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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

UF PRO – Warrior Challenge 2018 videos

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

During Warrior Challenge 2018, Operators from 11 different units push themselves to the limit in the Annual Border Guards competition held in Latvia. To see them in action and how they did it, watch these two videos.

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US Army Futures Command Unveils New Insignia

Monday, December 10th, 2018

FORT MEADE, Md. — The Army Futures Command now officially has a shoulder sleeve insignia and distinctive unit insignia that its Soldiers will wear while they work toward modernizing the Army.

With a golden anvil as its main symbol, the shoulder patch and unit insignia are a nod to former Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal coat of arms that used a blue-colored anvil.

The command’s motto “Forge the Future” is also displayed below the anvil on the unit insignia, while both the patch and unit insignia have black and white stripes stretching outward from the anvil.

“Symbols mean things just like words do,” said Robert Mages, the command’s acting historian. “It’s a reminder to the Soldiers that wear the patch of the mission that they’ve been assigned and of the responsibilities that come with that mission.”

A patch ceremony is expected to take place Friday during the transfer of authority of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, ARCIC, to the Army’s newest major command.

Since last year, the four-star command has been at the heart of the most significant Army reorganization effort since 1973.

In July, senior leaders picked Austin, Texas, for the AFC headquarters. Cross-Functional Teams were also stood up within the command to tackle the Army’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, network, air and missile defense, and Soldier lethality.

The patch and unit insignia represent the command’s most recent move toward full operational capability, which is expected next summer.

Andrew Wilson, a heraldic artist at The Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, worked with command leadership since last December to finalize the designs.

“This is something that is supposed to stand the test of time and just to play a part in it, it’s an honor,” he said.

The main piece — the anvil — is meant to represent fortitude, determination and perseverance. The black, white and gold resemble the colors of the U.S. Army.

Wilson said he got the idea for the anvil during a design meeting that mentioned the command’s new motto — Forge the Future.

Wilson, who once took a blacksmithing course in college, was immediately reminded of reshaping metals on an anvil.

“Taking away from the meeting, I tried to come up with something that would play off of that,” he said. “The first thing that popped in my head with ‘forge’ was blacksmithing and one of the key features of that is an anvil.”

Once he spoke of his idea, Charles Mugno, the institute’s director, then advised him to look at the anvil used in Eisenhower’s coat of arms.

“And from there the spark of creativity just took off,” Wilson said.

The Institute of Heraldry was also involved in the organizational identity of the Security Forces Assistance Brigades, one of which just completed its first deployment to Afghanistan.

“Whenever you have a new Army unit, you do end up doing a heraldic package of shoulder sleeve insignia, distinctive unit insignia and organizational colors,” Mugno said.

Heraldic conventions, he added, is a time-honored process that dates back to the 12th century.

With a staff of about 20 personnel, the institute also helps create the identity of other federal government agencies. Most notably is the presidential seal and coat of arms.

“We have a very unique mission,” Mugno said. “We all share a sense of honor and purpose in being able to design national symbolism for the entire federal government.”

Until the new patch was created, Soldiers in Army Futures Command wore a variety of patches on their sleeves. Those assigned to ARCIC, for instance, wore the Army Training and Doctrine Command patch and those in research laboratories had the Army Materiel Command patch.

Now, the golden anvil has forged them all together.

“It’s a symbol of unity — unity of effort, unity of command,” said Mages, the historian. “We no longer report to separate four-star commanders. We now report to one commander whose sole focus is the modernization of our Army.”

By Sean Kimmons, Army News Service

Defense Threat Reduction Agency Conducts Drill With Senegalese National Military Fire Brigade

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

DTRA’s CBRN Preparedness Program (CP2) recently sponsored an event, in coordination with the Ambassade des Etats-Unis au Senegal (U.S. Embassy in Senegal), and the Senegalese National Military Fire Brigade to partner and build the knowledge and ability of Senegal’s medical professionals in planning for, responding to, and mitigating the consequences of a CBRN disaster.

US Military Services, 10 Countries Compete in 18th Annual International Sniper Competition

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

FORT BENNING, Ga. — The 18th annual International Sniper Competition opened at Fort Benning, Georgia, during a ceremony at the Sniper Compound Oct. 15.

