A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps - We Are The Mighty
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A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

A little more than 12 months after training pipelines for previously closed elite special operator jobs opened to women, the U.S. military has yet to see its first female Navy SEAL or Green Beret.


The component commanders for each of the service special operations commands say they’re ready to integrate female operators into their units, but it’s not yet clear when they’ll have the opportunity to do so.

Related: Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

The Navy is closely monitoring the interest of female applicants. In fact, Naval Special Warfare Command is eyeing one Reserve Officer Training Corps member who’s interested in the SEALs, and another woman who has yet to enter the service but has expressed interest in becoming a special warfare combatant craft crewman, a community even smaller than the SEALs with a training pipeline nearly as rigorous.

But it will likely be years until the Navy has a woman in one of these elite units.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Marines with the Lioness Program refill their rifle magazines during the live-fire portion of their training at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. | Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jennifer Jones

Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, which includes the elite SEALs and other Navy special operations units, noted that the enlisted training pipeline for SEALs is two-and-a-half years from start to end, meaning a female applicant who began the process now wouldn’t join a team until nearly 2020.

And that assumes that she makes it through the infamously grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.

“Just last week, we secured Hell Week … [we started with] 165 folks. We finished with 29. It’s a tough pipeline and that is not uncommon,” Szymanski told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict conference near Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “Five classes a year, and that’s what you have, demographically.”

While the Army Rangers famously had three female officers earn their tabs in 2015 in a special program ahead of the December 2015 Defense Department mandate that actually gave women the right to serve in the Rangers, the elite regiment remains male-only, at least for now.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Cpt. Kristen Griest and U.S. Army Ranger School Class 08-15 render a salute during their graduation at Fort Benning, GA, Aug. 21, 2015. Griest and class member 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first female graduates of the school.(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

To date, one female officer in a support military occupational specialty has completed the training process and will likely join the unit by the end of March, said Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, commander of Army Special Operations Command.

In other previously closed Army special operations elements, he said, two enlisted women have attempted special operations assessment and selection but haven’t made it through. One, who was dropped due to injury and not to failure to meet standards, is likely to reattempt the process, Tovo said.

Two female officers are also expected to begin assessment and selection in the “near future,” he said.

“So we’re going slow,” Tovo said. “The day we got the word that SF and rangers were available to women, our recruiting battalion that actually works for recruit command sent an email to every eligible woman, notifying them of the opportunity and soliciting their volunteerism. We are working things across the force through special ops recruiting battalion to talk to women and get them interested.”

Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command was the first service to report publicly that it had women in its training pipeline. But in a year, MARSOC has had just three applicants, and none who made it through the first phase of assessment and selection, commander Maj. Gen. Carl Mundy III said at the conference. Currently, he added, there are no women in training, and none on deck to enter the pipeline.

The Air Force, which opened its combat control, pararescue and tactical air control party jobs to women last year, has had several applicants, but all have been dropped from training due to injury or failure to meet standards, said Lt. Gen. Marshall Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.

“I think this is a slow build … and we’ll keep after it,” Webb said, noting that that the service observed similar trends when it opened other jobs up to women decades ago. “AFSOC is looking for the highest caliber candidates, and when a person meets that standard, she will be joining our ranks.”

For some of the services, the challenge is twofold.

Tovo said Army Special Forces recruits primarily from the infantry, which opened to women at the same time SF did. And women are moving quickly into these previously closed jobs; the first 10 women graduated from the Army’s infantry officer course in October, and 140 women are reportedly on deck to enter infantry training in 2017, while more have already been reclassified. But it’s still a small field.

MARSOC also recruits heavily from Marine Corps ground combat MOSs. To date, just three female Marines assigned to one of these jobs have entered the fleet.

“This is a process; it’s going to take time,” Tovo said. “We are focused on it, we’re ready for it and I have no doubt when we get the opportunity to put women through our qualification courses, it going to be done to a professional standard and we will be proud of the results of the female operators who come out the other end.”

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
U.S. Marines from Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), School of Infantry-East (SOI-E) take a break after completing their 10k hike before navigating their way through the obstacle course aboard, Camp Geiger, N.C., Oct. 04, 2013. Delta Company is the first company at ITB with female students as part of a measured, deliberate and responsible collection of data on the performance of female Marines. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mancuso

Szymanski suggested that social barriers to women serving in units such as the SEALs may no longer be the impediment they once were, as younger, more tolerant sailors enter the force.

“The students coming through, it’s no big deal to them,” he said. “This generation’s much more tolerant of society than our generation — a multi-diverse, gender-neutral society. Some of the integration [challenges] will be with our older cohorts.”

It’s possible, however, that the services will have to rethink recruitment in light of a widened field of potential applicants. Szymanski said his contracted SEAL scout teams visit high schools to recruit talent, but tend to target events with high male participation.

