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OPERATIONS AND PROCUREMENT 14
Inside the Hunt for Joseph Kony U.S. Special Operations and private groups try to close the noose on African warlord Analysis by Robert Young Pelton
Thwarting Somali Pirates U.S. warships protect commercial vessels in Gulf of Aden By Julie Bird
Special Ops in Africa U.S. Africa Commandâ€™s growing role crystallizes through crises By John Pulley
ON THE COVER Photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Travis Oswald, 332nd Expeditionary Security Force, Immediate Reaction Force, prepares for a patrol at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
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OPERATIONS AND PROCUREMENT 52
Cyber Offense What kind of weapons are being developed for the cyber domain? By Rutrell Yasin
It’s a Dog’s World Special Ops K-9s bring the bark and the bite
LOUDER THAN WORDS 70
Tactical Photo Gallery
By Elaine S. Povich
Floating Bases Could Afloat Forward Staging Bases be the Navy’s Next Big Thing? By Mark Selinger
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elcome to our annual Special Operations issue, where we focus primarily on the men and missions of America’s highly specialized warrior elite. We start with a mission that U.S. Special Operations teams along with other covert and nonmilitary groups have been on for years: the hunt for African warlord Joseph Kony. Author and documentary film-maker Robert Young Pelton gives us a first-person perspective from inside the hunt, looking at how Kony came to power and why so many efforts to nab him have failed. Pelton personally joined the hunt late last year with a crowd-funded search effort and says he plans a return to the search area soon. The Academy Award-nominated film “Captain Phillips,” released in 2013 with Tom Hanks in the titular role of Robert Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, provides a timely reminder of the role U.S. Navy SEALs played in ending the tense hostage standoff in the Gulf of Aden. Our article looks at how the U.S. and its allies responded to the growing threat pirates posed to the commercial shipping off the coast of Somalia. With the U.S. sending military advisers and other assistance to Nigeria to help search for nearly 300 girls taken from schools and villages in the country’s north by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, it’s a good time to look at the Defense Department’s newest combatant command, U.S. Africa Command. Two years ago AFRICOM leaders identified Boko Haram as one of several threats on the continent, along with AlShabaab, an Islamist militia with links to al Qaeda; al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and
Kony. Boko Haram’s crimes include bombing the U.N. headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in 2011. We also look at another group of quiet warriors: America’s new cyber warriors. Like Special Operations, cyber operations is one of the few areas where the Pentagon is increasing funding. Analysts say the U.S. is quietly building up an offensive cyber capability along with the ability to better defend critical military, government and civilian digital systems from attack. Now that “cyber” is a warfare domain, like ground, air, sea and space, expect to hear more about U.S. Cyber Command and its efforts. We round out the issue with a look at the use of K-9s in Special Operations and a look at the new Afloat Forward Staging Bases the Navy is building to get its operators closer to the fight. The first AFSB built from the ground up is expected to be completed next year and replace the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf in 2016. The new ship, the Lewis B. Puller, is named after the Marine Corps’ most decorated Marine. As always, we thank you for your support.
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INSIDE THE HUNT FOR
Are U.S. Special Forces the best hope for finding this African warlord?
Analysis by Robert Young Pelton
he U.S. focus on Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army, has become a topic of curiosity rather than results. I have been in the region since Kony’s heyday and am currently looking to find Kony as part of larger project on Central Africa called “Expedition Kony.” Kony is a touchstone to the new scramble for Africa and the entry of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) into what is going to become the area with the highest operational tempo in the world. The U.S. already is running more than a mission a day on a continent three times larger than the U.S., with more than 50 countries. From Somalia to South Africa, America runs a fullspectrum engagement in Africa. The mission with the highest public visibility is the hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army across central Africa. Kony is a 52-year-old Ugandan citizen and a member of the Acholi tribe. He is currently under a 2005 indictment by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Acholis are found in Northern Uganda and southern South Sudan, and embroiled in a brutal war against southerner and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni since the mid ’80’s. The roots of the conflict began when the British packed the colonial-era military with Acholis. The Nilotic Acholis were tall, rugged, independent cattle-herders and farmers,
and jobs were scarce in the poor north. Under Idi Amin, the tradition of hiring Acholi troops continued. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is from the south and as a rebel, commanded Russian-backed troops in Tanzania to fight a guerilla war that led to the destabilization of Amin in 1979, Oboe in 1985 and the final overthrow of Acholi president Tito Okello in January of 1986. By 1986 President Museveni backed an alliance of foreign powers including Rwanda and Tanzania. His rule was marred by aggressive attacks on the Congo and north of Uganda as disenfranchised Acholi fought back. The Acholi were no match for the modern arms and tactics and soon Acholis were moved to concentration camps and forced to submit to Kampala’s rule. Although most Acholis conceded defeat, a group under Kony fought both Museveni’s UPDF troops and locals in the north of Uganda to survive through the ’90s and into the early 2000s. Although much has been said about Kony’s use of mysticism, it is quite common for tribal groups to use a blend of modern and animist religion to guide warfare. Kony integrated elements of cultism, violence, forced marriage and press-ganging -- ugly tactics typical of bush wars across Africa. Eventually Uganda, with U.S. support, was able to push Kony out of Uganda and into what is now South Sudan. A war had raged in Sudan between the black south and the Arab north since independence in the 1950s. Summer 2014 DEFENSE STANDARD 15
Khartoum’s leaders had adopted a policy of divide and garrison. LRA soldiers would be seen in Songo, or in Darfur conquer, hiring and arming the black Christian LRA to fight shopping, while Khartoum insisted the LRA did not exist against the black Christian SPLA. Sudan not only pitted in their country. Nuer and Dinka units against each other, but Khartoum In July 2010 Shannon Sedgewick Davis, a wealthy Texas even appointed Kony as governor of Jonglei state and his activist and lawyer emboldened by the recently signed LRA as a fighting force alongside Arab volunteers. They legislation, and Invisible Children founder Laren Poole met fought in oil-rich areas populated by Nuer tribesmen that with the head of the Ugandan military to come up with a Sudan wanted to control. plan to find and eliminate Kony. The Ugandans suggested As southern Sudanese Nuer and Dinka began to work that if Davis could train and support a unit, they would find out their differences in early 2002, 24-year-old child actor and eliminate Kony. Her Bridgeway Foundation contacted Jason Russell and 19-year-old Laren Poole, along with Executive Outcomes founder Eeben Barlow, who trained Bobby Bailey, planned a trip a small unit of Ugandans. Eeben to Darfur to make a film. quickly accepted the challenge During their 2003 trip they and quickly trained up a group stayed in Gulu one night and of Ugandans in the art of bush DESPITE THE FILM saw the children moving to war fought dirty. They dressed compounds every night to as locals, worked in pickup-sized COVERING EVENTS HALF prevent being kidnapped by groups of six, used local intel and A DECADE OLD, THE IDEA the LRA. moved fast. In September 2011, That same year three the group ambushed Kony and OF MAKING JOSEPH KONY religious filmmakers set up senior leaders in their camp in in “FAMOUS” IN THE MOVIE, a charity to deal with the South Sudan. Kony escaped and “KONY 2012,” SUDDENLY orphans in the Northern fled to Darfur in Sudan. Uganda. Although their initial Barlow was determined to MADE THE HUNT FOR film in 2004 and appearances be persona non grata by the U.S. KONY THE BIGGEST VIRAL on the 700 Club didn’t State Department for his efforts generate much traction, it and left Uganda. SENSATION IN HISTORY. was in that period that Kony waged war South Sudan and n March of 2012 Invisible Northern Uganda. Children launched a fundAfter a framework for raising campaign using a statehood for South Sudan movie featuring Russell’s son was created in 2005, peace overtures were made to Kony asking about a bad man in Africa kidnapping children. by SPLA commander Riek Machar. Between 2006 and 2008 Despite the film covering events half a decade old, the idea a series of public negotiations and photos ops occurred of making Joseph Kony “famous” in the movie, “Kony along the border with Uganda. It was the last time Kony 2012,” suddenly made the hunt for Kony the biggest viral would be seen or photographed in public. Although Kony sensation in history. Away from the headlines again, in March 2013 a dozen refused to sign the April 2008 peace treaty he was given $25,000 in cash and a few trucks of supplies in an effort to “white men” leading 200 Ugandans attacked Joseph Kony’s persuade him to leave the region. Kony then relocated to camp in a remote part of South Sudan called Kafia Kingi. the northern part of Democratic Republic of the Congo in But the spotter plane had tipped off Kony the day before. Intelligence was found but no Kony. Kony and the LRA the middle of a vast wildlife refuge. had fled into the Central African Republic. n December 2008 the U.S. planned and supported Shannon Davis, Laren Poole and Eeben Barlow had Operation Lightening Thunder, a bombing and ground crossed circuits in 2011 with the more cumbersome but attack on Kony in Garamba National Park, which politically correct way of hunting warlord fugitives. resulted in a spasm of violent counterattacks by the In March of 2012 the African Union Regional Task Force LRA. They soon linked their efforts to lobby a bill called (AU-RTF) was created under the African Union with its the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern mandate under the unwieldy-sounding Joint Coordination Ugandan Recovery Act of 2009, signed in May 2010, which Mechanism (JCM) to the Regional Cooperation Initiative dedicated $10 million in overt funding toward Uganda to for the elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI– come up with solutions to eliminate Kony and provide LRA). humanitarian relief. Ironically, it was signed when Joseph The AU RTF was to blend soldiers from the Central Kony was in Southern Sudan. African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo By 2009 Kony had moved his headquarters across the (DRC), South Sudan and Uganda into rapid reaction force, border of what is South Sudan to a well-situated bolthole all under a UN mandate. Around 100 members of U.S. on the banks of the Umbelasha River. The camp of mud Special Forces from the 10th Special Forces Group and huts was 20 miles from the border of the Central African various contractors would provide foreign internal defense Republic, 11 miles west of the Dafak Sudanese military (FID) and old-fashioned force multiplier training, but their
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Summer 2014 DEFENSE STANDARD 17
rules of force would only allow self-defense. The goal, as one mission member told me, is to “make sure a Ugandan puts a bullet in the head of Joseph Kony.” According to the members of the Special Forces team, their efforts have been cumbersome, frustrating and self defeating. The operation was hampered by aging and noisy contractor Hueys, language (CAR and DRC soldiers speak French, South Sudan and Ugandan soldiers speak English), and the unhelpful fact that South Sudan, CAR and DRC were in meltdown mode. This leaves the task primarily to Ugandans, who have plenty of experience in bush wars, although their training these days is more likely to be urban ops in Somalia. It is a challenging task. Kony has split his forces into small mobile units that live off the land. He also knows how the twin-engine electronics intelligence platforms work as they buzz over the bush listening and looking for a needle in a haystack. Drones are less functional since a small group of men with guns can just as easily be hunters as soldiers. The AK-47 is endemic to Africa for both hunting and warfare. In addition the LRA has no consistent military look and has developed a multitribal structure through kidnapping and local agreements. The main problems are lack of intelligence or rapport, the slow reaction time, offsets of up to 15 miles to avoid detection, and a general sense of mission creep over a vast range of bush, forest and swamp. The bin Laden complex is in play as well -- the idea that Kony must hide in the bush when he has access to cars, boats and planes as well as the refuge of host governments, businesses or sympathetic rebel groups.
