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Archive for the ‘SOF’ Category

The Special Forces Operator – A History Lesson

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

Written by the US Army Special Operations Command Historian, this is a very interesting piece of Army Special Forces history which is sure to ruffle some feathers. I was certainly surprised by it, having always understood use of the moniker “Operator” began in the late 70s as a legal definition.

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In the last fifteen to twenty years, the practice of calling a Special Forces (SF) soldier an ‘operator’ has caused considerable rancor within Army special mission units (SMU), the original of which adopted that appellation in the late 1970s. Today, all U.S. military service special operations forces and their higher headquarters apply that moniker to their sea, land, and air warfighters. Even staff personnel adopt that term for themselves. In the warfighter units this distinction clearly delineates and separates staff and support personnel from those assessed to undergo a mentally and physically tough selection course. Those that successfully achieve the rigorous standards must satisfy a leaders’ board to qualify for advanced training that could lead to operational assignments. In some SMUs psychological, physical, and mental assessments and re-evaluations are constant, hence the phrase, ‘Selection is an ongoing process.’ Regardless of the rigor applied by Special Operations Forces (SOF) elements, feelings of rancor in the ‘ranks’ of Army SOF towards the popular use of ‘operator’ are unwarranted.

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Retired MAJ Albert Valentine ‘Jake’ Clement, Official Military Personnel Record (OMPR), National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

SF did not misappropriate the appellation. Unbeknownst to most members of the ARSOF community, that moniker was adopted by Special Forces in the mid to late 1950s. SF-qualified officers and enlisted soldiers voluntarily subscribed to the provisions of the ‘Code of the Special Forces Operator’ and pledged themselves to its tenets by witnessed signature.

This document, signed by SF-qualified Infantry Captain (CPT) Albert V. ‘Jake’ Clement, an FA Team Leader [an Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) today] in 1st Company, 77th Special Forces Group (SFG), and witnessed by John J. Hanretty on 2 April 1959, substantiates original ownership. According to Provision 10 of the SF Operator Code, the signed certificate was to be filed in one’s Official Military Personnel Records (OMPR). The original was found in the OMPR of retired Major (MAJ) ‘Jake’ Clement, second-in-command of the 10th SFG Congo Rescue Mission in 1960.

Cross-referencing sources is a standard practice of the USASOC History Office. It is critical to verify information in interviews, memoirs, and secondary source works. Primary documentation provides official, factual information to reinforce statements and/or disprove claims. Credibility is key to USASOC historical publications ‘standing the test of time.’ And, sometimes official records have surprises like the Special Forces Operator Code. It reinforced ‘silent professionalism.’ This document ought to stir memories of early SF veterans and reduce the angst among serving ‘special operators.’

by Charles H. Briscoe, PhD // charles.briscoe@socom.mil
First published in Veritas, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2018

Col Matt Allen Assumes Command of 24th SOW – The Air Force’s Sole Special Tactics Wing

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – U.S. Air Force Col Matt S. Allen, a Special Tactics Officer, assumed command of the 24th Special Operations Wing during a ceremony at 10 a.m., June 24 at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony.

The 24th SOW is the only Special Tactics wing in the U.S. Air Force. The primary mission of the wing is to provide Special Tactics forces for rapid global employment to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars. The 24th SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air/ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force that leads global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

Since April 2018, when the 24th SOW had their last change of command, Special Tactics operators have conducted 264 combat missions, controlled over 500 aircraft and removed more than 730 enemies from the battlefield. Webb commended their efforts.

“To the 24 SOW, particularly, this is the message – you guys continually impress. You lead this command, AFSOC, in many ways,” Webb said. “This [major command] is drafting off the intellectual energy of this wing, and I am not ashamed to say that. Actually, you’re making us that much better.”

As the commander of the 24th SOW and roughly 2,500 Airmen, Allen is responsible for preparing Special Tactics forces to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars.

“This is about putting the right person at the right place in the right time, and that person is Col. Matt Allen,” Webb said. “Matt, of course you are going to command during interesting times. You will lead your charges while you balance the demands of the present, counter [violent extremist organizations], with what is frankly, right on our door step or what will be in the future, and is expressed in the National Defense Strategy – great powers competition.”

Prior to assuming command of the 24th SOW, Allen was the commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group, here.

Over a 20-year career, Allen has served in three Special Tactics Squadrons as Team Leader, Director of Operations, and Commander. Colonel Allen has led and participated in joint special operations in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM-Trans Sahara.

“I am proud and humbled to be here,” Allen said. “Immensely proud of this organization and our professional standards and incredibly humbled at the enormity of the task that lies ahead of us.”

