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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Emerald Warrior 22.1 Concludes for AFSOC, Czech Special Forces

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

Air Force Special Operations Command wrapped up its 15th Emerald Warrior exercise that provided realistic and relevant training to prepare special operations forces, conventional forces and international partners for conflict in an evolving, strategic environment. 

The EW 22.1 planning team applied lessons learned from real-world operations to train and ready forces to the joint force, while staying focused on security priorities laid out within the 2022 National Defense Strategy; specifically, pacing strategic competitors. Trained, credible forces and strong international partnerships are pivotal to this effort.  

“In this year’s iteration, we improved our approach to command and control through the employment of the Special Operations Task Group and Special Operations Task Unit,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin Koenig, exercise director of Emerald Warrior. “This dispersion of leadership allowed for real-time, on-the-ground decision making and allowed commanders to perform operations quickly and more efficiently. We exercised our agile combat employment capabilities and focused additional training on non-kinetic skillsets to include public affairs and information operations. With our partner nations and sister services, our goal is to continue to deter adversaries, now and in the future, in all domains.” 

The objective for this year’s EW was to gain and maintain an advantage on the battlefield and in the information environment, and grow kinetic and non-kinetic effects above and below the threshold of armed conflict from strategic competitors. 

This annual exercise is an opportunity to further test and improve future approaches to AFSOC units like the mission sustainment teams. These MSTs established forward-operating bases by providing initial site security, receiving cargo and personnel, and setting up shelter. 

“It was very impressive how the 1st SOW and 27th SOW [from Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico] capabilities came together in order to forward stage our contingency locations during this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Travis Deutman, commander of the Emerald Warrior SOTG. “As these capabilities continue to progress, it’ll definitely be something that’ll be useful within AFSOC.” 

In line with AFSOC’s Strategic Guidance, the exercise fuels on-going innovation and experimentation efforts within the command.   

“The most important idea to understand about Emerald Warrior is that as AFSOC implements force generation, we’re building new concepts; the two biggest concepts being the SOTG command team and our MSTs,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Haack, deputy director of operations for AFSOC. “These concepts combine to enable the force to do agile combat employment in a contested environment. We increased our agility; we pushed our decision making forward to the lowest level. These teams are trained and enabled, and ready to fight the fight in the contested and uncontested environment.” 

In addition to introducing new command and control structure, the exercise continued as a forum of collaboration between the U.S. and its international partners and allies. This year, AFSOC hosted partners from the Czech Republic. 

“We look forward to working with our partner nations and coalition forces from across SOF,” said Haack. “Emerald Warrior allows us to problem solve in an exercise environment, establish communication and build enduring relationships. Those relationships with our Czech partners and fellow SOF coalition forces are critical so we’re not meeting them for the first time down range.” 

By 2nd Lt Cassandra Saphore, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

Victory First RDS Law Enforcement Handgun Program Selected and Certified by the State of Maryland

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

The RDS (Red Dot Sight) Handgun for Law Enforcement program from Victory First was the first RDS course to be approved and selected by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions to be taught at their firearms training facility.

The Owner of Victory First, Matt Jacques is a retired Law Enforcement Officer from Virginia. Since his retirement, he has had over 15 years of RDS experience in firearms development and instruction specifically focused on the specialty of RDS handguns and Law Enforcement. As the Senior Manager of Assault Weapons employed by FN America, he was part of the development team for the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) program which was eventually offered on the commercial market as the FNP45 Tactical. That was the first handgun with RDS mounting capabilities to be offered on the market from a manufacturer. He has conducted RDS transition programs for several Federal and major Law Enforcement agency teams and Firearms Training Units in the last decade since starting Victory First.

In 2019, Matt was contracted by VirTra, the advanced Law Enforcement firearms simulator company to develop and assist in launching the first simulator based RDS Transition program. Launched at Shot Show 2022, that program was the first of its kind and now allows VirTra customers to train in the simulators on RDS based training and sustainment programs. 