On March 23, 2014, Obama added an aviation support package. It consisted of four CV-22 Ospreys modified for Special Operations, a KC-135 air tanker, heavy lift capability and the aviation support crew required to operate it. This increased the U.S. footprint to 300 Americans, with the number of contractors and local support not released. The stated goal was to remove Joseph Kony from the battlefield under the president’s War Powers Resolution. The Ospreys are twice as fast as the aging Hueys, carry 40 troops and can travel 1,000 miles without refueling. With aerial refueling they can remain on station for rapid exfil. But they are better suited for a pan-Africa rapid reaction force to prevent another event like the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. During that attack CIF and other rapid response units had to commandeer aircraft after their aging DC-3s had been pulled. On April 10, less than a month after the aircraft had been deployed, they were pulled out of the mission by AFRICOM head Army Gen. David Rodriguez. Rodriguez said that if the C/LRA had targets the aircraft would be made available. The problem with the C/LRA mission as it matures is that Kony and the LRA have been at large now for two decades. The strategy and tactic of using Special Forces in a modified FID mission meets MAC V SOG-lite has some of the team grumbling that this is a no-win situation. Overmanned for training, undermanned for missions, but with the latest in intel and aviation support platforms … in an old-fashioned jungle war. As advisers the U.S. is at war in Africa across four nations but prevented from entered the exact places that Kony likes to hide. Kony’s people can be found in Nairobi, Juba, Khartoum and even London. Museveni is yet another African strongman, an aging Marxist model that is being replaced by democracy, and Joseph Kony’s organization may suddenly morph into a popular THE MAIN PROBLEMS ARE rebel group funded by whoever needs guns for hire in the LACK OF INTELLIGENCE complicated region.
he U.S. government has been aggressive in supporting the Counter LRA initiative, creating a group within the State Department to manage the project supported by lobby groups like Enough, OR RAPPORT, THE SLOW Invisible Children and Resolve and wealthy individuals like hat does the future REACTION TIME, OFFSETS Shannon Sedgwick Davis and hold? I have been in the OF UP TO 15 MILES TO Howard Buffett. C/LRA is a region since the mid AVOID DETECTION, AND A feel-good project that crosses ’90s with various rebel groups international boundaries, taps GENERAL SENSE OF MISSION and just returned from South into youthful activism and Sudan, where I tracked down CREEP OVER A VAST RANGE delivers young voters to both former vice president-turnedpolitical parties. Uganda is rebel leader Riek Machar. Machar OF BUSH, FOREST AND happy to receive millions of was the last person to meet with SWAMP. dollars in U.S. support and the Kony between 2006 and 2008. He Obama administration lists describes Kony as “like a cat,” the hunt for Kony as part of its a man plagued with justifiable human rights platform. paranoia, but someone who can In January 2013, President quickly mobilize and expand his Barack Obama created a $5 million reward for information impact through foreign backing and local intimidation, and leading to the capture of Joseph Kony and other senior do so over a vast pan tribal area of central Africa. commanders. This classic idea has generated interest but Kony’s people were in Nairobi when I was there. They it is difficult in a remote area, many without cellphones or were looking to get in on the new flow of Sudanese and even shortwave radio to contact the right people in time. Eritrean weapons flowing to fractured rebel groups now
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WANTED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
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JOSEPH KONY The promotional poster for the movie “Kony 2012” put the warlord in the crosshairs. Summer 2014 DEFENSE STANDARD 19
head” policies vs. rescuing captive children. Essentially reshaping the conflict in CAR and South Sudan. The current status strategy of basing U.S. troops in all of Kony’s army is made up of press-ganged civilians of rapidly devolving areas also puts the mission at risk due to varying ages. How exactly do you both fight, and rescue, this type of group? There have rapidly shifting allegiances. In been both violent encounters and late 2013, Kony helped Michel successful rescues of abductees. Djotodia come to power in All are held hostage by Joseph the Central Africa Republic. Kony’s policy of kidnapping and Djotodia is a Muslim from the THE KEY ELEMENT OF indoctrinating remote northeast corner of SPECIAL FORCES IS TO And finally, regional disaster CAR where Kony is sheltered. GAIN THE TRUST OF THE has overshadowed the hunt Reports of negotiations with for Kony. South Sudan is in the Kony in November of 2013 POPULATION TO ALLOW midst of a tribal war, Muslims were quickly dismissed as GOOD INTELLIGENCE, in CAR rally against Christian confused and anecdotal. violence, DRC is actively at war When I was with Machar this SUPPORT AND FORCE with multiple rebel groups, and February he confirmed to me MULTIPLICATION. ironically Uganda is at peace, that Kony’s troops did support soon to reap the windfall of the now-resigned president hundreds of billions of barrels and there were discussions of oil discovered under the Rift of support of a few thousand Valley. dollars and food. I will return to continue my search for Kony in the next When South Sudan fell apart on Dec. 15, 2013, the Ugandan military (stationed in southern South Sudan under few weeks. the Kony mandate) aggressively attacked Nuer tribal and civilian elements, destroying Bor and using cluster bombs against civilians. The key element of Special Forces is to Pelton is an author and documentary filmmaker who gain the trust of the population to allow good intelligence, specializes in reporting on military and political figures support and force multiplication. There is also a direct in war zones. In November he launched a crowd-sourced conflict between the “Ugandan putting a bullet in Kony’s and –funded search for Kony. Pelton in the field.
