Wednesday, October 26, 2016

National Day of the Deployed - October 26th

October 26 is annually designated as National Day of the Deployed. National Day of the Deployed honors all of the brave men and woman who have been deployed, are sacrificing, or have sacrificed their lives to defend our country. The day also acknowledges their families who are separated from them during deployment and the sacrifices they make in order for their family members to serve our country. Since 2012, all 50 states observe National Day of the Deployed. 

As the threat environment has grown globally since 9/11, the Green Berets continue to be called upon to meet the challenge. Currently, Green Berets are deployed in over 52 countries securing America’s strategic interests. The heavy deployment rotations have come at a price however, as Green Berets have sustained the highest casualty rate in the Special Operations community. Nevertheless, The United States Army Special Forces remain the most capable and effective fighting force that the world has ever seen.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Federal Court Strikes Blow Against Military Reservists

A high-level federal court on Friday delivered a blow to the rights of military reservists. The case involved a Navy reservist who claimed that his civilian employer fired him because he was mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan, a violation of federal laws designed to protect reservists from discrimination based on their military service. But Kevin Ziober lost his case before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that his pre-employment arbitration agreement prohibited him from suing his former employer.

And although the court ruled against Ziober, the judge appeared to urge Congress to consider changing or strengthening the 1994 law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA. “If we have erred by construing [USERRA] too narrowly, Congress will surely let us know,” Circuit Judge Paul J. Watford wrote in a concurring opinion released Friday.

The USERRA law requires employers to allow reservists to return to their civilian jobs after periods of active-duty service. Ziober testified before Congress in June, describing his experience and the need to strengthen the law.

Ziober was a Navy lieutenant in 2012 when he was working for a California real estate management company, BLB Resources. He was fired on his last day of work before deploying to Afghanistan. The company said he was fired for reasons unrelated to his military service. However, when Ziober started working for BLB Resources, he signed an contract agreeing to resolve outside of court any future legal disputes with his employer. Such arbitration agreements typically bar employeees from filing lawsuits.

Ziober tried to file a lawsuit in federal court after he was fired. It alleged discrimination in violation of USERRA. But that lawsuit failed when a district-level federal court said the arbitration agreement stripped Ziober of his right to sue under USERRA.

Ziober’s attorney suggested the ruling could harm military recruiting and retention, and ultimately impact military readiness. “USERRA is there to protect the rights of service members and veterans, and without USERRA rights, and enforcement of those rights, [National] Guard and reserve members can’t do their duty with the confidence they need that they can get back to their jobs and put food on the table for their families,” said Peter Romer-Friedman, a Washington attorney who has represented numerous reservists with USERRA claims. “Court decisions take away USEERRA rights, they weaken our armed forces, they make us less safe and less secure.”

The appellate judge acknowledged that Ziober made a strong case. But the USERRA law does not specifically include language stating a power to legally supersede arbitration agreements. “With reasonable arguments to be made on both sides, I don’t think it’s prudent for us to [reverse] the district court’s ruling, particularly given the ease with which Congress can fix this problem,” Wagner wrote. “If we and other circuits have misinterpreted the scope of [USERRA] Congress can amend the statute to make clear that it does render pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate USERRA claims – unenforceable.”

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, has proposed a law that would eliminate any ambiguity in the USERRA law and state explicitly that service members cannot be blocked from the court system by arbitration agreements. Ziober remains in the Navy reserve and is now has a federal civilian job in California.

Article from Military

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Army wants to field better Jungle Boots in 2017

Say it isn't so!! The Army wants to get rid of our old friend, the steel soled Jungle Boot!! The Army wants to get upgraded jungle boots to soldiers by March, according to a program manager at PEO Soldier. Soldiers have been enduring missions in the wet, humid Pacific with boots geared toward the hotter, drier environments of Iraq and Afghanistan. The result: soggy, heavy boots.

The Army has been testing new uniform designs over the past year and a half to help soldiers perform in tropical regions, and now officials say they want to take those designs to the field.

Col. Dean Hoffman IV, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment at PEO Soldier, said the Army can use the Soldier Enhancement program to find off-the-shelf solutions for equipment problems. "We focused on the Middle East a long time," Hoffman said, but now the focus is turning to tropical environments.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently visited the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, where he saw limited user evaluations on jungle uniforms and boots, Hoffman said at the Association of the United States Army conference.

