Friday, October 30, 2020

Retired 3rd SFG Green Beret in Trucking Final - VOTE!

In an effort to curb the driver shortage and create immediate jobs for transitioning military personnel, the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes Program (HOH), Kenworth, and FASTPORT have come together to award a fully-loaded 2018 T-680 truck to a deserving veteran who enters the trucking industry.

The search for America’s top military rookie driver will educate veterans and America about the support from leading manufacturers and service providers that enhance the safety and comfort of the 3.5 million professional truck drivers while performing their duties — and provide an incredible head start to one veteran's entrepreneurial career.

The winner will be selected following a year-long competition among veterans, guard members and reservists who have made the successful transition in the trucking industry following military service.

The winner's T-680 truck boasts a stamped aluminum cab and integral sleeper, and has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of approximately $155,000. Additionally, the campaign will recognize the employer and CDL credentialing institution that hired and trained the winner.

America’s trucking industry has long been supportive of our nation’s military families, and several major carriers boast a driving population comprised of more than 30 percent veterans.

This year's finalist is retired 3rd SFG(A) Green Beret Master Sergeant Retired Master Sergeant Shaun M. Mason was born December 5th 1971 in Detroit, Michigan. He has an Associates of Science degree in Accounting from American Military University and is three classes short of a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Business Management through Excelsior College. He has graduated from Johnston Community College NC Truck Driving Training School and recently began driving for Prime Inc., with goals of finishing school and investing in his own business.

How you Vote:
Step One
- go to this website - Transition Trucking Vote

Step Two - Click on the continue button - see photo below:

Step Three - Click on the Vote button - see photo below:

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Heroism: Pararescuemen receive Bronze Star for fierce Afghanistan battles

Two pararescuemen from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona were presented with the Bronze Star with Valor earlier this month for their heroism during separate Afghanistan battles in 2019. Master Sgt. Adam Fagan and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki of the 48th Rescue Squadron received the award, the military’s fourth-highest award for valor in combat, during an Oct. 1 ceremony attended by Maj. Gen. Barry Cornish, commander of the 12th Air Force.

“Master Sgt. Adam and Staff Sgt. Ben’s selfless lifesaving actions while under enemy fire are a testament of their personal courage, not uncommon in the rich history of the [563rd Rescue Group] and greater Air Force combat rescue community,” 563rd commander Col. Peter White said in an Oct. 7 release. According to a citation provided by the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan, Fagan was deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, as part of the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, at the time of his battle in Helmand province on March 24th and 25, 2019. Fagan was working with a Green Beret Operational Detachment Alpha and Afghan special forces on a raid deep in Taliban territory in Sangin, the citation said.

In the Oct. 7 release, Fagan said his team was moving towards a Taliban compound to take out an improvised explosive device manufacturer, when they were ambushed. An improvised explosive device went off, severely wounding an Afghan commando who needed immediate medical help. At the same time, Taliban fighters opened up with heavy and effective small-arms fire from a heavily fortified position.

The Taliban had the American’s Afghan allies pinned down with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, and several more IED blasts — and reaching the critically wounded Afghan commando was difficult, the citation said.

Fagan took control of the situation “without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety,” the citation said. He attacked the Taliban’s fortified position, exposing himself to heavy fire, and laid down covering fire that allowed his team to break loose and move toward the wounded Afghan.

When Fagan reached the wounded Afghan, he began administering advanced medical care while directing the Afghan commandos to engage the Taliban. He also set up a casualty evacuation plan, calling in an urgent helicopter medevac to get the wounded Afghan commando out of there. Fagan began moving the wounded Afghan to the helicopter landing zone, again exposing himself to small arms and RPG fire. As the shooting intensified, the citation said, Fagan directed more suppressing fire to allow the medevac helicopters to land and extract the team.

“Previous training like the Combat Team Leader Course and our spin up at Razor’s Edge with Red Team helped because I knew what I was capable of," Fagan said in the release. "I knew what I was physically able to do, I knew I could treat that guy under fire in the dark and training with other rotary wing platforms gave me the confidence to call in a clear nine line [combat medical evacuation] quickly.”

Fagan’s “exceptionally brave actions and speed of patient delivery” allowed his team to destroy a cache of Taliban weapons, eliminate five Taliban insurgents, and save the life of the Afghan commando, the citation said.

Brudnicki’s battle came nearly a month and a half later, on May 3 and 4, 2019. Brudnicki was also deployed as part of the 64th in Helmand, conducting counter-insurgent operations with another team of Afghan commandos and a Green Beret ODA.

The assault team dismounted their vehicles and moved toward a village that was a Taliban stronghold, under the cover of darkness, the citation said. They breached the first compound and realized the Taliban were getting their weapons ready to fight. Brudnicki and his team turned the tables on the Taliban, using their own kill holes against them and taking them out with “decisive” small arms fire, the citation said.

It was extremely intense, close-quarters fighting. Brudnicki fought the Taliban at distances of less than five feet with his personal weapons and hand grenades. At one point, the Taliban shot a rocket at them, and though it damaged their cover, it didn’t detonate.

A civilian was wounded in the firefight, the citation said. Brudnicki crossed an open courtyard to get to the civilian — “with complete disregard for his own safety,” the citation said, “and braving effective enemy fire from an adjacent compound” — and started administering medical care.

After stabilizing the civilian, Brudnicki got another call: An Afghan commando had been shot and severely wounded and pinned down by Taliban fire. Once again, Brudnicki crossed the dangerous courtyard and attacked the Taliban, giving the Afghan partners an opening to get their wounded comrade to safety.

Brudnicki then set up a casualty collection point and a plan to treat the wounded. He provided advanced medical care, organized the movement of blood, and set up a medical evacuation plan, the citation said. The Air Force said Brudnicki’s actions resulted in the deaths of seven enemy fighters, including a Taliban commander, and saved the lives of two coalition partners. In the release, Brudnicki praised the team he fought. “It is an honor to be recognized," Brudnicki said. "However, the experience and brotherhood created with my team overseas is the most valuable piece for me. The Air Force best utilizes its special warfare assets when putting them to work in the joint environment, and I am proud to be a part of that.” The citation said that by their “heroic actions and unselfish dedication to duty,” both Fagan and Brudnicki “reflected great credit” upon themselves and the Air Force.

Article from the Air Force Times

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Black Force Recon Marine, battlefield commission, Vietnam War hero ... snubbed for the Medal of Honor?

At the end of March 1967, Marine 2nd Lt. Jim Capers stepped off on what was to be a four-day foot patrol into the jungles near Phú Lộc, Vietnam. He snaked through that jungle terrain, sporting a recent battlefield commission as a second lieutenant, leading just nine 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company Marines and a dog named King.

The mission: maneuver through rugged enemy territory and locate a suspected North Vietnamese regimental base camp. That meant creeping up on a force of 1,500 or more enemy soldiers with support far in the rear. They weren’t there just to gather more intel for reports back to headquarters. They were to observe the NVA regiment to protect the flank of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines.

The first day of that planned four-day march, the recon team found out there wasn’t any reason to “suspect” a regiment was in those deep jungles. They bumped into a 20-soldier force. Two more contacts on the second day, which resulted in 22 enemies killed in action, but also severely wounded one of his Marines. That might have sent another team home. But Capers pursued the enemy calling fire on their base camp, which reports following these events would show thwarted an attack on Company M.

