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Archive for the ‘SOF’ Category

“Truly an honor.”: SOST Member Recognized as Air Force OAY

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brandon Blake, a special operations surgical team member assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, is set to be recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year at the 2022 Air, Space & Cyber Conference Sep. 19-21.

Blake and 35 fellow airmen were considered by an Air Force selection board for the department-wide award. Enlisted members are chosen based on superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements.

Blake is the Superintendent, Special Operations Surgical Team Detachment One, 720th Operations Squadron assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Last summer, Blake was a catalyst in the evacuation of over 124,000 evacuees in support of Operation ALLIES REFUGE. He drove a six-member team supporting thousands of military and civilian personnel, treating over 70 wounded individuals and assisting seven surgeries.

“I couldn’t have asked for a stronger team sergeant than MSgt Blake. His experience and leadership in stressful, highly dynamic environments was crucial to our team’s success while deployed to Afghanistan,” said U.S. Air Force Major Jesse Payne, deployment team lead and Medical Operations flight commander for the SOST Detachment 1.

The efforts of Blake and his team earned praise from then 82nd Airborne Division commander Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue and Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General David H. Berger.

Additionally, Blake tackled the COVID-19 front lines at the University of Alabama Birmingham, a Level 1 trauma center, providing 768 acute service hours and aiding treatment for 156 severely injured patients.

“His ability to integrate with the civilian trauma system to see high acuity patients at UAB highlights the value of the Air Force partnership with the university,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Marc Northern, Blake’s former supervisor.

“He demonstrates his commitment to his unit, to his patients and to the mission every day. MSgt Blake upholds the highest level of compassion, clinical judgement, skill, and composure under pressure,” added Northern.

His leadership proved vital in his role as detachment superintendent, managing 25 members, four teams and four flights on top on a 1.5-million-dollar inventory.

His active roles, on top of countless trainings, exercises, and crisis response situations led to dozens of lives saved and exceptional operational readiness for the detachment.

Simultaneously, Blake earned a degree in Public Health and Healthcare Administration and spent free time with local animal rescue along with toy and food drives supporting low-income populations.

“To be recognized as OAY for Air Force Special Operations Command is truly an honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” said Blake. “I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I couldn’t have done any of this without my team.”

USSOCOM Selects SIG Rattler for Reduced Signature Assault Rifle

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

The United States Special Operations Command has awarded SIG SAUER a 5-year, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contract valued at $5,000,000.00.

SOF selected the Rattler for this Commercial PDW Contract, which is known as the Reduced Signature Assault Rifle (RSAR) within the Command in order to provide Operators with maximum firepower in a concealable weapon.

This IDIQ will provide complete PDW weapons (Sig Rattlers – 5.56mm and .300 Blackout caliber) that includes suppressors (SL series), cleaning kits, magazines, quick barrel change kits, force on force training kits and other accessories. Furthermore, parts, sustainment, and New Equipment Training is also part of this IDIQ.

Airman Accelerates Change Through Persistence, Develops Tool for RPAs

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) —

In 2015, the 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit was tasked with reducing cargo taken on an MQ-1 Predator alert package with the goal to decrease the need for two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to only one. Then Tech. Sgt. Bridget Carroll had an idea to help achieve this goal with the creation of a “bird-in-a-box” later known as the Digital Aircraft Link Emulator, or DALE.

Though Carroll created the solution, she was not met with instant success. Her journey took seven years.

Spring 2015 – Need was discovered.

July 2015 – First MQ-1 DALE prototype created.

September 2015 – Airman Powered by Innovation submitted.

Spring 2016 – Space Dynamics Lab at the University of Utah created two DALE MQ-9 Reaper prototypes.

August 2018 – Air Force Special Operations Command 2019 Spark Tank competition submitted.

October 2018 – API disapproval

October 2018 – Notified that MQ-9 DALE had won AFSOC Spark Tank Top 5.

February 2019 – DALE presented at Air Force Association Spark Tank.

Present – DALE Jr. developed and employed.

“If we could mobilize our capability without an actual aircraft then we could get down range and get operational faster,” Carroll said. “I had the idea to put the minimum amount of aircraft parts in a box to still do line-of-sight checks with our control stations after we set up a field site.”

During her planning phase of DALE, the Air Force was retiring the MQ-1, which resulted in a lower risk if the aircraft parts were damaged during the project’s initial stages.

“Once all the parts came in, I took the MQ-1 computer, gutted an electronics case that was awaiting DRMO, spliced cables, drilled mounting brackets, and pieced together the first “bird-in-a-box” prototype,” she said.