Article from the Army Times

Monday, October 17, 2016

Chapter Meeting Notes - 17 September 2016

3rd Annual Joshua Mills Competition – Fort Bliss: SF Recruiters held the competition on 8-9 September. SFA 9 paid for a Bar-B-Que at the end of the competition, and supplied the funds for oranges and gator aid as usual. It was a big success, but next year we will not hold this the same week as the Golf Tournament. As studly as these young troops are, they do not hold a candle to Tony Beltran, see picture at right.

12th Annual John McLaughlin Memorial Golf Tournament (2017): Chairman is Al Hobbs. Location is Underwood Golf Course 9 September 2017. Final financials from the Sept 2016 tournament are not yet available. Could not have done it without support from many people including the Chapter IX ladies and the VFW Aux, see picture below.

2017 1st Group Reunion, El Paso: Ike Camacho is the Chairman. Committee members are Gus, Chuy, Duke, Steve, Leo, Jerry & Bill. Dates proposed are 5-10 June 2017. This will be the 3rd time we hosted the 1st Group. Chase Suites for $69, registration is $120 until 15 May, then it will be $140 (Hospitality Room only is $50). Banquet will be at the Marriott. Registration forms went out in August. Information was sent to the DROP.

2018 SFA Conference – El Paso: Chairman is Brian Kanof; Committee members are Tranny Bill, China Boy and Joe Kerwin Jr. The best date for the City seems to be between 11-17 June 2018; we may cut the days down to 5 or 6 from 7 in the past. SFA 80 will assist. Brian plans to reach out to some other military and Veteran groups for assistance. Brian will give us a meeting plan, but he asked the members to start seeking 5K sponsorships now. Committee is forming now. The Camino Real hotel is doing a makeover and will be finished about the time of the reunion. We are looking at that as a HQ Hotel.

Return to Devens Reunion: SFA 9 Member Gary Baura, now in Melbourne Florida ran this 10th SF return to Fort Devens event from 5-10 October, 2016. Emails coming in say it was a great success.

Massing of the Colors: Tom M mentioned that we need a Chapter Flag for events like this. Committee is looking into options – committee includes Tom, Jerry, Pablo and Hugo.

Christmas Food Drive: Tom Melgares, Chairman. Start scrounging food for the boxes. Packing day 14 December. Committee members are Pablo, Sam, Greg, Chuy and Al. Goal is 100 boxes this year. Need to find more schools to assist – Collins is closed.

SFA 9 Christmas Party: Trini and the VFW Post 812 Ladies Auxiliary will run it again this year. 10 December at VFW 812 reserved. More details coming soon.

Donations: Motion made by Brian: That all requests be submitted in writing in advance to Chapter Secretary via email and brought to the floor during the next general meeting for vote. In addition, there will always, at the discretion of the President, exceptions to be made during the meeting to accommodate emergencies and short term requirements. 13-7 Passed.

Public Address System: John asked if we could get a PA system. We will look at quotes.

USASMA Class 67: There are about a dozen SF guys in this class and they have already met with the Chapter. It should be a good year.

VFW Post 812 News: Commander Al Hobbs (see picture). Meeting is 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.

82nd News: Benavidez-Patterson All Airborne Chapter: Chairman Jesus Bravo. Meeting = 4th Saturday’s, lunch 1300 and meeting 1400. Bar is open every Friday and Saturday from 1500 till whenever.

Chapter President's Message: Welcome to October. Two more months and we’ll be in 2017 go figure. The next event will be the Christmas party to be held on 10 December at VFW Post 812. Trini and the Post want to take the lead on this year’s event so I’m sure it will be a great one. More to come but the event will be free to the Chapter 9 members and one guest. All other guest will be $10 as in past years. Along with the Christmas party we have the Christmas food drive as mentioned above. I encourage everyone to seek donation of non-perishable food items or go out and buy a case of canned food to help the cause. The schedule is to have the food brought to the VFW on 12-13 December (or on the 14th) and we’ll pack boxes on the 14th at 1800. Tom is the chair so if you want a box call or e-mail Tom Melgares. Phone 915-873-2183, or E-mail:


Pete Peral

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gag Order

This is a guest Chaplain's Article from Chaplain Vahan Sipantzi, SF Chaplain for many years and friend to SFA Chapter IX members Ike Camacho and China Boy Joe Lopez.


Shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter. a fisherman, preached to a large crowd in Jerusalem and 3000 of his audience became followers of Jesus. Later, he and his fellow disciple John were brought before the religious and political leaders of their day and told to shut up about Jesus. They were given what we’d call today “a gag order”. Talk all you want but, don’t talk about Jesus the Christ.