“Typically in the past, that’s been things like wrestling matches and those types of things,” he said. “So I now have to be sure that they’re thinking about, how do they incentivize or attract younger females at some of those events. Maybe swimming meets; swimmers typically will fend well in the pipeline if they’re good in the water.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

President authorizes new military pay raise at Fort Drum

President Donald J. Trump on Aug. 13, 2018, signed the $717 billion Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act at a ceremony at Fort Drum, New York.

The act – named for Arizona Sen. John S. McCain – authorizes a 2.6 percent military pay raise and increases the active duty forces by 15,600 service members.


“With this new authorization, we will increase the size and strength of our military by adding thousands of new recruits to active duty, Reserve and National Guard units, including 4,000 new active duty soldiers,” Trump told members of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and their families. “And we will replace aging tanks, aging planes and ships with the most advanced and lethal technology ever developed. And hopefully, we’ll be so strong, we’ll never have to use it, but if we ever did, nobody has a chance.”

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

Lt. Col. Christopher S. Vanek takes the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment on a run at Fort Drum.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. John Queen)

Services’ end strength set

The act sets active duty end strength for the Army at 487,500 in fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1, 2018. The Navy’s end strength is set at 335,400, the Marine Corps’ at 186,100 and the Air Force’s at 329,100.

On the acquisition side, the act funds 77 F-35 joint strike fighters at .6 billion. It also funds F-35 spares, modifications and depot repair capability. The budget also fully funds development of the B-21 bomber.

The act authorizes .1 billion for shipbuilding to fully fund 13 new battle force ships and accelerate funding for several future ships. This includes three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and two Virginia-class submarines. There is also id=”listicle-2595820937″.6 billion for three littoral combat ships.

In addition, the act authorizes 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets, 10 P-8A Poseidons, two KC-130J Hercules, 25 AH-1Z Cobras, seven MV-22/CMV-22B Ospreys and three MQ-4 Tritons.

Afghanistan, Iraq

There is .2 billion in the budget for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, and another 0 million to train and equip Iraqi security forces to counter Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists.

The budget accelerates research on hyperspace technology and defense against hyperspace missiles. It also funds development of artificial intelligence capabilities.

“In order to maintain America’s military supremacy, we must always be on the cutting edge,” the president said. “That is why we are also proudly reasserting America’s legacy of leadership in space. Our foreign competitors and adversaries have already begun weaponizing space.”

The president said adversaries seek to negate America’s advantage in space, and they have made progress. “We’ll be catching them very shortly,” he added. “They want to jam transmissions, which threaten our battlefield operations and so many other things. We will be so far ahead of them in a very short period of time, your head will spin.”

He said the Chinese military has launched a new military division to oversee its warfighting programs in space. “Just like the air, the land, the sea, space has become a warfighting domain,” Trump said. “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space; we must have American dominance in space, and that is why just a few days ago, the vice president outlined my administration’s plan to create a sixth branch of the United States military called the United States Space Force.”

The 2019 Authorization Act does not fund the military. Rather, it authorizes the policies under which funding will be set by the appropriations committees and then voted on by Congress. That bill is still under consideration.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

Articles

US-backed Syrian rebels are advancing on the ISIS capital

The Syrian Democratic Forces coalition (SDF) launched a new campaign to advance toward the ISIS capital at Raqqa, the SDF commander announced on Twitter today:


 

The SDF is comprised of mostly Kurdish fighters and Syrian militia groups and is the primary partner for the U.S. effort against ISIS. This new offensive has taken them within 40 miles of the ISIS stronghold. U.S. and coalition aircraft are supporting the effort with airstrikes in and around Raqqa.

SDF’s strongest component, the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units), will not advance on the capital city itself. The Kurdish leadership believes Raqqa should be captured by Arab militias. Thirty thousand SDF troops moved to retake vast areas northwest of the city, but the assault on Raqqa will have to wait until the Arab militias have the strength.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

BBC Middle East Correspondent Quentin Sommerville reports ISIS fighters are literally digging in for Raqqa’s defense. Earthworks and defensive structures are going up around the area. There are even rumors of an extensive network of tunnels.

Fox News reported a state of emergency was declared by ISIS in Raqqa. The city’s defenders number anywhere from three to five thousand fighters. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russian forces are ready to coordinate with the SDF and the U.S. coalition to provide any support necessary to capture the ISIS capital.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Kurdish fighters of the YPG, flash victory signs as they sit on their pickup on their way to battle against the Islamic State, near Kezwan mountain, northeast Syria. Drawing on thousands of fighters from Syria’s mix of religious and ethnic groups, a U.S.-backed alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces is the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State group in Syria. (Kurdish YPG photo)

SDF forces celebrated a string of victories against ISIS in recent months, including liberating a number of villages and 4,000 square miles of territory under ISIS control, capturing militants, and cutting off ISIS supply lines into neighboring Iraq. Raqqa fell to ISIS in 2013, the first Syrian provincial capital to fall to forces in open rebellion against the Asad regime in Damascus.