Air Force Special Tactics is the most highly decorated community in the Air Force since the end of the Vietnam War and has received one Medal of Honor, nine Air Force Crosses, 46 Silver Stars, nearly 650 Bronze Stars medals (more than 250 with valor), and hundreds of Purple Hearts.

“Our men and women provide access, strike, recovery, and battlefield surgery across the spectrum of conflict, and foundational to this, is mission command,” Allen said. “The joint team depends on us to get it right the first time, every time, and we will continue to deliver.”

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, Senior Airman Joseph Pick and Senior Airman Rachel Yates

Patrolling Is Better When You’re…

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

According to 75th Ranger Regiment Recruiting, patrolling is better when you’re…

1. Wearing a Patagonia uniform

2. Carrying a Mystery Ranch pack

3. Wearing an Ops-Core helmet

4. Communicating via Peltor

5. Shooting thru a Daniel Defense upper

6. Seeing thru Oakley SI eye pro

7. Walking in Nonstandard boots

8. Wearing Outdoor Research gloves

9. Wearing a Crye Precision plate carrier

Wanna join? If you’re in the Army, send your SRB to 75recruit@socom.mil from your .mil email.

Not in the Army? Go tell your local Active Duty Army Recruiter that you want to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

2nd Annual Special Operations Forces K9 Conference Follow Up

Monday, June 24th, 2019

SOF Project’s Krzysztof Puwalski was one of the organizers of the second international conference Special Operations Forces K9 Conference (SOFK9C), which took place from 17 to 21 June near Warsaw.

The theme of this year’s event was: “How can we help you and your dog in achieving and maintaining full operational readiness”.

The conference was attended by SOF operators, dog handlers, trainers, canine specialists and scientists from  USA, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Poland. This time the main focus was on the operational preparation of both the guide and the combat dog.

The conference was full of interesting lectures, behind-the-scenes conversations and establishing relationships, but above all, practical exercises conducted by leading SOF instructors. The special guest of the conference was James Hatch, a longtime operator and team leader of the K9 Navy SEALs, who had to leave the active service as a result of injuries sustained in a combat operation. James told the participants of the conference about his combat experiences and about the extraordinary bond between the guide and the dog. He also touched on the extremely important issue of coping in everyday life after leaving the service.

The conference was co-organized with the following companies: Silent Technical (Poland) and Norse K9 (Norway).

Special thanks to the event sponsor – Direct Action, producer of high quality tactical equipment.

The next conference is planned for 2021.

Special Tactics Training Squadron Dedicates Building To Selfless Hero

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – Those who have walked the grounds of Hurlburt Field know that the entire base is engulfed with Air Force history. The street names, buildings, airpark, and training complexes all tell a story and keep memories alive of perhaps a father, husband, son, daughter, or in many cases – a hero.

Today, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col William “Bill” Schroeder’s name was bound forever to Special Tactics and Hurlburt Field history when the Special Tactics Training Squadron annex building, which formerly housed the 10th Combat Weather Squadron, was dedicated in his namesake.

A crowd of family and friends amidst a sea of berets gathered as key leadership within the 24th Special Operations Wing, alongside members of Schroeder’s family, unveiled the new name of the STTS annex building which now reflects “Schroeder Special Tactics Training Facility.”

“The STTS forges and refines the next generation of America’s Special Operations Warriors,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matt Allen, presiding officer of the ceremony and incoming commander of the 24th SOW. “The men and women who walk these halls are preparing to take their place in the front lines of the most powerful Air Force and Special Operations Command in our nation’s history.”

Schroeder’s name, now prominently displayed on the front-side of the building, next to the doors of the entryway, will stand as a reminder to future generations of Special Tactics Airmen of Schroeder’s gallant devotion to country and duty.

As a career Special Operations Weather Officer, Schroeder commanded the 10th CWS from June 2013 to May 2014, when it was inactivated.

Susan Schroeder, mother of Bill, described Bill as being dedicated to the Air Force since he was only 12 years old, but Bill’s family has fond memories of his time served as the commander of Thor’s Legion, taking care of Airmen.

“And in this building, in particular, when he took us through it when we first came to visit, he was so proud of everything that was in there,” said Susan.

When the squadron inactivated, special operations weathermen integrated into the 720th Special Tactics Group, adding special reconnaissance capabilities to Special Tactics teams.

Following the 10th CWS, Schroeder commanded the 342nd Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, until April 2016 when he was fatally wounded.

