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Archive for the ‘SOF’ Category

‘Service. Strength. Sacrifice’: Special Tactics Training Complex Dedicated to Fallen STO

Friday, May 7th, 2021

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.— In a split second while on a mission in 2015, U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Roland made the last leadership decision he would he would ever make. Without hesitation, he chose to protect his team and give them the best shot at overcoming an insider attack in Afghanistan, sacrificing his life in the process.

To honor the fallen Special Tactics Officer’s actions and courageous leadership, the 24th Special Operations Wing along with friends and family hosted a dedication ceremony in Roland’s honor May 6, 2021 at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

“Today I have the privilege of dedicating the Roland Field Leadership Training Complex,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Allen, commander of the 24th SOW. “It’s particularly meaningful to dedicate this training site to Matt as he spent years of his life honing his leadership expertise.”

The wing chose to dedicate one of the Special Tactics Training Squadron facilities used for training and assessing Special Tactics Officers just like Roland.

“It means everything to be a part of his legacy,” said one of the young STOs attending the ceremony and finishing the training pipeline. “I think he embodies a lot of what a lot of people in our position are trying to do and why we joined. Guys like him paved the way for us and have shown us an example of who we should strive to be like. We’re honored to be walking in his footsteps and everyone who came before us.”

In the audience were also several distinguished guests, friends and family members of Matthew Roland including his sister, nieces, fiancé, mother and his father, U.S. Air Force, retired, Col. Mark Roland.

“Matthew was a patriot, he believed in his nation and was dedicated to service,” said Mark. “He loved serving as a STO and leading his team. This complex is a testament that he was good at what he did and respected for how he did it.”

Matthew Roland graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2010 and then entered the rigorous Special Tactics Officer training pipeline to earn the coveted red beret. His last assignment was at the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Members of the fallen Airman’s former squadron watched as the Roland family unveiled the new sign to the Roland Field Leadership Training Complex followed by the Special Tactics tradition of memorial pushups.

“He never quit, he never gave up. Be strong in the face of adversity,” said Mark. “To us, this complex dedicated to selecting and training Special Tactics Officers represents three things that Matthew valued…service, strength and sacrifice.”

As a Special Tactics Officer, Roland was a qualified battlefield commander prepared to lead reconnaissance, strike and recovery missions, as well as a military static-line and free fall jumper, an Air Force combat scuba diver, and a joint terminal attack controller. For his actions during his deployment, Roland was posthumously awarded the nation’s third highest honor for valor, the Silver Star medal, in June of 2016.

“At his core, [Matthew] was concerned with loving and protecting his family, being a leader in our Air Force and living out his warrior ethos,” said Allen. “If there was a hardship, he’d endure it. If there was a burden, he’d help lift it. If there was a challenge…he’d meet it.”

For future Special Tactics leaders, the complex will forever stand as inspiration to the selfless leadership and determination Roland displayed throughout his time in service.

Special Tactics is the Air Force’s most highly decorated community since the Vietnam War specializing in global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery. Since 9/11, Special Tactics Airmen have received one Medal of Honor, 12 Air Force Crosses and 50 Silver Star Medals.

Photos by SrA Miranda Mahoney and A1C Amanda Flower-Raschella, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

10th SFG(A)’s Winter Warfare Detachment Introduces New Winter Training

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Winter Warfare Detachment (WWD) at 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) introduced a new training course this year to expand on the unit’s winter operational capabilities. The development of this knowledge and skillset is essential to ensuring success in arctic missions.

The Winter Warfare Course (WWC) is designed to train, evaluate and certify Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alphas (SFOD-As) within 10th SFG(A). The training covered backcountry mobility, avalanche awareness and preparedness, winter survival, snowmobile operations and advanced riding techniques, and special operations small unit tactics on skis and snowmobiles.

“The course itself has been a natural progression for moving 10th Group forward. I believe that it is paramount that we continue to develop, expand and modernize our capabilities to operate in austere winter environments. Conducting ever-improving training in this spectrum will ensure that 10th SFG(A) remains the tip of the spear for winter warfighting capability,” said the WWD’s NCO in charge (NCOIC). “The Winter Warfare Detachment, our initial mission was to expand the expertise, knowledge and capability of cold weather training and operations within 10th Group.”

To facilitate the end state, the WWD initiated the Winter Mobility Instructor Course, now known as the Cold Weather Instructor Course (CWTIC). This course is designed to validate instructors who become CWT trainers, planners and facilitators at the battalion level.

