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World’s Largest Distributed Special Ops Magazine

SOCOM Silver Anniversary Tribute

SOF Provider James W. Cluck Acquisition Executive Special Operations Command

SOF Fixed Wing Aircraft O EO/IR Advances Advanced Ammunition O Vertical Lift

April 2012

Volume 10, Issue 2


AAI SOF-EXPERIENCED UAS OPERATORS DON’T JUST PERFORM THE MISSION … WE UNDERSTAND THE MISSION. Superior System Providing Processing Exploitation Dissemination (PED): • EO/IR Fusion Ability for Maximum Visual Identification • No Need for Separate Day and Night Payloads – Cloud Cap’s Powerful TASE Stabilized Payload Does Both, at the Same Time • Multiple Ways to Launch … Multiple Ways to Recover • Multi-fuel Engine for Ease of Refuel Anytime, Anywhere • Redundant Ground Control/Intelligence Analyst Station © 2011 AAI Corporation. All rights reserved. AAI is an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company. AAI and design is a registered trademark of AAI Corporation. T-REx is a trademark of AAI Corporation.

“No questions asked, he (AAI Operator) just gets it done.” – SOF ISR Collection Manager The AAI Actionable Intelligence Advantage: • Dramatically More Mission Hours for the Same Price by Proven, Trained, Motivated, Professional SOF-experienced UAS Operators • Excellent SOCOM ISR Services Track Record • In-place Worldwide Spares & Field Support Capability • Ready to Support Immediate Task Orders • Tactical Remote Exploitation (T-REx™) System Delivers Real-time Sensing and a Powerful Set of Live and After-action Analysis Tools

Special Operations Technology

April 2012 Volume 10 • Issue 2


Cover / Q&A SOF Fixed Wing Aircraft Special ops fixed wing aircraft include a vast and vastly differing fleet, from ponderous gunships to a UAS you can hold in your hand. By Dave Ahearn

4 EO/IR Advances


New electro-optical/infrared systems promise to make special operators even more effective and deadly as they take the fight to the enemy. By Peter Buxbaum

32 25th Anniversary


As Special Operations Command celebrates its silver anniversary, we look back at a quarter-century of bravery by those who stood in harm’s way, the most brilliant fighters on the planet. By Dave Ahearn

James W. Cluck Acquisition Executive Special Operations Command

SOCOM Commanders These are the four-star officers who founded and formed a combatant cadre unlike any other. By Dave Ahearn


Departments 2 Editor’s Perspective

Medal of Honor A huge number of special operators have received the highest honor. By Dave Ahearn

3 Whispers/People 14, 31 Black Watch 43 Calendar, Directory

28 Advanced Ammunition


Taking down an enemy at 1,000 feet requires a highly skilled combatant and an accurate weapon. But there is a third requisite factor: the ammunition. Here are the new developments in rounds used by SOF. By Steven Goodman

Industry Interview

Vertical Lift


Because special operators often must execute missions in remote areas with no airfields, vertical lift capabilities are vital. Learn about the aircraft that take them to the fight. By Christian Bourge

44 Bud Calkin

Founder, Vice President and General Manager Skedco

Special Operations Technology Volume 10, Issue 2 April 2012

World’s Largest Distributed Special Ops Magazine Editorial Editor Dave Ahearn Managing Editor Harrison Donnelly Online Editorial Manager Laura Davis Copy Editor Laural Hobbes Correspondents Christian Bourge • Peter Buxbaum • Henry Canaday Jeff Goldman • Steve Goodman • William Murray Leslie Shaver Art & Design Art Director Jennifer Owers Senior Graphic Designer Jittima Saiwongnuan Graphic Designers Amanda Kirsch Scott Morris Kailey Waring Advertising Account Executive Scott Sheldon

KMI Media Group Publisher Kirk Brown Chief Executive Officer Jack Kerrigan Chief Financial Officer Constance Kerrigan Executive Vice President David Leaf Editor-In-Chief Jeff McKaughan Controller Gigi Castro Administrative Assistant Casandra Jones Trade Show Coordinator Holly Foster Operations, Circulation & Production Circulation & Marketing Administrator Duane Ebanks Data Specialists Rebecca Hunter Tuesday Johnson Raymer Villanueva Summer Walker Donisha Winston

EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE It is said the character of a leader is revealed in how he or she treats those who are led. Here’s a case in point: Admiral Bill McRaven, commander of Special Operations Command, expects a lot from the magnificent warfighters who serve under him, and they deliver their utmost. But he also demonstrates he is totally committed to them. At the NDIA Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict conference in Washington, Special Operations Technology asked the admiral how he can reconcile two very different goals. On one hand, both McRaven and his predecessor at the helm of SOCOM, Admiral Eric T. Olson, have seen “fraying at the edges” among special opera- Dave Ahearn Editor tors after a decade of war. On the other hand, as U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan, an increasing burden will fall on special ops, with even more missions assigned to them. McRaven has no doubt special ops units will be the last to leave Afghanistan. In such a rising op tempo, how can he ensure that special operators obtain sufficient dwell time, enough gaps between deployments? That “fraying of the force” is a key issue, McRaven replied, one that concerns him. For a solution, he noted Olson created a task force to examine stress on SOF. The task force questioned special operators, their spouses and others. The study showed special operators in no way recoil from danger. Rather, “they relish that mission,” he noted. Instead, the problem is not knowing what will come next, being unable to plan their lives around duty. “The real issue is predictability,” McRaven said. Something as simple as being there for a son’s birthday is critically important. But often, there is little certainty about future deployments. High-stress missions also can take a toll, even on tough special operators, he continued. Rather than never admitting weakness, McRaven said he wants those who struggle with stress to seek help. They shouldn’t be embarrassed, he said. “We are working hard to reduce that stigma,” though “that’s not easy to do.” For those who do step forward, he pledged, “we’re not going to pull their security clearances.” Rather, “we’re going to take care of them.” This is the mark of a true leader: a commander caring about those he leads.

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A Proud Member of: Subscription Information Special Operations Technology ISSN 1552-7891 is published nine times a year by KMI Media Group. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly forbidden. © Copyright 2012. Special Operations Technology is free to qualified members of the U.S. military, employees of the U.S. government and non-U.S. foreign service based in the U.S. All others: $65 per year. Foreign: $149 per year. Corporate Offices KMI Media Group 15800 Crabbs Branch Way, Suite 300 Rockville, MD 20855-2604 USA Telephone: (301) 670-5700 Fax: (301) 670-5701 Web:


Compiled by KMI Media Group staff

McRaven Sees Great Demand for Special Ops Missions Continuing

Radios with Beyond-Line-of-Sight Capability Ordered

Special operations forces, including those in Afghanistan, are in high demand, and the myriad requests for missions won’t ease, Admiral William H. McRaven, SOCOM commander, told the House Armed Services Committee. “The demand for SOF will not end in the near future,” he cautioned. Special ops units provide a disproportionate contribution to the overall success of U.S. and NATO forces in the fight, McRaven added, especially considering that special operations funding makes up a minuscule 1.7 percent of the overall annual Department of Defense budget. SOCOM drew expressions of support from members of the committee, with lawmakers praising the commando force. McRaven also provided a status report on major special ops procurement programs. For example, the heavy lift Boeing MH-47G Chinook helicopter completed its service life extension program, with 61 aircraft delivered. Upgrades to the Block 2 advancement are underway, and another eight new aircraft will be built. As for the Sikorsky MH-60 Black Hawk helo, a recapitalization effort resulted in six new MH-60M aircraft delivered, for a total of 12 to date. As for the Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that the Air Force uses for SOF missions such as insertion and extraction, McRaven said the hybrid platform “continues to deliver unmatched speed and range to SOF battlefield commanders.” Some 23 out of a planned fleet of 50 Ospreys has been fielded thus far. Turning to the Lockheed Martin MC-130J multi-capability plane, this acquisition program “is on track to replace our aging MC-130Es and MC-130Ps,” and a developmental testing regime was completed successfully last June, he noted. Competitive prototype contracts for development of the Combatant CraftMedium were awarded, and development of test craft is expected in September. Finally, the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 to replace the HMMWV “satisfies the critical need to deploy from the CH-47 aircraft internally,” he concluded.

Harris Corp. received a $65 million order from an international customer to deliver a full range of capabilities from its Falcon II line of tactical radios. They include RF-5800H high-frequency, RF-5800V very-high frequency and RF-5800M multiband radios. The order represents the next phase of a multi-year tactical communications modernization program. Falcon II RF-5800H high-frequency radios will provide the nation’s armed forces with beyond line-of-sight terrestrial communications through enhanced secure voice and data performance. The radios offer advanced features such as third generation-automatic link establishment, integrated data link protocols and embedded GPS receivers. The Falcon II RF-5800V-HH is a lightweight VHF handheld radio that provides squad-level communications using the Harris Quicklook waveform and Citadel II encryption. The RF-5800V also offers 16 Kbps of Internet Protocol data. Falcon II RF-5800M-HH is an advanced multiband, multi-mission handheld radio that provides reliable voice and data communications over the 30 to 512 MHz frequency range. The radio offers enhanced secure voice and data capabilities using the Harris Quicklook waveform and Citadel II encryption. “Harris is the global leader in tactical HF communications. Our radios are deployed by more than 100 countries around the world and provide users with secure voice and data communications in the most demanding environments,” said Brendan O’Connell, president, International Business, Harris RF Communications. “Whether used for defense or homeland security, our Falcon radio family sets the standard for reliable and highly secure tactical communications.” Harris RF Communications is a global supplier of secure radio communications and embedded high-grade encryption solutions for military, government and commercial organizations.

PEOPLE Major General Otis G. Mannon, vice commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., has been named chief of staff, Headquarters U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany. Major General Michael J. Kingsley, who has been selected for the rank of lieutenant general, and is commander, 23rd Air Force/ director, operations, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., has been named vice commander, Air Force

Compiled by KMI Media Group staff

Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field. Army Brigadier General Kenneth R. Dahl has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general. Dahl is currently serving as deputy commanding general (support), 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, N.Y. Brigadier General Timothy J. Leahy, director of knowledge and

futures, J7/9, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., has been named commander, 23rd Air Force/ director, operations, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field. Fla. Army Major General Daniel B. Allyn has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg, N.C. Allyn

is currently serving as the commanding general, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas/ commanding general, Combined Joint Task Force-1, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey N. Colt has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general. Colt is currently serving as deputy commanding general (support), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. .

SOTECH  10.2 | 3

Special operators gain critical support from panoply of planes.

By Dave Ahearn SOTECH Editor

4 | SOTECH 10.2

Special operators employ an enormous array of aircraft types and sizes, from something light enough to hold in your hand to giant aircraft. In that latter category is the new Lockheed Martin MC-130J Combat Shadow II, a brawny four-engine aerial platform capable of handling widely varied missions. It has digital video transmitters and receivers, Eric M. Thompson, a Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. pilot, said, pointing to a large model of the plane, which is based on the KC-130J aerial refueling tanker aircraft. A six-bladed propeller on each engine provides the MC-130J a 19 percent gain in fuel efficiency, and the new plane yields a 25 percent increase in power compared to older 130s, Thompson noted. The MC-130J can perform lowlevel refueling missions, it can resupply special operators, and the aircraft can perform insertion and extraction missions. This is a 130 aircraft specifically designed and initially built for special ops missions, instead of having special ops mods added later. From its arc across the sky, the MC-130J uses high definition video to pick out a dog, person, vehicle or other items of interest, Thompson noted. Data streams include encryption and compression.

The MC-130J boasts electro-optical and infrared sensor systems in the nose, and it also has aerial refueling capability with a refueling boom port above the cockpit, so that not only can the plane refuel other aircraft, it can be refueled itself. The giant asset also offers an enhanced cargo handling system, and is equipped with added communications capabilities compared to other aircraft. In creating the new aircraft, Lockheed Martin upgraded special ops capabilities, and also created cost savings by designing the aircraft to operate with fewer crewmembers versus other 130 planes. Another plane—the CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft—is providing excellent capabilities that are needed urgently by special operators, according to Air Force Captain Mark Hamilton, a member of the 20th Special Operations Squadron. The Osprey offers several signal advances beyond the common helicopter, Hamilton said. Among those advantageous traits is speed, with the Osprey attaining close to 300 mph, almost double the 160 mph on a typical helo. In airplane mode, the Osprey offers remarkable acceleration. When special operators want to swoop in to an objective before the enemy is aware they are present,

speed is essential. It can be even more critical if the enemy is closing in and special operators need to make a swift exit in a hot extract. Osprey speed is “a revolutionary capability” for infil and exfil, Hamilton said. “The speed allows us to ingress and egress” while avoiding threats, and thus is “an absolutely tremendous advantage.” The Osprey as a mobility platform is “unlike any other in the military,” Hamilton continued. While other airplanes may require large paved runways, the Osprey can operate from austere locations where special operators need to perform missions. Further, when it is in airplane mode, the Osprey offers an advantage over helicopters, because helos can struggle in high, hot conditions while carrying heavy payloads. Afghanistan, for example, has extensive mountainous terrain. Yet another edge for the Osprey is in its generous range, Hamilton said, and its aerial refueling capability. “The Osprey is a true game changer and premier platform,” he concluded. Moving to remotely piloted aircraft, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems offers UAVs that can both hunt down enemies and dispatch them. The company offers special operators unmanned aerial systems

with capabilities ranging from ISR to demolishing an enemy installation. Chris Pehrson, director of strategic development, outlined the offerings and what they can mean for SOF. “The MQ-1C [or Gray Eagle] carries four Hellfire missiles instead of the Predator’s two—a beefed-up Predator, if you will,” Pehrson explained. “Continuing that family of UAVs, the Air Force also flies the MQ-9, which is the Reaper. MQ-9 is about four or five times bigger. Whereas the Predator is about a 2,300-pound weight class, the MQ-9 is closer to 11,000 pounds,” he continued. “All of these platforms are used by conventional forces as well as special operations forces. “What the UAV delivers to them is situational awareness with the sensors and the overwatch capability, as well as precision strike,” Pehrson noted. “These guys are light, they’re very, very mobile and agile, but they don’t go into combat with a lot of heavy equipment or a lot of fire power. So what the UAVs provide for them is a persistent omnipresence or always-there kind of capability. That’s an eye in the sky, giving them situational awareness as well as the ability to reach out and prosecute a target, or to affect the battlespace.” The UCAV can employ a variety of weapons, such as a “very precise Hellfire or Griffin missile, or a [Joint Direct Attack Munition] or larger 500-pound-type weapons.” Aside from weapons, a UAV can carry other gear to support special operators. “You have some specialized sensors on the UAVs that support the SOF operators on the ground,” Pehrson noted. “Whether it’s SIGINT [signals intelligence] monitoring the electro-magnetic spectrum for radios or cell phones, or other communications that the enemy might be using. They can monitor that and use that to get a geo-location, or they can exploit it to understand what’s being said or what the contents of the messaging are on the opposing force.” These versatile vehicles of the air offer yet another talent to SOF: “One other capability that’s a great force multiplier that’s often overlooked is the communications relay,” he said. “When you have a flying UAV, it can relay and act as a repeater for radios or data links. So it gives the SOF operator out in the field the opportunity to reach back to his headquarters, to communicate across the battle space where terrestrial line-of-sight communications may not be able to reach. By bouncing a signal off a UAV, they can be in constant contact with headquarters or with other units out in the field with them.”

