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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Shooting drill from Mission Spec

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Mission Spec sent us this shooting drill to challenge our readers. It’s called the “Innocent Balloon Drill.”

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Americans Navy

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

In the early 1770s, a Connecticut inventor David Bushnell started designing what would be the first submersible. It was a small egg-shaped and less than eight feet tall. Her hull was constructed from two oak shells held together by steel bands and waterproof with a thick layer of tar. It had ventilation tubes, a compass, and a device for determining depth. Attached to the exterior was a primitive bomb. The pilot entered the vessel through a hatch at the top. There were a couple of small glass windows that provided very light and visibility. It was operated by a hand crank that propelled it and a tiller that steered it. The operator also controlled the hand pump that regulated the ballast that submerged and surfaced the craft. Once submerged and the ventilation tubes were closed, there was about 30 minutes worth. It was called “Turtle” because of the two “shells” put together to make it. It is also referred to as Americas Turtle.

In the spring of 1776, about a year into the Revolutionary War, Bushnell wrote to General George Washington asking if the Turtle could be used in defense of New York City’s harbor. Washington accepted the offer. Around midnight on 6 September, the Turtle, piloted by Army sergeant Ezra Lee. That’s right, the first submarine action by the U.S. Navy was led by an Army guy.

It took Lee two hours to get to his target; a British ship named the HMS Eagle. Once he positioned himself beneath the vessel, he was supposed to drill into her hull using a bit attached to Turtle’s top hatch. Once the hole was deep enough, he would anchor his explosive device to the ship’s hull. He had about 30 minutes to get away from the Eagle before the charge would detonate. That was the plan, but Lee’s bit got stuck in a metal part of the hull. On his second attempt, the Turtle bobbed to the surface and he was spotted. As he headed for shore, Lee released his “torpedo,” which exploded harmlessly in the middle of the East River.

Even though Lee wasn’t successful in sinking or doing damage to the HMS Eagle (other than a small drill hole) it was the U.S. first attempt at underwater warfare, and it was one of the first in a very young countries Navy. Secondarily the failed attack ultimately forced the British to move their fleet of 200 ships to where they thought was a safer location. The threat of underwater attack kept the British fleet on their toes throughout the war and made them use more resources and manpower to protect their ships then they normally would have. Much like using Special Forces behind the enemy lines in modern warfare. So, it turns out it wasn’t as big of a failure as first thought. The basic principles used by America’s Turtle still remain valid in submarine warfare today. In recognition of Bushnell’s achievement, the U.S. Navy named two submarine tenders in his honor, one during World War I and one during World War II. Inevitably, the ships were nicknamed “Turtle.”

FirstSpear Friday Focus – FS Rash Guard

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Today we are getting a look at FirstSpear’s American Made short and long sleeve Rash Guards.

Built from a premium poly/spandex blend the FS Rash Guard is an ultralight compression fit garment that helps to protect against abrasion and rub commonly found in a maritime environment.

Quick to dry with natural sun / UV protection. Sloth flat seams, medium high collar, and integrated low profile thumb holes keep the sleeves in places when putting on equipment and other garments.

Available and shipping now in short and long sleeve in charcoal and ranger green. Order your standard t-shirt size for a compressed fit and consider stepping up 1-2 sizes for a more relaxed fit. 100% Made in America.

The State of SOLGW

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

What’s going on? What to look for? We will be releasing stripped receivers, but in limited quantities. And, we’re driving forward at an impressive speed…without EVER sacrificing the integrity of the brand. We make fighting rifles. That is our core purpose. When you get a SOLGW product it’s a known quantity and it’ll do what you ask of it. Despite growth or panic.

Soldiers Test New Night Vision Capabilities

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

FORT BENNING, Ga. – “Really good” was never really going to be good enough for the Army team developing the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular. Nine months after equipping the first unit with the ENVG-B, developers are testing the rigor of system enhancements at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., in order to assess new augmented reality technologies and the hardware that delivers them.