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速 Summer 2014 DEFENSE STANDARD 21
WHEN SURVIVAL IS YOUR LIFE™… You are not alone if you find that the differences
between tactical and professional knife companies seem to blend together. On the low end, the trend these days is to put a face on a brand and feature a famous “survivor” who has appeared on TV, like Bear Grylls and Les Stroud, who put their name on mass-market products made in China. On the high end, real survivors with military experience tend to use military jargon or military imagery to add credence to the knife’s features, and in the middle there are knife manufacturers like, designed by well-known knife makers, like Chris Reeves or Mick Strider who blend m on the manufacturing quality. Robert Young Pelton, is a man known for being on the front lines of over a dozen wars and always in the company of military groups. He seemed like an unusual addition to the knife business when he started DPx Gear in 2008. Pelton is better known for books, documentaries and news reports about his epic journeys where he spends time with the world’s elite forces, rebel leaders and fighting groups and delivers a front row seat to many of the world’s conflicts. (See the article on the Hunt for Joseph Kony in this edition.) He has no military background yet he worked as an advisor for the four stars in Afghanistan, ran ground networks in Iraq, fought pirates in Somalia, hunted down warlords and his staunch and vocal support of U.S troops in combat have motivated thousands of young men and women to seek adventure in the U.S. military. His iconoclastic approach to helping people stay alive have built a massive following in many disciplines. What people may not know is that Pelton worked as a product development guru and marketing expert from age 16 until he retired at age 40. He worked with Steve Jobs at Apple, Marvel, and Upper Deck and did product development for Disney, Warner Brothers, LucasFilm, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL among many others. After selling his marketing business, he launched a second career going inside the world’s warzones to write books and film documentaries. Pelton had one of the very first survival shows (The World’s Most Dangerous Places) that
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aired on the Discovery Channel, a worldwide web event on ABC called, “Dangerous Places” and a New York Times bestselling book titled, not surpisingly, “The Worlds Most Dangerous Places”. From there, he set up ground networks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia and did news reporting for CBS, 60 Minutes, ABC Investigative, National Geographic and CNN. As Pelton tells it, “Back then I was too stupid to realize that you were supposed to fake everything if you wanted to be a survival star.” “I just filmed myself as I did my normal job meeting with the Taliban, going into Grozny, accompanying Special Forces in Afghanistan on horseback, being kidnapped in Colombia and even being blown up in Uganda by terrorists. I just let the cameras roll while giving tips on how to stay alive.” When a long time friend, Jeff Randall of ESEE Knives, suggested that Pelton design a knife, Pelton put him off. He was too busy. Randall continued to pester him and in 2008 they released Pelton’s first fixed blade design called the DPx H•E•S•T (Hostile Environment Survival Tool). It was a compact, affordable, tough knife that served Pelton’s needs. The knife was an immediate success. Pelton then designed the folding version, called the DPx H•E•S•T Folder. He tested it in the jungles of rebel held Burma and the Pelton decided to start a company to keep up with the demand. Now Pelton blends trips to South Sudan, Somalia, and Afghanistan with testing his new products.
“I spent five weeks doing missions with Special Forces in Afghanistan last year so I could write my book and learn how they use my knives.” “It’s an honor to develop tools that exactly meet the needs of the most talented men on the planet.” Although DPx Gear targets the needs of special operations (at least one ODA adopted “MR DP” as their logo over a decade ago) , their products are in great demand by other units of the military as well as security contractors, law enforcement and first responders.
Pelton’s secret is not really about the product, it is about paying attention to the demands of his rather unusual customer. “I design products that I need, and I use them but my best ideas come from being in the field in combat and seeing how they knives are abused.” “I treat my customers like family and I never stop listening to find ways to improve our gear.”
Pelton and DPx Gear now have over a dozen patents including one for a new product called the DPx H•I•T (Handle Inversion Tool) which features an integral pivoting blade guard that forms the handle; the unique DPx business card, called the DPx Danger Tag, that turns into a knife; and the DPx HEST Folder that was chosen as one of the top factory knives of the last decade by BLADE magazine.
Summer 2014 DEFENSE STANDARD 23
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PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vincent J. Street
The USS Bainbridge played a key role during the Maersk Alabama hijacking crisis, including communicating regularly with the pilots and launching rigid-hull inflatable boats to ride alongside the life boat carrying the shipâ€™s captain and four pirates.
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PIRATES IN THE GULF OF ADEN T by Julie Bird
hree shots rang out that night, three perfect, near-simultaneous shots that freed a U.S. ship captain held hostage in a lifeboat floating off the coast of Somalia. The Navy SEAL sharpshooters waited, waited, waited, apparently unseen to the Somali pirates holding the captain for four days, the hours ticking away as Capt. Richard Phillipsâ€™ life hung in the balance. Phillips was a hero in his own right after persuading the four young thugs to release his crew on the Maersk Alabama by offering himself as a hostage. And then the three SEAL heroes had their chance. They took their shots and it was over, a dramatic punctuation mark in the U.S. Navyâ€™s role in a multinational battle against high seas piracy. The taking of the Maersk Alabama on April 8, 2009, was the first attempted hijacking of a U.S.-flagged ship off Africa in more than 200 years, bringing worldwide attention to the expanding role of the U.S. and other navies in counterpiracy.
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Three international forces policed the waters off Somalia in 2009, including Combined Task Force 151, commanded by the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, when the Turkish navy took over. The European Union had its own task force to protect ships carrying World Food Program humanitarian supplies, and there was a NATO task force as well. Several nations including China and Russia have sent a ship or two to escort their own nations’ ships through the Gulf of Aden. All told, according to reports at the time, 15 to 20 warships were trying to patrol 1.1 million square miles of water. “If we have to change the mission, we can change the mission very quickly,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, the first CTF 151 commander, said in a telephone interview as he neared the end of his 90-day command not long after the Maersk Alabama hijacking.
bout 24,000 vessels transit the seas off Somalia annually; 111 were hijacked in 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau in London. Attempted hijackings in those waters continued to soar in the first few months of 2009, with 27 successful attacks out of 97 attempts as of May 6, according to the Navy. Some 61 attacks occurred just in the first three months of the year, up from six attacks in the first quarter of 2008, the International Chamber of Commerce says. “This is a very new mission for the navies of the world,” says Eric Wertheim, author of Combat Fleets of the World. The U.S. Navy initially was reluctant to get involved and pushed for other countries to take the lead before standing up CTF 151 on Jan. 13, he says.
J. Peter Pham, an African security expert and director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, says the military operations have “made piracy in the Gulf of Aden a little more difficult and the shipping a little more secure.” But he says the U.S. Navy estimates it would take at least 60 more vessels to adequately cover the area, and “there aren’t 60 naval vessels to be deployed there.” Meanwhile, the pirates adapted by expanding their operations into the western Indian Ocean, says Pham, who has advised the Pentagon on anti-piracy efforts. “The chances of being caught are very low and the economic rewards of carrying out an attack are very high,” adds maritime piracy expert Peter Chalk of RAND Corp. The average ransom, experts say, quickly rose to $2 million. Even if suspected pirates are caught, Chalk says, most nations are “generally not that willing to go through all the hassle of getting them back to their jurisdiction to try them, and the chances of a successful prosecution are very low.” McKnight says the U.S. has captured and released several pirates for lack of evidence. It’s hard to prove intent if the suspected pirates haven’t tried to board a ship, even if they are carrying weapons and other tools of the trade. One major exception: The lone surviving suspect from the Maersk Alabama hijacking, who was flown to New York for trial within days of his capture. McKnight says he doesn’t think the pirates head out with a plan for attacking certain ships, although the task force’s Vessel Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams have found GPS receivers and cellphones on board. There’s no evidence they have shipping schedules, he says, and they
PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick
Sailors from the Norfolk-based destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) climb aboard Motor Vessel Faina to conduct a health and comfort inspection of the crew as well as provide them with food, water and medical support. Somali pirates released the Motor Vessel Faina Feb. 5, 2009, after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-days a week presence since it was captured.
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seem to be looking for any target of opportunity. “The pirates we have picked up were probably fishermen three weeks ago and probably (decided) today to try the piracy business.” Although pirates had fired on numerous commercial vessels, as of March 2009 they had yet to fire on a coalition ship, McKnight said. “They see the overwhelming force. They’re not suicidal pirates – and I hope we don’t get to that day.” McKnight, a 30-plus-year Navy veteran, says he has found the counterpiracy mission fascinating. Especially interesting has been the opportunity to coordinate with navies from around the world that have steamed to the Gulf of Aden. He has, he says, “more stories to tell over the past 90 days” than in any other time of his career.
elicopters watch suspicious vessels from at least a mile away, McKnight says, beyond the range of rocket-propelled grenade. An even safer surveillance weapon is the ScanEagle, a unmanned aerial vehicle McKnight says is “about the size of a big model airplane.” It’s made by Insitu Inc. of Bingen, Wash., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co. Insitu leaders say the images shown on television of the lifeboat where Phillips was being held hostage came from the ScanEagle’s cameras. With a 10.2-foot wingspan and 4-foot fuselage, “the UAVs are very handy, very easy to operate and inexpensive,”
PHOTO: U.S. Navy
Maersk Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips, right, stands alongside Cmdr. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of the USS Bainbridge after being rescued by U.S. naval forces off the coast of Somalia. Pirates held Phillips captive in an ordeal dramatized in the 2013 film “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks in the title role.
McKnight says. “If one breaks and falls in the water, you don’t have to worry about it.” Operators and intelligence personnel on board ships are able to see what the ScanEagle’s onboard camera sees while it loiters, typically for 8 or 9 hours, he says, although the UAV can fly more than 20 hours on a tank of gas. It has inertially stabilized electro-optical or infrared cameras that transmit real-time, moving pictures back to the operator, night or day. Insitu technicians deploy with each ScanEagle system and operate the vehicle using a computer and mouse. There’s a joystick, but it’s used to maneuver the camera, not the aircraft. Navy operators “tell us what they want to see,
Staff Sgt. Bryan E. Campbell, from Melbourne, Ark. and UH-1Y crew chief with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced) “Evil Eyes,” of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares an M2.50 caliber machine gun during flight operations in support of counter-piracy surveillance operations.
