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29 décembre 2015 2 29 /12 /décembre /2015 08:20
Special Operations: SOCOM Ordered To Use Female Commandos

 

December 14, 2015: Strategy page

 

In early December, after years of trying to justify allowing women into the infantry, artillery and armor and special operations forces, the U.S. government simply ordered the military to make it happen and do so without degrading the capabilities of these units. While the army was inclined the just say yes, find out what quotas the politicians wanted and go through the motions, some others refused to play along. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the marines pointed out that the research does not support the political demands and that actually implementing the quotas could get people killed while degrading the effectiveness of the units with women. This is yet another reason why many politicians do not like the marines and are uneasy about SOCOM. The commander of SOCOM promptly said the order would be implemented (otherwise he can kiss his upcoming promotion goodbye) but the Marine Corps has, as in the past, not voiced any enthusiasm at all. This decision involves about 220,000 jobs. About ten percent of these are special operations personnel, commonly known as commandos.

 

The special operations troops are not happy with this decision. In a recent survey most (85 percent) of the operators (commandos, SEALs, Rangers) in SOCOM opposed allowing women in. Most (88 percent) feared that standards would be lowered in order to make it possible for some women to quality. Most (82 percent) believed that women did not have the physical strength to do what was required. About half (53 percent) would not trust women placed in their unit. For these men the decision is a matter of life and death and SOCOM commanders fear that the decision, if implemented, would cause many of the most experienced operators to leave and dissuade many potential recruits from joining. Keeping experienced personnel and finding suitable new recruits has always been a major problem for SOCOM and this will make it worse.

 

That said there are some jobs SOCOM operators do that women can handle. One is espionage, an area that SOCOM has been increasingly active in since the 1990s because of their familiarity with foreign cultures and operator skills and discipline. Another task women excel at is teaching. Israel has long recognized this and some of their best combat skills instructors are women. But what the male operators are complaining about is women performing the jobs that still depend on exceptional physical as well as mental skills. These include direct action (raids, ambushes and such) and recon (going deep into hostile territory to patrol or just observe.) These are the most dangerous jobs and many operators are not willing to make the job even more dangerous just to please some grandstanding politicians.

 

This order has been “under consideration” for three years. The various services had already opened up some infantry training programs to women and discovered two things. First (over 90 percent) of women did not want to serve in any combat unit, especially the infantry. Those women (almost all of them officers) who did apply discovered what female athletes and epidemiologists (doctors who study medical statistics) have long known; women are ten times more likely (than men) to suffer bone injuries and nearly as likely to suffer muscular injuries while engaged in stressful sports (like basketball) or infantry operations. Mental stress is another issue and most women who volunteered to try infantry training dropped out within days because of the combination of mental and physical stress. Proponents of women in combat (none of them combat veterans) dismiss these issues as minor and easily fixed but offer no tangible or proven solutions.

 

Back in 2012 the U.S. Army and Marine Corps were ordered to come up with procedures to select women capable of handling infantry and special operations assignments and then recruit some women for these jobs. This had become an obsession with many politicians. None of these proponents of women in the infantry have ever served in the infantry, but some understood that if they proceeded without proof that women could handle the job, that decision could mean getting a lot of American soldiers and marines killed. The politicians also knew that if it came to that, the military could be blamed for not implementing the new policy correctly. That’s how politics works and why politicians are not popular with the troops.

 

So far the tests overseen by monitors reporting back to civilian officials in Congress and the White House have failed to find the needed proof that women can handle infantry combat. The main problem the military has is their inability to make these politicians understand how combat operations actually work and what role sheer muscle plays in success, or simply survival. But many politicians have become infatuated with the idea that women should serve in the infantry and are ignoring the evidence.

 

All this comes after decades of allowing women to take jobs that were more and more likely to result in women having to deal with combat. Not infantry combat, but definitely dangerous situations where you were under attack and had to fight back or die. The last such prohibition is the U.S. Department of Defense policy that forbids the use of female troops in direct (infantry type) combat. Despite the ban many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan found themselves in firefights and exposed to roadside bombs, something that's normal for a combat zone. Because women were earlier allowed to serve in MP (military police) units and then regularly do convoy security they got some combat experience. Those convoys often included other female troops who were trained to fight back, if necessary. It was usually the MPs who did the fighting and the female MPs performed well. Several of them received medals for exceptional performance in combat. Hundreds of these female MPs were regularly in combat since September 11, 2001. This was the largest and longest exposure of American female troops to direct combat. Yet women have often been exposed to a lot of indirect combat. As far back as World War II, 25 percent of all troops in the army found themselves under fire at one time or another, although only about 15 percent of soldiers had a "direct combat" job. In Iraq women made up about 14 percent of the military personnel but only two percent of the casualties (dead and wounded). Most women do not want to be in combat but those who did get the job proved that they could handle it and knew that being in combat as an MP was not the same as doing it in an infantry unit. This experience, however, did provide proof to some that women could perform in infantry or special operations type combat.

 

All this is actually an ancient problem. The issue of women in combat has long been contentious. Throughout history women have performed well in combat but mainly in situations where pure physical strength was not a major factor. For example, women often played a large, and often decisive, role as part of the defending force in sieges. Many women learned to use the light bow (for hunting). While not as lethal as the heavy bows (like the English longbow), when the situation got desperate the female archers made a difference, especially if it was shooting a guys coming up and over the wall with rape and general mayhem in mind.

 

Once lightweight firearms appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries women were even deadlier in combat. Again, this only occurred in combat situations where the superior physical strength and sturdiness of men was not a factor. Much of infantry operations are all about the grunts (as infantry are often called) just moving themselves and their heavy loads into position for a fight. Here the sturdiness angle was all about the fact that men have more muscle and thicker bones. This makes men much less likely to suffer stress fractures or musculoskeletal injuries than women. Modern infantry combat is intensely physical, and most women remain at a disadvantage here. There are some exception for specialist tasks that do not involve sturdiness or strength, like sniping. Then there is the hormonal angle. Men generate a lot more testosterone, a hormone that makes men more decisive and faster to act in combat. Moreover testosterone does not, as the popular myth goes, make you more aggressive, it does make you more aware and decisive. That makes a difference in combat.

 

The main problem today is that the average load for a combat infantryman is over 40 kg (88 pounds) and men (in general) have always had more strength to handle heavy loads better than women. But in situations like convoy escort, base security, or support jobs in the combat zone the combat load is lower and more manageable for women it’s another matter. At that point there’s plenty of recent evidence that women can handle themselves in some types of combat. That said, women, more than men, prefer to avoid serving in combat units. Since 2001 American recruiters found it easier to find young men for combat units than for support jobs. It’s mainly female officers who demand the right to try out for combat jobs. That’s because the most of the senior jobs in the military go only to those who have some experience in a combat unit. But when the marines allowed 14 female marines to take the infantry officer course, none could pass and all agreed that they were treated just like the male trainees. This was not a unique situation.

 

Because of the strenuous nature of combat jobs (armor, artillery, and engineers, as well as infantry) there are physical standards for these occupations. The U.S. military calls it a profile and if you do not have the physical profile for a job, you can’t have it. Thus while many men are not physically fit for the infantry, nearly all women are. For example, 55 percent of women cannot do the three pull-ups required in the physical fitness test, compared to only one percent of men. Some women could meet the physical standards and be eager to have the job. But Western nations (including Canada) that have sought to recruit physically qualified female candidates for the infantry found few volunteers and even fewer who could meet the profile and pass the training. So while it is theoretically possible that there are some women out there who could handle the physical requirements, none have so far come forward to volunteer for infantry duty. A recent survey of female soldiers in the U.S. Army found that over 92 percent would not be interested in having an infantry job. Over two years of American research into the matter concluded that about three percent of women could be trained to the point where they were at the low end of the physically “qualified” people (male or female) for infantry combat. What that bit of data ignores is how many of those physically strong women would want a career in the infantry or special operations. There would be a few, but for the politicians who want women represented in infantry units this would smack of tokenism. Moreover this comes at a time when physical standards for American infantry and special operations troops have been increasing, because this was found to produce more effective troops and lower American casualties.

 

When the U.S. used conscription the infantry ended up with a lot of less-muscular and enthusiastic men in the infantry. Allowances were made for this, but for elite units (paratroopers, commandos) there were no corners cut and everyone had to volunteer and meet high physical standards. That made a very noticeable difference in the combat abilities of the elite unit. Now all infantry are recruited to those old elite standards and it would wreck morale and decrease the number of male volunteers if it was mandated that some less physically qualified women be able to join infantry units. This doesn’t bother a lot of politicians but it does bother the guys out there getting shot at.