The Reaper [Photo courtesy of General Atomics]

While live full-color video streaming is nothing new—myriad UAVs are fitted with such capabilities—General Atomics is offering an important upgrade. “Those electro-optical cameras are being upgraded to a high-def capability,” Pehrson said. “Some are already fielded. But eventually the entire fleet of UAVs will have HD video. It gives you a wider field of view, as well as more resolution, so you can distinguish objects on the ground to improve your situational awareness.” There’s more. “On the EO-IR side, there’s an initiative called target location accuracy, or TLA, and what that is is the ability to get precision coordinates using just the video,” he continued. “So right now, if you want to strike something [with weapons], you have to designate it with a laser. And a laser homing weapon will seek on that reflected laser beam to hit the target. “With TLA, you get GPS target-able coordinates off of a video image,” he revealed. “There are a variety of techniques that make that happen. It’s precision navigation of the aircraft, as well as precision pointing of the laser, and then inertial navigation, and then rectifying it with a known geo-reference point on the ground. So whatever you’re looking at on the video, if you get a GPS-quality coordinate,” it will work well “if you needed to have a very high confidence that you’re going to be able to precisely target something without having to illuminate it with a laser. Some of the weapons, like a JDAM or small diameter bomb—you’re going to need those GPS coordinates.” Another invaluable sensor serving SOF is radar, Pehrson continued. “You have a very high resolution synthetic aperture radar that can take almost photographic-quality pictures of objects on the ground, using a radar. “And it works in all kinds of weather. It works day or night. And it can see through the clouds, whereas electro-optical infrared has a hard time penetrating clouds. And on top of

that, [radar] also has wider area of coverage, a wide area of surveillance capability.” Further, radars can help to combat the most lethal threat in theater: buried IEDs. “Radars are used for counter-IED, looking at disturbance of the earth,” he observed. “Maybe along the roadside, earth was disturbed, and you can kind of flag it as a potential IED location. You can take a radar picture, take another picture a few hours later, and possibly see what vehicles moved, or what’s changed between the two scenes.” He also offered an insight into the common use of the term unmanned aerial vehicle, stressing that UAVs are manned—remotely. Pilots fly them from afar, perhaps from control booths in the United States. “There’s always a human in the loop,” he said. Also, as far as obtaining a positive ID on a target before taking it out, that is better done by a UAV with hours of persistence and dwell time over the target, versus a strike fighter pilot flying overhead at 500 knots, Pehrson argued. Also, while the pilot may have to make a quick decision on whether to strike the target, video from the UAV can be reviewed remotely by scores of analysts before a strike. And yet the UCAV can provide “very, very quick reaction time.” He concluded by noting that in a time of austere budgets, UAVs will be supported because they are terrific force multipliers for special ops. AAI Corp., a Textron company, is providing multiple upgrades to its workhorse Shadow UAS. Shadow can create a bird’s-eye view of the battlespace that is transmitted back to a ground control station to benefit individual special operators at the edge. And coming soon to Shadow: expanded capabilities thanks to multi-mission pods, and new-found lethality as the aircraft is weaponized. The UAS now serves the special operator with an electro-optical-infrared video payload SOTECH  10.2 | 5

in a gimbal, an unblinking eye that provides warfighters with a vision of the battlespace, both in daylight and darkness, said Steve Reid, vice president and general manager of Textron Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Unlike some aircraft used in special ops missions, the Shadow is controlled and flown by special operators, said Jim Parker, vice president at the Tampa, Fla., Textron field office. The Army buys the Shadow from AAI for use by Army and National Guard personnel, the Marine Corps and SOCOM. And SOCOM can provide the Shadow to SEAL teams, MARSOC or other SOF. A key technology for the Shadow is the bi-directional capability on the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT), Reid noted. A combatant on the ground uses OSRVT to take over control of the Shadow video payload. Wherever the EO-IR payload is pointed, the aircraft follows, even as a pilot is watching to ensure that Shadow remains in a “safe air volume,” Reid explained. “It’s a new emerging capability that we’re rolling out for the field later this year.” OSRVT was tested at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, in September, he reported. The new capability will be made available “to all the users of the Shadow system in the near future,” Reid said. While the Shadow isn’t a large aircraft, it will be able to perform widely varied tasks, thanks to new multi-mission pods that can be swapped out, depending on the next mission, Reid continued. One of the pods would be “a secure 3G communications network,” he elaborated. “You create a secure cone of service underneath the aircraft that could extend as far as 13 miles in diameter.” The pod could serve “upwards of 100 users [who] would be receiving the downlink video and other information on secure Android phones.” This technology could be equally useful on a battlefield or in a disaster zone where comms infrastructure has been demolished, Parker observed. With a 125 km range and nine-hour-plus endurance, Shadow can recognize tactical vehicles from 8,000 feet altitude. MBDA Missile Systems offers two platforms for special operators, according to Vice President Doug Denneny. Viper Strike is a stand-off precision attack guided munition that is dropped from an aircraft: a fixed-wing, a helo or a UAV, Denneny said. This involves proven technologies, rather than experimental systems, he added. “It’s a 44-pound glide weapon that comes out of these aircraft, and uses its GPS to get … very close to the target, and then it uses a 6 | SOTECH 10.2

semi-active laser seeker—either provided by that aircraft or by SOF force doing a laze—to provide a precision kill,” he explained. “The thing about Viper Strike is it doesn’t use a rocket motor. It glides, so it’s silent. There’s no signature of it coming.” Viper Strike provides the special operator a very precise, low-collateral-damage, silent, lethal airborne munition, he added. It can be launched well outside enemy point defenses. Another MBDA asset is TiGER (Tactical Grenade Extended Range), which is an electric plane. “TiGER is a lethal, hand-launched UAS that we have developed under our own funding,” he continued. “It is currently not fielded, but we are marketing it to special operations communities, so they can have a man-portable aircraft that uses an inflated wing. It’s a very small [asset] that can be put in a rucksack. It doesn’t require a mortar launch. It doesn’t require an antenna stand. All it requires is the vehicle itself, which is in a package that’s [in a rucksack], and [the UAS] weighs less than 4 pounds. “When ready to deploy, the operator just opens the canister, inflates the wing, turns [the UAS] on, fires up the GPS satellites, fires up the laptop. The TiGER UAS is armed with two 40 mm grenades. So it provides—for the size of the aircraft, which has only a 24-inch wingspan—a very lethal explosion.” Denneny said that TiGER is a candidate for a program called LMAMS—Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System. “It’s for a special operations group that’s on the go, doesn’t want to put up a lot of equipment,” he said. “Once they hand-launch it, folks will be able to run and scoot.” TiGER has internal batteries that drive an electric motor, and it has electronics and avionics that are all powered off the same battery. It’s propeller-driven. With a two-mile range, TiGER can take out light vehicles, enemy personnel and machine guns, and crew-served weapons. It has two cameras generating live-streaming video that help to guide the UAS to the target. “On the ground control station, you can download any type of map, and type in or use a very simple swipe of the screen to drop way points of where you would like to fly off of a GPS,” Denneny continued. “Then it uses two video cameras on board [to determine] the position of the target. One of them is a side-mounted camera, so you could [surveill ground areas while] loitering over a target. As the target is found, it uses a big 5-megapixel video camera that has auto-stabilization

features [in a] video screen. It will zoom, pan and tilt the image. You can then auto-track it, using pixel technology, and hand it off to the nose camera for final attack. And … the vehicle tips over, has an auto-track on the target, and the operator basically [commands the UAS to] dive, almost like a kamikaze dive, onto the target. When it impacts, it sets off these two 40 mm grenades.” The operator also can “replace the warhead with extra batteries for even longer flight, if it’s more of a scouting mission. You can fly multiple TiGERs off a single ground station. We’ve flown it off PC-based [gear], everything from Toughbooks to very small … hardened computers, and also tablets. “Once you’ve locked onto a target behind a mountain, you’ll lose contact [as the UAS moves behind the mountain], but the vehicle will remain locked on the target” and demolish it. “It auto-flies it all the way in to impact,” he concluded. Pilatus Aircraft may have the ultimate in stealth technology for special operators: Its PC-12 can be painted to look like an everyday business executive plane, according to Tom Aniello, Pilatus vice president of marketing. Enemies can’t see the hidden hardware in the tail section, where a retractable lift platform can be fitted with “a FLIR, or Wescam or L-3—any kind of an EO,” or electro-optical system, Aniello said. “And also, inside the cabin is an operator’s station where you can have displays and controls for the camera” on the lift platform. That capability is from a standard production-run version of the PC-12, he noted. “That’s kind of our basic from-the-factory configuration.” But the PC-12 can be customized. “There’s an option called a utility drop/jump door that’s built into the main cargo door in the back of the aircraft,” he noted, so that parachutists can jump from the rear of the plane. And other options are possible as well. “A lot of our special operations customers just take a basic aircraft and then they have third parties engineering—installing and configuring it with other equipment that we usually aren’t privy to, as you know how that works in that arena,” Aniello continued. Aside from special ops and military-type organizations, PC-12s are used by the U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs and several police departments, he said. O For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Dave Ahearn at or search our online archives for related stories at


• State-of-the-art airborne sensor, designed to support diverse missions • Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) provides wide field-of-view photographic-quality images through adverse weather • Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) detects moving vehicles and dismounts in real-time • Capable of land or maritime operations • Currently deployed with the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper

Lynx Multi-mode Radar: A high-performance force multiplier – deployed and mission-ready today

SAR Imagery

Ground Moving Target Indicator

©2012 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

w w w. g a - a s i . c o m

Maritime Surveillance

Leading The Situational Awareness Revolution

New technologies benefit special operators first, then regular forces. By Peter Buxbaum SOTECH Correspondent Group. “They could do missions at night, to identify, track and engage United States forces, which the enemy had no way to counteract. targets by day and night, definitely including special Since then, the advantage has been reduced and in difficult environmenforces, strive to exceed the with the proliferation of night vision techtal conditions, quicker and challenges they face from nology. What is going on now is that U.S. more accurately than ever adversaries and potential forces are re-establishing dominance so before and in ways that shield adversaries. As military techthat they can do things that the enemy warfighters from harm. nologies proliferate, even doesn’t have any way to counteract.” Above all, these capabilities to insurgents and irreguOne major capability that has been far outstrip anything that lar types, the U.S. military, introduced with the new generation of can be fielded by U.S. advertogether with its industry electro-optical and infrared technologies is saries. partners, must be ahead of Vadim Plotsker to “allow operators to see the enemy before Electro-optical senthe curve. they are seen and engage them before they sors—similar to the kind used in commerA perfect example of this phenomenon are engaged,” said Vadim cial digital cameras—allow is in the area of night vision. Back in the Plotsker, president of BAE warfighters to discern 1990s, U.S. capabilities in this area were Systems OASYS. “They also threats in lighted and lowunmatched. U.S. forces were able to track allow for longer standoff dislight situations. Infrared and engage targets after the sun went tances so that U.S. forces sensors pick up the heat prodown, while the adversaries were unable can identify and track targets file emitted from the objects to respond. Since then, night vision equipfrom beyond the range of being viewed and display ment has become more and more comtheir weapons.” images without the aid of mon among militaries and other armed “One of the main advanany light at all; they have groups around the world. tages of the new technoloan obvious application for This necessitates a bump-up in techgies,” said Nicholas Ortyl, night vision. The purpose nology that allows U.S. forces to regain the Nick Ortyl vice president and general of these capabilities is to be upper hand, and that is exactly what has manager for situational able to find potential threats, taken place in the last few years. Advances awareness at L-3 Interstate Electronics identify them and provide information for in electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) Corp., “is that it gives the guy on the follow-up action. technologies, and their early and rapid ground the ability to identify and track “U.S. forces used to own the night,” adoption by organizations such as Special targets in a shorter amount of time and said Alan Page, vice president of the O’Gara Operations Command, enable U.S. forces increases the chances that it is the right object or person that is being tracked.” 8 | SOTECH 10.2

The NOA NYX Hand-Held. [Photo courtesy of Meprolight]

The EO and IR sensors now being fielded are smaller, lighter and better than their predecessors, according to Plotsker, making the systems increasingly manportable. “They also are increasingly integrated with multiple tools in a single device,” he added. “They are combining capabilities relating to various spectra such as low light and night vision into a single portable system with one digital range finder.” Two factors have enabled the U.S. military to increasingly adopt these new technologies, according to Plotsker. The commercial electronic world has developed smaller and more sophisticated devices and components, such as memory chips, and SOCOM has taken an interest in these new technologies and has been willing to adapt them quickly. “SOCOM has been willing to take the 80 percent solution and develop it from there,” said Plotsker, “instead of insisting on the 99 percent solution and waiting three or four years until it is developed.” The basic device used for target acquisition and engagement is the electro-optical sight. The M68 Close Combat Optic (CCO) from Aimpoint is a red dot aiming device for an M16 rifle and M4 carbine. “The M68 is now standard-issue equipment,” said John Enloe, Aimpoint’s government sales manager. “We have been

10 | SOTECH 10.2

The StalkIR System. [Photo courtesy of BAE Systems]

there since the beginning of the program and have delivered over one million units to the Army.” The company has recently introduced some enhancements to the performance of the M68. “We have improved battery life,” said Enloe. “The M68 will run on a lithium battery for 10 years without being turned off. We took it from 30,000 hours to 80,000 hours in just a few years.” Aimpoint has also improved the durability and water submersibility of the M68. It has also introduced improvements that allow warfighters to successfully engage targets at longer distances. The power of the scope is now much more easily adjustable for engaging pop-up targets. The essential IR equipment is the night vision goggle. The O’Gara Group has been delivering the AN/PVS-21 Low Profile Night Vision Goggle (LPNVG) to U.S. and international special forces units for several years. The product features a low-profile configuration and a heads up display (HUD) capability that allows for color sensor fusion into the night vision display. “These goggles don’t have to be removed when you transition from, for example, a dark street to a lighted building,” said Page. “The HUD ports on either side of every goggle allow the user to see anything within the goggle that can be put on a computer screen.” The HUD can also be applied to a day viewer.

