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 USSOCOMofficialsinfullsupportofmotorcyclesafety.aspxUSSOCOM officials in full support of motorcycle safety8/19/2015
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Approximately 20 percent of men and women within Headquarters USSOCOM have registered as motorcyclists and SOCOM’s safety officials say, during most years, motorcycle fatalities are the number one cause of accidental deaths across the command.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Approximately 20 percent of men and women within Headquarters USSOCOM have registered as motorcyclists and SOCOM’s safety officials say, during most years, motorcycle fatalities are the number one cause of accidental deaths across the command.

 

Nationwide statistics from the National Highway Transportation and Safety Agency reveal that USSOCOM is not alone. Thousands of riders die in crashes each year while tens of thousands more are injured.

 

“When you peel it back and look at the reasons why people have motorcycle accidents, it comes down to a lot of different reasons – training being one of them,” said Mike Russell, USSOCOM director of safety.

 

Of the approximate 500 Florida motorcyclists who died in motorcycle crashes in 2012, 90 percent of those riders had not taken a motorcycle safety course, or had taken the basic course, just to get licensed. Continuing rider safety courses is imperative, stressed Russell.

 

“They take the basic course and think that now they are good to ride,” said Russell. “They get out there and ride, they develop bad habits, and they don’t continue to improve their defensive riding skills.”

When riders haven’t continued to develop these crucial skills, Russell adds, they may find themselves in life threatening situations and they don’t have the breaking, swerving or cornering skills necessary to avoid a crash.

 

Thanks to the support of USSOCOM leadership and dedicated volunteers like Russell, and his “RiderCoaches,” USSOCOM’s safety office is able to offer a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic Rider Course (BRC) and more advanced courses at no-cost to active duty military, guard, reserve and DoD civilians. Dependents and retirees can also attend on a space available basis.

 

News Story
 Protectingpersonallyidentifiableinformationisbecomingharder-don’tbeaneasytarget.aspxProtecting personally identifiable information - don’t be an easy target8/10/2015
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – “Thank you for updating your username and password.” This was the message Brian Carson, Community Relations chief, SOCOM Communications Office, read one Saturday morning as he scanned through three emails from his bank – but there was a problem, he hadn’t updated his login information.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – “Thank you for updating your username and password.” This was the message Brian Carson, Community Relations chief, SOCOM Communications Office, read one Saturday morning as he scanned through three emails from his bank – but there was a problem, he hadn’t updated his login information.

 

Carson immediately called his bank and was told someone had called, pretending to be him about an hour earlier, and answered three of the four security questions, allowing them access to his account.

“He knew my name, my kids’ names, my wife’s name, her date of birth, my date of birth … the one thing he didn’t know was the phone password,” said Carson.

 

In less than 10 minutes, Carson’s entire checking account had been drained of all funds by a complete stranger.

 

“Our personal information is at risk for loss, theft and misuse due largely to the digitization of our most personal information such as social security numbers, and other personal details such as dates and places of birth, current and former addresses, and family information … all of that gives insight to thieves who are able to create entire biographical profiles on their victims,” said Dennis Desmond, USSOCOM J3X Identity Management Branch chief.

 

Because of data aggregation services, social media sites, and vulnerable networks and servers, our workforce and the public are at greater risk than ever of having their identity data stolen, misused, compromised or exploited.”

 

The best approach, said Desmond, is to take control of your identity data, know where it is, and who has access to it. To help protect USSOCOM members and their families from identity theft and misuse, the Force and Family Readiness Program has cybersecurity workshops available which provide comprehensive information and training.

 

“They [J3X Identity Management Branch] put together a presentation about how to configure settings on phones to routers in your home,” said Teresa Torelli, FFRP manager.

SOCOM personnel and family members can learn more about upcoming cybersecurity training and web resources through the FFRP.

 

“U.S. military personnel are especially at risk from cyberattacks, phishing attempts, fraudulent emails and identity exploitation,” said Desmond. “If you suspect that you are being targeted by criminals, foreign intelligence services, or terrorists, report the information immediately to your counterintelligence and security office.  Many of these preventive measures seem difficult and laborious to remember, but being the victim of identity theft or fraud, or having your information exploited by an adversary is much worse.”

 

The Federal Trade Commission has a lot of useful information on its website at: https://www.ftc.gov to help people prevent identity theft and provide educational material on managing your online presence.

 

“We have many of the FTC handouts and even a SmartBook that will help SOCOM personnel lock down their personal information and manage their online content,” added Desmond.

 

“Whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, Android, or whatever it is that you’re using, the SmartBook shows you how to adjust settings on there,” said Torelli. “They [IDM and OPSEC] maintain [the SmartBook] because the information changes all the time.”

 

One of the places the SmartBook can be found is on the USSOCOM, FFRP portal page at: https://www.socom.mil/ffrp/Pages/smartcards.aspx.

 

The Defense Department also has an anti-virus software license agreement with McAfee and Symantec allowing free download of the software for service members and DoD civilians to use at home. The intent is to help protect home computers, and in turn help protect government networks.

 

Personnel who wish to download the anti-virus software should use a Common Access Card enabled computer to access the Defense Information Systems Agency website at: www.disa.mil. A search for “Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware Solutions” within the site will bring up links with information and instructions on downloading the software at home.

 

“I’ve become much more cautious, especially with the bank,” said Carson. “Now, nobody is able to get into my account without verbally giving the phone password. [The bank] sends me a text message with a specific number so I can gain access to the account, just as an additional security measure.”

 

”Protect yourself as much as you can and be a hard target,” said Torelli.

 

Identity theft is a complication you definitely want to prevent, and with these preventive measures, you can do just that.

News Story
 SolidPerformancebyTeamSOCOMCyclistsduring2015WarriorGames.aspxSolid Performance by Team SOCOM Cyclists during 2015 Warrior Games6/22/2015
Members of the U.S. Special Operations Command team demonstrated strong performances during the Warrior Games cycling events as part of the 2015 Warrior Games in Quantico, Va. The team garnered a total of eight medals including four gold, two silver and two bronze.
ApprovedMembers of the U.S. Special Operations Command team demonstrated strong performances during the Warrior Games cycling events as part of the 2015 Warrior Games in Quantico, Va. The team garnered a total of eight medals including four gold, two silver and two bronze.

Eighteen USSOCOM athletes participated in nine categories including hand-cycle, recumbent and open. In their respective categories, David Neumer , Lt. Col. Robin Pickel,  Edwin Quiros Ortiz, and Chris Self, won gold medals; Sgt. Maj. Jerry Hochstedler, and Victor Sassoon won silver; and team captain, Master Sgt. Joseph Kapacziewski, and Sean Walsh won Bronze.

A performance by the USSOCOM Parachute Demonstration Team, the Para-Commandos, kicked off the cycling award ceremony in the afternoon. The jump team flew the flags of the United States, the United Kingdom, the armed services and USSOCOM and delivered the first round of medals to the winning competitors.

One of those competitors was Edwin Quiros Ortiz, a four-year veteran of the Games, bringing home his first gold medal within his individual cycling category.

“I attempted the cycling competition for the first time last year and earned a bronze,” Quiros Ortiz said. “My short-term goal was to earn a gold medal here, and I came prepared to do that. My long-term goal is to make it to the national team.”

The father of three concluded with another noteworthy aspect of the day, “This is a great event, and a gold medal is a great Father’s Day gift,” he said.

Throughout the week, athletes will continue to compete in adaptive sports including archery, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, and wheelchair basketball.

