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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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5 novembre 2015 4 05 /11 /novembre /2015 08:50
NATO Special Operations Forces in Exercise Trident Juncture 2015.

3 nov. 2015 by NATO

Over 1,000 Special Operations Forces personnel, from 10 countries, take part in Trident Juncture 2015. They train in high-intensity fighting conditions, testing their interoperability for all possible missions.

There are 5 SOF Task Groups, led by: Spain, Portugal, the United States, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Special Forces aren't only from land forces. Special Forces come from the maritime, the marines, the sailors, the air, every soldier together, it’s a kind of joint unique capability and they have the mission in general to conduct very challenging operations to create dominance in a certain area where it is very tense. They’re real warriors to take on a duty if called upon by the nations.

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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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31 octobre 2015 6 31 /10 /octobre /2015 08:35
Z-11WB light utility helicopter -  Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)

Z-11WB light utility helicopter - Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)


October 23, 2015: Strategy Page


China, noting the success of the American MH-6 "Little Bird" light transport helicopter has developed a similar model (Z-11WB) for its own commandos. China noted that in a place like Afghanistan the small AH-6 is, armed with half a ton of weapons (usually a 7.62mm/12.7mm/30mm machine-gun and guided missiles), was particularly effective. Both AH-6 and MH-6 are military versions of the civilian MD-500. The MH-6 weighs up to two tons and can carry six commandos, who sit outside on the skids. The MH-6 is small, and has a range of about 500 kilometers. The MH-6 has an extensive array of electronics on board, making it capable of operating at night and in any weather. The AH-6 replaced the six commandos with weapons and fire control systems.


The Chinese Z-11WB is based on the commercial AC311. This model is based on the Eurocopter AS350. Both the AC311 and AS350 are 2.2 ton single engine helicopters that can carry a pilot and six passengers. The AC311 is actually a civilian version of the Z-11, which first appeared in 1994 and is basically the same as the AC311 and AS350. The Z-11WB has a targeting pod under the front with an auto cannon and the ability to carry two or more guided missiles. Even with this the Z-11WB still has space for passengers, which would be commandos carried on missions where the missiles could be left behind. The Z-11 and Z-11 WB both carry a max load of 577 kg and can stay in the air about three hours per sortie. Max speed is 278 kilometers an hour and max altitude is 5,200 meters (17,000 feet).


China already has a light attack helicopter; the Z-19. This is a heavily armed scout helicopter, a 4.5 ton, two seater armed with a 23mm autocannon and up to half a ton of munitions (missiles, usually). But the Z-19 cannot carry passengers, while the Z-11WB can.

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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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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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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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2 avril 2015 4 02 /04 /avril /2015 11:20
Special Operations: MARSOC Marches On

U.S. Naval Base Coronado, California - A Critical Skills Operator with Bravo Company, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, goes through a hatch while searching a target vessel during Visit, Board, Search and Seizure training near Naval Base Coronado, Calif., Jan. 13. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donovan Lee/released)


March 29, 2015: Strategy page


MARSOC (Marine Corps Special Operations Command) is approaching its 10th anniversary at nearly ten percent above its authorized strength of 2,500. No one is complaining because special operations troops are in big demand even as the marines (and all the other services) are shrinking.


Most importantly 35 percent of MARSOC are commandos and other specialist troops. These are the ones in such great demand in dealing with Islamic terrorism. By 2011 marine leaders were convinced this struggle against Islamic terrorism was going to last and as a result special operations was made a career field so that marines could specialize in this are for long periods. The marines want to increase the size of MARSOC so they can assign MARSOC detachments to train and operate with regular marine units.


MARSOC currently consists of a headquarters, three special operations battalions (in the Special Operations Regiment), a Foreign Military Training Unit, and a Marine Special Operations Support Group.


The marines basically lost two of their four Force Recon companies (one of them a reserve unit) in order to build MARSOC, a process that began in 2006. To make for the Force Recon units more troops were added to division level reconnaissance units. These Special Operations companies (with about one-hundred and twenty personnel each) can provide Force Recon capabilities to marine units they are attached to.


The three Marine Corps special operations battalions (MSOBs) were all gone from of Afghanistan by the end of 2013 and assigned to SOCOM (Special Operations Command) commands. The 1st MSOB is now with SOCOM Pacific, while the 3rd MSOB is with SOCOM Africa, and the 2nd MSOB is assigned to SOCOM headquarters for use wherever the need is the greatest. Each MSOB has three or four companies each with four 15 man special operations teams. With support personnel, each battalion has four-hundred to five-hundred men. The Special Operations Battalions provide a combination of services roughly equal to what the U.S. Army Special Forces and Rangers do, as well as some of the functions of the Force Recon units.