BAE Systems produces a head mounted display (HMD) system called the Remote Eyepiece Display Imager, or RED-I. The company recently received a $21.7 million order for the devices from the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Soldier. The HMD is compatible with military night vision sensors such as thermal weapon sights, and can support a variety of mission requirements by providing the user with an easily configurable private viewing display that can mount to eyeglass frames or fit under visors. “The capabilities of our HMD, coupled with a thermal imager, enhance the warfighter’s operational effectiveness,” said Plotsker. “Our product also has a see-through capability. It doesn’t obscure the user’s vision, but overlays the real world onto the display.” The RED-I is made possible by advances in micro-projection systems. The micro display is usually clipped on to tactical eyewear. Over 3,000 RED-I devices have been fielded to date. Thermal technologies have now also been adapted to weapon sights. Meprolight, an international electro optics provider based in Israel, recently launched a lightweight, uncooled thermal weapons sight known as the NOA NYX. “The product was created in consultation with


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Israel special forces to address the issues of precise target detection and engagement in dust, smoke and complete darkness,” said Benny Kokia, the company’s director for sales and marketing. The NOA NYX can also be used as a handheld observation device or fitted to light machine guns, assault rifles and submachine guns. “The system’s longrange capability and light weight also make it suitable for sharpshooter rifles with a 2x and 4x digital zoom,” said Kokia. “It has the ability to detect man-sized targets at a range of 900 meters.” The sight operates on four AA batteries, which provide seven hours of continuous operation. The system also has a “video out” capability enabling the output to be fed to a remote screen or recording equipment. Corporal Stephan Torres inspects a night vision device. [Photo courtesy of DoD] “This sight has the capability to take the images displayed in the eyepiece and of the picture, heading and time, as well snapshots and video, which can be transdirects them to the video camera. as user notes that can be embedded inside mitted to headquarters for after action “The reason to have a product like the photograph. reviews,” said Kokia. “It is also possible this is to be able to capture on video what “Special forces use our cameras mostly for headquarters to monitor the situation an operator is seeing in surveillance or for ISR,” said Warner. “They take this live. This sight provides a shooter and his capture that video for contemporaneous intelligence and add it to their other intelcommander a better idea of which target use or at another time,” said Healy. “The ligence work flows. For example, a special they are aiming at.” Meprolight also marvideo could be used for making a record of ops warfighter might be out on an operakets the Mini-Hunter, a lightweight night what is happening and for identification tion and collect intelligence on somevision weapon sight. and verification.” thing of interest. The picture, together The use by NOA NYX of uncooled The product was originally developed with the GPS coordinates, can be sent infrared sensors is an example of how this to fulfill specific requirements of a special back to command to be added to maps and type of equipment has become smaller operations group. “They wanted to capreports being used for misand more manageable. “No ture video for their purposes but they did sion planning.” The photodoubt a cooled system pronot make those purposes known to me,” graph and its metadata can vides better resolution,” said Healy. “We’ve since taken that basic be automatically uploaded said Kokia. “Snipers know premise and expanded and improved it by to digital mapping systems. this is a tradeoff and they adding various capabilities and the ability Geo Tactical Solutions prefer uncooled technology to use a variety of cameras.” recently introduced a new because it is smaller, lighter One enhanced capability involves inteproduct, a module that and easier to manage.” gration with multi-power rifle scopes. attaches to any digital camSpecialized digital cam“The initial rifle-scope cameras were era that can accommodate eras are electro-optical developed for fixed power rifle scopes,” an SDHD card, which capdevices which are becomTom Healy said Healy. “With the advent and adoption tures the same data and proing increasingly valuable of multi-power rifle scopes, the need to vides the same functionality to special forces for intelfocus the camera optic at various power as the original Ricoh camera. ligence, surveillance and reconnaissance levels became necessary. In order to get a Cast Fire Solutions in Grapevine, (ISR) missions. A camera originally develgood video image you need to refocus the Texas, has been producing a line of camoped by Ricoh, and now marketed by Geo camera when changing powers.” eras that integrate onto rifles for over 12 Tactical Solutions, captures data on the As is the case with other photographic years. The essential innovation brought location, heading and time of the shot equipment, Cast Fire’s rifle cameras have about by Cast Fire, said company owner with the click of the shutter. gotten smaller and lighter, making them Tom Healy, is to place the camera parallel “Each time the operator clicks the all that much easier to use for military to the rifle eyepiece, rather than at the end shutter, the camera collects many pieces purposes. “Our typical camera assembly of the eyepiece, so that the weapon can be of data,” said Brandon Warner, the comweighs between 2 and 4 ounces and the operated normally and video captured with pany’s marketing coordinator. This data overall dimension of the camera is much no effect on the operator. This is accomincludes GPS coordinates of the subject smaller without compromising camera plished, explained Healy, with the use of a performance,” said Healy. “That is pretty focusing beam splitter, which reproduces

12 | SOTECH 10.2

significant because every ounce counts when you’re lugging a big kit around.” Cast Fire has delivered over 1,000 rifle cameras to customers associated with the U.S. military. The ability to view and engage targets from cover is an important development for EO and IR devices. O’Gara’s LPNVG HUD ports allow the user to view the field of view of a weapon’s sight by pointing it around the corner, without exposing himself. With BAE’s HMD, “a solider can aim a weapon and surveil around the corner without exposing himself,” said Plotsker. Cast Fire recently developed a product that allows video captured from a thermal weapon sight to be projected onto warfighter eyewear. “The rifleman can engage targets without having to shoulder the weapon,” said Healy. “He can have a look around the corner and successfully engage a target from complete cover.” The ability to identify potential threats from a substantial standoff distance is provided with IR technology from Thermal Matrix. The company’s ACT (Access Counter IED Technology) System uses a forward looking infrared (FLIR) sensor and adds software to enhance IR detection capabilities. The system is often used by special forces at checkpoints and at forward operating bases. “Our software includes a proprietary algorithm that analyzes the data coming

out of the IR sensor to pick people out in the scene,” said Bill Reinpoldt, the company’s director of technology. “Once a person is found, the system can draw a box around his torso or full length and then apply further scanning to that.” ACT’s purpose is to identify concealed objects on the person from hundreds of feet away, which could be a tip-off that he is a suicide bomber. “The system images the normal body heat signature,” said Reinpoldt. “Something being carried under the clothes will attenuate that heat signature. This is detected at a distance so that personnel can be ready for the person’s approach. The range is achieved by the optics and sensitivity of the sensors, and then the software extracts even more information from the sensor data. The unit is smaller than a breadbox and can be hand-deployed by soldiers.” L-3 Interstate Electronics Corp. has introduced an intelligence management system dubbed VideoScout that allows warfighters to, among other things, control EO and IR sensors from a variety of devices including smartphones and tablets. “The VideoScout app allows operators on the ground and command center people in charge of orchestrating what is going on to view the same scene simultaneously,” said Ortyl. For example, a team on the ground charged with extracting a warfighter can

view the same picture generated by an airborne asset as personnel back at headquarters. “Before, they would have to use voice communications to direct the team to the spot,” said Ortyl. “Small teams of soldiers can also share with each other what they are seeing. A VideoScout user on the ground can reach out to the sensor and manipulate the sensor payload from the ground. They can grab the sensor and point it where they want.” The benefit of VideoScout for Ortyl— like other new EO and IR technologies— is to realize “quicker times to target and a reduction in time in terms of taking action.” “We can see people before they see us,” said Plotsker. “We can operate in darker conditions and with more atmospheric obscurants. The night is our friend, the smoke-filled battlefield is our friend. Warfighters now have smaller, lighter, faster and better devices that can see farther.” O

For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Dave Ahearn at or search our online archives for related stories at


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SOTECH  10.2 | 13


What’s Hot in Special Operations Gear

Compiled by KMI Media Group staff

Two New Weapon Sights Are Introduced Burris Burris introduced two new sights for the AR rifle platform, the AR-132 and the AR-536. “Our new AR sights are as rugged and versatile as the AR platforms they were designed to match,” stated Rob Siemers, general manager. “Our AR-332 sight is one of the most popular red dot sights on the market today, and with the addition of the AR-132 and AR-536 we’ve added more options and versatility for the professional and recreational shooter.” Compact and lightweight with a choice of 4 MOA red or green dots, it is ideal for quick target acquisition or closequarters shooting. To make certain that the lighting is perfect for each situation, the AR-132 can be set to one of 10 levels of brightness. The AR-132’s low mounting system matches up with most AR configurations. Bright, crisp images are essential in close quarters combat situations; therefore, Burris has multi-coated all lenses with its proprietary lens coating. The AR-132 package also features integrated lens covers, three Picatinny rail segments, tethered windage and elevation caps. The AR-536 is the new long-range sight for the AR platform. With a 5X magnification, the AR-536 makes it easy to acquire targets at distances out to 600 yards, while the 36 mm objective lens delivers bright, crisp images in most light conditions. The new AR-536 features the unique Burris Ballistic/CQ illuminated reticle that can be adjusted to match the lighting condition—day or night. For daylight operation, shooters can choose the black reticle for aiming out to 600 yards, or they can switch over to the red or green illumination, to match the ambient light and situation. The five different illumination settings make it easy to match all light conditions. Ruggedly built, the AR-536 is waterproof, fog-proof and will stand up to the punishing recoil and abuse of any AR user. It also features multi-coated lenses, adjustable diopter, integrated lens covers and three Picatinny rail segments. Also, by removing the bottom rail mount, this sight can be readily mounted to an AR carry handle. It is range-ready, straight out of the box.

Upgraded Landing Gear Now Available General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA ASI) announced the availability of a new trailing arm design for the existing main landing gear on its Predator B/ MQ-9 Reaper UAS. “Our engineers and suppliers have worked hard to develop a landing gear design that will enhance and extend the utility of this multi-purpose aircraft for our customers,” said David Alexander, vice president of engineering, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “The new landing gear is just one of many value-added features that will be included in Block 5 Predator Bs.” The enhanced landing gear is available as a field retrofit to all Predator B/MQ-9 customers upon request and is expected to improve the reliability and performance of the aircraft significantly as it offers the following benefits: • • • • •

30 percent plus increase in landing weight capacity, at the full Federal Aviation Regulation descent rate of 10 feet per second Growth path to increase gross takeoff weight by approximately 12 percent (10,500 pounds vs. 11,700 pounds) Maintenance-free shock absorber; nitrogen pressurization not required Full rejected takeoff brake system at growth maximum weight of 11,700 pounds Includes provisions for automatic takeoff and landing capability and anti-lock brake system field upgrades

The new landing gear successfully underwent full qualification, fatigue testing and flight testing in January 2011. The flight test program included fully instrumented loads validation, taxi testing, landings at a variety of weights and sink rates, and in-flight gear-swings. Only one minor revision to the original design was required following testing, which was a tribute to the success of the initial design effort. The main landing gear titanium strut is produced by PCC Structurals Inc, the shock absorber is made by Taylor Devices, and the wheel and brakes system is a Parker Hannifin Corp. product. 14 | SOTECH 10.2


Silver Anniversary Tribute

U.S. Army Photo

Photo by SFC David D. Isakson USA

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS! AECOM congratulates SOCOM on 25 years of distinguished service. We stand ready to support the campaign to take SOF global with our extensive worldwide maintenance, management and logistics services. Contact us at

Photo by Sgt. Charles Brice

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The SOCOM story: A history of heroism—character, conviction and courage By Dave Ahearn, SOTECH Editor

Since its activation on April 16, 1987, Special Operations Command has written a story of steel-nerved warriors facing death daily while brilliantly executing awe-inspiring missions. But those fearless feats tell only part of the SOCOM story. There is another side to this preeminent force, one filled with deft deflection of rising tensions so that wars never begin in the first place, and tales of compassion in aiding terrified and bereft victims of immense natural disasters. SOCOM was born at the right time, a band of hardened warriors able to apply just the right amount of force against threats that in the 21st century are smaller and loosely organized, but still a deadly danger to the United States and its allies. Special operators are smart, swift and stealthy, often using brains, not brawn, and bullets, not building-busting bombs. While we celebrate the 25th anniversary of SOCOM in this issue of Special Operations

Technology, we should note that the U.S. military has been using special ops techniques since the founding of the nation. The United States was born in a war led by special operators using asymmetrical advantages. These distinguished defenders of American soil, then as now, used intelligence and adroit tactics to take down an enemy, rather than brute force. In the Revolutionary War, colonial fighters slipped silently in shadows, wearing the camo of that day, buckskin, firing from cover behind trees, while massive British forces attired in bright red uniforms marched in the open, in formation, making perfect targets. Throughout U.S. history, even as Washington wielded the most powerful weapons—up to and including thermonuclear megabombs—American forces have often brought to bear the least force needed to eliminate the enemy, using graceful precision in a swift strike, rather than clumsy and destructive tactics.

