Thursday, June 22, 2017

Defense Secretary Mattis explains what war with North Korea would look like

This is an article from Business Insider, published on 16 June 2017.

Asked on Thursday by Rep. Tim Ryan of the House Appropriations Committee to explain why the US doesn't just go to war to stop North Korea from developing the capability to hit the US, Secretary of Defense James Mattis painted a grim scenario. "I would suggest that we will win," Mattis said. "It will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we've seen since 1953. "It will involve the massive shelling of an ally's capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth," Mattis said of Seoul, South Korea, which boasts a metro-area population of 25 million. "It would be a war that fundamentally we don't want," Mattis said, but "we would win at great cost."

Mattis explained that because the threat from North Korea loomed so large and a military confrontation would destroy so much, he, President Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had all made a peaceful solution a top priority. Mattis said the topic of North Korea dominated Trump's meeting in April with President Xi Jinping of China, North Korea's only ally, and that the US intended to make China understand that "North Korea today is a strategic burden, not a strategic asset."

China argues it has limited influence on Pyongyang, but as one expert explained, Beijing could at any moment cripple North Korea through trade means, forcing it to come to the negotiating table.

Mattis made clear that the US was nearing the end of its rope in dealing with North Korea, saying: "We're exhausting all possible diplomatic efforts in this regard." North Korea recently taunted Trump by saying it was capable of hitting New York with a nuclear missile, but Mattis said a war today would hurt our Asian allies. "It would be a serious, a catastrophic war, especially for innocent people in some of our allied countries, to include Japan most likely," Mattis said.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chapter Meeting Notes_20 May 2017

2017 1st Group Reunion, El Paso: Ike Camacho – Chair. Committee – Gus, Chuy, Duke, Steve, Leo, Ricky, Benjie and Bill. Dates were 5-10 June 2017 and has been concluded by the posting of this Chapter Newsletter. Convention was by all accounts a huge success. Stats will be reported at the June meeting and in next month’s newsletter. CSM Tony Labrec, the current 1st SFG(A) CSM attended and made a presentation to the attendees. Picture at Left, L to R standing - Joe Lee, Ike Camacho, Tom Melgares. Seated L to R - Steve and Monica Franzoni, Martha and Gus Gonzales.   

2017 SFA National Convention, Fayetteville, NC: Fourteen (14) SFA Chapter 9 members and spouses attended, also concluded by the time this newsletter is posted. Billy Waugh is the Keynote Speaker and SGM Randy Krueger had his planned retirement during the middle of the Convention. Chapter reps made the presentation for the 2018 SFA National Convention/Conference that we are hosting.

Jerry Rainey Scholarship: Greg Brown is Chairman. 36 Scholarship applications were distributed and 10 packets were received for review and selection which is on-going at the time of this newsletter being posted. Presentations of 3 x $1000 scholarships will be made at the August Meeting.

John McLaughlin Annual Memorial Golf Tournament: Scheduled at Fort Bliss Underwood Golf Course for 9 September. Committee members are Gus, Al, Ike and Leo. Most of the teams are already signed up. Tournament Committee Meetings will be announced - likely by email. In August, we will meet every week. Sign sponsorships now!

2018 SFA Convention – El Paso: Chair is Brian Kanof; Co-Chair Bill Snider. Dates are set for 12-17 June, 2018. Convention Theme is “Mexican American Green Berets”. It will be a 5-night conference with events beginning on Wednesday. SFA 80 and the 82nd Airborne chapter will assist. Brian has asked the members to seek sponsorships. Committee is meeting before the general meetings at 1130 from July forward. All committee Sub-Chairmen have been selected – A roster was emailed to all on the roster. HQ Hotel is the Camino Real but they are doing a makeover and wil be re-named “Hotel Paso Del Norte”. Registration is set at $150 early (By 1 March 2018) and $165 late – sign-up has already began will begin through the website:

SF Room at the VFW: Chair is Tom Brady, Committee members are Leo, Brian, Chuck and Al. Plaques and contents have been put up. Chapter will decide deceased Member plaque format soon.

US Border Patrol SOG Law Enforcement Equipment and Technology Expo: Our major fundraiser was held on 2-4 May, 2017. Vote to put 10% of annual Expo profits into Rainey Scholarship – passed. 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.

Parkland High School JROTC: Phil presented a plaque for their continued support in our Christmas Food Drive. See photo at right.

SFA Blazers: Jake announced that the Florida Blazer company is not selling green blazers. National sent us a different vendor, and they are pretty fast. You need to log on $79-$119. You need to order the pocket patch from National – listed in the DROP.

Snail Mail Roster: Jesse Rodriguez volunteered to call the snail mail folks each time we have a short fuse event.

Historian/Quartermaster Expenses: Jerry made a pitch for up to $200 monthly expenses, as needed, for binders and photography costs – vote passed. He will provide receipts. He also wants a locker for the Shirts and paraphernalia. Final Expenses Planning: Bill attended a seminar for final expenses and funeral planning. He and John discussed the importance of preparations and we will try to organize a seminar for the military organizations in the area. All we need is to guarantee 10 attendees – a meal is provided. More info later.

Announcements for the Good of the Order: VFW 812 Auxiliary - Bill Snider joined the group this month, likely looking for dates,.....this is a step up from Snider trolling for transvestites in downtown El Paso on Friday nights.

Native American MOH: Chuy announced that El Paso Community College is doing a monument for all recipients.

Current SFA Chapter IX Officers:  L to R:  Bill Snider, Secretary; Pete Peral, President; Steve Franzoni, Vice-President; Tom Melgares, Treasure; John Szilvasy, Chaplain. 