 TeamSOCOMJoins2015WarriorGames.aspxTeam SOCOM Joins 2015 Warrior Games6/19/2015
QUANTICO, Va.- The joint U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Warrior Games team joined more than 250 fellow wounded, ill and injured warriors to kick off the 2015 Warrior Games, June 19.
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QUANTICO, Va.- The joint U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Warrior Games team joined more than 250 fellow wounded, ill and injured warriors to kick off the 2015 Warrior Games, June 19.

 

Hosted by the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., the inaugural Department of Defense Warrior Games highlight the finest athletes from all U.S. military branches, including members of the British Armed Forces.

 

The athletes were welcomed to Quantico by Maj. Gen. Juan G. Ayala, the commander of the Warrior Games Task Force. Ayala said that it was a privilege for the U.S. Marine Corps to be the first to host the games and emphasized the focus of the next 10 days were the athletes and their families.

 

Team SOCOM is comprised of 38 special operations forces (SOF) athletes from across the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and is led by Team Captain, U.S. Army Ranger, Master Sgt. Joseph Kapacziewski.  

 

After a below-the-knee leg amputation following a combat injury, Kapacziewski re-qualified as a U.S. Army Ranger, regained a squad leader position, and was promoted to a platoon sergeant position. Kapacziewski was the first U.S. Army Ranger to return to combat with a prosthetic, deploying to Afghanistan as a combat leader six times.  

 

“These Games are a testament of strength and personal courage,” said Kapacziewski. 

 

“Team SOCOM prides itself on camaraderie and puts an emphasis on the bonds created through our training and competition. This event is a symbol to all wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans that individuals can recover from serious injury or illness and lead fulfilling, productive and inspiring lives.”

 

Throughout the week, athletes will compete in eight adaptive sports including archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, and wheelchair basketball. Athletes from each team will also be invited to participate in a Wheelchair Rugby Exhibition on the final day of the event. Awards and closing ceremonies will be held June 28.

 

The Military Adaptive Sports Program is one of the ways the USSOCOM Care Coalition supports SOF warriors and their families through the process of restoring their life purpose and regaining normalcy and balance after a life-altering injury.

 

Follow the progress of Team SOCOM and participating athletes through these social media channels:

 

Websites: www.defense.gov/warriorgames and www.socom.mil/carecoalition

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/warriorgames and https://www.facebook.com/ussocom

 

Twitter: @WarriorGames / Hashtag: #TeamSOCOM

 

DVIDS: www.dvidshub.net/feature/WarriorGames2015

News Story
 OntheirownAfghanstakingtheleadtodefendtheircountry.aspxOn their own: Afghans taking the lead to defend their country6/15/2015
In September of 2002, former U.S. Army Staff Sgt., Special Forces Medic, Thomas Doherty remembers when the Afghan security forces had little to no military experience and training.
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In September of 2002, former U.S. Army Staff Sgt., Special Forces Medic, Thomas

Doherty remembers when the Afghan security forces had little to no military experience

and training. 

 

“They didn’t know how to zero their weapons, provide basic medical care, plan a mission, or create and target an objective; they didn’t know the most basic of combat skills,” Doherty recalls of his first years in Afghanistan. “We had to teach them everything, and give them everything.”

 

Twelve years later, and after multiple deployments, Doherty, now an Army Captain, Operation Detachment Alpha, detachment commander, says the Afghan’s aren’t just planning their own missions; they are, in fact training other Afghans how to train, operate and command their own units. 

 

“The Afghans have come a long way,” said Doherty who was a mentor to the Afghans at the Commando School of Excellence in 2014. “Today there is not a single primary American instructor [at the school of excellence].  Afghans are teaching other Afghans what Americans used to teach them.”

 

Doherty, along with his 11-man team, is tasked to train Afghans serving in the 2nd Special Operations Kandak (the equivalent of a U.S. Army battalion), Afghan National Army Special Operations Command located at Camp McGill, Gardez.

 

 

News Story
 USSOCOMConductsEventtoCommemorateD-Day’s71stAnniversary.aspxUSSOCOM Conducts Event to Commemorate D-Day’s 71st Anniversary6/12/2015
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Allied paratroopers and glider units were dropped behind German lines along the beaches of the Normandy coast, ranging from Caen through Sainte Mere-Eglise Beach. This pre-dawn assault would be followed by a devastating and bloody conflict between Allied forces and their enemies to secure Normandy and Omaha Beaches. The cost in lives was high. More than nine thousand Allied forces were killed or wounded.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Allied paratroopers and glider units were dropped behind German lines along the beaches of the Normandy coast, ranging from Caen through Sainte Mere-Eglise Beach. This pre-dawn assault would be followed by a devastating and bloody conflict between Allied forces and their enemies to secure Normandy and Omaha Beaches. The cost in lives was high. More than nine thousand Allied forces were killed or wounded. By 7:30 p.m., however, the Allied troops had reached the bluffs and defeated the Germans. This crucial day in history will always be remembered as D-Day … the day in which the Allied forces changed the course of World War II. 

 

On Friday, June 5, 2015, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command paid tribute to the heroic veterans who fought on that day by commemorating its 71st anniversary with the “D-Day Shoot-Out,” held at the small-arms range on MacDill Air Force Base. The event consisted of a 4-stage marksmanship event; two rifle stages and two pistol stages. Each stage required the participants to perform multiple marksmanship critical tasks. The competition emphasized the importance of combat readiness and joint training. The USSOCOM Marksmanship Team provided leadership and range safeties for the event.

 

Awards were given to the winners of each event and the best overall shooter. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Aaron Brunk earned the distinction of best overall shooter and was awarded with a new AR-15 rifle for his outstanding skills with an M-4 rifle and 9 mm pistol.

 

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Leo Smith, a World War II veteran formerly assigned to the 63rd Field Artillery, 24th Infantry Division, attended the event with his grandson, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Webb, currently assigned to USSOCOM headquarters. Smith and his grandson watched portions of each event and answered questions posed by competitors and spectators during lunch.

 

 

 CareerSOFseniorNCOreceives2015BullSimonsAward.aspxCareer SOF senior NCO receives 2015 Bull Simons Award6/2/2015
Retired Command Sergeant Major Richard “Rick” Lamb is described by a colleague as “an NCO who looks like Sergeant ‘Rock,’ and he’s got a personality that’s a mile wide and at least a quarter-mile deep, and he’s just as fun as fun could be.” These are qualities that get you noticed, but it was Lamb’s leadership ability, professionalism and competence in Special Operations that earned him the 2015 Bull Simons Award.
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Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Richard “Rick” Lamb is described by a colleague as “an NCO who looks like Sergeant ‘Rock,’ and he’s got a personality that’s a mile wide and at least a quarter-mile deep, and he’s just as fun as fun could be.” These are qualities that get you noticed, but it was Lamb’s leadership ability, professionalism and competence in Special Operations that earned him the 2015 Bull Simons Award.

The Bull Simons Award is a lifetime Special Operations Forces achievement award and USSOCOM’s highest honor. It was first awarded in 1990 and has since become an annual tradition. The award recognizes recipients who embody the true spirit, values, and skills of a Special Operations warrior. Col. Arthur “Bull” Simons, whom the award is named after, was the epitome of these attributes.

Lamb’s career spans more than three decades and multiple operations, from Eagle Claw to Iraqi Freedom, and he comes from a family steeped in military tradition.

The men in Lamb’s family have fought in conflicts since the Crimean War in the 1850s, the Civil War, World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam. Rick Lamb continued the family tradition by serving in nearly every major SOF-related combat operation until his military retirement in 2003 following his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“As a young kid, every male in my family that I loved and respected either wore herringbone twill or a police uniform, just about every male in my family starting with long lost relatives who fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade, my great-great grandfather who fought in the Civil War, my grandfather who was in the American Expeditionary Force (during World War I), and his  three sons who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam,” Lamb said. “Our family military heritage spanned quite a bit of military action, so we were a military family. There was no doubt what I was going to be.”