SOCOM was born out of lessons learned—the hard way. In the aftermath of a disastrous mission to rescue 52 American hostages held captive in Iran—Operation Eagle Claw—many leaders called for a new organization to bring order to multi-service special operations. It took years and happened only over the opposition of some who resisted change, but the Special Operations Command was formed a quarter of a century ago, with Congress deciding to create SOCOM and a new, powerful post in the Pentagon, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict. On the same day that the overarching organization, SOCOM, was activated, the Naval Special Warfare Command also was brought to life. On December 1, 1989, the Army Special Operations Command was stood up. On May 22, 1990, the Air Force Special Operations Command was activated. And on February 24, 2006, the Marine Corps

SOTECH  10.2 | 17

U.S. special operators with Special Operations Task Force-South rest before a camp fire after an evening meal in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. [Photo courtesy of DoD]

Forces Special Operations Command came into being. In selecting the first SOCOM leader, the choice went to a known quantity, someone with solid experience: Army General James J. Lindsay. He knew the heart-pounding stress that special ops missions entail, how precision planning is critical, and how to train operators so they can avoid fatal mistakes. Lindsay brought to the table broad experience in commanding special operations organizations: He had headed the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne. SOCOM today is heralded for its brilliant victories, foremost among them taking down the mass murderer who masterminded the September 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden. In a split-second-timing attack on bin Laden’s lair in Pakistan, the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six, using intel from the CIA, found and killed the al-Qaida leader who—despite being a wanted man with a $25 million price on his head—had eluded capture for almost a decade. And members of joint special operations Task Force 121 participated in Operation Red Dawn, hunting down and capturing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, another mass murderer who had fatally gassed thousands of innocent Kurds in an unprovoked attack March 16, 1988. There were countless other feats of daring distinction, such as a different group of combatants from SEAL Team Six who rescued two hostages being held by pirates in Somalia: an American, Jessica Buchanan, and a Danish citizen, Poul Hagen Thisted. 18 | SOTECH 10.2

But unknown to most is the equally harrowing, difficult and deadly dangerous routine work done by special operators, who walk into harm’s way nightly, kicking down doors and taking out bad guys. Any mission can be a date with death, but since special operators stay in the shadows and shun the spotlight of publicity, most Americans never appreciate what they do as a basic part of their MOS. So here are some examples of just what can face special operators on any mission: In finding and capturing another wanted strong man, Panama’s Manuel Noriega, the December 1989 mission was a success. But a detachment from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force, at the same time attempted to rescue American Kurt Muse, who had pressed for democracy in Panama. Panamanian authorities had thrown Muse into the fetid Modelo Prison. While the Delta Force commandos stormed the prison successfully and spirited Muse—alive and unharmed—onto an AH-6 Little Bird helicopter, Panamanians shot it down. Muse and his rescuers were in serious danger, finally escaping the hair-raising mess by hitching a ride on a U.S. Army APC. Special operators didn’t fare as well in another mission where an aircraft was shot down: After an Air Force special ops AC-130H Spectre gunship took out an enemy missile battery, responding to a close-air request by Marines, the Iraqi enemy shot the plane out of the sky, killing all 14 aboard. An even worse toll was recorded in Somalia. Special operators from several services launched a mission to capture a vicious

warlord—Mohamed Farah Aidid, who was holed up in Mogadishu. In a wicked battle, two Black Hawk helicopters were downed by enemy RPGs, claiming the lives of 18 U.S. personnel. While perhaps 1,000 of the enemy were taken down, it marked the bloodiest fighting since Vietnam. The harrowing story was brought to life in a book and movie, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by former Philadelphia Inquirer staffer Mark Bowden. Special operators, who quietly do their duty and don’t boast of it, are the more remarkable because they know full well the dangers they face—and yet they volunteer for the honor of being the premier American fighters. Those dangers were illustrated with cruel clarity when 30 Americans—22 of them SEALs—were killed last year in Afghanistan as their Chinook helicopter was shot down by the enemy. Even a mission planned for months with painstaking and meticulous care can face critical problems, such as the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during the SEAL Team Six mission to take out Osama bin Laden. The helo appeared to be a special stealth version of the rotary wing asset. Fortunately, there were no deaths or injuries as special operators invaded the compound of the terrorist overlord. So who was it who formed and molded this magnificent military machine called SOCOM? To begin with, they were remarkable combatants who knew what special operations should be because they themselves were special ops warriors, tested and tempered by the most challenging missions. At the helm of SOCOM, after Lindsay— who previously commanded two special ops organizations—in June 1990 there came Army General Carl W. Stiner, who had commanded the 82nd Airborne. In turn, he was followed by Army General Wayne A. Downing in May 1993, who had commanded the Army Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command, and the 75th Ranger Regiment. Talk about being qualified for the job of leading SOCOM. Then SOCOM was commanded beginning in February 1996 by Army General Henry H. Shelton, who earlier had led the XVIII Airborne and the 82nd Airborne. He later became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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A Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command warrior prepares a machine gun in Afghanistan. [Photo courtesy of DoD]

In September 1997, Shelton relinquished command to Navy Rear Admiral Raymond C. Smith Jr., a former Navy SEAL, who became acting SOCOM commander in chief. Two months later, Army General Peter J. Schoomaker became the SOCOM commander in chief, bringing with him a resume listing leadership of the Joint Special Operations Command and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Then, in October 2000, Air Force General Charles R. Holland took the top leadership post as commander in chief of SOCOM, a man who had commanded the Air Force Special Operations Command. His title later was changed to commander of SOCOM. A former commander of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, commander of JSOC and USASOC, Army General Bryan D. Brown, took over in September 2003 as SOCOM commander. After him, in July 2007, came Navy Admiral Eric T. Olson, who had served with the elite SEAL Team Six. Finally, in August 2011, Navy Admiral William H. McRaven—leader of the SEAL Team Six mission to take down bin Laden— became SOCOM commander. He was primed for the post by having commanded JSOC. Often, to command respect from those you lead, it is critical to have performed yourself the type of missions in harm’s way that you assign them to execute. Together, these extraordinary leaders also have achieved an advance in the world of procurement: SOCOM has been turned into a laboratory, a testing ground 20 | SOTECH 10.2

for military hardware. This has meant that superior systems acquired in the streamlined, rapid SOCOM purchasing system often are acquired later by the armed services, much to the advantage of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. This can mean anything from a better precision sight for a carbine to an aircraft such as the CV-22 Osprey, which once was seen as a death trap but has rolled up a record as one of the safest aircraft in military history, even as it flies in combat zones filled with tall mountain peaks. It is a further tribute to these SOCOM commanders that they oversaw immense growth in the command, with an enormous diversity in skills, types of missions executed and geographic areas served. Special operators can be found today in scores of nations, not just in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. And their skill sets are boundless, from incredibly accurate snipers to underwater demolition teams, from airborne units bailing out of aircraft to hardened warriors fast-roping off the sides of Little Birds. They can operate by day, but they own the night, making the enemy afraid of the dark. And then there are the special operators who win with wit, reaching hearts and minds and molding opinions of both the leaders and the led in nations around the globe, thus averting bloodshed. Military Information Support Operations can, ultimately, save lives of U.S. forces and native populations alike. Look again, and special operators are tracking down and defeating drug lords and their smuggling rings in the jungles of South

America. Or they are training friendly forces in how to put down bad guys. And then there are special operators who aren’t involved in any conflict. They come to native populations with an open hand of help, not the fist of force. It is said that a warrior may be the strongest when reaching down to aid a fellow human. Whether it is special ops personnel swarming around C-130s, off-loading tons of goods to feed famine-ravaged refugees in Somalia, or hurricane-flooded victims in Central America being saved from starvation, special operators display kindness and caring that build good will toward the United States, even in parts of the world where anti-American sentiments have been rife. Another example: Many Japanese people were devastated by the one-two-three punch of an earthquake and tsunami causing disaster at radiation-spewing nuclear power plants, forcing those people from their homes. But special ops personnel rushed to the rescue, with food and safe drinking water, helping to avert an outbreak of disease. All of this capability and achievement has come in just 25 years. To take the measure of the awesome force that SOCOM has become, consider this: In 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assigned SOCOM the lead in planning the campaign against terrorists. Then, in March 2005, President Bush signed plans ordering SOCOM to be the lead combatant command for planning, synchronizing and (under direction) executing global operations against terrorist networks. And more recently, as the administration and Congress have sharpened knives and slashed budgets of some defense programs or canceled them outright, SOCOM and its commands have seen no devastatingly deep cuts or cancelations. Rather, many SOF programs are seeing increased funding, or stable support. Truly, the United States Special Operations Command has come into its own, a major fighting force that also is a diplomatic and intelligence powerhouse girdling the globe. O

For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Dave Ahearn at or search our online archives for related stories at

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22 | SOTECH 10.2

Leaders leave a legacy of unrivaled success in special operations. By Dave Ahearn, SOTECH Editor

After multiple brilliantly executed missions, Americans today know the Special Operations Command and its components as the model of military prowess: lightning-swift, precise and successful—a cadre of winning warriors. But SOCOM didn’t begin as the robust, joint, multi-service fighting force it is today. Rather, the tip of the spear was built slowly, overcoming obstacles day by day through the intense efforts of the four-star officers who commanded the force in its first quarter-century of service, and the strong, sustained performances of those who served under them. The first to lead SOCOM was General James J. Lindsay, who knew a bit about special ops, having parachuted out of aircraft and been a Ranger. Holder of the Silver Star with three oak clusters, the Bronze Star with Valor Device and three oak clusters, and many other decorations, he also knew what war was about. SOCOM eventually was to be the overarching organization over the Naval Special Warfare Command, the Army Special Operations Command, the Air Force Special Operations Command, the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command and other agencies. Today, when SOCOM leadership assigns a mission, it has a huge array of special ops organizations, teams and talents from which to choose. But when Lindsay entered the top special ops job, SOCOM included only those in the

Naval Special Warfare Command, which was activated around the time he took command. It would be more than two years before the Army Special Operations Command and Air Force Special Operations Command were activated under SOCOM, and it would be more than 18 years before MARSOC was activated. To be sure, formidable support for SOCOM has always been supplied by the big armed services, such as aircraft or ships/submarines for insertion and extraction on SOF missions. The legislation that created SOCOM also formed a top-level representation for the special ops organization at the very highest echelons in the Pentagon. The assistant secretary of defense—special operations/low intensity conflict was to be the civilian policy-level leader of SOCOM, working with the top military SOCOM leader, Lindsay. However, the first ASD-SO/LIC, Charles S. Whitehouse, didn’t take office until July 13, 1988, well over a year after Lindsay assumed command of SOCOM. Army General Carl W. Stiner, an airborne commander, was the next to lead SOCOM. He had led the invasion of Panama and otherwise brought an impressive resume to the spec ops post. He also had participated in the capture of terrorists on the Achille Lauro, who hijacked a cruise ship near Egypt and murdered one of its passengers. A highly decorated warrior (including a Purple Heart) who was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame, Stiner assumed

SOTECH  10.2 | 23

outlaw ship was towed to Guantanamo. Beyond the embargo, a much more aggressive move was planned to oust coup leaders in Haiti. Gen. Carl W. Stiner Gen. Wayne A. Downing Gen. James J. Lindsay A U.S. and multinational force including elements of SOCOM and the 82nd Airborne Division was poised to invade Haiti. Seeing this, coup elements in Haiti stepped aside and permitted demoGen. Henry H. Shelton Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker Gen. Charles R. Holland cratically elected leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide to assume the Haitian presidency. That meant the objective was attained without a shot being fired, as coup leaders decided they didn’t want to Gen. Bryan D. Brown Adm. William H. McRaven Adm. Eric T. Olson tangle with U.S. special operators. Downing’s previous assignments procommand of SOCOM in June 1990, serving vided useful experience for leading SOCOM, for roughly three years until his retirement. such as his time in 1987-88 when he was In commanding SOCOM, one of his chaldirector of SOCOM’s Washington office at lenges was posed by Saddam Hussein, when MacDill AFB. Dealing with Washington on the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait. SOF were critical issues such as annual SOCOM budamong the first American military forces gets would provide vital skills for his later to rush to the rescue of the Kuwaitis. Also command of the top special ops organization. responding quickly was the Naval Special Although Downing retired from this posiWarfare Task Group, followed shortly by the tion in February 1996, his career was far from 5th Special Forces Group, which entered over: In 2001, he became national director King Khalid Military City. Also heading into and deputy national security advisor for comthe fight was the 160th Special Operations batting terrorism. Up until his death of menAviation Regiment. Ultimately, the war was ingitis in 2007 at age 67, Downing was still short, with Hussein’s forces vanquished, active as the distinguished chair at the Combooted from Kuwait in a matter of weeks. batting Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Stiner also coauthored a book, Shadow Academy at West Point. He wore two Silver Warriors: Inside the Special Forces, which Stars, six Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, Stiner wrote with best-selling author Tom plus many more awards and decorations. Clancy. Army General Henry H. Shelton became Next to lead SOCOM was Army General SOCOM commander in chief in February Wayne A. Downing, Ranger Airborne, who 1996. assumed command in May 1993. During his His tour of duty with SOCOM was marked tenure, he oversaw SOF’s enforcement of an by widely varied types of missions for special embargo on Haiti. Personnel used Cyclone operators, including response to the death of Class patrol craft in boarding ships such as a a Cabinet member. Bahamian vessel that at first refused to heave AFSOC personnel provided rapid response to, ultimately causing SEALs and some Canawhen a CT-43 aircraft crashed in Croatia, killdian personnel in the joint force to board ing U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown the ship and discover embargoed goods. The 24 | SOTECH 10.2

and all others aboard. Members of the 352nd Special Operations Group used Sikorsky MH53J Pave Low helos and a Lockheed Martin MC-130P aerial refueling and cargo resupply plane that also provides infil-exfil capabilities. Another challenge during Shelton’s time at SOCOM was an evacuation operation of more than 2,100 U.S. and foreign citizens from Liberia. They encountered enemy firing small arms and RPGs as they flew dozens of flights on MH-53Js to whisk the endangered citizens to safety. The following year, Shelton left SOCOM to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking U.S. military post. As he left SOCOM to become the JCS chairman, Shelton charged SOCOM with gathering intel on al-Qaida terrorists using the then-new tactic of data mining, which entails amassing enormous volumes of information from public sources. Shelton’s decorations include the Bronze Star and Congressional Gold Medal. He detailed the many challenges he faced throughout his career in Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, a book he wrote with Ronald Levinson and Malcolm McConnell. In November 1997, Army General Peter J. Schoomaker took the reins at SOCOM, facing Shelton’s challenge to gather information on al-Qaida. Schoomaker launched the Able Danger operation to monitor al-Qaida. While data mining was a relatively novel focus for SOCOM, it yielded information that suggested the possibility of two horrendous attacks against the United States. The clues hinted at the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer that would suffer immense damage in the port of Aden in Yemen, and pointed the finger of suspicion at operatives in an al-Qaida cell in New York who would participate in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Although the information collected didn’t result in prevention of the attacks, Able Danger proved what SOCOM and other organizations could accomplish by working together. And what is not known publicly is what planned terrorist attacks since then—around the globe or in the United States—have been thwarted by information gathered by SOCOM and others. However, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have said that many terrorist plots have been foiled in the years since the September 11 attacks.