On the final day of their jungle jaunt, an enemy daisy-chained claymore mine triggered an attack on his team. Capers sustained multiple wounds from both the explosion and subsequent “dense barrages of direct and indirect enemy fire.”

Bleeding profusely and moving under two broken legs, Capers shook off the shock and continued fighting, directing his men in the counterattack. Even after taking on morphine he coordinated supporting fire and moving his team to the helicopter extraction that saved their lives.

“While struggling to maintain consciousness and still under attack, Major Capers demanded continuous situation and status reports from his Marines and ensured the entire team was evacuated before himself,” his award citation reads. “Barely able to stand, Major Capers finally boarded the helicopter and was evacuated."

What the citation doesn’t say is that at least two times Capers got off the tiny H-34 helo because it loaded down too heavy and couldn’t take off. But he wanted to get his men out of there.

It finally went airborne, later crash landing. One man lost a kidney, another lost a leg ― all of the Marines but the dog survived that battle.

That award was for a Silver Star Medal. Capers didn’t receive the citation until 2010, which was 43 years after the actions of that fateful day. Ultimately, Capers would receive two Bronze Star Medals with “V” for valor and three Purple Hearts. He is one of the most decorated Marines in Force Reconnaissance history. He is also black.

photo above: Second Lieutenant James Capers Jr. (bottom right). While serving in Vietnam in 1967, Capers and his force reconnaissance team came under heavy attack and enemy ambush. His actions led to a Silver Star Medal in 2010. Some are pushing for it to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

‘One of history’s most outstanding special operations team leaders’

Many believe that the medal doesn’t begin to recognize Capers deeds that day, which was just one day of a career that spanned the early days of Marine Force Recon and its covert deeds in Vietnam.

David “Bull” Gurfein, CEO of United American Patriots, said his group is leading efforts to get another review of the actions and Capers' citation for a potential upgrade to the Medal of Honor. “I was approached by Marines who served with him, not one person said anything bad about Maj. Capers,” Gurfein told Marine Corps Times. “Every one of them said he deserved the Medal of Honor.”

The United American Patriots group has gained attention in recent years for its advocacy on behalf of military members and veterans charged in criminal cases. Most notably among them is Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who was pardoned in 2019 by President Donald Trump after serving prison time on murder charges stemming from actions in Afghanistan.

The group also supported Army Green Beret Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was facing much-delayed charges in connection with an alleged murder in Afghanistan in 2010. Currently, a high-profile case that they are seeking to have charges dismissed involves two Marine Raiders and a Raider corpsman charged in the death of a U.S. military contractor and retired Army Green Beret, who died following an after hours altercation outside a nightclub in Iraq.

Capers award push is an effort to see that the major gets the credit he is due and ensure that internal politics didn’t play a role in the four-decade delay and selection of the Silver Star Medal, Gurfein said. There’s ample evidence that the harrowing mission had its fair share of valor, and Capers was at the center of the action.

At the same 2010 ceremony where Capers received his Silver Star Medal, fellow team members Ron Yerman, Richard Crepeau, John Moran and Billy Ray Smith each were awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for actions during the same mission.

Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre, former Marine Special Operations Command chief, said at that ceremony that Capers was, “one of history’s most outstanding special operations team leaders.”

‘Ask a Marine’

The now 83-year-old Capers was recently celebrated by the Bishopville, South Carolina, community with the installation of three bronze plaques. Capers lived in Bishopville, South Carolina, as a child but his sharecropper family left the Jim Crow-era South for life in Baltimore, where he spent the rest of his youth.

One plaque is a map of North and South Vietnam. The other details Capers career of heroics. The middle plaque is a reproduction of a famous recruiting poster where Capers at the center in his blue dress uniform above the words “Ask a Marine.”

Those three plaques were titled “The Place, The Legend, The Man.

Capers is likely the first black Marine featured prominently on a Marine Corps recruiting poster. He is also possibly the first black Marine to receive a battlefield commission in the Vietnam War.

While he was in college, Maj. Gen. James L. Williams, who is also black, saw that recruiting poster and said to himself, “I’d really like to know who that is and someday I’d really like to join Force Recon,” Williams said in a 2018 documentary about Capers, titled “Major Capers: The Legend of Team Broadminded.”

The Marine Corps was slow to integrate blacks into the ranks, keeping segregated in all-black units through the end of World War II. Under presidential orders, all services were forced to desegregate. However, with the reduction in forces following the war, the Corps forced black Marines to leave the service or become stewards.

Hispanic and Asian Marines were allowed to integrate during this period and into the Korean War. This was the backdrop for Capers when he graduated high school in 1956 and enlisted.

Capers first served in the infantry and then in the reconnaissance community, where he eventually worked in first, second and third recon battalions. In his more than two decades in the Marine Corps he saw his share of discrimination. Not being able to eat in restaurants off base with his men, slights and snubs from white officers, even generals. But he also experienced camaraderie among his Marines that transcended prejudice, he said.

After the 1967 battle he and those wounded on his team were medically evacuated for treatment in Japan. While in the hospital there, he said the assistant to the 3rd Marine Division commanding general said he was being put in for the Medal of Honor.

He said that he was told at least two battalion commanders wrote recommendations for him for the medal. “But they never went forward,” Capers said. Capers told Marine Corps Times that he believes his race played a role in the lack of submission for the award during the war.

After having worked in some of the leading edge experimentation with the early reconnaissance units, being recognized for helping chance special operations tactics through unorthodox approaches to guerilla fighting in Vietnam, Capers was summoned to the Pentagon to talk with the Secretary of the Navy.

Then a major, he stood outside of the secretary’s office alongside his escort, a white junior Marine captain. A Marine general exited the office and went straight to the captain, saying he must be the decorated Marine he’d heard so much about. After a few tense moments, the captain corrected the general, telling him he was talking to the wrong person.

“I had the rank on, he just assumed because I was black, even though I was in charge, in full uniform, he walked by me,” Capers said. “Then he turned and said, ‘Oh, you’re the famous Maj. Capers.' I didn’t want to talk to him. He disrespected me. He didn’t respect my rank, he thought, ‘this African American can’t be the guy going to see the Secretary of the Navy. That created some issues.”

He was told through back channels that one commander in the authorization chain for medal upgrades said he would, “die and go to hell before he saw me get the Medal of Honor.”

There have been more than 3,400 Medals of Honor awarded since the decoration was created during the Civil War, according to Army data. Black service members have received only 89 Medals of Honor. Since the late 1990s at least 15 medals have been awarded due to administrative oversight, clerical errors or upgrades, so medal upgrades are not without precedent.

A 2016 to 2019 review of awards for Iraq and Afghanistan actions resulted in four upgrades to the Medal of Honor, 30 service crosses and 23 Silver Star Medals. Those who received upgrades to the Medal of Honor as a result of the reviews included Senior Chief Petty Officer Britt Slabinski, Army Sgt. Ronald Shurer and Sgt. Travis Atkins along with Air Force Tech Sgt. John Chapman.

That three-year review did not result in any upgrades to the Medal of Honor for Marines. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger was involved in the previous packet that resulted in the Silver Star Medal. His current involvement was not immediately clear, Berger’s spokesman told Marine Corps Times.

