against ISIS. There’s thousands of them in Europe acting as a deterrent. And they’re throughout Africa. And they’re doing the nation’s work there, and not making a lot of money, by the way, doing it. They love what they do.

So why were they there? They’re there working with partners, local — all across Africa — in this case, Niger — working with partners, teaching them how to be better soldiers; teaching them how to respect human rights; teaching them how to fight ISIS so that we don’t have to send our soldiers and Marines there in their thousands. That’s what they were doing there.

Now, there is an investigation. There’s always an — unless it’s a very, very conventional death in a conventional war, there’s always an investigation. Of course, that operation is conducted by AFRICOM that, of course, works directly for the Secretary of Defense.

There is a — and I talked to Jim Mattis this morning. I think he made statements this afternoon. There’s an investigation ongoing. An investigation doesn’t mean anything was wrong. An investigation doesn’t mean people’s heads are going to roll. The fact is they need to find out what happened and why it happened.

But at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, you have to understand that these young people — sometimes old guys — put on the uniform, go to where we send them to protect our country. Sometimes they go in large numbers to invade Iraq and invade Afghanistan. Sometimes they’re working in small units, working with our partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, helping them be better.

But at the end of the day, they’re helping those partners be better at fighting ISIS in North Africa to protect our country so that we don’t have to send large numbers of troops.

Any other — someone who knows a Gold Star fallen person. John?

Question: General, thank you for being here today and thank you for your service and for your family’s sacrifice. There has been some talk about the timetable of the release of the statement about the — I think at that point it was three soldiers who were killed in Niger. Can you walk us through the timetable of the release of that information? And what part did the fact that a beacon was pinging during that time have to do with the release of the statement? And were you concerned that divulging information early might jeopardize the soldiers’ attempt to be (inaudible)?

GENERAL KELLY: First of all, that’s a — you know, we are at the highest level of the U.S. government. The people that will answer those questions will be the people at the other end of the military pyramid. I’m sure the Special Forces group is conducting it. I know they’re conducting an investigation. That investigation, of course, under the auspices of AFRICOM, ultimately will go to the Pentagon. I’ve read the same stories you have. I actually know a lot more than I’m letting on, but I’m not going to tell you.

There is an investigation being done. But as I say, the men and women of our country that are serving all around the world — I mean, what the hell is my son doing back in the fight? He’s back in the fight because — working with Iraqi soldiers who are infinitely better than they were a few years ago to take ISIS on directly so that we don’t have to do it. Small numbers of Marines where he is working alongside those guys. That’s why they’re out there, whether it’s Niger, Iraq, or whatever. We don’t want to send tens of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, in particular, to go fight.

I’ll take one more, but it’s got to be from someone who knows — all right.

Question: General, when you talk about Niger, sir, what does your intelligence tell you about the Russian connection with them? And the stories that are coming out now, they’re........

GENERAL KELLY: I have no knowledge of any Russian connection, but I was not, in my position, to know that. That’s a question for NORTHCOM or for — not NORTHCOM — for AFRICOM or DOD.

Thanks very much, everybody.

As I walk off the stage, understand there’s tens of thousands of American kids, mostly, doing their nation’s bidding all around the world. They don’t have to be in uniform. You know, when I was a kid, every man in my life was a veteran — World War II, Korea, and there was the draft. These young people today, they don’t do it for any other reason than their selfless — sense of selfless devotion to this great nation.

We don’t look down upon those of you who that haven’t served. In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll have never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our service men and women do — not for any other reason than they love this country. So just think of that.

And I do appreciate your time. Take care.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Army Special Operations Command preparing for the next decade

The head of the Army’s Special Operations Command sees the capabilities of his forces as a crucial but sometimes misunderstood component of future warfare. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo sat down with Army Times at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition to discuss how USASOC’s “four pillars of capability” will set the course for the coming decades of change in the face of myriad threats and missions. He plans to illustrate those capabilities during the panel he is leading Wednesday. Also speaking on the panel are a U.S. ambassador, an acting assistant secretary of defense, and directors and commanders of associated special operations-related groups.

The special operations soldiers’ four pillars include:

1. Indigenous Approach: The original mission of the Army’s Special Forces, special warfare. Developing foreign forces to conduct their own operations and build a professional fighting force among U.S. allies.

2. Precision Targeting: The most well known work of special operators, raids that capture or kill high value human targets, gather critical intelligence or render some enemy efforts ineffective.

3. Developing Understanding and Wielding Influence: Likely the least well known area of special operations work, developing long-term trust and relationships with partners and allies that help those forces and aid future work by the U.S. military and diplomatic corps.

4. Crisis Response: With more than half of all special operators calling the Army home and more than 60 percent of all such operations being conducted in more than 70 countries on average, the likely first responders, be it local or regional security challenges, will be special operations forces.

The Army’s new Field Manual 3-0 on operations highlights the importance of commanders at all levels, especially those in charge of conventional forces in large-scale combat operations, understanding the capabilities and limitations of special operations. Tovo said that modern warfare cannot be all one or the other. There is a place in the mix for both conventional forces and special operations forces. The key is matching the balance to the mission. “They are complementing capabilities,” Tovo said. “You have to have the right tool for the job.”

SOF can be used to deadly effect with a small number of soldiers choosing the right target at the right time with the right effect, speed and violence of action. But special operations “doesn’t bring bass to the battle,” Tovo said. Tank formations are still needed to fight enemy tank formations, for example.

But an underappreciated value that special operations soldiers bring that is often overlooked is the training, advising and assisting that can create capable allied units. Tovo pointed to successes by Colombian SOF-trained forces in their decades long fight against terrorist groups. He noted that early successes by the Iraqi army against ISIS groups came mostly from SOF-trained troops.

Article from Defense News

Thursday, October 12, 2017

US War against Islamic Extremists actually 200+ years old

The United States has actually been at war with Islamic Extremists since 1801 - that's over 216 years according to my calculator. It began with the first Barbary War (1801 - 1805) also called the War against Tripoli (in present day Libya) when North African Berbers demanded that the U.S. pay tribute to the Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli based Muslim Sultans. Then U.S. President Thomas Jefferson sent the infant U.S. naval fleet on May 13, 1801 under the command of Commodore Richard Dale as the Pasha of Tripoli, Yusuf Qaramanli, citing late payments of tribute, demanded additional tribute and declared war on the United States. The Famous Naval hero, Stephen Decatur, was assigned to the frigate USS Essex under Captain William Bainbridge. Other ships under Commodore Richard Dale's squadron included the Philadelphia, the President and the Enterprise. 

Prior to 1801, and actually prior to the American colonies winning the war of independence against Great Britian, ships from the United States were protected by the large and feared British Navy. Even then, both Britain and France, found it expedient pay tribute to the Barbary States as it allowed their merchant shipping to operate safely with an increased share of the Mediterranean trade. Barbary leaders chose not to challenge the superior British or French navies. But Thomas Jefferson said no to any extortion, however previous U.S> administration had paid some sort of tribute for protection on shipping. So the war under Jefferson was actually a culmination of 16 years of attacks by the Barbary pirates, led by Dey Muhammad of Algiers who had been capturing U.S. merchant ships since 1785.