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Schoomaker later became the second SOCOM leader to be tapped for service on the Joint Chiefs, as the Army Chief of Staff. A former Airborne Ranger, his many decorations include the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster. He served in wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. Air Force General Charles R. Holland, a highly decorated warrior and Vietnam veteran who also served in other conflicts, took command of SOCOM in October 2000. He was in charge of the paramount special ops organization on the day that changed 21st-century military history: September 11, 2001. He also led SOCOM when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, with special ops teams flying combat missions, building airstrips, seizing Iraqi oil facilities and much more. Once the lightning-fast occupation of Iraq was accomplished, special operators switched to other roles, such as helping to train Iraqi forces. Holland’s many decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. When Army General Bryan D. Brown became SOCOM commander in September 2003, the United States was involved in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under Brown, the intelligence-gathering mission of special operators grew steadily, seeking to learn the movements, motives and future plans of terrorists. By 2006, SOCOM was sending small teams of special operators to U.S. embassies where terrorist activity was expanding on continents scattered around the globe. The operators in military liaison elements attempted to discern how terrorists might be planning attacks, engaging in fundraising, or hiding after operations elsewhere. More broadly, the stellar role played by SOCOM was emphasized in a roughly 600page counter-terrorism strategy paper that SOCOM produced under Brown’s leadership. He was responding to a 2004 directive by Bush that said SOCOM “leads, plans, synchronizes, and as directed, executes global operations against terrorist networks”—in other words, giving SOCOM the lead role in the great military campaign of the 21st century. Not bad for an agency that didn’t even exist less than two decades earlier. Admiral Eric T. Olson became SOCOM commander on July 9, 2007. He led tens of thousands of combatants, a joint force including special operators from each of the armed services. Silent and discreet, the American 26 | SOTECH 10.2

A special operator weathers cold and snow in Afghanistan. [Photo courtesy of DoD]

public never knew of most missions performed by special operators. But occasionally they caught a glimpse of the proud professionalism of these patriots, including a daring rescue of a ship captain taken hostage at gunpoint by Somali pirates, with the pirates simultaneously taken down by SEAL snipers in an astounding display of magnificent marksmanship. The Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged ship, was boarded by the pirates, but members of the ship’s crew locked themselves in the engine room and took control of the vessel, so that the pirates gained little when they entered the bridge. Further, the ship crew managed to sink the pirates’ speedboat and capture one of them. But the others seized the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, and set off in a Maersk Alabama lifeboat. When pirates began pointing AK-47 weapons at Phillips, it was clear his life was in danger. With authorization from Obama, SEAL snipers on the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer, shot the pirates dead and Phillips survived unharmed. This was the quality of the special operations force that Olson led, the finest on the planet. Olson himself earlier had commanded the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six. The admiral wore a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with Combat V, among many decorations. Today, Admiral William H. “Bill” McRaven commands SOCOM, and its luster has never been brighter. Before taking the leadership post at SOCOM, he headed the Joint Special Operations Command, where he led one of the most high-stakes missions in recent military history. (His awards include two Bronze Stars.) McRaven, working with CIA Director Leon Panetta, now the secretary of defense,

organized and executed the take-down of Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaida and mastermind of the September 11 attacks. The SEAL Team Six mission was flawless, with no deaths or injuries among the special operators and only one aircraft lost. Moving from the battlefield to budgets, McRaven saw SOCOM retain solid fiscal support, with no major programs canceled and some programs seeing increased funding in fiscal 2013, even as some defense programs were cut deeply or canceled. The high esteem with which SOCOM is viewed was exemplified when Obama went to Capitol Hill to deliver his annual State of the Union address, and McRaven sat in the gallery with Michelle Obama as her guest. And on the subject of that esteem, it is telling that SOCOM and its awesome cadre of commandos is the subject of not one but two new movies: Act of Valor, about special ops generally, and Maersk Alabama, a 2013 film that is to star Tom Hanks. After decades of grueling military life, including the rigors of command and the stress of frequently relocating one’s family to posts around the world, it would be unsurprising if SOCOM’s former leaders would seek a life free of any obligation in a well-earned retirement. Yet every SOCOM commander has continued to serve in later years, whether in private businesses or in foundations and museums. O

For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Dave Ahearn at or search our online archives for related stories at

Long list of special operators have received highest award. By Dave Ahearn SOTECH Editor

Special operators are by definition exceptional and extraordinary combatants who risk death daily as a matter of routine. Among those courageous combatants are a few whose performance inspires awe: recipients of the Medal of Honor. They are the warrior’s warrior. Sometimes

they escape unharmed or with superficial wounds, but often they make the ultimate sacrifice, offering up their lives so that their comrades in arms shall not die. This is a medal that is awarded only in the rarest of circumstances, for unrivaled heroism in the face of a deadly enemy. It is bestowed on military personnel who display

“conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.” Therefore, it speaks volumes that in a very small special-ops community of combatants, no fewer than 39 special operators have received the Medal of Honor.

These are the names of these singular soldiers, as compiled by SOCOM:

Korea Army Master Sergeant Ola L. Mize

Vietnam Army Captain Humbert Roque Versace Army Captain Roger H. C. Donlon Army First Lieutenant Charles Q. Williams Air Force Major Bernard F. Fisher Army Captain Ronald E. Ray Navy Boatswain’s Mate First Class James E. Williams Army First Lieutenant George K. Sisler Navy Seaman David G. Ouellet Army Master Sergeant Charles E. Hosking Jr. Army Sergeant Gordon D. Yntema Army Staff Sergeant Drew D. Dix Army Sergeant First Class Eugene Ashley Jr. Army Sergeant First Class Fred W. Zabitosky Army Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Joe M. Jackson Army Specialist Fifth Class John J. Kedenburg Air Force Colonel William A. Jones III Army Staff Sergeant Laszlo Rabel Air Force Captain James P. Fleming Army Specialist Fourth Class Robert D. Law SOTECH  10.2 | 28

Air Force Airman First Class John L. Levitow Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade (SEAL) Joseph R. Kerrey Army Sergeant First Class William M. Bryant Army Staff Sergeant Robert J. Pruden Army Staff Sergeant Franklin D. Miller Army Sergeant Gary B. Beikirch Army Sergeant First Class Gary L. Littrell Army Sergeant Brian L. Buker Army Staff Sergeant John R. Cavaiani Army First Lieutenant Loren D. Hagen Navy Lieutenant (SEAL) Thomas R. Norris Navy Engineman Second Class (SEAL) Michael T. Thornton

Somalia Army Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon Army Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart

Afghanistan Navy Lieutenant (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy Army Staff Sergeant Robert Miller Army Sergeant First Class Leroy A. Petry

Iraq Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael Monsoor

So what is involved in being awarded a Medal of Honor? Here are just a few examples, chosen at random:

Grenade Explodes To take the most recent medal recipient first, on May 26, 2008, Army Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, was in Afghanistan when he and other Rangers raided a Taliban compound and decided to take on three enemies in a courtyard. Coming under fire, Petry was hit by a round that pierced both of his legs. But he didn’t let that affect him, helping a comrade—Private First Class Lucas Robinson—to take cover behind a chicken coop. Robinson and Sergeant Daniel Higgins were shot by Taliban enemy. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in their midst. Petry— wounded in both legs—sprang forward and grabbed the grenade, throwing it away from his fellow soldiers so they wouldn’t be killed. As he did so, the grenade detonated, annihilating Petry’s right hand. His arm abruptly ended at his wrist. Petry coolly placed a tourniquet on his arm and radioed that he and others were wounded, and remained under enemy fire. He has deployed twice to Iraq, and six times to Afghanistan. He has been equipped with a prosthetic hand.

Once on the ground, Gordon—a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, better known as Delta Force—and Shugart fought their way to the wreckage of the aircraft. They battled to protect the helo crew until Gordon and Shugart depleted their own ammo and that of the aircraft crew. Going to the helo, Gordon found a rifle with five rounds, and handed the weapon to the injured pilot, leaving Gordon to fight only with his pistol. Shugart fought and killed an unknown number of enemy before his ammo was depleted. Ultimately, Gordon and Shugart were killed by the enemy, but thanks to their actions, the pilot survived.

Selfless Sacrifice Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael Anthony Monsoor, a Navy SEAL, served in Iraq with Delta Platoon, SEAL Team Three. There, the team trained Iraqi soldiers. On September 29, 2006, an enemy attack occurred, one of many combat engagements the team encountered in the war zone. When one of the enemy threw a grenade onto a rooftop near Monsoor and others, he threw himself on the grenade, taking the explosive blast himself while shielding the others. Mortally wounded, he died within half an hour, but his comrades lived.

Exposed to Enemy Fire

Hero in Afghanistan

Navy Lieutenant (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, on June 28, 2005, was in an enemy-controlled area in Afghanistan leading a special recon element seeking a high-level militia leader when his team was discovered by militia sympathizers, who tipped off Taliban enemy to the location of Murphy’s team. Some 30 to 40 of the enemy materialized and attacked. In a fierce firefight, all four members of Murphy’s team were wounded, but so too were many of the enemy. He continued to lead his team in fighting the enemy, when the primary communicator was killed. Murphy attempted to use the communicator’s equipment to call for help, but the rugged terrain blocked the signal. So Murphy placed himself in harm’s way, exposed to enemy fire, attempting to find an area where the radio signal would get through to rescuers. As he finally got the comms gear to work, giving his location and requesting immediate support, he continued to engage the enemy, until Murphy gave his last full measure of devotion to duty and country.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller served in Afghanistan with Special Forces Operations Detachment Alpha 3312, Special Operations Task Force 33. He and his element of U.S. and Afghan combatants encountered an enemy contingent, so he called in effective close air. But when he and comrades moved forward for battle damage assessment, they came under intense fire from 100 enemy combatants in elevated positions with cover. He ordered his comrades to take cover while he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire, even after being wounded. Finally, he was shot fatally while saving the lives of seven U.S. and 15 Afghan warriors.

Black Hawk Down Army Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Army Sergeant First Class Randall Shugart on October 3, 1993, were snipers assigned to Task Force Ranger in Somalia, when two Black Hawk helicopters, Super Six One and Super Six Four, were shot down by Somalis. Gordon twice requested that his unit be dropped at the second crash site, believing that the chopper crew couldn’t survive on its own, but command denied the request, saying conditions on the ground were too dangerous. When Gordon a third time made his request, permission was granted. The landing had to be made some 100 meters away from the downed aircraft.

A Remarkable Record These are but a few of the stories of unparalleled bravery and sacrifice in the years that special operators have, without hesitation or thought for themselves, stepped into harm’s way. Keep in mind that there have been others—described as commandos, rangers or raiders—who have performed similar high-danger missions in the more than two centuries since the United States was born in the crucible of combat against a much larger enemy force. Truly, more than any piece of military hardware, the defining difference—the most important key to U.S. victories in war—is the courageous character of American military men and women, such as special operators who serve with grace and honor, often giving their lives in love of country. O For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Dave Ahearn at or search our online archives for related stories at

SOTECH  10.2 | 29

BLACK WATCH Powered Rail Eliminates Battery Weight and Woes T Worx T Worx Ventures has developed a powered rail for the M4 carbine and AR-15 that provides a centralized electrical power source for weaponmounted gear. The powered rail simplifies battery management, and reduces the number of batteries required, lightening the mission load. Total weight of batteries carried can be slashed, with a load of up to 13 pounds being whittled down to 9.5 ounces, and almost one pound of weight is shifted from the rail to the buttstock. Some combatants are lugging more than 100 pounds of gear into battle, and the Department of Defense is attempting to cut that load. Some warfighters carry as many as 30 batteries for each mission. By removing battery weight from accessories, weapon handling is improved and lethality is enhanced. Further, while the charge remaining in a battery can’t be gauged, the powered rail comes with a charge meter that tells how much power remains.

Compiled by KMI Media Group staff

Secure Voice, Data Comms Demonstrated on Radio System General Dynamics Using the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) two-channel networking radio (AN/PRC-155), General Dynamics C4 Systems recently completed the first demonstration of secure voice and data communications via the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite-communications waveform. The demonstration used an AN/PRC-155 manpack radio—running the MUOS waveform software—to transmit encrypted voice through a MUOS-satellite simulator to the MUOS ground station equipment that will soon be deployed in Sicily. MUOS is a military satellite communications system that will enable secure, mobile networked communications worldwide, even in austere environments. Development of the MUOS waveform remains on track for completion in the third quarter of 2012. By year-end, the MUOS capability will be available on the AN/PRC-155 manpack radio, the first MUOS terminal that will be available to soldiers. “As one of the demonstration participants, I was pleased to talk over the MUOS network using the PRC-155 radio as it will be equipped for soldiers. When fully deployed, the MUOS system will greatly increase much-needed tactical satellite capacity, in terms of both communications bandwidth and the

numbers of users,” said Brigadier General Michael Williamson, Joint Program Executive Officer, Joint Tactical Radio System. “This demonstration proved that the JTRS HMS PRC-155 two-channel radio is ready to provide the portable link necessary to put the power of MUOS into warfighters’ hands,” said Chris Brady, vice president of assured communications for General Dynamics C4 Systems. “General Dynamics developed the MUOS waveform using the PRC-155 manpack radio and it will be the first MUOS communications terminal used by soldiers. With two channels in one radio, a soldier can use one channel for line-of-sight SINCGARS and SRW waveforms, and bridge to the second channel using the MUOS satellite system for unprecedented, dedicated global communications reach.” General Dynamics C4 Systems is the prime contractor of the JTRS HMS radio program, which includes the two-channel PRC-155 networking radio, the PRC-154 Rifleman Radio and several other small form fit networking radios. The JTRS HMS program stipulates that two qualified manufacturers compete for full-rate production contracts, enabling greater affordability for the government. General Dynamics and Thales Communications Inc. will manufacture the PRC-154 Rifleman Radio. The PRC-155 will be manufactured by General Dynamics and Rockwell Collins.