As a night vision device, the ENVG-B’s dual thermal and infrared sensing capabilities deliver unmatched clarity in situations where visibility is diminished, including the complete absence of light. It was fielded for the first time last fall as part of an initial Directed Requirement to get those next generation night vision capabilities in the hands of Soldiers at Fort Riley who have since deployed with them to Korea.

But that was just the beginning, said Maj. John Nikiforakis, the Assistant Product Manager for PEO Soldier. New applications are being tested and refined for delivery to the Close Combat Force.

“We put an incredible tool in the hands of Soldiers who need it now,” Nikiforakis said. “But the goal always is to treat the Soldier as a system, to equip Soldiers and squads holistically with weapons and system elements that work together to make them more lethal and more survivable. That’s what we’re doing here, testing the ENVG-B as a system.”

It’s a system that includes augmented reality capabilities and a heads-up display that integrates wirelessly with weapon optics. Those kind of capabilities make it possible for a Soldier to detect and even fire on a target around an obstacle with limited exposure to the enemy.

In what is called a reliability growth test (RGT), the first of three planned for the ENVG-B system, Soldiers from C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, put the system to the test during field training exercises throughout the month of June. After a week of classroom training with the systems, a week of marksmanship training on the range, and a week of nighttime situational training exercises, the event culminated in a 72-hour field training exercise with an opposing force. Thirty participants used the ENVG-Bs, and others used PVS-14 night vision devices in order for data collectors and observers to draw comparisons.

There was no comparison, said Capt. Will Hess, the C Troop commander.

“In terms of target detection and clarity, the difference between the (ENVG-B) and the PVS-14 is night and day,” Hess said. “The guys wearing the ENVG-Bs were taking targets out to 300 meters and even beyond, whereas our guys with 14s are having trouble seeing beyond 150. I can’t say enough about the ENVG-Bs. There’s really no comparison.”

Which doesn’t mean the tests all ran smoothly. By design, RGTs are iterative Soldier Touch Points that expose weaknesses in the software or hardware early and often throughout the development process in order to shape a final product that is beneficial to the Soldier and wholly accepted. That’s the Soldier Centered Design methodology employed by the Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team that leads the ENVG-B program, one of Army Future Command’s signature modernization efforts. Soldiers are involved in design and development every step of the way.

“The focus for this is getting it the hands of the Soldiers and just figuring out early on what are some issues with the device and how do Soldiers actually use it,” Hess said. “They developed it and tested it in the lab based on how they think Soldiers are going to use it. Now, we give to Soldiers and run them through our training and see how they actually use it and to test its durability, to see how it stands up to the kind of rigorous use Soldiers put it through in a dense, rugged environment doing dismounted squad maneuvers.”

The rugged environment at Fort Polk includes swamps, and swamps present Soldiers with a different kind of challenge.

“Snakes. Two water moccasins, two feet away,” said 2nd Lt Phillip Davis, who spotted the threat using ENVG-Bs in thermal mode. “The guys using the 14s couldn’t see them at all. There’s no comparison between the two. Just the difference in depth perception and clarity is drastic. The ENVG-Bs are incredible for situational awareness alone. Having that augmented reality with Rapid Target Acquisition allows us to make decisions quicker, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.”

With all the additional “gee whiz features” on the ENVG-Bs, like see-through map overlays and a compass, Davis said he needs more time with the goggle to prevent cognitive overload.

“The potential is astonishing,” he said. “These are capabilities I never thought I’d see in the Army, but it’s a lot like learning to drive a stick shift; we just need practice. Our guys are picking up on it very quickly, so I can see it being a great benefit a few months from now.”

In the coming months, the ENVG-B team will continue to conduct Soldier Touch Points, including RGTs, to address any issues identified during the exercise at Fort Polk, Nikiforakis said. It’s an iterative “test-fix-test” cycle.

“We rely on Soldier feedback to ensure the equipment we field is exactly what they want and what they need to be more lethal and more survivable on the battlefield,” he said. “The need to restore overmatch is urgent. The key to staying on track is keeping Soldiers involved every step of the way and finding ways to work around the challenge of the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

When employees of the two vendors manufacturing the ENVG-B prototypes were diagnosed with the virus, Elbit and L3 found work-around solutions, including telework and alternate schedules, to mitigate risk without delaying production.