Capers rose to the rank of staff sergeant and led a group known as “Team Broadminded” in Vietnam, conducting more than 50 classified missions. Those missions included recovery operations to retrieve secret items and the pilot’s body of a downed Air Force B-57 that had crashed behind enemy lines.

Capers took a team deep into enemy territory on another mission, ordered by President Lyndon B. Johnson to attempt a rescue of four U.S., two Australian and 26 South Vietnamese Prisoners of War at a jungle camp. While the major’s exploits parallel a Hollywood script and many are detailed in his memoir, “Faith Through the Storm,” it was the final mission to Phú Lộc that has supporters calling for another review that might give the Marine what they say is his due ― a Medal of Honor.

Article from the Marine Corps Times  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Merrill's Marauders: 8 surviving members of famed Merrill’s Marauders to receive Congressional Gold Medal

“If they can walk and carry a gun,” Major General Joseph Stillwell presciently told Brigadier General Frank Merrill in 1943, “they can fight!” After being run out of the Burmese jungle by the Japanese in May of 1942, Stillwell had, according to one war correspondent, appeared “like the wrath of God and cursing like a fallen angel.”

The general didn’t mince his words either, telling reporters that the joint expedition between a small contingent of American, British, and Chinese troops “got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back, and retake it.”

The following year a determined Stillwell took a major step toward getting his wish, as allied leaders, many who sought to rectify the previous campaign’s novice display of jungle fighting, mapped out a plan for a ground unit trained and equipped to engage in “long-range penetration” missions.

In what was to be the forerunner for today’s special forces units, 3,000 American men volunteered for the newly formed 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) — code name: Galahad. Dubbed Merrill’s Marauders after their commander, the men were tasked with a “dangerous and hazardous mission” behind Japanese lines in Burma, where the fall of the country’s capital of Rangoon had severely threatened the Allied supply line to China.

The Marauders were tasked with cutting off Japanese communications and supply lines and pushing enemy forces north out of the town of Myitkyina, the only city with an all-weather airstrip in Northern Burma. Although operational for only a few months, Merrill’s Marauders gained a fierce reputation for hard fighting and tenacity as the first American infantry force to see ground action in Asia. That reputation was recognized once more Sept. 22, when Congress passed the Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act, awarding the eight surviving members of the unit with Congressional Gold Medals.

Assisting the Merrill’s Marauders Association and other various Ranger affiliations in passing the act, which was sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), was attorney Frederick R. Eames of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, who has fought for the past two years to gain support for the legislation. “Highly trained infantrymen whom we regard today as heroes, such as the Special Forces, look to Merrill’s Marauders as role models,” Eames said in a press release. “The unimaginable conditions these men successfully fought through changed the understanding of the limits of human endurance in armed conflict. The Congressional Gold Medal brings them the public recognition they deserve. We are honored to have assisted in getting it across the finish line.”

Reached by email, Eames said he became involved after a colleague and fellow attorney, Scott Stone, met Marauders Bob Passanisi and Gilbert Howland in the cafeteria of the Senate Dirksen Building. “When he found out why they were there, he immediately offered to help,” Eames said. “One of the first things he did was call us, and I agreed to get a team involved.”

For the other surviving Marauders, the acknowledgement is somewhat bittersweet. “This recognition means so much to me and the other survivors and our families,” Passanisi, Merrill’s Marauders Association’s spokesperson, said in the release. “My one regret is that only eight of us are alive to enjoy this historic honor.”

Passanisi was luckier than most. Traversing nearly 1,000 miles behind enemy lines, the Marauders marched over some of the most treacherous terrain in the world, combating not only a determined enemy, but fighting off myriad diseases, scorching heat, venomous snakes, and bloodsucking leeches.

The exploits of the Marauders and their daring mission to recapture the vital town and airstrip at Myitkyina made headlines throughout the United States in 1944 — but at a steep cost. After five months of combat, 95 percent of the Marauders were dead, wounded, or deemed no longer medically fit for combat. By the time the force was deactivated in August 1944, many, including Congress, wondered whether Stillwell had sacrificed the Marauders due to poor planning and his own dreams of glory and revenge.

Still, despite the unit’s staggering losses — fighting in five major battles and over 30 other engagements — the Marauders became one of the most renowned units to come out of World War II, carrying with them a legacy of bravery and the fortitude of the human spirit. Seventy-six years later, the recognition by Congress shines “a light on that forgotten theater in the Pacific that was so crucial in defeating the Japanese,” said Gilbert Howland, a Marauder veteran. “We did it because our country needed us.”

Article from Military Times

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

14th Annual Jerry Rainey Scholarship Awards

Special Forces Association Chapter IX, the Isaac Camacho Chapter held the 14th annual Jerry Rainey Scholarship Award and luncheon immediately following our July general membership meeting. There were two deserving recipients this year, both New Mexico State University (NMSU) Aggies.

We awarded each of the scholarship winners with a $1,500 scholarship check. Only one, Francis H., could attend the luncheon. She brought family and her boyfriend with her. The photo above is Francis and her family flanked by Scholarship Chairman Greg Brown and Chapter President Pete Peral. Chapter members enjoyed the opportunity to meet and visit with Francis and her family.

Carol Rainey, widow of Jerry Rainey whom the scholarship is named after, was unable to attend this year due to precautions taken during the pandemic. The Chapter sends their love to Carol and misses her long standing presence at this event. This annual scholarship is a fitting memorial and tribute to her husband Jerry Rainey who devoted his life caring for others and mentoring young adults....not to mention entertaining all who would listen to his renditions of Frank Sinatra songs.

Greg and Peggy Brown traveled to NMSU to deliver the second scholarship check to Haleigh H. That's Greg and Haleigh pictured below wearing the obligatory, government mandated COVID masks.

Friday, September 18, 2020

RIP Roy Aldridge, Korea and Vietnam Vet, and Chapter IX Member

Special Forces Association Chapter IX say's goodbye for now to Chapter Honorary Member, Roy E. Aldridge who crossed the line of departure 15 September 2020. Roy was born 10 September 1934, served for 23 years in the US Army (Korean War) and the US Air Force (Korean War and Vietnam) retiring as a Master Sergeant in 1973. He made two combat jumps in the Army: on 20 October 1950 into Sukchon North Korea; and, on 23 March 1951 into Munsan North Korea on Operation Tomahawk. And if that wasn't enough, after he joined the Air Force, he bailed out a burning bomber over North Korea April 13,1953 and subsequently became a  POW for 5 months.

Aldridge joined the Oklahoma National Guard with two of his cousins to have beer money. They were on their way to summer camp when their unit was Federalized, sent to Fort Polk, LA. From there he went to Fort Campbell, KY, for jump school, joined the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team known as the Rakkasans and went on to Korea. In August 1950, he found himself in a country he had never heard of to help people he did not know. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion I Company landing at Pusan, Korea. Shortly after the Inchon invasion and breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 187th went to Kimpo Air Base to make preparations for the jumps north of Pongang and Maunsani. Subsequent to the later jump he was wounded and at that time the Army found out that he was underage and he received a minority discharged and returned to the States.

After completion of high school, he reenlisted, this time in the Air Force. He returned to Korea in March 1953 assigned to the 67th Tactical Recon Wing in munitions. They were experiencing difficulties with the new proximity fuses on the photoflash bombs used in night photography so he volunteered to fly a milk run mission to ensure all the settings were correct. During this mission, the RB-26 received heavy antiaircraft fire and the crew was ordered to bail out over North Korea. Unfortunately, he was the only survivor and spent five months as a POW in PAK’s Palace. On September 4, 1953, he was in the final group repatriated, six days short of his 19th birthday.