During the first Barbary War is war, the ship Philadelphia was blockading Tripoli's harbor when she ran aground on an uncharted reef. Under fire from shore batteries and Tripolitania gunboats, the Captain, William Bainbridge, tried to refloat her by casting off all of her guns and other objects that weighed it down. The ship was eventually captured and the crew taken prisoners and put into slavery. To prevent this powerful war ship from being used by the Barbary pirates the ship was later destroyed by a raiding party led by Stephen Decatur.

The War concluded in 1805 with a treaty after U.S. Marines supported by Naval gunfire successfully defeated Qaramanli’s forces with a combined naval and land assault - hence the line in the Marine Corps Hymn " the shores of Tripoli.....). The U.S. treaty with Tripoli included a ransom for American prisoners in Tripoli, but no provisions for tribute. In fact, the nickname "Leatherneck" came from the thick leather collars the Marines wore to protect their exposed necks from the Scimitar wielding Barbary pirates.

The Second Barbary War, also known as the Algerian War, began in 1812. In 1812, the new Dey of Algiers, Hajji Ali, rejected 1795 treaty and declared war on the United States by capturing an American ship with his Algerian corsairs. This was actually a Algerian-British conspiracy as Britain declared war on the U.S. (the War of 1812). After this war ended in 1814, U.S. President James Madison and the U.S. Congress declared war on Algiers on 3 March 1815. The U.S. Navy, now greatly increased in size after the War of 1812, sent an entire squadron, led by Commodore Stephen Decatur, to the Mediterranean.

Upon the show of U.S. naval fire, not to mention several naval bombardments, the new Algiers ruler, Dey Omar, accepted the treaty proposed by Decatur that called for an exchange of U.S. and Algerian prisoners and an end to the practices of tribute and ransom. Having defeated the most powerful of the Barbary States, Decatur sailed to Tunis and Tripoli and obtained similar treaties. In Tripoli, Decatur also secured from Pasha Qaramanli the release of all European captives. The Muslims reneged on the treaty so a second U.S. Naval Squadron combined with Dutch Naval assets bombarded Algiers again submitting the hostiles to the treaty. While the Barbary pirates continued to raid ships from other countries, U.S. flagged vessels remained free from attacks until 1830 when France occupied Algeria ending the pirate threat.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Green Berets Killed in Niger

U.S. Special Forces soldiers were training their Nigerien counterparts in the West African nation’s volatile southwest, a growing hot-bed of jihadist violence, when the report came in of a raid nearby. The assailants were believed to be led by Dondou Chefou, a lieutenant in a new group operating along the Mali-Niger border and called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. A decision was soon taken to pursue them.

The mixed force was ambushed by fighters on dozens of vehicles and motorcycles. Under heavy fire, U.S. troops called in French fighter jets for air support. But the firefight was at such close quarters the planes could not engage and were instead left circling overhead as a deterrent. The version of events, as told by two Nigerien and two Western sources briefed on the incident, shines a light on Washington’s increasingly aggressive Special Forces-led counter-terrorism strategy in Africa and its risk of casualties.

The Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group died in the firefight, killed in a country where most Americans were unaware their army is deployed but Washington has steadily grown its presence. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39; and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, and a fourth yet to be named soldier died in the firefight. Two other Special Forces soldiers were wounded and are expected to recover.

There are conflicting reports. One report states that the Green Berets were coming back from a meeting with village elders when the Jihadist used a decoy on the road to stop the convoy then ambushed the Americans and their Niger Army counterparts.

At least four Nigeriens were also killed and, according to one Niger security source, militants seized four vehicles in the ambush. French helicopters, scrambled after the U.S. call for help, evacuated several soldiers wounded in the clash. A diplomat with knowledge of the incident said French officials were frustrated by the U.S. troops’ actions, saying they had acted on only limited intelligence and without contingency plans in place.

U.S. officials declined to comment on details of what happened in the Nigerien desert on Wednesday. “The U.S. military does not have an active, direct combat mission in Niger,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Army Major Audricia Harris. U.S. assistance to Niger’s army, however, includes “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” she said.

U.S. military deployments are on the rise in Africa. In May, a U.S. Navy Seal killed in a raid on an al Shabaab militant compound in Somalia became the first U.S. combat death in Africa since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” disaster in Mogadishu.

In Niger, Washington has deployed around 800 soldiers, runs a drone base in the capital Niamey and is building a second in Agadez at a cost of around $100 million. U.S. Special Forces help local troops develop counter-terrorism skills to tackle threats from al Qaeda-linked groups, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Islamists who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State. “It’s a pretty broad mission with the government of Niger in order to increase their capability to stand alone and to prosecute violent extremists,” the U.S. military’s Joint Staff Director, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, said on Thursday.

Washington has long seen the Sahel as a security threat but involvement increased in the wake of a 2012 occupation of northern Mali by Islamist militants. France led an offensive against the Islamists a year later, and the U.S. government now provides logistical and intelligence support to a 4,000-troop French counter-terrorism operation in the region.

There are two major Islamic Extremists groups operating in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger area: The JNIM which is comprised of Ansar Dine, al Mouritbitoun, and MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa), all which combined to form the umbrella organization Group for Support of Islam and Muslims known by their French acronym - JNIM, and are affiliated with al-Qai'da and also known as Al Qai'da in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM. The other major group broke off from the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, to form Islamic State in the Sub - Sahara.

The U.S. military organizers an annual, high-profile U.S. drill as well as longer-term, more discreet training of regional forces. But experts say U.S. involvement in the fight does not stop there. “It is likely that there are other operations going on aside from just the training operations,” said Andrew Lebovich, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. In missions run out of a base in the northern Niger town of Arlit and others like the one that led to the ambush of U.S. troops, sources say they have helped local troops and intelligence agents make several arrests. “It is discreet but they are there,” a Nigerien security source told Reuters.

Analysts are awaiting the political fallout of Wednesday’s ambush with some speculating it may spark a reversal of the U.S. stance on a new regional force - known as the G5 Sahel - which France is pushing but which Washington is cool on. Others however like Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, a former top United Nations official in West Africa and Somalia, recall with concern the American pullout following the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Eighteen U.S. soldiers were killed when Somali militia shot down two helicopters in Mogadishu. “In Somalia, they over-reacted and withdrew their troops ... My worry is that after this attack they will also over-react. Trump might just say ‘Why should we die for this?’ I hope they don‘t.”

Article from Business Insider

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Anniversary of Blackhawk Down - Let Us Not Forget

October 3rd. On this day in 1993, the Battle for Mogadishu begins. During Operation Gothic Serpent, Task Force Ranger, US Special Operations Forces composed mainly of Bravo Company 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D), and a deployment package of the 160th SOAR (A), attempted to capture Somali Warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid's foreign minister Omar Salad Elmi and his top political advisor, Mohamed Hassan Awale. The ensuing battle would soon come to be recognized as the fiercest fighting US Forces engaged in since the Vietnam War.

On 22 August, Task Force Ranger was ordered to deploy to Mogadishu, Somalia. They departed on 26 August. The mission as defined by the task force commander was: “When directed, [to] deploy to Mogadishu, Somalia; [to] conduct operations to capture General Aideed and/or designated others. The aviation task force must be prepared to conduct two primary courses of action: moving convoy and strong point assault. . . . Success is defined as the live capture of General Aideed and designated individuals and recovery to the designated transload point; safely and without fratricide.” In Mogadishu the task force occupied an old hangar and old construction trailers under primitive conditions. During the month of September, the force conducted several successful missions to arrest Aideed sympathizers and to confiscate arms caches.