 

MIGHTY MOVIES

The Super Bowl is getting the most awesome Air Force flyover ever

Fans tuning in to watch Super Bowl LII, where the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will face off to determine who is the best in the NFL, will also see a bit of history during the pre-game ceremonies. For the first time, the Air Force Heritage Flight, including a North American P-51 Mustang, will conduct the traditional flyover.


A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
A North American P-51 takes off from Iwo Jima, in the Bonin Islands. From this hard-won base our fighters escorted the B-29’s on bombing missions to Japan, and also attacked the Empire on their own. (USAF photo)

According to an Air Force release, the P-51 will be joined by two Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt close-air support planes and a Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. This is not unusual for the Heritage Flight, which routinely flies older aircraft alongside those currently serving.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Two A-10 Thunderbolts will also take part in the flyover. (USAF photo)

The Super Bowl flight is a first for the Air Force’s Heritage Flight, which honors the sacrifices made by those who have served, assists in recruiting and retention efforts, and displays the evolution of air power over the years. The P-51 will be flown by Steve Hinton (not to be confused with his son, Steven Hinton, who set a new speed record in a modified P-51 last year). The flyover will be broadcast live on NBC from multiple cameras, including one mounted on the P-51.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
A F-16 will also participate in the Super Bowl LII flyover. (USAF photo)

The P-51 Mustang entered service with the Air Force in 1942. It had a top speed of 437 miles per hour and a maximum range of 851 miles. It was armed with six M2 .50-caliber machine guns and could also carry bombs. After dominating the skies in World War II, the P-51 served as a ground-attack plane in the Korean War. It also saw action in the Soccer War of 1969. A version of the P-51 almost entered service with the Air Force in the 1980s as a close-air support/counter-insurgency aircraft, called the Enforcer.

We can’t wait to see this historic plane take to the skies once more!

Editorial Note: This article previously stated that Steve Hinton set a speed record in a modified P-51, but it has been corrected to reflect that it was his son, Steven Hinton, who set the record. 

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Army family raises $42,000 for children in honor of son

While many children dislike being the middle child, Bryce Caldwell saw it as the best of both worlds.

He loved the attention of being younger and once he was thrust into the role of big brother, it sort of became his calling.

Right from when the Caldwell family’s third son was brought home from the hospital, Bryce adored and protected him.


“Bryce was always hovering over him, kissing him, hugging him,” said Maj. Jeremy Caldwell, his father. “He was just so proud to be an older brother.”

Almost a year ago on Dec. 14, 2017, Bryce, a 6-year-old boy who not only loved his brothers but also football, died from a brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

A photo of the Caldwell family. Bryce Caldwell, lower left, had his wish come true when he visited the Denver Broncos headquarters in 2017.

Earlier that summer, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Bryce visited Denver Broncos players and had the chance to play on a real football field with his brothers.

Although his life was short-lived, Bryce’s smile and personality often drew people to him.

“He would have this incredible light about him,” Jeremy said in a phone interview. “He was so warm and caring even at such a young age.”

Shortly after their son’s death, Jeremy’s wife, Suzy, found information on a 14-week hiking and fundraising challenge sponsored by the nonprofit organization.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

Bryce Caldwell, left, takes a photograph with Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller during his wish trip to the Broncos headquarters in 2017.

(MakeAWish Foundation photo)

The culminating event was a 26.3-mile strenuous hike through the Talladega National Forest that is completed in one day.

With help from their friends, Will and Kate Searcy, the Caldwells were able to raise more than ,000 for the challenge — enough to grant five wishes from children with life-threatening illnesses.

For their efforts, the Caldwells were awarded the Lori Schultz-Betancourt Indomitable Spirit Award last at the nonprofit’s annual conference in Phoenix.

The Caldwells were left speechless when they found out they were considered for the award among the other nominees.

“We never expected when we went on this journey to get an award,” Jeremy said.

They also never expected to raise so much.

Dealing with the frustration and grief of losing a child, the Caldwells thought the challenge would help channel those emotions into something positive.

“It was a good way to focus all of that energy,” said Jeremy, who is currently a student at the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base. He has also deployed to Iraq twice to fly UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

From left to right, Maj. Jeremy Caldwell, his wife, Suzy, and their friends Kate and Will Searcy participate in a hiking challenge to raise more than ,000 for a non-profit foundation in memory of their son, who received a wish trip to visit the Denver Broncos headquarters in 2017.

Their initial goal was to raise ,500, the minimum pledge needed for one person to take part in the challenge.

But the outpouring of support they received from the local community and the military community across the world was much more.