In 1954, he was assigned to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Command, Kirkland AFB, NM where he underwent training in the assembly of nuclear weapons. He was later assigned to Task Force One Los Alamos, NM where he assembled and tested both above and below ground nuclear weapons at the Atomic Proving Grounds in Nevada and in the Pacific. This lead to him being assigned to Vandenberg AFB, CA and strategic missiles. He assembled the reentry vehicles used on the Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missile systems. In 1962 while stationed at Malmstrom AFB, MT, he was assigned to the crew that put the first armed missile on alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In December, 1962, he was assigned to the First Aero-Commando Group and stationed at DaNang Air Base, South Vietnam, where he supported the Army’s Special Forces. He also made two “short trips” back to Vietnam. He had various other assignments including NASA and the Gemini IV Project, SHAPE Belgium, and his final assignment was as NCOIC of the Armed Forces School for Nuclear Weapons, Lowry, AFB, CO.

Since there was no demand for nuclear bomb builders, he attended Nuclear Medicine Technology training and spent the last 35 years in this career in Nuclear Medicine.

Roy was a worker and giver, spending years and decade as a member of many Veterans and community organizations:

Life Honorary Member SFA Chapter IX, 2004
Life Member Korean War Veterans Association
Life Member 187th Airborne RCT Association
Life Member 82nd Airborne Division Association
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
Life member Disabled American Veterans
Life Member American Legion
Member of the Texas Veterans Coalition Representing SFA and KWVA
Member US Congressman Beto O’Rourke VAC Representing SF and KWVA
Member of the VAVS and VAH Directors Council Rep. SF and KWVA
Member of the National SF Planning committee
Current President of KWVA Chapter 249 El Paso, TX
Past National Director KWVA 2013-2017
Past 1st Vice President KWVA 2011-2013
Past 2nd Vive President KWVA 2009-2010
Past KWVA Commander Department of Texas.

As a honorary member of SFA Chapter IX, he supported many Chapter functions, including: the John McLaughlin Memorial Golf Tournament for over ten years; the USBP SOG EXPO; Christmas Food drive; Isaac Camacho Head Start school; and was the Sub Chairman, current, 2018 El Paso National Convention, War Eagles Project.

His awards and decorations include:

Silver Star Korea October 1950
Bronze Star w/V Device Korea March 1951
Purple Heart Korea March 1951
POW Medal – 5 months
Army Good Conduct Medal w 3 clusters
USAF Good Conduct Medal 1 Silver Oak leaf
PUC w/silver oakleaf
ROK PUC, Outstanding Unit Award w 1 Silver Oak Leaf
Army Commendation medal
USAF Commendation medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
USAF Good Conduct medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
National Defense Medal with Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with Spear head 3 Battle stars
United Nations Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal 4 stars
Vietnam Campaign Medal with clasp
USAF Senior NCO ribbon
USAF Outstanding Unit Award with V device
USAF Master Munitions Badge
USAF Master Missile Man Badge
He is survived by his wife Cheryl A. Aldridge and son Michael D Aldridge. He will be missed.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

General Milley calls out Nazis, communists, jihadis in 9/11 remarks

The Joint Chiefs chairman took the opportunity Friday, at the Pentagon’s Sept. 11, 2001, remembrance ceremony, to not only recognize those who gave their lives during those terror attacks and have since died fighting in their wake, but to share a reminder of what everyone has been fighting for.

“The idea of a free press, free speech, due process,” he cited as examples. “The right to peacefully assemble, and demonstrate and protest.” And that all Americans are created free and equal, he added, and should succeed based on their merit, regardless of their backgrounds. “Those ideas were and still are hated by our enemies — by fascists, Nazis, communists, al-Qaida, ISIS, authoritarians, dictators and tyrants of all kinds. They hate those ideas. They hate those values.”

Of nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11, 184 were service members and civilians in the Pentagon. In the years since, more than 7,000 have while serving in the Global War on Terrorism, which has most notably seen fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but has spread throughout the Middle East and Africa, into parts of Europe and Asia. More than 53,000 have been injured, according to Defense Department Statistics. “We honor the legacy of our brave service members who have laid down their lives to secure the blessings of this great nation,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in his remarks.

Nineteen years after the attacks that, in one way or another, begot nearly continuous operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, neither official mentioned those ongoing conflicts, or recent orders from the White House to draw down troops there. “Unlike previous administrations I have kept America out of new wars, and our troops are coming home,” President Donald Trump said Aug. 27 during a campaign event.

On Wednesday, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, who leads U.S. Central Command, announced that he planned to draw down troops in Iraq to 4,500 in time for the presidential election. “We’re on a glide slope to be at 4,500 by the November time frame — October, late October, November time frame,” the Associated Press reported. “At 4,500 we’re still going to be able to accomplish the core tasks that we want to accomplish, And we’ve shown more than ample goodwill and our willingness to demonstrate that we don’t want to be an occupying force in this country.”

At the same time, CENTCOM has been redeploying troops from Afghanistan, bringing levels down to 8,600 in June. In an interview with Axios aired in August, Trump called for that to drop by another 50 percent before the election. McKenzie said Wednesday that a date for that withdrawal had been determined but declined to share it.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Troops Survey - White nationalism a national security threat equal to ISIS, al-Qaida

Troops surveyed in the latest Military Times Poll identified white nationalism as a national security threat on par with al-Qaida and the Islamic State Group, and more worrisome than the danger posed by North Korea, Afghanistan or Iraq.

Participants, polled in late July after months of nationwide racial equality protests and violent conflicts between demonstrators and law enforcement, also reported signs of racist behavior in the ranks, despite military leaders’ recent reminders of the importance of diversity and respect.

The poll, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, found about one-third of all active-duty respondents said they saw signs of white supremacist or racist ideology in the ranks. That’s roughly on par with results from other Military Times surveys in recent years.

But troops overall concerns about the dangers posed to the country from extremist and racist ideology appears to be growing. Among all troops surveyed, about 48 percent listed white nationalists as a significant national security threat, roughly the same percentage as Islamic State, al-Qaida and other foreign Islamic jihadists.

The white nationalist problem overshadowed troops’ worries over North Korea (40.3 percent), Afghanistan (10.3 percent), Iraq (8.5 percent), immigration (21.4 percent) and U.S. protest movements (33.1 percent). Nearly two-thirds of minority service members in the poll called white nationalists a notable threat.

About 5 percent of troops in the poll said they have participated in protests in recent months which followed the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who prosecutors say was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer during an arrest on non-violent charges on May 25. Respondents did not specify if they were protesting in support of police reforms or against such moves.

Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., an Iraq War veteran who has been a critic of past Pentagon efforts to tackle issues of racial equality and discrimination in the ranks, said he is encouraged that more service members seem to be recognizing the threat that racist ideology poses to the country, but he remains concerned that military leaders haven’t done enough to address the problem in their own ranks.

Roughly 31 percent of troops said they have seen signs of extremist behavior in the military. That’s down about 5 percent from a similar poll question in late 2019 but above the 23 percent mark when Military Times began asking the question in 2017.