Things haven’t changed. Students are told not to talk about Jesus at commencement exercises. Chaplains are told not to mention His name in their prayers. The symbol of His sacrifice, the cross, is not to be displayed on any military buildings because it might offend the people trying to kill our troops. However, if our enemies succeed in killing them, then Uncle Sam will put a cross on their grave. Any visit to any military cemetery will show that the vast majority of grave stones bear a cross representing their faith.

The message, at least in America, from our media, Hollywood, academia, and our PRESENT government seems to be either that God doesn’t exist, or he is a generic god who is to be kept in the closet. They don’t want a God who is our Creator, Redeemer, a Just God who wants the best for us and from us, a God willing to forgive us, die for us, and give us the promise of an eternal future in His presence. To them the crosses that cover the graves of most of our military cemeteries have no meaning other than a quaint decoration. It’s time for the so called leadership in this country, very few of whom have served in the military, or who have made any sacrifices for this great country of ours to visit our military cemeteries at home or abroad and count the number of graves marked with something other than a cross, the symbol of love and sacrifice and the Christian faith. Remove the crosses and the cemetery will look like a western clear cut forest with only an occasional tree standing here and there.

We are told that we are to be silent about our commander-in-chief, Jesus, because “we might OFFEND” someone from some minority of beliefs or lack of beliefs. It’s OK if we Christians are offended even if we are the majority of those who have paid a disproportionate price to maintain our liberties to include freedom of speech and discussion.

Jesus, when He was being falsely arrested told Peter to put away his sword because Jesus had a mission to accomplish – to die for each of us! He didn’t tell Peter to shut up or cover his mouth with duct tape, just put down your sword. His was to be a war – but a war of words, of love, compassion, and hope. His “Rules of Engagement” called on us to heal the sick, visit those in prison, care for widows and orphans, treat the enemy with kindness (for example - Iraqi POW’S in Desert Storm) and to share with the world the Good News of God’s intervention on our behalf through His son Jesus Christ. This was to be a war fought with love not by strapping bombs on children or so-called martyrs. It did not call for raping women and young girls, burning captives alive or beheading or drowning those who disagreed with them. No forced conversions. Instead schools, churches, hospitals, orphanages, leprosarium’s, refugee camps all built in the name of Jesus.

The choice is ours. We can allow ourselves to be “gagged” or do what is right and is our right – to be true to ourselves and true to our Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Norway: ‘Hunter Troop’ Is The World’s First All-Female Special Operations Unit

In 2014, Norway created the world’s first all-female special operations unit — out of necessity. Beginning in 2001, Norway’s top special operations unit, the Forsvarets Spesialkommando, or FSK, played a tip-of-the-spear role in Operation Enduring Freedom, often working alongside Delta Force and Navy SEAL operatives. However, the FSK, like many all-male Western military units operating in predominantly Muslim countries, found itself disadvantaged when it came to one pretty major aspect of counter-insurgency: dealing with the local female population.

“In Afghanistan, one of our biggest challenges was that we would enter houses and not be able to speak to the women,” Capt Ole Vidar Krogsaeter, an officer with the Norwegian Special Operations Forces, said in an interview with Foreign Affairs. “In urban warfare, you have to be able to interact with women as well. Adding female soldiers was an operational need.”

Enter the Jegertroppen, or “Hunter Troop” — the world’s first and only all-female special operations unit. Since its establishment in 2014, Jegertroppen has earned a reputation for its rigorous instruction and low acceptance rates. Its yearlong training program includes a series of grueling challenges, and candidates must complete modules in Arctic survival, counterterrorism, urban warfare, long-range patrols, and airborne operations. According to the Norwegian Special Operations Forces Command, only 13 of the unit’s 317 candidates made it through the Jegertroppen course in 2014 — a 96% attrition rate that is similar to the Forsvarets Spesialkommando’s. 2015 posted similar numbers.

Colonel Frode Kristoffersen, the head of Norway’s Special Forces, told Foreign Affairs that the Hunter Troop will have a huge impact on Norway’s military capabilities. For one, the Jegertroppen’s presence on the ground could open up critical interactions and information channels with indigenous female populations in future conflicts, especially in the Middle East. Kristoffersen also explained that the unit’s members have displayed superior shooting and observation skills.

The creation of an elite all-female unit highlights a trend in Norway’s increasingly diverse armed forces. In 2002, women comprised only 0.7% of its military. That number is now at 10% and steadily growing, with most projections suggesting that the Norwegian military will be 20% women by 2020. In 2015, Norway became the first NATO country to introduce universal conscription. Norwegian officials maintain the changing military landscape does not affect the selection criteria. Physical standards for women are almost the same as they are for men, with only a few exceptions— for example, Jegertroppen soldiers carry 60-pound rucksacks instead of the heavier 88-pound packs their male counterparts carry.

