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Archive for the ‘SOF’ Category

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.


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 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.

MARSOC To Conduct Combat Evaluation of SIG Lightweight Machine Gun in 338 Norma Mag

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

During this week’s National Defense Industrial Association annual Armaments meeting, acquisition officials from both United States Special Operations Command and Marine Corps Systems Command announced that the Marine Corps Special Operations Command would be conducting a combat evaluation of the SIG Light Machine Gun (SL MAG) in the near future.

Unveiled at SHOT Show, this belt fed machine gun chambered in 338 Norma Mag offers ranges that rival the .50 M2 MG from a weapon lighter than the M240.

The Combat Evaluation is a limited user test, but first they need ammunition. SOCOM is currently working on the P-SPEC for 338 NM belt fed ammunition for what they are calling the Lightweight Machine Gun – Medium.

This Combat Eval will help refine requirements for the procurement of a 338 NM LMG-M in the FY 22-23 timeframe. Both Marine Corps and SOCOM are interested in this capability.

USAF Secretary and Chief of Staff Initiate Dialogue With Commanders on a Plan for New Officer Promotion Categories

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019


Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein shared in a memorandum to wing, numbered Air Force and major command commanders May 31, a draft plan for new Line of the Air Force officer promotion categories.

The memo explains the proposed change and directs commanders to solicit and provide feedback from officers to major command commanders by July 31, with “a final recommendation due to the secretary and chief not later than 30 August 2019.”

According to the memo, “The reemergence of great power competition, rapid development and fielding of advanced technologies, and new concepts of warfare and competition that span the entire spectrum of conflict demand a joint force structured to match this reality. These trends, if unaddressed, will challenge our ability to fight and win.”

The memo continues, “Over the past eighteen months, we have extensively examined how we develop, evaluate and promote officers across our total force. We have concluded that our current system, which has served us well in the past, is not optimized to support future joint warfighting in this new era. Based on our research, extensive discussions with Airmen across the Air Force (active, Guard, Reserve and civilian), and surveys with joint and inter-agency teammates, we believe it is time to expand the Line of the Air Force promotion categories into more subgroupings. The following categories represent the disciplines needed for future joint warfighting and allow for developmental competitive pathways that are optimized for each category.”

Promotion Category

Air Operations & Special Warfare

Pilot (11X), Combat Systems (12X), Remotely Piloted Aircraft    Pilot (18X), Air Battle Manager (13B), Special Tactics (13C), Combat Rescue (13D), Tactical Air Control Party (13L)

Space Operations

Space Operations (13S), Astronaut (13A)

Nuclear & Missile Operations

Nuclear and Missile Operations (13N)

Information Warfare

Cyber Operations (17X), Intelligence (14N), Operations Research Analyst (61A), Weather (15W), Special Investigations (71S), Information Operations (14F), Public Affairs (35X)

Combat Support

Airfield Operations (13M), Aircraft Maintenance (21A), Munitions and Missile Maintenance (21M), Logistics Readiness (21R), Security Forces (31P), Civil Engineering (32E), Force Support (38F), Contracting (64P), Financial Management (65X)

Force Modernization

Chemist (61C), Physicist/Nuclear Engineer (61D), Developmental Engineer (62E), Acquisition Management (63A)

*Note: Under this proposal existing promotion categories for judge advocates, chaplains and medical personnel will remain unchanged.

The memo sets the stage for gathering field input similar to what was done under the Revitalizing Squadrons effort. The memo states, “While these changes have been reviewed and discussed at leadership levels, we realize this would be a significant change for the officer corps. Rather than make an immediate decision, we thought it best to share the draft with commanders first in order to engage in a dialogue with the officers assigned to you and solicit feedback before proceeding.”

In addition to commander-solicited feedback, Shon Manasco, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, and Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, will be deploying briefing teams to various installations across major commands and functional communities during June and July to brief the proposed changes in-depth, answer questions and capture feedback from Airmen who are able to attend.

Additional virtual venues and online sites will also be available to gather feedback from across the force.

The memo concludes, “For this foundational change to succeed, commanders at every echelon must take ownership, understand and explain why we are proposing this significant change, listen to the officers entrusted to your care and pass your thoughts up the chain. Our future depends on getting this right. Help us make it better.”

The briefing and community-specific questions and answers will be made available to broader audiences at a later date.

 Editor’s Note: Special Warfare will encompass current STOs and CROs who are supposed to merge into a single careerfield with 19 as their AFSC. Possibly ALOs (TACP) may join them as a separate shredout in AFSC 19.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – D-Day Navy Combat Demolition Units, The Frogmen of D-Day

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

When the U.S. entered WWII, the Navy knew it would need men that would have to go in to reconnoiter the landing sites, locate and destroy obstacles and defenses. The Army and Navy established the Amphibious Scout and Raider School at Fort Pierce, Florida in 1943 to train men in the specialty of amphibious raids and tactics. Most of these men used their skills throughout North Africa, the Pacific, and the Normandy landings. In 1943, the Navy created a large dedicated force for this task called the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, or NCDU, that were also trained at Fort Pierce, Florida.