About 57 percent of minority troops polled said they have personally experienced some form of racist or white supremacist behavior. That’s up nearly 4 percent from the poll conducted last fall.

“I don’t think we’re making progress on this issue. Clearly the survey says that we’re not,” Brown said. “This problem doesn’t represent who the military is and what we want to represent, but it is present.”

Poll respondents reported examples such as peers displaying white nationalist tattoos, making racist statements or participating in online forums linked to hate groups.“I’ve seen multiple soldiers online disrespecting the Black Lives Matter movement and the plight of people of color in our nation,” wrote one poll respondent. “I have seen leadership on multiple occasions say that the protesters should be shot, that our president should be more violent when dealing with the protesters. I’m disgusted.”

Others said they heard frequent use of racial slurs from white peers, both in conversations where they thought minorities weren’t present or in loud, public comments which seemed to invite confrontation. “Peers have been very vocal on how they believe that George Floyd deserved his death and are quick to point out black on black crime,” wrote another poll participant. “They complain that every ethnicity has an observance month but have nothing to celebrate ‘white pride.’”

Defense Department officials have questioned the poll findings and the prevalence of the problem in the past, but lawmakers have criticized them for a lack of similar internal polling to fully gauge the problem. Pentagon officials did not respond to request for comment on the latest poll findings.

Brown is optimistic that will be addressed this year. Included the House’s draft of the annual defense authorization bill is language to better track all instances of extremist activities in the ranks, and plans to include a question similar to the Military Times poll in command climate surveys.

“I think there are a lot of well-intentioned people (in military leadership) who would like for there to be no white nationalism, no white supremacists in the military, but they don’t seem willing to make the effort to make a change,” he said.“We don’t know the full extent of the problem now … Instead of just a sample of the military, every single person in uniform needs to be asked about this. And it’s not just for leadership. At the unit level, commanders will be able to see if they have a problem and address it immediately.”

Survey methodology

Between July 27 and Aug. 10, Military Times in collaboration with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University conducted a voluntary, confidential online survey of U.S. service members. Poll participants are readers of Military Times publications whose military status is verified through official Defense Department email addresses.

The survey included about 30 questions on service members’ opinions related to the current political climate, policy and national security in the United States. The survey received 1,018 responses from active-duty troops. The IVMF used standard methodology to weight the results according to the rank, gender and service branch of the actual U.S. military. The margin of error for most questions was less than 2 percent.

Like most studies where participation is voluntary, the poll’s sample is subject to self-selection bias. Researchers sought to account for that and adhered to generally accepted scientific practices analyzing the data.

The survey audience was 93 percent male and 7 percent female. The respondents identified themselves as 82 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, 6 percent African American, 2 percent Asian and 6 percent other ethnicities. Respondents were able to select more than one race.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The last survivor of a legendary World War II submarine

September 2nd marks the 75th anniversary of the formal Japanese surrender ceremony that officially brought World War II to an end. Navy veteran William “Bill” Leibold remembers that time well. He had just been released from a secret Japanese military compound, known as the “torture farm,” after 10 months in captivity. His weight, he recalls, had dropped from 172 to less than 100 pounds. “I try not to think of those days,” says the Escondido resident, 97. “We weren’t fed regularly.”

Leibold was one of nine survivors of a crew of 87 on the Navy submarine, USS Tang. The sailors were plucked out of frigid ocean water by a Japanese patrol boat after the sub had aggressively attacked its convoy in the Formosa Strait en route to the Philippines. After sinking to its watery grave on Oct. 25, 1944, the Tang was later credited with taking out 33 enemy ships, carrying out daring attacks and rescuing numerous downed airmen. It earned the WW II reputation as the most lethal Allied sub in the Pacific.

In a tragic quirk of fate, as the Tang fired its 24th and final torpedo before heading home that October night, the torpedo malfunctioned. Leibold was stationed on the bridge. “When we fired, the torpedo surfaced instead of running as it should have. It flew out of the water and then went back down,” he recalls. The erratic torpedo continued to splash up and down like a porpoise in a semi-circle on the port side, as the sub built up speed to move out of harm’s way.

“All of us on the bridge were concerned, but I don’t think any of us fully realized it was heading back to hit us in the stern,” says Leibold, who served as chief boatswain’s mate. “No one to this day knows what caused it to run erratic. Something just went wrong with the torpedo itself. Possibly it was damaged during loading into the tube. Any number of things could have happened. No one will ever know.”

The rest is naval history. And the details are clearly imbedded in Leibold’s memory: “When it hit our stern, we went down fast. The aft torpedo room flooded. Half the compartments flooded rapidly.... I went down with the ship. I don’t know how far. I was able to swim back to the surface. I could see the bow of the Tang still out of the water, but I couldn’t swim against the current to get to it. None of the men on the bridge were able to swim back to the bow.”

The disaster unfolded in the 2:30 a.m. darkness. Leibold guesses that maybe he was submerged about 50 feet before he felt a thud and started swimming upward. Trying to stay afloat, Leibold kicked off his shoes and took off his trousers. He tied the pant legs together, tried to inflate them and slip them over his head to use as a lifesaver-like flotation device as the crew had been instructed, but they didn’t hold air.

Eventually he heard a nearby voice call out. It was Floyd Caverly, a radio technician who, by luck, had been dispatched to the bridge to resolve a communication problem moments before the sinking. “He told me he couldn’t swim,” says Leibold. “I told him he could float.” Leibold continued to coax him on when to inhale and exhale in the choppy water to keep from drowning. Leibold later received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroic conduct for supporting a shipmate in the water for eight hours.

It was discovered later that half of the 87 members were killed upon impact. Others were trapped in what had become a metal tomb on the ocean floor 180 feet deep. The incident made naval history because this was the only sub to have survivors ascend during an emergency without surface assistance by using the Momsen lung, a crude breathing device stored on the sub for use in such emergencies.

Some who reached the surface could not swim and drowned, Liebold says. In the end, only nine of the original 87 crew, including Leibold and three others from the bridge, survived the night and were picked up by the Japanese. They were placed in solitary confinement in a navy compound in Ofuna, Japan but not classified as prisoners of war, Leibold says. “They referred to us as captured enemy.”

Nearly every day they were taken out to “swab the halls,” he recalls, explaining it was really a ruse to give the guards “an opportunity to exercise what we called their baseball bats. We were beaten almost every time we were taken out of the cells.” When asked what kept him going, Leibold said: “I don’t know. It was just the determination to survive. Staying alive was the one thing we had to do.” Just before their liberation on Aug. 22, 1945, they were moved to a separate section of a POW camp run by the Japanese army.

Leibold has recorded an oral history of his ordeal and was extensively interviewed by Alex Kershaw, an author who specializes in military history. Kershaw wrote the dramatic story of the Tang legend and tragedy in his 2008 book, “Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew.”

“Bill is (the) last survivor of (the) greatest U.S. submarine in history,” Kershaw tells me. “He helped found Navy Seals. He’s a living legend in U.S. Navy. Brave, honorable, selfless, the best example of the greatest generation.”

Kershaw credits Leibold with helping win the war through his role in the “silent service” — the submarine force that strangled the Japanese Empire through its sinkings and blockade. “He’s also a star of my book,” Kershaw notes.