“Everything we do is a team effort,” Nikiforakis said. “But nothing speaks to the ingenuity and dedication of the team like what we’ve seen over the past few months, as everyone from every corner of the (Army Modernization) enterprise has persistently found ways to succeed at a time when it would’ve been easy to hit pause. We just keep our eyes on the finish line, because modernization can’t wait.”

For more information about the ENVG-B, email [email protected].

Army Futures Command and its subordinate cross functional teams partner with ASA(ALT) and its PEO subsidiaries, CCDC, and multiple branches of the Army Modernization Enterprise to deliver the next generation capabilities necessary to establish and sustain a clear and decisive overmatch for the Army of 2028 and beyond.

FT Polk’s 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment Trains and Fields Enhanced Night Vision Goggles-Binoculars

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

FORT POLK, La. — Throughout June, C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment is conducting in-class and field training with the latest in night-vision goggle (NVG) technology. The new equipment, the enhanced night vision goggles-binoculars (ENVG-B), not only provides an all-around upgrade in clarity, but also comes with thermal vision capabilities, augmented reality with heads-up display and integrates with weapon optics.

As with all training efforts, the unit is keeping COVID-19 precautions in mind by using the “same social-distancing guidelines that they use at Ranger School and here at the Joint Readiness Training Center. This includes limiting the number of Soldiers and new equipment trainers allowed in the classroom at a given time,” said Capt. William Hess, commander, C Troop 3rd Sqdn, 89th Cav Reg.

During the first week of June, 30 Soldiers received the new equipment training in a classroom environment. Twenty-eight Soldiers, with two on stand-by, completed a range density week beginning June 8, “logging hours with the equipment, executing training according to the Army’s standard qualification tables,” said Hess.

The last two weeks of June are dedicated to situational training exercises. The STX lanes will “use the tactical environment to allow the unit to integrate the newly learned capabilities into our troop leader procedures,” said Hess.

“These Soldiers will be getting a lot of training with the ENVG-Bs.”

Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier) members from Fort Belvoir, Virginia prompted and supported the ENVG-B training for C troop. Maj. John Nikiforakis, assistant program manager, ENVG-B, PEO Soldier said, “We need to test our night vision technology in a simulated combat environment, so that, by the time it gets to combat, the equipment is refined and ready.”

“As PEO, we are the material developers for technology for the warfighter. Everything we do is geared toward making our Soldiers more lethal, more survivable, and more capable on the battlefield.”

Throughout their training, within and outside of the classroom, Soldiers will gain direct insight into equipment functionality. According to Hess, the Soldiers will also run through the training with the monocular night vision device (PVS-14) — the older NVG model — and then with the ENVG-Bs. Their performance and experiences will be logged, creating a dataset for analysis.

“What we rely on is ‘Soldiers in the loop,’ and that is the Soldier feedback, which ensures the equipment that they are going to fight with is something they actually want to use,” said Nikiforakis.

C Troop Soldiers are excited about the ENVG-B’s and the opportunity to train with the equipment.

Pfc. Hunter Shor, C Troop, 3rd Sqdn, 89th Cav Reg, said, “Compared to the PVS-14s, I just feel the ENVG-B’s are exponentially ahead of their time with thermal technology and integrated systems.”

Similarly, Spc. Simon Ly, C Troop, 3rd Sqdn, 89th Cav Reg said, “It’s been really interesting. I’ve never used equipment with these capabilities before. There are things we can do with the ENVG-Bs that I didn’t think we could do before. For example, the augmented reality that allows us to see checkpoints in the NVGs: I just didn’t know the technology had reached that point.”

With the Soldiers’ feedback and training data, PEO Soldier is able to further ready the device for combat, exceed expectations and meet the needs of Soldiers on the battlefield.

“We go beyond ‘own the night’. We want to be able to identify all threats, under all conditions and be able to shoot first,” said Nikiforakis.