Lamb initially joined the Army National Guard because his father and uncle were still serving.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do and in fact, my first platoon sergeant was my uncle,” said Lamb. “He sat me down and said, ‘Son you are good at this so you should consider doing this full time,’ and so I went ahead and went from the National Guard to active duty and signed up under the Airborne Ranger enlistment option. I reported to 1st Ranger Battalion. My first company commander was then, Captain Grange.”

Capt. David Grange would become Maj. Gen. Grange and commanded Lamb’s company during Operation Eagle Claw.

Operation Eagle Claw, April 1980

On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian militant students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and captured more than 60 American hostages. Operation Eagle Claw was developed to rescue the hostages, and Cpl. Lamb took part in that mission.

“I met Rick Lamb in 1978. Tough guy, the best in the battalion. He was the epitome of a team leader,” Grange said.

Lamb’s company “Hard Rock Charlie” had the airfield seizure mission inside Iran.

“We were the extraction location for the raid ... the hostage rescue raid in Tehran,” said Grange. “Lamb was an integral part in the security of that airfield and extraction of both hostages and counter-terrorism forces out of the AO (area of operation).”

“We were up to that point, pretty much Rogers’ Rangers. We’d spend Monday through Friday out in the swamps of Fort Stewart.  We were good at small unit tactics, raids, recon, and ambushes,” said Lamb. “But he (Grange) brought us into the dayroom one day and  said, ‘Alright Rangers, I want to know who the best snipers are; I need to know who the best machine gunners are; I need to know who owns four-wheel drive vehicles, as a private vehicle, and drives them off road.’ He needed to know who has a motorcycle license, who owns dirt bikes and drives those off road; he needed to know who grew up on farms and who were capable of keeping things running with bubble gum and baling wire, and who was comfortable around machines.”

According to Lamb, Grange identified those unorthodox skill sets and used them to task organize his Rangers for the evolving tactics they would encounter during the Iranian raid.

“That was the first time I had seen that degree of flexible, unconventional thinking, and I liked it,” Lamb said. “Being part of Eagle Claw, because that was my first assignment as a young Ranger, I think I was all of a corporal, so to us it was exciting. I mean the train up to it was probably the best. We probably took down every air field west of the Mississippi training for that mission; we were breaking new ground.”

Unfortunately, the rescue mission was aborted, with tragedy following the forces’ evacuation. According to witnesses, a helicopter lifted off, kicked up a blinding dust cloud, and then banked toward a C-130 aircraft. Its rotor blades sliced through the main stabilizer of the plane. The chopper rolled over the top of the aircraft, gushing fuel and fire as it tumbled. The resulting explosion killed eight American servicemen and seriously injured several others.
 
“We were on our final rehearsal getting ready to board the planes, when they shut the planes down and said there had been issues on the desert strip. So they basically told us to sterilize the area; we didn’t want anybody to know we were there, and then we pulled out.” said Lamb. “It was gut-wrenching. I don’t know how many months we had prepared for that and everybody was on the razor’s edge. So, it was pretty depressing. But the tactics we developed, the lessons we learned, and the relationships we established during that mission survive to this day.  Eagle Claw set a solid foundation for integrating vehicles, aircraft, C2, and SOF Service Components, and propelled us into this modern era of Special Operations.”   

 EagerLion2015–ASuccessAllAround.aspxEager Lion 2015 – A Success All Around5/28/2015
Eager Lion 2015 officially comes to a close, May 19, after more than two weeks of training in the region.
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Eager Lion 2015 officially comes to a close, May 19, after more than two weeks of training in the region.


Now in its fifth year, the multinational exercise included U.S. and Jordanian military forces and more than two dozen partner nations. The exercise is designed to increase interoperability and facilitate responses to conventional and unconventional threats.


Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Abernethy, Special Operations Central Command senior enlisted adviser, witnessed several training events at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center in Amman, and noticed the synergistic effect between the countries involved in the training scenarios.


“When you can get all these type A elements … all of these elite counter-terrorism elements all in one place, and they all have their different ideas of how they’re going to actually execute a mission and then get in one spot and have them work together, compromise, and negotiate to accomplish the mission, that truly is the essence of what Eager Lion is all about,” said Abernethy.


The tactical execution of the missions which also served to showcase the men’s interoperability was quite impressive, Abernethy added.


Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick McCauley from U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, echoed his counterpart’s sentiments.


“The fact that you could take that many assault forces together with the language barriers, and with the coordination that is required to pull that off, and to do so as smoothly as they did, impressed us both,” McCauley said.


One prime example was Poland’s elite counter-terrorism unit, otherwise known as GROM, in the lead as the ground force planner for the non-combatant evacuation and embassy reinforcement scenarios that took place at KASOTC.


Both sergeants major agreed the missions were extremely well planned out and bringing all the entities together, the end result was very well executed.


Training together as a coalition not only increased efficiency, it allowed members to share tactics, techniques, and procedures they may not have had in common.

 

 USSOCOMandindustryleadersgatherforSOFIC2015.aspxUSSOCOM and industry leaders gather for SOFIC 20155/22/2015
U.S. Special Operations Command and the National Defense Industrial Association co-hosted the annual Special Operations Command Industry Conference May 19-21 at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Fla.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – U.S. Special Operations Command and the National Defense Industrial Association co-hosted the annual Special Operations Command Industry Conference May 19-21 at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Fla.

The conference is an opportunity for military, government and industry personnel to network and exchange ideas. The conference’s purpose is reflected in this year’s theme, “Winning in a Complex World.”

“SOFIC is our one chance every year to gather the entire SOF enterprise,” said James F. Geurts, USSOCOM Acquisition Executive. “Our operators, our acquisition folks, our logistics folks, and industry get together to talk about our challenges, about our opportunities, and talk about how we can work together better.”

Our industry teammates are vital to us accomplishing our mission,” added Geurts. “Getting that communication and dialog together here as an enterprise is vitally important to our success.”

“SOFIC is a great opportunity to not only examine what we did right over the last year, but it is also a venue that helps us identify the direction we’re going to move in the future,” said Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. “Through this venue, we are able to collaborate and develop affordable solutions to support our young men and women across the globe.”

 48-hourbattleresultsinAirForceCross,SilverStarmedals.aspx48-hour battle results in Air Force Cross, Silver Star medals5/8/2015
Three Special Tactics combat controllers were awarded the Air Force Cross and two Silver Star medals here May 6 for extraordinary heroism and gallantry in the face of danger while on a deployment to Afghanistan in September 2014.
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Three Special Tactics combat controllers were awarded the Air Force Cross and two Silver Star medals here May 6 for extraordinary heroism and gallantry in the face of danger while on a deployment to Afghanistan in September 2014.

The combat controllers, all from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, were recognized for their superior integration of air and ground power against armed enemies of the United States.

Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presented Senior Airman Dustin T. Temple the seventh Air Force Cross since 9/11.

He also presented Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner and Senior Airman Goodie J. Goodman the Silver Star medal -- the 31st and 32nd Silver Star medals for the Special Tactics community since 9/11.

"You are the guardians who run toward the sound of the guns and not away from them," said Heithold. "Your bravery, your intensity and your pure guts...you epitomize what being an Air Commando is all about.

"Not everyone deserves to be called a hero...you do," said Heithold.
This is only the second battle in U.S. Air Force history resulting in an Air Force Cross and multiple Silver Star medals in the last fifteen years.