Huge Robot Shrinks Burden on Warfighters DARPA and Boston Dynamics DARPA is testing a robotic system to lift the load from warfighters, a burden that often can pile 100 pounds or more on a combatant. The Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, is derived from the Big Dog, Alpha Dog and other robotics by Boston Dynamics. LS3 walks on four legs and can climb hills, avoid obstacles and will be able to carry 400 pounds for 20 miles. It also will gain the capability to recharge warfighters’ electronic gear. The pioneering agency announced that recently, the LS3 prototype underwent its first outdoor exercise, demonstrating the ability to follow a person using its “eyes”—sensors that allow the robot to distinguish between trees, rocks, terrain obstacles and people. Over the course of the next 18 months, DARPA plans to complete development of and refine key capabilities to ensure LS3 is able to support dismounted squads of warfighters. DARPA has a video of the robot in action at

SOTECH  10.2 | 31

SOF Provider

Q& A

Award Winners Find Better Ways To Equip Special Operators

James W. Cluck Acquisition Executive Special Operations Command

James W. Cluck is currently the acquisition executive and senior procurement executive for Special Operations Command (SOCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., with responsibility for all special operations forces research, development, acquisition, procurement and logistics. He has over 36 years combined military and civilian federal service including over 24 years experience in Department of Defense acquisition. His specific acquisition experience includes both corporate and government program manager assignments for intelligence and telecommunications programs. Cluck started his government service in 1968 upon enlisting in the Marine Corps as an aviation photographic-electronics technician. He was selected in 1974 to attend the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Program at The Citadel where he was commissioned as an air defense officer. He served in this capacity until 1982 when he was accepted to the Naval Postgraduate School. After graduation, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps where he worked as a signals intelligence systems engineer until his reassignment to the Marine Corps Research, Development and Acquisition Center in 1987. His tenure there was spent as a program manager for signals intelligence systems until 1989, when he transitioned to the private sector to become a senior program manager for a telecommunications firm with oversight of U.S. Army and DoD intelligence support contracts. Since accepting a position at Special Operations Command in 1992, he has served as the chief information officer and director, Special Operations Networks and Communications Center; director of management, Special Operations Acquisition and Logistics Center; deputy program executive officer, intelligence and information systems; program manager, intelligence systems; and program manager, C4I automation systems. Throughout these assignments, he consolidated diverse intelligence, command and control, and information programs through common migration and technical management techniques to minimize MFP-11 resourcing and enhance interoperability. Cluck received the USCINCSOC Quality Award in 1997 and the David Packard Award in 1996 for acquisition excellence. He graduated from The Citadel in 1976. He also earned a master’s degree in telecommunications systems management in 1984 from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif. He 32 | SOTECH 10.2

completed the Defense Systems Management College—program management course in 1987 and is designated as a Level III-qualified acquisition professional within the DoD Acquisition Corps. Q: How is SOCOM and its Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center [SORDAC] improving program/ contracting efficiencies and effectiveness in line with the Secretary of Defense Efficiencies Initiative and the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics [AT&L] Better Buying Power Initiative? A: SORDAC, like our special operations forces [SOF], has always worked from a culture of innovation, cleverness and unconventional methods. We’ve embraced both initiatives with the same commitment as our service partners and applied our SOF-like attributes to implementing results-driven actions into our operations. For example, we’re using competitive multi-award task order contracts for our Global Battlestaff Program Support [GBPS] and Special Operations Forces Information Technology Enterprise Contract. We’re also increasing the use of fixed-price and fixedprice incentive type contracts, where appropriate, to mitigate cost growth and risk. Additionally, we continue to aggressively pursue competition to achieve best cost and price for each and

SOTECH_BattleTested:Layout 1

every acquisition. We’ve doubled our competition goals over the last two years, exceeded both, and increased our competition goal for this year as well. Finally, to reduce redundancies and gain efficiencies, we stood up a Services Acquisition Management Office to provide guidance, oversight and planning for our large service contract requirements. We spent approximately $2.6 billion in contracted service support in fiscal 2011 and continue to examine this portfolio for opportunities to target efficiencies. Each of these efforts has enabled us to avoid significant cost and be more efficient in our support of SOF. We’ve also pursued efforts to provide clear and transparent sharing of program and financial information for better decisionmaking and collaboration across SOCOM with our portal-based acquisition dashboard that began development in 2010. This capability is a shared, paperless business environment, which reduces written reporting requirements, increases the fidelity of internal program reviews and enhances visibility and transparency across our portfolios. We’ve also developed battle-rhythm reviews from our acquisition dashboard for programs and services to include financial execution reviews within SORDAC and with all HQ and component command stakeholders. These reviews enable us to identify redundancies within the program portfolios, cut cost growth and refine requirements. For example, we’ve found target opportunities in our Non-Standard Aviation, Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements, MH-60 Sikorsky helicopter, MH-47G Boeing Chinook special ops helicopter and AC-130J Lockheed Martin Hercules multi-role aircraft programs to leverage and combine efforts, eliminate duplication and identify entrepreneurial acquisition strategies to reduce costs and expedite fielding. These are just some examples of how we’re institutionalizing streamlined functions, aggressively examining our program portfolios, using best contracting practices and enabling a “whole-ofSOCOM” approach to the acquisition decision-making process to manage our enterprise as efficiently as possible. Q: You’ve mentioned SOCOM service contracts and that SOCOM spends approximately $2.6 billion annually in contracted service support. What services are in high demand to support SOF, and what opportunities will be available over the next few years? A: SOCOM service contracts are comprised of information technology, support and maintenance of equipment, knowledge services, including language training, linguist and translator services, intelligence and analysis, acquisition expertise, education and logistics across the gamut of SOCOM missions. Opportunities over the next few years include the re-compete for the GBPS requirement [Advisory and Assistance/Knowledge Services contract] in fiscal 2014, an overarching SOCOM enterprise for the Human Performance Program in fiscal 2013-14 and language training and linguist support. Q: On the material side of the house, SOCOM is recapitalizing many of its mobility platforms. What key capability enhancements in these efforts are planned and/or needed for the future? A: Recapitalization and modernization of the mobility fleets is a significant effort that has been ongoing since 2005. We’ve made


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significant inroads, with the completion of the MH-47G service life extension program in fiscal 2011 leading the efforts. We’re recapitalizing the entire SOF C-130 fleet with new MC130J aircraft. The new aircraft will include a SOF special mission processor to allow for rapid integration of new capabilities and an enhanced electronic warfare and situational awareness suite. Improved capabilities for the SOF C-130J mobility platforms include simultaneous air refueling, network interoperability, crew protection and survivability. This new configuration will serve as the base aircraft for the new AC-130J gunship, which will incorporate the precision strike package, including sensors, crew work stations, fire control system, a medium caliber gun and standoff precision guided munitions. The current rotary wing effort is the replacement of the MH60L/K variants with the MH-60M. This will establish a single common airframe based on the U.S. Army UH-60. This standardization will provide increased simplicity and efficiency for maintenance and logistics. At the same time, we’re adding the special operationspeculiar operating requirements with the addition of a common avionics architecture system, the Suite of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures, wide-chord rotor blades, active vibration reduction, an improved electro-optical sensor system and the incorporation of two General Electric YT706-GE-700 engines. The Surface Systems Program Management Office is currently leading the maritime acquisition effort to acquire a boat entitled Combatant Craft Medium–MK1 [CCM]. The CCM will provide a

range of SOF maritime surface mobility options that span across legacy systems while incorporating new technologies and efficiencies not available at the time of the development of current legacy systems such as the Naval Special Warfare 11 Meter RHIB and the MK-V Special Operations Craft. CCM-MK1 is the first in a series of incremental steps to replace legacy systems with modern, more clandestine, agile, adaptive and operationally capable maritime craft. Q: Special operations forces are commonly known to possess high technical skills using advanced equipment. What does the science and technology [S&T] landscape demand for SOF in 2025? A: The key to providing effective solutions for SOF future capabilities is to identify our top S&T priorities, socialize them with external organizations and gain collaboration and mutual support for those efforts. Our most recent science and technology integrated priorities list identified four key S&T challenges for the SOF future operating environment: 1) Comprehensive Signature Management [Stealth]—technologies to reduce detection across the full spectrum for personnel, equipment and SOF manned and unmanned mobility platforms; 2) Battlespace Awareness Initiative—night vision improvements, including digitally fused night vision goggles, increased performance and leap-ahead technologies for tagging, tracking and locating adversaries; 3) Electronic Warfare—vast improvements to SOF force protection operating in small teams in remote areas with a system that can detect, ID, locate and defeat threats; and 4) Precision Engagement with Nearzero Collateral Damage—a combination of kinetic, less than lethal, combined and scalable effects, directed energy and the capability that provides extended duration incapacitation of adversaries. These are the areas we will be focusing our S&T efforts for nearand long-term SOF technology solutions. Q: How does SOCOM identify technology innovation that will give SOF the strategic advantage in future warfare/conflicts? A: SORDAC is always pursuing technology innovation and is currently exploring taking the lead on SOF-centric research and development programs through an S&T collaborative. This concept will allow us to better synchronize SOF-related technology initiatives occurring within the Department of Defense, collaborate with our stakeholders and leverage external capital opportunities as we address capability gaps. Additionally, we conduct quarterly Tactical Network Testbed [TNT] experimentation events in cooperation with the Naval Postgraduate School at Camp Roberts, Calif., and at Avon Park, Fla., through our S&T Directorate. These cooperative experiments are conducted with SOF operators, government R&D organizations, academia and private industry. The key objective is to determine how their technology development efforts and ideas may support or enhance SOF capabilities. During TNTs, live in the field evolution and adaptation occurs that identifies possible solutions that might support special operations capabilities. Recent experimentation led to several transitions of capabilities to SOCOM such as an active shock suspension kit, which provides enhanced performance, reliability and load weight capacity for SOF vehicles; “Athena,” a capability for the SOF Warrior to detect,

34 | SOTECH 10.2

identify, locate and defeat threat signals; and Remote CROWS II, an effort aimed at designing, building and demonstrating the capability to remotely operate MRAP-mounted sensors and weapons from a safe command bunker location inside a vehicle. SORDAC also gains technology innovation through the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] program. We recently transitioned the Advanced Lightweight Vehicle Components and Materials effort for the SOF ground mobility vehicle through SBIR. Q: SOCOM won three of three under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics awards in 2011: The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition, Workforce Achievement and Workforce Development. How do you attribute this success to your workforce? A: SOCOM’s mission demands a highly skilled workforce, and SORDAC is fortunate to have a cadre of acquisition professionals and SOF acquirers that work hard to meet it. Our team winners, the Personal Signature Management Joint Acquisition Team and Human Capital Team, and individual winners, Lieutenant Colonel Renee Holmes and Mr. Terry Ricket, received these prestigious awards for their contributions to support rapid and focused acquisition, technology and logistics to our SOF warfighters. In SORDAC we have emphasized workforce development as a top priority. We’ve aligned our workforce development

objectives with the human capital goals of the AT&L Strategic Plan, with a focus on developing a highly agile workforce. Certifying our acquisition professionals in their career fields, providing developmental assignments, leadership training and higher education opportunities have always been a fundamental tenet of our workforce program. We’ve instituted self-learning opportunities and encouraged innovative ideas such as SORDAC University, an in-house training environment where SOF acquirers learn from each other, gain expertise on emerging technologies and acquisition techniques, and regularly meet with SOF operators to get feedback on capability needs and future requirements. We’ve also implemented game changers sessions, an open forum where SORDAC personnel can bring ideas for developing and improving automated tools, processes and function to business operations. Q: What has SORDAC learned about rapid acquisition after 10 years of combat? A: As I look back over the past 10 years, I’m amazed at how SORDAC has changed and continues to adapt to meet the challenges and needs of our forces. Our acquisition approach is fundamentally to equip the man, not man the equipment, as the special operator is the primary capability and the indispensable element of our force. We’ve learned that the key to getting the right capabilities into their hands is to work closely with our operational

SOTECH  10.2 | 35

A CV-22 Osprey is refueled by an MC-130J Combat Shadow II aircraft of the 71st Special Operations Squadron. [Photo courtesy of DoD]

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne engage in a jump exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. [Photo courtesy of DoD]

force and with the services, while managing an efficient and lean organization that can respond to unconventional needs within the technology and time constraints we are given. A cornerstone of our ability to accomplish results for our operators is to work closely with the services to maximize our collaborative efforts. We began a semi-annual discussion forum with the services acquisition executives and AT&L to ensure DoD policies, authorities and service initiatives are aligned with SOF needs. When necessary and able, AT&L, the services and SOCOM are taking action on areas to improve transition of programs, increase SOCOM’s acquisition and funding agility and authorities, and ensure efforts for SOF are in line with operator needs. To keep our organization responsive, we continuously examine how our program executive offices [PEOs] are aligned to warfighter needs. We’ve gone through several evolutions, with our most recent in 2009, shortly after I became the acquisition executive. We decentralized training and simulation programs back into each PEO; stood-up PEO Special Operations Forces Support Activity in Lexington, Ky.; consolidated our Special Programs Office under PEO SOF Warrior; and stood up our first Joint Acquisition Task Force. These changes were made after significant program growth, fieldings and deliveries were accomplished responding to the SOF-directed initiatives of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. To keep our organization lean, reduce excess functions and scale our growth, we looked hard at the size of our workforce and took some bold steps in 2010—ahead of the SecDef efficiencies—and reduced the size of our workforce by 10 percent. At the same time we refined a cost of doing business model with a target to reduce overhead functions to get us to where we are today, averaging approximately 4 percent of our operating budget. These initiatives were significant in providing us the flexibility in our Program Objective Memorandum builds to shift budgets from 36 | SOTECH 10.2

A Mark V special operations craft roars along under a passing thunderstorm. [Photo courtesy of DoD]

overhead areas to putting it into investment dollars that would get kit and equipment into the hands of our warfighters. We’ve also taken deliberate measures over the years to cultivate and hone the skills of our acquisition professionals to think, act and operate with the same skills and mindset of the operator. We’ve focused on core education and training requirements to certify all of our acquisition professionals, and enabled a self-learning organization with our SORDAC-U that I’ve talked about. We’ve also tailored our business practices to match SOF qualities and attributes to our program management style and decision-making processes, such as taking calculated risks and an entrepreneurial approach to investments in immature and developing capabilities. A good example of this is the targeted focus and expansion of our capability and mission-based experimentations that I’ve mentioned—matching SOF-related efforts in industry with key technology areas in our programs and providing hands-on feedback from operators and acquisition personnel on military utility. Q: Do you have any closing thoughts, and what do you see as the key to success for SOCOM acquisition in the future? A: Today, we’re executing our acquisition programs with a keen eye on affordability, streamlining requirements, reducing redundancies, increasing competition across the board and leaning forward to identify emerging technologies to support our forces. We’re also working closer than ever before with the services to gain efficiencies on our mutual needs and taking advantage of the processes and authorities that enable us to execute rapid acquisition. We need to continue on this path of looking across our portfolios and our organization for opportunities for efficiencies, and working collaboratively with our service partners and industry to provide our forces with the capabilities they need to win the current fight and be ahead of our adversaries in the future. O

Research is yielding the better bullet. By Steve Goodman SOTECH Correspondent Special operators are often put into a position of having to do more with less. That is part of what makes them so special. Getting more bang for the buck out of their ammo is no exception. “Special forces perform their duties under the most intense and demanding conditions,” explained Jason Nash, director, marketing and communications, ATK Armament Systems. “All of our ammunition is developed to be weather-resistant and consistent in a variety of environmental conditions, but we take extra steps when testing SOF products to deliver the best performance and confidence possible.” In 2011, ATK, headquartered in Arlington, Va., through its Small Caliber Systems Division located in Missouri, was awarded a $49 million contract from the Navy to produce a new special operations ammunition round with improved accuracy, stronger barrier penetration and a lower muzzle flash. The 5.56 x 45 mm NATO was officially adopted by the U.S. military as the standard round for all assault rifles in the early 1980s, displacing the 7.62 x 51 mm. The 5.56 x 45 mm is basically a Mil Spec version of the .223 caliber Remington cartridge, one of the most common rounds used for small game hunting. Ever since the M16 was first deployed, it has often been criticized by warfighters from all branches as being underpowered. Some have said it is better suited for shooting prairie dogs and other “varmints” than for use in combat operations. But that criticism is as much about the ammo as it is about the weapon. The standard issue 5.56 NATO for the M16, M4 and its variants is the M855. To create the standard issue round, the M855 combines the 5.56 cartridge with a 62-grain FN SS109 bullet, a green tip with a steel penetrator, and a lead core. While it is the most commonly used ammo among sailors, airmen and soldiers, there have long been issues with lethality and stopping power with M855, especially in the M4 and other smaller carbines with shorter barrels used by SOF. “The M855 is a good round, but it is yaw dependent. Like all bullets, it wobbles when it travels along its trajectory. Its effectiveness depends on its yaw angle when it hits a target,” explained Audra Calloway, spokeswoman, Picatinny Arsenal, PEO Ammo.