 

Meanwhile over the last century women have been increasingly a part of the military. In most Western nations over ten percent of military personnel are female. In the U.S. military it’s now 15 percent. A century ago it was under one percent (and most of those were nurses and other medical personnel). More women are in uniform now because there aren't enough qualified men, especially for many of the technical jobs armed forces now have to deal with. In the United States women became more of a presence in the armed forces after the military went all-volunteer in the 1970s. That led to more and more combat-support jobs being opened to women. This became popular within the military because the women were often better at these support jobs. This led to women being allowed to serve on American combat ships in 1994. In most NATO countries between 5-10 percent of sailors are women, while in Britain it is 10 percent, and in the United States 16 percent.

 

Once women were allowed to fly combat aircraft, it was only a matter of time before some of them rose to command positions. Currently, about ten percent of navy officers are female, as are nine percent of enlisted personnel. Only 4.2 percent of navy aviators (pilots) are women, as are 6.9 percent of flight officers (non-pilot aircrew). In the air force five percent of pilots are women. Women now command warships and air combat units (including fighter squadrons). Some women, and their political supporters, want to do the same thing in the infantry and special operations. If only the physical problems could be taken care of.

 

Advocates for women in combat also have to worry about combat casualties and the very well documented history of women in combat. During World War II over five million women served in the military worldwide. Although they suffered fewer losses than the men, several hundred thousand did die. These women were often exposed to combat, especially when fighting as guerillas or operating anti-aircraft guns and early warning systems in Russia, Germany, and Britain. Russia also used women as traffic cops near the front line, as snipers, and as combat pilots. They (especially the Russians) tried using them as tank crews and regular infantry, but that didn’t work out, a historical lesson lost on current proponents. Women were most frequently employed in medical and other support jobs. The few who served as snipers or pilots were very good at it.

 

Most of the women who served in combat did so in guerilla units, especially in the Balkans and Russia. The women could not haul as heavy a load as the men but this was often not crucial, as many guerillas were only part-time fighters, living as civilians most of the time. Full time guerilla units often imposed the death penalty for pregnancy, although the women sometimes would not name the father. That said, guerilla organizations often imposed the death penalty for a number of offenses. The guerillas had few places to keep prisoners and sloppiness could get a lot of guerillas killed. The women tended to be more disciplined than the men and just as resolute in combat.

 

In the last century there have been several attempts to use women in ground combat units, and all have failed. When given a choice, far fewer women will choose combat jobs (infantry, armor, artillery). But duty as MPs does attract a lot of women, as do jobs like fighter, bomber, helicopter pilots and crews, and aboard warships. That works.

 

Meanwhile the casualty rate for women in Iraq was over ten times what it was in World War II, Vietnam, and the 1991 Gulf War (where 30,000 women served). A lot of the combat operations experienced by women in Iraq involved base security or guard duty. Female troops performed well in that. These were jobs that required alertness, attention to detail, and ability to quickly use your weapons when needed. Carrying a heavy load was not required. In convoy operations women have also done well, especially when it comes to spotting, and dealing with, IEDs (roadside bombs and ambushes). Going into the 21st century, warfare is becoming more automated and less dependent on muscle and testosterone. That gives women an edge, and they exploit it, just as they have done in so many other fields.

 

Now the military has been ordered to just make it happen. No need to find a way to justify allowing females in the infantry and special operations troops. An order has been given. After that comes the difficulty in finding women who are willing to volunteer and pass whatever standards survive.

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12 novembre 2015 4 12 /11 /novembre /2015 08:20
MC-130J Commando II aircraft assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command -  photo Lockheed Martin

MC-130J Commando II aircraft assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command - photo Lockheed Martin

 

November 10, 2015: Strategy Page

 

In late 2015 U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) two more MC-130J all-weather transports. SOCOM has already received most of the 37 on order and deliveries are supposed to be complete by 2017. This is part of a major program to upgrade and expand the SOCOM fleet of specialized aircraft. Despite cuts in the American defense budget since 2010 SOCOM gets money for its aircraft program because SOCOM personnel are still in big demand worldwide.

 

Since 2009 SOCOM  has been devoting the largest chunk of its procurement budget to aircraft and most of that is going for one type of aircraft; the C-130J. SOCOM wants to buy about a hundred C-130Js and use them as commando transports (MC-130J) or gunships (AC-130J). In addition several hundred million dollars is being spent on sensors and weapons that can be quickly installed in MC-130Js to turn them into temporary gunships.

 

All this spending on aircraft is because the SOCOM air force has been worked hard since September 11, 2001 and has been constantly short of aircraft and qualified pilots. Back in 2009 SOCOM looked at their air force (some 300 MC-130s MH-53s AC-130s MH-6s MH-60s CV-22s and a few other types) and drew up a plan to shrink and update this overworked and aging collection of transports and helicopters. Having fewer, but more capable aircraft was seen as the only way out of the chronic shortages of aircraft and pilots. There was also the problem of aircraft worn out from heavy use and combat damage. So in addition to replacing the elderly C-130s SOCOM also sought to take the 31 MH-47Ds and E helicopters  (which have additional navigation gear) and upgraded them to MH-47F standards while the fleet was expanded to 61 helicopters. Most other SOCOM aircraft were also to be upgraded or refurbished.

 

Meanwhile the expansion and refurbishment program could not keep up with the demand in Afghanistan. Worse, there was never been enough logistics support to service all the jobs SOCOM is called on to do. In response, SOCOM improvised as much as they could. They borrowed aircraft and logistics support from other units. SOCOM is a high priority outfit, and can often get some of what they need. When SOCOM is providing specialized support for the combat units they borrow resources from they don't have a problem.

 

However when it's a pure SOCOM mission the army and air force are not as eager to part with scarce resources. What it means is that troops are operating at less than peak efficiency because they don't have all the tools they need to get the job done. Missions get cancelled, and opportunities are lost. SOCOM is a flexible outfit, and adaptations are often made. More commando operations were carried out using ground transportation. More troops, and equipment, were parachuted in. SOCOM is even obtained UAVs that can carry supplies. SOCOM is all about innovation, and a helicopter shortage is just seen as another opportunity to be creative. But there was always an ultimate solution for a lot of the air transportation and it was the new C-130J.

 

Back in 2011 SOCOM received its first MC-130J. This was part of a larger U.S. Air Force effort to replace 200 worn out C-130Es. The C-130J transport proved to be more than just another model in the fifty year old C-130 design. This is mainly because it's cheaper and easier to use. Like most new commercial transports, the C-130J emphasizes saving money. The new engines generate 29 percent more thrust while using 15 percent less fuel. Increased automation reduced crew size from four to three. The rear ramp door can now be opened in flight when the aircraft is going as fast as 450 kilometers an hour, versus the current 270 kilometers an hour.

 

The SOCOM MC-130s are all-weather aircraft used for everything from moving SOCOM personnel and equipment around the combat zone, to parachuting supplies, refueling helicopters in the air, dropping bombs and propaganda leaflets, or loading a pallet or two of electronic gear for special reconnaissance or psychological warfare missions. MC-130s are particularly useful because they have terrain following radar that enables them to fly at low altitude, especially at night or during bad weather. MC-130s have several additional navigation and communication systems, which allow them to fly in all weather, especially low enough to avoid radar detection.

 

C-130Js have cost nearly twenty percent less per hour than previous models. The most common version of the C-130 still in service is the C-130H. It has a range of 8,368 kilometers, a top speed of 601 kilometers per hour, and can carry up to 18 tons of cargo, 92 troops, or 64 paratroopers. The latest version, the C-130J, has a top speed of 644 kilometers, 40 percent more range than the C-130H, and can carry 20 tons of cargo. The stretched C-130J-30 can carry more bulky cargo, and goes for about $100 million each. The C-130J has a top speed of 644 kilometers, 40 percent more range than the C130H. The C-130 has been in service for over half a century, and has been flying for over 50 countries.

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5 novembre 2015 4 05 /11 /novembre /2015 08:35
Green Berets Train With Indian Counter-Terror Commandos
 

November 3, 2015 - War is Boring

 

U.S. Special Forces troops are in India wrapping up their first exercise with the country’s elite anti-terror commandos. Exercise Balanced Iroquois paired up American Green Berets and members of the Indian National Security Guard’s 51st Special Action Group for three weeks.

American elite troops already train with the Indian Army commandos as part of the annual Exercise Vajra Prahar, and regular troops from both countries train together during the annual Yudh Abhyas. But the recent partnership with the NSG is a sign of growing ties between the two nations in the realm of counter terror.