The three Special Tactics combat controllers were embedded with a U.S. Special Forces team in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when their team infiltrated a well-known enemy staging point by helicopter, Sept. 27, 2014.

Their mission was to disrupt insurgent operations, including drug and weapons cache, and enemy command and control. Their unit came under heavy machine-gun, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from approximately 100 insurgents who would not back down.

 

 HealingAfghanistanASoldier’sStory.aspxHealing Afghanistan: A Soldier’s Story4/21/2015
JUNCTION, Texas – More than 10,000 miles away from home, four Afghan National Army wounded soldiers sit with their sergeant major and some American men and women in the heart land of America for a weeklong seminar, March 31- April 3, 2015, to learn skills that will better enable them to take care of their Afghan brothers wounded in combat.
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JUNCTION, Texas – More than 10,000 miles away from home, four Afghan National Army wounded soldiers sit with their sergeant major and some American men and women in the heart land of America for a weeklong seminar, March 31- April 3, 2015, to learn skills that will better enable them to take care of their Afghan brothers wounded in combat.

 

A few hours northeast of San Antonio lies ‘Eagle’s Summit Ranch,’ a 250-acre property owned by the Roever Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting the U.S. military, providing assistance to wounded warriors, hosting educational workshops, and providing public speaking opportunities for veterans.

 

This week, Dave Roever, President and Founder of Operation Warrior RECONnect, along with his staff, provide techniques to help build self-esteem among the warriors through mentoring, team-building, and therapeutic activities. The special operations commandos also receive educational opportunities and tools for overcoming and coping with new physical and mental injuries.

 

Unlike the U.S., Afghanistan does not have benevolent care centers for their veterans. When injured in combat, Afghan soldiers receive a one-time pension, are forced to retire, and often left to fend for themselves.  The goal of Afghan National Army Command Sgt. Maj. Faiz Mohammad Wafa, the top enlisted leader of Afghanistan’s National Army Special Operations Command, is to change that.

 

Wafa is determined to start an organization similar to U.S. Special Operations Command’s Care Coalition, where wounded soldiers and their families receive the support they need from their nation, their community, their service, and their family and friends. Wafa and his four commandos, with the help of the Roever Foundation, will form the groundwork of a new wounded warrior program in Afghanistan.

 

Wafa said having a program to support the country’s wounded warriors is critical to the ANA’s continued success.

“Without the wounded warrior program, we can’t train more heroes,” he said. “Our army is volunteers; if they don’t see support, they would leave.”

 

 

News Story
 10thSpecialForcesGroupSoldiers(Airborne)receiveFBI’sDirector’sAward.aspx10th Special Forces Group Soldiers (Airborne) receive FBI’s Director’s Award4/9/2015
WASHINGTON DC - James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presented the FBI’s Director’s Award, the agency’s highest recognition, to 26 Soldiers from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) March 9, at the FBI headquarters in Washington DC, for their work ferreting out Improvised Explosive Device networks in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2009.
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First time FBI’s highest award given to someone from outside the FBI

 

WASHINGTON DC - James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presented the FBI’s Director’s Award, the agency’s highest recognition, to 26 Soldiers from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) March 9, at the FBI headquarters in Washington DC, for their work ferreting out Improvised Explosive Device networks in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2009.

This is the first time the award has been given to anyone outside of the FBI.

Col. George Thiebes, at the time the Task Force 10 Commander and now serving as the Group Commander for 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), said, “It is an honor to be recognized with the FBI Director’s Award.  The members of the command receiving this award represent a portion of the entire battalion who developed this relationship with the FBI and jointly targeted the IED network.  This battalion continued to nurture these relationships as it conducted company-sized back-to-back deployments for a total of seven consecutive years.”

The Director’s Award for Excellence is among the FBI's highest honors, recognizing employees and partners for outstanding contributions and exceptional service to the FBI and its mission.

 “We feel a natural kinship with our brothers and sisters in the military because we share the values of fidelity, bravery, and integrity,” said Director Comey during the ceremony. “Like FBI employees, men and women in uniform move toward the sound of pain and danger, overcoming fear to do good.”

According to the award citation, the Kabul Counter-Improvised Device Initiative was created to synchronize the FBI’s investigative expertise with 10th SFG (A) operations. A cadre of FBI agents and Special Forces Soldiers dismantled and disrupted three IED cells and thwarted over 40 separate attacks targeting U.S. and coalition forces and the U.S. mission in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The initiative began after Sgt. 1st Class Merideth Howard and Army Staff Sgt. Robert Paul were killed along with at least eight Afghans in 2006, by a fiery car bombing on their way to the U.S. Embassy.

FBI agents from the Legal Attache’ (Legat) office in Kabul responded to the rapidly disintegrating crime scene and found the evidence was being washed away.  They realized the need for military Special Operations Forces to help secure and investigate IED crime scenes.

Legat Kabul contacted Army Gen. Dan McNeil, then commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and asked for assistance to launch the C-IED initiative. Gen. McNeil linked 10th Group up with the FBI and McNeil said at the time “G-man, meet your SWAT Team.”

Thiebes commented on the nature of relationship formed, “The relationships established and nurtured between the Special Forces Soldiers and the FBI Agents during those deployments still survive today.  We continue to run into each other in other conflict areas.  The close relationship that exists between our organizations is a testament to how military coordination and integration with the interagency has matured.”

Over three years, the team leveraged its analytical and tactical expertise to uncover manufacturing facilities, safe houses, and financiers. FBI interpreters and investigators interviewed failed suicide bombers, established a psychological profile of future bombers, and gleaned actionable intelligence about past and planned attacks. The team identified and neutralized or captured more than 150 IED facilitators targeting the area-including the notorious bomb-makers responsible for the explosion that killed Howard and Paul.

Thiebes said that not only did this opportunity serve as an example of interagency coordination but, moreover, his Soldiers were privileged to work side by side with FBI counterparts during mission planning and combat operations aimed at dismantling IED makers, emplacers, and facilitators.

“This unique relationship capitalized on the FBI’s investigative and analytical skills paired with the combat advisory expertise of the Special Forces Soldiers and the local cultural understanding of their partnered Afghan Special Police units,” Thiebes said.  “This partnership formed a powerful C-IED network that effectively targeted the IED network operating in Kabul and the surrounding provinces.”

Several senior military officers spoke at the ceremony about the collective team’s unique interagency teamwork and courage.

“There are two types of courage: physical courage and intellectual courage. This team showed both,” said Army Lt. Gen. (Ret) Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “This team said, ‘We need to do more,’ and did not allow bureaucracy to stifle the innovation we needed on the battlefield.”

Army Lt. Gen. John Mulholland Jr., former deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and current new associate director for military affairs for the CIA, echoed this praise, saying, “When we bring the best of our respective agencies together, no one can stand against us.”

Now retired Gen. McNeil said at the ceremony that he marveled at the coordination and synergy that emerged among team members. “Give way together,” he urged, citing an old rowing command. “There is no greater calling than to serve your nation and fellow citizens. Get everyone on the oars-and pull with everything you have.”

One team member of the initiative, Army Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Vose II, lost his life while disrupting IED networks in Afghanistan. His wife, Nicole, and sons, Aiden and Conner, attended the ceremony and received the FBI Star from Director Comey.

 USSOCOMrecognizesnewestCommandoHallofHonorinductees.aspxUSSOCOM recognizes newest Commando Hall of Honor inductees4/7/2015
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The U.S. Special Operations Command inducted nine former special operators into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor located at the USSOCOM headquarters here, April 6, 2015.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The U.S. Special Operations Command inducted nine former special operators into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor located at the USSOCOM headquarters here, April 6, 2015.
 