The event brings 30 two-person teams from across the Army, Department of Defense, civilian law enforcement agencies, and around the world to determine who are the best two-person sniper teams globally.

Thirty sniper teams run toward their equipment at the opening of the 18th annual International Sniper Competition, Fort Benning, Ga. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace)

Col. J. Frederick Dente, U.S. Army 316th Cavalry Brigade commander, spoke during the opening ceremony.

“I know that you’re ready,” said Dente to the assembled teams. “You’ve been issued your equipment, been briefed on the course of the competition, and I know that for each of you, today is the culmination of weeks and months of hard training and preparation.”

This year, 10 teams represent the countries of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom. U.S. military services are represented by teams from the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force. One team is joint service with both a Sailor and a Soldier. A team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation is representing civilian law enforcement.

Thirty sniper teams run toward their equipment at the opening of the 18th annual International Sniper Competition, Fort Benning, Ga. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace)

“Today is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet your peers,” said Dente. “I know that they are your competitors this week, but in a larger sense, they are your comrades in arms, they are your allies and your partners. And when we leave the field of friendly strife on Friday, they will be the men that fight alongside you in the first battle of the next war.”

The two-man teams lined up next to a digital timer behind a red line. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the teams were to begin their first event, a simulation where they ran to a building, climbed the building and engaged a hostile target before the target killed a hostage.

Over the course of more than three days, beginning Oct. 15 and concluding Oct. 18, the teams are scheduled to compete in events that will test their abilities in long-range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting, and stealth movement.

“Push yourself, push your equipment, push your team to its limits, and then set a new standard,” said Dente. “Push yourself, so that each of us, whether in the front of the field of competitors or in the back of the pack, each of us leaves here better prepared to fight and win the nation’s wars in the unforgiving crucible of battle.”

By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (Benning)

Tomb of the Unknowns Guards Begin Use of Custom M17 Pistols

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Yesterday, Tomb Guards from the US Army’s 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) were presented with 4 ceremonial M17 pistols at Arlington National Cemetery. These works of art were created by SIG SAUER specifically for use by the Guards.

This ceremony marks the first use of the M17, which will accompany the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers they stand guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The unique distinguishing features for the M17 Tomb of the Unknown Pistols include:

Pistol Names: each of the four pistols bears the name of Silence, Respect, Dignity, or Perseverance and is featured on the dust cover. Dignity and Perseverance represent “The Sentinel’s Creed,” and Silence and Respect represent the request to the public by Arlington National Cemetery when visiting the Tomb of the Unknown, and during the Changing of the Guard;

Custom Wood Grips: in 1921 the chosen Unknown was transported to the United States of America aboard the USS Olympia. The custom wood grips are made with wood from the USS Olympia and include the crest of the 3rd Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier identification badge inset;

Cocking Serrations: XXI cocking serrations are engraved on the slide to signify the twenty-one steps it takes for the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknowns and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute;

Sight Plate: an engraved impression of the Greek Figures featured on the east panel of the Tomb – Peace, Victory, and Valor – are featured on the sight plate;

Sights: a glass insert made with marble dust from the Tomb of the Unknown fills the sights of the ceremonial pistols;

Engraved Magazines: the 21-round magazines feature an aluminum base plate engraved with the names of the Greek figures featured on the Tomb of the Unknown – Peace, Victory, and Valor – and include a name plate on the bottom of the magazine engraved with the Tomb Sentinel badge number.

Serial Numbers: the pistols are serialized with a unique set of serial numbers that incorporate items of significance to the Old Guard: “LS” represents line six of the Sentinels’ Creed, “My standard will remain perfection; “02JUL37” to signify the first 24-hour guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown on July 3, 1937; “21” to signify the 21 steps it takes the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknown, and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute. The full series of M17 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Pistols serial numbers are LS02JUL37A21 (Silence), LS02JUL37B21 (Respect), LS02JUL37C21 (Dignity), LS02JUL37D21 (Perseverance).

(U.S. Army photos by SPC Gabriel Silva)

Return With Honor – West Virginia Air National Guard SERE

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

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Survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) Instructor training is one of the most difficult and extensive training programs in the United States Air Force. It’s designed to do one thing – save lives in the midst of a worst case scenario – and is exactly the reason Master Sgt. Bob Miner took on the challenge of earning the title, which he now uses to train West Virginia Air National Guard members as the only SERE specialist in the state.