Chapter President's Message:

Well the 2017 SFA convention kicked off this past Monday (12th) and we already have 14 people registered for the 2018 El Paso SFA convention. I want to thank Brian and all of the Chapter 9 members who are attending convention and kicking off the 2018 convention. It looks to be a great event. The USASMA graduation is on June 23 but I don’t have all the details for those that are able to attend. Chapter 9 is presenting a check to the winner of the COL Kelly Counter Insurgency Writing award. We’ll meet COL Kelly’s family for a grip and grin on the 23rd at 1800 at the VFW. I know some of you served with COL Kelly so I’m sure the family is looking forward to hearing some stories.

The Registration for 2018 SFA Convention that Chapter IX will host is up and running. See

Lastly, the golf tournament is September 9th so please look for sponsors.

Pete Peral
President SFA Chapter IX

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SFA Chapter IX host the 2018 Special Forces Association National Convention

The 2018 Special Forces Association National Convention is scheduled for 12-17 June 2018 in El Paso, Texas. The theme for this convention is the "Mexican - American Green Beret". SFA Chapter LXXX from nearby Las Cruces is assisting Chapter IX.

While the final schedule is still being worked, several events are planned including: a Golf Outing at Butterfield Trail Golf Course; Steak Dinner at Cattleman's Indian Cliff Ranch; War Eagles Museum Tour with free OH-58 rides and Free Fall (sport) Parachuting is available at individual's cost; special showing of the "Green Berets" at historic Plaza Theatre; General Membership Meeting and catered Mexican lunch; Green Beret night at the El Paso Chihuahua's AAA Baseball game (tentative based on the Chihuahua's 2018 schedule); a field trip to Viet Nam War Memorial; and the Convention Banquet at El Paso Convention Center.

The 2018 Convention website is up an running for registration and information. Full Registration is $150 until 1 March 2018 when full registration will increase to $165.00

Stay tuned to the SFA 2018 National Convention website for updated information including hotel information which we are still negotiating.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Special Forces - A Unique National Asset - the Book

COL Mark Boyatt (SF, ret) has written a book titled, "Special Forces - A Unique National Asset, Through, With and By". Available in hardback and paperback from Outskirts Press and also available on Amazon. Colonel Boyatt’s new book is an insider’s guide to the U.S. military’s Green Beret Special Forces—who they are, what they do, and what their role is in unconventional warfare. Special Forces—A Unique National Asset has been published by Outskirts Press. The term “special forces” is often misused by well-meaning but ill-informed people, including the news media, pundits, and even those in the military. The Army’s Green Berets are the only Special Forces in the United States military and represent the most adaptable and specialized organization in the nation’s arsenal. And their exploits hold a special fascination for the American public.

This book also defines “unconventional warfare.” Boyatt makes the case that unconventional warfare is the prime mission of Special Forces and may be a U.S.-supported and conceivably inspired insurgency or revolution. UW is total warfare for the indigenous population, who must use every means at their disposal to effect regime change, whether they are a tyrannical government or an occupying power. The Green Berets’ adopted motto, “De Oppresso Liber,” which is Latin for “to free the oppressed,” is a call to duty unique to this elite military force.

While attending the Army War College, Colonel Boyatt authored a paper that originated and defined the term “through, with and by,” which is now codified in military doctrine and is the subtitle of his book. It describes the manner in which Special Forces meet the military and political objectives of the United States, working “through, with and by” other people, such as indigenous populations, rebels and revolutionaries, the oppressed and persecuted, displaced persons and refugees. Special Forces accomplishes this unique work by living with, training with, fighting alongside and even, at times, leading these groups.

A couple of the many positive reviews include:

"An excellent book about all you wanted to know about Special Forces. Should be issued to every Green Beret and made part of his or her professional library. Much of what Mark writes is now doctrine. A superb read. Sid Shachnow, Major General, US Army (Retired), Special Forces."

"The most definitive book about Special Forces I have ever read since joining SF in 1962. It discusses in detail the past, future, and probable demands on Special Forces. It points out clearly the important differences in SF and Special Operations Forces (SOF) and SOF is not a viable substitute for SF. The fantasy and folly of US nation building is all so clearly compared vs the SF through,with,and by Operational Concept that has proven to be very successfully used by the SF in South and Central America. It is the book to be used by planners to examine the US failures in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the Middle East. Should be required reading at all Military schools, General Officers, DOD Executives and Operations Planners at the national level. A one of a kind book. Major General (Retired) Jim Guest US Army Special Forces."

Mark D. Boyatt, US Army Special Forces Colonel Retired, was the Distinguished Honor Graduate of his Special Forces Officers Qualification class and earned the Green Beret. He served as the commander of three different Special Forces Operational Detachments "A" in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He commanded the first Special Forces Mobile Training Team to then North Yemen in 1979. From December 1984-May 1987 he served as the operations officer (S-3), 5th SFGA, then in the U.S. Army Special Operations Agency in the Pentagon until 1989. In 1989 he assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group forward deployed on Okinawa, Japan. From 1993-1994, he was the Chief of Staff of the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS). Subsequently, from 1994-1996, Boyatt was the commander, 3rd Special Forces Group and commanded the Army Special Operations Task Force during Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti 1994-1995. He served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, G-3, for the United States Army Special Operations Command from 1996-1998 and then as the deputy commander and assistant commandant USAJFKSWCS from April 1998 until his retirement in January 2000.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Senator Mark Green No Longer Army Secretary Nominee

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R), President Trump's former nominee for Army secretary said he withdrew his name from consideration last month because he was blackballed by a senator, whom he declined to name, promised to use a procedural “blackball” to prevent Green’s nomination from moving to a vote. The Tennessee Star reported.

Green said he chose to withdraw his name from the nomination process because he believed the hold placed on his nomination could have remained in place for months or longer, leaving the Army without its top civilian post and delaying important policy-making decisions. “The thought that the president would not have his chosen appointee on the ground leading the Army and that our soldiers would be left without a secretary who could advocate for them and secure the resources they need to do their jobs safely and successfully, shifted the process from being about the needs of the Army to being about me,” Green told the Star.