“It is an honor to have been chosen to help get the Officers from the state of Maryland RDS implement their handgun training.”  said Matt Jacques of Victory First. “This program was developed to help them make educated decisions on how to choose the gear that meets their requirements, but how to write the requirement, then conduct proper testing and procurement of that gear, then how to employ it correctly to keep themselves safe and protect their citizens with better equipment.  The speed at which the RDS Handgun has been growing in acceptance within the Law Enforcement community is moving faster than anything I have witnessed in nearly 30 years of being a cop or involved with the training of this profession.”

Jamie Green, Rangemaster for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions contacted Victory First about their program. “I was hearing from police agencies throughout the state and felt like there was quite a bit of interest in red dot sights for duty weapons. That being said, I also knew there would be a need for both regulation and different training protocols for their use. That’s when a work group was formed to research the sights and recommend changes to the existing Code of Maryland Regulations.”

The first class will be in July at the Maryland State Training Facility in Sykesville, Maryland and agencies can register for any of the classes on the Victory First website www.Victory-First.com.

If your department or agency would like to learn more about the RDS programs or other LE specific courses offered by Victory First, please contact Matt Jacques directly via email: [email protected]

Army’s Synthetic Training Environment Harnesses Evolving Mapping Technology

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

AUSTIN, Texas — Geospatial intelligence professionals gathered at the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s GEOINT 2022 Symposium in Aurora, Colorado, last month to discuss new efforts and achievements in the rapidly growing field.

Topics highlighted at the event included how technological advances have influenced the creation and use of maps, including within military and intelligence communities.

During an April 26 “What is a Map?” panel, guest speakers from the U.S. government and private industry explored how maps have evolved in recent years, what new types of information maps can communicate and why maps continue to be indispensable tools in everything from personal navigation to foreign policy development to warfighting.

“Maps and terrain and that data set is foundational to everything we do,” said Brig. Gen. William Glaser, director of the Army Futures Command Synthetic Training Environment, or STE, Cross-Functional Team.

Glaser and fellow panelists detailed how today’s dynamic, high-performance maps — which frequently utilize 3D imagery and are often informed by an amalgamation of artificial intelligence, fluid data inputs and precision sensors — can improve visibility and thereby increase a user’s understanding of a situation, along with options for action.

“Our relationship with a map now is not just passive,” said panelist Ed Parsons, geospatial technologist at Google. “We’re interacting with the map. The map is changing its contents depending upon what we’re doing, but we’re also sharing what we’re doing with the developers of that map.”

As a result, many of today’s maps are “elastic,” meaning that they can morph and adapt as conditions and user input fluctuate, Parsons explained.

It is this near real-time visibility that can provide Army map users with distinct tactical advantages.

“The ability to visualize the terrain in 3D is absolutely critical for commanders and Soldiers to understand the operational environment,” Glaser said.

He noted that one of the Army’s core STE efforts, One World Terrain, provides a singular synthetic format for use in multiple scenarios. Viewable in “everything from goggles to laptops to PCs,” the 3D terrain data set is helping to more closely link operational and training activities, thereby enhancing overall readiness.

The Army is also developing the STE Information System, a virtual training suite, and equipment such as the Squad Immersive Virtual Trainer, a mixed-reality tool that utilizes a heads-up display.

The ongoing development of a synthetic training platform enabled by advanced mapping technology is groundbreaking because it means the Army “can fight a thousand bloodless battles before we ever put a Soldier into harm’s way,” Glaser said.

The multi-faceted nature of digital maps extends across sectors, of course, and often translates to many users having access to — but also influence on — collective maps.

“Maps are probably more widely used now than at any point in our history,” Parsons said.

This expanded use of maps has also increased demand for functionality and format.

“Cartography is an art, not just a science,” said Dr. Lee Schwartz, director of the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. “Maps need to be visually compelling as well as providing a lot of information.”

Ensuring map development is participatory, such as by involving the contributions of individuals who live in areas being mapped, is also an important consideration in modern map development.

“You have to include the human element always,” Schwartz said.