“The CWTIC is designed to develop professional instructors for units using a standardized certifying course,” said the NCOIC. “They come to our course to be validated as cold weather training instructors and return to their units as capable instructors and leaders for their units’ CWT events.”

To increase 10th SFG(A)’s capabilities and further the arctic mission, the detachment implemented the WWC. Unlike the instructor course, the WWC is designed as a validation and training exercise for SFOD-As deploying to high north and arctic regions. It ensures that teams are operationally capable in these extreme cold weather environments, and are prepared for joint training exercises with their allies in the high north region.

The success of the WWC emphasizes the development, expansion and modernization of 10th SFG(A)’s capabilities to operate in austere winter environments. In the harsh climate of the high north and arctic regions, the ability to shoot, move and communicate becomes even more challenging. The WWC prepares Green Berets and Paratroopers for these operations, and focuses on the critical tasks needed in order to succeed.

“We need to maintain our expertise and our capability, and expand to ensure we are the best in operating in cold weather and high north regions, because that is our operational area. Our success depends on us having this expertise.”

10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Public Affairs Office

Editor’s note: The full names and identifications of those serving in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) are withheld due to safety and security of the Soldiers and their Families.

AeroVironment Awarded $26 Million Switchblade 600 Tactical Missile Systems Contract by U.S. Special Operations Command

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

• Switchblade 600 features high-precision optics, more than 40 minutes of loitering endurance and an anti-armor warhead for engaging and prosecuting hardened static and moving light armored vehicles

• Integration of Switchblade 600 into maritime platforms enables precision engagements against naval and littoral threats and greater deployment flexibility

Switchblade 600 is an extended-range loitering missile system capable of multi-domain operations. (Photo: AeroVironment, Inc.)

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., April 27, 2021 AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced it was awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract on March 31, 2021 by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for $26,120,810 with $7,159,036 funded upon receipt. The contract includes delivery and integration of Switchblade® 600 tactical missile systems into specialized maritime platforms, scheduled to be completed by January 2023.

“Our team worked closely with our customers to develop Switchblade 600, a loitering missile system that addresses the increasingly complex needs and mission requirements of counterinsurgency operations and those against peer and near-peer adversaries,” said Brett Hush, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for tactical missile systems. “Integrating Switchblade 600 into combat platforms, such as the USSOCOM’s specialized maritime vessels, enhances force overmatch, minimizes warfighter exposure to enemy direct and indirect fires and accelerates the maturation of this innovative solution.”

The AeroVironment Switchblade 600 is an all-in-one, man portable solution equipped with a high-performance EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control and more than 40 minutes of flight time to deliver unprecedented tactical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA). Its anti-armor warhead enables engagement and prosecution of hardened static and moving light armored vehicles from multiple angles – without external ISR or fires assets – for precise, localized effects and minimal collateral damage.

SOC-F Raises Nearly $1M to Support Special Operations Personnel and Their Families

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Atlanta, GA – April 27, 2021 – Special Operations Care Fund (SOC-F), an all-volunteer, non-profit grant making organization that is focused on the needs of current and former Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel and their families, is proud to announce that they have secured nearly one million dollars (a new record) for their partner treatment programs, following their annual Sporting Clays Fundraiser held at Barnsley Gardens Resort, north of Atlanta, GA.

Hosting friends, family and supporters of the Special Operations community, SOC-F’s annual event was a fundraiser like no other. From a sporting clays tournament, to a women’s only pistol class, hosted by World Champion, Jessie Harrison, there was truly something for everyone to enjoy.

“What this incredible community has given to our heroes and families in the Special Operations Community, is time to do the ‘normal’ things that others take for granted,” stated SOC-F co-Founder, David Kramer. “We are so proud of how the SOC-F family came together to raise close to $1M for our SOF heroes.”

The money was raised from a combination of live and silent auctions, as well as generous donations over the course of the two-day event. Auction items ranging from custom firearms, to knives, hunting experiences and one-of-a-kind art pieces by world renown performer, Joe Everson, that brought in an unprecedented sum for the organization.

SOC-F’s grants generally fall in two major categories including family resiliency and medical care that is not currently covered by insurance or government programs. The funds raised will be immediately invested into the SOC-F caregiver programs, supporting treatments in TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), Endocrine System Therapies, Marriage and family Counseling, Gold Star Kids Camp, K9 therapy and more.

“The objective in hosting this annual event, is to create a platform for positive change; raising not only money but awareness of the incredible work being done in the community of treatment and care for the SOF Warriors,” stated Kramer. “The impact this funding will have on the lives of the SOF members, their families and children we and our caregiver programs serve will be immeasurable.”

