Archive for the ‘War on Terrorism’ Category

Special Operations: The Global Struggle

February 18, 2009

Get the real story: Special Operations Force: The Secret Soldier

While Iraq and Afghanistan have the greatest number of U.S. troops, the Special Operations Command is engaged in counter-terrorism operations around the world. [ FULL STORY ]
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US Navy Nabs Pirates

February 16, 2009

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The crew of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) apprehended seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden Feb. 11 after responding to a distress call from a nearby merchant vessel.

The event marks the first time CTF-151 has apprehended suspected pirates.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Motor Vessel Polaris sent a distress call to all ships in the area reporting that a small skiff containing seven suspected pirates had attempted a forcible boarding of their vessel using a ladder. Polaris crewmembers removed the ladder before pirates could come aboard.

Vella Gulf closed immediately with the M/V Polaris and intercepted a skiff matching the description given by the motor vessel. The skiff contained individuals fitting the physical descriptions given by Polaris crewmembers. A Vella Gulf visit, board, search and seizure team conducted a consensual boarding and found several weapons.

M/V Polaris rendezvoused with Vella Gulf and provided positive visual identification of the suspected pirates. The suspected pirates were brought on board Vella Gulf, where they were processed and are being held until they transfer to a temporary holding facility on board the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1).

CTF 151 is a multinational task force that conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.
(NNS)

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UAVs Help Fight Pirates

February 3, 2009

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The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) brings an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, which enhances the counterpiracy task force’s effectiveness.

This UAV supports the CTF 151 counterpiracy mission by providing maritime surveillance and cueing on suspicious activity.

“This is a significant step forward and is reflective of the increased use of UAVs across the spectrum of military operations,” said Cmdr. Steve Murphy, Mahan’s commanding officer.

The unique attributes of a UAV – namely the ability to stay airborne for long periods and cover hundreds of square miles of ocean during the course of one mission, all the while sending imagery in real time back to Mahan and other assets in the task force – provide a significant tactical advantage.

“It can fly day or night in a covert or overt posture, making it much harder for pirates to hide” said Murphy.
“It is also important to note that the images and information obtained [by the UAV] at sea is shared with our coalition partners, thereby improving overall mission effectiveness and strengthening key partnerships between navies.”

As part of Combined Task Force 151 Mahan is coordinating and deconflicting counterpiracy efforts with approximately 14 nations also operating in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

Taken in context with other aircraft and ships operating in the area, the UAV is considered by Murphy and other leaders in the task force as a force multiplier. The information the UAV generates also helps CTF 151’s leadership determine where to position all available units.

“It provides high quality imagery in real time, speeding decision making and is a significant advantage in stopping piracy on the high seas,” said Murphy. “It is versatile and very responsive, able to change operating areas and change missions in mid-flight.”

Mahan has integrated the UAV into every mission it has conducted while on deployment, gathering valuable information on maritime traffic patterns and the patterns of those suspected to be involved in illicit activity.

According to Murphy, it also helps protect the ship and crew, providing extended surveillance and early indications of potential threats.

“[The UAV] has great significance as a developing effort to apply 21st century technology to the 21st century challenges that our Navy faces.”

The civilian and Sailor team operating the unmanned aerial vehicle on Mahan is documenting lessons learned during this mission and throughout the ship’s deployment. This information is expected to contribute to the U.S. Navy’s plans for the future of UAVs at sea.

(NNS)

US Navy, Partners Deter Pirate Attacks

January 31, 2009

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The presence of partner nations and the newly formed task force to reduce the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden seem to be working, according to the commander of Combined Task Force 151.

“I think the combination of the coalition working together [with] the maritime community has decreased the pirate activity over the last couple of months,” Navy Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, also the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, told bloggers and online journalists during a Defense Department bloggers’ roundtable Jan. 29.

The task force was formed earlier this month and comprises three ships — USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Mahan (DDG 72) and HMS Portland (F 79) — that are collaborating with other nations to deter future pirate attacks.

While a number of factors — even the weather — can impact the number of attacks, McKnight gave credit to the European Union and the nations involved in anti-piracy operations, as well as the task force, with helping to decrease attacks since early December.