The SERE motto is “Return with honor”, and is what they base they’re whole career off of: teaching members the skills to do just that.

SERE Airmen must endure nearly two years of ruthless training designed to shape them into experts in their career fields. After an initial six-month long school where, on average, only 10 percent graduate, each SERE specialist must complete more than 45 weeks of on-the-job training to complete their skill sets.

This training includes U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia; arctic training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; water survival training in Pensacola, Florida; mountain training in Washington jungle training in Hawaii and even desert training in Nevada.

“This is a job you really have to earn. There is so much training that goes into this,” Miner said. “It is critical to be able to relay the skills and information you possess to the others and enable them to get themselves out of a bad situation.”

Training includes everything from land navigation, food and water procurement, shelter building, first aid, the military code of conduct, to shaping an Airman’s mentality that will be crucial for SERE operations in the worst of situations.

The U.S. Air Force is looked to as the subject matter experts for SERE training, and is the only service to operate a full, career-long SERE Specialist cadre.

It wasn’t long ago when the Air National Guard was required to rely on their active duty counterparts to train aircrew members who needed to be SERE qualified. When the National Guard Bureau approved 10 unit-level SERE Specialist positions for ANG Operational Support Squadrons in 2014, Miner took the opportunity to join the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston, West Virginia and began his transition from active duty. He chose the 130th AW for a simple reason, to be closer to his family in his home state of New York, and hasn’t looked back.

Since coming onboard, Miner has been providing the 130th AW’s aircrew, which consists of pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters and aeromedical evacuation personnel, with the most current training in local area survival, combat survival, conduct after capture, water survival and emergency parachute training. In addition to that, Miner also assists with unit-level personnel recovery responsibilities such as Isolated Personnel Report Program (ISO-PREP), evasion plans of action and individual issue personnel recovery kits.

The most challenging part of his transition was his arrival, he said, and being tasked with developing a SERE program at the 130th AW.

“It was a big learning curve for me, the Guard is just such a unique and different setting,” he explained. “Here we practically have 48 hours a month, not including the allotted training days every year, to get everyone qualified, on top of trying to realize that you’re only one priority on a huge list of the Commander’s readiness spectrum.”

Miner’s reach just isn’t to the 130th AW though, he also gives a hand to units that don’t have the privilege of a SERE Specialist, as do fellow specialists from across the Air Guard. From the 130th AW’s “sister unit,” the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, to places as far away as Puerto Rico and Washington, Miner’s training has enhanced numerous units’ survival outcome.

“We don’t have a written agreement or anything, just when we have time, we help,” Miner said. “So many units don’t get the proper training since unqualified personnel have to give them what knowledge they can, and we have to try to fill those gaps.”

Miner has grown to appreciate his new home in West Virginia. Being an avid outdoorsman, he claims that he’s enjoyed discovering all that the state has to offer and that West Virginia would be the perfect setting for an east coast version of SERE School.

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It is obvious that Miner takes pride in his career.

To Miner, his job isn’t just a day-in, day-out, nine-to-five job. It’s spending nights outside in the wilderness, traveling across the country and experiencing some of the most beautiful places the United States has to offer. More than anything, he said, it’s knowing that if something happened to the people he has trained, he could be the reason they make it back home safe.

Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Caleb Vance, 130th Airlift Wing Air National Guard Public Affairs

Modernizing the Army’s OPFOR Program to Become a Near-Peer Sparring Partner

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER, Calif. — While the United States fought conflicts and insurgencies in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa over the last seventeen years, potential adversaries were studying U.S. operations and developing sophisticated weapons, munitions, and disruptive technologies. U.S. forces must anticipate that adversaries will employ these increasingly advanced systems, some approaching or even surpassing U.S. capabilities, while also proliferating them to their allies and proxies around the globe.

U.S. Army Soldiers, posing as an Opposing Force, operate OPFOR Surrogate Vehicles and Main Battle Tanks at the National Training Center, May 2, 2017. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Edge)

Both Russia and China, our two most sophisticated strategic competitors, are developing new approaches to conflict by modernizing their concepts, doctrine, and weapon systems to challenge U.S. forces and our allies across all operational domains (land, sea, space, cyberspace, and space). Russia’s New Generation Warfare and China’s Local Wars under Informationized Conditions are two examples of these new approaches.