“All I can say is that we are blessed we had so many good people behind us, lifting us up at such a difficult time in our lives,” Jeremy said.

After seeing their son’s joy during his wish trip to the Denver Broncos headquarters in June 2017, Jeremy and Suzy just wanted other families to have the same opportunity.

The trip provided some welcome relief from all the weight put on their shoulders at a time when they constantly worried about medications, doctor appointments and MRI scans.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

Maj. Jeremy Caldwell, right, accepts the Lori Schultz-Betancourt Indomitable Spirit Award in October at the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s annual conference in Phoenix.

(MakeAWish Foundation photo)

“You can just focus on your family and enjoy the moment and the happiness that you see in your kid’s face,” he said. “That’s the incredible, almost healing, factor of these wish trips and that was an inspirational part of why we kept pushing to raise the amount of money that we did.”

The Caldwells have also raised nearly ,000 for another nonprofit that supports research to cure pediatric brain cancer like DIPG.

There are even plans to tackle the hiking challenge for a second time.

“I don’t know if we’ll get to the 40-something thousand dollars again, but maybe we’ll just focus on getting to one wish,” Jeremy said. “That’s the initial goal and we’ll see where it goes.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Strangers brave snow and ice to attend the funeral of a 91-year-old veteran

In the military community, there’s nothing more important than honoring our fallen and showing up. Earlier today, at Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO, that’s exactly what happened.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Army schedules hearing to consider Bowe Bergdahl plea

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear in court next week to enter an expected guilty plea to charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009.


The Army announced that Bergdahl will enter a plea Oct. 16 at Fort Bragg. The news release didn’t elaborate on what his plea would entail, but two individuals with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press last week that Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. They were not authorized to discuss the case and demanded anonymity.

Prosecutors aren’t saying whether they have agreed to limit Bergdahl’s punishment. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.

A lawyer for Bergdahl didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Oct. 12.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Photo via US Army

His trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 23, but those dates are expected to be used for sentencing now. While guilty pleas allow Bergdahl to avoid trial, his sentencing is still likely to include dramatic testimony about service members injured searching for him.

Legal scholars say it will be revealed at the Oct. 16 hearing whether Bergdahl struck a deal with prosecutors, or is simply pleading guilty with hopes of leniency from the judge. His five years of imprisonment by the Taliban and its allies could be a factor in his sentencing in either scenario.

Military judges are supposed to make unbiased decisions, so if prosecutors have proposed a more limited punishment, this judge won’t know exactly what they’re calling for until after he decides on a sentence. Military jurisprudence calls for Bergdahl to ultimately be sentenced to the lesser of the two punishments, legal scholars said.

Because the defense has lost several pretrial rulings, government prosecutors have a strong hand to pursue punishment and little to gain from a lenient plea deal, said Rachel Van Landingham, a former Air Force lawyer who teaches at Southwestern Law School in California.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag in this still from a Taliban-released video.

“The Army has gone after this case with a vengeance – why not continue that pursuit by asking for a stiff punishment?” she said. “But who knows, this case has been quite topsy-turvy.”

Bergdahl could admit guilt without a plea agreement — known colloquially as a “naked plea” — which would be a risky move with some possible benefits. Such a plea wouldn’t require Bergdahl to agree with prosecutors on certain facts of the case, as he would under a deal, said former Army lawyer Eric Carpenter, who teaches law at Florida International University.

But, Carpenter said, “The military judge can sentence you to whatever he wants, so that’s the real risk that they would be taking.”

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Photo courtesy of USAF.

Prosecutors gained leverage when the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, decided to allow evidence of serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl at the sentencing phase. The judge said a Navy SEAL and an Army National Guard sergeant wouldn’t have wound up in separate firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl.

The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove President Donald Trump had unfairly swayed the case with scathing criticism of Bergdahl, including suggestions of harsh punishment. The judge wrote in a February ruling that Trump’s campaign-trail comments were “disturbing and disappointing” but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Bergdahl walked off his base without authorization. Bergdahl himself told a general during a preliminary investigation that he left intending to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit. He was captured soon after by the Taliban and its allies.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
Photo from US Coast Guard.

But the defense team has argued that Bergdahl can’t be held responsible for a long chain of events that included many decisions by others on how to conduct the searches.

The military probe of Bergdahl began soon after he was freed from captivity on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed he jeopardized the nation’s security with the trade, but Obama said: ” The United States of America does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.”

Bergdahl, who’s from Hailey, Idaho, has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base pending the outcome of his legal case.

Articles

Arguing about whether the F-35 can dogfight misses a really big point

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
An F-35A Lightning II team parks the aircraft for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, February 8, 2016. | US Air Force photo


WASHINGTON, DC — According to some reports, America’s fifth-generation stealth aircraft doesn’t excel at dogfighting.

But fortunately, the F-35 Lightning II is not built for dogfighting.

