Archive for the ‘U.S. Military’ category

Bergdahl Rescue Mission ‘Haunts’ Navy SEAL Team Member Eight Years Later

November 9, 2017

Bergdahl Rescue Mission ‘Haunts’ Navy SEAL Team Member Eight Years Later, Washington Free Beacon, November 9, 2017

Bergdahl’s case became politically fraught after former President Barack Obama traded five high-level Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for his release in 2014. The circumstance further deteriorated when then National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the private had served with “honor and distinction.”

Toussaint, who now serves as an officer with a San Antonio-area police department, said the Obama administration’s characterization of Bergdahl was a “slap in the face” to the men who risked their lives searching for the private and a disgrace to Remco’s sacrifice.

As for Bergdahl’s sentence, he asks, “What kind of a message does that send to the world, the military, and the victims who suffered because of this?”

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Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike Toussaint, a burly Navy dog handler, grudgingly wiped away tears as he described the barrage of insurgent gunfire that killed his military service dog, Remco, during the search for Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Though he was never called to testify, Toussaint served as a prospective witness in the case against Bergdahl, who last week received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Army, but avoided prison time for desertion, misbehavior before the enemy, and endangering troops.

The military judge ordered that Bergdahl’s rank be reduced from sergeant to private and required him to surrender $1,000 a month from his pay for 10 months. The sentencing arrived eight years after Bergdahl abandoned his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009 before the Taliban held him captive for five years.

Toussaint called the sentencing “disgusting” and said Bergdahl should have received life in prison for his “reckless” actions.

Nine days after Bergdahl’s desertion, SEAL team members Toussaint and Remco were sent on a hostage rescue operation in southeastern Afghanistan to search for the missing private. He said the team, led by Senior Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Hatch, knew prior to the July 8 mission that Bergdahl voluntarily left his post, despite earlier reports stating he was captured on patrol.

“We all agreed we were going to go get him—he’s an American, that’s our job—but we all wanted to have a talk with him,” Toussaint said.

Hostage rescue missions are inherently dangerous, and Hatch testified last week that the operation to rescue Bergdahl was no different. He recalled expressing concern prior to the operation that someone would be killed or hurt given the hasty planning and grueling conditions.

Toussaint said he had no doubt the enemy knew they were coming. His unit came under heavy fire even before their two helicopters landed, leaving the team surrounded while they disembarked.

As the unit advanced to the position where they believed Bergdahl was being held, Toussaint, Hatch, Remco, and a third shooter peeled off to pursue two men wearing traditional Afghan dresses. Toussaint said they had to operate on the assumption one of the two men could be Bergdahl, limiting their engagement options.

When the two men disappeared into a field, Remco moved ahead to detect their location. Toussaint watched as Remco ran through a spray of bullets before he was shot in the head and killed.

Moments later, Hatch was shot in the right leg, shattering his femur and effectively ending his career. He subsequently endured 18 surgeries over a two-year span.

“It all happened real quick,” Toussaint said. “I remember seeing Remco get within a couple feet of their location and then he got shot in the head and came flying back out, I mean literally flying out. Right about that time … because it all got chaotic real quick … Jimmy who was right to my right, got shot. I remember hearing him, I could tell he was in pain, and then all I remember was kind of like a fireworks show.”

Toussaint said he ran into an onslaught of gunfire and grenades to kill the two militants. He grabbed Remco by his vest and dragged him back to Jimmy, where a couple of U.S. servicemen had arrived to administer first aid.

Toussaint choked back tears as he recalled carrying Remco onto a helicopter that airlifted him and Jimmy to a nearby hospital.

“I hadn’t accepted that he was mortally wounded at that time, I think it was just denial,” he said as he described clipping off Remco’s vest and trying to revive his breathing.

After accompanying Jimmy and Remco to the hospital, Toussaint and the third shooter went back out to the battlefield to search for Bergdahl.