By Christy Graham

Maj Gen James F Glynn Takes Command at MARSOC

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Marine Forces Special Operations Command hosted a change of command ceremony today, as the Marine Raiders bid farewell to Maj. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo and welcomed Maj. Gen. James F. Glynn.

Glynn returns to MARSOC to serve as it’s eighth commander, having previously served as the commanding officer of the Marine Raider Training Center from 2011-2013.

“You don’t get too many opportunities to come back to a unit,” said Glynn, “but when you come back, you stand among giants… people of character, people who care, people of concern that transcends the operational mission. It is personal.” Glynn summarized his feelings about taking command in three words. “Pride, at the opportunity to come back to this formation and have the opportunity to stand amongst you. Humility at the opportunity to command in an organization like this. And some would call it a burden of command. It is actually a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of and to contribute to all the great things that this force and its families do.”

As the MARSOC commander, Glynn will be responsible for manning, training and equipping Marine Raiders for deployments in support of special operations missions across the globe. MARSOC maintains a continuous deployed presence in the areas of operations for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command.

“We have lots of stuff in the Marine Corps three Divisions, three Wings, three Logistics groups. We have one MARSOC, it is that unique,” said Gen. David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps and the senior officer presiding over the ceremony. “There is no part of the globe that this command does not operate in,” going on to explain how much the organization provides the service. “We get back so much from MARSOC in the Marine Corps, in equipment, in training…the most that we are going to draw from MARSOC in the next couple of years, is not a technique, it’s not a weapon and it’s not a radio. It is the focus on the individual.”

Also in attendance were Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, previous commanders of MARSOC, and various dignitaries from the local government, as well as the Marine Corps and interagency.

“When I think of MARSOC, I always think of SOCOM’s Sparta. When you look at this force, it is 2% of our budget from SOCOM, 6% of our manpower, conducting over 10% of SOCOM’s missions globally.It’s a great payback for what we put into it. Much of it is the human capital invested…the great Marines represented out here on the field,” said Clarke.

Yoo departs the command after two years leading the organization. During his time commanding MARSOC, Yoo drove the implementation of MARSOF 2030, the vision document designed to shape and inform the next decade of acquisitions, capability development, and operations for the command. In the same vein, he merged the G-5 Plans Directorate, and the G-8 Requirements Directorate, creating the Combat Development and Integration Directorate to continue expanding MARSOC’s role beyond the traditional battlespace. Yoo directed the establishment of MARSOC’s Cyber Integration Working Group to build the command’s future cyber capability and implemented the annual Cognitive Raider Symposium to increases awareness and critical thinking of key issues facing the Department of Defense and Special Operations Forces.

“As a commander, your time is fast, and as the commandant eluded to, we are the caretaker of the organization and the organization is a reflection of the individuals,” said Yoo. “From the moment you take the colors as a commander, you hope you can move the organization forward and that the things you do will have lasting impacts. It has been a life time of honors to be a part of these different formations, but to conclude with you all here at MARSOC, makes me very, very grateful.”

MARSOC is the Marine Corps service component of U.S. Special Operations Command and was activated Feb. 24, 2006. Its mission is to train, organize, equip and deploy task-organized Marine special operations forces worldwide.

Story by Lance Cpl Christian Ayers, Marine Forces, Special Operations Command

US Army’s Project Inclusion to Cut Board Photos in Holistic Effort to Promote Diversity

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

WASHINGTON — Starting in August, photos will be eliminated from promotion and selection boards as the Army launches “Project Inclusion” to identify practices that inadvertently discriminate, senior leaders announced Thursday.

The project is a holistic effort to listen to Soldiers, civilians and family members and enact initiatives to promote diversity and equity, according to Secretary of the Army Ryan. D. McCarthy.

“A lot has to be done to address the symbolic challenges that we face that could create divisiveness within our ranks,” McCarthy told reporters.