While some analysts have argued that the air-to-air combat capabilities of the F-35A won’t match some of its peer aircraft, pilots who spoke to Business Insider pointed out that the US’s fifth-generation fighter is designed in such a way that dogfighting may be an afterthought.

Also read: Pentagon advances F-35 vs A-10 Close Air Support testing

“As a pilot, dogfighting is fun, but it doesn’t get the job done,” US Air Force Maj. Will “D-Rail” Andreotta, commander of the F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team, told Business Insider.

“If I’m dogfighting I’m not bombing my target. I’m not getting my job done, and what I’m probably doing is wasting gas and wasting time.”

Andreotta, a pilot in the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base who has flown both the F-16 and F-35, says the F-35A’s unprecedented situational awareness and stealth gives him “the utmost confidence that this plane will operate perfectly” in a dogfight with fourth-generation aircraft.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps
An F-35 and F-16 fly side by side. | US Air Force photo by Jim Hazeltine

“I have stealth, so I’ve fought against F-16s and I’ve never gotten into a dogfight yet. You can’t fight what you can’t see, and if F-16s can’t see me then I’m never going to get into a dogfight with them.”

What’s more, Andreotta says, the US Air Force’s F-16s and F-35s work well together.

“The F-16s, F-35s, F-22s, no matter what the aircraft, they all bring something to the fight, they’re all different and they all are great compliments to each other. We just all have different capabilities that we can use to get the job done.”

“The F-16s and fourth generation are really benefitting from all the information we are able to pull in and send to them,” Andreotta said. “I can take information that I’m getting from the F-35 and push it out to other aircraft that don’t have the capabilities that I have. That’s huge. I would have killed for that when I was flying an F-16.”

“I think if you talk to any fourth-generation pilot that has flown with the F-35 they’ll rave about the information they’re getting from us, and we’re not even at the point where we are sending out all the information.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Tent city under construction for Tyndall relief

One thousand service members from around the U.S. are set to call Tyndall Air Force Base’s “Tent City” their temporary home while supporting base recovery efforts.

In just over two weeks since Hurricane Michael made landfall along the base’s coastline, a blend of civil engineering airmen have worked around the clock and successfully brought basic necessities to the installation, which was heavily damaged in the storm.

Master Sgt. Angela Duran, 49th Civil Engineering Squadron team lead, arrived on Tyndall AFB Oct. 13, 2018, just a few days after the storm hit. She and her team of 27 from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, landed in a C-17 Globemaster III filled with equipment.


“When we came in, we had to build our tents first to house us,” she said. “We didn’t really have anything. We brought everything with us so we were able to start tent city.”

The team has since grown to 41, and what started as a 60-tent project has now expanded to 80.

“We put up the first 60 in three and a half days,” said Master Sgt. Jeremie Wilson, 49th CES team lead. “The new 20 will be done in two days.”

Tents aren’t their only task. They have also put in latrines, showering facilities and air conditioning units for the tents – bringing comfort to the city’s inhabitants.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

Airmen from the 23rd Civil Engineering Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and the 635th Material Maintenance Squadron, Holloman AFB, N.M., add to the dozens of housing tents they have helped construct on Tyndall AFB, Fla., Oct. 25, 2018.

“It is so rewarding to see people actually be able to go in and use the showers and have a climatized environment to sleep in after their hard day of work,” Wilson said. “They are able to come home, a deployed home, and have some kind of normality.”

Being able to help is especially important to Wilson, who is from New Orleans.

“When Katrina hit, I was deploying and a lot people did a lot of great things for my community and family,” he said. “It feels good to be paying it back, since I have been on the other side.”

For the other members of the team who may not have such strong emotional ties, the work is still rewarding, Wilson said..

“It can be trying work and repetitive,” Wilson said. “They are constantly counting parts and operationally checking equipment, but they are getting the opportunity to actually see the equipment working and being used for a purpose. Everyone is taking a lot of pride in that.”

Duran echoed his sentiment.

“They enjoy it,” she said. “They get to say, ‘this is what we do and what we do it for and we are helping these people out.’ They are getting fulfillment and satisfaction. For some, it is their first time putting training to work.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. wants the Pakistani military to increase counterterrorism

US leaders are now asking Pakistan to increase its counterterrorism activity and further collaborate with the Dept. of Defense when it comes to attacking Jihadists in their country and advance prospects for increased peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford recently met with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Bajwa in Islamabad to discuss heightened cooperation between their two countries.

“Secretary Pompeo emphasized the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, and conveyed the need for Pakistan to take sustained and decisive measures against terrorists and militants threatening regional peace,” State Dept. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a written statement.


The meeting takes place within a broader context of ambiguity characterizing US-Pakistani relations, a connection which encompasses both tensions and successful military-to-military counter-jihadist cooperation.