Green graduated from U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1986. From 1987 through 1990, Green served as an infantry officer in the United States Army. His first duty assignment following graduation from the US Army Ranger School was with the 194th Armored Brigade at Fort Knox. There he served as a rifle platoon leader, scout platoon leader and battalion adjutant for an Infantry Battalion. Following the Infantry Officer's Advance Course, then Captain Green served with the 82nd Airborne Division as a rifle company commander and in the Batalion Battle Staff.

Following a traumatic event where his father's life was saved by a team of surgeons and critical care doctors, Green requested the US Army send him to medical school. He attended Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and did his residency in emergency medicine at Fort Hood, Texas. After his residency Dr. Green was selected to serve as the Flight surgeon for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (The Night Stalkers).

What is little known about Mark Green is that he was the special operations flight surgeon during Operation Red Dawn, the military operation that captured Saddam Hussein. Green sat with Hussein for the first 24 hours of his capture, and interrogated him for six hours. Following his military service, he authored a book, titled A Night With Saddam, detailing the capture of Hussein and the medical care Green administered. Green's awards and ecorations include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Achievement Medal, the Air Medal, the Ranger Tab, Combat Medical Badge, Parachutists Badge, Air Assault Badge and the Flight Surgeon Badge.

What led to the former Army Ranger and Special Operations Physician medic withdrawing his name from consideration for secretary in early May was fierce opposition from Democrats and advocacy groups over allegations of derogatory comments about the LGBT (homosexuals and gender changers) community and opinions on other issues.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Green Berets Complete Fallen Brother’s Promise to His Step-Daughter

SSgt Mark De Alencar promised his step-daughter Octavia Osborne that he would be back from his deployment in time for her graduation from Niceville High School. Unfortunately, he was killed before he could fulfill that promise. But the Green Berets of De Alencar’s 7th Special Forces Group made sure that promise was handled.

De Alencar had asked the 17 year old to look after her mother and younger siblings until he got home. “He told me he’d be back in time for my graduation from Niceville High School. He promised.” remembered Octavia.

But his brothers-in-arms from the 7th weren’t about to let this young lady down. An Army care team asked her mother if there would be room for some representatives of the group to attend her graduation. “How many?” asked Natasha, Octavia’s mom. “About 80.” was the Army’s response. WHOA! The reality of that many of her father’s friends didn’t really sink in for her.

“It dawned on me here and there that they were going to be there, but it didn’t really hit me until I got to the graduation and saw all those men sitting there in the stands.” Octavia recounted. The contingent from the 7th Group included not only the Green Berets in their dress uniforms, but many of their spouses and children as well. When Natasha and her mother, Yolanda Thornton, arrived at the stadium, Octavia’s special cheering section was already in place.

“They were saving seats for us!” Natasha said, her voice still filled with amazement at the memory. “I was overwhelmed. Everyone who was there had taken time out of their busy lives because they knew we had that void we were missing. They just wanted to let us know that they had our back.”

The men did more than just save seats or show up…they were there for meaningful support.

“I thought since they were servicemen, they’d be really quiet and just kind of be there. But when my name was called and you heard this uproar from the stadium, it caught me off guard. I didn’t know if I should be embarrassed, starstruck or what. But it was really like an exciting rush.” Octavia said.

This young lady worked hard to make excellent grades so that she wouldn’t let her parents down. But having her very own cheering section full of Green Berets in full dress uniform -plus families- is something she will remember the rest of her life. Best Wishes, Octavia!

Article from the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

RIP Howard Hart, Legendary Spook

Howard Hart, legendary figure in CIA clandestine service, dies at 76. Howard P. Hart, a daring CIA operative who ran the agency’s clandestine program arming Afghan fighters against Soviet forces in the early 1980s, died April 30 at his home in Dyke, Va., a community north of Charlottesville. The cause was liver cancer, said his wife, Jean Hart.

Mr. Hart’s career placed him at the center of some of the most dramatic and dangerous events of his era in espionage. He was injured in Iran during the Islamic overthrow of the government and took part in the doomed U.S. commando mission to rescue American hostages. Later, he led the CIA’s foray into the Reagan-era war on drugs with a pioneering agency branch that teamed analysts with overseas operatives.

He was best known for his role in overseeing secret arms shipments to Afghan militants through a covert CIA program aimed at ousting Soviet forces that occupied the country to prop up its Marxist government. The shipments, routed through Pakistan, escalated through the 1980s, ultimately forcing the wounded superpower to abandon Afghanistan. “I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: ‘Go kill Soviet soldiers,’ ” Mr. Hart recalled years later, in characteristically gleeful terms, from a 2005 speech at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. “Imagine! I loved it.”

Mr. Hart, who retired from the CIA in 1991, stood 6 feet 2 inches tall with a shock of blond hair that ultimately turned white. His personality was equally imposing, making him a dominating — and at times resented — presence in his overseas assignments as well as at CIA headquarters. In 1997, on the CIA’s 50th anniversary, the agency named Mr. Hart to the equivalent of its espionage dream team, putting his name on a list of 50 “trailblazers” who had shaped its history.

His penchant for finding himself at the center of historic events began well before he joined the CIA. Howard Phillips Hart was born Oct. 16, 1940, in St. Louis, and spent much of his childhood abroad for his father’s career with the First National City Bank of New York (now Citibank). The family was living in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded during World War II, and the Harts were held with other Allied civilians in an internment camp. In 1945, as Japan faced defeat, the camp commander made plans to begin executing prisoners and ordered adult men to begin digging trenches, an outcome that was averted when the camp was liberated by airborne troops under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

One of Mr. Hart’s earliest memories was of being carried to safety under the arm of a U.S. paratrooper, said in a 2005 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “Don’t worry kid,” the soldier told him. “You’re going home.” Mr. Hart regarded that rescue as a debt to the United States that he would devote his life to repaying. “A life for a life,” he said.