Toussaint later received the Silver Star for pursuing the two men and ending the engagement, “allowing his teammates to provide lifesaving combat casualty care to his wounded team leader,” according to the award citation. Remco also received a Silver Star for sacrificing himself “as he aggressively engaged the enemy, drew effective fire onto himself, and gave his teammates the split seconds needed to change the balance of the fight.”

Toussaint said that night continues to haunt him eight years later.

He remembers Remco, who he described as a “complete live-wire,” sitting uncharacteristically still and looking somberly into his eyes before charging toward the enemy. He said the moment felt like an intuitive goodbye.

“That and the fact that I relive watching him getting him shot—those two—those are the two that tend to stick with me and they probably always will,” he said. “But the reality is he did his job. He did exactly what we told him to do.”

Toussaint said Remco’s death has been harder to accept given the circumstances of the mission.

“We knowingly went out in hazardous situations, it’s just part of the job,” he said. “It’s not like I didn’t accept the reality of any of us not coming home on any given night, that’s just the realistic truth to it … but to have that night take place only because—solely because—we had a selfish American that walked off a base, it just makes it harder to swallow.”

The defense maintained during the sentencing hearing that Bergdahl couldn’t be blamed for the series of consequences stemming from his desertion, given the chain of events included decisions made by others. Bergdahl’s attorneys also argued Trump’s comments on the case impacted their client’s ability to receive a fair sentencing.

Though the defense had told the judge a dishonorable discharge would be acceptable, Bergdahl’s chief defense lawyer told the New York Times last week he would challenge the ruling so his client could receive health care and other “benefits he badly needs” from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Bergdahl’s case became politically fraught after former President Barack Obama traded five high-level Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for his release in 2014. The circumstance further deteriorated when then National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the private had served with “honor and distinction.”

Toussaint, who now serves as an officer with a San Antonio-area police department, said the Obama administration’s characterization of Bergdahl was a “slap in the face” to the men who risked their lives searching for the private and a disgrace to Remco’s sacrifice.

As for Bergdahl’s sentence, he asks, “What kind of a message does that send to the world, the military, and the victims who suffered because of this?”

Report: U.S. Troops Need to Remain in Middle East Post-ISIS to Block Iran ‘Land Bridge’

October 28, 2017

Report: U.S. Troops Need to Remain in Middle East Post-ISIS to Block Iran ‘Land Bridge’, Washington Free Beacon, October 28, 2017

A vehicle drives past a billboard bearing the logo of the Islamic State group in Madan area, in the countryside of Deir Ezzor / Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he supports maintaining U.S. troops to support Iraqi forces in the country after ISIS operations come to an end.

Sunni and Kurdish forces have also expressed support for American forces to remain in the region after ISIS. They view U.S. troops as a way to uphold security and reduce Iran’s Shiite influence in Iraq.

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The United States needs to maintain a military presence in the Middle East after the battle against the Islamic State to block Iran’s attempt to carve out a land corridor connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean, according to a new report by two prominent Washington think tanks.

The report, released Thursday by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for New American Security, recommends the United States collaborate with its coalition partners to leave troops at al-Tanf, a strategic Syrian border crossing with Jordan and Iraq, to cut off Iranian use of the strategic route.

In northern Syria, the report says American troops should leverage its close alliance with Kurdish forces to prevent Iran from shipping weapons into the country. Iran routinely sends weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime and Hezbollah terrorists on the Syrian and Lebanese border.

Iran has been racing against U.S.-backed forces to establish areas of influence across Iraq and Syria to hold communication lines and more easily move its forces, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah, and other Shia militias in the region. The so-called land bridge would leverage Iranian power in the region and give its troops maximum battlefield flexibility and diversified supply routes.

Of particular interest is the border crossing between the southern Anbar and Deir Ezzor provinces as the territorial fight against the Islamic State enters its final phase.