It’s still too early to say whether this will spell mixed-gender combat deployments for Norwegian special forces, because the “Hunter Troop” is still considered a “test project” and hasn’t rotated overseas yet. And of course, a lot will need to be done to ensure these all-female units aren’t regarded as second-tier outfits if and when they deploy. But if the Jegertroppen continue to grow their applicant pool and raise the bar for future classes—the applicants for its second class scored higher than the first— it seems likely that they’ll be fighting alongside their male counterparts in future conflicts.

Source: (U) Task and Purpose, 14 September 2016 utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Defense%20EBB%209-15-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird %20Brief

Monday, October 10, 2016

Green Beret Psychological Profile

The general cocked his head sideways and said, “I was serious, very serious…The men we recruit to become Special Forces commandos are a unique breed. Dr. McFarland, would you please give our guests the psychological profile of the average commando.”

The doctor started to speak with clinical neutrality. “The typical commando is a man with an above average to high IQ who is extremely fit. He is a man who on the surface seems hard, callous, and emotionally indifferent. In truth, he is an extremely emotional and compassionate person. He is often obsessed with winning. He hates to lose, but is rarely willing to cheat or lie to win. He holds himself to a very high standard of honor and integrity and despises people who lie and lack character. He would, without thought or hesitation, give his life to save the life of a fellow commando. His biggest fear is that he will have wasted his life by not pushing himself hard enough.

He despises people who live their lives unjustly. He dislikes politicians and bureaucrats and displays an open animosity toward them. He is trained to kill in a lethal and efficient manner and, over time, comes to accept it as a just and reasonable way to solve a problem. If you can convince him that a person is bad enough, he will pull the trigger with a clear conscience. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, this is the norm.” ~ -Vince Flynn, from the book "Term Limits"

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Son Tay Raiders reunite at Fort Bragg

Special Forces soldiers who raided a North Vietnamese prison camp 46 years ago gathered Friday for what may be their final reunion.

Joe Murray, a retired master sergeant who organized the reunion, was one of the 56 Special Forces soldiers who were part of the historic, if disappointing, raid on the Son Tay POW camp in November 1970. The reunion is a way to renew old friendships, he said. "When you join Special Forces, you join a family," he said. "There's not an organization like it. You got a family of your own, but you adopt the soldiers under you."

The raid was celebrated as a tactical success despite the failure to rescue American captives. The mission, which began in the waning hours of Nov. 20, 1970, involved three teams of commandos assaulting the Son Tay prison, a short distance from the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

More than 100 American military aircraft, including Air Force and Navy planes, flew in support of the operation, conducting bombing raids across North Vietnam at the same time as the attempted rescue mission. The raid itself began with the controlled crash of an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter into the prison compound early on Nov. 21, 1970.

The raiders successfully overtook the prison but did not find American prisoners. Officials would later say that it appeared the 40 to 60 Americans held on the site had been moved shortly before the raid. The mission was considered extremely dangerous because of its location deep behind enemy lines and the proximity of roughly 5,000 enemy soldiers within five miles of the prison. But the raiders suffered only minor injuries.

Despite coming home empty-handed, the men were praised at home, with several honored at the White House and others returning to a hero's welcome at Fort Bragg. Nearly all of the soldiers involved in the Son Tay Raid were based at Fort Bragg.

Families of the soldiers thought they were on a training exercise, officials would tell the Observer in the days following the raid. But in fact, the men were rehearsing the raid at a replica of the prison. Murray was a 26-year-old sergeant first class when he received the orders for the mission. "That's what we trained for," he said. "You have one time in your career you get a chance to do something that's really important."

His responsibility was to secure the outside of the prison camp so troops would be able to make a smooth exit. Murray said he remembered two guards had stealthily maneuvered behind him and shot him in the back of his right leg. He was in pain, but focused on completing the mission. "I could feel the blood running down my

The raid showcased the profound abilities of the Special Forces soldiers, he said. "I think we laid the groundwork for Joint Special Operations Command," he said. "Our raid is the start of building Special Forces training today."

Article from the Fayetteville Observer

Monday, October 3, 2016

Army Ranger, Double Amputee Describes How He’ll Never Quit

He wants to quit every day. He never does. Army Master Sgt. Cedric King has run into and stomped some of the worst obstacles. King tried and tried, failed and failed, to become an Army Ranger. Then finally persevered and became a Ranger.