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30 octobre 2015 5 30 /10 /octobre /2015 16:30
12 A-10C Thunderbolt IIs deployed to Incirlik, Turkey AB in support of Operation Inherent Resolve photo USAF

12 A-10C Thunderbolt IIs deployed to Incirlik, Turkey AB in support of Operation Inherent Resolve photo USAF

 

30 octobre 2015 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

Washington - Les Etats-Unis vont déployer en Syrie un petit contingent d'une cinquantaine de forces spéciales pour participer pour la première fois sur le terrain à l'effort de guerre contre le groupe Etat islamique (EI), a indiqué vendredi à l'AFP un responsable américain.

 

Il s'agit d'une décision sans précédent du président Barack Obama qui va envoyer des militaires américains au sol en Syrie --dans un rôle de conseillers--, le chef de l'exécutif américain s'étant jusqu'ici refusé à le faire officiellement et préférant le recours aux bombardements aériens.

 

Le président a autorisé le déploiement d'un petit effectif -- moins de 50 -- de forces d'opérations spéciales américaines dans le nord de la Syrie, a confié un cadre de l'administration américaine.

 

Ces soldats d'élite déployés au sol en Syrie aideront à coordonner les troupes locales sur le terrain et les efforts de la coalition pour contrecarrer l'EI, a expliqué ce responsable, sans être plus précis.

 

Les quelques 50 forces spéciales seront donc cantonnées officiellement à un rôle d'assistance et de conseil aux groupes armés rebelles syriens dits modérés, et ne seront donc pas directement impliquées dans des opérations de combat.

 

Par ailleurs, un autre responsable de l'administration Obama a confirmé que l'armée américaine allait déployer des avions d'attaque au sol A-10 et des chasseurs F-15 sur une base aérienne turque, également dans le cadre de la lutte de la coalition internationale contre le groupe jihadiste EI.

 

Les Etats-Unis pilotent depuis plus d'un an cette coalition de plus de 60 pays qui bombarde des positions de l'EI et autres groupes jihadistes en Syrie et aussi en Irak voisin.

 

Parallèlement, la Russie mène depuis un mois des frappes aériennes en Syrie, officiellement pour lutter contre le terrorisme mais Moscou est accusé de ne pas cibler l'EI et de vouloir en fait renforcer le régime de son allié syrien qui se bat contre la rébellion dite modérée.

 

Les Etats-Unis et la Russie mènent en cette fin de semaine des réunions diplomatiques internationales à Vienne pour tenter de trouver une porte de sortie politique au conflit, qui a fait plus de 250.000 morts depuis son déclenchement en mars 2011.

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30 octobre 2015 5 30 /10 /octobre /2015 08:20
MC-12 Liberty taking off from Beale AFB, 25 January 2013 photo USAF

MC-12 Liberty taking off from Beale AFB, 25 January 2013 photo USAF

 

October 25, 2015: Strategy Page

 

The U.S. Air Force is giving away its 41 RC-12W electronic reconnaissance aircraft. These were acquired by the air force starting in 2008 to deal with the shortage of Predator UAVs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now eleven RC-12Ws are going to the army, 26 to SOCOM and four to another (not named) agency. The air force does not usually give fixed wing aircraft to the army, which is one reason most of the RC-12Ws went to SOCOM. But there was still demand for the RC-12W and the air force is trying to cut expenses.

 

The MC-12s were quite useful and could stay in the air for up to eight hours per sortie. Not quite what the Predator can do (over 20 hours per sortie) but good enough to help meet the demand. The MC-12 has advantages over UAVs. It can carry over a ton of sensors, several times what a Predator can haul. The MC-12 can fly higher (11 kilometers/35,000 feet) and is faster (over 500 kilometers an hour, versus 215 for the Predator). The MC-12s cost about $20 million each, more than twice what a Predator goes for. The MC-12's crew consists of two pilots and two equipment operators. Since 2009 the air force MC-12Ws flew 79,000 combat sorties averaging about five hours each. The sensors and operators enabled ground troops to kill or capture over 8,000 Islamic terrorists along with hundreds of terrorist hideouts, bomb workshops or storage sites. 

 

The MC-12 was based on one of the most widely used, but largely unknown, military transport aircraft; the King Air twin-turboprop. There are nearly 300 in military service and it’s not surprising that most people think of the King Air as a civilian aircraft because most of the 6,000 built since the 1960s have been for commercial not military use. Yet over the decades more than a thousand King Airs have been bought, often second-hand by the military because the price was right and the King Air could get the job done.

 

The U.S. military has often used the King Air for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) work as the MC-12 or as transports (the C-12 Huron) and electronic warfare (RC-12) aircraft. There are so many King Airs out there that the military often buys used ones because they are so much cheaper and still get the job done.

 

The RC-12W electronic warfare version is crammed with vidcams, electronic sensors, jammers, and radios. This aircraft (Ceasar, for Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance And Reconnaissance) can spend hours circling an Afghan battleground, keeping troops on the ground aware of enemy walkie-talkie and cell phone use, including location of these devices and translations of what is being discussed. The enemy is vaguely aware of what this militarized King Air can do but have no better way to communicate. Thus the few Caesar equipped aircraft sent to Afghanistan have proved very useful for the American and British troops that use them.

 

Military use of the King Air arose in the United States (where manufacturer Beechcraft is located) in the early 1970s, when the U.S. Army adopted the King Air as the RC-12 and then used it for a wide variety of intelligence missions ever since.

 

The current King Air 350 is a 5.6 ton, twin engine aircraft that evolved from the first King Airs that showed up in the 1960s as a 5.3 ton aircraft that could carry 13 passengers. In the 1960s a much improved 5.6 ton version called, until the 1990s, the Super King Air was introduced. The Super King Air is simply a slightly larger and more capable version of the original King Air.

 

The military and civilian users both admired the simplicity and sturdiness of the design. The only other civilian aircraft on the top ten list of military transports is the single engine Cessna 208. Beechcraft and Cessna are now combined into the same light aircraft division of Textron and individual models like the King Air and Cessna 208 will continue to be built and sold under the same names.

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14 octobre 2015 3 14 /10 /octobre /2015 11:30
photo US Navy

photo US Navy

 

October 13, 2015: Strategy Page

 

Questions are being asked, and no answers given, about the aftermath of an American raid in Syria that captured lots of evidence of illegal activities throughout the Middle East and in the West. Five months after the raid the massive amount of intel taken has resulted no one being arrested or prosecuted. This all began on May 18th, 2015, in the eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor province) when American commandos (from the army Delta Force) raided the heavily guarded ISIL compound of Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al Tunisi (nicknamed Abu Sayyaf), a Tunisian who ran ISIL finances. This included the lucrative trade in stolen oil and any other scams that will bring in revenue. The raiders sought to take Abu Sayyaf alive but he and two other senior ISIL officials died in the brief battle.

 

The raiders did seize many records (most of them electronic) and took away Abu Sayyaf’s wife who was wanted for supervising the enslavement of captured women. Also taken away were a quantity of small (easy to smuggle) antiquities that ISIL was preparing to smuggle out of Syria for sale to wealthy buyers in the Middle East and the West. In late September the United States returned these small antique items to the Iraqi government and that put the May raid back in the news and triggered unanswered questions about the follow-up to the intel taken in that operation. It may be a long time before it is revealed what actually happened here, especially when it comes to the trade in illegal antiquities. The most likely explanation is that the non-terrorists revealed to be involved (as smugglers, middlemen and financiers) of the smuggling operation all agreed to provide information about ISIL and thus are remaining unidentified. That doesn’t explain all the silence, but does account for much of it. Abu Sayyaf was dealing with tens of millions of dollars of illegal transactions each month and the number of operations he had in various stages of completion probably amounted to over $100 million and involved a lot of prominent people who pretended to be honest, upright citizens. That sort of thing rattles a lot of cages and has lot of unpredictable side effects. .

 

The raiders came in at night in special SOCOM UH-60 helicopters and left the same way with all their loot and captives. ISIL was alarmed as the suddenness and success of this raid and suspect one or more traitors supplied the Americans with information. That was because the raiders know where everyone and everything was inside the compound (which contains over fifty buildings) and also seemed to know that most of the security forces had been temporarily called away to take care of an emergency. ISIL is always looking for traitors and being falsely accused of treason is considered an occupational hazard within ISIL. Most of those accused are executed and many are extensively tortured first. ISIL has also made it more complicated to join the inner circle (ISIL management) and now demands extensive background checks. The penalty for failing such a background check is death. The most likely source of the traitorous information was probably local civilians who hate ISIL. 