On the afternoon of 3 October 1993, informed that two leaders of Aideed’s clan were at a residence in central Mogadishu, the task force sent 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and 160 men to arrest them. During the mission, one of the Rangers fast-roping from an MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, missed the rope and fell 70 feet to the street below, badly injuring himself. The two leaders were quickly arrested, and the prisoners and the injured Ranger were loaded on a convoy of ground vehicles.

Alerted to the task force actions, armed Somalis began converging on the target area from all over the city. In the meantime, another MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, call sign Super 61 and piloted by CW4 Clifton P. Wolcott and CW3 Donovan Briley, was flying low over the street a few blocks from the target area, and was struck from behind by an rocket propelled grenade (RPG). The MH-60 crashed to the street below. The US convoy and the Somali crowds immediately headed for the crash site.

An MH-6 Little Bird, call sign Star 41, piloted by CW4 Keith Jones and CW3 Karl Maier, landed in the street next to the downed MH-60 and attempted to evacuate the casualties. Both Wolcott and Briley had been killed in the crash. Jones went to assist survivors, successfully pulling two soldiers into the Little Bird, while Maier laid down suppressive fire from the cockpit with his individual weapon. Under intense ground fire, the MH-6 departed with its crew and survivors.

Meanwhile, Blackhawk Super 64, with pilot CW3 Michael Durant, copilot CW4 Raymond Frank, and crewmembers SSG William Cleveland and SSG Thomas Field, moved in to take Super 61’s place in the formation. As Super 64 circled over the target area, an RPG suddenly struck it. The Blackhawk’s tail rotor was severely damaged, and the air mission commander ordered it back to the airfield. En route to the airfield, the tail rotor and much of the rear assembly fell off, and the helicopter pitched forward and crashed.

As the battle intensified the ground convoy lost its way, and rescue forces were already overtaxed at the site of the first Blackhawk crash.

At the second crash site, two Delta snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, were inserted by Black Hawk Super 62 – piloted by CW3 Mike Goffena. Their first two requests to be inserted were denied, but they were finally granted permission upon their third request. Durant and Frank had both suffered broken legs in the crash, and both of the crew chiefs were severely wounded. A large crowd of Somalis, organized by the local militia, surrounded the crew and their rescuers and engaged in a fierce firefight.

The crew of Super 62 kept up their fire support for MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart, until it too was struck by an RPG. Despite the damage, Super 62 managed return to base. When MSG Gordon was eventually killed, SFC Shughart picked up Gordon's CAR-15 and gave it to Super 64 pilot CW3 Michael Durant. SFC Shughart went back around the chopper's nose and held off the mob for about 10 more minutes before he was killed. The two warriors had ultimately sacrificed their lives for their downed comrades.

Another Blackhawk carrying a rescue team arrived over the crash site of Super 61 and the 15-man team fast-roped to the ground. They found both Wolcott and Briley already dead, but crew chiefs Staff Sgt. Ray Dowdy and Staff Sgt. Charlie Warren were still alive in the wreckage. It took hours to pry Wolcott’s body from the wreckage. In the meantime, the soldiers set up a perimeter to protect against attack from Somali militia and armed civilians and awaited the arrival of a convoy from the 10th Mountain Division to rescue them.

The militia had taken Mike Durant captive, planning to trade him for Somali prisoners. But before they could get him back to their village, they were intercepted by local bandits, who took Durant, intending to use him for ransom. He was taken back to a house where he was held, interrogated, and videotaped. Later, after Aideed paid his ransom, Durant was moved to the apartment of Aideed’s propaganda minister. After five days, he was visited by a representative of the International Red Cross and interviewed by British and French journalists.

Finally, after ten days, with the intervention of former U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Robert Oakley, he was released and flew home to a hero’s welcome.

The mission was over. Task Force Ranger had been involved in the fiercest battle since the Vietnam War. It had lost two MH-60 aircraft with two more severely damaged, suffered eight wounded and five killed in action, and had had one of its pilots taken captive. Despite the public perception that this was a failed mission, Task Force Ranger did take into custody and delivered the two leaders from Aideed’s clan, resulting in mission success.

On 23 May 1994, SFC Randall Shughart and MSG Gary Gordon posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony for recognition of the heroic actions they voluntarily took and the sacrifices they made to help protect the life of Durant and the crew of Super 64.

Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon is buried in Lincoln Cemetery, Penobscot County, Maine.

Sergeant First Class Randall David 'Randy' Shughart was killed in action on 3 October 1993 in Somalia. He is buried at Westminster Cemetery in Carlisle, PA.

American Heroes and History worth remembering - Lets Us Not Forget.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Joe Romero, Bataan Death March survivor, gets his medals

Walking into the Visitor Center of the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial on Saturday afternoon, you’d have thought a rock star had stopped in. A throng of people were amassed around someone near the front of the center’s banquet hall, cellphones and cameras flashing. It was no rock star: it was one of New Mexico’s own Battling Bastards of Bataan, Joe Romero, who was at last presented with his World War II medals during a ceremony there Saturday. “As long as there is a New Mexico National Guard, these men will never be forgotten,” said New Mexico National Guard Adjutant General Kenneth Nava. “We will never forget their sacrifices.”

Nava pinned medal after medal — including a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in combat — to Romero’s chest, as many in the watching crowd shed tears. Though almost 97 years old, wheelchair bound and unable to speak, Romero still has a sparkle in his eye and it was clear he understood and appreciated all that was happening.

Romero, a Las Cruces native, joined the National Guard in 1941 at 19, along with his younger brother, Frank. He was soon deployed to the Philippines with the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment to participate in combat training. But by the end of 1941, the 200th came under very real attack by the Japanese, though they’re credited as the “first to fire.” After holding off Japanese forces for months, the U.S. troops were surrendered in April 1942.

Tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were taken as prisoners of war and forced to march more than 60 miles in what became known as the Bataan Death March. It’s estimated that 10,000 died during the march.

But the Romero brothers survived. Joe Romero spent 42 months as a prisoner of war, mostly doing hard labor in a lead and zinc mine, but also serving on “burial duty,” his daughter, Ana Marie Gonzales, said. “My dad said there was nothing more beautiful than seeing the flag when he was liberated,” Gonzales said. Gonzales said she doesn’t know whether her father ever received his service medals.

So to ensure her father received the recognition he deserved, she undertook the tedious process of having his medals reissued. “It’s taken me 40 years of trying to obtain these medals, always coming to a dead end,” she said. With the help of New Mexico Department of Veterans Services Cabinet Secretary Jack Fox, Romero finally received his medals.

Romero worked for many years at Levine’s Department Store in Albuquerque, where he now lives with Gonzales. He turned 97 on Tuesday. In a 2012 Journal story on Bataan Death March survivors, Romero spoke of the feeling of liberation. “I was one of the happiest men in the whole world,” he said, “because I had freedom.”

Article from the Military Times

Monday, September 25, 2017

Oldest living West Point grad dies at 105

The oldest living West Point graduate passed away four months after returning to the academy to participate in its alumni review, nearly 85 years after he graduated. Retired Lt. Gen. William Ely, who was the only remaining grad from the Class of 1933, died on Tuesday at his home in Delray Beach, Florida, according to a West Point Association of Graduates spokeswoman. In the photo at right: Lt Gen Robert Caslen, Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, joins retired Lt Gen William Ely, Ely's son Bill, and Command Sergeant Major Timothy Guden during a wreath laying ceremony on May 23 on West Point, N.Y. (photo by Sgt Vito Bryant, US Army).