Before the existence of DALE, this process would require more than 10 Airmen to accompany the package, set it up and tow the remotely piloted aircraft around the airfield to ensure link connections were made.

Today, the DALE can be unloaded and ready for use with two Airmen in less than an hour. It is used to establish line of sight connections on a remote airfield and can be unloaded, set up and prepared for link checks in a more efficient manner.

Carroll’s idea and her creation of DALE serve as an inspiration for all Airmen to lean into innovation to accelerate change.

“Spark Tank is a chance to celebrate our Air Force risk-takers, idea makers and entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the status quo and have determined their own fate by developing solutions that make it easier for us to bring our very best to the fight,” said Lauren Knausenberger, Spark Tank director.

Innovation competitions like Spark Tank create an avenue for Airmen to think outside of the box and in Carroll’s case, put her idea in a box.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “There’s always people and other avenues out there that will help you.”

Staff Sgt. Chase Ward, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics craftsman, began working alongside Carroll and the DALE jr. prototype last year and has witnessed the impact of her innovation. He said that the final version of DALE is in the process of being manufactured and sent out Air Force wide.

“I appreciate being able to watch this process go full circle,” Ward said. “It is awesome to know that our ideas do matter.”

Carroll’s journey and level of success is a testimony to hard work, dedication and the impact of empowering Airmen with a culture of innovation. She did not allow a hurdle such as not winning a competition prevent her from accomplishing her goals.

Story by TSgt Kaylee Clark

Photos by SSgt Candin Muniz

27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

SOFWERX – Science and Technology Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 22.4 Round 2 & 3

Friday, September 9th, 2022

The USSOCOM Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are accepting submissions for the technology special areas of interest below:

(Round 2) PHASE I:
SOCOM224-007 Topological Anomaly Detection

(Round 3) DIRECT TO PHASE II:
SOCOM224-D005: Artificial Intelligence-Driven Voice Control at the Edge
SOCOM224-D006: Canine In-Ear Hearing Protection

For more information, visit events.sofwerx.org/sbir224r2r3.

AFSOC’s Mission Sustainment Teams Provide Innovative Leap in SOFORGEN

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) continues to innovate the way Air Commandos train and execute joint special operations missions in this century’s complex and competitive battlespace.

Among these recent innovative changes include the further development of multi-functional Airmen and their integration into a new Special Operations Task Unit (SOTU), known as a Mission Sustainment Team (MST).

“As the Air Force continues to operationalize and codify its approaches to Agile Combat Employment (ACE), a key effort is establishing how we’ll bring together the complementary capabilities of our fighter, bomber, mobility, and special operations forces,” said Dr. Sandeep Mulgund, Senior Advisor to the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations. “Doing so will be key to creating, maintaining, and fighting from positions of advantage, which the CSAF has emphasized in recent remarks about ACE. By integrating MSTs into SOF capabilities, we’ll provide more options for our joint force and coalition commanders on how to generate and employ airpower.”

For nearly a year, the 1st Special Operations Wing, has developed its MST as a proof of concept to ensure multi-capable Airmen within AFSOC are able to meet the needs of combatant commanders against any potential adversary in the future. Its role will be to act as the connective tissue that bridges the Air Force’s ACE capability with current AFSOF capabilities in a joint environment.

“Our MST allows us to provide force support, civil engineering, communications, logistics, security forces, medical, airfield management and contracting capabilities,” said Col. Daniel Magruder, 1 SOW vice commander. “We now can take what are normally base support functions and operationalize them to support combat missions. Ultimately, without the total package of aviation, maintenance, and support provided by our multi-capable Airmen, the mission will not get done.”

In order to accomplish this capability, MSTs are designed to train 58 Air Commandos from 22 different Air Force AFSCs with seamlessly blending their operations and becoming proficient in several competencies in order to receive, prepare and redeploy aircraft expeditiously.

“It’s a huge asset to the MST for our Airmen to have the adaptability and confidence in varying skills to better meet the challenges of the changing threat environment and determine best practices for mission support within the ACE construct moving forward,” said Capt. Melissa Cecil, 1st Special Operations Mission Support Group Detachment 1 commander. “Our goal is to empower our Air Commandos to problem solve and think critically while also giving them the tools they need to operate and make decisions at dispersed locations. In some of these locations, they will be relied upon as the subject matter expert for all things mission support.”

Utilizing multi-capable Airmen was at the forefront of AFSOC leaders’ mind when they developed the MST.

“Our MSTs are empowered to adapt to assigned missions,” said Magruder. “As an Air Force, it is important to empower units at the lowest level to achieve their assigned missions.”

