Sunday, February 26, 2012

Act of Valor Opens to Good Reviews

The movie Act of Valor opened to mixed reviews over the weekend. The action scenes were excellent; but the acting performances off the mark a little.  If you want to know more about the movie then visit WikipediA's page on Act of Valor.

Read some of the reviews:

February 24, 2012. ABC News.
http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/review-act-valor-awed-ode-navy-seals-15778570

February 24, 2012.  Rolling Stone.
http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/act-of-valor-20120224

February 24, 2012.  Fox News.
http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/02/24/review-seals-make-act-valor-unique-gripping-shoot-em-up/

February 24, 2012.  CNN Entertainment.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/24/showbiz/movies/review-act-of-valor-charity/index.html

February 24, 2012.  The Christian Science Monitor.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2012/0224/Act-of-Valor-glorifies-Navy-SEALs.-But-can-they-act-trailer

February 24, 2012. National Review Online.
http://www.nationalreview.com/home-front/291952/act-valor-review-warrior-manifesto-rejects-your-pity/nancy-french

Learn more about the training US Navy SEALs undergo.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Video about NATO Special Operations Headquarters

The NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) is located in Belgium. The major activity there is the coordination of training exercises and the conduct of the NATO Special Operations School.  In the school students learn procedures for intelligence sharing, communications, interoperability, and build human relationships with other SOF counterparts from the many different NATO countries. View a video that explains more about the NATO Special Operations Headquarters.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Train and Advise Mission to Expand to Conventional Army

A very small part of the proposed defense budget is a center piece of how the Army plans to operate in the future. This inexpensive effort includes " . . . international war games, advisor missions, officer exchanges, and other efforts . . ." to engage with foreign militarys in order to build partnership capacity.  In the past many of these types of missions would be performed by U.S. Army Special Forces - whose Special Forces training makes them the ideal unit for these types of activities.

However, with the downsizing of the U.S. Army it is felt that our allies around the world will have to start defending themselves and relying less on the United States - therefore the new approach to building the fighting capacity of our allies or partners. This partnering effort with our allies will involve the conventional Army's units as well as Special Forces - expanding the ability of the U.S. Army to work with an increased number of partner nations around the world.

Read more on this topic in "Army Makes Big Bets On Small Programs: Train, Advise Mission May Spread Beyond SOF", AOL.com Defense, February 14, 2012.

Regionally Aligned Brigades (RABs) of the U.S. Army

A new concept, called Regionally Aligned Brigades or RABs, is being introduced into the Army.  The U.S. Army is going to become lighter, faster, and more flexible in the future.  The Brigade Combat Teams or BCTs will have a third maneuver battalion added to its force structure.  This change is all in conjunction with the reduction in the total number of BCTs and the withdrawal of two BCTs from Europe.  The RABs will deploy more often but in smaller groups - sometimes working in conjunction with special operations forces that are deploying to the same area.  For more info on this topic see "Army Eyes Deeper Brigade Combat Team Cuts, Odierno Says", by Carlo Munoz, AOL.com Defense, February 24, 2012.

Special Operations Recruiting and War Movies

The movie Act of Valor will soon be showing in theaters nation-wide. For those who have not heard the movie actors are real-life Navy SEALs.  While many veterans and servicemen eagerly await a movie that shows "what it is really like" others are criticizing the movie as a military recruiting tool; similar to the 1960s The Green Berets starring John Wayne. Could be.  But I bet it will be a great movie! As far as recruiting goes; I hope the movie is a good recruiting tool - just as The Green Berets was a great recruiting movie. The Special Operations community (MARSOC, Army Special Forces, AFSOC, and Navy SEALs) need high-quality, physically fit, and intelligent men to undergo the intense training and demanding selection process and join the special operations teams.  If a movie helps to attract recruits to those select units then that is a good thing.  If after seeing the Act of Valor you think you might have what it takes to be a special operator then check out these websites below:

Air Force Special Operations
www.afsoc.af.mil

Navy SEALs
www.public.navy.mil/nsw

Marines Special Operations
www.marines.mil/unit/marsoc

Army Special Forces
www.bragg.army.mil/sorb

National Guard Special Forces
www.nationalguardspecialforces.com

And for those who have never heard of the movie entitled The Green Berets you can learn more at the link below at Amazon.com:

The Green Berets

U.S. Army Civil Affairs Units are Busy in CENTCOM AOR

The United States Army Civil Affairs units are one of the most deployed units in the military. Read about their activities in the CENTCOM Area of Operations.  See "CA forces in CENTCOM: Building the SOF enterprise through partnerships", DVIDS, February 22, 2011.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Video of US Air Force Special Operations High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Training Jump

Watch a video of a USAF Special Operations High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) training jump.