Ely, who was 105, will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., said Kim McDermott, the association’s director of communications. He will be buried with his wife, Helen, who died in 2014. Originally from Pennsylvania, Ely was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers after graduating from West Point in 1933. His assignments included civil works construction, military construction and troop duty with an engineer unit.

In a May interview with Army Times, Ely said he started out on the Mississippi River learning how to build bridges and levees, but then his Army career took him out to the Pacific. “The most important job that I had was at Midway Island from 1938 to 1940, building an entrance channel into the harbor,” Ely said. “It was one of the most difficult bridging jobs the Corps of Engineers ever had. ... Here I was, a lieutenant in charge of about 300 or 400 civilians. It set the stage for my later assignments.”

The construction of the entrance channel paved the way for the Navy to build Naval Air Station Midway, roughly halfway between North America and Asia. Less than a year after the air station’s commissioning, the U.S. Navy would defeat Japanese forces at Midway in what many consider the pivotal naval battle of World War II.

Ely’s decorations include the Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star, according to the Defense Department. He was honored during West Point’s alumni review on May 23, where he laid a wreath at the academy’s Thayer Statue near the parade field in a ceremony leading up to graduation. Ely told Army Times before the ceremony that it was going to be a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Article from the Army Times

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Former Special Forces medic to receive MOH for mission long kept secret

If he hadn’t wanted to avoid the Marine Corps so badly, retired Capt. Gary Michael ”Mike” Rose might never have been on the secret 1970 operation that earned him the military’s highest award for valor. On Sept. 11, 1970, a few minutes into the helicopter ride from his southeastern Vietnam base, then-Spc. Rose knew that they weren’t in Vietnam anymore. “You get on a helicopter and you fly for 45 minutes, an hour west — when you know by helicopter the border’s only five minutes away — you know you’re in Laos,” Rose told Army Times in an Aug. 28 phone interview. ”It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.” What followed was Operation Tailwind, a four-day battle in support of the Royal Lao Army, creating a diversion aimed at North Vietnamese Army troops.

But Rose didn’t know that at the time, he said, because the mission was classified, and it would remain that way until the late ‘90s. Most of what he knows about those days, he added, he learned after 1998, when a joint report by CNN and Time magazine — which was later discredited — discussed the operation publicly for the first time. Now, almost 50 years after the battle and nearly a decade since his unit’s actions were brought out of the dark, the White House announced Wednesday that Rose would receive the Medal of Honor in an Oct. 23 ceremony.

Southern California native Rose, then 20, walked into an Army recruiter’s office in early 1967, he said, with a particular goal. The draft board had been pulling numbers left and right in the Los Angeles area, sending pretty much all of those young men to the sea services, he recalled. “I was in the North Hollywood draft board region,” he said. ”I knew that they were drafting into the Marine Corps and the Navy, and those were not my two choices.” His father had been drafted into the Marines during World War II, he said, and ”he suggested that you don’t want to be a draftee in the Marine Corps.”

Rather than roll the dice, Rose decided to volunteer for the Army and head off to Fort Ord, California, to learn how to be a grunt. Thanks to high aptitude test scores, jump school and Special Forces training followed, and by October 1968, he was a Special Forces medic. He re-enlisted for the chance to pick where he wanted to go, settling on supporting the 46th Special Forces Company in Thailand, where they were training local soldiers and border police. I thought, ‘Thailand, that sounds like a pretty good, exotic place to go.’ Which, in my mind now, as I look back, was really good experience,” he said. “It made me better prepared for when I went to Vietnam.”

After a year, he called up his assignment coordinator — a woman known as Mrs. Alexander — and told her he was ready for Vietnam. She placed him with the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group, 5th Special Forces Group, based in Kontum. Rose earned his first Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with ”V” device during a June 1970 mission, but in general spent his time tending to local Vietnamese and providing back-up for others’ missions.

In mid-September, he got a second mission briefing. “In those days — and I’m sure it’s true today — you’re only told what you need to know to be able to prepare and go out and do your job on that mission,” he said. “So I was told that we were going to an area to create a diversion for another operation that was going on.” What he did realize, though, was that it was going to be ugly. “I noted that all the guys that I was going with, including [allied fighters from the indigenous Vietnamese] Montagnards, were loading up with a lot more ammunition than they normally did,” he said. “I’m fairly intelligent, and I deduced that if you normally go in with 200 rounds and you’re going in with four, something’s probably going to be up.”

Once they crossed the border, he said, he can vividly remember the popcorn-popping sound of rounds hitting the helicopter. According to the battle narrative, Rose and a company-sized element were dropped 70 kilometers into NVA-controlled Laos. Casualties came quickly. “One of the wounded was trapped outside the company defensive perimeter,” the narrative reads. “Sgt. Rose, engaging the enemy, rushed to get the wounded Soldier. Sgt. Rose rendered expert medical treatment and stabilized the wounded Soldier, and carried the man through the heavy gunfire back to the company defensive area.”

The company pushed deeper into Laos, and Rose treated each casualty along the way. “The fire becoming so intense, Sgt. Rose had to crawl from position to position to treat the wounded,” according to the narrative. ”As he moved, Sgt. Rose gave words of encouragement and directed the fires of the inexperienced and terrified Vietnamese and Montagnard troops.” He was first wounded on Sept. 12, day two. A rocket-propelled grenade exploded as he was dragging a wounded soldier, spraying shrapnel into his back and leg and crippling his foot. He used a stick as a crutch for the next two days.

“I suspect what was going through my head was trying to take care of the wounded,” Rose said. “We were just busy. I had two that were split from the hip to the knee, down to the femur. I made sure they were breathing, no shock, then stop the bleeding.” At one point, a medevac tried to land to take away the wounded, but enemy fire was so intense that it had to back off. But it quickly succumbed to damage, crashing a few miles away, where the crew were safely recovered. “I wasn’t frantic,” Rose said. “By the time I got there, I’d been three years in the Army, and I’d been trained, trained, trained, trained.”

With over half of the company wounded, Rose lashed together bamboo to make litters. “Despite his own painful and debilitating wounds, Sgt. Rose never took time to eat, rest, or care for his own wounds while caring for his fellow Soldiers,” the narrative said. On the last night, with the company surrounded, Rose dug trenches and moved from casualty to casualty to treat wounds. The next morning, they learned that 500 North Vietnamese were closing in on their position, and helicopters were on the way to extract them.

“The NVA, close on the heels of the company at the landing zone, causing even more casualties among the allied personnel,” the narrative reads. “Sgt. Rose moved under the intense enemy fire of the assaulting NVA, completely exposing himself, to retrieve the allied dead and wounded, and return them to the company defensive perimeter.” He boarded the last helicopter out, but before settling in for the trip home, treated the wounds of the helicopter’s Marine door gunner, who had taken fire during the extraction.

Minutes later, the helicopter crashed, smoking and leaking fuel. “Sgt. Rose, knowing the helicopter could explode at any moment, worked quickly while ignoring his own injuries, to pull wounded and unconscious men from the wreckage, saving lives,” according to the narrative. ”Moving the wounded and unconscious men a safe distance away from the smoldering wreckage, Sgt. Rose continued to professionally administer medical treatment to the injured personnel.”