King went on to serve in Afghanistan, two tours, the second being cut short July 25, 2012, when an improvised explosive device claimed both legs, caused major internal injuries, permanent loss to part of his right arm and hand, and ended a 20-year military career.

During recovery, King learning to use prosthetic legs – walk, and then run, a little, then a lot. Twenty-one months after nearly dying, he completed the 26-mile Boston Marathon and has done tougher courses, including the 48.6-mile Disney Marathon series and the 70.3-mile half Ironman Triathlon. At the same time King relearned to walk, he completed a college degree.

Beyond the degree, King became a motivational speaker, having encouraged public school students, NFL players and members of Fortune 500 companies to face challenges. At the University of Central Missouri, King delivered the third annual Ike Skelton Lecture, the key event in the Servant Leadership Lecture Series, a joint initiative between UCM and Whiteman Air Force Base. Hundreds of personnel from Whiteman and students filled Hendrick Hall to hear his about experiences with persistence, standing up against adversity and viewing obstacles as opportunities.

Minutes before delivering the lecture Wednesday, King answered questions about his life.

QUESTION: In what kind of neighborhood do you grow up?

ANSWER: “I grew up in a very, very poor part of North Carolina. … The most important, the most successful people that I’ve grown up with, they graduated from high school and they came back to work at the local factory or work at the gas station. These guys were the guys that had their own trailer, their own yard, had riding lawn mowers. That was the definition of success.”

King said he did not think himself smart enough to risk his parents’ money on college and decided to join the Army to earn college money. The Army rewarded him for learning the basics.

“The basics: showing up on time, 100 percent effort, it was having a great attitude and pushing yourself, encouraging others. Those were the things that got you recognized. … It turned out that those were the things I needed to be successful outside the military, too.”

Sticking to the basics paid off after his 20 year military career: “I did wind up graduating college.”

King said he received his degree while recuperating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. “It was just, do your homework or write this paper. I was like, I could have done this all along.”

QUESTION: How have you adjusted to your new position as a role model and public speaker?

ANSWER: “In the military … you start at the bottom, with toothbrushes and toilets. You’re cleaning and swabbing the deck.” Those at the bottom, if doing well the things asked of them, become leaders. “Why are you leading others? Because you’ve led yourself well, and when you get good at leading a few people, then they give you more and more and more.”

Demonstrated ability helped him become a role model, he said. “They look up to you because you mastered the basics well. If you keep moving up, more and more people look up to you.”

King said as a leader he wanted to treat his soldiers like he wanted to be treated. He said he learned how not to act from bad leaders – from bullies, from people who abused their power and resources.

“By doing the things differently than the bad leaders did, it was like a whole ’nother reason for our guys to look up to me.” King said he still hears from men he led. “My birthday was three weeks ago and half of the birthday wishes were guys that I came across and led through combat or led in schools or taught.”

QUESTION: Did you channel the military discipline into your recovery?

ANSWER: “To become an Army Ranger, I had to fail so many times.”

Some people can go through Ranger or SEAL training the first time. King said he is not one of those people.

“It’s real tough to fail when you’ve spent 60 days in the swamps, or 60 days in the mountains, all to be told you’ve got to do it again. That taught me a lot about resolve, about persistence. It taught me a lot about how to deal with failure.”

King said he learned each time he failed until he knew what to do to pass training. “What Ranger school taught me was failure wasn’t final, it’s just part of the journey.”

In life, failure is common when trying something new, but sticking to the goal leads to completion. “It’s a curriculum that we’re all in. This is life.”

QUESTION: Was there ever a moment in recovery when you wanted to give up?

ANSWER: “Every day, this morning.”

King said he ran a couple of miles earlier in the day and dealt with a two-year-old, bleeding, open sore, about the size of a half dollar. If he stopped running for a few weeks, the wound might heal, he said. “I’m still am not willing to sit down for that long. … If I were to quit today, I’d be derailing some sort of opportunity later.”

King said the issue is not about him and his pain, but about people who watch what he does. “People are not waiting in the wings for you to quit so they can say, ‘I told you so.’ A lot of people are waiting in the wings for you to quit to give them an excuse to quit, too.”

Those watching might want an excuse to quit college, to divorce, to give up on a difficult child, King said. He does not want to provide an excuse for them to give up rather than work through problems.