“Each of the military services are developing approaches to operations that recognize the need for agility and maneuver in the future threat environment,” added Mulgund. “They each have their unique focus areas and nuances, but common to all is this idea of being light on your feet to shift forces and effort where and when required. Joint approaches to agility will pull all these together to meet the needs of our combatant commanders worldwide. MSTs are part of that joint solution. Our Air Commandos now can enable and support austere operations by other special operations forces as well as allied forces when required.”

The 1 SOW’s MST recently tested their ability to help generate and integrate into air operations components during its recent participation in two exercises with drastically different theaters of operation.

“MSTs provide flexibility to the force because they can establish, sustain and retrograde forward operating locations for AFSOF mission generation,” said Magruder. “The team has been aggressively rehearsing this training in exercises like Agile Flag or INDOPACOM’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.”

As part of Air Combat Command’s Agile Flag, an exercise in a simulated rural deployed setting, the MST assisted in enabling scripted joint force air component ACE missions.

“Multi-capable Airmen is what gives the MST the capabilities it has,” said Capt. Patrick Sutton-Buscavage, 1 SOMSG Det 1 director of operations. “During Agile Flag we were able to rapidly support and sustain operations for Aircrew, maintenance and forward arming and refueling point (FARP) teams in two separate locations at the same time. Without multi-capable Airmen on our team, this doesn’t happen.”

Although Agile Flag is aimed at testing several different units’ mission generation, command and control, and base operating support-integrator elements, the MST’s inclusion provided an avenue to test the newly implemented special operations sustainment task unit in a realistic and controlled setting. It also allowed those who will be deploying in the newer, more predictable, deployment structure to develop the continuity of processes and team building needed to effectively operate in austere conditions or in support of a Theater Special Operations Command.

“The intent of MST is to align directly with the SOFORGEN cycle and integrate into a SOTU construct downrange,” Cecil said. “Although the MST is still in its infancy, we are working to build relationships and seek out further training and utilization opportunities to demonstrate how we can best be integrated across multiple areas of operation.”

In addition to Agile Flag, the MST also supported INDOPACOM’ recent RIMPAC exercise, which is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise. The MST’s involvement in the exercise directly influenced the ability for commanders to employ not just American special forces but also from India, Germany and the Republic of Korea.

“Large exercises, like RIMPAC, allow our team to showcase our force generation capabilities to the joint and international forces while also looking for ways to collaborate,” Magruder said. “The benefits of the MST concept is that it allows our commanders to employ multiple teams across a large AOR in order to form a more theater level power projection platform.”

“Whatever the challenge, we’ll need small multi-disciplinary teams like MSTs to support mission generation in a wide variety of operating environments,” Mulgund added.

The MST continues to prove that the development of multi-capable Airmen is pivotal to the future of how AFSOC generates forces.

“Multi-capable Airmen are the building blocks for developing small capable special operations teams required to adapt to any combat environment,” said Magruder. “Their incorporation into the MST is the first step in the wing’s campaign to improve the way we process and provide sustained logistical support against any potential adversaries.”

By TSgt Michael Charles, 1st Special Operations Wing

U.S. Special Operations Command Holds a Change of Command Ceremony

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton assumed command of U.S. Special Operations Command from outgoing commander Gen. Richard D. Clarke during a change of command ceremony at the Tampa Convention Center today. General Fenton previously served as the commander of Joint Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III officiated the ceremony and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley was the honorary guest speaker. Several senior defense leaders from the U.S. and international military partners; allies; USSOCOM’s component commanders; and other distinguished visitors were also in attendance.

“Bryan Fenton is the right leader,” said Milley. “He is the right leader at the right time, with right skills to lead this command. Like Rich Clarke, Bryan Fenton has the perfect blend of character, competence, and courage. He has all the right expertise and knowledge to take what Rich has done and take it to the next level.”

Fenton assumes command during an important transition for Special Operations, as large-scale deployments and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have mostly ceased. Competition with Russia and China are the focus of current national strategy, as Special Operations Forces will be expected to build upon the global SOF network it forged during the Global War On Terror-era to support global integrated deterrence.

“General Fenton has served in and commanded at every level of Special Operations Forces,” said Austin. “He’s been a part of operations in nearly every region around the world and General Fenton has built up extensive expertise in the Indo-Pacific, In fact, he managed to get four consecutive assignments in Hawaii and it culminated in General Fenton becoming the first Special Operations officer to serve as the deputy commander at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.”