After the war, his family returned to the Philippines, where Mr. Hart was surrounded by school-age children whose fathers had waged guerrilla war against the Japanese. Their childhood games were built around insurgency scenarios, playacting that served as rehearsal for the role that Mr. Hart would play years later in Pakistan.

Mr. Hart received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Oriental studies and political science at the University of Arizona. He also learned to speak Hindi and Urdu. He thought about enlisting in the Marine Corps before an encounter with a CIA recruiter. By 1968 he was on his first overseas assignment in Delhi, where his supervisor was another ambitious officer, Clair E. George. “My first impression was that he was a wonderful, glad-handing extrovert,” George later said of the recruit. “Howard knew what to do.”

In 1979, Mr. Hart was based in Tehran as riots against the American-backed shah erupted in revolution. Thousands of Americans were evacuated, including Mr. Hart’s first wife and their two sons. Mr. Hart was among five CIA officers who stayed, and he served as station chief. Among his missions was to help CIA informants, including agents from the shah’s brutal secret police and intelligence service, get out of the country. One night, after delivering alias documents and cash to a particularly valuable CIA asset, Mr. Hart was stopped at a checkpoint, pulled out of his vehicle and beaten.

By his own account, Mr. Hart produced a CIA-issued Browning 9mm pistol and killed two checkpoint guards. He never reported the incident, saying that he feared adverse consequences to his career. The story emerged years later when he sought disability payments for lingering health problems that he attributed to the injuries he sustained that night.

Back at CIA headquarters, Mr. Hart helped to plan the doomed 1980 Special Operations mission to rescue American hostages held at the U.S. Embassy after Ayatollah Khomeini took power. He was among those on the scene when U.S. helicopters caught in a sandstorm crashed in a staging area miles from Tehran. A year later, Mr. Hart was tapped as the CIA’s top officer in Islamabad at a time when that station served as the nerve center for a covert program shipping arms to Islamic rebels operating out of training camps in Pakistan — networks that would later give rise to militant groups including the al-Qaeda terrorism network.

Mr. Hart figures prominently in George Crile III’s book “Charlie Wilson’s War,” about the flamboyant Texas congressman and the covert CIA arms program in Afghanistan, as well as “Ghost Wars,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the U.S. conflict with al-Qaeda by journalist Steve Coll. Coll portrayed Mr. Hart as a rugged operative who thrived in the lawless environment along the Afghan border. One scene depicts Mr. Hart standing alone “in Peshawar’s cold, smoky night air. He was a tall, bespectacled American shuffling his feet on a darkened road in an arid frontier city teeming with Afghan refugees, rebel fighters, smugglers, money changers, poets, proselytizers, prostitutes, and intriguers of every additional stripe.”

Mr. Hart led the effort until 1984. After his departure, the arms shipments escalated dramatically and included Stinger missiles used to shoot down Soviet helicopters. By then, Hart had moved on to serve as station chief in Germany before returning to CIA headquarters, where the adventurer always seemed less in his element. For his final assignment, in 1989, Mr. Hart was put in charge of the Counternarcotics Center, an early experiment in fusing operators with analysts in the hope that forcing those two wary sides of the agency to collaborate would help gain traction on critical issues. The approach has been replicated across the agency.

His first marriage, to Susan Newburg, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 29 years, the former Jean Brown, who also worked for the CIA; two sons from his first marriage, Colin Hart of Arlington, Va., and Guy Hart of San Diego; a brother; and 10 grandchildren. Mr. Hart spent much of his retirement at a mountainside home with sweeping views of the Piedmont. Inside, the walls of his home were covered with an extensive collection of historic firearms and photos from his postings overseas. Much of that martial collection will be donated to the Virginia War Memorial Museum in Richmond and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. He wrote a memoir, titled “A Life for A Life.”

Article from the Washington Post

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - Know This

Memorial day is time to recognize the sacrifice of American patriots who gave their lives to defend our American freedoms. This Memorial Day we honor them and remember that those lives were lost in a struggle dedicated to the eternal truths of freedom. Our country was founded on that spirit, and Americans have nurtured it through every war in every era.

While many communities lay claim to the origin of Memorial Day, it was the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Organization of Union Veterans, who officially declared May 5th as Decoration Day. It was proclaimed as a day for citizens to place flowers on the graves of Civil War dead. The nation’s first large observance was held that year in 1868, just three years after the Civil War ended, at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC.

By the end of the 19th century, Decoration Day ceremonies were held across the country on May 30. It was not until after World War I that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. Then, in 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a National Holiday.

Many Americans confuse the significance of Memorial Day compared to Veterans Day and the recently celebrated Armed forces day.

• Veterans Day pays tribute to every veteran who has served our nation.

• Armed forces Day recognizes those who are serving in the military today.

• Memorial Day is different. On this day the 148th Anniversary of this day we specially recognize the sacrifices of those who paid the cost of our freedoms with their lives in defense of this Great Nation.

Starting with the American Revolution, to the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert shield / Storm, Operation Iraqi freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan America’s military forces have built a tradition of honorable and faithful service.

Our Nation has been blessed with times of peace and prosperity. From September 11, 2001 to June 2014 (12 years) we have been a Nation at war and continue to be a Nation under attack by Terrorists. Therefore, this year’s Memorial Day has special meaning for the love ones of all those Service Members from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard who were killed in combat since 2001.