The problem has to do with basic ballistics. The M855 performs as it should in longer-barrel, long-range weapons such as the M16 when fired at more open field targets. At long distances the bullet has time to decelerate and fragment, causing significant cellular disruption, tissue damage, and generally lethal wounds. But during close quarter battle (CQB)—first in Somalia, particularly during the Black Hawk Down incident— there began to be reports of the M885 going right through enemy combatants, barely slowing them down. Similar reports continued from the field during the first Gulf War, and still more recently in Iran and Afghanistan. This problem of lack of fragmentation is compounded in shorter-barreled weapons, which due to the length of the barrel cannot produce the terminal velocities needed for fragmentation at close range.

SOTECH  10.2 | 37

The bottom line: The 5.56 NATO cartridge was designed to accommodate a 55-grain bullet traveling down a 20-inch barrel. That weight and length combination creates a muzzle velocity of over 2,700 feet per second, which causes the bullet to yaw, or spin, as well as fragment on impact, usually causing devastating wounds. When the military dropped the barrel length of the M4 down to 14.5 inches and raised the bullet weight to 62 grains as in the M855, the velocity was such that it would travel straight through the body.

Better Bullets When developing ammunition for military use, the challenge has always been to come up with the best general-purpose bullet. There are rounds available that are excellent at penetrating hard targets, such as armor-piercing bullets, but don’t provide the needed yaw and fragmentation effects desired against soft targets. On the other hand, there is ammunition that is designed to be very effective against soft targets, such as hunting rounds, hollow points, etc., but they do not penetrate harder barriers such as glass and armor. Plus, there is always the issue with using such hollow points or similar flesh tearing and bone crushing bullets under the formal Rules of War that DoD must follow. The Army and SOCOM are well aware of the issues surrounding lethality and stopping power with the M855. A 2010 Army Press Brief stated, “In post-combat surveys and field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, most soldiers have indicated that the [M855] works fine, delivering the desired effects against threat targets. But some soldiers have reported that the round did not perform consistently, causing concern in the ammunition community.” At the same time, mounting pressure from environmental groups was driving the Army to come up with a lead-free “green” bullet. The Army’s ammunition community, led by Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey and Program Executive Office Ammo, saw an opportunity to address the two concerns and began development of an alternative to the M855 round, the M855A1. The M855A1, officially the M855A1 5.56 mm Enhanced Performance Round (EPR), is a lead-free bullet specially engineered for the shorter barrel of the M-4. In June 2010, after several failed attempts that put the project on hold, the Army announced it had completed testing and had begun shipping EPR ammo to support warfighters in Afghanistan. According to Calloway, “The M855A1 EPR uses a new bullet design that resulted in a number of significant enhancements over the original general purpose M855 fielded in the early 1980s. Improvements include better hard-target penetration, more consistent performance against soft targets, and significantly increased distances of these effects.” The parameters that went into designing the M855A1 were improved hard-target capability, more dependable and consistent performance at all distances, improved accuracy, reduced muzzle flash and a higher velocity. In testing, it seemed as if the Army delivered on its promise of a ‘best of both worlds’ slug. The M855A1 exceeded the performance of the M855 and even the performance of 7.62 mm ball ammunition against certain types of targets. “The new Enhanced Performance Round, or EPR, is not yawdependent,” Calloway said. “It delivers the same effectiveness in a soft target no matter its yaw angle. The same technology incorporated into the EPR is also being leveraged to improve 7.62 mm M80A1 ammunition.” 38 | SOTECH 10.2

The M855A1 was specially engineered to perform better in shorter barreled weapons such as the M4 Carbine Weapon System, but it also outperforms the standard M855 in the M16 and M249, vastly improving the lethality of these weapons. Admittedly, the M855A1 is probably the best general purpose bullet the Army has ever developed. But general purpose goes against the very definition of special operations. The SOF community has always been looking for alternatives to the M855 that are better suited to their particular needs. One of the first such alterative rounds was the Remington 6.8 mm Special Purpose Cartridge (SPC), which came out of the now-defunct Enhanced Rifle Cartridge (ERC) program. The 6.8 mm SPC is interesting in that it owes its origin to Army SOF top shooters. It came out of a program that was specifically designed to address the fragmentation and lethality shortcomings of the 5.58, and it was the brainchild of an Army 5th Special Forces Group soldier who was determined to improve the terminal ballistics of the M4 carbine. Shooters from the Army Marksmanship Unit and others reportedly assisted the R&D team heading up the ERC project. Although the main objective of the ERC was to develop a bullet with increased lethality, the new cartridge also significantly outperformed previous rounds in terms of accuracy and range. The diameter of the shell body of the SPC is larger than the 5.56 mm NATO but smaller than 7.62 x 39. At 115 grains, the SPC is a heavy round, which is a downside, especially to SOF who never want to carry more weight. But the truth is, better shooters (such as the highly-skilled marksmen of SOF) are much more adept at single-shot kills and do not need to carry as much ammo as standard forces, so the extra weight becomes a bit of a moot point. Special forces troops were the first to use 6.8 mm SPC ammo in combat, and they were reportedly very impressed with its ability to take down enemy troops more consistently in CQB than standard NATO rounds. The 6.8 mm SPC is available commercially though companies such as Hornady Manufacturing Corp. and Remington Defense, which have both been involved in its development since the initial ERC. The SPC remains very popular among many civilian hunters and SOF operatives who purchase their own ammo. But the 6.8 SPC never caught on for large-scale procurement by DoD because of its expense. What did, however, is ATK’s Special Operations Science and Technology, or SOST, round. “There are standardized test methods for projectile terminal performance used to guide ammunition design decisions for all military programs,” explained Drew Goodlin, director of ammunition technology and product development with ATK. “Regardless of platform, we provide the end-user with the highest level of performance. Recent technological advancements in ammunition design, specifically propellants and bullets, have elevated the bar; the SOST is just one example. The SOST rounds, MK318 and MK319, are currently in use by both U.S. and allied forces. We have heard of very positive comments from the field. Beyond the SOST ammunition feedback, we have also received great comments on all of the precision ammunition used by SOF and produced by ATK.”

Get Smart Self-guided or so-called “smart bullets” that can turn around corners and hit unseen or fleeing targets have long been a staple

of Warner Brothers cartoons and science fiction. But the once farfetched idea has been actively pursued by DoD and private sector research for decades. In early February 2012, smart bullets took a major step closer to reality. Government-owned Sandia National Laboratories is owned by Sandia Corp., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. The lab raised eyebrows when it released a video that showed the successful test of a self-guided bullet. According to the company, Sandia researchers Red Jones and Brian Kast led a team that invented a dart-like, self-guided bullet for small-caliber, smooth-bore firearms that could hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile. “We have a very promising technology to guide small projectiles that could be fully developed inexpensively and rapidly,” Jones said. He added, “While engineering issues remain, we’re confident the engineering-technology base is there to solve the problems.” Sandia’s design for the 4-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target. Lockheed Martin is already named as a “Phase II” contractor in DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) smartbullet sniper rifle program, and it is very likely that Lockheed will be incorporating lessons learned from Sandia’s prototype into their

proof-of-concept for that system. According to Goodlin, ATK is also actively involved in the EXACTO program, though he was not at liberty to reveal the details of the company’s participation. However, he did share that ATK was and is instrumental in development and deployment of several real-world smart weapon technologies. “Real-world smart bullets are here today,” said Goodlin, “and these technologies are proving to be game changers.” One of these is the XM25 Individual Semi Automatic Airburst System, which was deployed in Afghanistan. Troops labeled it “The Punisher.” “The XM25 Individual Semi Automatic Airburst System was designed and is produced by ATK’s Advanced Weapons Division,” Goodlin said. The system consists of the weapon and the ammunition. “ATK produces the ammunition. H&K produces the gun and L-3 provides the sighting and target engagement capabilities. ATK is the system integrator.” With The Punisher, enemies are denied the protection of cover with low risk of collateral damage. Similar airburst technology and other guided or smart artillery rounds are also available in medium caliber cannons from ATK. O

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By Christian Bourge SOTECH Correspondent Helicopters have served an increasingly important role in battle for the United States military as both a fighting and transport tool since first used in a minor support capacity in World War II. From those early days to somewhat increased use in Korea in the 1950s to the Army’s embrace of “air mobility” in 1960s Vietnam, the first war where helicopters played a major role, the history of vertical lift aircraft ferrying soldiers and supplies as well as in combat is a storied one that helped define U.S. fighting capabilities in the latter half of the 20th century. Helicopters have proven invaluable for being able to reach places fixed wing and ground vehicles simply can’t penetrate. Hybrids like the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey have added further operational capabilities. (For an overview of the Osprey and how it is vital to special operators, please see story in this issue on SOF fixed-wing aircraft.) Over the last decade, the role of vertical lift craft in battle has expanded even further, as fighting systems as well as intelligencegathering tools in Iraq and in Afghanistan. “One of the things that is absolutely true is that unmanned systems are growing,” said Mike Fuqua, business development director at Northrop Grumman. “You can read any publication. You can talk to anyone who operates or has been around them. The number of UAVs, say, 10 years ago to today, has exponentially increased.” While the use of fixed wing unmanned drones for surveillance, communications and in attacks has become a standard tool of the U.S. military and special operations support, unmanned vertical lift drones are beginning to take hold. Both traditional forces and special operations are looking to take advantage of the unique capabilities such aircraft bring to the table, including for logistics and transport needs. The Navy’s announcement late last year of the formation of its first operational vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned 40 | SOTECH 10.2

Rotorcraft, including unmanned systems, fill increasingly key roles. air vehicle (VTUAV) unit with expeditionary squads incorporating Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout MQ-8B—based on Schweizer’s 330 and 330 commercial helicopter—as well as manned Sikorsky MH-60Rs, signals the growing potential for VTUAVs being included in the expanding unmanned air support arena. The unit is scheduled to be operational next year. At the same time, the capabilities of venerable manned helicopter platforms long in special operations use such as Boeing’s Chinook and the Sikosrky Aircraft UH-60 Black Hawk continue to be improved through updates, providing for increased performance. In a sign of the continued emphasis on vertical lift capabilities in the long term, the Army began its Joint Multi Role program aimed at developing and fielding a family of next-generation craft by around 2030. The budget for rotary craft is being increased for demonstration purposes with the current focus on a mid-range craft with the size of the Black Hawk that is scalable for both light and heavy lift uses. Lieutenant Colonel Dave Almquist, G-5 for the 160th Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC) at Fort Bragg, N.C., told Special Operations Technology that ARSOAC is involved with the Army’s future effort as well as joint staff-level planning and other activities aimed at deciding the future of military vertical lift design. “We are certainly involved in monitoring where that future is going,” said Almquist. “We are part of that and we will stay closely intertwined with those efforts.” Even as ARSOAC and Big Army look to the future, the latest in rotor blade designs, electronics improvements and unmanned technologies are being added to war-tested craft, pushing the limits of what helicopters can do for the U.S. military as a whole as well as for the special operations warfighter to ensure the continued dominance of U.S. vertical lift assets in theater.

New Technology Despite the somewhat troubled acquisition history of VTUAVs—including the Navy’s initial purchase, cancellation and repurchase of Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout line currently in its MQ-8B iteration, and the Sikorsky S-434-based incarnation and the Army’s abandonment of VTUAV platforms—development of next-generation systems has heightened in recent years. One of the newest VTUAV systems, currently in limited use by the Marine Corps, is Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace’s unmanned K-Max platform. The Marine Corps Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1, Cargo Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System Detachment has deployed the system in Afghanistan since December 17, to resupply troops and augment Marine ground and air logistics operations. Lockheed Martin said that as of the end of January, over 50 unmanned resupply missions have been flown, delivering more than 100,000 pounds of cargo, including a 4,200 pound generator in a single drop. The K-Max is built on a proven platform, Kaman’s manned K-Max helicopter, which was introduced for commercial use in 1994, and incorporates Lockheed Martin’s existing automated flight system. Jim Naylor, business development director for aviation systems at Lockheed Martin, said that the firm started working with Naval Air Systems Command in 2007 to develop the K-Max platform for unmanned transport use. “We saw a need to get equipment dropped into theater and get vehicles off the road to save lives,” said Naylor. “It’s a tremendously capable helicopter that even at altitude can still carry a tremendous amount of weight: 4,300 pounds.” The 4,300-pound lift capacity is especially significant because it equals the aircraft’s empty weight. Such high lift capability in relation to weight is the result of the dual overhead rotor, rotorless tail design, a concept which dates to the 1940s. Terry Fogarty, general manager of Kaman’s UAS Product Group, said the design provides two major benefits. “You don’t have any drag on engine power and because you don’t have a tail rotor, you have a very stable helicopter that likes to hover,” said Fogarty, who added that the lack of hydraulics also means increased reliability. The Afghan deployment represents a demonstration phase for the unmanned K-Max, for which the Navy awarded a $45.8 million contract in 2010 for evaluation. The Marines awarded their assessment contract for the craft in December, for which they have a full implementation option at the end of the six months. With use of its Fire Scout—one of the first VTUAVs put into operation with its launching from Navy ships into Afghanistan— scheduled to increase, Northrop Grumman has taken its VTUAV design experience to develop its latest model in cooperation with Bell Helicopter, the Fire-X. The Navy currently has three Fire-X aircraft, designated MQ-8C, in Northern Afghanistan at forward operating bases providing intelligence surveillance to Army and coalition forces. Fuqua confirmed Northrop Grumman is awaiting a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) decision and possible purchase following an urgent need Special Operations Command (SOCOM) request. He wouldn’t comment on possible timing but said that they expect the total number ordered for rapid deployment could be in the high 20s.