At this point MARSOC is most heavily involved in Africa dealing with Islamic terrorism throughout the Sahel (the semi-desert region stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean just below the Sahara). This includes nations coping with AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), Boko Haram, al Shabaab and sundry other Islamic terror groups. Here MARSOC spends a lot of their time training locals to carry out special operations missions or just improve their military skills in general. MARSOC detachments are found worldwide, especially in areas where there is combat or the threat of combat.

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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 17:50
Northern Griffin 2015 - Combat Search and Rescue Mission


19 mars 2015 Puolustusvoimat - Försvarsmakten - The Finnish Defence Forces

Utti Jaeger Regiment's winter warfare training exercise Northern Griffin 2015 in Lapland, Finland. Combat Search and Rescue Mission with NH90 helicopters and Special Operations Forces, supported by Air Force F-18.


Utin jääkärirykmentin talviolosuhdeharjoitus Northern Griffin 2015 Lapissa. Operaatioalueen etsintä- ja pelastustehtävä, johon osallistuivat NH90-helikopterit, erikoisjääkärit ja ilmavoimien F-18 -hävittäjä.

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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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16 octobre 2014 4 16 /10 /octobre /2014 12:20
 24 Hours in Air Force Special Operations Command


15 oct. 2014 AFBlueTube


Over the past decade, there has been an unprecedented increase in special operations around the world. This video showcases Air Force Special Operations Command's dynamic mission.

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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.


Read full story

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25 septembre 2013 3 25 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
CRS Looks at U.S. Special Operations Forces

September 24, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Congressional Research Service; issued Sept. 18, 2013)


U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress

Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations, and the Administration has given U.S. SOF greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations.

U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has about 67,000 active duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians assigned to its headquarters, its four components, and one sub-unified command.

In February 2013, based on a request from USSOCOM and the concurrence of Geographic and Functional Combatant Commanders and Military Service Chiefs and Secretaries, the Secretary of Defense reassigned the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs) to USSOCOM. This means that USSOCOM now has the responsibility to organize, train, and equip TSOCs as it previously had for all assigned SOF units. While USSOCOM is now responsible for the organizing, training, and equipping of TSOCs, the Geographic Combatant Commands will continue to have operational control over the TSOCs.

The current Unified Command Plan (UCP) stipulates USSOCOM is responsible only for synchronizing planning for global operations to combat terrorist networks. This limits its ability to conduct activities designed to deter emerging threats, build relationships with foreign militaries, and potentially develop greater access to foreign militaries. USSOCOM is proposing changes that would, in addition to its current responsibilities, include the responsibility for deploying and, when directed, employing SOF globally with the approval of the Geographic Combatant Command.

In March 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed a DOD-wide Strategic Choices Management Review (SCMR). SCMR proposals include a possible reduction of USSOCOM and Service Component Headquarters by as much as 20%, a reduction in headquarters intelligence staff and capabilities, and possible reductions to SOF force structure.

USSOCOM’s FY2014 budget request was $7.483 billion for Operations and Maintenance; $373.693 million for Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation; $1.614 billion for Procurement; and $441.528 million for Military Construction funding. These totals reflect both base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) requests.

The House and Senate versions of the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act recommended selected cuts in Operations and Maintenance funding, including limitations on spending for selected proposed family support programs, Regional SOF Coordination Centers, and the USSOCOM National Capitol Region.

The House and Senate Defense Appropriations bills also recommended cuts to the Operations and Maintenance budget request and had similar limitations on family support programs, Regional SOF Coordination Centers, USSOCOM National Capitol Region as well as expressed concern “regarding the quality of the operation and maintenance budget justification submitted by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).”

Potential issues for Congress include U.S. SOF, the SCMR, and the upcoming 2014 QDR and the Global SOF Network and related concerns about its necessity and how certain aspects of this network will be developed in a highly resource-constrained budgetary environment. This report will be updated.

Click here for the full report (27 PDF pages) hosted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

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5 juillet 2013 5 05 /07 /juillet /2013 11:20
Giving The Little Bird A Drink

7/4/2013 Strategy Page


A CV-22B Osprey receives fuel from a MC-130H Combat Talon II June 21, 2013, off the coast of Greenland. The aircraft landed in Iceland during its journey to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, to allow for crew rest and refueling. The CV-22, assigned to the 7th Special Operations Squadron, is the first of 10 slated to arrive as part of the 352nd Special Operations Group expansion, which will last through the end of 2014. The MC-130 is assigned to the 7th SOS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Laura Yahemiak)

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