After being liberated, Leibold returned to the United States to find that his wife, his high school sweetheart, Grace, was still waiting for him. A less lucky fate greeted four of the seven married ex-prisoners. Having received a telegram notifying them of the ship’s loss, their brides, understandably, had moved on with their lives and remarried.

Despite his ordeal, Leibold completed a 40-year career in the Navy, returning several times to Japanese waters as commander of a submarine service/rescue ship. Having previously been homeported in San Diego, he and Grace stayed and raised their three children in Chula Vista. The couple later built a home on Palomar Mountain, aptly nicknamed the “Ship House” for its shape and windows.

Several years later, they bought a house in Escondido. After Grace passed away, he moved into an independent living facility. Leibold stayed in touch with his former Tang crewmates and even held a reunion in the Ship House. Floyd Caverly died in 2011, just shy of his 94th birthday and is buried here at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary. Leibold is the last survivor.

Article from the San Diego Union-Tribune

Sunday, August 30, 2020

'Desert One': New Film Shows Heroes Are the Ones With the Guts to Try

The Iran Hostage Crisis takes center stage in Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple's new documentary "Desert One," a film that aims to recognize the heroism of the men who undertook a failed mission in 1980 to rescue 52 Americans held in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries.

In our collective "heroes don't get captured" cultural moment, the film offers a powerful reminder that it's the commitment to serve and willingness to undertake the mission that define our heroes. The hostage rescue may have been stymied by weather conditions and a lack of solid intelligence on the ground, but the special ops forces who planned and carried out the mission took enormous risk and made huge sacrifices for their country.

"Desert One" will open in theaters around the country on Friday, August 21 or be available to stream via the Virtual Cinema service that studios and independent theaters are using to to support local movie houses during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find out where the film is showing via the movie's ticket page. If there's not an affiliated theater in your town, rent by picking any theater offering the Virtual Cinema option. If that's too complicated for you, the film will be available On Demand via cable systems, Apple TV+, Amazon, Fandango, Google Play and YouTube on September 4.

Few national crises have gripped the public as much as the Iranian student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. The students were revolting against Shah Reza Pahlavi, a ruler they believed was beholden to American oil interests and who, in fact, had been installed as leader after a CIA-funded coup against the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953.

It was the height of the Cold War and Mossadegh was getting pretty friendly with the Soviet Union. Under the anti-Communist Domino Theory that informed U.S. policy at the time, a Red Iran would be a disaster for the region and our spies chose to act.

"Desert One" opens with a brief history lesson about the Shah's installation and rule, educating viewers about the brutality of his SAVAK secret police and how the royal family's embrace of Western values alienated a large number of the country's Islamic population.

Activist students stormed the embassy after the United States allowed the recently deposed Shah and his family to enter the United States for medical treatment. The new government wanted to try the former leader for his crimes against the people and there was widespread belief in Iran that the American government was planning military action to reinstall the fallen ruler.

Kopple quickly moves on to the issue at hand, introducing viewers to a few of the hostages who would eventually spend 444 days in captivity. Most notable is Kevin Hermening, a young Marine who was assigned to embassy security and whose mother notoriously traveled to Iran and negotiated a brief reunion with her son before attacking the government's handling of the crisis.

President Jimmy Carter shows up to both defend and take responsibility for his approach to the crisis. Determined to use peaceful negotiation as the tool to secure the hostage release, he found himself facing off against the Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious leader whose teachings had inspired the revolution.

Khomeini wanted one thing only: The USA would get its hostages back once the Americans turned over the Shah to the Iranian government. United States policy wouldn't allow for that, as the Shah and his family were certain to be executed after whatever trial they had. There was a stalemate.

Which brings us to the heart of the movie. Even though Carter didn't want to utilize military force in Iran, he approved the planning of an operation that would aim to rescue them using a secret Delta Force team led by unit founder Charlie Beckwith. We meet several of the operators and a few of the Air Force pilots set to provide transport.

It's difficult to convey just how obsessed Americans became with the hostage crisis in 1980. Ronald Reagan was running for president and insisted that Carter's lack of military action made the United States look weak. ABC newsman Ted Koppel launched "Nightline," a new late-night news show that devoted a half-hour to the day's developments every weeknight. Carter's administration was paralyzed.

Finally, Carter realized that negotiations were getting nowhere and approved the mission for April 24, 1980. All of the CIA's operatives in Iran were now hostages in the embassy so the strike team had spent months watching news footage to glean the limited intelligence they had for planning the missions.

The mission included three EC-130Es loaded with jeeps and other logistical supplies, three MC-130E Talons carrying the operatives and eight RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters for hostage transport. The plan was to land on a dry creek bed outside Tehran, drive to the embassy and extract the hostages.

The operation required a minimum of six working helicopters to succeed and three of the eight had mechanical issues on the night of the raid. After leadership made the decision to abort, one of the helicopters tried to take off in a sandstorm and crashed into one of the C-130s carrying Delta Force troops. Eight men were killed in the subsequent fire and had to be left behind as sunrise approached.

The failure proved a disaster for the Carter administration. The Iranian revolutionaries paraded the burnt bodies of the fallen soldiers and pilots before television cameras before turning them over to the Red Cross. Reagan hammered his campaign themes and the hostage crisis was likely the number one reason Carter lost to him in November.

The Shah died from cancer in July 1980 and the Iran-Iraq War began in September. The hostages were no longer the focus of the Iranian government and their release was now in everyone's best interest. Unfortunately, the Ayatollah had a deep personal dislike for Carter and wanted to humiliate the American leader as much as he could.

As inauguration day 1981 approached, the Carter administration worked furiously to negotiate, agreeing to release frozen Iranian assets in U.S. banks. Iran dragged out the agreement as long as it could and finally allowed the hostages to take off from a Tehran airport just an hour after Reagan was inaugurated.

Former president Carter flew immediately to meet the released hostages in Germany, emphasizing his personal commitment to the health and safety of the Americans who unwittingly played a role in ending his presidency.

"Desert One" exists to let the men who executed the mission tell their stories. Kopple firmly believes in their heroism and makes a big point of telling the story about the team's return to the island of Masirah. British military manning the airfield figured out what the mission had been and delivered two cases of beer to the Americans with the message "To you all, from us all, for having the guts to try" written on one of the cardboard box flaps. That message has endured as the motto of the USAF's 8th Special Operations Squadron: "With the guts to try."

What the movie doesn't do is delve deeply into the operation's mistakes. There was never a full-dress practice run before the actual mission (a fact mentioned in passing in the film) and Kopple never asks anyone about what kind of maintenance issues would lead to a full third of the helicopters failing to complete the mission.

Disappointment over the failed mission has obviously haunted everyone involved over the last 40 years, but "Desert One" argues that the attempt was the least worst option available at the time and, with a bit of luck, the special ops team could have succeeded. It's their service that Kopple wants to recognize and "Desert One" is a fitting tribute.

article from the Military Times

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fallen Ranger died freeing Taliban’s prisoners last year

An Army Ranger killed in action last winter was fatally wounded during a raid on a Taliban detention facility in Badghis province, Afghanistan, that freed 34 people, including a dozen children and six women, according to an investigation released through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, was fatally wounded by small-arms gunfire Jan. 13, 2019, as multiple combatants fled from a concealed position that he and other Rangers were approaching during the nighttime raid, the investigators wrote. Meddock died four days later at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Despite the loss, investigators praised the surgical team that medically evacuated Meddock from the battlefield and kept him from succumbing to his wounds on three occasions when his pulse dropped mid-flight.