More than 120 people attended the ceremony to honor the inductees and watched as each of the former special operators or their surviving family member received a medal presented by Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, USSOCOM commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Thetford, USSOCOM Command Senior Enlisted Adviser.
 
“These men embody the skills, value, spirit and courage of the special operations warrior,” said Votel. “Today is about honoring these men and their sacrifice to the nation they love, to honor their sacrifice, and to honor their families who stood by their side.”

 

The inductees include:

- Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. James L. Hobson, Jr
- Army 1st. Lt. Jack L. Knight (Killed in action in World War II)
- Retired Air Force Col. James H. Kyle
- Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Richard C. Lamb
- Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Terrence L. Moore
- Retired Marine Corps Col. John W. Ripley
- Retired Army Col. Phillip R. Stewart
- Retired Army Col. Lynn B. Stull
- Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Paul A. Zeisman


 

 

 TexasrehabfacilityhelpsdevelopAfghanwoundedwarriorprogram.aspxAfghan wounded warrior program gets a jump start in Texas4/6/2015
JUNCTION, Texas – Five Afghan commandos who have survived traumatic combat injuries visited the Eagle Summit Ranch, a nonprofit rehabilitation facility in Junction, Texas March 30 – April 3, 2015.
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JUNCTION, Texas – Five Afghan commandos who have survived traumatic combat injuries visited the Eagle Summit Ranch, a nonprofit rehabilitation facility in Junction, Texas March 30 – April 3, 2015.

Their goal is to bring back best practices and lessons learned to Afghanistan in the hope of building support programs similar to those available to U.S. wounded veterans.

 

Sgt. Maj. Faiz Wafa, Afghan National Army Special Operations Command sergeant major, is leading the way in developing a wounded warrior program for ANASOC in Kabul, Afghanistan, near the command headquarters.

 

“My hope is for my soldiers who have lost their eyes, arms or legs to be able to support themselves and their families. Some of them have lost hope because they can’t support their families, but with a wounded care program I am confident that their hope will be restored,” said Wafa.

 

“The purpose of this week-long trip is two-fold,” said Sgt. Maj. Larry DeBusk, U.S. advisor to the ANASOC Senior Enlisted Advisor. “The first part of the trip is to bring the Afghan wounded warriors here to help them learn how to accept their injuries and learn how to live a new normal life. The second part of the trip is to become the advocates for the wounded warrior program and to take what they learn at the ranch and help fellow Afghan soldiers with their injuries and move the program forward.”

 

The war in Afghanistan continues for Afghan soldiers, and as a result, they will continue to have wounded soldiers who need treatment, said DeBusk.

 

“As of now, they do not have a wounded program like we have in the United States. With that being said, in essence, we need to help them develop a similar program so they can take care of their wounded warriors like we take care of ours,” said Dave Roever, founder and president of Operation Reconnect, a nonprofit organization whose single focus is to reconnect warriors and their families to a whole and productive life.

 StPeteBeachMayorDedicatesBridgetolocalMedalofHonorRecipient.aspxSt. Pete Beach Mayor Dedicates Bridge to local Medal of Honor Recipient4/1/2015
ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. – More than 100 people from St. Pete Beach and surrounding areas came out to support a local man and witness the dedication and renaming ceremony of the Bayway Bridge to the Medal of Honor CSM Gary Littrell Causeway Bridge, March 28.
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ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. – More than 100 people from St. Pete Beach and surrounding areas came out to support a local man and witness the dedication and renaming ceremony of the Bayway Bridge to the Medal of Honor CSM Gary Littrell

Causeway Bridge, March 28.

 

St. Pete Beach Mayor Maria Lowe honored U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Gary Littrell of St. Pete Beach by having the Bayway Bridge re-dedicated in his honor. In October 2014, the four lane high-level fixed bridge was completed and replaced a two lane bascule bridge built in 1962.

 

“It’s a rare occasion that you get to dedicate a bridge, much less dedicate it as the Medal of Honor Bridge. If there is one thing that CSM Gary Littrell has taught me, it is to have courage and never lose faith,” said Lowe.

 

Littrell received the Medal of Honor when he was a sergeant first class serving as an advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam's Ranger units during the Vietnam War.

 

According to Littrell’s Medal of Honor Citation, “On April 4, 1970, after 473 South Vietnamese Rangers ran into a concentration of approximately five thousand enemy troops, they established a defensive perimeter on a hill against a ferocious mortar attack.”

 

After four long days and nights, surrounded and fending off assaults, Littrell displayed superhuman endurance, selflessness and courage, his citation explains. Littrell repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he crawled and ran from position to position around the defensive perimeter carrying and distributing ammunition, strengthening faltering defenses, caring for the wounded, shouting encouragement to the Vietnamese in their own language, and calling in airstrikes, sometimes within 55 yards of their position.

 

“Littrell acted with extraordinary courage and selflessness during a four day siege on his battalion,” the citation read. 

 

As a member of the St. Pete Beach community, Littrell doesn’t consider himself a hero at all.

 

“When I look at this bridge I don’t see it named after me or in my honor, it’s to say thank you to every man and woman among us and to those who have ever served in the military,” Littrell went on to say.”

 

“It is for the ones who died for freedom because freedom is not free; it has been paid for by every battle since our country was born,” he said.

 

Littrell served his country and the United States Army for more than 24 years.

 

News Story
 LtGenManorisawardedtheFrenchLegionofHonor.aspxLt. Gen. Manor is awarded the French Legion of Honor3/4/2015
The Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), is the highest decoration given by France and was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.  This award distinguishes military and civil merits, and today recognizes the courageous American soldiers, and allies, who helped France fight against the barbarity of the Nazis and liberate it from its occupied status.
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The Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), is the highest decoration given by France and was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.  This award distinguishes military and civil merits, and today recognizes the courageous American soldiers, and allies, who helped France fight against the barbarity of the Nazis and liberate it from its occupied status.

 

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Leroy J. Manor has been presented a medal of knight of the Legion of Honor for his determination and participation in the air offensive over Europe, including the Liberation of Normandy. 

 

“The patrolling was to prevent German aircraft from interfering with what we were doing on the ground.  It just so happened that the German aircraft didn’t show up  that morning, but I had a ring side seat to the greatest military operation in the world,”,” said  Manor, as he recalled his part in the D-Day invasion of German occupied France.

 

Leroy Joseph Manor was born Feb. 21, 1921, and  is a retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. who began his career  as a P-47 fighter pilot in World War II, went on to serve in numerous command positions and fought in the Vietnam War.  His awards include the European African Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 6 Stars, the WWII Victory Medal, and the Purple Heart. 

 

“On one of my missions over France, I was hit when a German anti-aircraft artillery hit my aircraft, you might say my aircraft was destroyed, but it flew me back to England, where I received the Purple Heart because I was wounded.”  

 

 

 2015USSpecialOperationsCommandAllSportsCamp.aspx2015 U.S. Special Operations Command All Sports Camp3/2/2015
Buses filled with athletes arrived at the MacDill Air Force Base gymnasium and active and retired service members poured out, ready to take on the challenges of participating and competing in multiple events throughout the week. Some of the athletes will be selected to represent the U. S. Special Operations Command at the Department of Defense competition this summer.
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Buses filled with athletes arrived at the MacDill Air Force Base gymnasium and active and retired service members poured out, ready to take on the challenges of participating and competing in multiple events throughout the week. Some of the athletes will be selected to represent the U. S. Special Operations Command at the Department of Defense competition this summer.

 

USSOCOM Care Coalition held the 6th Annual Military Adaptive Sports Program All Sports Camp Feb. 23-27, 2015 and hosted 45 wounded, ill and injured service members for a week-long event.