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14 octobre 2015 3 14 /10 /octobre /2015 07:20
U.S. soldiers train with the shoulder-fired Carl-Gustaf weapon system. Photo by Spc. William Hatton, U.S. Army.

U.S. soldiers train with the shoulder-fired Carl-Gustaf weapon system. Photo by Spc. William Hatton, U.S. Army.

 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 By Richard Tomkins  (UPI)

 

U.S. Special Operations Command has ordered ammunition for its Swedish-made 84mm recoilless weapon system.

 

Ammunition for 84mm Swedish recoilless rifles used by U.S. forces is to be supplied by Saab, the company said. The order for ammunition for the Carl-Gustaf M4 system was issued by U.S. Special Operations Command. No information on the monetary value of the order was disclosed. "This order demonstrates the continued confidence of our customer in the capabilities and versatility of the Carl-Gustaf," said Torbjorn Saxmo, head of Saab's Ground Combat business unit. "The system gives soldiers a battle-winning edge through its high accuracy, supreme effectiveness and great versatility."

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14 octobre 2015 3 14 /10 /octobre /2015 07:20
Marines: USMC More Vulnerable To Extinction

Los Angeles, Calif - Marine Raiders with 1st Marine Raider Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, transition out of the water during a simulated underwater assault force night-raid in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 3, 2015. - photo USMC

 

October 13, 2015: Strategy Page

 

The U.S. Marine Corps is at war with itself over how to handle the future. Many marines have noticed that their traditional (for over a century) role as the overseas emergency force has been quietly taken over since the 1980s by SOCOM (Special Operations Command). It wasn’t until 2005 that the marines officially assigned its 2,600 strong Marine Special Operations Command, to SOCOM. This was in belated recognition that SOCOM, when it was formed in 1986 was indeed the most effective way to manage and use all the special operations units in the American military. Back then there was resistance from all the services, except the army (which had the most special operations troops mainly in its Special Forces.) But the Secretary of Defense overruled the services, and, by 1990, the navy (SEALS) and air force (special aircraft and pararescue troops) had assigned their special operations units to SOCOM control. The marines resisted and got away with it by insisting they didn't have any "special operations" troops or that "all marines are special operations troops," (depending on what day you asked them.)

 

By late 2001, it was obvious even to the marines that SOCOM was where the action was, and the marines wanted in. After four years of haggling and negotiation, the marines were in with a combination of traditional commandoes, long range recon, and "ranger" type forces. There are also support troops (dog handlers, interrogators and interpreters, intelligence analysts, supply and transportation) as well as a training unit (to instruct foreign troops, a job the marines have been helping the army Special Forces with already.) The marines also agreed to provide, as needed, other marine units that are trained to perform jobs SOCOM needs done. The marines have long had their infantry battalions train some of their troops to perform commando type operations (raids, hostage rescue and the like.) This was done so those battalions, when serving on amphibious ships at sea, had some capability to handle a wider range of emergencies (like getting Americans out of some foreign hot spot.)

 

At the time some observers (including a few marines) thought that the marines might contribute more forces to SOCOM in the future, or perhaps the entire Marine Corps would join SOCOM and take it over. That last jest was based in reality as before World War II the Marine Corps was the “special operations” force you called in for emergencies overseas. That changed during World War II but many American marines noted the different path taken by the British Royal Marines after the war. After 2001 many American marines thought it might be a good idea to copy their brethren, the British Royal Marines, and convert themselves to a commando force.

 

During World War II the Royal Marines had turned themselves into the Royal Marine Commandos. After 1945, when Britain disbanded all of its commando units, the Royal Marines retained three of their infantry battalions as Royal Marines Commandos (commando battalions). These three battalions have remained in service to the present, mainly because they always performed as advertised and were always in great demand.

 

The marines did change after World War II but in different ways. They gradually dropped their army-like divisional organization, using their three "division" headquarters as an administrative units for managing the battalion and brigade (2-4 battalions) size task forces for whatever assignments come their way. This worked quite well during the last two decades of the 20th century. After 2001 there was a new proposal to completely do away with the marine division. Note that the first one of these was organized in 1942 and six were active by 1945. The 2002 proposal had most marines trained more for commando operations rather than traditional infantry combat. This was a trend that was already present in marine training, although marines were still considered, first and foremost, elite ground combat troops. At the time there was a lot of resistance from marine veterans groups (over a hundred thousand marine veterans of World War II were still around then and they could be a feisty lot.) But the marines did have a tradition of constantly transforming themselves, something even old marines recognize and respect. Any such transformation had to wait because after 2003 (the Iraq invasion) the marines became a supplementary force for the army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the next decade the marines noted that they could not go back to what they were in 2002 because the army had become more like marines (highly trained and effective infantry) and the marines had become more like these new soldiers.

 

Many marines are concerned that more people will notice that SOCOM is now the marines of old and that the marines are not nearly as special and specialized as they used to be. To make matters worse in 2006 the U.S. Navy decided to create a new naval infantry force to do some of the jobs the marines had originally done but were now too busy being soldiers to take care of. By 2008 the navy had built a new ground combat force staffed by 40,000 sailors. This was NECC (Navy Expeditionary Combat Command), which was capable of operating along the coast and up rivers, as well as further inland. NECC units were already in Iraq by then and ready to deploy anywhere else they are needed. The 1,200 sailors in the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams are particularly sought after, because of increased use of roadside bombs and booby traps by the enemy. NECC has also organized three Riverine Squadrons which all served in Iraq. NECC basically consists of most of the combat support units the navy has traditionally put ashore, plus some coastal and river patrol units that have usually only been organized in wartime.

 

In light of all this many marines fear that any new effort by the politicians to eliminate the Marine Corps will succeed. The marines have been avoiding these extinction efforts for over a century mainly because they could demonstrate some unique abilities. Without that advantage the marines are vulnerable.

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8 octobre 2015 4 08 /10 /octobre /2015 06:20
Falcon III radio Photo Harris Corporation

Falcon III radio Photo Harris Corporation

 

5 October 2015 army-technology.com

 

Harris has secured a contract to supply a new specialised, handheld, tactical communication system to the US Special Operations Forces (SOF).

 

Awarded by the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the $390m single-source, indefinite delivery/quantity contract consists of a five-year base period and one-year option. Under the contract, the company will deliver new integrated two-channel, handheld radios as part of the SOF Tactical Communications (STC) programme. The STC handheld radio combines communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to meet the SOF's unique mission requirements in the harshest environments. Designed to address rigorous requirements for small, lightweight, multiband, multifunction, multimission tactical radios, the STC platform can be upgraded easily and features built-in backward interoperability to communicate over conventional networks.

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4 octobre 2015 7 04 /10 /octobre /2015 07:20
Special Operations: JSOC In The Shadows

 

October 3, 2015: Strategy Page

 

One of the least publicized organizations active in counter-terror operations is the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Formed in 1980 in the aftermath of a failed mission into Iran to rescue American embassy personnel being held captive there, JSOC was meant to eliminate the coordination problems between the services that were found to be the main reason the Iran rescue mission failed. But until the 1990s JSOC didn’t have much to do and was pretty much a headquarters with no combat troops to command. That changed in the 1990s as the CIA began to suffer from the 1980s move (demanded by Congress and media driven public opinion) to get out of the spying (using people on the ground) business. The CIA found that relying on satellite and aircraft surveillance did not get the job done. It was found that using Delta Force and SEAL commandos for CIA and other intelligence operations worked. This makes sense, because there were still situations overseas, often unanticipated ones, where you really, really needed to get an American in there to look around or make contact with local agents.

 

By the late 1980s there was another big changes, SOCOM (Special Operations Command), which did have control of SEALs, Special Forces and other special operations forces. That made it easier for JSOC to easily obtain the use of Delta Force and Seal Team Six operators for jobs like espionage. While many of these operators look like pro football players (kinda makes them stand out, even in civilian clothes), many do not. Turning one of these guys into a secret agent is apparently not difficult. And they already have a license to kill and are very good at handling emergencies and desperate situations.

 

During the 1990s SOCOM, Delta Force and the SEALs were already prepared to collect intel on the ground themselves simply because they could no longer rely on the CIA to do it for them. That changed after September 11, 2001 but during the 1990s the commandos got experience doing espionage and demonstrated they were very good at it. Despite some new gadgets (drones and information analyzing software) there is still a need to put people on the ground (CIA or SOCOM) to collect information needed before commandos can plan and execute a successful mission.