Silent Warrior Foundation Announces the 6th Annual Whiskey & War Stories Honoring Operation Eagle Claw

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

The Silent Warrior Foundation is proud to host the 6th Annual Whiskey & War Stories™, which will be held on August 21, 2021, at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, Arizona.

This annual fundraiser will honor the men of Operation Eagle Claw. An in-depth discussion of the mission moderated by board member David Hall, SOCS (SEAL), USN, Ret. will be the highlight of the event. This night will bring together members of the rescue team and former hostages.

There will also be an online auction of tactical unicorns and military memorabilia to help raise funds for the charity.

Last year’s 5th Whiskey & War Stories™ brought together the men of Operation Ivory Coast otherwise known as the “Son Tay Raid” and raised over $200,000 to benefit veterans in need. This event also kickstarted the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Son Tay Raid.

Individual tickets for the event are $150 per person. A limited number of Patriot Sponsor Packages are also available for $3,500. This special package includes a table for 8 and a VIP meet and greet with the men of Operation Eagle Claw on Friday, August 20, 2021.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased from the Silent Warrior Foundation’s website.

Special room rates available. Click here to book your room at the resort.

The Silent Warrior Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 charity serving active and former U.S. military veterans and their families since 2010.

Operation Eagle Claw

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

In the early morning hours of 25 April, 1980 President Carter announced to a stunned world that the United States had undertaken an ambitious raid into Iran to liberate 52 American hostages held illegally at our Embassy compound in Tehran. The assault force of what was known as “Operation Eagle Claw” can be seen here, loading C141s.

Unfortunately, the task force was unsuccessful and we lost eight American servicemen in a horrible aircraft ground collision.

However, their deaths were not in vain. The hostages were eventually repatriated and the accident was the watershed event that created, over the next several decades, the world’s preeminent Special Operations capability; USSOCOM and its components. Forty years later, we wouldn’t be where are without the determination of that fledgling task force. Join me in remembering those that had the guts to try.

SOFWERX – USSOCOM Virtual Innovation Foundry Event

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM’s Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T), will host the Eighth Innovation Foundry (IF8) Event on 02-04 June 2021.

The objective is to bring together Special Operations Forces (SOF) representatives and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to assist USSOCOM in discerning future capability areas for technology exploration for SOF in the conduct of Next-Generation Effects and Precision Strike. 

IF8 will scope future technology-based capabilities looking forward 7-15 years, utilizing design thinking to solve mission scenarios in a 2030 great power competition.

S&T Futures and NGE Capability Focus Areas (CFAs) will investigate concepts for novel SOF-peculiar scalable kinetic and non-kinetic effects to achieve physical, virtual, and cognitive objectives across all domains in the Competition and Conflict spaces of the Force Development window. These concepts will include, but not be limited to, Directed Energy (DE), Cyber, Military Information Support Operation (MISO), Electronic Warfare (EW), attributable, non-attributable, temporary, permanent effects, and will be designed to solve mission scenarios in a 2030 great power competition. 

This event is restricted to U.S. Citizens Only.

To participate, submit NLT 05 May 11:59 PM ET. Visit events.sofwerx.org/IF8 for details.

Interagency Virtual Training for the Civil Affairs Professional of Tomorrow

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. – Various Soldiers within the civil affairs community from across the U.S. participated in the ‘Interagency in the Pacific’ virtual training conducted on March 20, 2021. The virtual training, instructed by multiple U.S. government agency representatives, focused on the economic, security, and structural environment of a country within the operational area. This type of instruction enhances U.S. military forces’ holistic understanding of the cognitive environments in which they operate, it is instrumental to the success of the mission, and the wellbeing of the personnel on the ground. For civil affairs Soldiers, possessing the right information could be pivotal to future relationships with international partners. Moreover, Soldiers having the full perspective about a government can mean the difference between mission success or mission failure.

“The Interagency in the Pacific training was very good for the kinds of missions we perform. The insights into China’s belt and road investment strategy inform us of what our Asian partners see when they consider China’s overtures. The briefings from U.S. Customs and Border Protection taught us that some of our foreign partners have built their own customs and processes on U.S. models,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Alfidi, a participant of the training and a military intelligence Soldier with the 351st Civil Affairs Command out of Mountain View, Calif.

The training ranged from an in-depth review of how a financial system works in other countries to how specific security processes were in place to prevent drug trafficking across national borders, providing civil affairs Soldiers with the knowledge of what to look for while on mission to another country.