Within Pakistan, there appears to be two interwoven, yet distinct trajectories; US officials and Pakistani security experts say that the Pakistani military has had substantial success attacking jihadists within their borders. At the same time, many US officials continue to raise some measure of question regarding the level of Pakistani resolve when it comes to counter-jihadist initiatives. Further, some are also raising questions about the actual depth of Pakistan’s alliance with the United States, particularly given the country’s interest in addressing the India-Pakistan conflicts regarding the contested Kashmir region.

Pompeo and Dunford, being aware of President Trump’s stated concern that Pakistan might harbor jihadists, both cited increased military-to-military relationships as central to future progress in the region.

“On the surface, they say they want to cooperate…. So what we are looking for is the actions to back that up ,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staft Gen. Joe Dunford, according to a Pentagon report.

A year in, no female SEAL applicants, few for SpecOps

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 5, 2018.

Former Secretary of State spokesman Jamie Rubin is among those raising concerns about the actual extent of Pakistan’s allegiance to the US-backed counterterrorism operations. In particular, he has posed the question as to whether the newly arriving Pakistani administration, led by recently elected Prime Minister Imran Khan, will pursue pro-American policies.

Multiple counterterrorism and security experts familiar with operations in the region have said that part of the ambiguity or apparent contradictory sensibilities within Pakistan emerges, in large measure, from Pakistani entities operating separately from a military-led government infrastructure.

Rubin made the argument that instances wherein Pakistani entities appear to be sustaining some degree of alliance with Afghan and Pakistani jihadists are due to the country’s highly-prioritized anti-India stance.

Specifically, Pakistani jihadists are, according to many expert estimates, believed to be involved in various counter-Indian initiatives. Also, Rubin maintained that some portion of Pakistanis seek to maintain an ability to have safe harbor in Afghanistan in the event that their country is overrun by Indian forces.

Citing the currently incoming new Pakistani administration, Rubin raised the question as to whether there were enough “pro-Americans” within Pakistani government. He wondered whether there was instability and tension separating Pakistani military leadership and other political ambitions held by some in the country.

Pakistani security officials involved in maintaining counterterrorism support and security within the country say an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, including government officials, are what he called “moderates.”

“The rhetoric in Pakistan is moderate and not one of an extremist Pakistan. That is in everyone’s interests,” said Ikram Sehgal, Chairman of an international security firm called the Pathfinder Group.

At the same time, Sehgal also cited the importance of Pakistan’s relationship with Iran and other regional neighbors, adding “our best stance is to be neutral and not take sides.”

Meanwhile, US military officials emphasize that the current Trump administration is deeply invested in improving US-Pakistani military and diplomatic cooperation with a particular dual-pronged approach of both seeking peace in Afghanistan and stepping up Pakistani military counterinsurgency attacks against jihadists.

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U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo arrives in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 5, 2018.

Also, operating beneath the shadow of a widely-discussed war in Afghanistan, the Pakistani military has quietly been aggressively attacking jihadi terrorists, Taliban forces and other enemies in the mountainous tri-border region spanning Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, according to Sehgal.

Pakistani military missions, which have for quite some time been existing below the radar of greater international consciousness and focus, have by no means been uncomplicated. Many successes have been met with challenges and an ebb-and-flow often associated with complex counterinsurgency operations against a mix of enemy forces.

Nonetheless, despite the overwhelmingly circulated narrative that jihadist enemies continue to find safe-harbor in Pakistan, jihadi insurgent forces have consistently been attacked and removed from the area by the Pakistani military, Sehgal said.

Operating with weapons, intelligence assistance, and training support from the US military, Pakistani military activity has lowered the number of jihadi fighters in the country from more than 100,000 years ago to roughly 2,000 today.

Along with many Pakistani experts and observers of the tri-border region, Sehgal does acknowledge that the situation in Pakistan is not without some ambiguities and complexities. However, despite an at times fragmented approach and periodic hesitations, Pakistani forces have steadily made substantial progress over the course of the last decade, he claimed.

Pakistani military operations have included raids, door-to-door searches of tribal areas and large-force attacks on jihadi facilities such as underground bunkers and command and control facilities; the attacks have massively reduced the amount of enemy jihadi fighters in the region, Sehgal said.

Sehgal added that, not long ago, Pakistani military forces attacked and destroyed a jihadist facility in the tribal areas previously known to harbor large amounts of insurgents.

“Pakistanis have been carrying out ops on their side of the border. We have not had an easy time as successful as we’ve been. We successfully carried out military operations against jihadi military facilities,” he said. “We have not had a single failure when we attack them directly.”

Also, the Pakistanis are currently fencing the tri-border area to stop the flow of enemy fighters coming in from Afghanistan. Sehgal said the fence will be finished several months from now.