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how they want to see it and when they want to see it,” says Al Jackson, Insitu’s vice president of sales and marketing. ScanEagles have been on board several classes of ships since 2005, but most are on destroyers, he says. The approximately 40-pound aircraft flies on JP-5 jet fuel, which the Navy loves because there’s plenty of it aboard ships, Jackson says. The ScanEagles cruise at about 50 knots at an altitude as high as 20,000 feet. But the “sweet spot,” he says, is 1,500 to 3000 feet. If necessary, they can dive to 500 to 800 feet to get an even closer look. At that altitude, the UAV looks like a seagull, he says. Navy intelligence specialists watching the video look for things that seem out of place on a small fishing vessel, McKnight says: a ladder, say, or an abundance of extra fuel containers. But a cache of AK-47s, or a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, are dead giveaways that the young men are unlikely to be fishermen. VBSS teams head out in 7-meter or 9-meter boats to check out suspected pirate vessels, searching for and seizing weapons, McKnight says. The teams include Coast Guard law enforcement officials and sailors who may be on temporary duty from other ship jobs, he says – “Sailors who may be a cook one minute and the next they’re on the boat.”
t least some of the U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Aden – as well as increasing numbers of merchant vessels -- are equipped with a deterrent system known as the Long-Range Acoustical Device, or LRAD, manufactured by American Technology Corp. of San Diego. The LRAD emits a “very loud, very annoying highpowered deterrent tone,” says Robert Putnam, who heads media and investor relations at American Technology. The Navy says an LRAD was used to help the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Lewis and Clark prevent a successful attack May 6, 2009. “The real application for antipiracy is to be able to create a defensive perimeter around these ships,” Putnam says. He says the Navy asked the company to develop a solution following the October 2000 terrorist bombing of the USS Cole in the Yemeni harbor of Aden. The first line of defense is using the LRAD to hail an approaching boat and warn it to halt, as an embarked security team did when two skiffs approached the Lewis and Clark. In a Star Trek-like application, the LRAD can be integrated with a system that automatically translates verbal English commands into other languages. The LRAD can be deployed as a wheeled system with its own power, or mounted on a tripod or a ship’s rail. Some
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ships have two or three LRADs on board, Putnam says. The devices cost anywhere from $20,000 to $125,000, depending on the system and whether it is integrated into radar and other shipboard systems, he says. The company’s initial contract with the Navy was worth $4 million to $8 million. Meanwhile, the pirates have been adapting. Raids have increasingly been launched from large mother ships that analyst Pham says are purchased, rented or even hijacked. “There’s no way until a vessel launches a skiff that you know they’re pirates,” he says. “You can’t possibly be boarding all these ships. There are 20,000 ships out there and any one of them could be a mother ship.” The U.S. and other navies have been watching Somali ports for the departure of large and mid-sized cargo ships, he says, so the pirates started launching the ships from ports in Yemen, Kenya, Oman and Djibouti. And increasingly, they are attacking at night.
“Unless naval forces are 15 to 30 minutes away, all you can do is catch (the attack) on film, and the pirates can care less at that point,” Pham says. “Beyond doing law enforcement at sea, you’re limited in what the military can do,” says James Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “There’s talk about putting (military) security teams on boats to assist in identifying pirates, and you can do a little bit of that, like with air marshals. But there are issues about who’s in charge.” Private security is another option, “but you don’t want to have gun battles on a ship,” Carafano adds. A better option is for shipping companies to employ private craft with an over-the-horizon search capability in high-risk areas, he says, and to use directed-energy systems to incapacitate the motors of pirate ships.
PHOTO: Lance Cpl. Megan E. Sindelar
The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) tows the lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), in background, to be processed for evidence after the successful rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips. Phillips was held captive by suspected Somali pirates in the lifeboat in the Indian Ocean for several days after a failed hijacking attempt off the Somali coast. Boxer was deployed as part of Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group/13th MEU supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility. Maritime security operations help develop security in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations.
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Navy SEALS deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa practice special purpose insertion/extraction from an HH-60 helicopter.
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SPECIAL OPS IN
AFRICA Daring hostage rescue in Somalia shines light on small, but growing, presence
by John Pulley
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PHOTO: Martin Greeson
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n the evening of Jan. 24, 2012, President Barack Obama inched his way through a throng of Washington’s power elite, shaking hands with lawmakers and colleagues who had gathered in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to hear the president deliver the annual State of the Union address. Reaching his then-secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, the president paused and offered congratulations. “Leon, good job tonight,” the president said, his remarks captured by live microphones. “Good job tonight.” Hours before the world would understand the meaning of that exchange, the secretary and the president tacitly acknowledged a successful hostage-rescue mission executed that evening by U.S. Special Operations forces in Somalia. As the president made his way to the lectern, elite troops who had just freed an American citizen and her Danish colleague were still mopping up after the mission. The daring rescue and its acknowledgement by the Defense Department and the White House the following day focused renewed attention on Special Operations Forces operating on the African continent, a military contingent whose profile has grown in recent years. In the past decade, Africa has evolved from an afterthought of American security and national interests to an area of intense concern. Increasingly, defense experts are viewing the use of Special Operations Forces in Africa as a cost-effective, politically acceptable means for looking after American interests on the continent. “As long as there is a major threat to the U.S. homeland from groups operating in places like Somalia and Yemen, combined with a political inability to send in large numbers of American forces, dealing with this kind of threat is ripe for only one kind of U.S. military force, and that is Special Operations,” says Seth G. Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corp. and a former representative for the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command to the assistant secretary of defense for special operations. “I don’t see their operations tempo declining in North Africa or East Africa any time in the foreseeable future. “It could increase.”
U.S. Special Operations Command Africa troops prepare for airborne training at Stuttgart Army Airfield in Germany.
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he surgical precision with which the Special Operations team executed the hostage rescue in Somalia illustrates why elite troops are invaluable in Africa. On the night of the rescue, a team of commandoes from different branches of the military parachuted from airplanes into an area near where the hostages were being held, according to press accounts. The team included members of SEAL Team 6, the Navy unit that had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan the previous May. The rescuers hiked about two miles in the dark to a compound where gunmen with access to nearby explosives held the two international aid workers, Jessica Buchanan, an American, and her Danish colleague, Paul Thisted. Armed kidnappers had abducted them Oct. 25 near Galcayo, Somalia, and were holding them for ransom. The rescue team took and returned fire, killing nine abductors. None of the rescuers was killed or injured. Helicopters spirited the freed hostages onto waiting helicopters and on to safety in Djibouti, presumably to Camp Lemonnier, the primary base of operations for U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa. Obama praised “the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations Forces.” Indeed, at a time of budget constraints at the Pentagon, the Obama administration favors an enhanced role for Special Operations. Not only do such forces provide more bang for the buck than the overwhelming blunt force of traditional troops, Special Operations appear particularly well suited to the political and logistical challenges of Africa. According to a March 23, 2012, report by the Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Special Operations
Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress,” U.S. Special Operations Command “is seeking expanded authority to deploy and position SOF and their equipment in an effort to achieve greater autonomy and increase presence in … Africa” and elsewhere. In October 2011, about two weeks before the hostages were abducted, the president authorized deployment of 100 troops, primarily Special Ops forces, to central Africa. Their mission, which continues, is to expedite the capture or killing of Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which for decades has terrorized central Africa, murdering citizens and exploiting children whom it has forced to bear arms and work in the sex trade. To that end, the Americans are training local militaries in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Among other known threats in Africa are Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militia with links to al Qaeda; al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is primarily active in the north and west of the continent; and Boko Haram, which in 2011 bombed the U.N. headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Large swaths of Africa are marked by political unrest and ever-shifting alliances, making it a fluid and slippery environment in which to gain a solid footing. The four major geographic areas of concern for Special Operation Forces Africa, part of U.S. Africa Command, are the Horn of Africa, northwest Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and a catchall category referred to as “the rest of Africa.” Political instability and ungoverned spaces bedevil the region. Somalia and other parts of the continent are essentially lawless vacuums of
A Senegalese army company marches past the official party following a recent special operations joint exercise in Theis, Senegal. U.S. Africa Command sponsors exercises with several partner nations in north and west Africa to build military interoperability and improve the skills of friendly special operations forces. PHOTO: Master Sgt. Jeremiah Erickson
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authority, fertile ground for the proliferation of pirates, drug traffickers, international terrorists and other criminal enterprises. Countering pirates is largely the provenance of conventional forces, but Special Operations troops have intervened to defuse crises caused by pirates. In 2009, Navy SEAL snipers killed three pirates who had seized the cargo ship Maersk Alabama and taken its captain hostage. It was the first seizure by pirates of a ship flying under the American flag since the early 19th century.