Anticipating Meddock’s pulse would drop again, the surgical team aboard a helicopter placed a balloon catheter in his aorta, which was then inflated to push blood to vital organs. The challenging procedure prevented Meddock from experiencing another dangerous drop in blood pressure during the flight to Bagram Airfield.

During the raid itself, Meddock was assigned to a quick reaction force. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan as a member of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The Rangers departed Bagram on the night of Jan. 12, 2019, cross-loading aircraft at an unnamed waypoint, and infiltrated via helicopter very early the next morning. Upon landing in Badghis province’s Jawand district, the team received small-arms fire and the guards at the Taliban detention facility released their prisoners. The QRF element that included Meddock was asked by the main assault force to help round up the people who were “egressing from the prison, including prisoners and combatants,” the investigation reads.

The QRF also was tasked to pursue a group of six people who ran 500 meters northwest of the target compound. The group of six appeared to be hiding between a tree and the steep banks of a river. As the QRF closed in, they performed a “callout” intended to get “the Afghan personnel hiding to come out peacefully,” the investigation reads.

After the callout, the QRF soldiers began walking toward the six Afghans, only to be met by gunfire that ultimately struck Meddock in his head. The Rangers returned fire and called in a danger-close fire mission, though the type of munitions used were redacted in the investigation. The gunfight ended in six enemy fighters killed in action, the investigation stated. Eight other enemy fighters were killed elsewhere during the raid.

Meddock was immediately swept for injuries and a medic performed a cricothyrotomy to establish a clear airway for him to breathe. The soldiers were unable to find a pulse but dressed his head wound and alternated doing chest compressions on their gravely wounded comrade. They wrapped him in a hypothermia blanket and secured him to a litter.

It took roughly 25 minutes for a medical evacuation helicopter to land and whisk Meddock off the battlefield, according to the investigation’s timeline. Following the MedEvac, the QRF continued the mission, linked up with the assault force and escorted a group of six women and 12 children off the objective area, the investigation stated. Two Taliban fighters were also detained. Whether the women and children were detainees or family members of the guards was not stated in the investigation, but they were listed among the more than 30 non-Taliban fighters released.

Aboard the MedEvac helicopter, a surgical resuscitation team found that Meddock was not experiencing a great deal of blood loss, but his heart rate could not be measured. They used a slew of techniques, including chest compressions, blood transfusions and epinephrine to resuscitate him, ultimately normalizing his vital signs and bringing his pulse back.

Critically, the investigation noted, the surgical team anticipated the blood pressure would continue to be an issue and placed an endovascular balloon in Meddock’s aorta that could be inflated to regulate his blood flow. The surgical team inflated the balloon as they gained and lost altitude during their flight to Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, a Role III treatment facility, the investigation stated.

Upon landing, an unconscious Meddock was transferred to an ambulance on the flight line and brought into the hospital for a CT scan to determine the extent of his head injuries. A decision was made to further evacuate the young Ranger to Germany, where he would ultimately pass away four days later.

At the time of his death, media outlets reported that Meddock and his wife were expecting their first child, a boy, to be born in May. Meddock’s death came just months after another 2-75 Ranger, Sgt. Leandro Jasso, was killed during a nighttime raid on al-Qaida senior leader associates in November 2018.

Article from the Army Times

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

From the Long Tab Brewing Company - The QUARTERBACK is LIVE!

This beer is brewed in honor of GREEN BERET and Medal of Honor Recipient SSG Melvin Morris. The Quarterback is a 10% Imperial Vanilla Stout and is a collaboration between LONGTAB, WARCLOUD BREWING (who produced the incredible artwork of Melvin), and Melvin himself, and is inspired by the Weathered Souls Black is Beautiful Project whose purpose resonates with the Green Beret motto: To Liberate those Oppressed. Melvin is one of the first African Americans to don the Green Beret. He is a living legend and we are honored to be able to celebrate his incredible service to our great country.

SSG Melvin Morris received the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions on SEP 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Co, Third Battalion, IV Mobile Strike Force (part of 5th Special Forces Group) near Chi Lang, Vietnam. After hearing his team commander had been killed in action he organized and lead a team behind enemy lines to retrieve the fallen. With a bag full of grenades he proceeded to lead the assault through heavy enemy fire which was focused on this team. With speed and QUARTERBACK-accuracy he threw grenades into enemy bunkers, eliminating the entire enemy force who had pinned down his unit. After retrieving his fallen comrade, he was shot three times as he made his way back to friendly lines, but ultimately succeeded in returning his fallen comrade to a friendly position.

We are releasing this beer in two batches: a very small batch today, then a larger one mid to late AUG. For the label, we chose this particular image of Melvin because it captures what a true badass he is, and the background colors are from the 5th SFG beret flash Melvin is wearing.

This beer is available in limited quantities now in single 16oz cans (max two per order) on the Long Tab Brewing Company website.

Portions of the proceeds of this beer will be donated to the Green Beret Project which takes leadership methods used by Special Forces to mentor at-risk inner-city youth overcome some of the socio-economic challenges they are born into, and to teach them to become leaders in their communities.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

RIP General Brent Scowcroft, 1925–2020

With deep sadness, the Nation marks the passing of Brent Scowcroft, a world-renowned expert of international affairs and the former National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. General Scowcroft was a member of The Jamestown Foundation’s Board of Directors from 1988 to 1989.

“General Scowcroft leaves behind a tremendous legacy and a deep impression upon American foreign policy and strategy,” said Jamestown President Glen Howard. “We will always be grateful for his contributions to this country, and for his guidance to The Jamestown Foundation in its early years. Then-President Bill Geimer always appreciated Scowcroft’s advice on the foundation’s early mission of assisting Soviet defectors to the U.S., whose revelations, in turn, informed the general’s thoughts and policies at the end of the Cold War.”

General Scowcroft was a major influence on U.S. foreign policy for over 60 years. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 1947, he was transferred to the U.S. Air Force upon that branch’s creation in 1948. He earned an MA and PhD in international relations in 1953 and 1967, respectively, from Columbia University. In an impressive 29-year military career, where he served in administrative and strategic positions within the USAF, General Scowcroft eventually rose to the position of Deputy National Security Advisor under Henry Kissinger in 1973. He became National Security Advisor in 1975. As a private citizen, he was vice chairman of Kissinger Associates from 1982 to 1989, where he provided strategic advice to multiple U.S. and foreign corporate leaders. General Scowcroft returned to the position of National Security Advisor in 1989, the first and only person to twice serve in that role. While not serving as the National Security Advisor, General Scowcroft contributed as a member of various task forces and committees advising the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. He would also found and lead the Scowcroft Group, an international consulting firm.

Among his many accomplishments in and out of government, General Scowcroft played a critical role in handling the American response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, helping shape the country’s policies toward the new Russian Federation. He played a crucial diplomatic role in readjusting the U.S. relationship with China following the massacre at Tiananmen Square. He oversaw strategy related to the Gulf War following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and would go on to criticize the George W. Bush administration’s later invasion of Iraq.

General Scowcroft was the recipient of multiple awards throughout his life. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991, and an honorary knighthood of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993. He is survived by his daughter, Karen, and a granddaughter, Meghan.