Featured image: Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Bajwa.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran claims its military controls the Persian Gulf

“Everything north of the Strait of Hormuz is under our control,” said Ali Fadavi, a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. If that’s true it would mean the Islamic Republic controls the flow of one-fifth of the world’s oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran also says it controls the American Navy.


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Let’s see how that works out for Iran.

“American battleships in the region are under the complete control of Iran’s army and the Revolutionary Guards,” Fadavi told Fars News Service, without providing any further details. While Iran isn’t going anywhere near the recent rocket attack that struck the Green Zone just a few days before the IRGC Navy commander made the statement, the provocations against American forces in the region appear to continue.

Meanwhile, the United States is increasing its presence in the Gulf region, sending bomber aircraft along with three more ships to bolster its forces. The Pentagon is also weighing a plan to deploy five to ten thousand more troops to the region.

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The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group entered the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf in 2016

Iran has approximately 20,000 men from the Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in and around the Persian Gulf, manning missile boats, torpedo boats, and even speedboats. Of most concern to the ships of the U.S. navy and its allies, however, is the number of coastal and aircraft-fired anti-ship missiles in the region. On top of the IRGC’s naval assets are the approximately 15,000 men and Marines aboard the the dozens of more traditional ships – frigates, destroyers, corvettes – in the Gulf.

As for the buildup of American troops in the Gulf, Iran recently said the power posed by the force have turned from threats to targets.

“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander told the Iranian Students’ News Agency .

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Everything is on the table but Crimea’ at the Trump-Putin summit

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is open to searching for compromises with his U.S. counterpart on “all” issues except the status of Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Moscow claims is part of Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments on July 2, 2018, ahead of a planned summit between Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated to a post-Cold War low over issues including Russia’s seizure of Crimea in March 2014, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and its meddling into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


Peskov said on a conference call with reporters that Putin “stated multiple times and explained to his interlocutors that such an item as Crimea can never appear on the agenda, considering that Crimea is an integral part of Russia.”

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President Donald Trump

“All the rest are matters [subject to] consensus, discussion, and a search for possible points of contact,” he added.

Trump, asked on June 29, 2018, whether reports about him dropping Washington’s opposition to the Russian annexation of Crimea were true, said, “We’re going to have to see.”

White House national security adviser John Bolton, who met with Putin in Moscow on June 27, 2018, later ruled out the possibility of abandoning Washington’s opposition to the takeover.

“That’s not the position of the United States,” he told CBS on July 1, 2018.

The European Union, the United States, and other countries have imposed sanctions against Russia over actions including its seizure of Crimea and its role in a war that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

Think tank wargame shows Russia would win opening battles against NATO

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Photo by Senior Airman Kenny Holston | U.S. Air Force


The current NATO force structure in Eastern Europe would be unable to withstand a Russian invasion into neighboring Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, a new think tank study has concluded.

After conducting an exhaustive series of wargames wherein “red” (Russian) and “blue” (NATO) forces engaged in a wide range of war scenarios over the Baltic states, a Rand Corporation study called “Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank” determined that a successful NATO defense of the region would require a much larger air-ground force than what is currently deployed.

In particular, the study calls for a NATO strategy similar to the Cold War era’s “AirLand Battle” doctrine from the 1980s.  During this time, the U.S. Army stationed at least several hundred thousand troops in Europe as a strategy to deter a potential Russian invasion. Officials with U.S. Army Europe tell Scout Warrior that there are currenty 30,000 U.S. Army soldiers in Europe.

The Rand study maintains that, without a deterrent the size of at least seven brigades, fires and air support protecting Eastern Europe, that Russia cold overrun the Baltic states as quickly as in 60 hours.

“As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options,” the study writes.

“AirLand” Battle was a strategic warfighting concept followed by U.S. and allied forces during the Cold War which, among other things, relied upon precise coordination between a large maneuvering mechanized ground force and attack aircraft overhead.  As part of the approach, air attacks would seek to weaken enemy assets supporting front line enemy troops by bombing supply elements in the rear. As part of the air-ground integration, large conventional ground forces could then more easily advance through defended enemy front line areas.

A rapid assault on the Baltic region would leave NATO with few attractive options, including a massive risky counterattack, threatening a nuclear weapons option or simply allowing the Russian to annex the countries.

One of the limited options cited in the study could include taking huge amounts of time to mobilize and deploy a massive counterattack force which would likely result in a drawn-out, deadly battle. Another possibility would be to threaten a nuclear option, a scenario which seems unlikely if not completely unrealistic in light of the U.S. strategy to decrease nuclear arsenals and discourage the prospect of using nuclear weapons, the study finds.

A third and final option, the report mentions, would simply be to concede the Baltic states and immerse the alliance into a much more intense Cold War posture. Such an option would naturally not be welcomed by many of the residents of these states and would, without question, leave the NATO alliance weakened if not partially fractured.