Before deciding to eliminate photos from officer, enlisted and warrant officer promotion boards, leaders looked at a 2017-2018 study that determined, regardless of race or gender, people looking at photos will have an unconscious bias toward individuals with similar characteristics, G-1 officials said. Further, they said Department of the Army photos provide minimal information compared to the rest of a promotion board file.

During an experiment in the study, researchers ran two identical promotion boards: one that included photos and one without. In the one that did not contain photos, researchers found that the outcomes for women and minorities improved. The results contributed to the decision to remove the photos.

Project Inclusion

Project Inclusion will enact a series of initiatives in the next few months to help build a diverse, adaptive, and cohesive force, said Anselm Beach, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for equity and inclusion.

“We, as a leadership team, recognize that we need to take a harder look at ourselves and make sure that we’re doing all that we can to have a holistic effort to listen to our Soldiers, our civilians and our families to enact initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion,” McCarthy said.

In the coming weeks, the Army inspector general and members of the Army Equity and Inclusion Agency will join Army senior leaders as they visit installations, said Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson.

During each visit, leaders will engage in an open and transparent conversation about race, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We know that we have to do more,” McCarthy said. “We are going to have very hard and uncomfortable conversations.”

McPherson said that he wants to hear Soldiers’ thoughts about current events and listen to their ideas on inclusivity.

Each “listening session” will look to identify any impact to mission readiness caused by current social issues, Beach said.

“If a Soldier [or civilian] is distracted by an issue, then they are not fully present to accomplish the mission,” Beach said. “Understanding those impacts allow the Army to enhance mission readiness,” which can lead to new policy or adjustments to an operating environment.

Each session would create a “safe place” for Soldiers to express themselves without fear of reprisal. By creating an open dialogue, people will have a chance to understand and support each other, Beach added.

“This is about leadership,” said Gen. Joseph Martin, the vice chief of staff of the Army. “Leaders have to set conditions for these discussions to happen and be productive. They’ve got to create an environment where a Soldier feels safe. And it’s also an environment that’s free of disbelief.”

McCarthy said leaders will also examine racial disparities within the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Army’s inspector general, Lt. Gen. Leslie Smith, and the Army’s judge advocate general, Lt. Gen. Charles Pede, will then evaluate findings after 60 days and attempt to address the causes of the disparities, McCarthy said.

Changes under Project Inclusion also include the reconstitution of the Army Diversity Council. Led by the secretary of the Army and chief of staff, the council will prioritize diversity programs throughout the Army, all while addressing symbolic and systemic issues, Beach said.

“Part of why we wanted [to host meetings with Soldiers] is to get out and invest exponentially more time engaging with Soldiers at every echelon about these unconscious biases that may exist,” McCarthy said. “We must have a better understanding [of] the challenges every day that ethnic minorities may face. Are there systemic flaws within the promotion system or are there things that may be of a symbolic nature that cause division within our ranks?”

The force is also making changes to the Army People Strategy with the addition of the “Expanding Diverse Talent of the Army Officer Corps Strategic Plan.”

The new plan will focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives to strengthen the Army’s ability to acquire, develop, employ current and future leaders. Similarly, the Army will continue to expand its outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.

Military justice reform

Tied to the project is an evaluation of the military justice system to determine if any racial disparity or bias exists in the investigation or court-martial processes, McPherson said.

During the assessment, the Army judge advocate general, the Office of the General Counsel, inspector general, and provost marshal will partner and review a range of cases to include absence without leave, urinalysis, and sexual assault or sexual harassment cases.

The review will “compare the severity of punishments by race, and see if there is a disparity… in the result of unconscious bias,” McPherson said.

The Army is also working to determine if the military justice system is more likely to investigate a specific Soldier due to unconscious bias. However, accurately assessing the investigation process could be a challenge, as race and ethnicity information is rarely documented during this stage, he added.

The enduring effort will not only improve equality, but make the force stronger, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville.

“It’s really more about inclusion,” he said. “It’s not just about percentages. It’s not just about numbers. It’s about making people feel that they are a valued member of the team and that you recognize the importance of having different perspectives.”

By Devon L. Suits and Joseph Lacdan, Army News Service