As we remember those who have most recently giving their lives in serving our Great Nation, we must also remember the hundreds of thousands who have gone before them. It is interesting to note that America’s war dead will not only be remembered today in the United States, but also at gatherings around the world. One overseas ceremony is in Cambridge, England. What makes this event amazing is that the United Kingdom doesn’t officially have a Memorial Day it has Remembrance Day in November. However, whenever Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States, hundreds of English citizens faithfully attend an Annual American Memorial Day Service at the Cambridge American Cemetery. They go there to honor the more than 3,800 Americans who are buried there on land donated by Cambridge University in 1944. The site is one of 24 permanent American Military Cemeteries on foreign soil such as Aisne-Marne, Brittany, Epinal, Lorraine, Meuse-Argone in Normandy, Oise-Aisne, Rhone, Saint Mihiel, Somme and Suresnes American Cemeteries in France, Henry Chapelle, Ardenes and Flanders Field American Cemeteries in Belgium, Florence, and Sicily Rome American Cemeteries in Italy, Luxemburg American Cemetery in Luxemburg, Mexico City American Cemetery in Mexico, Netherlands American Cemetery in the Netherlands, Corozal American Cemetery in Panama, Manila American Cemetery in Philippines, North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia, Brookwood and Cambridge American Cemeteries in England.

The graves at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery are mostly filled with the remains of those Army Air forces men who flew bombers from the English countryside to the European mainland. Dedicated in 1956 by President Eisenhower, the Cambridge American Military Cemetery features a Chapel, reflecting pools and the Tablets of the missing, where the names and particulars of more than 5,100 Soldiers, Sailors and Marines are etched. Of the missing 3,524 are from the Army and Army Air Corps, 1,371 from the Navy, 201 from the Coast Guard and 30 from the Marine Corps.

President Eisenhower said “the Americans whose names are on the Tablets of the Missing were part of the price that free men were forced to pay to defend human liberty and rights”. He also stated: “All who shall hereafter live in freedom will be here reminded that to these men and their comrades we owe a debt to be paid with grateful remembrance of their sacrifice and high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live eternally”.

Please this May 30, 2017 stand with us and remember and honor all those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and their families.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chaplain's Corner - May 2017

When the going gets rough, who do you go to get help to get through your rough times. Some of you turn to your family for starters, then you go to your friends if they live near and they are available to help you. Finally, when you are through your hard times and you say to yourself, “I hope that kind of trouble doesn’t come around again for a long, long, time.”

What do you do when your sense of being overwhelmed and your difficulties, come roaring over you in a big bundle? So fast and so many that you just want to give up and let then take you wherever they want, and you end up getting smashed into little pieces. Then you fall to the ground in total despair and turn to drugs or alcohol as your escapes from your personal hell.

You are fortunate if you have a Christian family and friends who can help you when you go to them for help in solving the problems that are slowly overwhelming you before its too late. As your loving Christian Chaplain, my advice is to urge you to give God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit a chance to help you save your life and to live it till you die in a healthy and restored relationship with God.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Love you all,
Chaplain John Szilvasy

Monday, May 22, 2017

The 'Legion of Brothers' that routed the Taliban

The documentary feature film "Legion of Brothers" tells the stories of the handful of US Special Forces soldiers who, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, went into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and within a matter of weeks overthrew the Taliban regime. In the public's mind, Special Forces are often confused with the "door kickers" of Special Operations Forces -- such as SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force -- who are the United States' elite counterterrorism operators. In fact, the primary mission of Special Forces, in particular the Army's Green Berets, who are profiled in the film, is to work "by, with and through" local forces on the ground to act as force multipliers. That means that Special Forces embed with local forces and work with them to achieve their common goals.

The Green Berets of US Special Forces 5th Group -- known as "the Legion" -- who led the anti-Taliban campaign represent a textbook case of a successful Special Forces campaign. Five weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a 12-man Green Beret team led by Capt. Mark Nutsch was dropped into Afghanistan where they attached themselves to the army of the Uzbek warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. Riding horses into battle -- in a scene that could have played out during the American Civil War -- Nutsch and his team helped lead Dostom's forces to victory against the Taliban forces in the north of Afghanistan. Together, they rode into the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on November 10 where they were greeted as liberators.

Meanwhile, in southern Afghanistan, Capt. Jason Amerine and his 12-man Green Beret team linked up with an obscure Afghan diplomat named Hamid Karzai. In mid-November 2001, as they moved toward the city of Kandahar, the Taliban's de facto capital in southern Afghanistan, Amerine's team called in airstrikes against advancing Taliban units and more or less obliterated a Taliban column of a thousand men that had been dispatched from Kandahar. It was the Taliban's final play to remain in power. The Taliban surrendered Kandahar on December 5 and the same day, Karzai was appointed to be the next leader of Afghanistan. Few saw then that the United States would still be fighting wars of various kinds a decade and a half later, not only in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq and Syria.

Special Forces continue to play a key role in these wars, in part, because there is no demand signal today from the American public to send large conventional armies into the greater Middle East to fight wars against ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban. This means American involvement in the wars in these countries must be conducted "by, with and through" the local forces on the ground, such as the Afghan army, Iraqi military and Syrian militias allied to the States. And that means a large role for US Special Forces, whose specialty is working with those local forces.

But this raises some serious questions about how much the American public is asking from its Special Forces, who are facing repeated deployments. In "Legion of Brothers," Scott Neil, a Green Beret who was part of a sniper team in Afghanistan in the months after 9/11, explains: "You used to go into a VFW and you had one guy who had one tour. You were like 'Oh, wow.' You hear one guy had two tours. You're like 'Oh, he's a little crazy.' Somebody had three tours -- they're out of their minds. And what you see now is people have five, seven, nine, 10 tours. And they're still going."

This not only puts pressure on Special Forces but also, of course, puts much strain on their families. As Nutsch's wife, Amy, a special needs teacher and mother of four, puts it: "I've had some trying times at home, but managed to get through it. And then I yell at him later, going, 'This is what I have to deal with'." There are no easy answers for how to reduce the pressures on the force and families in an era when there is a great demand for the skills that Special Forces bring to the battlefield.

Special Operations Command -- first under Adm. Eric Olson and then under Adm. Bill McRaven, the architect of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden -- put in place polices that emphasized more predictable deployments, allowing for more predictable blocks of time for servicemen to be with their families. They also started providing more support services for servicemen and their families.