 

For a long time no one has said much, officially, about the use of American commandos as spies and intelligence agents. This was in large part because few people outside SOCOM, JSOC and the CIA knew this was going on. Moreover these lads were very effective because they were trained to be flexible, think fast, and operate under any conditions. While they normally train wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying an assault rifle, they have no problem going on a recon mission in a suit, armed with a 9mm pistol, or no weapon at all.

 

Delta continues to learn from British SAS, who have long made good use of close working relationships with British diplomats. Thus it was no surprise when it became known that after 2001 JSOC operators (Delta and Seal Team Six) began performing secret operations (that stayed secret) involving anti-terrorism activities or nastier forms of diplomacy. Some of these missions did get a lot of publicity, like the capture of Saddam Hussein or the killing of Osama Bin Laden. But JSOC largely stayed in the shadows.

 

JSOC also stayed small, growing from about a thousand personnel in 2001 to about 4,000 today (compared to 80,000 for all of SOCOM). JSOC can also call on just about any American military personnel they need for individual missions. But to keep JSOC effective it was found that keeping the organization small was essential.

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6 juillet 2015 1 06 /07 /juillet /2015 16:20
Palantir - photo PEO IEW&S

Palantir - photo PEO IEW&S

 

June 25, 2015: Strategy Page

 

The U.S. Army intelligence bureaucracy is again in trouble with SOCOM (Special Operations Command) over a long-term dispute about computer software. Troops in combat zones and especially SOCOM prefer to use an intelligence database management system called Palantir. But many senior people in the army intelligence and computer tech insist on using another system (DCGS). To further complicate matters it wasn’t even the army who initially created the mess. It all began when the U.S. Air Force developed a data mining and analysis system that, when adapted for army use (as DCGS), turned out to be more expensive and less effective than commercial products (like Palantir). A 2012 government investigation reported the problems in great detail. But senior army commanders and Department of Defense procurement bureaucrats continued to block the use of commercial products the troops preferred. For nearly a year now SOCOM (Special Operations Command) troops have been complaining that a superior system (Palantir) they have been using since 2009 is becoming more difficult to obtain because of more aggressive interference from the procurement bureaucracy and contractor lobbyists. SOCOM was ordered back into Iraq during 2014 and one of their assignments was to collect intelligence on what was going on there. SOCOM preferred Palantir but many procurement officials interfered with doing that.

 

The basic problem was that the army system (DCGS or Distributed Common Ground System) was cobbled together on the fly, in the midst of a war and has not aged well. Several investigations, in response to growing complaints from the troops, found that the army refused to recognize the problems with DCGS or get them fixed, or allow cheaper and more capable commercial software (like Palantir) to be used instead of DCGS. After 2010 complaints from users and maintainers of DCGS got louder (as in more politicians receiving emails about it). Some of the troops asked for specific commercial systems that were more robust, powerful, and easier to use commercial data mining and predictive analysis software. The army complained that these commercial systems were expensive and required a lot of effort and money to integrate into DCGS. The troops insisted that this was not so and that commercial products like Palantir would save lives. Army bean counters insisted that it was probably only a few dozen lives at most and the additional money needed has to be taken from somewhere else, which might also cost lives in combat. But SOCOM and other organizations point out that they have been able to sneak Palantir into service in some areas and have lots of proof that Palantir outperformed DCGS in combat conditions. But now even SOCOM is being blocked from getting Palantir even though Palantir is officially approved for army use and SOCOM is supposed to be able to buy whatever they need, even if it is not on the “approved” list.

 

The DCGS controversy also involves professional pride, as the army techs and managers have spent years building DCGS and are confident they can match any commercial products and do it cheaper. But that is rarely the case, as the army simply can't hire the best software engineers and project managers. When it comes to complex software systems, things go better if you keep an eye on the commercial side. If there is something there that does what you need done and does it faster, better, and more reliably it's worth paying the commercial price.

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3 juin 2015 3 03 /06 /juin /2015 07:20
CQ-10B - photo GATR

CQ-10B - photo GATR

 

May 24, 2015: Strategy Page

 

U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has ordered a new version of the CQ-10 cargo delivery UAVs. This model (CQ-10B) operates like a helicopter while the original CA-10A used a parafoil. Also called the SnowGoose (it was developed by a Canadian firm) this UAV doesn't have wings and was designed to deliver cargo. The CQ-10A is launched from the back of a moving hummer, which has to speed down at least 300 meters of straight road (or flat ground) for the parafoil to deploy and lift the CA-10A into the air. The UAV lands by coming in low to a specific GPS location and cutting its motor off. CQ-10A can also be dropped from a cargo aircraft with a rear door. The CQ-10B operates like a helicopter.

 

The CQ-10A is a further development of the Sherpa cargo parachute system (that used GPS and mechanical controls to guide the direction of the descending parafoil for pinpoint landings). It took four years to develop the unpowered Sherpa system into a powered one that flies to designated GPS coordinates, drops cargo and returns. The CQ-10 can receive new GPS coordinates while in flight. The U.S. Army paid for much of the SnowGoose development, especially features that enable the UAV to perform recon, as well as supply, missions.

 

The CA-10A took that technology one step farther. Using a parafoil (a parachute that can be controlled in such a way that the user can gain altitude and travel over long distances), and a "cargo container" that contains a small propeller and engine, a unique type of UAV has been created. The SnowGoose is basically rectangular box (on skids) with a 115 horsepower engine, fuel supply, parafoil controls, and six cargo compartments (carrying up to 45 kg/100 pounds each). The CA-10A ejects the cargo containers when it is low and within 30 meters (100 feet) of the GPS coordinates it was programmed with. The CQ-10B can land for unloading.

 

Since 2005 SOCOM has bought at least 75 CQ-10As (at about $500,000 each) for use in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The CQ-10A has a range of 300 kilometers and a top speed of 61 kilometers an hour. The B version has a range of 600 kilometers and a top speed of 120 kilometers an hour. The CQ-10B costs $650,000 each and nearly $300 an hour to operate. The CQ-10B is seen as very useful for disaster relief operations and is being offered to organizations that handle emergency relief.

 

The SnowGoose can stay in the air for up to 20 hours, is guided by onboard GPS and mechanical flight controls operated by a special microcomputer. The Special Forces are using them for things like delivering supplies, or dropping psychological warfare leaflets. The UAV is particularly good for delivering supplies to long range patrols, units that need their stuff delivered discretely at night. The SnowGoose does this more effectively than a manned helicopter or a parachute drop.

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2 juin 2015 2 02 /06 /juin /2015 16:20
photo GATR

photo GATR

 

May 21, 2015: Strategy Page

 

U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has sponsored work on lighter and more powerful portable satellite dishes for decades. What SOCOM operators need the most are back packable gear that can send video, especially during a stakeout (a common activity for Special Forces operators) of a target for missile armed warplanes or UAVs overhead. The latest breakthrough is GATR, a 26.3 kg (58 pound) 1.2 meter (47 inch) satellite dish in an inflatable sphere. This gear can upload 2 mbps (one million bits per second, about 100,000 bytes per second) and download 5 mbps. This is the lightest back packable dish with that kind of bandwidth. SOCOM has bought nearly a hundred of these so far. Most of the time SOCOM operators can get by with lighter satellite communications, with much lower bandwidth.

 

For example in 2012 SOCOM bought $170 million of new satellite communications gear with a max download speed of 1 mbps. What was most important about this gear was that it was portable (via hummer or backpack) and provided Special Forces operators with high speed satellite communications using 60 cm (24 inch) satellite dishes. Special Forces operators need these communications tool for when they are out in the hills, out beyond cell phones and most wireless forms of communication. Satellite phones have been used for over a decade but these devices have limited data capacity (about 25,000 bits per second).

 

Typical portable systems like this weigh less than 15 kg (33 pounds) and can be carried in two suitcases or in a backpack. This gear can operate off battery power and are rugged enough to survive water, sand, extreme temperatures, and other hard knocks. These systems allow a Special Forces team to access multiple live video feeds, as well as downloading complex maps and other images. All this is heavily encrypted to make eavesdropping very difficult. Set up time is less than ten minutes and the small dish will automatically locate and lock onto the desired satellite. This equipment has been available for over two decades but they have become smaller, cheaper, faster, more rugged, and reliable every year. Most importantly, they do not require a communications specialist to set up or operate. SOCOM has several thousand of these portable systems.