A conversion of the Bell 407 manned helicopter, which has long been used by the Navy and Army, the system came about after the company examined emerging requirements and decided that they should explore producing what Northrop Grumman’s Fuqua termed a “more capable VTUAV” on a proven vertical lift platform. “We’d sort of seen where the services were heading, looking for more capability and endurance,” said Fuqua, a retired Navy helo pilot. “There are many missions an SH-60 or MH-60 is doing today that a VTUAV could do. In that sense, the Navy will always have enough capabilities. [But] if you have an unmanned helicopter that is complementary and does missions you just don’t have to have a person in a cockpit to do, you [have financially] already won and are in a very good place because you are conserving your [human] assets.” Fuqua said that the company wanted to apply their mature unmanned system architecture of the Fire Scout to a helicopter with greater endurance and payload capabilities. This is accomplished by increasing the fuel capacity of Bell’s four-rotor-blade 407. Larger than the Fire Scout with greater performance capabilities, the Fire-X incorporates the same intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architecture of its predecessor while being designed to haul over 2,600 pounds with a flight endurance time of over 15 hours. Fuqua noted that the company is working on adding beyond-line-of-sight capability, along with the ability to carry signal intelligence payloads, over the next couple of years. From a special operations perspective, such unmanned systems have the potential for use not only to replenish small troop contingents but also to increase wide area surveillance and improve situational awareness, as well as deploying electronic warfare sensors. Currently arming the MQ-8B, Fuqua said Northrop Grumman also sees similar capabilities coming to its newest VTUAV. “We are arming the MQ-8B and we think the idea of weaponization will only increase as time goes on,” he said. “There are a few things you can’t envision an unmanned system doing, but not too many.” One major benefit of combining proven designs into what is technically a new platform is quick development-to-deployment turnaround. Both first developed their latest craft in short periods, especially when compared to typical military platform development timing. Testing on the Fire-X began in December 2010 and Fuqua said that the modified design allows for fast modifications of the Bell 407 for delivery. The K-Max development cycle has been similarly fast, having gone from contract to flying missions in less than a year. From a 2010 award, the platform went from a quick reaction assessment to flying in theater in less than three months. “Doing our first flight and deployment within 75 days, I would suggest that is pretty quick,” said Kaman’s Fogarty. Boeing, which has long been a dominant force in both special operations and regular Army vertical lift deployment with its versatile Chinook, also has eyes on the VTUAV market with its A160T Hummingbird. It appears to have lost out to the larger cargo capacity but shorter-endurance K-Max for Marine use in Afghanistan, but has had interest from SOCOM for radar-use in an unknown capacity and by DARPA for aerial camera deployment. SOTECH  10.2 | 41

While Marine and Navy interest in VTUAV use is apparent, for the Army, special operations-specific acquisition of VTUAV is currently not in the cards, according to ARSOAC’s Almquist. Nevertheless, he said they continue monitoring developments. “We do certainly keep track of that, to see if there is a time we can use this in the future,” said Almquist.

Proven Platforms Despite the lack of current interest in unmanned rotary craft, new technologies are pushing proven manned special operations use helicopter standbys like the heavy-lift, twin-engine, tandem rotor Chinook and Sikorsky’s twin-engine, medium-lift Black Hawk to new levels. These craft have been in Army use since 1962 and 1979, respectively. With the first of the new MH-60M Black Hawk upgrade helicopters delivered to Fort Bragg in February, ARSOAC is in the middle of training pilots and fielding, with the entire regiment battalion scheduled to be using the new variant by fiscal year 2015. The new Black Hawk incorporates a new high-performance engine and powertrain along with improved rotor blades to allow for higher altitude and payload performance. Similar but slightly newer avionics have also been added along with fire control, communication and navigations systems. Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Clouatre, chief of plans for ARSOAC and a Black Hawk pilot, said the improvements are not groundbreaking but represent some of the things that have limited the craft’s operation in theater, allowing for pilots to push the performance envelope. “It will expand the capability for the Black Hawk in numerous environments around the world,” Clouatre told SOTECH. Such pushing of the envelope has come to define Chinook in theater. Clouatre said that the craft has proven itself as an incredibly versatile platform, particularly from a special operations standpoint, moving from mainly transport to full combat use. “Special ops has led the way in making a transition from where the Chinook is actually used as an assault platform, and taking it to new missions that it had not previously been used [on] in its history,” said Clouatre. The current ARSOAC Chinook incarnation, the MH-47G, dates to 2003 when Army special operations reset from the previous MG-47E. It included an all-machined-aluminum cockpit redesign similar to that later added to Big Army’s current CH47F model. New technological modifications are currently being introduced through a field upgrade kit for the 61 Army special ops aircraft in use, according to Pat Donnelly, program manager of U.S. and foreign military Chinook programs for Boeing Defense Systems. The upgrade will provide a digital automatic flight control system, which has been incorporated on the MG-47F and provides cruise control as well as automated hovering over a point, adjusting for atmospheric and wind pressure and other changes. A partial authority system, it provides additional input to whatever mode the pilot has chosen for the actuators, which control the motors. Donnelly said that one special operations pilot practicing with the system told him he had the helicopter hover 300 feet off the ground for 10 minutes. 42 | SOTECH 10.2

“What it does is drastically reduce the workload of the pilots,” he said. “They can now push a button on a control stick and the aircraft will hover-hold.” Clouatre and Almquist said that, from a technology standpoint, the sharing of technology between Army and special ops variants is beneficial in a number of ways. They noted that G and F variants of the Chinook are currently closer in capability than in the past, something that Almquist described as a “great thing.” “This sharing from special operations forces and conventional Army benefits us both, because there are economies of scale in procurement that benefit us all,” agreed Clouatre. Nevertheless, technological differences remain. “The 160th Special Operations especially is able to execute more operations due to the differences,” said Almquist. Donnelly noted that Boeing is currently under contract to build a new G model for special forces, to deliver in the 2014 to 2015 timeframe, that is similar to the F model, with an allmachined frame with a computer update and refueling boom. The improved model is slated to increase lift by an additional 2,000 pounds. In addition, Boeing is currently developing a fuselage upgrade along with a new all-composite rotor blade similar to what is currently available today, but which incorporates advanced air foils and tips into the design, providing for increased lift with no degradation of performance. “When we deliver this, it will probably be the most sophisticated rotor blade out on the rotor craft market,” said Donnelly. He added that the firm is also exploring a drivetrain upgrade as well as a move to provide a next-generation navigation system for the Chinook, something wanted by SOCOM. Currently being developed with BAE Systems, Donnelly said they are looking to take advantage of the optical enhancement qualities provided by adaptive parallel actuators, a motor-controlled mechanism design to counteract visual aberrations such as those created by sandstorms or the downward force of a helicopter. Almquist noted that for all platforms, ARSOAC is “particularly interested” in technology to help improve flight in a degraded visual environment, as well as new fire indication systems. “We think that it is a couple of systems and efforts,” he said. “It is not a single solution to help us identify and categorize things coming at the aircraft.” With any new technology come growing pains, including the need not only for pilot training but also for logistics issues. Clouatre said that one of the biggest challenges is modifying aircraft and training pilots to keep up with fleet modernization during deployment. A major part of this problem for ARSOAC is ensuring modifications are made incrementally, so upgrades are not outstripped by technological advances. This is not something singular to helicopters, but nonetheless it is important to maintaining tactical and logistical advantage for vertical lift aircraft. “Managing that challenge is one of the major problems our aviators have today,” he said. O

For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Dave Ahearn at or search our online archives for related stories at

The advertisers index is provided as a service to our readers. KMI cannot be held responsible for discrepancies due to last-minute changes or alterations.

SOTECH CALENDAR & DIRECTORY Advertisers Index AAI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 AECOM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 AR Modular RF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Braxton Bragg AUSA Conference & Expo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Boeing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Ceradyne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 G4S International Training Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Inegma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3 MBDA Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Leupold.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Lockheed Martin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 SAIC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Selex Galileo Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 Sensors Unlimited - Goodrich ISR Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Skedco. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 TEA Headsets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Special Edition: Dual-Language Arabic-English Issue

Next Issue

May 2012 Volume 10, Issue 3

Cover and In-Depth Interview with:

Major General Kenneth E. Tovo Commander Special Operations Command Central

Special Section 2012 Tactical Vehicles Review Special operators need to move fast, but also must be able to go off road in rough terrain and be protected from IED blasts and enemy RPGs—a tall order. We examine the galaxy of rides serving SOF.

Calendar March 27-28, 2012 Special Operations Summit West San Diego, Calif. April 1-4, 2012 AAAA (Quad A) Annual Professional Forum & Exposition (Army Aviation Association of America) Nashville, Tenn. April 15-18, 2012 SeaAirSpace National Harbor, Md. SEAPOWER-Expo-Online/

April 23-26, 2012 Tactical Vehicles Summit Alexandria, Va. May 7-10, 2012 SOFEX Amman, Jordan May 22 -24, 2012 SOFIC Tampa, Fla. June 4-8, 2012 GEOINT Community Week Washington, D.C. area

Features Handguns The military has some tried and true favorites in sidearms. We examine each potential sidearm, its strong points and weaknesses.

Portable Power The special operator of the new millennium is an electronic combatant. We look at ways to power electronic accessories without adding backbreaking pounds of batteries.

Robotics From scouting dark caves and courtyards to EOD missions, many dangerous tasks are being performed by robotic systems, removing special operators from needless risk.

Insertion Order Deadline: April 9, 2012 • Ad Materials Deadline: April 16, 2012

SOTECH  10.2 | 43


Special Operations Technology

Bud Calkin Founder, Vice President and General Manager Skedco Bud Calkin began his military service in 1955, when he enlisted in the Army National Guard. After four years he entered the Army, where he served for five years, first as a medical corpsman, then as a dental technician. After leaving the Army, he continued to envision a way of evacuating a wounded soldier over long distances by himself. He eventually redesigned a game carrier—invented by his sister—to make a stretcher, which is called a “Sked.” Calkin and his wife incorporated Skedco in 1981, and he has been vice president and general manager since that time. He was recognized as a “Friend of the Army Medical Department Regiment” for his outstanding dedication and support by Lieutenant General Ronald Blank, Army surgeon general, before he retired. Calkin’s service is still ongoing and will be for many more years. Q: How would you describe Skedco? A: Skedco is a manufacturer of the highest quality rescue and EMS equipment. The primary product is still the Sked, known Armywide as the Skedco Litter or the “Skedco.” It is one of the most commonly used litter platforms in the tactical military environment because of its ability to function as a one-man evacuation litter. When used with the Oregon Spine Splint, it is equal to a long backboard, but can be dragged, carried, or hoisted by helicopter or on rope. It is also used to carry equipment. Saving GI and civilian lives is our primary goal. Q: What are your primary product lines? A: As I described earlier, the Sked/OSS system is our primary product. We also manufacture stretcher flotation systems, a full line of rope access/rescue products, very unique medical bags, micro-pulley systems, MOUT [military operations in urban terrain] lifelines, mass casualty/hazmat Skeds, PJ Skeds and other special-purpose Sked litters. We are now testing and fielding the new “Tactical Sked,” a hands-free [portable] litter that can be dragged or hoisted in the horizontal position. The complete system weighs under 12 pounds and stores in a 7-inch diameter by 44 | SOTECH 10.2

Our CASEVAC kit, helicopter bags and Oregon Spine Splint are other great successes. We now have the only laryngoscope kit available anywhere that enables intubation and starting IVs in the dark under NVGs. Our “Field Expedient Bleeding Simulation System” for hemorrhage control training is also a great success. Lives have been saved because of it. Q: How are you positioned for the near term with the military?

24-inch long bag. It is also purchased without the bag to lighten it.

A: Skedco is currently working on several new products designed to enhance the survivability of the soldier while making it safer for the rescue/EMS personnel. We constantly look for better ideas.

Q: What makes your products stand out? A: The quality, compactness, ruggedness and versatility are unsurpassed. All Skedco products are user-friendly, over-engineered to perform without breaking or wearing out prematurely. In our 30 years of doing business, there has never been a catastrophic failure of any Skedco product. Q: How would you characterize Skedco’s position in the market sector? A: We cannot be complacent about anything. We constantly change and improve our products to meet current demands and continuously develop new products. Q: How long has Skedco been doing business with DoD? A: We have been marketing to the military since 1983. We are in constant communication with our military, even while downrange, and we will continue this policy. We have been to Iraq doing training and are currently working on going to Afghanistan to perform further training. Q: What are some examples of Skedco’s success with the military? A: The standard Sked is our greatest success. It is seen everywhere our military is engaged.

Q: How do you approach the production and marketing of new products? A: Once I have the idea, I will build prototypes. Once I am satisfied that it will support my body safely, I begin testing. I test it to failure; I over-engineer everything for added safety. When I am satisfied, I begin marketing the product. At Skedco we believe that “failure on the battlefield is not an option.” Q: Do you have any other products that the military will have an interest in? A: Yes we do. It is our CASEVAC conversion kit. It is a compact kit with our litter tie down straps, patient litter straps, Extreme medicine knife, blizzard blanket, Skedco Tactikka Medical headlamp and other items that allow any vehicle of opportunity [air, water, or ground] to be used for CASEVAC. Q: Anything else you’d like to add? A: I wish to take the time to thank, honor and praise our GIs serving so bravely, willingly and selflessly for our county. You can count on our support anytime, anywhere. We love you all and remember you all in our prayers every day. Thank you and God bless you all! O

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SOTECH 10-2 (April 2012)  

Special Operations Technology, Volume 10 Issue 2, April 2012

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