Story from CNN

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chapter Meeting Notes - 15 April 2017

Chapter Treasurer: Tom Melgares volunteered for the position.

SFA Dues Increase: Dues have increased slightly for 2017. Life membership is still a good deal at $440 (current Member) $475 (Not current). It is $320 for members age 65 and over. Annual renewal = $40, New Member dues = $50. Reinstatement = $45 - Annual Members who did not pay in January are now late.

2017 1st Group Reunion, El Paso: Ike Camacho is the Chair. Committee members are Gus, Chuy, Duke, Steve, Leo, Jerry and Bill. Dates are 5-10 June 2017. The Chase Suites has rooms for $69, registration is now $140 (Hospitality Room only $50). Banquet will be at the Marriott. Billy Waugh will attend. Committee meets 2nd Saturday’s at noon at the VFW. Duke Armendariz is Hospitality Chair again. Coins will be in this week.

2018 SFA Convention – El Paso: Chair is Brian Kanof; Committee members are Bill, China Boy, Roy, Steve, Catherine from the city and lots more. Dates are set for 12-17 June, 2018. Convention Theme is “Mexican American Green Beret’s”. It will be a 5-night conference with events beginning on Wednesday. SFA 80 and the 82nd Airborne chapter will assist. Brian has asked the members to seek sponsorships now. Committee is meeting before the general meetings at 1130. All committee Sub-Chairmen have been selected – A roster was emailed to all on the roster. The Camino Real Hotel is doing a makeover (to be re-named Paso Del Norte Hotel) and will be finished about the time of the reunion. We are looking at that as a HQ Hotel.

2017 SFA National Convention, Fayetteville, NC: The HQ Hotel rooms are already filled. The Holiday Inn across the street seems to be the best bet – they are sold out for Friday and Saturday. Many of the 2018 Committee will attend to promote our convention.

SF Room at the VFW: Chair Tom Brady, Committee Leo, Brian, Chuck and Al. Plaques and contents have been put up. Chapter will decide deceased Member plaque format soon.

John McLaughlin Memorial Golf Tournament: Scheduled at Fort Bliss for 9 September 2017. Committee members are Gus, Al, Ike, Leo. Half of the teams are already signed up. Meetings will be announced, likely by email. In August we will begin to meet every week.

SOG Expo: Our major fundraiser was held on 2-4 May, 2017. Another great success, finances are being finalized.

Bataan Death March, Waterpoint 7 Support: This was an SFA Chapter 80 led project with various SFA Chapter 9 Members supporting. SFA 80 presented a thank you plaque to us at the April meeting. USASMA also thanked us for sponsoring their team.

Jerry Rainey Scholarship: Greg Brown is the Chairman. Applications are being accepted – need transcripts thru current semester – Mid June deadline.

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. More info to follow.

Parkland HS JROTC: Tom M said he cannot attend their awards on 25 May 2017 and Phil is filling in to present their thank you for helping with Christmas Food Drive.

SFA Building Fund Raffle Tickets: Each paid Member should have received a book and is asked to sell the tickets and turn-in the money and stubs to SFA 9 Treasurer. Bill received 10 extra books to pass out at the May meeting for the Honorary Members and those who want an extra book. Remember, Chapter 9 gets part of the proceeds so sell, sell, sell!

Final Expenses Planning: Bill attended a seminar for final expenses and funeral planning. He and John discussed the importance of preparations and we will try to organize a seminar for the military organizations in the area. All we need is to guarantee 10 attendees – a meal is provided. More info later.

VFW 812 Installation: Pete Peral was installed as Commander in May, suceding SFA Chapter 9 honorary member Al Hobbs.

Korean War MIA: Roy announced an event honoring MIA.

Lone Star Purple Heart: Tom M. announced their Installation of Officers. This is the oldest Purple Heart Chapter in Texas.

82nd Airborne Association Carnival: Bill announced the dates and locations and asked our members to support it.

Blazers: Jake announced that the Florida Blazer company is temporarily not selling green blazers – but he will keep us up to date.

Chapter President's Message:

April was a busy month for us. Between supporting the VFW golf tournament and the SOG expo we had a full month. I want to thank all who supported the SOG expo. As Bill stated, the EXPO is our big fund raiser and we did VERY well. There were 109 vendors and I received numerous e-mails thanking the Chapter for all their help on the day of the show. For those who have not been to a Law Enforcement expo, they charge for EVERYTHING. If you want power, you pay, if you want help, you pay, if you want anything other than the space you pay so these folks who travel from all parts of the country are very grateful for the support that you provide. I’ll brief more at the meeting.

We are working the short and final for the 2018 convention but need help. Brian is the Chair so get with him on what you can do to support. We have to brief the final (or as close to final as possible) at the June 2017 SFA convention so we don’t have a lot of time. The 2018 convention is a 5 day event with hard events going on every day. There will be a lot of moving parts and everything has to be tied together; transportation, the venue, comms, publications/announcements, etc. For those who are coming from out of town, get with Brian with what you can help with. If you are going to the 2017 convention AND representing the chapter, the chapter will assist with $250.00 to help offset the cost. Also, make your hotel reservation and register for the convention itself so they have a better head count. Like always, mucho thanks to each and every one of you.

Pete Peral,
President SFA Chapter IX

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

USAF Pilot Vietnam MIA Laid to Rest

Thundering jets above Colorado Springs Tuesday morning bid a final farewell to a native son who went missing 48 years ago on a mission to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Picture at right: Airman 1st Class Michael Alvarez presents Carol Helwig with an American flag flown in honor of her husband CAPT Roger D. Helwig at the memorial Pavilion at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Tuesday, 9 May 2017. Family and other members of the community attended the memorial service for Helwig who was listed as Killed In Action during the Vietnam War. Photo by Dougal Brownlie of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

It was a sound that Capt. Roger Helwig loved. Helwig, who was born in Trinidad and raised in Colorado Springs, was a free spirit known for meticulous honesty oddly melded with a wild streak that drove him to seek adventure in the sky. "He was a tremendous guy," said retired Maj. Jack Schnurr, a flight school friend, after an Air Force Academy memorial for the captain.