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3 avril 2015 5 03 /04 /avril /2015 11:20
An AC-130U’s 105 mm cannon - photo USAF

An AC-130U’s 105 mm cannon - photo USAF

 

March 27, 2015: Strategy Page

 

U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has decided to install a 105mm cannon in its new AC-130J gunship. In the last decade SOCOM had been replacing the 40mm and 20mm autocannon and 105mm cannon with missiles but combat experienced showed that that cannon were still needed in many situations. Before that SOCOM decided to bring back autocannon and install 30mm cannon (to replace the rather elderly 40mm and 20mm models). Thus the latest C-130 gunship model, the AC-130J has a 105mm cannon fired out the back of the aircraft via a modified rear ramp. Meanwhile SOCOM has standardized on the Griffin missile and GPS guided SDB (small diameter bomb).

 

The Mk44 30mm Bushmaster cannon weighs 157 kg (344 pounds) and fires at 200 or 400 rounds per minute (up to 7 per second). The cannon has 160 rounds available before needing a reload. That means the gunner has 25-50 seconds worth of ammo, depending on rate of fire used. Each 30mm round weighs about 714 g (25 ounces, depending on type). Explosive anti-personnel rounds are fired when used in gunships. The fire control system, and night vision sensors, enable the 30mm gunners to accurately hit targets with high explosive shells.

 

The 105mm cannon used is a modified (to weigh about 1.4 tons) version of the M102 howitzer that was used by light infantry units from the 1960s to the 1990s. The M102 fires a 15 kg (33 pound) shell. The complete round (with casing and propellant) weighs about 19 kg (42 pounds). On the ground the 105mm fires at distant targets it cannot see, with the shell following a curved trajectory to hit something up to 11 kilometers away. On the gunship it fires directly at targets the gunship sensors can see and that shortens the range to about 1,100 meters. On the gunship the 105mm can fire up one round every ten seconds. Usually only one round per target is needed. In the older AC-130s 96 105mm rounds were carried. The larger AC-130J can carry twice as many, if not more.

 

 SOCOM is expanding its existing AC-130 gunship fleet to 37 new AC-130J models. These will replace 37 older models (eight AC-130Hs, 12 AC-130Ws and 17 AC-130Us). When using the SDB and missiles the AC-130J can fly high enough to stay out of range of ground fire and this enables it to operate in daylight. But with the cannon the gunship must fly much lower, where the sensors, and all weapons, are more effective if only because the missiles and bombs arrive on target more quickly and the 30mm and 105mm cannon can add their firepower. When using the cannon the AC-130J only operates at night.

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20 mars 2015 5 20 /03 /mars /2015 12:20
Special Operations Leaders Voice Sequestration Concerns

 

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2015 – By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.-  DoD News

 

 Challenges caused by limited resources, fiscal uncertainty and the changing nature of threats have forced the military’s special operations forces to operate creatively, the Defense Department’s top special operations officials told Congress yesterday.

 

Michael D. Lumpkin, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, appeared before the House Armed Services Committee’s emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee to discuss Socom’s fiscal year 2016 budget request.

 

Fiscal uncertainty requires creativity in bridging gaps between resources and national security objectives, Lumpkin said. Meanwhile, he added, the changing nature of threats demands the attention and engagement of special operations forces through agile authorities that enable the force to remain ahead of adversaries.

 

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19 mars 2015 4 19 /03 /mars /2015 17:20
Concept design for the SilentHawk hybrid-electric motorcycle - Logos Technlogies

Concept design for the SilentHawk hybrid-electric motorcycle - Logos Technlogies

 

March 19, 2015: Strategy Page

 

U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is testing a SilentHawk hybrid-electric motorcycle for troops to use in places where lightweight transportation is needed, especially in areas (like Afghanistan and Iraq) where roads may be risky because of roadside bombs and mines.

 

Some countries have already used conventional motorcycles with some success, but found that the noise a conventional motor generates was sometimes a problem. The SilentHawk has a max range of 370 kilometers (170 miles) but can run silent (on just batteries) for up to 80 kilometers. Weighing 149 kg (350 pounds) SilentHawk can also carry 34 kg (75 pounds) of cargo. While based on a commercial bile (RedShift), SOCOM is testing to see if the militarized version is rugged and reliable for battlefield use. SOCOM has tested all-electric bikes before but those did not have the range required for combat use. Despite that SilentHawk is designed so the gasoline motor can be easily removed providing a shorter (and a bit lighter) range all-electric bike.

 

Despite the noise factor British special operations troops used a militarized versions of the Yamaha Grizzly 450 in Afghanistan. Basically the Grizzly is a four wheel, 285 kg (628 pound) cross country motorcycle. This ATV (all-terrain vehicles) is 2.73 meters (six feet) long and 1.1 meters (3.5 feet) wide. In addition to the driver, there are racks on the bike that can carry another 80 kg (175 pounds). Grizzly can tow a trailer carrying another 159 kg (350 pounds) of cargo. Top speed, on a flat surface, without a trailer, is about 75 kilometers an hour. Cross country, it's usually about half that and a bit less if a trailer is being hauled. The British Army bought 250 Grizzly 450s in 2005, and these were very popular with the troops in Afghanistan. There they are used for patrolling and hauling supplies to troops in isolated positions. The British paid $41,000 for each bike, although that includes a trailer, spare parts, and technical services. The civilian version goes for about $8,000 each.

 

MV850 ATV photo Polaris  Industries Inc

MV850 ATV photo Polaris Industries Inc

 

ATVs have proved particularly useful, and popular, in Afghanistan, especially for special operations forces. There are many models in use, all of them militarized civilian vehicles. These vehicles are innovative both in original concept and how they are constantly modified and upgraded. One useful innovation was the use of non-pneumatic tires. This first showed up as optional equipment for the MV850 ATV. This is an 800 kg (1,800 pound) 4x4 vehicle with the largest cargo carrying capacity (385 kg/850 pounds) of any vehicle in its class. It is a compact vehicle at 242.3x120.1x152.4cm (94.5x47.3x60 inches). It can also haul a trailer carrying 680 kg (1,500 pounds). Top speed is 83 kilometers an hour.  The non-pneumatic tires are not solid like traditional tires but built with a web of plastic honeycomb and surrounded by a thick band of rubber that is very similar to the tread found on pneumatic tires. These tires can survive a hit by a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) bullet and keep going. They feel about the same as pneumatic tires, although some users report they are not as effective in mud or watery surfaces.

 

The U.S. Department of Defense has been buying ATVs (as well as motorcycles) for American troops in Afghanistan since 2004. One of the more popular models was the Ranger, which is a militarized ATV that is 2.9 meters (nine feet) long, 1.6 meters (five feet) wide, weighs 760 kg, and can carry nearly as much. There are two seats and a rear deck that can hold up to half a ton of cargo. The top speed of 67 kilometers an hour and the ability to ford 76 cm (30 inches) of water contributes to excellent cross country performance. A 49 liter (13 gallon) fuel tank gives the Ranger a range of 500 kilometers or more, depending on how much time is spent off-roads. The Ranger engine burns military JP8 fuel and generates 40 horsepower. The Ranger began arriving in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2006, initially for use by light infantry and commandos. Troop reaction was positive. SOCOM has long been a user of various ATVs. Eventually, regular army units got the ATVs, mostly for hauling gear around remote outposts. ATVs could be flown in slung under a helicopter. The ATVs were often used to collect air dropped supplies that, because of the often unpredictable winds, fell far from the base.

 

The ATVs have been so popular that many troops have bought them when they get back home and use them for cross-country trips (for camping, hunting, or just sightseeing). The army has bought some of these ATVs for use by troops just returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. It's the kind of high-excitement recreation that has been found to help the troops decompress after returning from a combat tour.

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12 février 2015 4 12 /02 /février /2015 18:45
US studying special operations airlift needs in Africa

 

12 February 2015 by Oscar Nkala/defenceWeb

 

The United States military is seeking to identify companies able to provide fixed wing air transport services on behalf of US Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in countries in Africa.

 

On February 4 the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) register issued a notice saying Special Operations Command Africa was “conducting market research to identify parties having an interest in, and the resources to support, an emerging requirement for mobile fixed wing air transport services to move personnel and cargo within the northern regions of Africa and surrounding countries”.

 

SOCOM said the airlift services will cover the African nations of Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. Jordan, which is likely to the base for the Africa operations, is the only Middle Eastern country covered by the airlift requirement.

 

The fixed wing aircraft involved must be capable of transporting a minimum of 1 000 pounds and maximum of 4 500 pounds to include a mix of a maximum of 12 passengers and/or cargo. It must also be capable of taking off/landing on improved and unimproved dirt airfields of a minimum of 1 800 feet in length to support supply and personnel transportation requirements.

 

"The primary operation area where the air transportation support could be provided include, but are not be limited to, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal, and Morocco. Other locations within northern Africa may be dictated by operational requirements and timely coordination will ensure contractor support," the notice stated.

 

Responses are called for by February 23.