The report says American-backed forces would effectively cut off Iran’s planned corridor if they retake the territory from ISIS. Even if Iranian proxies arrive to the region first, the report says the terrain is “highly inhospitable” for Shia militia groups.

The report warns the United States will not be able to fully block Iranian movement through Syria even if it follows through on all of its recommendations given the series of power voids throughout the country.

“Security vacuums plague eastern Syria and will continue to for years to come, and in that environment Iran will find opportunities to increase its influence and move materiel and personnel,” the report notes.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he supports maintaining U.S. troops to support Iraqi forces in the country after ISIS operations come to an end.

Sunni and Kurdish forces have also expressed support for American forces to remain in the region after ISIS. They view U.S. troops as a way to uphold security and reduce Iran’s Shiite influence in Iraq.

Mattis Vists Korean DMZ: ‘Our Goal Is Not War’

October 27, 2017

Mattis Vists Korean DMZ: ‘Our Goal Is Not War’, Washington Free Beacon , October 27, 2017

“When generals and secretary of defenses and ministries of defense are done talking, it relies on your young shoulders to make this alliance work,” Mattis said to South Korean soldiers.

“We’re doing everything we can to solve this diplomatically,” he added. “But ultimately our diplomats have to be backed up by strong soldiers.”

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Defense Secretary James Mattis addressed North Korea’s threat to the world on Thursday during a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, calling for “verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” in the region.

Mattis addressed South Korean troops and the media, reiterating Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s message by saying “our goal is not war,” CNN reported.

“As the U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson has made clear, our goal is not war, yet rather the complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Mattis said.

The defense secretary’ trip to the region comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia next month and as tension grows between North Korea and the United States and its allies. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned North Korea’s illicit nuclear program and defiance of international calls to stand down.

“North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and world peace, and despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations’ Security Council, they still proceed,” Mattis said.

 

“When generals and secretary of defenses and ministries of defense are done talking, it relies on your young shoulders to make this alliance work,” Mattis said to South Korean soldiers.

“We’re doing everything we can to solve this diplomatically,” he added. “But ultimately our diplomats have to be backed up by strong soldiers.”

It’s time to deploy US ships off North Korea to knock out missiles when they’re launched

October 14, 2017

It’s time to deploy US ships off North Korea to knock out missiles when they’re launched, Fox News, Michael Fabey, October 14, 2017

(Please see also, N.K. missiles mounted on TEL being transported in 3 to 4 regions

The Ohio-class USS Michigan, an 18,000-metric ton submarine, arrived in the South Korean port of Busan Friday. The USS Ronald Reagan also arrived here in South Korea for a joint drill with South Korean military, which will be held in the East and West sea off South Korea from Oct 16 to 20, to prepare for the North’s naval provocations. As many as 40 navy vessels, including the Aegis destroyer and submarines, combat aircrafts, attack helicopters and JSTARS will be deployed for the joint drill. “The North may carry out a simultaneous launch of ICBM and IRBM within a few days in protest against the U.S.’s show of military might,” another source said.

— DM)

North Korea renewed its threat Friday to fire ballistic missiles in the direction of the American territory of Guam, following ominous earlier threats by the rogue regime to launch missiles topped with hydrogen bombs to wipe out cities on the continental United States.

We need to be prepared to defend against new North Korean missile launches – and there is a way to do this short of full-scale war.

One U.S. military option would be to deploy a special team of two or three guided-missile destroyers – ships especially equipped to target, track and shoot down ballistic missiles – to strategic locations off the North Korean coastline. The ships would be positioned outside the 12-mile internationally recognized maritime territorial limit, or at other locations that intelligence indicates would be effective.

Sources intimately familiar with the operations and deployments of those destroyers – and the vast capabilities of their top-secret ballistic missile defense systems – tell me such a plan could work. They say a similar strategy is one of the military options being considered at the Pentagon and at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii. At the very least, this action would increase the costs to North Korea of continuing its missile program.