Secretary Austin went on to say that Fenton embodies the first SOF truth – humans are more important than hardware, by focusing on people and creating an environment where people want to perform.

“In a command where ‘humans are more important than hardware,’ this is a day to pause for a moment and recognize the exceptional men and women who make up the United States Special Operations Command along with their incredible achievements,” said Fenton. “A day to pause, and note, that these SOCOM teammates – these quiet professionals who work tirelessly at home and abroad to keep our nation safe – are the comparative and competitive advantage of this command.”

“This team has been – and will continue to be – called upon to protect our country,” continued Fenton. “Even more so now at this crucial time with a National Defense Strategy outlining challenges with China, Russia, Iran, Al Qaeda and ISIS, to name but a few. Yet your Special Operations Forces ‘were born’ for challenges just like these. It’s in our DNA… has been since the beginning.”

Clarke leaves USSOCOM after commanding for three and a half years and retires after more than 38 years of military service. He commanded at every level of the 75th Ranger Regiment through his career and deployed to combat several times, serving in key leadership positions throughout the Joint Airborne and SOF community.

“Congratulations, Bryan. No one is more ready to lead our Special Operations community than you,” said Clarke, welcoming his replacement. “With a depth of experience in the Indo-Pacific, you’re already poised for our most pressing security challenges. I have watched you lead with enthusiasm and positivity. You have the vision, you have the experience, and most of all, you live and breathe our ‘1st SOF Truth: Humans are more important than hardware.’”

“Our people are without question the unmatched advantage of this command,” continued Clarke. “They’re innovative, they’re problem-solvers, and they are absolutely committed to keeping Americans safe at home and our Nation free.”

USSOCOM develops and employs fully capable SOF to conduct global special operations and activities as part of the Joint Force to support Combatant Command operations and campaigns against state and non-state actors to protect and advance U.S. policies and objectives.

Story by SGM Jason Baker 

Photos by GySgt Eric Alabiso II and Michael Bottoms

U.S. Special Operations Command

USSOCOM Science and Technology Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 22.4 Round 2 & 3 Pre-Release

Saturday, August 13th, 2022

The USSOCOM Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small
Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs will soon be accepting submissions for the technology areas of interest below.

Special Areas of Interest

(Round 2) PHASE I:
SOCOM224-007 Topological Anomaly Detection

(Round 3) DIRECT TO PHASE II:
SOCOM224-D005: Artificial Intelligence-Driven Voice Control at the Edge
SOCOM224-D006: Canine In-Ear Hearing Protection

On 23 August, SOFWERX will host virtual Q&A sessions for each of the areas of interest. RSVP to the Q&A session(s) that interest you here.

US Army Awards MATBOCK, LLC of Virginia Beach, VA, $6.9M pOTA to Develop a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Hybrid Electric Vehicle (JLTV HEV)

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Virginia Beach, VA: MATBOCK is an industry leader in bringing paradigm shifting technologies to the market and is excited to announce this partnership with the U.S. Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to develop a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Hybrid Electric Vehicle (JLTV HEV) prototype that will utilize a M1278A1 Heavy Gun Carrier JLTV as the base platform.

In March 2022, the RCCTO awarded MATBOCK a $6.9M, including options, pOTA (Prototype Other Transaction Authority) to develop and deliver a JLTV HEV.  The primary purpose of this project is to validate or negate the feasibility of prototyping a tactical Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). The goals of the project are to increase the overall automotive performance and operational range, increase the availability of on-board and off platform power, and increase the vehicle’s overall operational effectiveness by adding additional capabilities.

In addition to being able to generate additional power, the JLTV HEV will have a new capability over the non-hybrid JLTV variants by being able to operate in a ‘silent mobility mode’ that only utilizes the battery pack, increasing the silent watch capability over the non-hybrid JLTV variant.

MATBOCK has set up a new 4,000 sq-ft space directly attached to their existing space dedicated to military hybrid-electric vehicle efforts to include the JLTV HEV. MATBOCK has nearly 30 people dedicated to making this project successful. At the helm from the MATBOCK side is Mike Pilotte. Mike is an Armor Officer in the North Carolina National Guard and an experienced Project Manager having most recently completed a successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II with the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

MATBOCK will be pushing past current limits of battery and automotive technology integration and engineering results with these performance enhancements, but MATBOCK is known for tackling tough challenges like this. “Without a doubt this will be the most complex project MATBOCK has faced in our 12 years in business, but we have the right team and core technologies to produce a successful outcome.” said MATBOCK’s Co-Founder & President Zach Steinbock.

To learn more about MATBOCK and our extensive product line, check out matbock.com or email us at [email protected]