 

The notice comes amid calls for the Pentagon to prepare for a large-scale counter-insurgency campaign to destroy West African-based terrorist groups like Boko Haram and several other Islamist militant groups operating in Mali, Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and other 'safe havens' in the Sahel and Lake Chad sub-regions.

 

In remarks made during an address at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, last week, Africa Command (Africom) head General David Rodriguez said a US-led counter-insurgency campaign was necessary to eliminate the threat posed by new terrorist groups based in West Africa.

 

He said Africom is already preparing a response which will include operations that will target 'forces affiliated to Boko Haram' in four West African countries neighbouring Nigeria.

 

Presenting a lecture to students at the US Army's West Point academy early this month, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) commander General Joseph Votel said US Army commando teams must start preparing now for new deployments against Boko Haram and the Islamic State in north and west Africa.

 

“Boko Haram is creating fertile ground for (terrorist) expansion into other areas. While it is not yet a direct threat to the (US) homeland, it is impacting indirectly our interests in this particular area (West Africa) and creating another area of instability,” General Votel said.

 

So far, US special operations forces operating in the Africa and Middle Eastern regions have conducted a number of raids against al Shabaab in Somalia, Islamist militants in Libya and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.

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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 12:20
Air Weapons: The V-22 Gunship

 

January 17, 2015: Strategy Page

 

U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is arming its V-22 tilt-rotor transports with more weapons, all of them forward firing and, along with temporary armor panels, meant to temporarily turn a V-22 into a gunship as needed. Tests are being performed to see if the V-22 can carry and launch guided missiles. SOCOM has already obtained a GAU-2B machine-gun fitted to the bottom of a V-22 as part of the Universal Turret System (UTS) for Helicopters. Plans for arming the V-22 have always been an option and since 2007 the marines and SOCOM have been developing weapons for use on their V-22s. The main purpose for this is to give V-22s just enough firepower to clear the landing zone long enough to land, unload and get away.

 

The original proposal was for a UTS equipped with a 12.7mm machine-gun, which has a longer range (about 2,000 meters). However, the 7.62mm GAU-17 can lay down more bullets more quickly and usually does so at low speed (1,500 rounds a minute). Experience in Iraq and Afghanistan indicated this would be a more useful defensive measure. Like the similar turret the Marine Corps developed, the SOCOM one is mounted on CV-22s as needed. The armed SOCOM CV-22 provides an option that the other V-22 users can easily adopt. The machine-gun turret was mainly there for protection from local threats, not for turning the V-22 into an assault aircraft. That attitude has now changed.

 

All this began back in 2011 when the U.S. Marine Corps ordered a dozen DWS (Interim Defensive Weapons System) turret gun kits for its hundred MV-22 tilt-rotor transports. Each kit cost about a million dollars. MV-22 crews were trained to use these new weapons which are quickly installed underneath the V-22. The remote control turret used a three-barrel 7.62mm GAU-17 machine-gun. This system has a rate of fire of up to 1,500-3,000 rounds per minute (25-50 per second) and max range of 1,500 meters. The system weighs under 100 kg (220 pounds) and includes 4,000 rounds of ammo. A member of the crew uses a video game like interface to operate the gun. Before the DWS arrived there was some experimentation mounting a heavy machine-gun on the rear ramp. But this did not prove nearly as effective as the turret.

 

The DSW is only mounted on a V-22 if a mission might be in need of some firepower. The DWS can swivel completely (360 degrees) around (useful when mounted underneath). It was apparently this weapon that was carried by an MV-22 sent to pick up the pilot and weapons operator who had to bail out of a disabled F-15E in Libya in 2011. The DWS was tested in Afghanistan in 2010 and by 2012 production models were being delivered. All MV-22 squadrons were given the opportunity to mount a turret on some of their aircraft and try out the weapon using live ammo.

 

The V-22s often have to fly into hostile territory to land their cargo. The V-22 can carry 24 troops 700 kilometers (vertical take-off on a ship, level flight, landing, and return) at 400 kilometers an hour and sometimes has to land in areas where the locals are firing at them. The marine MV-22 is replacing the CH-46E helicopter, which can carry 12 troops 350 kilometers at a speed of 200 kilometers an hour. The MV-22 can carry a 10,000-pound external sling load 135 kilometers, while the CH-46E can carry 3,000 pounds only 90 kilometers.

 

The U.S. Air Force component of SOCOM uses the CV-22 to replace the current MH-53J special operations helicopters. Unlike the U.S. Marine Corps version, the SOCOM CV-22B has a lot more expensive electronics on board. This will help the CV-22 when traveling into hostile territory, especially at night or in bad weather. The CV-22 carries a terrain avoidance radar, an additional 3,600 liters (900 gallons) of fuel, and more gadgets in general. The 25 ton CV-22 is a major improvement on the MH-53J, with three times the range, and a higher cruising speed (at 410 kilometers an hour, twice that of the helicopter). The CV-22 can travel about a thousand kilometers, in any weather, and land or pick up 18 fully equipped commandoes. The SOCOM CV-22s have been in action since 2008 but SOCOM will never have more than fifty of them.

 

The V-22 is the first application of the tilt-rotor technology in active service. The air force is already working on improvements (to make the V-22 more reliable and easier to maintain). The MV-22 gives the marines and SOCOM a lot more capability but, as it often the case, this is a lot more expensive. The initial production models of the CV-22 cost over $60 million each. SOCOM insists on a high degree of reliability for its aircraft. Commando operations cannot tolerate too many mistakes without getting fatally derailed.

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2 février 2015 1 02 /02 /février /2015 12:50
Talon II departs from England

 

27 janv. 2015 US Air Force

 

The last MC-130 H Talon II takes off from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, for the last time.

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28 janvier 2015 3 28 /01 /janvier /2015 08:20
Special Ops Commander Discusses Challenges, Priorities

 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2015 – By Jim Garamone -- DoD News, Defense Media Activity

 

Skill, precision, cultural acuity, cutting-edge capability, flexibility, professionalism and teamwork still are the hallmarks of America’s special operations community, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel said here today.

The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command left his Tampa, Florida, headquarters to journey to a snowy nation’s capital to speak at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium.

“Our nation demands we have the people and capabilities to achieve success in the most pressing national challenges we face,” Votel said. The command is prepared to offer options to U.S. leaders across the range of special operations missions, he added.

The command naturally has a global focus, the general said, but works with regional combatant commands to fill in the seams. He used the foreign fighter problem as an example, saying the number of foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is “staggering.”

“More than 19,000 foreign fighters from 90 different countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq,” he said. “Their ideology is overpowering.”

 

ISIL Attracts Followers From Around the Globe

The terror group is attracting followers from around the globe, and the ISIL leaders are seeking legitimacy as a new caliphate, a form of Islamic rule. “Socom is playing a critical, leading role in pulling together our military efforts, both within the U.S. and with international partners -- for this global fight,” Votel said.

The nexus of terrorism and transnational criminal networks concern the general, as does the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria. The world’s nations still are attempting to deal with the changes that arose from the Arab Spring, Votel said. “[And] a resurgent Russia is now employing coercive techniques against its neighbor using [special operations] forces, other clandestine capabilities, information operations, other cyber operations and groupings of ethnic proxies and surrogates to drive wedges into our key allies in East Europe,” he added.

These threats and others have to be dealt with at a time when Defense Department funding is constrained, Votel noted, adding that any cuts to service budgets will adversely affect Special Operations Command and the capabilities needed to combat these threats.

 

Ensuring Readiness

One command priority is ensuring readiness, the general said. “This is about getting the right people with the right skills and capabilities now and in the future,” he explained.

Communications remain a readiness priority, and Votel said he foresees a totally interconnected and networked force by 2020. “Like the threat networks we face, our unity of effort is directly correlated to our connectedness -- to information, to our partners and to the chain of command,” he said.

Aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems remain a priority to the command as well.

Another command priority is focused months before the “tip of the spear” begins an operation, Votel said, as special operations forces are key to preventing conflicts. “It is about understanding the environment. It is about developing relationships. It’s about informing our broader military activities. It’s about building partner capacity and advising and assisting others so they can meet their own national objectives,” the general said.

This is happening in Afghanistan, in Iraq, the Middle East and Africa, he said, and he cited the Philippines as a case in point. Special operators have been in the country since 2002, working with Philippine military and law enforcement personnel to counter the terrorist threat. This patient, small-footprint approach has paid dividends to the Philippines and to the United States, Votel said.

Continuing to Build Relationships

Continuing to build relationships is yet another priority for the command, the general said. “We must eliminate the institutional friction that exists between us and our conventional force, international, interagency and intelligence community partners,” he said.