Moreover, the way maps are used to make decisions means the information they contain needs to be secure and valid. While this is an area for further growth, in many cases, accuracy is attained simply through critical mass.

“The maps are now sort of self-healing; by using the maps, you’re contributing to the content,” Parsons said.

Dr. Daniela Moody, vice president of artificial intelligence at Arturo, also highlighted the storytelling nature of maps, which are increasingly moving beyond instructing the user how to get somewhere to informing the user why to go somewhere.

“This is no longer a static environment,” Moody said. “Maps are becoming the way to tell a story, the way to make that quick decision.”

Glaser emphasized that while digital maps are ushering in transformational capabilities, traditional paper maps are still necessary, particularly for maneuvering in degraded environments. As such, the Army will continue to promote analog map reading skills and compass navigation fluency even as it implements more interactive mapping systems.

“Every Army officer who’s worth his weight in salt loves maps,” Glaser said.

“It’s that one thing that’s going to lead his Soldiers to victory safely.”

You can watch a video of the presentation here.

By Maureena Thompson, Army Futures Command

Special Operations Command Europe Kicks Off Trojan Footprint 22 With Participants From More Than 30 Nations

Saturday, May 7th, 2022

STUTTGART, Germany – Trojan Footprint (TFP) 22 is set to begin May 2 and conclude May 13, with U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) proactively working and training together with NATO allies and European partners across Southeastern Europe, the Baltics and the Black Sea Region to demonstrate their collective military readiness to deploy and respond to any crisis that may arise.

This year’s TFP includes more than 3,300 participants from 30 nations, doubling in size from the previous year and making it the largest SOCEUR exercise to date. Land, air, and sea operations for Trojan Footprint 22 will occur across Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

“One of our priorities is building resilience against adversary efforts to undermine democratic processes and values,” said Maj. Gen. David H. Tabor, Commander of Special Operations Command Europe. “This joint, combined training in Europe will continue to build and strengthen those relationships with our allies and partners, establishing a common sight-picture for combat and peacekeeping missions abroad.”

Trojan Footprint 22 is the premier exercise of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) and the primary SOF certification event to assess the readiness and ability of SOF to counter threats. It continues to demonstrate transatlantic solidarity and the security commitments of the participating nations to defense along NATO’s eastern flank.

The two-week exercise also increases integration with conventional forces and will highlight the professional skillsets of land, air, and sea units to respond to hybrid threats through discreet theatre entry and exit. As an exercise in coalition building, TFP 22 is focused on cultivating trust and developing lasting relationships that will promote peace and stability throughout Europe.

“Special Operations Forces remain a pillar of international defense, and close coordination between SOF and conventional forces acts as a force multiplier, leveraging the discreet capabilities of SOF to enhance lethality and dominance on the battlefield,” Tabor said. “SOF elements add capabilities, technology, and strength to conventional forces throughout Europe.”

Story by PFC Kirsti Brooksby, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe

Photos by Airman 1st Class Rachel VanZale

Air University Stands Up Global College of PME, Adds Enlisted Education

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. —  

Air University has reorganized and renamed its distance learning program to reflect the direction civilian institutions are taking with their online courses and to recognize and welcome the addition of enlisted professional military education programs to its offerings. 

The activation of the Global College of PME now places the university’s officer and enlisted distance learning programs under one organization. Previously, distance learning programs for officers fell under the eSchool of Graduate PME and the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education for enlisted members.

The distance learning programs now nested under the Global College of PME are Squadron Officer School; Air Command and Staff College; Air War College; Online Master’s Program; and Airman Leadership School, Noncommissioned Officer Academy and Senior NCO Academy for enlisted members. The enlisted programs are currently transferring to GCPME, with plans to be completely moved over by early summer. Under current Air Force policy, the enlisted online courses are primarily taken by Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members.

The newly launched enlisted PME courses will take advantage of the same Arizona State University learning management system that officer courses have been on for the last two years.