King gave the example of how he felt at the 17-mile marker while running the Boston Marathon. He said he entered a recovery tent to take off his prosthetic leg, and comforts and gracious people in the tent offered him every reason to stay. “If you’re not dedicated to accomplishing your goal, you stay in there, because being in there is less painful than being out on the course.”

Another runner entered the tent, certain leg cramps meant he could not finish the last nine miles of the course. King put on the leg in front of the man with leg cramps and limped back to the street to complete the course. “I’m walking up the hill and he comes along. He’s like, ‘Dude, I was just about ready to dial my wife up and have her meet me. … But you get up and you hobble outside this tent. … And he takes off running.”

Later, King said, the man sent him a Facebook message, saying, “‘Because of you, I finished this marathon, the first one I’ve ever finished.’ People are waiting for you to just say, ‘I’m done.’ You don’t even know who they are. But because of your determination, you can help so many people out that you don’t even know.”

QUESTION: What do you want people to take away from hearing you speak?

ANSWER: “Obstacles aren’t here to kill us. They’re not. They’re here to help us. They’re our friend. It’s part of the curriculum. These challenges that we have in life, they’re just part of the course.”

Without testing for validity, no course, no degree, would have worth, and that is the same with life’s challenges, King said. “Nobody respects a life without tests.”

Article from The Daily Star-Journal, Warrensburg, Missouri.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chaplain's Corner - September 2016

This poem is a tribute to all of those people we knew and loved so much, who died not so long ago. It was read at my sister’s funeral service on September 26, 2015 in Hammond, Indiana. It is titled “Safely Home”, the Author unknown. ~ Chaplain John Szilvasy

I am home in Heaven, dear ones; Oh, so happy and so bright! There is perfect joy and beauty in this everlasting light.

All the pain and grief is over, every restless tossing passed; I am now at peace forever, Safely Home in Heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly trod the valley of the shade? Oh! but Jesus’ love illumined every dark and fearful glade.

And He came Himself to meet me in that way so hard to tread; and with Jesus’ arm to lean on, could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must grieve so sorely, for I love you dearly still: try to look beyond earth’s shadows, pray to trust our Father’s Will.

There is work still waiting for you, so you must not idly stand; do it now, while life remaineth – you shall rest in Jesus’ land.

When that work is all completed, He will gently call you home; Oh, the rapture of that meeting, oh the joy to see you come!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Marine Special Operators Get Their Own Insignia Pin

Last year, operators with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command got their own name: Raiders. Now, just like the Navy's elite SEALs, they'll have their own insignia.

Effective immediately, MARSOC critical skills operators and special operations officers are authorized to wear a new gold breast insignia, the Marine Corps announced Monday night.

The insignia, the first Marine Corps - only uniform device to be authorized, features an eagle, wings outspread, clutching an upward-pointing stiletto dagger featuring the Southern Cross constellation that appears on other MARSOC and Raider insignia. Above the eagle's head flies a banner carrying the MARSOC motto: "Spiritus Invictus," or unconquerable spirit.

The insignia badge will be 2 inches by 2.75 inches and will be awarded to critical skills operators and special operations officers upon completion of MARSOC's grueling nine-month individual training course. By the time MARSOC Raiders reach the end of ITC, they have completed at least 268 days of training, according to Marine Corps officials.

The announcement comes just a month after Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III took command of MARSOC, succeeding previous commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman. In a statement, Mundy said the creation of the badge granted Raiders a visual certification of the training they had completed for their role in MARSOC.

"The individual MARSOC operator must be trained and educated to think critically and function in an increasingly complex operating environment -- to understand and interact in dynamic, dangerous and politically-sensitive battlefields," Mundy said. "Our rigorous training pipeline ensures that a newly minted critical skills operator has developed the skills required for full spectrum special operations."

An unidentified MARSOC critical skills operator said in the announcement that the badge was a further tie-in to the command's celebrated ancestry.

"It's a representation of the pride and legacy that dates back to the Marine Raiders of World War II. This badge will distinguish a [special operations forces-qualified Marine, just as the combat crew wings distinguish an aviation crew chief or the jump wings and dive bubble distinguish a Recon Marine," he said.

MARSOC, which was created in early 2006, has marked a number of hard-fought milestones in developing its identity among the other service special operations elements. Its tenant commands were redesignated in honor of the Marine Raiders last July in a reversal by Marine Corps leadership; then-commandant Gen. James Amos had rejected a plan to change MARSOC's name in 2011, citing concern that MARSOC troops retain their identity as Marines first.