Helwig loved the F-4 Phantom and new bride Carol in what some joking called equal measures when he flew off for his second tour in Vietnam in 1969. "He didn't have to be there," Schnurr said. "He volunteered to go back." On his first tour overseas, Helwig flew in the second seat of the F-4, running the plane's weapons systems and electronics as a GIB, the military acronym for "guy in back."

After he came home, Helwig got more flight training and headed back to war as the guy in front. He was a forward air controller, one of the legendary "fast-FACs" who ranged far and wide over Southeast Asia spotting targets for troops on the ground. During his final flight, Helwig and Capt. Roger Stearns were 10 miles west of Vietnam on a mission to stop the flow of arms and troops that fueled the Viet Cong insurgency. Flights against targets in neutral Laos, though, were something the Air Force avoided discussing in public.

Records say the two had just bombed a target, and the jet was trailing a mist of fuel before it exploded. Searchers later found shredded parachutes and the remains of a life raft, but they didn't find Helwig or Stearns.

In 1990, a Defense Department team returned to the crash site and found Stearns' remains. Helwig stayed missing until last summer.

His widow got a visit from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in August. Searchers had found a tiny talisman at the jungle site: Helwig's dog tag. "It was surreal when I held that in the palm of my hand," Carol said Tuesday. "It was as if I was reliving the past."

Dozens gathered at the academy Tuesday to relive the past with her and tell stories about the 26-year-old pilot. Lt. Col. Mike Newton, a chaplain, told mourners they need to remember Helwig's courage. "I have no idea what it took to fly 100 missions in Vietnam, each one of them harrowing," Newton said. "But he strapped it on every time."

Carol remembered the kind but kind of crazy young man she met when he was riding his motorcycle from Arizona to Washington, D.C. She knew she was competing with a twin-engined jet for Helwig's affection. "He loved flying," she said.

Helwig left no children to mourn him, but a wide array of friends came to the Air Force Academy cemetery to remember. The academy supplied an honor guard, rifle team and a bugler to play taps. Air Combat Command offered up four F-15 Eagle fighters to blaze overhead in the missing man formation.

Carol supplied her own touch. Bells played a last waltz for the man she loved - the theme song of Doctor Zhivago, the first film they had seen together. And as the bells played, quiet voices whispered the song's tale of love long lost but reclaimed. "Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing. Although the snow covers the hope of spring."

Article from The Gazette, Colorado Springs

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Navy SEAL killed in Somalia operation against al-Shabaab

The Pentagon on Saturday named the navy Seal who was killed in Somalia on Friday. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, a native of Falmouth, Maine, was 38 years old.

In a statement, the defense department said Milliken had been killed “during an operation against al-Shabaab … in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu … in support of a Somali National Army-led operation with US Africa Command”.

On Friday, US Africa Command said two service members had also been wounded in the operation, in which US troops came under fire after US aircraft delivered Somali forces to the target area. The identities and assignments of the wounded service members were not immediately released. Milliken had been “assigned to an east coast-based special warfare unit”, the Pentagon said.

Milliken is the first US serviceman to die in Somalia since 1993, when American soldiers fought militia groups in the capital city, a story retold in a book and a film, both titled Black Hawk Down.

A source based in Mogadishu told Reuters Friday’s operation had been against an al-Shabaab commander near the Shabelle river. There were no Somali casualties, the source said.

The White House and Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, have mounted a new offensive against al-Shabaab, an Islamist group allied with al-Qaida and based in the African country.

Last month, the US said it was sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment there in about two decades. In recent years, the US has sent a small number of special operations forces and counter-terrorism advisers to Somalia and conducted a number of airstrikes.

Aid community sources in Somalia, which is facing severe drought, have expressed concern over the likely effects of increased operations.

“Increased belligerence from some international and national actors is not going to help us,” Peter de Clercq, the United Nations’ deputy special representative of the secretary-general in Somalia, told the Guardian last month.

“If things deteriorate as a result of military effort, that will be manmade. We have argued very strongly that this is not the time for military action.”

Milliken is the second navy Seal to die in an operation mounted under the Trump presidency. In January, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens was killed during a raid on a suspected al-Qaida base in Yemen. More than 20 civilians were killed in the raid, including an eight-year-old girl who held US citizenship.

Article from The Guardian, 6 May 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Navy pilot’s take: The Air Force doesn’t have a pilot crisis, it has a leadership crisis

The United States Air Force is facing a crisis, seemingly a recent one, which will define the service for decades to come.

This “Dear Boss” letter is instructive for describing exactly why so many pilots are choosing not to stay in the Air Force, and are instead leaving to go to the airlines. There is a deep lack of faith in leadership at all levels of the Air Force, but especially at the Squadron Commander and above levels, and, from within, it seems that the organization is promoting toxic managers (not leaders) who are not promoted on their merits, but instead on how well they toe the party line.

Complaints range, but highlights are; a lack of accountability, protection of the deficient leaders at all costs, overemphasis on promotion versus performance, and too much “queep” (an Air Force term for paperwork). There is no single root cause for pilots bailing out in such large numbers, and the issue contains much more nuance than simple bad leadership, but there is a glaring problem that is a significant contributor, and helps illuminate the distinct lack of Air Force leadership: In the USAF pilots are not provided the opportunity for meaningful leader development. I will explain.