Socom has relationships with 60 countries around the globe, Votel said, adding that he would like to see that expanded and strengthened.

Special Operations Command must plan for the future, looking at all data to determine what is happening and what will be needed, the general said, noting that demographic changes, technological advances and even climate change must be thought through. This calls for critical and innovative thinking and communicating that thinking to the force as a whole, he said.

But most important, he said, is taking care of the command’s people so they can take care of their mission.

“In the end, people are our credentials,” the general said. “We must put their short- and long-term well-being, and that of their families, first.”

The command will leverage every service program to ensure that special operators and their families are mentally, physically, socially and spiritually prepared for the challenges ahead of them, Votel said.

“They have kept faith with us, and we will keep faith with them,” he added.

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14 août 2014 4 14 /08 /août /2014 13:20
Special Operations: Preparing For A Pacific War

MSV Maritime Support Vessel project

 

August 14, 2014: Strategy Page

 

The U.S. Navy SEAL commandoes used to have a near-monopoly on launching raids and other special operations missions from the sea. But now MARSOC (Marine Corps Special Operations Command) and U.S. Army Special Forces (which includes Delta Force) operators are also training to launch operations “from the sea”. The SEALs will probably retain their monopoly on scuba type operations because the SEALs already have a lot of training and regular practice in this specialized area. But given the shift of U.S. attention to the Pacific and the greater probability that more commando missions will be launched from the sea, more of the existing American commando force needs this kind of training.

 

To support this increase need for seaborne commando operations the navy is building special commando support ships and having more surface combat ships prepare to support commando operations. These preparations increasingly involve bringing in SEALs, MARSOC or Special Forces operators for training exercises. The commandos can be delivered via small transports to carriers and thence by helicopter to smaller ships (destroyers, amphibious carriers or the new LCS) for the actual mission (via a smaller boat that goes to a nearby beach.) The commandos also practice going in via low-flying helicopter or, if they are SEALs, via the specialized mini-subs that most American SSN (attack subs) can carry on their deck.

 

The navy and SOCOM (Special Operations Command) have been planning this shift for several years now and it includes creating some special commando support ships. In late 2013 the U.S. Navy began converting a 30,000 ton container ship to serve as a seagoing base (MSV or Maritime Support Vessel) for SOCOM commandos and support troops. Over $100 million is being spent to do the conversion. What’s interesting about this is that it’s an old idea.

 

Back in 2004 the U.S. Navy was asked by SOCOM to look into the idea of modifying a container ship for use as seagoing base for Special Operations troops (Special Forces and commandos). This idea was apparently inspired by incidents in the past decade where SOCOM forces had been based temporarily on navy ships. Off Haiti in 1996 and Afghanistan in 2001 the Navy provided an aircraft carrier with most of its air wing withdrawn and replaced with Army or Special Operations helicopters and personnel. While this tactic demonstrated tremendous flexibility on the part of the navy it could not be done on a regular basis because it tied up one of the most valuable navy assets (carriers and their crews.) Then in 2001 the navy began converting four SSBNs (ballistic missile firing nuclear subs) to carry 154 cruise missiles as well as SOCOM (so far mainly SEALs) commandos.  This includes commando equipment and special boats to get them ashore.

 

The conversion concept had several major advantages over the traditional approach of building a new type of military ship. Commercial vessels, even ones the size of aircraft carriers (large tankers and container carriers), typically require crews of less than fifty rather than thousands for military ships of the same size. A large container ship used for military purposes could be operated by fewer than a hundred sailors compared to 1,100 on an LHD or 3,200 on a Nimitz-class carrier. It would also be easier to upgrade, as the modules could be removed and replaced independently.

 

The Military Sealift Command (MSC) would own and operate these ships using civilian crews. The navy would keep one or two of these ships ready at all times plus a reserve of special containers ashore for use on additional MSC-owned ships or those leased from commercial users.

 

The current MSV project uses a smaller (30,000 ton) container ship and will handle a few hundred SOCOM operators and support troops and less than a dozen helicopters plus some small commando boats.

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13 août 2014 3 13 /08 /août /2014 17:20
U.S. special forces trying to determine effectiveness of its propaganda efforts

 

August 13, 2014 David Pugliese

 

The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command will conduct a social research program in Colombia to help shape future propaganda efforts, USA Today is reporting. It cites newly released military records.

 

More from the article:

 

It is the latest in a series of SOCOM attempts to gauge the effectiveness of its propaganda programs, which have been under attack in Congress and lost some of their funding in the last year.

 

The Global Research Assessment Program, SOCOM documents show, will hire an outside contractor to develop and conduct a poll in Colombia to gauge which propaganda arguments are the most effective.

 

The program will identify and analyze target audiences for propaganda, determine which programs work the best and then send the results to command officials and others with an interest in the results, the documents show.

 

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21 janvier 2014 2 21 /01 /janvier /2014 12:20
Harris Receives $18 M for Falcon III Wideband Tactical Radios from USSOCOM

 

 

Jan 20, 2014 ASDNews Source : Harris Corporation

 

    Providing USSOCOM forces with additional wideband tactical radios.

    Radios deliver wideband voice and data for tactical networking and communications.

    Expands fielding of Harris tactical radios across Department of Defense.

 

Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS), an international communications and information technology company, has received orders totaling $18 million for Falcon III® manpack and handheld tactical radios from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The orders were received during the second quarter of fiscal 2014.

 

USSOCOM is acquiring more Falcon III AN/PRC-117G and AN/PRC-152A radios as it expands deployment of a SOCOM-accredited wideband tactical communications network. The network enables operators to send and receive tactical voice, video and data, resulting in enhanced situational awareness and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). In addition to advanced wideband data networking, the AN/PRC-117G and AN/PRC-152A provide users with interoperability through legacy narrowband waveforms.

 

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20 janvier 2014 1 20 /01 /janvier /2014 19:20
photo Lockheed Martin

photo Lockheed Martin

 

 

January 20, 2014 David Pugliese Defence Watch


 

U.S. Special Operations Command nearly tripled its investment in the C-130J aircraft fleet over the last two years, according to National Defense magazine.

More from the article:

Special-mission C-130s — including MC-130 customized cargo planes and AC-130 gunships — are among SOCOM’s largest procurement programs. Spending on new aircraft and add-on equipment will increase substantially, from $89 million in 2012 to $232 million in 2014, according to new estimates by Frost & Sullivan, a market intelligence firm.

About $124 million will be spent in 2014 on new aircraft, and $108 million on a “precision strike package” for the AC-130 gunship that includes sensors, a 30 mm gun, standoff precision-guided munitions, a mission operator console, a communications suite and flight deck hardware.

SOCOM purchases of C-130J aircraft and high-tech add-ons are expected to continue in the coming years, said Brad Curran, senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan aerospace and defense practice. C-130J manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. is currently SOCOM’s largest contractor, capturing 18 percent of the command’s $2.6 billion modernization budget in 2013.

The command intends to buy 94 MC-130Js of which 37 will be converted to AC-130J gunships. So far, 27 MC-130Js are on contract, and an additional 17 have “advanced procurement funding against them,” an Air Force spokesman told National Defense.

 

Full article here

 

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1 décembre 2013 7 01 /12 /décembre /2013 22:20
Le CEMA remet les insignes d’officier de la Légion d’honneur à l’amiral McRaven

 

29/11/2013 Sources : EMA

 

Le 25 novembre 2013, l’amiral Edouard Guillaud, chef d’état-major des armées (CEMA) a remis les insignes d’officier de la Légion d’honneur à l’amiral William H. McRaven, commandant des opérations spéciales américaines (SOCOM).

 

Au cours de cette cérémonie organisée à Paris, le CEMA a salué le parcours et l’engagement opérationnel du général McRaven. Après avoir exercé le commandement des opérations spéciales en Europe, ce dernier a dirigé le commandement interarmées des opérations spéciales (JSOC) avant de se voir confier le commandement de SOCOM à sa création en 2011. Le général McRaven a également participé à des opérations majeures dans lesquelles les forces françaises ont été engagées aux côtés des forces américaines, comme l’opération Tempête du désert en 1991 ou encore l’opération Enduring Freedom. Enfin, l’amiral Guillaud a salué l’action de SOCOM en faveur du rapprochement des forces spéciales françaises et américaine : « Aujourd’hui, nos forces se connaissent mieux. Aujourd’hui, elles agissent ensemble. Aujourd’hui, elles se préparent ensemble à leurs missions futures ».

Le CEMA remet les insignes d’officier de la Légion d’honneur à l’amiral McRaven

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