“What I’m most excited about with this change is the impact to our Airmen around the world,” said Col. Craig Ramsey, who assumed command of the Global College of PME as its first commandant on April 1, 2022. “This gives us access to programs and technology that really enhances the student experience as they complete the courses. Instead of completing assigned readings and taking a test on it, there will be the opportunity for peer-to-peer exchange with others in the online class.”

Ramsey now leads an organization with a projected faculty of 96 and more than 30,000 online students, graduating about 20,000 officers and enlisted members annually. Organizationally, the Global College of PME falls under Air Command and Staff College.

“I’m so proud of the Global College team and what they’ve been doing to get to this point. These professionals continue to deliver a learning experience that gets rave reviews from the students,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here to deliver military education to our Airmen throughout their careers in much the same way they pursue education with a civilian institution. We are fortunate to be on the cutting edge of technology and programs in providing our students a valuable learning experience.”

By Phil Berube, Air University Public Affairs

ABCs of Risk Assessment

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

Seneca’s quote on anticipating the coming troubles can be interpreted in these challenging times means that you can stay ahead of the action-reaction power curve by taking proactive measures instead of being relegated to reactive measures that place you behind the curve. Of course, the granddaddy of all proactive measures is to do risk assessment and develop control measures to reduce the probability of an undesired event.

Referred to as risk assessment or RA by the professionals such as high-end protective services and security specialists. A potential threat area (home, office, etc.) or activity (vacation or business travel) risk assessment should include an examination of potential risks via identification of known threats or threat areas, consideration of the likelihood and severity of an unwanted event, and implementation of realistic control measures to reduce likely risk. The risk assessment process can be further broken down by the numbers:

  1. Identify potential threats and/ or significant threat areas
  2. Estimate the likelihood and impact of an unwanted event
  3. Implement realistic control measures

It’s important to define terminology before running the RA process on a potential threat or threat area. The four most used RA terms are risk, threat, vulnerability, and assessment. 

Devgru Risk Assessment

Risk is the measurement of the frequency, probability, and impact of loss from exposure to threats.

Risk

  1. Frequency
  2. Probability
  3. Impact

A threat is a serious, impending, or recurring undesired event that can result in loss which must be handled. In terms of residential or workplace violence, a threat can range anywhere from pre-operational activities (security probes, collection of sensitive information, etc.) to an active shooter.

threat can also refer to an individual or the observable concerning behavior of an individual. Vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed. Risk is the product of threat and vulnerability. The greater threat and/ or vulnerability, the greater the risk.

Risk = Threat x Vulnerability

Risk Assessment is a rational and orderly approach to problem identification and probability determination. As mentioned earlier, risk assessment is not a reactive approach but a proactive approach that should be part of any personal, home, or work security planning process. It involves figuring out the possible risks and how and when to control that risk should it become realized. 

An example of figuring out the possible risks and how and when to control that risk if it occurs is the design of a home invasion emergency action plan. Using a traditional residential security concept called ‘concentric rings of protection, ‘ multiple rings or layers of security are employed to create a 360-degree envelope of protection around your dwelling and its occupants. The concentric rings are like an onion of security wrapped around your home. 

The outermost ring is to deter – that is, remove any tools (hammers, screwdrivers, crowbars, etc.), ladders, and sporting equipment (baseball bats, etc.) from the yard. Have good lighting activated at night and some sort of gate or at least a fence or terrain barrier to help deter interest in your home. 

The next security ring is to detect – that is, use of any cameras or motion sensors to determine or observe a security breach. The next ring is to delay – be sure that there are good quality locking windows and doors installed to help keep an intruder at bay long enough for an appropriate response. 

The last of the four concentric rings of security is to deploy – that is, depending on which end of your home the attack initiates, what are your use of force deployment options? Have you established and reviewed a home protection emergency action plan with your family? 

When appropriately implemented, risk assessment promotes activity for reducing or eliminating long-term risk. The goal of effective risk assessment is sustained threat intervention.