Specialized career paths for critical skills operators and special operations officers are also a relatively new development for MARSOC. The command received approval for the creation of an enlisted CSO military occupational specialty, 0372, in 2011, and a parallel MOS for officers, 0370, in 2014.

MARSOC officials said in an announcement on Facebook that the new device will be issued to the next class to graduate from the Individual Training Course, and then rolled out to critical skills operators and officers already within the command.

Notably, a woman could be among the first Marines to receive the new device. While the CSO and SOO jobs have been reserved for men for most of MARSOC's existence, a mandate from Defense Secretary Ash Carter late last year paved the way for women to apply for the elite positions.

MARSOC officials said last week that two female enlisted Marines had entered assessment and selection in July. As of then, one of the Marines, a corporal, remained in the course.

Article from

Sunday, September 18, 2016

First female soldier fails Green Beret Assessment and Selection

The first female soldier to participate in the Army’s initial training for the Green Berets — side by side with men — failed to complete the course, The Washington Times has learned. The enlisted soldier is the first woman to attend U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection, the first step toward earning the Special Forces name and the coveted green beret.

Since Defense Secretary Ashton Carter opened all combat jobs to women in December, a number of female troops have applied for direct combat roles from which they had long been banned. No woman has achieved the qualifications to become an Army Ranger or Green Beret, a Navy SEAL, a Marine Corps infantry officer or an Air Force parajumper, among other combat specialties.

The first woman to try out for the 75th Ranger Regiment failed to complete the course this month, The Army Times reported. Three female soldiers have completed the Army’s Ranger School but not the qualification for the special operations Ranger regiment.

In July, The Times reported that two female officer candidates had been accepted to attend a Special Forces Assessment and Selection class that begins in the spring. On Sept. 2, the unidentified female enlisted soldier reported to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She passed the physical fitness test and the first half of the grueling, 21-day weeding-out process, during which 10 percent to 15 percent of her classmates dropped out.

During the land navigation phase of the training, she either withdrew voluntarily, was medically dropped or was administratively removed for not meeting standards, said three sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Pending review boards, she may try again.

Historically, only one-third of candidates pass the entire course. “An average class is 300 candidates, with a 10 to 15 percent attrition rate after the physical fitness assessment. The total attrition rate at the end of SFAS is 60 percent,” warfare center spokeswoman Maj. Melody Faulkenberry said in a July interview regarding the first two female officer candidates invited to Special Forces Assessment and Selection.

Army officials would not confirm or deny that a female enlisted soldier was enrolled in the training. They would not release her name, rank, military occupational specialty (job) or deployment history. She did attend Airborne school because all Special Forces candidates must be Airborne-qualified.

Army Special Operations Command would only release a statement about Special Forces Assessment and Selection. “The Special Forces Assessment and Selection process, and subsequent Special Forces qualification training are very challenging experiences — experiences that can be made more difficult with the additional pressure that often comes with focused media attention on particular individuals due to their race, color, gender, religion, national origin and sexual orientation,” Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt, the command’s public affairs director, said in an email.

The female candidate made it through the first week of the course, known as the “gates.” All of the candidates underwent IQ and psychological testing and a physical fitness assessment, and successfully tackled obstacle courses and long marches and runs carrying full rucksacks. “There’s a fitness baseline candidates must achieve. This test is not graded by age or gender, but purely their fitness level,” Maj. Faulkenberry, the warfare center spokeswoman, explained in July.

If the female soldier retakes and passes Special Forces Assessment and Selection, she then will have to pass a Special Forces Qualification Course to earn the green beret — theoretically a two-year process. As a noncommissioned officer, she would become an integral member of a 12-member Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha, known as an A-Team. One core mission is to conduct unconventional warfare behind enemy lines.

She would be a staff sergeant or sergeant 1st class assigned to weapons, engineering, medical or communications on the 12-member team. Retired Maj. Gen. Mike Repass, former commander of Army Special Forces, said that if a female soldier gets to the A-Teams in the field, she will face the same challenge that every other new operator does: She will have to earn her spot. “In the very unlikely event that there was some institutional slack on the standards, there will be none on the Special Forces detachments, the A-Teams. Everyone has to pull their weight and be able to do other people’s jobs as well. Every day is a ‘selection event’ for an operator, and you can be told to step off the team if you are not meeting the standards,” Gen. Repass said.

Lt. Col. Stuart Farris, who from 2014 until June was commander at Fort Bragg’s Camp Mackall, where Special Forces Assessment and Selection training takes place, has dismissed suggestions that standards have been lowered to allow women to enter combat roles. “I am intimately familiar with the women in service initiative. I can assure you that we have the most comprehensive and rigorous Assessment and Selection process and methodology in [all special operations forces],” Col. Farris wrote recently in a discussion on a social media site approved by Special Operations Command.