Schroeder, with complete disregard for his own safety, placed himself in direct danger to defend his first sergeant against an armed assailant. Schroeder’s gallant actions allowed the first sergeant to escape and to notify security forces, preventing additional loss of life.

Schroeder was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, which is given to those who distinguish themselves by heroic acts outside of combat.

 

“Bill gave his life defending his teammates in San Antonio on 8 April 2016, but he lived every day of his life reminding us of the importance of service to others, love of country, and love of his fellow man,” said Allen. “And it’s in this legacy that the ST community proudly dedicates this building to Bill.”

 

Alongside the building dedication, Schroeder is also memorialized through a recent career change within Special Tactics.

On April 1, the Special Operations Weather Team career field transitioned into Special Reconnaissance, or SR, shifting their primary focus to reconnaissance capabilities brought to a Special Tactics team. “SR” is the operator-initials of Schroeder, an intentional renaming to memorialize a former leader.

 

Special Reconnaissance Airmen have been an integral piece of Special Tactics with unique training to conduct multi-domain reconnaissance and surveillance across the spectrum of conflict and crisis. As SR, they will continue to maintain their application of lethal and non-lethal air-to-ground integration of airpower.

 

Susan spoke about what the building dedication means to their family.

 

“We want you all to know how much gratitude we feel towards all of you who are recognizing our son, our husband, our father, at this very time, with this very, very unique dedication,” said Susan.

 

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

SOFWERX – SOAR Helmet System Capability Assessment Event

Monday, June 10th, 2019

SOFWERX is holding a SOAR Helmet System
Capability Assessment Event
, 13-14 August 2019. The goal is to identify a new, lightweight, low profile Rotary Wing aircrew helmet for use by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment which solves the capability gaps below.

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Helmet system capability gaps include, but are not limited to:
• The proposed helmet system must meet the performance requirements of Section 3.7 of the Purchase Description Aircrew Integrated Helmet System, HGU-56/P (AIHS) dated 1 November 1996, with the updated modifications identified in the Improved Rotary Wing Helmet Technology Readiness Test (TRT) Protocol dated 29 March 2019.
• The helmet system must provide significantly improved head mobility and field of view compared to the existing HGU-56/P. The helmet system must allow the AH/MH-6 Little Bird pilot the ability to visually see the pilot-side skids without having to position his upper body outside of the cockpit.
• In the opinion of the operator, the helmet system must remain comfortable and stable for a minimum of 8 hours of continuous use. This includes when being used in conjunction with a Night Vision Device (NVD), oxygen delivery system, and CBRN mask.
• The helmet system must integrate and still meet the performance requirements when used with the following items
o Aircraft Internal Communications System (ICS) of the AH/MH-6 Little Bird, MH- 60M Blackhawk, and MH-47G Chinook; Objective of a digital headset that is compatible with the digital output of the ICS, and does not require an inner-ear solution (e.g. ear bud)
o AN/PRC-148 Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR), AN/PRC-152A Multiband Handheld Radio (MBHHR), and AN/PRC-163 Multi-Channel Handheld Radio (MCHHR)
oAquaLung Portable Helmet Oxygen Delivery System (PHODS) with nasal cannula and full mask option
o M45 Aircrew CBRN mask,Joint Service Aircrew Mask–Rotary Wing (JSAMRW) MPU-5
o Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System – 6 (ANVIS-6) with up to 640 grams of total weight
o FirstSpear Aviation Body Armor Vest
o Elbit Common Helmet Mounted Display(CHMD)
• The helmet system should have the option of an easily attachable/detachable
maxillofacial system that provides environmental and impact protection.
• The system must be designed with snag-free cabling for all items requiring cables.
Cabling and connectors shall be durable and designed for repeated use and flexing.
• The helmet system must be maintainable at the unit level with readily available
replacement parts.

Successful demonstrations may be considered for follow on production awards to replace ~1300 helmets.

Interested parties have until to submit. Visit www.sofwerx.org/helmet for full details.

Largest Promotion Ceremony in Army Special Operations History for Psychological Operations Soldiers

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service) — More than 200 Psychological Operations noncommissioned officers proudly stood before their Families, friends and leaders during a promotion ceremony larger than any other in Army Special Operations history, May 31, 2019. About 100 additional promotees will pin, but were unable to attend the Fort Bragg ceremony because they are currently deployed or in training.