A second helicopter came to retrieve them, but Rose doesn’t remember getting on it, he said. “When you sit down and you start talking about these things, you cause people to have little memories, vignettes, little visions,” Rose said. “The one thing that we’re all agreed upon is that starting with the crash, none of us were operating on all cylinders. It’s such a blur.” All told, according to the battle narrative, only three men died during the four-day onslaught.

Back to work. Rose’s memory picks up again back at Doc To, he said, where he grabbed a shower and a change of clothes before seeing a surgeon to get the shrapnel removed from his foot. Then he had some chow and a couple beers, took a picture for posterity, and debriefed with the group’s intelligence shop before sacking out. “I got up the next morning, put my uniform on and went back to the dispensary,” he said.

Soon after, he was meant to go to the field, but his platoon leader held him back. “I said, ‘Why, sir?” Rose recalled. “And he said, because you’re being put in for an award and we don’t want you in the field right now.” He didn’t know at the time, but he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. It was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross, which he received in January 1971.

Three months later, he was back home and at the Army’s Spanish language school in Washington, D.C., preparing for a tour with 8th Special Forces Group in Panama. It was at that point, he said, that he decided to go to Officer Candidate School, because extending his contract with the Army would allow him to bring his new wife, Margaret, with him to Central America. Rose became an artillery officer in December 1972, where he spent the last 15 of his 20 years in the Army. After retiring in 1987, he moved on to the manufacturing industry, where he wrote manuals and designed training programs, settling in Huntsville, Alabama.

In the meantime, his time in Laos, which had been dubbed Operation Tailwind, became front page news. In 1998, a joint venture by CNN and Time described the mission as a raid on a Laotian village to kill American defectors holed up there, and alleged U.S. troops used sarin gas on civilians. The Defense Department pushed back on the claims and CNN retracted the story. But in the aftermath, soldiers who had been a part of the now-declassified mission began pushing for recognition of their brothers’ heroism.

In 2013, he said, Rose got a call from retired Col. Eugene McCarley, who’d been company commander back in 1971. He said a guy named Neil Thorne, who worked with veterans of the MACV-SOG, wanted to put in a packet to upgrade his DSC. “He worked on it for over four years,” Rose said. “Every time he would call for information, I would give it to him.” Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved the award, and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-South Carolina, and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, wrote Rose’s name into the National Defense Authorization Act, waiving the requirement that the Medal of Honor be awarded within five years of the designated action. It was the same piece of legislation that opened the door to the Medal of Honor for former Spec. Jim McCloughan, who received his award on July 31, more than 48 years after the fact.

On Aug. 3, Rose finally got his own call. Rose picked up the phone that afternoon to a voice that asked him to hold for the president of the United States. “Margaret tells me I immediately came to attention, my feet at a 40-degree angle, my fist curled to my palm. My thumbs went along the seam of my trousers,” he said. ”And she said the only thing that was missing was a uniform and being in a formation some place.”

Rose has asked that not only his fellow MACV-SOG veterans be included in his ceremony, but that the White House reaches out to the Marines and Air Force personnel who supported the mission, particularly the A-1E Skyraider and AH-1 Cobra pilots who were there. “To me, this medal is a collective medal, and it honors all those men who fought. A lot of them were injured and killed in that operation,” he said. “It represents the fact that North Vietnamese Army troops were tied up along the Ho Chi Minh Trail because of what we were doing in Laos and Cambodia.” “I’m confident, without those 50,000 troops down in the south, that the names on that [Vietnam memorial] wall – instead of being 58,000 might be 100,000 or more,” he added.

Article from the Army Times

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chapter Meeting Notes - 19 August 2017

2018 SFA Convention – El Paso: Chair, Brian Kanof; Co-Chair Bill Snider. Dates are 12-17 June, 2018. Convention Theme is “Mexican Americans in Special Forces”. It will be a 5-night conference with events beginning on Wednesday. SFA 80, VFW 812 and the 82nd Airborne chapter will assist. Brian has asked the members to seek sponsorships. Committee is meeting before the general meetings at 1200 every month. All committee Sub-Chairmen have been selected – A roster was emailed to all on the roster. Headquaters (HQ) Hotel is the Camino Real – they are currently doing a makeover and have been renamed “Hotel Paso del Norte”. They should be 100% finished before the convention. Full registration is set at $150 early (By 1 March 2018) and $165 late. Vendor tables are $150 for each table for the week. More details are forthcoming. Our link to the 2018 SFA Convention for general and hotel information and registering is:

Blazers: The new source for Blazers are selling them for $79-$119. You need to order the pocket patch from National – listed in the DROP. Go to this link:

Counter Insurgency Writing Contest - USASMA: Greg Brown announced the contest. Named after COL “Splash” Frances J. Kelly. His 5th Parachute jump was a water jump – thus the nickname. He served as Commander of the 1st Group. Tom M. announced that a book is being donated for us to raffle. More info to follow. Honorary Members to Associate: Our first attempt at upgrading membership is stalled. Cliff does not seem to remember the details of the meeting with Bill and the Membership Committee is looking at feasibility of Honorary time counting toward Associate Membership.

US Border Patrol Special Operations Group Law Enforcement Technology and Equipment Expo 2018: Pete and Steve have begun work on the next Expo, to be held on 1-2 May 2018. This is our largest annual fundraiser. website is:

VFW Post 812 News: Commander Pete Peral - hey wait just one dang minute,...isn't he the SFA Chapter President too?   Oh yeah, now he gets double the discounts at the PX.  Anyway, meetings are held the 1st Saturday’s 1000 hrs. 1st Sunday of every month is a fish fry from 1100-1400. Bar is open every evening. Fun Food Friday is held each Friday evening. Bill Snider presented a motion for the VFW to feed all SFA Chapter senior citizens Monday through Friday, in an obvious attempt to get free food during the week, but was voted down as Chapter members saw through his pathetic attempt.  Friday 8 September the VFW hosted the annual remembrance for September 11, 2001.

82nd News: Benavidez-Patterson All Airborne Chapter: Chairman Jesus Bravo. Meeting is 4th Saturday’s, lunch 1200 hours and meeting 1300 hours. Bar is open every Friday and Saturday from 1700 till whenever. Airborne Day Celebration – 12 August, Saturday – 1100 till 1600. Yard Sale 14 & 15 OCT. Donations accepted.

Chapter President's Message:

The golf tournament is over now we have to start looking at the next event which should be the Christmas food boxes. Then we’ll start all over with the 2018 events with the concentration on the convention. Thank you all for your great support and continued efforts. We don't have enough space to post pictures of all those who helped make the Golf Tourney a success, but the picture collage below is a representative example.

I want to share this from COL Gus:

The 12th Annual CSM John McLaughlin Golf Tournament was the best ever with almost 27 Teams. As you can see from Thomas' figures, YOU have cleared more Tournament Revenue than ever before. When I say You, I counted nearly 30 Chapter Members that sponsored Teams, Holes, brought in Donations and Gifts, Brought in Multiple Hole Sponsorships, and never stopped grinding until the Tournament was done. This overwhelming success happened due to your tremendous dedication to Chapter IX , and your terrific enthusiasm and hard work. With this in mind, we can easily conduct the May SOG Event, the June 2018 National Conference, and we can surely help VFW Post 812 with their Golf Tournament in Apr-May.