Erecting what amounts to a destroyer “fence” to contain North Korean missiles and knock them out of the sky might seem like a farfetched scheme. Can a handful of small warships really perform such a huge task?

America’s ballistic missile defense warships are outfitted with systems and weapons that have been proven in rigorous testing, including SM-3 missile interceptors. Since 2002, the Aegis combat system – a powerful weapons system used by the U.S. Navy that utilizes computer and radar technology to find, track and destroy enemy targets – has recorded 35 successful ballistic-missile intercepts in 42 test attempts. And in the last dozen tests, the SM-3s have only missed once.

While U.S. tests of our missile defense system are admittedly choreographed, the characteristics of a targeted ballistic missile in a test situation closely match those of a missile that has been deployed with bad intentions.

Nearly all of the tests pit a single U.S. missile interceptor against a single ballistic missile. Against an actual launch, the Navy could send up numerous interceptors, dramatically increasing its chances for a hit.

Up to now, North Korea has failed to prove it has the capability to launch and control a sufficiently large salvo of missiles to overwhelm a single Aegis ballistic missile defense ship, let alone two or three. Some experts speculate that North Korea, slowed as it is by international economic sanctions, might not develop that capacity until near the end of the decade or beyond.

The U.S. missile destroyers that could be formed into a team and used to knock down North Korean missiles overhead would be those outfitted with the latest version of the four-decades-old Aegis combat system. The newest series of upgrades was certified in January 2015.

All U. S. Navy destroyers and cruisers possess Aegis combat systems, which were first developed to protect ships – especially aircraft carriers – against air threats such as cruise missiles and aircraft.

However, ballistic missile defense requires different sensor settings, algorithms and missiles. Only 40 percent of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis-equipped destroyers and cruisers are designed for ballistic missile defense.

The ballistic missile defense ships depend on SM-3 missile interceptors to blow apart enemy ballistic missiles relatively soon after they enter what’s called flight midcourse, at their most vulnerable point where the atmosphere ends. This starts about 400 miles above the Earth’s surface and extends out to a few thousand miles.

SM-3s have no explosive warhead. Instead they work through sheer force, colliding with the targeted missile with the power of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 miles per hour. For very short-range missiles, SM-2 interceptors can potentially be used. New interceptors, called SM-6s, are being tested that are designed to hit longer-range ballistic missiles later in flight as they descend and re-enter the atmosphere.

Every ballistic missile defense destroyer has the capacity to launch up to 96 missiles. Each ship would have to retain some Aegis capacity for self-defense and that missile number would depend on the mission.

For argument’s sake, assume a destroyer making up part of the “fence” could aim 80 interceptors at a launched North Korean missile. That would mean two ships could unleash a fusillade of 160 missiles and three ships could fire 240. If North Korea were to triple its single-day launch rate, which with sanctions seems extremely difficult, it could possibly send a dozen missiles aloft. In that case, the odds still favor the Aegis interceptors.

Recently North Korea has focused mainly on short- and medium-range missile tests. The North has yet to prove it can launch an intercontinental ballistic missile armed with a payload that can reach the United States, despite its boasts.

If Pyongyang does deploy such missiles and they break though the fence created by U.S. ships and head toward America, the U.S. Air Force could meet them with a total of 36 ground-based interceptors launched from Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Those interceptors have hit targets in 10 of 18 tests, including the last two in June 2014 and May this year.

To execute such an aggressive plan for an Aegis-ship ballistic missile defense, some parts of which appear to be already in the works, the U.S. would have to place even greater focus on ballistic missile defense missions. American fleet commanders will need to make sure destroyer captains improve their skill in basic seamanship – a proficiency called into question after the Navy recently lost two of its valuable ballistic missile defense destroyers in collisions with commercial ships.

An important step in making the fence operational would be for the U.S. to adopt rules of engagement that allow the Navy destroyers to shoot down North Korean missiles as soon as leave the country’s airspace. Current rules only allow for tracking and monitoring.