Danger

Risk Assessment Examples

The very best example of RA is that of the commercial airline industry. Few industries have established such a quality risk assessment culture as that of the commercial airlines. The three most common guidelines utilized by the airlines and similar high-value security professionals are:

  1. Accept no unnecessary risk. Suppose you’re planning your vacation and know that a particular foreign country is under extreme civil unrest or worse. In that case, there’s no reason to accept the high probability risk of something bad happening to you or your family.
  2. Anticipate and manage risk by planning. Proactive measures assist you ahead of time and develop strategies that can be deployed in the event of an active threat. If you need to drive for a very long distance to a destination you’ve never been before, then looking at a map ahead of time to get your bearings and keeping your gas tank near full are two proactive measures that can help prevent you from needing roadside assistance or getting lost in an unknown or potentially high-threat area.
  3. Make appropriate risk decisions at the right awareness level. If you’re walking through a nasty part of town, then your personal security radar should be clicked up to a higher setting than when you’re locked in your car with the windows rolled up and driving at speeds around 65 MPH on a freeway. The worse decision you can make is to click to a lower level of situational awareness where and when you need it the most.

PMC PSD

Top security professionals recommend following the ABCs of risk management – Assess, Balance and Communicate. 

Assess is applying your situational awareness to your immediate environment and continually evaluating what’s happening. Forewarned is forearmed and places you ahead of the action-reaction power curve. Taking in good information allows you better decision-making that will affect future outcomes.

Balance is your evaluation of a given situation. Applying your situational awareness and processing relevant information gleaned from your environment (assessment) allows you to weigh the pros and cons of a tactical decision like an accounting balance sheet in your head.

Communicate. If there are others with you, it’s recommended to timely and appropriately verbalize your plan. For example, “Hey kids, let’s get back to the car!” 

Risk is an expression of the probability and severity of an undesired event. It occurs at many levels (compromise of personal safety, making the decision to accept unwarranted risk, etc.) Risk is controlled by balancing the factors that might increase risk, decrease the potential of an undesired event, and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Remember your ABCs – Assess, Balance, and Communicate. Follow the professional RA guidelines by accepting no unnecessary risk, anticipate and manage risk by planning and making appropriate risk decisions at the appropriate awareness level. The product of good risk assessment keeps you ahead of the action-reaction power curve by implementing proactive measures.

About the Author: 

Steve Tarani is a former full-time CIA protective programs employee, small arms and defensive tactics subject matter expert who served on POTUS 45 pre-election executive protection detail. He is the lead instructor for NRA’s non-ballistic weapons training program offered nationally and a widely recognized SME on matters of personal protection and urban survival. Tarani is also a DoD and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who has been on staff at Gunsite Academy (AZ) as a Rangemaster for over twenty years. Formerly sworn, he is also a former federal contractor and service provider for the US Defense Intelligence Community, US Naval Special Operations Command, and other government agencies. Additionally, Tarani serves on the National Sheriffs’ Association Committee for School Safety and Security.

Zeroing Your Rifle by Ken P Owens

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Army SF Veteran Kevin P Owens made quite a name for himself while serving in the military, but after retiring took on the position of Training Manager for FieldCraft Survival. He has created a great series of videos on a variety of topics. This is his latest.

Zeroing your rifle at 50 yards for a point blank zero of 200yards. BDC reticles are great but are only calibrated for one bullet and one density altitude

Welcome to the Jungle: Special Warfare Airmen Acclimate to Indo-Pacific Environment

Friday, April 15th, 2022

WAHIAWA, Hawaii (AFNS) —  

The 38th Rescue Squadron’s Blue Team traveled to Hawaii to conduct jungle warfare training, March 26 – April 10.

Moody Air Force Base’s pararescuemen are special warfare operators charged with the responsibility of rescuing personnel all around the world. As such, it’s vital they familiarize themselves with all types of environments.

In an effort to sharpen their capabilities in rescue operations throughout the Indo-Pacific region, Blue Team learned how to track personnel in the jungle.