 

“This sporting event is about the camaraderie and bringing our wounded warriors together through sports as part of their recovery and rehabilitation process,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Gilmore, USSOCOM Care Coalition event coordinator. 

 

Participants are veterans and active duty Special Operations Forces that were given the opportunity to participate in archery, track and field, swimming, shooting, discus, shot put and other sporting events. For some athletes, this is their first-time participating in MASP and for others; it’s becoming an annual event. 

 

“I know what to expect,” said Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Roy Rodriguez, a Special Operations Forces athlete.  This is his second year participating in the games. “Last year, I showed up at training and I was scoring points and making baskets with my left hand, but when you get to the real games, everybody not only scores with their left and right hands, but they can bounce it off the floor, they can throw it off a shoulder, they can hit it from their head and all of sudden it was like, ‘I have to step my game up so that I can compete against them.’”

 

 

Richard Roberts, seated throws coach, gives directions on how to throw a discus to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Roy Rodriguez, a
 Ranger,EODNCOawardednation’s2ndhighestmedal.aspxRanger, EOD NCO awarded nation’s 2nd highest medal2/19/2015
FORT BENNING, Ga. (USASOC News Service, Feb. 19, 2015) - Two members of a joint special operations task force were awarded the nation’s second highest honor for their heroic actions at an awards ceremony, Feb. 17 at Fort Benning, Ga.
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (USASOC News Service, Feb. 19, 2015) - Two members of a joint special operations task force were awarded the nation’s second highest honor for their heroic actions at an awards ceremony, Feb. 17 at Fort Benning, Ga.

 

Sgt. Bryan Anderson, a Ranger combat medic with 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and Staff Sgt. Jeffery Dawson, 28th Ordnance Company (Airborne) were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions during an assault against an armed enemy in Kandahar province, Afghanistan Oct. 5-6, 2013.

 

“On Oct. 5th and 6th, Staff Sgt. Jeffery Dawson and Sgt. Bryan Anderson set the example that inspires our current Ranger force and will embolden generations to come.” said Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Vice Chief of Staff U.S. Army, during the awards ceremony.

 

During the mission, the assault force targeted a Taliban attack network leader operating in Kandahar province. Information indicated the high value target was the leader of an attack cell planning on conducting a high profile attack in Kandahar City with aims of killing civilians.

 

On the objective, the enemy triggered multiple suicide explosive devices and improvised explosive devices, killing four members of the assault force and wounding several others.

 

“October 5th and 6th carry several indelible realties beyond our unspeakable loss. It signals to the enemies of our country, that this nation, this Army, this regiment, knows where the enemy lurks and has men and women of courage…with the intestinal fortitude to reach out and hold them to account,” said Allyn. “Second, while many scars remain from that October evening, our wounded warriors are indomitable---their example serves to inspire and lead us forward demonstrating to this nation what courage, determination and resolve truly look like.”

 

He added that Cpt. Jennifer Moreno, Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, Sgt. Joseph Peters and Spc. Cody Patterson paid the ultimate price for our nation’s freedom that night.

 

“To the families of those lost on that fateful day…we stand in reverent gratitude and commitment for your sacrifice, said Allyn. “You are forever a part of the Ranger and the Army Family and history…and we collectively recommit our service to the memory and honor of our fallen heroes.”

 

As a Ranger combat medic and fully knowing the extreme and imminent danger to himself, Anderson, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., repeatedly moved throughout an improvised explosive device belt with no regard for his own life to render aid to several fallen comrades, directly saving the lives of two members of the assault force.

 

"I wasn't concerned with my life," said Anderson. "I was concerned that I had buddies who were bleeding out on the compound."

Dawson, from Reno, Nev., continually placed himself in imminent danger as he repeatedly moved throughout an improvised explosive device belt despite being wounded by two separate detonations to retrieve wounded and fallen teammates.

 

"When I got back that night people were coming up to me and giving me hugs, and telling me thank you, they heard things about me,” said Dawson. “And I didn't really understand, I was just there I'm doing my job you know. So it’s still pretty weird to be considered a hero in other people's eyes."

 

Concluding his remarks at the ceremony, Allyn said, “On October 5th and 6th in western Kandahar province, you upheld the prestige, honor and esprit de corps of your Ranger Regiment…you moved further, faster, and fought harder than any other Soldier…you did not fail your comrades…and you never left a fallen comrade…and I am prouder than ever to be a Ranger in your midst today. God bless you and all of our heroes serving near and far. Rangers Lead the Way!”

 

In all, two Distinguished Service Crosses, one Silver Star, 11 Bronze Star Medals for Valor and 18 Army Commendation Medals for Valor and 40 Purple Hearts were awarded to other Soldiers for this mission.

 

News Story
 FloridahighschoolstudentsvisitSOCOM,presentCapstoneprojects.aspxFlorida high school students visit SOCOM, present Capstone projects2/19/2015
Approximately 30 Florida high school students, accompanied by teachers and parents, visited United States Special Operations Command personnel here, Feb. 19, to present their engineering design ideas for SOCOM’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit exoskeleton.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Approximately 30 Florida high school students, accompanied by teachers and parents, visited United States Special Operations Command personnel here, Feb. 19, to present their engineering design ideas for SOCOM’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit exoskeleton. 
Joint Acquisition Task Force - TALOS personnel welcomed the students to the base theater, where they received additional insight on the TALOS initiative before briefing and showcasing their own prototypes.

 

The Capstone project promoted Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics outreach while simultaneously accelerating the delivery of innovative TALOS concepts to support Special Operations Forces operators.

 

“I was shocked that we were going to be able to make something for the military,” said Vanessa J. Francisco, a junior and third year engineering student from Dunbar High School, Fort Myers, Fla. “I was ready for it though.”
 

Francisco was one of a five-student team representing Dunbar High School’s Project Lead the Way Tiger Engineering. Their motto, “Imagine it, design it, finance it, build it,” was reflected in their project, which focused on the upper body of the exoskeleton. Jonas Jozaities, a junior and first year engineering student from Dunbar, custom cut the metal used for their project.

 

“I used a plasma cutter and lots of time had to be put into the measurements,” said Jozaities. “Besides research, that was one of the more time consuming portions of the project.”

 

“It’s a lot of work, but the work is fulfilling,” said David Tashchyan, a sophomore and second year engineering student from Dunbar. “I was originally in the engineering program and I felt like I wanted to further my experience with the newer equipment coming in, so my curiosity really drove me to volunteer for this project.”

 

“To give you an idea, these kids come in Tuesday through Friday usually starting at 6:30 a.m. and I have to [remind them to leave] at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., or 6:30 p.m.,” said David Paulis, an engineering teacher from Dunbar. “Last night they were working until 11:30 p.m., so it’s not a matter of getting them in, it’s seriously getting them to go home.”

 

Students who were able to attend the event revealed their final projects, which were the result of a collaborative effort between JATF-TALOS and the Career Technical Education Foundation, Inc.
 

“CTEF was established in 2003 by my wife Linda and me,” said Paul J. Wahnish, CTEF president. “Our goal was and continues to be one of assisting all students in becoming the best they want to become.”

News Story
 Kaibil,USSpecialForcespromotesecuritythroughpartnership.aspxKaibil, US Special Forces promote security through partnership2/3/2015
POPTUN, Guatemala — Roughly a thousand years ago, the Mayan civilization thrived as they developed advances in writing, architecture, mathematical and astronomical studies throughout the Central American isthmus.
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POPTUN, Guatemala Roughly a thousand years ago, the Mayan civilization thrived as they developed advances in writing, architecture, mathematical and astronomical studies throughout the Central American isthmus.