First, I need to lend some context. While I am a naval aviator, I have spent as much time with the Air Force as I have the Navy. I went to Air Force pilot training, known as UPT, I spent my operational tour in the only navy unit on Andersen Air Force base, and I am even married to an Air Force Officer, which gives me a slightly more in-depth view of the flying branch, and has allowed me to juxtapose some of my experiences against those of my Air Force compatriots. In the Air Force, junior officers, majors, and even higher ranking officers are pilots and only pilots. The Air Force values tactical and technical expertise, and therefore the center of an Air Force pilot’s world until he or she, with rare exception, is put in command of a squadron honing the skill of employing their weapon system. The Navy, however, out of necessity does things very differently.

To explain, let me summarize some of my experiences as an operational junior officer.

After my third deployment, I had come home and been put into the role Search and Rescue Officer. This was my “ground job,” one of many collateral duties assigned to every pilot. As SAR-O I was responsible for writing policy, maintaining pilot currencies, tracking missions launched and lives saved, and ensuring that all of my roughly 75 rescue swimmers were receiving the right training and qualifications, were on career progression, had all of their various paperwork in-order, and that their personal lives were copacetic enough for them to continue flying.

To do all this required daily interaction with pilots, enlisted aircrew, maintenance personnel, and every other office in the squadron. While this was not my first leadership role, (on my first deployment, only a few weeks in the squadron I was put in charge of some 30 maintenance personnel) I still made many mistakes, and to keep me on track I had a senior enlisted Master Chief, and several Petty Officers. My Master Chief had been in nearly 30 years, and mentored me, kept me out of trouble, and in a few instances gave stern and needed course corrections. I carried the lessons, both my mistakes and triumphs, into every consecutive leadership role, and forward to this day.

As you can see, Navy flying squadrons are structured differently from those of the Air Force. Everything that is needed to function away from home on deployment is included within maintenance, admin, etc, because of the shipboard environment. While this system is imperfect, it allows for leader development for its pilots from day one.

In the Air Force, pilots do none of this. Leadership, like strategic thought, is not something that can be taught in a short Command and Staff course, or a few weeks of Squadron Officer’s School. Leadership is a continuous development process that requires making mistakes, and assuming increased responsibility over a long period of time, and it cannot occur by “just doing what the last guy did.”

The first time most Air Force pilots are in real leadership roles, they are usually assuming command of a squadron, where instead of simple tactical proficiency being what matters, it is now leading and managing people that is crucial, a skill they have not had time to hone in the same way they have employing their weapon system. The Air Force does not have a pilot crisis, it has a leader development crisis, one in which leaders are not enabled to succeed because they are never given the tools to do so. You can’t learn leadership by osmosis or entirely from a book, you learn it through experience.

To be fair, this answer may be unsatisfying to most Air Force personnel, because there is no easy fix, as current career tracks are well worn, and squadron composition is unlikely to change any time soon. The argument also does not address many of the cultural problems within the organization, notably that the only means to the highest levels of command is by being a pilot, which constitute a minority of personnel. It does not address the fact that expecting every leader to be Robin Olds is not a recipe for success. And it does not fix the queep.

But to begin fixing a problem, you have to be honest about the realities of the problem you face. The Navy also has its share of issues. In fact, my alma mater is one of the most fraught squadrons in the whole fleet, proving that not all leaders in the Navy are good. We also have a pilot shortage, albeit a less severe one, much of which derives from fatigue in pilots and aircraft due to significantly longer and more frequent deployments. However, at the end of the day, the fundamental mechanics and experiences that make an effective military leader can be found in the career of a Navy pilot, from day one. To build trust in leadership you have to have leaders who understand what it means to lead, not just to fly and fight.

Written by Jack McCain and published on Foreign Policy. Lieutenant Jack McCain, U.S. Navy, is a helicopter pilot with operational experience in Guam, Japan, Brunei, the Persian Gulf, and the Western Pacific. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is currently assigned as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy. The opinions he expresses in this article are his own and represent no U.S. government or Department of Defense positions.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Philippine Army Fights Islamic Extremists

The Philippine military says troops backed by aircraft have captured a jungle camp belonging to an extremist band allied with the Islamic State group and killed several militants in the country' south. Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said an army general raised the Philippine flag Monday 24 April 2017 in the camp of the Maute armed group near Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur province a few hours after troops occupied the rebel base.

Herrera said at least three bodies of militants were recovered by troops in the camp, which had tents, bunkers and trenches, although intelligence indicated as many as 36 militants were killed in three days of intense fighting. Three soldiers were wounded. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp.

Abu Sayyaf, is the most violent jihadist groups in the southern Philippines. Its name means "bearer of the sword" and it is notorious for kidnapping for ransom, and for attacks on civilians and the army. While Abu Sayyaf was part of the Moro National Liberation Front, but left in 1991 because Abu Sayyaf became radicalized with Islamist doctrine as it's founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani - an Islamic preacher, fought in the Soviet-Afghan war where became acquainted with al-Qai'da founder Osama Bin Laden and been inspired by him. Al-Qai'da provided Abu Sayyaf with funding and training when it was initially set up.

While Abu Sayyaf also split into factions in 2006 or 2007, factions remain not fully opposed to each other. The group is though to have an estimated 400 members and, since 2014, several of its factions have declared their allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group. There has been a recent phenomenon around the waters surrounding the Philippines with Islamic extremist pirates replicating the Somalian pirate operational routine disrupting shipping and conducting kidnappings for ransom.

Abu Sayyaf has long had ties to prominent Indonesian Islamic militant groups like Mujahidin Indonesia Timur and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Several JI members involved in the Bali bombings found shelter with Abu Sayyaf after fleeing Indonesia. There is also evidence it has links to jihadist groups in the Middle East. Recently the body of a Moroccan bomb expert, Mohammad Khattab, was discovered following a battle between the group and the Philippine army.

In 2002, fighting Abu Sayyaf became a mission of the American military's Operation Enduring Freedom and part of the Global War on Terrorism. Several hundred United States soldiers are also stationed in the area to mainly train local forces in counter terror and counter guerrilla operations, but, as a status of forces agreement and under Philippine law, they are not allowed to engage in direct combat.