If an SM-3 misses, there’s little concern of collateral damage. The interceptor would burn up harmlessly as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. Even if an interceptor collided with a nuclear warhead there would likely be no nuclear explosion, experts say.

While North Korea could be counted on to rail at the “recklessness” of an Aegis interceptor taking out one of its missiles, the hornet’s nest would be stirred up far less than in the case of a U.S. invasion of North Korea’s territory or attack on a land target.  In the latter two cases, the North Korean reprisal might be catastrophic, inflicting heavy casualties in South Korea.

If the moment for the destroyer fence to show its capability ever arrives, the U.S. Navy will have to make absolutely certain its missile-killing missiles don’t miss. North Korea would only feel emboldened if its greatest adversary seemed not up to the task of backing up its rhetoric with effective action.

Of course, a destroyer fence is only a short-term fix. North Korea will build more missiles and it’s only a matter of time before more countries acquire such weapons.

In the longer term, the Navy should consider upgrading more ships for ballistic missile defense.  The Navy should also push forward an idea broached by shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries to develop a missile-defense variant of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship that can be fitted out with a massive strategic antimissile battery of more than 400 interceptors or other missiles.

Similarly, more thought should be given to accelerating testing and deployment of systems that support and enable Aegis. These include the SBX-1 – a huge golf ball-shaped radar dome mounted on an oil platform that can track ballistic missiles – and additional satellites that can be used to track intercontinental ballistic missiles as they travel through space.

With bold use of proven, off-the-shelf missile-defense technology, the U.S. can turn the tables on Pyongyang, neutralizing its strategic missile threat without launching a war. The goal would be to buy enough time for cooler heads to prevail.

N.K. missiles mounted on TEL being transported in 3 to 4 regions

October 14, 2017

N.K. missiles mounted on TEL being transported in 3 to 4 regions, Dong-A-Ilbo, October 14, 2017

South Korean and American intelligence agencies are gearing up for North Korea’s another provocation as the transport and deployment of transporter-erecter-launcher (TEL) has been spotted in three to four regions in North Korea.

According to a government source Friday, a U.S. satellite recently captured images of North Korean ballistic missiles mounted on TEL being transported out of a hangar to somewhere in areas near Pyongyang and North Pyongan Province. Korean and U.S. military officials are keeping an eye on the situation as they view this as a sign of preparation for the launch of a missile comparable to Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). Another probability is the North might be preparing for the launch of a new Hwasong-13 ICBM (solid engine) that has a longer maximum range than Hwasong-14.

Initially, it was expected that the North will carry out provocative actions on Tuesday, celebrating the anniversary of its ruling party’s foundation. Sources claim that the North will push ahead with another missile provocation in response to the deployment of U.S. carrier strike group and nuclear-powered submarine to the Korean Peninsula.

The Ohio-class USS Michigan, an 18,000-metric ton submarine, arrived in the South Korean port of Busan Friday. The USS Ronald Reagan also arrived here in South Korea for a joint drill with South Korean military, which will be held in the East and West sea off South Korea from Oct 16 to 20, to prepare for the North’s naval provocations. As many as 40 navy vessels, including the Aegis destroyer and submarines, combat aircrafts, attack helicopters and JSTARS will be deployed for the joint drill. “The North may carry out a simultaneous launch of ICBM and IRBM within a few days in protest against the U.S.’s show of military might,” another source said.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation aids the US forces at the tip of the spear

October 6, 2017

Special Operations Warrior Foundation aids the US forces at the tip of the spear, Jihad Watch

(This video seems appropriate:

— DM)

 

As evidenced by the tragedy Wednesday in Niger, America’s Special Operations Forces remain at the tip of the spear in this long war. Our Special Operators are serving in high-risk areas of hostility such as Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Niger and over 70 other countries around the world every day.