Please note that on Saturday, due to our Ladies efforts, we cleared more than $3K on our Mulligans, Raffle, Silent Auction, and Steve and Monica's Putting Contest. What a Terrific Team Effort!!!!! Also, note that virtually all our Prizes were donations secured by Chairman Pete Peral, Tom Brady, Tony Lara, Al Hobbs, Phil Sloniger, Brian Kanof, Ike and Gracie, Jerry Campos, and other great members.

Just Food for Thought, but Ike and I have discussed that if we begin planning now, perhaps we can bring more Corporate Partners aboard such as SWA for flight tickets, Sports Franchises for tickets, prizes, etc. All it takes is making our mind up to do these things, just like Al Hobbs makes the Wounded Warrior Tournament a great credit to our community.

Pete Peral
Chapter IX

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chaplains Corner - September 2017

Being On Time.

This past week, I kept getting my days mixed up. I was surprised at how easy it was to forget a lot of little things. I’ve wondered more than once what day it is. It seems that my typical day consists of rushing around town with my wife’s “honey do list”. This keep us moving through each day, fulfilling our obligations and keeping our needs satisfied. Sometimes it’s a circus in our households and life-styles. We all need to get off the world’s fast-track, and slow down so we can focus on our individual tasks one at a time. What makes what we do with our time, money, possessions, and relationships important, are our moral values, and our religious faith in God.

Take a good long look at the way you are living your life in this growing secular, atheistic and evil world. If you need help to get your life in order, go to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you live in this world now in preparation for living in heaven for eternity where God is in control and everything is perfect. There will be no concern about “what day is it.” I know I’m going to enjoy living in heaven forever with a loving God. See you there…

Love you all,
Chaplain John Szilvasy

Monday, September 11, 2017

North Korea's Unconventional Threat

North Korea's antique airplane could be its most dangerous weapon yet amid escalating tensions with the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may use a seemingly laughable, but key part of his arsenal, a old bi-plane, to infiltrate North Korea commandos or even a Weapon of Mass Destruction into South Korea as footage recently emerged of North Korea paratroopers jumping out of what seems to be two 70-year-old Antonov An-2 transport aircrafts. While the concept of Pyongyang using these Stalin-era planes seems far-fetched considering the nuclear weapons at its disposal, the aircrafts could be North Korea’s most deadly weapon.

The dated aircraft raises the concern that they could be used to transport a nuclear bomb to be dropped quite easily without triggering any radar at any specific target. According to several reports, the North Korean army has a fleet of 200 Antonov An-2 aircrafts. They were first “introduced” in 2015, but disregarded as obsolete by many. However, what makes them so dangerous is that they have an incredibly low radar profile, meaning they are difficult to track using conventional aircraft.

Antonov An-2 (NATO code name Colt) flies at such a slow speed and low altitude that modern surface-to-air missile systems would have a very hard time detecting and engaging them. The plane can carry 12 pasengers or paratropers up to 4,700 lbs and fly at a maximum speed of 160 miles per hour with a range of 525 miles allowing North Korea to fly deep into South Korea or launch from bases a considerable distance away from the demilitarized zone separating South and North Korea.

The aircraft, initially designed as a crop duster and utility transport, can land on short sections of a road that would make disembarking soldiers quite easy and sneaky. According to the BBC, the Antonov An-2 first flew in 1947 as the Soviet Union was rebuilding after the end of World War II. Aside from its remarkable short take-off and landing, it can basically fly backwards. “The reason the An-2 still flies is that there is really no other aircraft like it,” aviation writer Bernie Leighton, who has flown in an An-2 in Belarus, told the BCC. “If you need an aircraft that can carry 10 soldiers, people or goats, that can take off from anywhere and land anywhere ? it is either that or a helicopter.” The Soviet Union built more than 10,000 airplanes before it fell in 1991.

On 12 January 1968, a clandestine TACAN site (call sign: Lima Site 85/Phou Pha Ti) installed by the United States Air Force in Northern Laos for directing USAF warplanes flying from Thailand to Vietnam, was attacked by three North Vietnamese An-2s. Two An-2s fired on the outpost using machine guns and rockets while a third An-2 orbited overhead to survey the assault. An Air America Bell UH-1B, XW-PHF, resupplying the site chased the two attacking aircraft. By using an AK-47 the American crew (Ted Moore Captain, Glen Wood kicker) succeeded in shooting down one of the An-2s while the second aircraft was forced down by combined ground and air fire and crashed into a mountain. The surviving Antonov returned to its home base, Gia Lam, near Hanoi.

There are reports of Russian and fabrication firms from other countireiss modifying An-2 aircraft with composite materials, both lightening up the airframe for increased speed and decreasing the already small radar signature.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

General Mad Dog Mattis' Speech to West Point Cadets

General Mattis speaks to West Point graduates and this is how leaders speak. Very much different from the reaction to President Obama's speech last year when the class of 2016 was told that their most important responsibility would be climate change management. These soon to be second lieutenants who have trained and studied for four years to be combat leaders were not impressed with former President Obama, but they were very pleased this year with the Secretary of Defense remarks.

From Mad Dog Mattis, a speech that will never be shown on CNN or MSNBC. What the private said to the tank sergeant sums up what happens every day in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever our fighting forces deploy.

Here’s the speech, as prepared:

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: what a day…It is a great honor to be here today at West Point, one of the foundational keystones of our nation, and to join you on behalf of our commander-in-chief, President Trump, to pay his respects, and the respects of the American people, to the Military Academy’s class of 2017.

I would never have imagined when I joined the military at age 18 that I’d be standing here, nor can you anticipate where you’ll be many years from now.

By the time this class was in first grade classrooms in every state in our union, our country had been thrust into a war by maniacs who thought by hurting us they could scare us. Well we don’t scare, and nothing better represents America’s awesome determination to defend herself than this graduating class.

Every one of you could have opted out. You’d grown up seeing the war on ‘round-the-clock news. There was no draft. Colleges across this land would have moved heaven and earth to recruit you for schools that would never make such demands on you as West Point, starting with Beast Barracks, an aptly named introduction to the long gray line, creating American soldiers who are at their best when times are at their worst…

Today in honoring you graduates, in celebrating your achievements and giving thanks for your commitment, we can see clearly your role in our world.

You graduate the same week that saw the murder of 22 innocent young lives. Manchester’s tragic loss underscores the purpose for your years of study and training at this elite school.

For today you join the ranks of those whose mission it is to guard freedom and to protect the innocent from such terror.

We must never permit murderers to define our time or warp our sense of the normal.

This is not normal and each of you cadets graduating today are reinforcing our ranks, bringing fresh vigor, renewing our sense of urgency and enhancing the Army’s lethality needed to prove our enemies wrong. you will drive home a salient truth: that free men and women will volunteer to fight, ethically and fiercely, to defend our experiment that we call, simply, “America.”

You graduates, commissioned today, will carry the hopes of our country on your young shoulders.

You now join the ranks of an army at war. Volunteers all, we are so very proud of you, cadets, for taking the place you have earned in the unbroken line of patriots who have come before.

Your oath of office connects you to the line of soldiers stretching back to the founding of our country…and in the larger sense, it grows from ancient, even timeless roots, reflecting the tone and commitment of youth long ago who believed freedom is worth defending.