“I think that we need more interagency training,” said Alfidi, “civil affairs Soldiers may end up working with other USG officials at local levels, provincial levels, and national levels. CA practitioners need to know what the other agencies can accomplish.”

Alfidi mentioned how knowing more about commerce and treasury helps promote trade and investment with a country. He explained how commerce can sponsor trade missions for U.S. firms and treasury which can assist countries in making their budgeting systems more transparent. As a result, the country can possibly benefit through increased stability.

Alfidi also observed that well informed civil affairs Soldiers tend to be better equipped to function within their operational environment and be effective and efficient when operating within the given parameters of their mission, and training like the Interagency in the Pacific program are designed to promote this level of readiness.

“This training is valuable to civil affairs because no functional specialty such as public health, governance, infrastructure, rule of law, etc., exists in a vacuum. We must have a basic understanding of the other functional specialties and our civilian counterparts to be effective in the field, and execute a whole-of-government approach as doctrinally intended,” said Lt. Col. Leah Trapp, a participant and Soldier with the 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade. “For example, rule of law is the basis for any government, which then decides what policies to enact and fund, such as a national health system. In turn, the national health system relies on infrastructure, like clinics, roads to transport supplies and specimens for testing, laboratories, hospitals, etc.”

The better prepared, the higher success that a civil affairs unit will have on the ground when operating on foreign soil. Trapp would like to see this training expanded, formalized, and adopted by the Civil Affairs Command and Training and Doctrine Command to ensure civil affairs generalists and functional specialists have a mutual understanding of how to best employ functional specialists.

Lt. Col. Charles Arensman, economist with the 351st CACOM, stated that, to improve the functionality of civil affairs teams when deployed, the Interagency in the Pacific virtual training would assist in providing a baseline understanding for professional development among 38G personnel.

“The FxSp [functional specialties] is what we’re composed of, and for the last few months, our section’s chief, Col. Bradford Hughes, has tried to promote subject matter expertise within our teams. As an economist in the unit, I put this material together to give our personnel a baseline understanding on interagency economics of the Indo-Pacific command,” said Arensman.

Arensman coordinated with speakers from organizations which represented the whole of the government or this training and based on expertise. This is the information which primarily assists civil affairs personnel, or FxSp teams, during overseas missions.

“Most important thing to know is your partners to the left and to the right of you. The interagency perspective shows us who is out there and what they’re doing In the INDOPACOM,” said Arensman, “and all this is thanks to Col. Hughes, he has done an exceptional job shepherding and growing the professionalism of the FxSp through his leadership and efforts.”

The reason for this training and how or why it was initiated can best be answered by Maj. Dale Kooyenga, civil affairs officer with the 352nd CACOM and a member of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC) Strategic Initiatives Group (SIG). This group is developing a 38G program while recruiting the nation’s top candidates by creating institutional alignments with universities and other organizations.

“About a year ago we started doing online training, in part because of the coronavirus but also in part to have a team of specialists that were geographically dispersed, operationally it made sense,” said Kooyenga. “We are trying to create training content that is unclassified and available to a wider audience.”

The SIG training group started about a year ago around February 2020 and is led and produced by 38Gs and or their partners in the civilian world. The training conducted is being recorded to develop a library of content which will then be made available to the civil affairs community and other interested parties.

“It was the cultural heritage team who got this initiative started, this team is the modern day ‘monuments men’ movie equivalent,” said Kooyenga, ”they started doing a lot of training virtually, initially the training was scheduled to be in person, but they soon changed it to a virtual training because of COVID.”

Some of the training that has been conducted includes training on money laundering, interagency cooperation, training on ‘The Hague Convention,’ and other training related specifically to civil affairs topics. But for 38Gs the ‘Interagency in the Pacific’ training is the first of its kind and it is critical to be able to operate while conducting civil affairs missions.

“It is not a mission that the department of defense or specifically USACAPOC can do on its own. It will take tremendous coordination across other U.S. government agencies and private sector partners to really understand and assess the situation and coordinate. It would not only be ineffective for U.S. personnel within the DOD to operate in a vacuum, it would actually be harmful to the overall mission,” said Kooyenga.

As stated by Kooyenga, the intent of these training sessions is to provide a database of quality information which will provide officers and non-commissioned officers with the insight on complex civil affairs missions. Moreover, civil affairs personnel should know that there are partners in other institutions available to coordinate with who may also provide insight on specific topics or areas.?

Story by Rosario Urquieta, 351st Civil Affairs Command