“Bottom line, rest easy knowing that no standards have changed, and they will not change — everyone in my chain of command up to [Defense Secretary Ashton Carter] has been absolutely emphatic about this,” the colonel wrote.

Gen. Repass said the biggest challenge a female candidate may face could be the cultural shift. “There is a unique bond between the members of the operational detachments. The small team has a personality of its own, and every member contributes to that, as well as the reputation of the detachment within the company and battalion,” the retired general said. “The women who make it into the team rooms will not be myths; they’ll become living facts.”

Article from the Washington Times

Monday, September 12, 2016

Knocking Petraeus, General Ham Argues Readiness Woes Are ‘No Myth’

Retired Army Gen. Carter Ham took issue this week with the claim of retired Army Gen. David Petraeus that the U.S. military is in fairly good shape in terms of readiness.

Ham said the services were struggling to prepare to meet new challenges while coping with the wear and tear of 15 years of war and constant deployments.

“Fifteen years of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in Syria, Libya and elsewhere, compounded by years of budget uncertainty, have left America’s military forces less well-prepared for operations to counter the increasing capabilities of near-peer and emerging competitors,” Ham said in an article for Defense One.

Last week, Petraeus, the former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan who was cashiered as CIA Director over an extra-marital affair, joined with Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in an op-ed for the Wall St. Journal in which they said concerns about readiness were overblown.

Despite shortfalls in many areas, “America’s fighting forces remain ready for battle,” Petraeus and O’Hanlon wrote.

Ham, an Iraq veteran and former commander of Africa Command, said in his article, “As president of the Association of the U.S. Army and an old soldier, let me offer some comments” on readiness and the Army in particular.

“The future of the United States Army is challenged by the combination of ongoing operations, emerging strategic threats, and a convoluted budget process that has weakened the nation’s foundational force,” he said.

“While the Army is not in crisis today, its ability to fulfill its missions on behalf of the nation will remain challenged without sustained, predictable funding at levels that support the all-volunteer force and allow for adequate modernization to meet the increasing challenges presented by near-peer competitors,” Ham said.

In addition, there was the morale problem, the retired general said. “Constant talk of the need to trim pay and benefits, reduce personnel costs by further reducing military and civilian headquarters staffs, and cut facility costs by deferring more maintenance and upkeep are morale-sapping efforts, especially when the belt-tightening happens year after year with no end in sight,” Ham said.

Article posted on DoD Buzz, by

Special Forces Who Avenged 9-11

From an article by Ms. Alex Quade, titled "Special Forces Who Avenged 9-11 (Alex Quade's "Horse Soldiers" Short)" posted on the Small Arms Journal.

These are the Green Berets who avenged the 9/11 attacks. War Reporter Alex Quade spent 5-years tracking the Operators down and persuading them to go on camera and share their photos and stories. Three ODAs ("A-Teams') of 34-men on horseback -- including Special Forces, Combat Controllers and CIA Operatives -- worked with the Northern Alliance after 9/11 to overthrow the Taliban and Al Qaeda, before America even knew that we were at war in Afghanistan. Alex Quade did stories for CNN, the Washington Times and a full film narrated by Actor Gary Sinise. Quade is releasing this SHORT version from her Edward R.Murrow Award-winning documentary, for the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and the rededication of the statue at Ground Zero.

Alex Quade is a war reporter and documentary filmmaker who has covered U.S. Special Operations Forces on combat missions since 2007. Extreme storytelling and risk-taking lie at the heart of Alex’s work. She's the recipient of more than two dozen professional awards for excellence in journalism.

Among the more notable awards: Two Edward R. Murrow Awards, one for her film Chinook Down and the other for her documentary Horse Soldiers of 9-11; the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society’s Excellence in Journalism Award for her “honest & courageous” war reportage; a Peabody award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (a CNN group award); an Emmy award for coverage of the 9-11 terrorist attacks (also a CNN group award); and her in-depth, frontline reporting on the Asian Tsunami was individually listed in CNN’s Du-Pont Columbia Award.

Alex started her career at the White House. She's worked in television covering global conflicts and hostile environments for CNN, Fox News, Headline News (HLN) out of Frankfurt, Germany and New York. She's produced special video reports for The New York Times, and The Washington Times. Alex Quade's first book, "Danger Close", will be published by Hachette Books in 2018.