In terms of serving something larger than yourself, yours is the same oath that was taken by the young men of ancient Athens. They pledged to “fight for the ideals and sacred things of the city…to revere and obey the city’s laws and do [their] best to incite a like respect” in others, and to pass on their city-state as “far greater and more beautiful” than they had received it.

In that sense, it is fitting the cadet cover you wear today, for the last time, features the helmet of the greek goddess Athena, echoing respect of civic duty found in a democracy, and of a nation, in President Lincoln’s words, of the people, by the people, for the people.

After four years at West Point, you understand what it means to live up to an oath; you understand the commitment that comes with signing a blank check to the American people, payable with your life.

My fine young soldiers, a few miles northwest of Washington at Antietam battlefield cemetery is a statue of a Union soldier standing at rest, and overlooking his comrades’ graves. It is inscribed with the words, “not for themselves, but for their country.”

How simple that thought. So long as our nation breeds patriots like you, defenders who look past the hot political rhetoric of our day and rally to our flag, that Army tradition of serving our country will never die.

To a high and remarkable degree, the American people respect you. We in the Department of Defense recognize that there are a lot of passions running about in this country, as there ought to be in a vibrant republic.

But for those privileged to wear the cloth of our nation, to serve in the United States Army, you stand the ramparts, unapologetic, apolitical, defending our experiment in self-governance…you hold the line.

You hold the line…faithful to duty…confronting our nation’s foes with implacable will, knowing if there’s a hill to climb, waiting won’t make it smaller.

You hold the line…true to honor…living by a moral code regardless of who is watching, knowing that honor is what we give ourselves for a life of meaning.

You hold the line…loyal to country and Constitution, defending our fundamental freedoms, knowing from your challenging years here on the Hudson that loyalty only counts where there are a hundred reasons not to be.

Behind me, across Lusk Reservoir, stands a memorial dedicated to the American soldier. On it are inscribed the words: “the lives and destinies of valiant Americans are entrusted to your care and leadership.”

You have been sharpened through one of the finest educational opportunities in America, given to you by the American people via General Caslen’s superb faculty, who expect admirable leadership by example as soldier leaders.

My view of a great leader is the player-coach. We need coaches, men and women who know themselves, who take responsibility for themselves, coaching their soldiers to the top of their game.

Every soldier in your platoon will know your name the day you step in front of them.

Your responsibility is to know them. Learn their hopes and dreams. Teach them the difference between a mistake and a lack of discipline. If your troops make mistakes, look in the mirror and figure out how to coach them better.

And while we never tolerate a lack of discipline, we must not create a zero-defect environment, because that would suffocate initiative and aggressiveness, the two attributes most vital to battlefield success.

In leading soldiers, you will have what F. Scott Fitzgerald called, “riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.” So recognize you should never permit your passion for excellence to neutralize your compassion for the soldiers you serve, and who will follow you into harm’s way.

Remember that when the chips are down, it will be the spirits of your often rambunctious soldiers that will provide the reservoir of courage you will need to draw upon.

Rest assured that nothing you will face will be worse than Shiloh. Nothing can faze the U.S. Army when our soldiers believe in themselves.

The chips were down in the freezing cold days before Christmas, 1944, when the Nazi army was on the attack in the Ardennes.

A sergeant in a retreating tank spotted a fellow American digging a foxhole. The GI, Private First Class Martin, looked up and said to the sergeant in the tank, “are you looking for a safe place?”

“Yeah,” answered the tanker.

“Well, buddy,” the private said with a drawl, “just pull your vehicle behind me…I’m the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going.”

On the battlefield, no one wins on their own. Teams win battles, and if you can win the trust and affection of your soldiers, they will win all the battles for you.

If you wish to be a credit to our nation, you must carry West Point’s ethos everywhere you go and practice every day the integrity that builds your character.

When destiny taps you on the shoulder and thrusts you into a situation that’s tough beyond words…

…when you’re sick and you’ve been three days without sleep…

…when you’ve lost some of your beloved troops and the veneer of civilization wears thin, by having lived a disciplined life, you’ll be able to reach inside and find the strength your country is counting on.

You are privileged to be embarking on this journey. You will learn things about yourself that others will never know.

We can see the storm clouds gathering. Our enemies are watching. They are calculating and hoping America’s military will turn cynical. That we will lose our selfless spirit.

They hope our country no longer produces young people willing to shoulder the patriot’s burden, to willingly face danger and discomfort. By your commitment you will prove the enemy wrong.

We are not made of cotton candy.

You are a U.S. soldier, and you hold the line.

The class of 2017 now joins an Army that left bloody footprints at Valley Forge…an army that defeated the Nazis’ last gasp at Bastogne…

Your class will be remembered for an Army football team that took to the field of friendly strife and beat Navy…but you will also be remembered for the history you are about to write, and when you turn over your troops to their next commander, they will be as good or better than you received them.

I may not have had the pleasure of knowing each of you personally, but I have very high expectations of you…

Your country has very high expectations of you…

And we are confident you will not let us down because while we may not know you personally, we do know your character, West Point character.

So…fight for our ideals and sacred things …incite in others respect and love for our country and our fellow Americans…and leave this country greater and more beautiful than you inherited it, for that is the duty of every generation.

To the families here today, I can only say: apples don’t fall far from the tree. Thank you for the men and women you raised to become U.S. soldiers.

Thank you too, General Caslen and your team, who coached these members of the Long Gray Line. They will write the Army’s story, and in so doing will carry your spirits into our nation’s history.

For duty, for honor, for country…hold the line.

Congratulations, class of 2017, and may God bless America.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Green Beret Mental Preparation Tips

The U.S. Army Special Forces, commonly known as the Green Berets, are masters of warfare, fitness, endurance, and preparation. Like the U.S. Army Rangers, the U.S. Navy SEALS, or the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operation Raiders, the U.S. Army Special Forces are an elite force with a mission that includes everything from attacks against enemy forces deep behind enemy lines to training foreign military forces to working with allied partners on disaster relief. While the public is often enamored with the sleek weapons, high-tech equipment, stealthy night vision devices, and arduous physical fitness utilized by the Special Forces, their mental preparation techniques — which include breathing and imagery exercises, among other things — can actually be used by professionals at all levels and in all industries with overcoming their daily challenges.

Breathe slow, breathe deep, and clear your mind.

One of the most difficult tasks in the Special Forces to do well is running, skiing, or climbing and then having to shoot a rifle or pistol accurately. During training, it’s not uncommon to sprint 100 yards to the firing line, ready your weapon and then immediately shoot at a target. Obviously, a heaving chest and wobbly arms do not make for an accurate shot. Green Berets are taught to slow their breathing, take several deep breaths, and then clear their minds to focus on the sole task at hand: shooting accurately. This technique can be of great service in the professional world, too. Before talking on the phone with an angry customer, presenting at a conference, or pitching a new customer, try the following: (1) Pause, (2) Focus and slow your breathing, (3) Take several slow deep breathes, (4) Clear your mind, and (5) Focus 100% on the task at hand. This process takes only a few seconds, but endows you with extraordinary control to tackle a complex task with clear mind.

Slow, step-by-step mental rehearsals create mastery.

We all know about the importance of practice and rehearsals from sports, dance, gymnastics, theater, and public speaking. Special Forces rehearse nearly everything — shooting, parachuting, speaking foreign languages, assembling radios — because they know they will encounter situations when time, resources, and security don’t allow for full, complete, and resource intensive rehearsals. This is where mental rehearsals, process in which you clearly imagine what the absolute perfect completion of your task looks like, can be very helpful.