In the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, non-state actors and radical militant groups are gaining military capabilities previously associated only with nation-states. Irregular forces are growing more capable as they adopt new weapons and tactics. Hezbollah has used advanced anti-tank guided missiles, man-portable air defense systems, and a sophisticated mission command system in its conflicts with Israel and participation in the Syrian civil war. Joining Hezbollah in the employment of unmanned aerial vehicles are Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and ISIS has also used chemical weapons. In addition, Iran adopted a very sophisticated warfare doctrine aimed at the U.S., and the Houthi insurgency in Yemen aims rockets and missiles at Saudi Arabia.

Soldiers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment maneuver through the streets of a compound at the National Training Center, Calif., during an OPFOR training exercise. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Edge)

The U.S. Army exists to fight our nation’s wars and it rigorously prepares to reach the highest possible level of sustained readiness to defeat such a wide array of threats and capabilities. To attain this end state, training at U.S. Army Combat Training Centers, or CTCs, must be realistic, relevant, and pit training units against a dynamic and uncompromising Opposing Force, or OPFOR.

The CTC program employs several professional OPFOR units, including the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at the National Training Center in California’s Mojave Desert, the 1-509th Airborne Infantry Battalion within the swamps of Louisiana at the Joint Readiness Training Center, 1-4th Infantry Battalion at the Joint Multinational Training Center in Hohenfels, Germany, and the World Class OPFOR within the Mission Command Training Program at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. The Army’s Cyber Command also provides specialized support to these OPFOR units with cyber aggressors.

The OPFOR is representative of adversary forces and threat systems that reflect a composite of current and projected combat capabilities. The OPFOR must be capable of challenging training units’ mission essential tasks and key tasks within the Army Universal Task List. To maintain OPFOR’s relevance as a competitive sparring partner, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command devotes major analytic efforts to studying foreign armies and determining the optimum configuration for OPFOR units that both represent a plausible threat and challenge training tasks. This also requires the Army to consistently modernize the OPFOR with replicated peer or near-peer threat weapons and capabilities.

The OPFOR must be capable of challenging U.S. Army training units with contemporary armored vehicles that are equipped with stabilized weapon systems and advanced night optics, as well as realistic kill-or-be-killed signatures and effects via the Multiple Integrated Laser Effects Systems. The OPFOR must also have air attack platforms, advanced integrated air defense systems, unmanned aerial systems, modern-day anti-tank munitions, long-range and guided artillery fires, and improvised explosive devices.

Additionally, the OPFOR must be capable of subjecting training units to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear effects and technologically enhanced deception capabilities. The OPFOR must also be capable of degrading or denying training unit dependency on Cyber-Electromagnetic Activities with threat electronic warfare, cyberspace, and space effects.

Modernizing the U.S. Army’s OPFOR program is an unremitting endeavor, because threats continuously change and technology relentlessly revolutionizes the art of war. Replicating the most realistic threat capabilities and tactics is critical for training units and commanders to practice their tactics, techniques, and procedures, and learn from the consequences of their decisions under tactical conditions.

This topic, as well as the challenges the OPFOR enterprise faces in developing much-needed capabilities to effectively replicate threats in a dynamic Operational Environment that postulates a changing character of future warfare, will be highlighted during a Warriors Corner at the annual Association of the United States Army meeting in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 2:55-3:35 p.m.

By Mario J. Hoffmann

Asymmetric Warfare Group – Operational Advisor Training Course Small Arms Block Of Instruction

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

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Asymmetric Warfare Group members conduct multiple pistol and rifle drills form different firing positions to transitioning from rifle to pistol as part of the Operational Advisor Training Course (OATC) at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Sept. 11-13, 2018. The drills they were conducting were designed to: Improve accuracy and efficiency under stressful situations while transitioning from a rifle to a pistol.

OATC is designed to train and prepare Operational Advisors (AOs) for the Group’s global mission to provide operational advisory support to U.S. Army Forces in order to rapidly transfer relevant observations and solutions to the tactical, and operational point of need, to prepare Army Commanders to defeat emerging asymmetric threats and enhance multi-domain effectiveness.

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