“The jungle is a very unforgiving environment,” said Lt. Col. Michael Vins, 38th RQS commander. “There are areas in the jungle where you can only travel 100 meters in an entire day. We need to be ready for that kind of environment by training there, understanding how to survive there, using different equipment … everything is so different, so we need to get used to that kind of environment to be effective in (Indo-Pacific Command).”

Blue Team put their tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) to the test in a climate they had never experienced before by performing a series of training scenarios to include team vs. team tracking and anti-tracking exercises.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve gotten really good at desert warfare with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. Evan Rogowski, 38th RQS Blue Team pararescueman. “With that kind of phasing away, and the new area of responsibility quickly becoming the INDOPACOM region, we’re really having to take a step back from some of the older TTPs that seemed to work well in the desert and figure out how to adapt to this environment, which is way more difficult to operate in.”

Upon arriving in the jungle, the team set up an outpost to conduct operations. Over the duration of five days and four nights, they survived with only the rucks on their backs and the knowledge they gained as special warfare operators in the Air Force. Rogowski said one of the biggest challenges they faced was the weather.

“It’s pretty unpredictable out here in the jungle,” Rogowski said. “It can be raining in the morning and then completely sunny in the afternoon, and back to rain. Outside of carrying the proper equipment, there’s not much we can do to control that.”

The unique experience tested their ability to adapt in an unforgiving environment. To combat the risks associated with sleeping on the ground, the team slept in enclosed hammocks.

Encounters with centipedes, spiders, steep inclines and thick foliage made it difficult to execute the mission. Despite the challenges, the team was able to effectively track their targets in the jungle. Using tactical formations and hand signals, they practiced combatting potential threats from simulated enemies and booby traps.

“As highly trained special warfare operators, we’re always thinking about modern-day warfare and high-tech weapon systems, but something so primitive like grenades that roll out of bamboo if you kick the wrong stick over is enough to wipe us all out,” said Staff Sgt. Evan Orth, 38th RQS Blue Team pararescueman. “Getting this training makes us more aware of threats we would have never expected in this environment, which could be the difference in saving not only our lives but the life of the person we’re trying to locate on the ground.”

Blue Team learned mostly through action, however instructors from the Tactical Tracking Operations School also provided an array of tips in a classroom setting before they ventured out into the jungle.

“They’ll sleep in the field for four nights to give them an opportunity to live in the environment, assess their gear, work out the little kinks or whatnot and make sure their sleeping systems are good,” said Pete Kerr, TTOS president and instructor. “The more time you spend out in the field, you start to hone those senses.”

Kerr expressed the importance of attention to detail. Whether tracking an adversary or a missing ally, such as a downed pilot, being able to notice subtle disturbances in the terrain is crucial to finding a target.

“What that’s doing is programming the subconscious mind to pick up on these indicators,” Kerr said.

TTOS provided detailed hands-on training enabling the special warfare operators to determine a person’s direction of travel and intent.

“That footprint is going to explain a story to you,” Rogowski said. “Where that person went, what they did, how fast they were moving, where they’re going to, are they paranoid? And I think that’s kind of hard to put into words unless you’ve actually been there.”

Using the skills they learned during the training scenarios, the team was put to the test in a final two-day, one-night exercise. During the exercise, Blue Team tracked a simulated downed pilot while traversing the terrain undetected from potential danger. Once they retrieved the isolated personnel, the team made their way to an extraction point.

After a sleepless 24 hours and hiking 6 kilometers through grueling terrain, the team completed their mission.

By the end of the two-week course, Blue Team gained the knowledge necessary to refine their TTPs for the unique jungle environment, thus enabling them to operate effectively in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The culmination of this exercise validates the effectiveness the rescue teams will have in a contested jungle environment,” Rogowski said. “The lessons and skills learned here will further expand the way we operate in the INDOPACOM area of responsibility. We’ll take these lessons and shape our TTPs for the future of special operations, personnel recovery, and combat search and rescue.”

By SSgt Devin Boyer, 23rd Wing Public Affairs