Within Central America, Guatemala is considered to be the heart of the Mayan world. The nation is the most populous of the Central American countries, and it is a popular travel destination for millions of people all over the world who want to visit and experience the beauty of the Mayan culture.

However, Guatemalas excessive crime and murder rates rank among the highest in the world and could threaten the nations growing tourism industry.

According to a 2012 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, transnational organized crime in Guatemala comes at a price and is usually in the form of violence.

In the report, thousands of Guatemalans were asked what was the most important issue facing their country. It was no surprise that the public opinion poll in the report noted that crime beat out unemployment by a margin of 5-to-1.

It is a concern that Guatemalan government officials are facing head on with some of its most elite warriors known as the Kaibils, Guatemalas Special Operations Force.

With illicit activities such as drug trafficking within its borders, Kaibils assigned to the Grupo Especial de Interdicción y Rescate, or GEIR, train daily to defeat organized crime and ever-changing threats. The GEIR is considered to be Guatemalas top fighting force.

In any country there is always a threat that endangers lives and property on a daily basis, said a Guatemalan colonel assigned to the GEIR, who for security reasons spoke with anonymity. The threat [in Guatemala] is real and organized crime like the cartels, terrorists or whatever it may be, endangers the people of our country.

 

 

 PlanningwithPartners.aspxPlanning with Partners1/27/2015
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Planners from U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, 12 partner nations, and other interagency players from various organizations met here Jan. 13 to 15 for one of four planning events in support of exercise SILENT QUEST 15-1.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Planners from U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations

Command, 12 partner nations, and others from various organizations met here Jan. 13 to 15 for one of four planning events in support of exercise SILENT QUEST 15-1.

 

SILENT QUEST is a USASOC tabletop exercise that assesses concepts, capabilities, and capacities required to meet

strategic and operational challenges that Army Special Operations Forces can expect to encounter in 2020 and beyond.

 

“The scenario uses a Special Operations-centric campaign that is characterized by a multi-year, small-footprint, scalable

design, incorporating SOF, conventional force, joint, multinational, and interagency actions,” said Army Lt. Col. Gittipong

Paruchabutr, SILENT QUEST plans officer for USASOC.

 

Regional stability is a key component of the exercise, which is focused on North Africa.

 

“There is lots of ungoverned space and myriad issues that we are dealing with today that (the coalition is) familiar with, and

our countries are already there,” said Matt Pascual, the Africa desk officer for the Euro-Africa Support Group, USSOCOM. 

 

Army Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland, USASOC commander, decided multi-national participation and perspectives would be a critical asset in the planning and execution of the exercise, Paruchabutr said. He added that partner nation participation will help accurately reflect the future operating environment.

 

“Potentially shaping future USASOC doctrine and other initiatives are some of the benefits to our partner nations,” said Paruchabutr, “but most importantly, we increase trust and interoperability between our countries.”

 

Danish Army Lt. Col. Lars Soerensen, an exchange officer at USSOCOM, agrees on the many assets these global partnerships create.

 

“When USASOC opened this up, we were excited because this is an opportunity to affect the process and bring in a broader perspective to how we can see warfighting in the 21st century,” Soerensen said. “We all have a different way of doing things. What is fascinating about USSOCOM is its global community, and in order to have the ability to act fast, we need to be global.”

 

Being able to plug into a global network is key for the foreign liaison officers and U.S. staff members. This particular exercise allows all participants to align their processes and procedures.

 

“It’s important at the first step to create a basic understanding of how to inter-operate throughout the world with our partners,” said Soerensen. “It can be difficult and time consuming to create partnerships and understanding later on.”

 

The proactive approach has helped create a common community and dialogue here at USSOCOM, forging a stronger base of multinational forces. This is the first time international partners have participated in the planning and execution of this exercise.

 

“The biggest change we are making is in our perspective, from a U.S.-centric view of a problem set to a multinational view that includes our own national interests as well as our partners’,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael Davis, J-3 International desk officer.

 

“In order to strengthen and expand this global SOF network, working alongside our partners anywhere in the world, we need to start with exercises like SILENT QUEST so that we are familiar with our partners’ interests, authorities, and policies before we conduct operations together.”

 

Bringing planners together at all levels of leadership makes all participants stakeholders -- reinforcing diversity, yet ensuring early on that everyone is working toward common goals.

 

“The U.S. has certain ways of doing things, and our ways may be similar to how our partners do things, but there’s always a certain amount of collaboration and coordination that needs to take place to make sure we work together as seamlessly as possible,” Davis said. 

 

Norwegian Army Lt. Col. Asbjorn Lysgaard, a foreign liaison officer, agrees that different viewpoints increase the success of collaboration.

 

“From my perspective, the most important thing here is to have the broad coalition and partner nations present. You’ll get broader, better perspectives on what our nations believe and think for the future,” Lysgaard said.

 

From a global perspective, many of the problems faced today are interconnected. One of the goals of SILENT QUEST is to contain problems closest to their source, enabling host nations to deal with challenges at their level. This goal falls in line with the 2020 planning guidance of Army Maj. Gen James Linder, commander of Special Operations Command Africa. 

 

When involving international partners, simple but important tasks like agreeing on definitions can be vital, as there is always the possibility of language barriers being present.

 

“You don’t want to send the wrong message to partner nations. Words such as kinetic strike and raid may have very different meanings to people,” Lysgaard said.

 

Despite that fact, the benefits created by these partnerships develop networks that contribute to interoperability.

 

“Integrating components together from the SOF enterprise involves many actors, and    building a cohesive plan  incorporating other’s viewpoints is valuable,” said Pascual.

 

“We must consider the sensitivities and the cultural differences in order to have a unified team,” Pascual said. “In this venue, it’s important for our international partners and our U.S. planners to have an international approach from the genesis to the operational phase – especially since we all have real-world experiences and boots on the ground in these regions.”

 

SILENT QUEST brings together communities of interest and transforms them into communities of action by providing a unique opportunity.  “Tabletop exercises like this help us keep our proficiency in planning, responding, and managing the resources we have,” Pascual said.

 

“It’s important for planners to not only have the academics down, but also build relationships. These foreign liaison officers most often become senior members in their militaries.”

 

The capstone event for this exercise is a senior leader facilitated discussion hosted by Cleveland taking place this spring.

News Story
 CampIntegritybringswintercheertoAfghanistangirl’sorphanage.aspxCamp Integrity brings winter cheer to Afghanistan girl’s orphanage1/20/2015
Nestled behind a large blue gate and concrete walls among the busy, dusty and littered streets of Kabul lies a sanctuary for young girls with no homes, and little to no family. This place provides a warm place for the girls to sleep during the cold Afghanistan winters, a place for the girls to play in a city ravaged by war, and it’s a place for the girls to learn in a country where women are often times denied the right to an education. It’s an orphanage aptly called Save the Children, and its mission: To g
ApprovedNestled behind a large blue gate and concrete walls among the busy, dusty and littered streets of Kabul lies a sanctuary for young girls with no homes, and little to no family. This place provides a warm place for the girls to sleep during the cold Afghanistan winters, a place for the girls to play in a city ravaged by war, and it’s a place for the girls to learn in a country where women are often times denied the right to an education. It’s an orphanage aptly called Save the Children, and its mission: To give abandoned or otherwise misplaced girls the opportunity to create a life for themselves.

Save the Children was founded in 2002 and, like many social institutions in Afghanistan, is reliant on the donations and good will of others to ensure its longevity. This is where the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan comes in. Maj. Gen. Ed Reeder, commander of SOJTF-A, has made it a personal mission of his to ensure the orphanage and the girls are taken care of and given an opportunity to thrive. As part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Funding program, Reeder has been able to purchase computers for the girl’s classrooms, upgrade the heating in the rooms the girls sleep and learn in, and provide necessities such as sheets, hot water, tables and pots and pans for the orphanage.