PSYOP Soldiers complete extensive training and education in human dynamics, influence theory, psychology, sociology, language, culture, and politics. PSYOP NCOs are expected to operate successfully in austere environments, executing national strategic and theater-level policies and decisions with limited supervision. They are expected to interact with U.S. ambassadors, senior country team members, and host nation ministerial-level officials on a daily basis. The importance and sensitivity of their missions warranted a grade plate change for the PSYOP Regiment’s enlisted ranks to ensure the NCOs’ ranks corresponded with the level of responsibility they assume while downrange.

Army and ARSOF leaders at multiple echelons worked for more than a year to achieve the grade plate change that would later create additional positions for the newly promoted staff sergeants and sergeants first class. The current organizational structure did not allow for additional NCOs of these ranks, resulting in a stagnation at the junior NCO levels. However, the dedication of these leaders resulted in the change of 336 sergeant positions to staff sergeant, and 114 staff sergeant positions to sergeant first class.

The grade plate change made it possible for these NCOs to finally pin after years of waiting – more than a decade in some cases. However, each promotee had already met every requirement for promotion; they had completed the appropriate level of professional military education and met the time in grade and service requirements, sometimes multiple times over. Instead of reclassifying to a different military occupational specialty or leaving the Army altogether, they were committed to their craft, to their teammates, and to the ARSOF Family.

Newly-promoted Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Phillip is one such NCO. Phillip has been a PSYOP Soldier since entering the Army in 2009 and was a sergeant for almost eight years. She said job satisfaction and quality leadership are what kept her in the career field for so long without the guarantee of upward advancement.

“I love PSYOP,” she said. “I love the job, I love what we do. I’ve had the pleasure of working with leaders who’ve always pushed me so even though I might have had the rank of sergeant, I never felt like one. I always felt like I could grow. I always felt like I could do new things, try new things and just accept responsibility. I love PSYOP so that’s what kept me around.”

While most promotees were pinned by Family members or friends, Phillip was among the few selected to be pinned by Maj. Gen. John Deedrick, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) commanding general. During the ceremony, Deedrick emphasized the fact that these NCOs have patiently waited for this well-deserved day to come while remaining dedicated members of the PSYOP Regiment.

“I think it moves the bar on what selfless service, what patriotism, and what fidelity really mean,” Deedrick said. “And I want to thank you all personally for your steadfastness, for your commitment to this nation and to this regiment as you have shouldered that burden and gone on and conducted your mission in an incredible way.”

He added, “They’ve put in the work, they’ve put in the time. They have the experience, they have the education and they are ready to operate at the next level. I couldn’t be happier for all of you standing on this field.”

By SFC Kissta DiGregorio

USSOCOM Small Arms Update – 2019

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

In the wake of United States Special Operations Command’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) is the Hyper Enabled Operator concept. PEO SOF Warrior is applying that as Lethal Integrated Operator. They want to ensure the integration of individual data across the full battlespace for application where needed. We are finally at the point, due to sensors and communications infrastructure, to actualize the “every Soldier as a sensor” concept from the early 2000s. Operators will be able to leverage one another’s point of view, and unique access to items and targets of interest, in order to improve decision making, lethality and survivability.

On the kinetic side of Operator lethality, SOCOM is moving quickly forward with the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge adopted last year.

They have commenced on a Mid-Range Gas Gun – Sniper OTA through SOFWERX. Intended as a replacement for the SCAR MK20, numerous companies have submitted weapons. A shoot-off to cull the herd is coming later this summer. The requirement is simple. With each of three guns, shoot a sub-1 MOA group of five rounds.

In a similar vein, discussions continue with industry for a Lightweight Assault Machine Gun in both 5.56mm and 6.5 CM.

SOCOM is also interested in a Personal Defense Weapon for use by Naval Special Warfare. This is a kit consisting of upper receiver group and buttstock which will adapt the M4A1 into a concealable 300 BLK weapon. A 5.56mm capability for training is also desired. The PDW Kit is required to work with existing SOCOM issue 7.62mm suppressors.

As we mentioned earlier, SOCOM is moving out on the 338 Norma Mag Lightweight Machine Gun Medium with a Combat Evaluation of SIG’s SL-MAG to be conducted by MARSOC. To facilitate this test event, SOCOM is certifying a Machine Gun cartridge in 338 NM.

The Barrett MRAD was selected earlier this year as SOCOM’s Advanced Sniper Rifle. Calibers can be swapped by the Operator from 7.62mm NATO, 300 NM and 338 NM. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force have expressed interest in fielding ASR as their next sniper Rifle.

USSOCOM also has a handgun Suppressor requirement which they plan on satisfying in FY22. No further information was provided on this effort aside from that it will replace the current MK27 Suppressor.

*Capability photos are representative and not necessarily the actual item which will be procured.