COMISAF Advisory and Assistance Teams (CAAT) Award Providing Services in Afghanistan Protested

It appears, according to the Army Contracting Command at Rock Island, that there will be a modification to the current COMISAF Advisory and Assistance Teams (CAAT) contract. The extension is due to a protest filed against the award (RFP W52P1J-11-R-0071).  The current contract is due to expire on 14 March 2012.  The bridge contract will have an estimated period of performance of a two (2) month extension until 14 May 2012 with a potential of three (3) one month option periods. This extension will provide services to the CAAT based at ISAF headquarters in Afghanistan until the dispute is resolved.  The CAAT organization was formerly known as the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team.

Read more news on the "FedBizOpps.gov" website here.

Learn more about the COMISAF Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT).

Special Operations Boss Wants More Authority to Position SOF Elements Around the World

The USSOCOM commander, ADM McRaven, has asked for more authority to position his SOF units around the world.  This has caused lots of conversation - some observers saying that it provides a quicker response and more flexible force - while others say it undermines the authority of the Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs).  Read more in "Proposal to Give Special Ops Boss More Sway Faces Scrutiny", U.S. News and World Report DOTMIL, February 22, 2012.

Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) Targeted by US Special Forces in Four Central African Countries

U.S., African Forces Mitigate Terror Group’s Impact

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2012 – U.S. special operations forces are helping four Central African nations reduce the size and lethality of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group that has terrorized the region for 25 years, U.S. officials said today.

Navy Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, commander of Special Operations Command Africa, said in a conference call with reporters that the LRA is down to about 200 core fighters. Karly Wycoff, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, also participated in the call.

While still under the direction of its leader, Joseph Kony, the admiral said, the group is kept on the run in the remote, shared border region of South Sudan, Uganda, Central Africa Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- an area about the size of California.

President Barack Obama ordered about 100 special operations forces to deploy to Central Africa in October to train and augment the capabilities of the African militaries in the region.
Read the rest of the article here "U.S., African Forces Mitigate Terror Group's Impact", American Forces Press Service, February 22, 2012.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2011 Not a Good Year for Somali Pirates

The increased security measures, to include armed security teams aboard ship, have forced the Somali pirates to travel farther to plunder cargo ships passing along Somalia's coast. There is a booming business in providing maritime security to cargo ships.  Successful attacks along the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden have decreased while successful attacks in the Arabian Sea have increased. However, piracy is still costing the shipping industry loads of money. Read more in "Somali pirates take more risks and rethink tactics", The Guardian, February 21, 2012.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Middle East Homeland Security Summit to be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE on April 23-24, 2012

The Middle East Homeland Security Summit will be held on April 23-24, 2012 at Park Rotana, Abu DHABI UAE.  The two-day event will consist of sessions and panel discussions. The summit will seek to discuss the challenges that government and homeland security professionals face in their fight against terrorism and offer possible solutions to counter the lurking threats. This platform will address strategic and fundamental issues including intelligence and early warning, defence against and recovery from catastrophic events and infrastructure protection.

Some Key Topics of the Summit:

Enhanced Crisis Management for National Security
Overview of MENA landscape & the latest security threats to Energy Infrastructure
Information / Cyber Security Awareness: Challenges & Counter Measures
Robust Maritime Security Strategies: Trends & the Way Forward
Public-Private Partnerships for the Protection of Vulnerable Targets

Who Should Attend?

Ministries of Interior, Police Forces, Border Security Agencies, Critical Infrastructure Protection Authorities, Customs, Civil Aviation Authorities, Airport and Aviation Security, Coast Guard and the Armed Forces, Chief Security Officers, VPs, AGMs, DGMs, MDs, Directors, and Section Heads.  In addition the Managers & Deputy Managers of: Corporate Security, Physical Security, Industrial Security Operations, Security Regulations, Offshore and Onshore Security, Asset Security, HSSE, Safety, Security & Evironment, Emergency Response Planning, Asset Protection, Fire & Security, Infrastructure, Facilities, Operations & Strategy, Risk & Crisis Management, Business Continuity, Contingency Planning, Risk Assessment, Loss & Preventions and Project Managers, Security Superintendents, Security Training Officers, Policy Advisors, and Security Consultants.