elying on Special Operations to promote American interests in Africa is a relatively recent strategy. For more than half a century after World War II, the United States defined Africa primarily as a recipient of humanitarian aid. The 1993 Battle of Mogadishu debacle, which inspired the Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern Warfare book and movie, began as a humanitarian mission. As recently as 14 years ago, politicians and policy analysts in the United States had declared Africa to be of little or no concern, either strategically or in terms of national security. Sept. 11, 2001, marked a profound shift in thinking. Subsequent geopolitical trends have further redefined Africa’s importance to the security of the United States and its national interests. Rich in natural resources, the continent provides as much oil to the United States as do Persian Gulf countries. Yet the United States’ strategic interests in Africa go well beyond what is extracted from African soil, says J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center. The continent has a fast-growing population and booming economic growth, including six or seven of the
world’s fastest-growing economies. Within a few decades, Africa will become home to approximately 20 percent of the global population. The continent is close enough to Europe to affect the security of U.S. allies there. And should a conflict impede the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, it would be imperative that oil tankers continue to pass through the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Meanwhile, China is attempting to establish influence in Africa, not to mention India, Brazil and other emerging powers that seek to be players on the continent. “It’s in our national interest to begin viewing Africa in terms of security, natural resources and economic opportunity,” says Pham, acknowledging that realities on the ground shift frequently. “It’s not black and white. It’s exactly the type of situation where the training [of Special Operations Forces], the capacity for understanding nuance and operating unconventionally certainly are skills that are very useful.” In light of those shifting economic and political threats, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) separated from European Command in 2008 to become a freestanding combatant command. As part of the realignment, Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) was stood up as a functional sub-unified command for AFRICOM, both based in Stuttgart, Germany. With the formation of SOCAFRICA, the command gained authority of the Special Operations Command and Control Element – Horn of Africa – which supplied the 100 special operators involved in the Kony training mission. SOCAFRICA later absorbed the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans–Sahara (JSOTFTS).
PHOTO: Master Sgt. Dawn M. Price
U.S. Service members watch the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) change of command ceremony at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, while Navy Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey addresses the audience.
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PHOTO: SOCAFRICA Public Affairs
A Malian commando leader discusses his plan of attack with a member of the U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) prior to leading his platoon on a raid of an “enemy” outpost, the culmination of weeks of specialized training as part of a recent military training engagement conducted north of Bamako, Mali.
he primary focus of Special Operations on the continent is foreign internal defense, which involves training local military forces, thereby denying safe havens to terrorists, extremists and outlaws. That training involves intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as tactics for conducting raids against enemies. “It’s more than shooting a gun,” says Jones. “It’s sophisticated tactical operations.” Special Operations Forces also target and kill known terrorists. Saleh Ali Saleh Nabham, a senior al Qaeda leader, died in a 2009 Special Operations raid in southern Somalia. Senior defense and intelligence leaders, among them Panetta, have said that al Qaeda’s demise in Pakistan has shifted the terrorist network’s attention to Africa. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, testified to Congress that “absent more effective and sustained activities to disrupt them, some regional affiliates, particularly al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Shabaab in Somalia, probably will grow stronger.” The African strategy, for now, is to leverage relatively small numbers of Special Operations forces as a primary means for stabilizing the continent’s hot spots, and jumpstarting economic development in underdeveloped regions. The alternative is continued instability and growing threats to U.S. interests and security. Determining the number of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Africa is all but impossible. Pham estimated fewer than 200 in 2012, but John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity. org, suggests that “the actual numbers are substantially
greater” than DoD will acknowledge. He also suspects the CIA provides significant numbers of irregular commandos. However many special operators are there, the need for them is expected to grow. “If [the threat to U.S. interests in Africa is] left unaddressed you could have a network that ranges from East Africa through the center and into the Sahel and Maghreb, and that I think that would be very, very worrying,” Army Gen. Carter Ham, commander of AFRICOM, told defense writers in September 2011, according to an account published by Stars and Stripes. “I’d like more Special Operations Forces now.” Having endured a decade of brutal war against an entrenched enemy in Afghanistan, the military is eager to avoid a similar scenario in Africa. “AFRICOM is at the cutting edge of a significant problem set,” says Air Force Col. Richard Samuels, deputy commander of SOCAFRICA, in a January 2012 webcast posted online by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. “If we don’t do anything about it now, it’s going to be a more significant problem later.” Special Operations’ unique capabilities are ideal in such an environment, he indicates. “If we can get in there with a very small, light, lean footprint now, we will probably be able to shape the future in such a way that it’s less violent, more secure for the populace and eventually well-governed,” he says. “But we need to get after that now. We can’t wait until the safe haven has been established.” Summer 2014 DEFENSE STANDARD 43
FOUNDED BY A HIGHLY QUALIFIED FORMER TASK FORCE 160 PILOT, TIM PEARSON, AND A 20 YEAR CSM IN A TIER ONE UNIT UNDER USASOC, TOM SATTERLY, F3EA PROVIDES DISCRETE MISSION SUPPORT, SECURITY AND TRAINING SERVICES. WHAT MAKES F3EA A UNIQUE CONTRACTING FIRM? TP: F3EA provides Tier level support with the ability to evaluate joint agencies from tactical to strategic level in the full spectrum of operations (air and ground). Every single member of our staff and support team is the go to Subject Matter Expert within the community with unmatched planning and execution experience. Cost effective and streamlined in execution, our organization mirrors SOF decision making models with a flat organization with robust expertise. We highly recommend customers speaking with our clients with regards to past performance and expert guidance provided by F3EA personnel. TS: The people. As with any organization, the people are what is behind the magic. Our staff and contractors are of the highest caliber and have distinguished careers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 units. Many or our target controllers finished their careers in high level leadership positions and all teach the latest techniques, tactics, and procedures used in combat today. DO YOU PROVIDE TRAINING OUTSIDE OF SPECIAL FORCES? TS: Absolutely. We offer the latest techniques, tactics, and procedures proven on the battlefield by special operators, comprehensive programs including research and development, training, intelligence and consulting strategies to support military, government agencies, police/SWAT, Homeland Security and private corporations around the globe. YOU ARE BASED IN SAVANNAH, WHERE DO YOUR TRAINING EXERCISES TAKE PLACE? TP: We design our training support around our customers which necessitates the ability to provide services throughout the world. F3EA’s detailed understanding of all levels of command requirements (unit METL to TSOC/SOCOM/JSOC/ DOS/DOE/DHS, etc. JRX validations), allows our staff to perform and design services unique to our customers. F3EA holds an expertise in providing the necessary coordination to conduct robust training from designated federal and state facilities, to the coordination necessary to White Cell detailed RMT Realistic Military Training scenarios within major Urban metropolitan areas. 44 DEFENSE STANDARD Summer 2014
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU FACE IN TRAINING? TP: F3EA addresses the continuous challenge of validating and staying ahead of tactical to strategic level TTPs with the inject of the most current and qualified Subject Matter Experts in the community. TS: Realism. Many other companies I have worked with utilize a certain “training” aspect to their product. F3EA provides the realism these men and women need to succeed in Combat. We utilize scenarios ripped from recent combat zones to teach life saving lessons before they deploy around the world. WHAT MAKES EXERCISE?
TP: Our ability to predict and design far right and left limit permissible training exercise, which allows the customer to believe that all aspects of execution are at their fingertips, establishes the framework of success. F3EA’s attention to all levels of execution and planning details, permits our customers to engross themselves in the training effort, and walk way with validated TTPs, or those necessary to reengage. TS: Success is measured in lessons learned. F3EA uses a detailed lessons learned AAR procedure that allow the training units to learn pre-mission, during the mission and post-mission. This is when a commander can take what they have learned and guide his men on what needs to be trained on further to succeed. WHAT ASPECT OF TRAINING DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST? TP: The “Release Point” (RP) inbound of a joint inter-agency task force on a deliberate assault, where all agencies and assets were evaluated to promote the current plan and execution, is my favorite aspect of the training scenario. The lessons learned up to and at that point have proven vital in multi-agency preparedness for real world operations. TS: I truly enjoy most watching younger Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines learn lessons in a safe but realistic environment that allows them to survive in combat. Every
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Sponsored Content individual that comes to our training events takes away a sense of moving to a higher plane of knowledge with lessons learned. Knowing I have helped an individual increase their chances to survive and return home to their families is the greatest achievement for me. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO ORGANIZE A MILITARY TRAINING EXERCISE OF THIS SCOPE? TP: The process is a labor of love on the part of our Operators so the more difficulties we face, the enjoyment we feel upon successful completion. These operations typically face many challenges, known and unknown, which draws upon the tenacious no fail attitude of our Special Operations personnel to overcome. WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN ESTABLISHING THE JORDANIAN ARMED FORCES SPECIAL FORCES PROGRAM? TS: I was working at King Abdullah Special Operations Center in Amman Jordan and I was approached due to my knowledge in training and leadership to develop a program to train the Jordanian Armed Forces in a Special Forces role. I staffed, planned, developed, coordinated and executed this 120 day training cycle. Through relationships developed, this course came to fruition in under 60 days. We executed two full courses and were scheduled for our third when funding was pulled and the contract was lost. Our statistics such as but not limited to were as follows: 10% swim rate to 98% swim rate, 6 % qualification on marksmanship rifle and pistol to 100%. Physical fitness increased 80 percent and many students went on to join their Tier 1 special operations units.