It takes a special kind of “quiet professional” to meet the exacting standards of America’s Special Operations Forces. As this trans-generational war continues, Special Operations Forces will be facing new challenges all too frequently. In fact, there has never been a greater need for Special Operations Forces than right now. Special Operations will continue to be the force of choice, time and time again.

For the past 37 years the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) has been dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of Special Operations Personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty or are severely wounded and hospitalized as a result of wounds sustained in combat. And for the 11th consecutive year, SOWF continues to this while maintaining a 4-Star Charity Navigator rating.

Mission Statement:

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation ensures full financial assistance for a post-secondary degree from an accredited two or four-year college, university, technical, or trade school; and offers family and educational counseling, including in-home tutoring, to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to severely wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel.

SOWF ensures full college scholarships to the surviving children of Special Operators who die in the line of duty – to any fully accredited college or university in the nation. Financial assistance includes tuition, room and board, books, fees, computers, transportation and miscellaneous expenses.

Additionally, SOWF provides ongoing support and academic counseling to make sure every student has the opportunity to do well in school. SOWF offers professional tutoring – at no cost – to all students from kindergarten through college graduation.

The Foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to severely wounded Special Operators to allow their families to be with them in the hospital and to offset expenses associated with their injuries. SOWF delivers a $5,000 check to the wounded Special Operator’s bedside immediately following arrival in a U.S. military hospital. We also provide an iPad so that the Special Operator can keep in touch with their comrades and family.

Please consider supporting our Special Operations Forces by donating to this exceptional organization today.

Israeli technology saving American lives and equipment

October 4, 2017

Israeli technology saving American lives and equipment, American ThinkerRuss Vaughn, October 4, 2017

One of the huge problems in fighting asymmetric wars such as America has been doing now for decades is that the advantage a major power has in expensive, sophisticated weaponry can be negated in seconds with an inexpensive, primitive weapon, with the rocket-propelled grenade being the classic example.  RPGs have taken out everything from helicopters to heavy tanks.  Now,  according to Global Security.org, the Army is doing something about it by doing a test refitting its main battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams, with a new advanced Israeli defensive system.

The US military will be installing the Israeli-built Trophy Active Protection System (APS) meant to intercept and destroy incoming missiles or rockets on their M1A2 Abrams tanks. This will make the US military the only other besides the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to use the defensive system.

The Trophy system consists of a quartet of radar antennae and fire-control radars that detects incoming projectiles, such as anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and then destroys them with a blast like that from a shotgun.

It is a “hard kill” system, meaning it protects the vehicle by destroying the projectile; this is opposed to a “soft kill” system that interferes with the missile’s guidance and redirects it. Soft kill devices are useless against the simple RPGs popular with militant groups such as Daesh.

Jointly developed by two Israeli-owned state corporations, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Trophy is the only combat-proven APS in the world.

The Pentagon made this decision after an “urgent material” request, they said in a press release on Thursday. Each system costs an estimated $350,000, and it will be first deployed to one of the US Army’s 14 Armor Brigade Combat Team’s squadron of 28 M1A2 SEPv2 variants, a nearly $10 million contract. It may then be added to other squadrons later on if it impresses, the Pentagon said.

Anti-materiel weapons such as RPGs have been a perennial thorn in the side of the US military and its allies. A $2,000 RPG launcher firing a $500 grenade can destroy or disable a $9 million Abrams tank. Over the course of 2014, the Iraqi Army lost 100 of the 140 Abrams the Americans had sold them in the fight against Daesh.

That last paragraph explains exactly why this is a good economical move by the Army.  Even a disabled tank can cost millions to retrieve from the battle area and return to a maintenance depot capable of making the necessary repairs, so just a few such “saves” can more than justify the cost of this program.  Other active protection systems, like the Iron Curtain, are being used to protect other military vehicles.  Let us hope more and better protection systems are in the works to protect these vehicles and their crews.