U-28A Plane Crash Claims Lives of Four Special Operations Airmen in Djibouti, Africa

An Air Force special operations plane, a U-28A, crashed on Saturday (18 Feb 2012) in Djibouti.  It was an ISR aircraft that conducts intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces.  The aircraft was returning from to its base at Camp Lemonier and crashed about six miles from the airstrip.

The U-28 is a single propeller engine plane that can conduct a variety of missions for special operations forces. The U-28 can be outfitted to carry a suite of sensors and cameras to observe activity on the ground.  It is also a STOL aircraft which allows it to land on short dirt or grass strips.  The U-28A is a variant of the Pilatus PC-12 (see WikipediA for more info).  You can view pictures of the PC-12 on the Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. website here and on americanspecialops.com here.

"Hurlburt’s 319th SOS, which flies the U-28A, a variant of the single-engine Pilatus PC-12, is a pioneer in the field. Air Force Special Operations Command is tight-lipped, as are the U-28A’s small crews, about the aircraft. Its ability to operate on short and unimproved surfaces, and suite of advanced radar, communications, and navigation tools make the U-28 ideal for small, secretive missions.

In 2008, a second nonstandard aviation unit stood up—the 318th SOS at Cannon. It is home to the PC-12 and will soon add additional light and medium twin-engine aircraft. By Feb. 10, the squadron had one of 10 planned M-28 Skytrucks—a Polish light twin-engine transport based on the Antonov An-28 design."  (Source: "The SOF Makeover", AirForce-Magazine.com", Vol. 93, No.6, June 2010.)
News Articles about the U-28 plane crash in Africa:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/02/spy-plane-crash-africa/

The four airmen were assigned to special operations squadrons at Hurlbert Field, Florida. The flyers were identified as belonging to the 34th, 319th, and 25th Squadrons.  See "DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties", U.S. Department of Defense News Release, February 20, 2012.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Private Military Contractors in Afghanistan

"The New York Times reported Sunday that in 2011, for the first time, deaths among civilian contractors working for American companies in Afghanistan outnumbered the deaths of U.S. military personnel in that country. The figure highlights the extent to which modern U.S. military has come to rely on the private sector in carrying out its missions. In September 2009, before the recent surge, contractors made up 62 percent of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Furthermore, many believe that the civilian number is understated because, unlike the military, the contractors are under no obligation to disclose their casualties to the public."
Read the rest of the article in "Civilian Contractors in Afghanistan", Foreign Policy Association, February 17, 2012.  See a list of private military contracting firms providing security, intelligence, aviation, language and training support to the DoD in Afghanistan.

Obama and the Navy SEALs

A recent article explores President Obama's trust with the special operations community.  Read "Navy SEALs: Obama's Secret Army", The Daily Beast, February 20, 2012.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who Wins and Who Loses with the Proposed Defense Budget on January 2012

The unveiling of the proposed Pentagon defense budget with its deep cuts has everyone wondering who wins and who loses.  According to an online article by Foreign Policy wrote by Robert Haddick the winners are long-range bombers, aircraft carriers, submarines (and cruise missiles), special operations forces, drones, and cyber operations. The losers are ground forces, pay and benefits, old ships and planes, Joint Strike Fighter, and bases.  Read his article "This Week at War: Winners and Losers of the Defense Budget" (January 27, 2012).

See "Defense Budget Priorities and Choices" by the Department of Defense, January 2012.
http://www.defense.gov/news/Defense_Budget_Priorities.pdf

See "Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense", by the Department of Defense, January 2012
http://www.defense.gov/news/Defense_Strategic_Guidance.pdf

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Troubles Along the Afghanistan Pakistan Border

A recent Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) FRONTLINE program details the problems in denying the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan and stopping its fighters from crossing the Afghan Pakistan border.  See the video at the link below.

http://video.pbs.org/video/1908468892

View more news about the Afghan war at the link below.

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/