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YOU SERVED IN THE BATTLE OF MOGADISHU WHICH JUST OBSERVED IT’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY IN OCTOBER. YOU TOOK YOUR SON TO THE EXHIBIT AT THE AIRBORNE & SPECIAL OPERATIONS MUSEUM WHERE YOU ARE FEATURED ON A VIDEO DISPLAY SHARING RECOLLECTIONS OF THOSE HISTORIC DAYS, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE TO SHARE THAT EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR SON? 20 YEARS LATER WHAT DOES 3 AND 4 OCTOBER MEAN TO YOU? TS: Every time I remember that day or those days, I feel a deep sadness along with a deep sense of pride. That was the first time I had shared my experiences with my son about those days. He had no idea and I did not want him to think about it each time I deployed over seas. At his age of 15 he can only grasp the excitement of it all and not the great loss of life that saddened us all on that day. I plan on taking him back one day and explaining in further detail those events so he can appreciate what all of us experienced. It was the most lessons learned event in my life and those lessons are taught to this day in the military and in F3EA. What is the future of F3EA?
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was to surround yourself with well qualified professionals. This is what makes F3EA a great training source for any organization. We utilize the same selection procedures utilized in the top units today.
TP: The training services are elite and continually adapting to real-world threats. Our relationships with customers is very personal as we invest in their future and preparedness with the entire weight of the Subject Matter Experts we employ. I expect that these services will continue to evolve to address the threats we face tomorrow. As CEO I believe these services will expand laterally, promoted by performance, to enabling TSOCs with F3EA provided services to identified partner nation forces internationally from ground to air.
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Sponsored Content FORMED IN JANUARY 1992 IN RESPONSE TO THE aviation engineering and analytical needs of the U. S. Army Aviation community, Avion Solutions Inc. has been providing engineering, logistics, and software solutions to the U. S. Army for over 20 years. We have also expanded into software and biometric solutions with wide commercial applications. For the first ten years, Avion was comprised of two divisions: a Manufacturing Division headquartered in St. Louis, MO, and an Engineering & Logistics Services Division located in Huntsville, AL. In October 2002, Avion Manufacturing, Inc., and AVTASK were incorporated as separate entities, with Avion Solutions Inc. retaining all Engineering, Logistics and Software Development service contracts. Avion Solutions continues its extensive support for PEO Aviation, RDEC, AMCOM functional elements and related organizations, across all engineering and technical logistical lines from its headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama. As a result of our varied Engineering, Logistics, and Software solutions, Avion boasts superior asset tracking systems and a unique Ultrasonic Shot Peening solution. Our asset tracking systems include TRMS (Tool Room Management System), ARMS (Arms Room Management System), and ALSE (Aviation Life Support Equipment). These systems utilize Item Unique Identification marks (IUIDs) and distinct marks – small, two dimensional markings - which are scanned during the issue, receipt or inventory processes to automate current business procedures. When the marks are scanned, the item is automatically attached to the person checking it out, reducing human errors, allowing the leadership to view inventory at a glance, and providing 100% inventory accountability with historical records. TRMS • An inventory and accountability management system that allows visibility of tools through all phases of asset transactions, storage, and maintenance • Designed to work in a network environment or as a standalone system • Provides automated accountability and forecasting for Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) • Provides calibration forecasting ARMS • A web-based total asset visibility system that
enhances and simplifies day to day activities by providing tracking of assets throughout all phases of issue, receipt, inventory and maintenance • Developed to provide electronic information on the location and condition of assets ALSE • A web-based application that tracks aviation survival equipment, bench stock, , and Personal Flight Equipment (PFE) • Has the capability of ordering repair parts through Standard Army Retail Supply System (SARSS) • Utilized IUID and ISO compliant marks for issuing/ receiving assets • Provides trend analysis and increased visibility while also streamlining management decision processes While our asset tracking has wide-ranging applications, our shot peening solution addresses a very specific need within the aviation community. Supported by funding from a Small Business Innovative Research contract, Avion teamed with SONATS, a French-based technology company, to adapt existing revolutionary ultrasonic shot peening technology to meet the critical safety standards of the U. S. Army. Shot Peening is a surface enhancement for metallic components that significantly increases their service life. Instead of using air to excite the media, Ultrasonic Shot Peening (USP) excites the media ultrasonically at a frequency of 20 kHz. With conventional shot peening, disassembly is often required, and the conventional shot peening booth size limits the components that can be peened. However, USP is a mobile solution which does not require complete disassembly and can be moved to treat a component wherever it is located. A SUMMARY OF BENEFITS: • Large ROI due to the lower cost of repairs on high priced parts which were previously scrapped • Shorter turnaround time as a result of little or no masking combined with ease of set up and the elimination of the need to ship parts to the original manufacturer • Small localized capability with custom enclosures, called end effectors, that mate directly to the part, exposing only the surface to be peened • Smoother surfaces due to the omnidirectional Continued on Page 50
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Continued from Page 49 impact on the part with high quality media, which is beneficial for fatigue strength • Reduction of repair parts previously scrapped by creating a localized and custom repair process
quality solutions to our customers in order to fully satisfy and exceed requirements and expectations in a cost-effective manner. We measure our success by the success of our customers in performing their mission.
Avion has enjoyed continued success and sustained growth over its two decades of operation through the provision of quality, dedicated, innovative, and timely responses to customer requirements. The firm currently employs 140 engineering and technical personnel. A professional product and engineering service organization, Avion specializes in technical and operational solutions through the application of research, analysis, computer and software technology. Our growth and success is based upon employing dedicated and knowledgeable employees who provide high quality service and deliver on-time performance. Avion is dedicated to providing the most efficient, high
In addition to the home office in Huntsville, AL, Avion employees are stationed at: Redstone Arsenal, AL; Fort Campbell, KY; Clarksville, TN; Fort Bragg, NC; Chesterfield/St. Louis, MO.
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GOING ON THE
OFFENSE Now that “cyber” is a warfare domain, what’s up with weapon system development?
By Rutrell Yasin
PHOTO: Senior Airman Westin Warburton
Senior Airman Derrick Henicke, 624th Operations Center network defense specialist, conducts business from the 624th OC’s operations floor.
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ASHINGTON -- A dynamically changing threat landscape in which military, government and private digital networks are under relentless attack is prompting the Defense Department to take a more proactive cyber posture, seeking out technology that can help identify attackers before and during attacks -- not just after they strike. Adm. Mike Rogers, the new commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, recently acknowledged that the development of both offensive and defensive capabilities can serve to deter an adversary -- whether nation-states or non-state groups -- from cyber attack. “Strong capabilities can deter an attack by preventing an adversary from achieving his objectives and demonstrating the ability to impose costs on the adversary,” Rogers wrote in response to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation. Key capability gaps hamper the military and the nation from dealing with increasingly capable threats, Rogers told the committee. The military’s legacy information architecture, for instance, is not optimized to thwart attacks in its current form, and its communications
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systems are vulnerable. Plus, U.S. military forces lack the training and the readiness to confront advanced threats in cyberspace, Rogers testified. Finally, military commanders do not always know when they are accepting risk from cyber vulnerabilities, and cannot gain reliable situational awareness either globally or in U.S. military systems. U.S. Cyber Command, established four years ago at Fort Meade, Md., where it is co-located with the NSA, has been working with its mission partners and allies to support the Pentagon in building a defensible architecture, train a cyber force, enhance global situation awareness and establish doctrines for operating in cyberspace, Rogers noted.