“Some things have changed that have helped us in this case to combat piracy,” McKnight said. “The United Nations has come out with several resolutions … that give us more authority to combat piracy.”

U.N. Resolution 1846, approved by the United Nations Security Council on Dec. 2, authorizes states and regional organizations cooperating with the Somali transitional government to enter Somalia’s territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to combat piracy. Two weeks later, U.N. Resolution 1851 was approved, and calls for those states and organizations to “actively participate in defeating piracy and armed robbery off Somalia’s coast by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, and through seizure and disposition of boats and arms used in the commission of those crimes.”

The other recent change that has assisted in combating piracy is the maritime community itself, McKnight said.

“We have tried very hard to say to the maritime community, there are just not enough Navy ships out there to cover 1.1 million square miles,” he said.

McKnight added that creating a safe corridor allows the nations involved in combating piracy to offer protection to the maritime vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden.

In standing up Combined Task Force 151, McKnight said, he hopes to “make it unpleasant to be in the pirate business.”

“Right now, we have about 14 nations out here with about 20 ships,” he said. “We’ve had some encouraging signs from other ships and other nations to join the task force. I expect that by the spring we will have quite a few ships joining.”

McKnight said these and other nations involved and those interested in participating in the future all share the same goal of “free commerce.”

“We have to make sure that we have free commerce throughout the open seas and throughout the world,” said McKnight.

Jennifer Cragg (NNS)

“Fifth Generation War”

January 18, 2009

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War has evolved rapidly in the last 100 years, prompting historians and strategists to come up with new terms for new ways of fighting. They call mechanized warfare, which originated in the early 20th century, the third “generation” of war, and ideological warfare waged by guerilla groups the fourth.

But what about guerilla-style warfare waged by non-ideological groups against traditional states — pirates, for instance, whose attacks can destabilize trade-dependent nations, but who don’t have strategic goals beyond just getting rich? Free-for-all violence, with indirect global effects, represents a fifth generation of war, according to some experts. And when it comes to defeating fifth-gen enemies, “the old rules of warfare do not apply,” declared Marine Lt. Col. Stanton Coerr, writing in Marine Corps Gazette, a professional journal.

So the U.S. military and its government partners are writing new rules, and putting them to the test on the first of the fifth-generation battlefields emerging in Africa.

Fifth-gen enemies do not have traditional “centers of gravity” — armies, governments, factories, charismatic leaders — that can be destroyed by military attacks. By their mere survival, these enemies undermine the notion that nation-states, their ideals and their economies are viable in the modern world.

Examples of emerging fifth-generation wars include: Read the entire article at World Politics Review

Army Pilot Trainees Go Straight to Combat

January 17, 2009

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The days of sending pilots out of Fort Rucker’s aviation flight school for a year of on-the-job-training are over, said the installation commander there.

“We’re now sending many of them directly into theater. And, feedback so far from commanders is that they’re doing pretty well,” said Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center and Fort Rucker, Ala. He said the Army aviation community is experiencing a very high operating tempo.

“While the combat brigades are drawing down in Iraq, Army aviation is seeing a plus-up with shorter times away from the fight and less predictability in deployment cycles,” Barclay said. “It’s not an easy business right now and I don’t see any changes in the near term.”

The general said that with forces thinning in Iraq, demand on remaining troops increases, requiring them to be in more places. That puts an increased demand on aviation units. He said Army aviation is increasing its presence in Afghanistan as well.

While focus on the combat mission is clear, Barclay said the lines are blurred between training and operations commands involving the aviation community.

“We quit separating the components and commands,” he said, indicating the units train, fight and talk to each other more than ever before. Organizations he was referring to include: Training and Doctrine Command, Forces Command, Army Materiel Command, Fort Rucker and Installation Management Command, as well as Guard, Reserve and active components.

“We’re truly a combined force, tied at the hip. We have to be. It’s about being more effective, not just more efficient,” he said, citing the Army Enterprise best practices model as aviation’s campaign plan.