Let’s try one example: imagine the act of hitting a baseball. See yourself walking up to the plate, hearing the soft crunch of gravel under your cleats, faintly smelling the cut grass, and seeing the glint off the top of the catcher’s helmet. Then, you step into the batter’s box, secure your feet, bring the bat back, and glare back at the pitcher. Now you see the pitch — a heater — and whip the bat around for swing for a clean single over the second baseman’s head. This level of detailed imagery, rehearsed over and over in your head, is invaluable for using mental discipline to master complex tasks.

Do the best you can for the next five minutes.

The Green Berets use a grueling three-week assessment and selection process to find the candidates with the correct combination of physical fitness, motivation, and determination to attempt the Special Forces Qualification Course. All together, the Special Forces Selection course, the Qualification Course, language school, and survival school is a nearly two-year intense training session just to achieve the minimum level of proficiency to be considered deployable on a Special Forces “A” Team. During this training period, fear of the unknown, incredible physical pain, and wavering determination can begin to get to even the most motivated candidates.

Rather than worrying about the future, candidates are taught to do “the best you can for the next five minutes.” I remember one grueling hike, a 12-hour slog where we were forced to carry filled sandbags, where I found myself dehydrated, demoralized, and exhausted. Blocking out discouraging thoughts of the hours ahead, I focused on doing the best marching I could for the next five minutes. When those five minutes had passed, I focused on doing well for the next five minutes, and so on and so on. By concentrating only on short periods, I mastered my own exhaustion and ultimately finished the hike. Next time you’re faced with a seemingly impossible task, try focusing on doing the best you can for the next five minutes, then repeat until you cross the finish line.

Put your mind on autopilot.

To ensure the success of their mission and the safety of their team, Special Forces need to be constantly in the present, even in the most trying situations. The best way to do this is to “switch” your mind to autopilot, focusing intently on the present and only the present. Don’t be concerned with what happened in the past or what the future could bring — you must live exclusively in the present. Focus on your surroundings, doing your job well, helping your team, and let go of everything you can’t control. Going on autopilot will help you succeed, regardless of the nature of the challenge in front of you.

Act and look relaxed — even if you don’t feel it.

One of the best ways to manage your own stress is to make sure you project an image of personal calm, serenity, and relaxation, even if you’re tangling with a really difficult situation. The mere act of looking relaxed, confident, and in command of the situation actually helps you control and reduce your stress level. This ability to look relaxed under the most stressful conditions is basically an Olympic contest between Special Forces members and those in other parts of the Special Operations Community. I once watched a U.S. Army Special Operations helicopter pilot fly through mountain valleys of Colorado at night — an extremely harrowing experience — with the same expression he probably had driving his truck to the grocery store. Remember, just the image of control helps relieve stress and injects you with a belief of your actual level of command of a situation.

Each day in our world brings its own trying situations, everything from household chores to work-related tasks. Learning and utilizing these techniques can help you conquer any challenge — whether it’s a speech to an important investor group or a trip with the kids to the shoe store — like a Green Beret would.

Article written by Chad Storlie, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel (Special Forces), and currently a marketing executive and an adjunct professor of marketing at Creighton University. He is the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Follow Chad Storlie on Twitter @combattocorp. This article was posted on Task and Purpose

Friday, September 1, 2017

Destroying Veteran's Memorials

Unless you have been hiding under the couch you likely haven't missed the masked, snot nosed antifa haters who want to change America's history by destroying every mention and monument related to the Confederacy and the famous veteran's who fought faithfully and gallantly for the Southern cause. The high value target for these dung eating protesters are the statutes and memorials of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. But what is sad is that these destroyers know nothing about the man nor history.

The anti-confederate destruction just did not materialize overnight. It was just given a boost by the hatred of the violent left of President Trump. In fact, Jim Dean, managing editor of Veterans Today, wrote this in 2011: "The anti-Confederate smear campaign is becoming recognized for what it always was, a political campaign to denigrate Southern heritage. The ignorance of this was on the scale of your left arm not liking your right arm and then beginning a process of eventual amputation. But this would include a period of cigarette burning and razor slashing to get the process rolling."

And while these anti-military, anti-America punks want Confederate statutes destroyed, they say nothing of the five statutes of the murderous Vladimir Lenin located across the United States.

President William McKinley, on 14 December 1898 gave a speech in which he said in part "every soldier’s grave made during our unfortunate civil war is a tribute to American valor… And the time has now come… when in the spirit of fraternity we should share in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers…The cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act and if it needed further justification it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just passed by the sons and grandsons of those heroic dead.”

McKinley's speech led to later legislation, in the Congressional Act of 9 March 1906 becoming Public Law - "Authorized the furnishing of headstones for the graves of Confederates who died, primarily in Union prison camps and were buried in Federal cemeteries." This act formally reaffirmed Confederate soldiers as military combatants with legal standing. It granted recognition to deceased Confederate soldiers commensurate with the status of deceased Union soldiers. Robert E. Lee (b. 19 January 1807, d. 12 October 1870) was married to George Washington's granddaughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis. He served with future General (and war nemesis) and President U.S. Grant during the Mexican-American war where he was credited with several victories gained from his battlefield reconnaissance of Mexican positions finding avenues of attack for the U.S. Army. He was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec.

Lee was also very torn about the prospect of the South leaving the Union. His wife's grandfather George Washington was a huge influence on him. Lee and the Confederate States broke away from the Union not because of the slavery issue, but because of an increasingly powerful federal government contrary to the what the founding fathers envisioned for these united States. He believed that ultimately, states rights trumped the federal government and chose to lead the Southern army. He believed slavery was a great evil and his wife broke the law by teaching slaves to read and write. The fact that Lee was not credited with speaking out about slavery, is not key, since soldiers and especially Generals, even back then were supposed to be apolitical. After the Civil War he worked with Andrew Johnson's program of reconstruction. He became very popular with the northern states and the Barracks at West Point were named in his honor in 1962.

General Lee was a great man who served this country his entire life in some form or other. His memorials are now being called a blight. No American military veteran should be treated as such. People keep yelling, "You can't change history." Sadly you can. This is no better than book burnings. The Islamic extremist-terrorist group ISIS tried rewriting history by destroying historical artifacts. Is that really who we want to emulate? As they tear down this "blight" keep these few historical facts in your mind. No military veteran and highly decorated war hero should ever be treated as such. This is not Iraq and that is not a statue of Saddam Hussein.

Lee's estate, Arlington, near Washington DC, was his home and while away fighting the war, the federal government demanded that Lee himself pay his taxes in person (so they could capture him no doubt). He sent his wife but the money was not accepted from a woman. When he could not pay the taxes, the government began burying dead Union soldiers on his land. Then the U.S Government confiscated the property. In 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arlington had been taken without due process and ordered it returned to the Lee family. Robert E. Lee's son Curtis Lee sold it back to the U.S. Government where it became what is known as now,... Arlington National Cemetery, and the government is still burying people there today. I wonder if the confederate haters knew this they would want Arlington National Cemetery destroyed.....just like ISIS did to cemeteries of World War II allied soldiers buried in North Africa.

So, I'll leave you with a little lighter tone,....