method, exploits, and a payload designed to create destructive physical or digital effects. Unauthorized access to data does not damage integrity, which means software designed for espionage is malware but not a weapon,” Herr wrote in a paper on malware and cyber warfare released in February. The more destructive the payload, the harder it is to develop tools to achieve the desired effect, says James Lewis, director of technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Developers of cyber weapons would also have to conduct extensive testing to predict whether their inventions will achieve the desired outcome, Lewis notes. Although development is in early he Defense Department stages, the military is moving named cyberspace a forward with cyber weapons warfare domain in that can be used now. “Most of STUXNET, A MALICIOUS 2011. Stuxnet, a malicious the major military powers have code launched against Iran’s developed some type of cyber CODE LAUNCHED nuclear enrichment facilities capability that will let them, AGAINST IRAN’S NUCLEAR in Natanz -- allegedly by the when they need to, launch some U.S. and Israel the previous type of cyber attack,” Lewis says. ENRICHMENT FACILITIES year -- is considered the Cyber weapons are versatile, IN NATANZ -- ALLEGEDLY opening salvo in the world of operating across the full range BY THE U.S. AND ISRAEL cyber offense. of military operations, from The Obama engagement to high-end warfare,” THE PREVIOUS YEAR -- IS administration and Defense Maren Leed, who holds the CONSIDERED THE OPENING Department leaders are Harold Brown Chair in Defense convinced that cyber warfare Policy Studies at CSIS, writes in SALVO IN THE WORLD OF is a likely area of growth for “Offensive Cyber Capabilities at CYBER OFFENSE. both nation-states and nonthe Operational Level: The Way state groups. “As a result, Ahead,” released by CSIS and the it is incumbent on the U.S. Georgia Tech Research Institute. to develop a sophisticated Development costs are high, architecture for defensive as but “cyber and space weapons well as offensive capabilities,” says Trey Herr, research have very low operations and maintenance costs, while fellow at George Washington University’s Cyber Security these can be substantial for traditional weapons systems. and Policy Research Institute,. “At least some cyber weapons also have the potential Cyber offense is classified, so getting anyone in to scale dramatically; a single algorithm could disable defense and intelligence agencies to discuss capabilities, a whole class of adversary systems, for example,” Leed either current or in the works, is challenging. But writes. “They can operate at the speed of light, providing what seems to be happening is the development of a timeliness that is increasingly necessary but difficult to increasingly sophisticated means to access machines and achieve with shrinking inventories of far-flung traditional increasingly sophisticated payloads intended to achieve platforms.” certain national defense goals, Herr says. The outcome could involve collecting information for espionage yberwarriors must study the details of the systems and delivering a destructive payload to delete files or they are targeting, probing for vulnerabilities or creating them. Then they have to build cyber physically break systems. The Stuxnet payload, for example, was designed to damage the centrifuge systems weapons to attack those systems. A challenge going forward will be finding enough talented technical people at Natanz without alerting facility staff. with the necessary skills to write the sophisticated code he cybersecurity community is still debating what required to execute cyber offensive tools, Herr says. comprises a cyber weapon. The majority of the “Supercoders” is how Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, weaponry is malicious code or malware. But Herr commander of Army Cyber Command, describes them. cautions that is a hugely overbroad categorization for It’s impossible for any one person to know everything a variety of software used to conduct reconnaissance about coding, so the development of cyber tools is a as well as gain access to and execute code on opposing collaborative effort, Cardon said during a speech in computers or targeted machines. March at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “A cyber weapon is the combination of a propagation What’s a supercoder? A normal software engineer might
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PHOTO: William Parks
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write a program in 50 lines of code. But supercoders can do it in five lines. “They can look at code and almost tell you what it does. These people are out there, and, so, these types of people are hard to find, and when you find them we have to hang onto them as much as we can,” Cardon says. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is moving forward with its strategy to build a 6,000-strong cyber-workforce by 2016, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said recently at the retirement ceremony for Army Gen. Keith Alexander, former commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the NSA. Cyber Command says its Cyber Mission Force Model strategy will transform the department’s cyberforce of active and Reserve military and civilian personnel. The strategy includes plans for recruiting, training and retaining qualified cyber professionals. Moving forward there is still uncertainty about rules of engagement because of a shortage of seniorlevel management -- except at the NSA -- well-versed in all of the policy and technical issues associated with cyber warfare and how they interact, Herr says. This is becoming less of an issue at the strategic level with Cyber Command, he says, but is a challenge with lower-echelon commanders at the operational and tactical level. Some military and policy experts question whether
there is a meaningful distinction to be made among strategic, operational, and tactical cyber attacks, according to Leed’s study, which was based on a classified workshop with military personnel from the various services and an unclassified workshop with policy experts. Given where things stand today, Leed’s study does not recommend that commanders below the level of the U.S. Cyber Command commander be further empowered to conduct offensive cyber attacks, though they may be in the future. The study makes two recommendations, though: “first, that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) clarify that pursuing offensive cyber capabilities in support of operational and tactical commanders is in fact consistent with current law and policy; and second, that OSD develop an integrated, Department of Defense– wide plan to experiment and exercise with offensive cyber capabilities to support operational and tactical commanders.” Such a plan is the” only way to better understand the potential benefits, determine the degree to which practical and policy concerns are warranted, and more thoughtfully determine the best way ahead in this poorly understood but possibly revolutionary area,” Leed writes.
(Left) Capt. Ryan Sullivan, 624th Operations Center Network Defense branch chief, manages Air Force network defense operations from the 624th OC floor. (Below) Members of the 624th Operations Center at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, Texas, command and control full spectrum cyber operations and capabilities in support of U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense requirements.
PHOTO: William Belcher
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PHOTO: Cpl Aaron Diamant
Lance Cpl. Sam Enriquez, a military working dog handler with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, stationed in Okinawa, Japan and his K-9 partner Kally, take part in night operations training during the Inter-service Advanced Skills K-9 course, at the U.S. Armyâ€™s Yuma Proving Ground.
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IT’S A DOG’S WORLD
Special Operations K-9s gear up like their human counterparts for sensitive missions like the Osama bin Laden raid by Elaine S. Povich
hen Navy SEAL Team 6 raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, one important member of the team had keen ears and eyes, a small body, and … a tail. The Special Operations dog, possibly named Cairo or Turk, likely went into the compound wearing at least as much specialized gear as the human combat members in the unit. President Barack Obama singled out the dog for praise, but when he went to congratulate the canine, according to news reports, the presidential Secret Service detail insisted that the dog wear a muzzle. President or not, he’s still a stranger to the specially trained dogs that have become increasingly important to Special Operations teams, as well as regular military units, airport security teams and local police departments. In short, Cairo is not anything like Bo, the First Dog.
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rom his protective vest to his goggles, camera, harness and equipment, the SEAL Team 6 dog was likely “kitted out” in gear made to protect what was an invaluable member of the team. Jim Amann, owner of Trident K9 in San Clemente, Calif., which supplies military and police dog gear, says the Secret Service was right to be cautious about letting the SEAL dog too close to the president. “There’s too much chance of a dog biting him,” said Amann, who was a SEAL for 20 years and also has a military police background. “You are talking about dogs who have bitten numerous people in the line of duty.” While much of what is known about the dog working the bin Laden raid is speculative (Special Operations forces are necessarily tight-lipped), the dog could have tracked down members of bin Laden’s entourage in hiding, chased and held them while human team members caught up, sniffed out booby traps or bombs, or ferreted out drug caches. “When the team goes into a house or a cubby hole, if someone is hiding, they are trained on alert to let you know if someone is there,” says Jason Ferren, operator of EliteK9 dog gear company in Boaz, Ky. “They could be behind a door, a false wall or a false door,” he says. In the bin Laden operation, he says, “They were on a short time frame; they didn’t have time to dissect that house if it had hidden walls or hidden doors. Look at Saddam Hussein – he was in a hole.”
Ferren, who has a military and police background, sells “everything for the working K9.” Among his many products, he lists Special Operations goggles and “mutt muffs” to protect dogs’ ears from noise like explosions or heavy shelling. It keeps the dogs a little calmer, he says.
y far the most important piece of equipment the dogs wear is their vest. Some of the vests are made to ward off blows from knives, other hand weapons or shrapnel. Others are bullet-proof. The vests also help insert the dogs into a combat zone – using the “fast rope” technique that may have been used to get troops from helicopters to the ground on the bin Laden raid – or as part of a human/dog parachute tandem jumping team. K9 Storm Inc. in Winnipeg, Canada, makes custom vests sold to military units in 15 countries. While no one will say who made the vest the bin Laden-raid dog was wearing, K9 Storm vests are often tailored to specific missions, according to K9 Storm owners Jim and Glori Slater, a husband-andwife team. “We started the company solely to provide protection for dogs,” says Jim Slater, who has a German shepherd named Olaf. Slater worked as a municipal police officer during the 1990s and was part of an operation that quelled the Headingly Jail riot in Manitoba in 1996. Eight guards were injured by inmates wielding homemade weapons fashioned from kitchen utensils and fire extinguishers.
PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
Kane, a Patrol Explosive Detection dog attacks U.S. Army Spc. Antonio Sanchez, left, a member of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, during a training exercise at Camp Nathan Smith, Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
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“We went to take control of the jail and about 140 people were still running loose, and inside that environment there were a lot of weapons,” Slater says. “The dog was first into the building and he could have been stabbed or slashed. (He) had no armor whatsoever, whereas the team was wellarmored. It made sense to me that we should minimize the vulnerable areas on his body and at the same time develop a harness so he could be raised and lowered.” K9 Storm makes customized vests ranging in cost from a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands.
have to be able to work with a variety of handlers because of the unpredictable nature of war. They grow close to their units, but they aren’t pets. It’s not like they retrieve Frisbees in their spare time or frolic on the floor with handlers. It’s strictly a working relationship. Several breeds of dogs are used as combat dogs, but mostly Belgian Malinois, German shepherds and Dutch shepherds. Dutch shepherds and Malinois are a little more agile than the German shepherds, the experts say. “It’s a matter of who can kick your butt better, Jackie Chan or Arnold Schwarzenegger,” says Ferren. “The ombat dogs get specialized training before they are Belgian Malinois and the Dutch shepherd are more like assigned to units. Many don’t make it. They have to Jackie Chan.” respond to commands, and, unlike most police dogs, Tim Crockett, a former Special Forces member in the British Special Boat Service (the British Master at Arms 2nd Class Nicholas Whisker patrols with his canine, Heby, in Kandahar City equivalent of the SEALs), says the dogs during a mission. Heby is a Explosive Detector Dog, trained to detect bombs. can essentially wear the same kind of protective ballistic type vest as their human counterparts. “And it is kitted out with other types of sensors as well,” says Crocket, an official with Pioneer Consulting Group in Marietta, Ga. “Like cameras, so information can be passed back from the dog to the handlers.”
PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
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og-mounted cameras can tell handlers what is around corners or behind buildings several hundred feet away. Those cameras can be mounted forward- or rear-facing, depending on what the dog is looking for. The dog on the bin Laden mission probably carried a camera, though reports that video was streamed in real-time back to the White House are said to be erroneous. A bomb-sniffing dog can approach a vehicle in a way that a soldier could not, even if the soldier is outfitted in protective gear. The dogs are very good at detecting explosive devices, which then allows a human team member to go in and defuse the device. Sometimes, however, there are unforeseen consequences. One of Ferren’s clients told him about a dog working in Iraq that, while searching a car, looked back at his handler when he smelled explosives. Seeing that reaction, an insurgent blew up the car, killing the dog. Ferren says as hard as that is, most of the time the dogs are successful. “It’s not like they are sending dogs on a suicide mission,” he says. “If they search 20 cars, maybe one is positive. Would you rather the handler and the dog go, or just the dog?”
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PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller
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Navy gets a jump-start on long-term plan for floating forward staging bases by Marc Selinger
U.S. Navy Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Matthew, with the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponceâ€™s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team, holds an M4 carbine while he rides toward the guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) in a rigid hull inflatable boat during joint VBSS training in the Mediterranean Sea
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he U.S. Navy wants to position mine- and allied naval forces and impede commercial shipping clearing, Special Operations and in the Persian Gulf. “Iran has a considerable capacity to intelligence-gathering forces closer to the lay mines,” including “a stock of some 2,000 to 3,000 naval action, so it is looking at turning ships into mines,” the center says in a report. floating bases. The United States and its Gulf allies currently have The ships can be moved into position “limited” assets to deal with such a threat, which helps quickly, they don’t require expensive explain why the United States has rushed to deploy the infrastructure, and they don’t need a friendly host nation Ponce “mother ship” to the Gulf to support mine warfare, as a home base. Once in place, the floating bases can host the report continues. helicopters, unmanned systems and smaller boats. Lexington Institute analyst Dan Goure says the Navy’s The Navy plan calls for taking its Mobile Landing floating-base plan will also help free up “highly valuable” Platform transport ship, adding a flight deck, command- aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious assault ships and-control equipment and storage for boats and mine- for other missions. hunting equipment, and calling it a floating base. The Navy spokeswoman Lt. Katie Cerezo says the Ponce Navy had hoped to build four of these new Afloat Forward and the two new AFSBs will all support three mission sets: Staging Bases (AFSBs) – enough to provide what Navy • Access, or minimizing the need to obtain permission Secretary Ray Mabus called “continuous AFSB support from host nations to conduct missions from their anywhere in the world.” land. Until the ships are completed, the Navy is diverting • Reach, which is achieved by supporting rotary the USS Ponce transport ship from retirement to serve as wing, unmanned systems and combat craft near a bridge vessel to the new AFSB. The Ponce (pronounced their areas of operations. “PON-SAY”) already has a helicopter flight deck, • Persistence, in which forces can operate for longer which will serve as “a lily pad” for Sikorsky MH-53 periods of time by being resupplied while they’re minesweepers, says Adm. John Harvey, head of U.S. Fleet conducting missions. Forces Command. “Both platforms will provide similar capabilities The Ponce, the last of 12 Austin-class ships, will important to AFSB operations, but will achieve them by also resupply mine different means and to varying countermeasure ships, degrees,” Cerezo says. “For Harvey adds. The Ponce has example, the Ponce has a well deck to support launch and a well deck, which, when recovery of boats, whereas the filled with water, allows boats THE NAVY PLAN CALLS [new AFSBs, including the Lewis to drive into the ship to pick FOR TAKING ITS MOBILE B. Puller] will leverage a crane.” up and drop off people and LANDING PLATFORM equipment. uilt by now-defunct USNS Lewis B. Puller TRANSPORT SHIP, ADDING Lockheed Shipbuilding, will be the first purposeA FLIGHT DECK, COMMANDthe 42-year-old Ponce built AFSB vessel. Slated supported the 2003 U.S.-led for completion in 2015, the AND-CONTROL EQUIPMENT invasion of Iraq and the 2011 Puller – named after the most AND STORAGE FOR BOATS NATO airstrikes over Libya. decorated Marine in history AND MINE-HUNTING To prepare the ship for its -- is expected to replace the new role, MHI Ship Repair & Ponce in the Persian Gulf in EQUIPMENT, AND CALLING Services of Norfolk, Va., made 2016. A sister ship is in the IT A FLOATING BASE. a host of upgrades under the works. $5.8 million contract, including or now, the Ponce fulfills updating bridge and propulsion a long-standing request equipment. The Ponce was for a floating base in U.S. expected to have a crew of about Central Command’s area of responsibility, the Navy says. 200 sailors and civil service mariners. Central Command’s scope spans 20 countries, including Navy officials denied media reports that the Ponce’s such hotbeds as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen. primary purpose is for Special Operations, insisting the The Center for Strategic and International Studies says primary mission is supporting mine warfare. “It’s not having anti-mine capabilities on floating bases could be going over there as a Special Operating Forces death star particularly useful in a conflict with Iran, which could lay Galactica coming through the Gulf,” Harvey says. mines across a wide area to limit the movement of U.S. For the longer-term solution, Congress approved
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PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller
U.S. Sailors prepare for evening colors, the lowering of the American flag at sunset, onboard the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15) at Naval Station Rota, Spain.
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converting two brand-new Mobile Landing Platforms to AFSBs – the Puller and its sister ship. Roughly the length of two-and-a-half football fields, the new AFSB is based on a British Petroleum tanker design. It will include a flight deck with two helicopter operating spots, an aviation maintenance hangar, additional aircraft parking, and a flight operations control station. It will also have storage for boats and mine-hunting equipment, Cerezo says. General Dynamics began building the Lewis B. Puller in early 2013. The two new AFSBs, along with the two Mobile Landing Platforms that won’t be converted, “will alleviate demands on an already stressed surface combatant and
amphibious fleet while reducing our reliance on shorebased infrastructure,” Mabus says. The Navy expects the AFSBs to have a “larger cost” than the Mobile Landing Platforms but did not elaborate. The Ponce is scheduled to remain on station in the Persian Gulf until it is relieved by the first new AFSB in 2016. In a request for Ponce volunteers, the Navy called the assignment a chance to be on the “leading edge” of a new program. Says Capt. Cynthia Womble, a Navy personnel official, “This really is an excellent opportunity for sailors to step out of their comfort zone and be a part of something really unique.”
PHOTO: General Dynamics / Nassco
Lead ship of the Mobile Landing Platform Class under construction in the building dock.
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A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier participates in a combat simulation during Emerald Warrior at Hurlburt Field in Florida.
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PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Tony Ritter
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U.S. soldiers prepare for a mission near Hattiesburg, Miss., during Emerald Warrior. Emerald Warrior is an annual two-week joint/combined tactical exercise sponsored by U.S. Special Operations Command designed to leverage lessons learned from operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom to provide trained and ready forces to combatant commanders.
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PHOTO: Senior Airman Sam Goodman
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A U.S. Air Force aircrew member fires a 40 mm cannon on an AC-130U Spooky aircraft during exercise Emerald Warrior at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
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PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder
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U.S. Navy boat gunners return fire on the Apalachicola River in Florida during exercise Emerald Warrior.
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PHOTO: Senior Airman Devin Doskey
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U.S. Navy boat gunners return fire on the Apalachicola River in Florida during exercise Emerald Warrior.
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PHOTO: Senior Airman Devin Doskey
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U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers perform a high altitude-low opening jump out of a Royal Air Force C-130K Hercules aircraft over Hurlburt Field, Fla.
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Ultralight Tactical Mobility
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