Recently, Reeder and volunteers from a military base located in Kabul, visited the orphanage to provide the girls with career-oriented Barbie dolls, hygiene items, toys and candy- all donated by The Toy Industry Foundation, a U.S. based nonprofit organization, and Mattel Inc. toy company.

One-by-one, as the girls were given a Barbie doll their eyes would light up. For many, this is their first doll. Some of the girls anxiously open the packaging, kissing their Barbie; others don’t even open the packaging, cherishing the gift as if it were their first and last. But, all the girls smile and laugh as they play with the dolls, rearranging the dolls’ accessories, clothes and hair.

Reeder says it’s all about providing the girls a safe and secure place to learn. “It’s about education for me, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “For an orphan girl in Afghanistan, life will be very hard. They don’t have fathers to court a marriage for them, and once they turn 18 and can no longer stay at the orphanage, there’s a chance they will end up being nothing more than a housewife to a man three or four times their age. That’s why I want to make sure these girls are given every opportunity to get an education, go to college and build a life for themselves.”

 SORDACnetsDoD’shighestawardforexcellenceinacquisition.aspxSORDAC nets DoD’s highest award for excellence in acquisition12/16/2014
The Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center (SORDAC) at U.S. Special Operations Command was recognized Dec. 9, in a Pentagon ceremony with the highest level award within the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics.
ApprovedThe Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center (SORDAC) at U.S. Special Operations Command was recognized Dec. 9, in a Pentagon ceremony with the highest level award within the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics.

“The sustained excellence by SORDAC is second to none within the Department,” said James Geurts, USSOCOM acquisition executive. “This award truly embraces the commander’s priorities, ‘The right people, skills, and capabilities ... now and in the future.’”

“Additionally, the award exemplifies the SORDAC ‘Truths,’ that humans are more important than hardware,” added Geurts.

Despite dynamic mission demands and budget uncertainties, SORDAC continues to achieve its vision of being the recognized expert and trusted provider to the finest SOF the world has ever known. As such, 2014 marks SORDAC’s fourth consecutive year for recognition and validation from the highest levels within OSD-AT&L.

With a team of less than 400 members, SORDAC professionals have not only fielded numerous military items and systems, but have executed more than 500 programs and projects, overseen nearly $9 billion in funds, and awarded $3.1 billion in contracts in the last fiscal year alone.

“To win this award one time is a feather in your cap;” said Geurts, “to win it four years in a row is unheard of and speaks directly to SORDAC’s commitment to its workforce and ensuring we have the best acquisition workforce in the world to support our warfighters.”
 ThePara-CommandosofUSSOCOM.aspxThe Para-Commandos of USSOCOM12/16/2014
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – An airplane carrying members of the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team soared through the clear night sky, 3,500 feet above the brightly-lit Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., Oct. 18, 2014. Fans ready to see Florida State versus Notre Dame  became louder as three highly-skilled Para-Commandos clad in black and yellow flight suits silently exited their plane. Shortly after, the first commando came into the crowd's view.
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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – An airplane carrying members of the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team soared through the clear night sky, 3,500 feet above the brightly-lit Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., Oct. 18, 2014. More than 82,000 fans ready to see the Florida State Seminoles versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish gradually became louder as three highly-skilled Para-Commandos clad in black and yellow flight suits silently exited their plane. Shortly after, the first commando came into the crowd’s view.

 

“At approximately 1,500 feet, I couldn’t hear the ground crew from the radio on my chest anymore because I was flying over the stadium and [the cheering] was so loud,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Margelofsky, the noncommissioned officer for the USSOCOM’s Parachute Team. “We had the American flag [flying with us], so they were obviously pumped up to see that coming in. At about 600 feet or so, I came into the stadium. I had the Florida state flag and once they saw that, they got loud again - lots of camera flashes.”

 

The 13-year Army veteran spent his first 10 years as an Army Ranger before joining the Para-Commandos. Margelofsky’s voice and mannerisms rarely show any sign of emotion or excitability, but his face began to register a smile – ever so slightly, “It was pretty intense to fly over [82,000] people, land on the 50-yard line, take the football out and present it to the referees.  It’s definitely something I will never forget and I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity to represent the command, the operators and all the support personnel of SOCOM in that way.”

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 EnterpriseManagementgraduateshavebiggergoalsinmind.aspxEnterprise Management graduates have bigger goals in mind12/8/2014
In the fall of 2011, the leadership of the U.S. Special Operations Command threw out a challenge-to create the best educated force in the world.
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In the fall of 2011, the leadership of the U.S. Special Operations Command threw out a challenge-to create the best educated force in the world.


In a remarkably short time, the Joint Special Operations University Enlisted Academy has matched leadership's challenge and has the data to prove it. The JSOU-EA met the challenge by ramping up its programs from one course to four courses in a career education program. The final course to be launched under the initiative, The Enterprise Management Course, focuses on E-7 SOF operators and enablers.


Reviewing survey data from the first three iterations of the course, the instructors uncovered a surprising fact.  Ninety-two percent of graduates reported they had either completed their degrees or were now enrolled in a bachelor's completion program. This is a noteworthy leap from 34 percent  with bachelor’s degrees prior to starting the course.

This leap in college completion and enrollment is made possible by three lines of operation: The instructors, articulation agreements and academic advising.


The instructors teach at the mid-baccalaureate level and mentor the students each step of the way. The four instructors are all prior SOF operators and hold degrees at the master's or doctoral level. They fulfill former Command Sergeant Major Chris Faris' vision of providing lessons that are "early to need," meaning the course lessons precede real world application. For example, students learn about campaign phasing and strategy before they are assigned to a Theater Special Operations Command. The level of instruction gives students confidence they can complete a bachelors program.


Agreements stipulate 12 to 15 transferable college credits through three partnering institutions: Norwich University, University of Charleston - West Virginia and Excelsior College. With these credits, and those recommended through Joint Service Transcripts or the Community College of the Air Force, students are discovering they are just 30-36 college credits (10-12 courses) from graduating with a meaningful degree, even if they’ve had no previous college education.


Figuring out college credit and degree programs are where JSOU's Academic Advisor, Katie Carson comes in.  Carson ensures all students are aware of their options, she contacts students who have not completed a degree and provides them with choices.

 "Most students have no idea how close they are to earning their degrees. After we complete the evaluation process, most are able to transfer around 75 credit hours before we even begin discussing credit for the Enterprise Management Course," Carson said. "The admission process can be intimidating for someone who has never attended a university. However, once we have done our jobs, the student has a very bright light at the end of the tunnel moving toward his or her degree."


The Enterprise Management course’s major lessons include: Critical thinking, leadership, strategy, irregular warfare, negotiations, campaign phasing, Department of State history and culture, change management and Preservation of the Force and Families.  The Course runs five times a year and can accept up to 100 students per iteration. The course is designed for E-7s, and E-6s who have completed the Joint Fundamentals Course, as well as E-8s and E-9s. Those interested in attending can register through the JSOU public site at https://jsoupublic.socom.mil/Pages/Courses.aspx.


Feedback for the course has been very positive and according to one graduate, “This course was very well executed; the lessons were pertinent to SOF leaders, I enjoyed the interaction with other students and it provided a wide field of view on topics relevant to US SOF, regardless of Service Component."


While only time will tell if JSOU’s Enlisted Academy will maintain the 92 percent higher education enrollment rate, they stand ready to assist in making sure USSOCOM has the best educated force in the world.

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