Barclay said there’s a continual and rapid movement of personnel and their equipment from training to deployment to reset, then looping back to training, with relevant and responsive feedback throughout the cycle. For example, he said, lessons learned in combat are immediately applied to training and to new aviation equipment design.

Although the aviation community is combat-oriented, planning and rollout of new manned and unmanned aircraft to meet current and future needs is still a high priority, with design for crew survivability ranking at the top, he noted.

There is also an emphasis of empowering leaders from the bottom up and giving them more responsibility.

“There’s an effort of decentralization of leadership; a push-down of tasks and decision-making designed to enfranchise the small-unit leaders,” he said.

Although it is a busy time, he said the aviation community is not broken. Barclay noted that although dwell times in and out of theater are not good-about a 1:1 ratio for the aviation brigades-the enlistment and reenlistment rate is “doing well, despite not only the time deployed, but also attractive job offers from the contracting community.”

Barclay said that while improved technology is important, success still depends on good people. He said leaders “must keep the focus on our young men and women who voluntarily answer the call to duty and go in harm’s way over and over again.”

David Vergun (ANS)

$ 70 Billion Needed For Next 6 Months of War

January 13, 2009

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has outlined a $69.7 billion estimate of funds needed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the spring through September, a sum he calls a “personal assessment” that includes $23 billion for new weapons but does not account for costs associated with a likely increase of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

In a Dec. 31 letter to the leaders of the four congressional defense committees, Gates said the estimate — which would bring total fiscal year 2009 war costs to $135.6 billion — “would fund operations through the remainder of the fiscal year; replace combat losses, worn-out or stressed equipment; and replenish supplies.”

Gates characterized the figure as a “personal estimate” and not the position of the Bush administration or the incoming Obama administration. “As such, I fully expect that the new administration will conduct a fresh review of these matters and provide an updated and more authoritative proposal” once in place, he writes.
Read the full report at www.insidedefense.com (paid subscription required)

MARAD Offers Piracy Info Online

January 12, 2009
Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

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The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a compilation of information relating to piracy in waters off the Horn of Africa, including maritime advisories, piracy statistics, a list of ships hijacked, and recommended counter-piracy measures…Read More MARAD, Anti-Piracy Website

12 things soldiers can expect in the new year

January 8, 2009
Naval Calendar 2009
Naval Calendar 2009

Our Naval Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US Navy and allied naval forces in action. Buy the Naval Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

From a new commander in chief to a revamped method of PT, soldiers will see a slew of changes in 2009. Some might make Army life tougher. Some might make it easier. But there’s no doubt it’s a packed agenda as the Army’s active and reserve forces shift gears in Iraq and face likely increased action in Afghanistan, along with keeping up with the day-to-day demands of running the service and meeting the needs of families on the home front. Army Times highlights the 12 most important developments, from pay to deployments.

Charleston Airlifters Deploy

January 7, 2009
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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More than 140 Airmen from the 16th Airlift Squadron and the 437th Operations Support Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia from Charleston AFB Dec. 29 as part of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

For this deployment, the entire squadron is deploying to a single base where they will fly and manage missions in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The 16 AS will take control of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron from the 15th Airlift Squadron based out of Charleston AFB, who will be returning home next month.

“I am excited,” said Maj. Todd McCoy, 437th Operations Group assistant director of operations. “We have trained for almost a year and are now ready to go out and do the mission.”

The 16 AS will be transporting service members and supplies in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. They will also fly aeromedical evacuation missions.

This deployment marks the eighth time an entire C-17 squadron will deploy for an operation.

For some Airmen, this will be their first time deploying and leaving loved ones behind. Over the past ninety days they had a pre-deployment checklist to complete and a cluster of classes to take in order to prepare for their deployment.

“I feel well prepared,” said Airman 1st Class Thomas Farmer, 437th Operations Support Squadron. “The classes package the information really well.”
Positive reinforcement throughout the squadron has brought high morale to Airmen getting ready to deploy.

“It is almost overwhelming how supportive people have been from the First Sergeant to the spouses,” said Airman Farmer. “Now we can all get on that plane together and do our job.”

Ian Hochlaender