 Article from the Jamestown Foundation

Thursday, August 13, 2020

It’s time for a third special operations revolution

The Senate Armed Service Committee report on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) expresses the committee’s persistent concern with U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and the need for stronger civilian oversight. Beginning with the 2017 NDAA, Congress has tried to improve the capability of the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict (ASD SO/LIC) to provide this oversight but the Department of Defense (DoD) has failed to implement Congress’ intent. This led the committee to mandate a comprehensive review of SOF professionalism and ethics in the 2019 NDAA (Sec. 1066) , with a new requirement this year (2021 NDAA, Sec. 544) for quarterly reports on measures to implement the review’s findings.”

The 2017 NDAA (Sec. 922) formally established the Special Operations Policy and Oversight Council (SOPOC) and directed the transfer of billets from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to ASD SO/LIC to enhance civilian oversight of special operations. Congress also inserted ASD SO/LIC into the administrative chain of command — which now includes the president, secretary of defense, ASD SO/LIC, and the commander of USSOCOM. This made the ASD SO/LIC the de facto equivalent of a service secretary, but without the resources and authorities necessary to effectively execute service responsibilities.

For three years DoD has neglected to transfer all the necessary billets to ASD SO/LIC and has not improved civilian oversight to the satisfaction of Congress. In an attempt to improve the situation, the Senate version of the 2021 NDAA (Sec. 901 ) would direct the establishment of a “secretariat of special operations” to lead the SOPOC that would fall under the ASD SO/LIC.

To date, this piecemeal and evolutionary process has not met Congress’ intent and the directive in the 2021 NDAA is unlikely to solve the problem. A secretariat for special operations is a step forward, but a timid one at best. It is time for another special operations revolution.

The first such revolution entailed the creation of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1942 by President Roosevelt with William J. Donovan in command. The OSS was America’s first national intelligence service and formal special operations force; in effect it operated as a separate service. FDR established the OSS to support the U.S. war effort against the Axis powers with units such as the Jedburghs and operational groups in France; Merrill’s Marauders in the China-Burma-India theater; and intelligence, counterintelligence, and “morale operations” (psychological operations) around the world. Although Harry Truman disbanded the entire OSS at the end of World War II, its legacy lives on among intelligence and special operations professionals.

While the National Security Act of 1947 established the CIA to provide the intelligence capabilities the OSS stood up during the war and the intelligence community writ large grew in stature and importance to U.S. national security, the U.S. military’s special operations capabilities ebbed and flowed over the years. SOF can be best described as an orphan or step child. As Rep. Dan Daniel noted, the conventional military was apt to “commit mischief” toward SOF. While SOF have periodically had presidential patrons, such as Kennedy and Reagan, there were never sufficient command and control capabilities, support, or integration into national security and defense strategies. This led to the seminal failure of Operation Eagle Claw at Desert One in Iran in 1980. The lack of a unified organization to ensure readiness and proper execution of special operations was a major reason for the derailment of the mission to free American hostages in Tehran.

Learning from that failure, Congress led the second special operations revolution when it passed the Nunn-Cohen Amendment to the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. This amendment established a unified command, USSOCOM, on April 16, 1987. It brought together the special operations capabilities of the Army, Navy, and Air Force under a single unified functional combatant command. Notably this was done over the objections of the services. Without congressional action there would be no unified special operations command today.

This action was revolutionary because Congress created a hybrid command, one with combatant command warfighting capabilities but also “service-like” responsibilities and authorities for manning, training, and equipping, a unique funding line in Major Force Program 11 (MFP 11), and its own research and development program. From 1987 until 2001, USSOCOM exercised its service-like responsibilities to develop a world-class special operations force. Although it had to overcome friction with the services (which continues to persist), the successful conduct of SOF missions since 9-11 demonstrated why this aspect of USSOCOM should be considered a success. However, in 1987 Congress did not go far enough and only created a military command structure but no civilian service infrastructure, leaving the exercise of effective oversight to the four parent services and an ASD SO/LIC that lacked the necessary resources and authorities.

Since 9-11, special operations forces have come under tremendous stress operating at the very highest operational tempo with proportionally the highest casualty rates among all the services. These exorbitant levels of stress yielded numerous problems, such as high suicide rates and other behavioral and ethical issues and leadership failures while deployed on various operations in Afghanistan, Mali, and Niger, among others, that raised Congress’ level of concern. This led Congress to demand stronger civilian oversight of SOF because it deemed it such oversight necessary to correct the identified shortfalls and effectively advocate for the SOF community and its missions.

In order to meet congressional intent, as stated in the 2017 NDAA and 2021 Senate draft, to have strong and empowered civilian oversight over U.S. special operations forces, it is time to consider a third revolution in SOF history. The evolutionary and piecemeal changes to date have not achieved the desired effects. Therefore, Congress should consider taking the following three bold actions.

1. Disestablish USSCOM headquarters in Tampa. Eliminate the ASD SO/LIC position. Establish a new Department of Special Operations in Washington. Appoint a secretary of special operations (SSO) with a fully manned service staff to serve as a service secretary equivalent to the existing service secretaries. Appoint a four-star as the chief of special operations (CSO). The CSO would become a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs. The SSO and CSO would be responsible for ensuring SOF is organized, trained, educated, equipped, and optimized to provide strategic support to the national security and defense strategies through the full spectrum of special operations activities as outlined in Title 10 of the U.S. Code (Sec. 167).

2. Designate the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) a combatant command with a four-star commander with the mission to counter violent extremist organizations and conduct counter-terrorism operations. JSOC is, in fact, already functioning as a de facto combatant command and this would simply codify its status.

3. Reorganize and properly resource the theater special operations commands (TSOC) to conduct special operations under the operational control of the GCC. Designate the TSOC a three-star command to elevate it to same level as the other service components in theater.

The SOF service components and the TSOCs would be assigned to the Department of Special Operations under the command of the chief of special operations and his department staff headquarters. The Army Special Operations Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Naval Special Warfare Command, and Marine Special Operations Command would maintain the same relationship with their aligned service components. The SSO and CSO would have better oversight of that relationship and weigh in with the Army, Navy, etc., as a fellow service secretary and a member of the Joint Chiefs, to ensure the proper service common support is provided to the SOF components. The SSO would maintain MFP-11 funding for all SOF components and the TSOCs. The DSO would provide SOF capabilities and units to the TSOCs and JSOC as required.

This revolutionary proposal would meet the intent of the current Congress for strong civilian oversight and the vision of many in Congress since 1986. Rep. Daniel, who strongly supported the Nunn-Cohen Amendment in the House, advocated for SOF as a “Sixth Service.” Congress wanted the USSOCOM HQ to be in Washington. However, the services continued to conduct their “malicious implementation” as noted in a seminal work on the origins of USSOCOM, and DoD reflagged the Readiness Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, to be the new headquarters. Today, the proven capabilities and importance of SOF and the need to correct the ethical and leadership shortfalls demand a radical change such as being designated a department co-equal to the traditional services. It could be designated the “Department of Special Operations” or, given its heritage and connection to the first SOF revolution, the “Department of Strategic Services.”

This third revolution in special operations would place this critical capability at the right level of command, with the right organization, with empowered leadership, authority, and influence providing civilian oversight to most effectively support the national security and defense strategies.

Article written by David Maxwell, a 30-year veteran of the United States Army and retired Special Forces colonel, and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Posted on the Military Times.