The Navy had a significant role in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion. However, long before that day, the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) had to perform pre-invasion recons of the beaches and shore placements, even going as far as to bring buckets of sand back to make sure the beach could support the specialized amphibious tanks that would go ashore to provide close-in gun support. The Navy’s role in D-day was to provide shore bombardment, the follow-up gunfire support, plus transporting and landing many of the Army troops who stormed ashore.

The Naval Beach Battalions were naval elements of the Army Engineer Special Brigades for the invasion of Normandy. NCDUs were formed up about one year before D-Day. They were made up of 1 officer and 5 enlisted men. They trained alongside the Scouts and Raiders at Fort Pierce. They were organized by Lt. Cdr. Draper Kaufman, an explosives expert, with the specific goal of clearing beach obstacles.

In Late 1943, 10 NCDUs had arrived in England from Fort Pierce, FL, to meet and train with their British counterparts for future missions. In early 44, the units split and joined with the 2nd, 6th, and 7th USN Beach Battalions, the organizations, set up to coordinate and facilitate the Army landings. At this time, eight additional six-man units arrived from the U.S. to be split among the Beach Battalions.

The NCDU men were not the Frogman you would see in the movies of the same name. They were more like the man you would see in the movie Carlson’s Raiders. They mainly operated from rubber rafts and were not expected to spend long periods in the water. They wore fatigues, combat boots, and steel helmets. The men were in excellent physical condition but operated mainly in shallow water.

The more recons that were done on Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” showed it becoming more formidable by the months. So as new personal from Ft Peirce arrived and the subsequent arrival of some Army Combat Engineers enabled each of the NCDUs to double in size. In April, of 44 the officers leading the Navy units and their Army counterparts were briefed about a hypothetical long, wide gradual sloping sand beach with a 25-foot tide change.

On that beach, and extending into the surf, they could expect minefields and a variety of devilishly designed obstacles placed to block and cripple landing craft. To clear the beach, the invasion planners envisioned an aerial and naval bombardment sweeping the coastline. Then the initial wave of infantry, supported by specially designed amphibious tanks, would land during low tide after dawn and rush to secure the beaches. Following in their wake, the NCDUs would land with a mission to blow a 50-yard gap in the German obstacles and place markers so landing craft coming in later that morning at high tide would have a straight, unobstructed path leading to the beach.

The Americans were assigned beaches “Utah” and “Omaha.” At 0630, H-Hour, on the morning of June 6, 1944, 11 NCDUs came in with 8th Infantry Regiment at Utah. With the Army securing the beach, the Navy demolition men went to work and quickly blew eight 50-yard gaps and had enough time to expand one gap to 700 yards. This allowed successive waves of troops, ashore and quickly secured a substantial beachhead by midday.

Four sailors were killed on Utah, and 11 others were wounded. Because of their efficient work, the units on Utah beach received a Navy Unit Commendation.

At Omaha, the Germans were better entrenched and had built a more robust network of obstacles. Sixteen teams, each with 7 Navy and 5 Army engineers tasked with clearing fifty-foot-wide corridors through the beach obstacles. One of the first teams ashore was wiped out as it landed, and another lost all but one man as it prepared to set off its lengths of twenty-pound explosive charges. Casualties were appalling: of the 175 NCDU men at Omaha, thirty-one were killed and sixty wounded—a 53 percent loss rate. It also didn’t help that the pre-invasion air and sea bombardments mostly missed their marks. As a result, the invaders were savaged by heavy artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire that ripped into the NCDU landing craft. Also, choppy seas swamped many of the amphibious tanks, depriving the invaders of needed of close-in firepower. However, the survivors succeeded in clearing five main channels through the obstacles and three partial channels before the rising tide forced them to withdraw. By the end of the day, about one-third of the obstacles had been destroyed or removed.

Through the gaps poured the reinforcements needed to hold off any counter attacks and to take the fight inland. Seven sailors earned the Navy Cross for their work that day. For their heroic actions, the Omaha NCDUs received a Presidential Unit Citation.

On Gold, Juno, and Sword the British beaches the NCDUs relied heavily on Royal Marine commandos specially trained for the task. Their mission and equipment were similar to their American counterparts but owing to less effective defenses; the Marines sustained fewer casualties, then the Americans did.


Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Do you have experience working with autonomous mobile robots, various drone swarm control methodologies or UXS swarms? Apply by 07 June to be a Subject Matter Expert for the SOF Special Reconnaissance Rapid Prototyping Event on 08-12 July! 10 experts will be selected to attend and receive a stipend. Visit for more information. ?

Proper Wear of the Green Beret, circa Late-1960s

Monday, May 20th, 2019

It’s SOFIC week in Tampa. I wonder how many are still wearing their berets old school-style.