The study spells out exactly what its wargames determined would be necessary as a credible, effective deterrent.

“Gaming indicates that a force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades—adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities—could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states,” the study writes.

During the various scenarios explored for the wargame, its participants concluded that NATO resistance would be overrun quickly in the absence of a larger mechanized defensive force posture.

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NATO

“The absence of short-range air defenses in the U.S. units, and the minimal defenses in the other NATO units, meant that many of these attacks encountered resistance only from NATO combat air patrols, which were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The result was heavy losses to several Blue (NATO) battalions and the disruption of the counterattack,” the study states.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia could be likely Russian targets because all three countries are in close proximity to Russia and spent many years as part of the former Soviet Union

“Also like Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia are home to sizable ethnic Russian populations that have been at best unevenly integrated into the two countries’ post-independence political and social mainstreams and that give Russia a self-justification for meddling in Estonian and Latvian affairs,” the study explains.

While the Pentagon’s European Reassurance Initiative calls for additional funds, forces and force rotations through Europe in coming years, it is unclear whether their ultimate troop increases will come anywhere near what Rand recommends.  Pentagon officials would not, at the moment, speculate as to whether thoughts and considerations were being given to raising forces levels beyond what is called for in the initiative.

At the same time, the Pentagon’s $3.4 Billion ERI request does call for an increased force presence in Europe as well as “fires,” “pre-positioned stocks” and “headquarters” support for NATO forces.

Officials with U.S. Army Europe tell Scout Warrior that more solidarity exercises with NATO allies in Europe are also on the horizon, and that more manpower could also be on the way.

“We are currently planning the future rotations of units through Europe. The heel-to-toe concept will increase how often they’re here for the Armored BCT mission, but it won’t increase how many are here at once — that will remain just one at a time. We currently have some aviation assets on a rotation here but plans aren’t yet firm on what that looks like going forward. We’ve requested additional funding for National Guard and Reserve manpower which may come in the form of full or partial units or even individuals,” Cathy Brown Vandermaarel, spokeswoman for U.S. Army Europe told Scout Warrior in a statement.

Increased solidarity exercises would be designed to further deter Russia by showing allies cooperation along with an ability to quickly deploy and move mechanized forces across the European continent, Vandermaarel added.

The Rand study maintains that, while expensive, adding brigades would be a worthy effort for NATO.

Buying three brand-new ABCTs and adding them to the U.S. Army would not be inexpensive—the up-front costs for all the equipment for the brigades and associated artillery, air defense, and other enabling units runs on the order of $13 billion. However, much of that gear—especially the expensive Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles—already exists,” the study says.

The Russian Military

Russia’s military maneuvers and annexation of the Crimean peninsula have many Pentagon analysts likely wondering about and assessing the relative condition of the former Cold War military giant’s forces, platforms and weaponry.

Russia has clearly postured itself in response to NATO as though it can counter-balance or deter the alliance, however expert examination of Russia’s current military reveals it is not likely to pose a real challenge to NATO in a prolonged, all-out military engagement.

Russia’s economic pressures have not slowed the countries’ commitment to rapid military modernization and the increase of defense budgets, despite the fact that the country’s military is a fraction of what it was during the height of the Cold War in the 1980s.

While the former Cold War giant’s territories and outer most borders are sizably less than they were in the 1980s, Russia’s conventional land, air and sea forces are trying to expand quickly, transition into the higher-tech information age and steadily pursue next generation platforms.

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Wikipedia

Russia’s conventional and nuclear arsenal is a small piece of what it was during the Cold War, however the country is pursuing a new class of air-independent submarines, a T-50 stealth fighter jet, next-generation missiles and high-tech gear for individual ground soldiers.

During the Cold War, the Russian defense budget amounted to nearly half of the country’s overall expenditures, analysts have said.

Now, the countries’ military spending draws upon a smaller percentage of its national expenditure. However, despite these huge percentage differences compared to the 1980s, the Russian defense budget is climbing again. From 2006 to 2009, the Russian defense budget jumped from $25 billion up to $50 billion according to Business Insider – and the 2013 defense budget is listed elsewhere at $90 billion.

Overall, the Russian conventional military during the Cold War – in terms of sheer size – was likely five times what it is today.

Overall, the Russian military had roughly 766,000 active front line personnel in 2013 and as many as 2.4 million reserve forces, according to globalfirepower.com. During the Cold War, the Russian Army had as many as three to four million members.

By the same 2013 assessment, the Russian military is listed as having more than 3,000 aircraft and 973 helicopters. On the ground, Globalfirepower.com says Russia has 15-thousand tanks, 27,000 armored fighting vehicles and nearly 6,000 self-propelled guns for artillery. While the Russian military may not have a conventional force the sheer size of its Cold War force, they have made efforts to both modernized and maintain portions of their mechanized weaponry and platforms. The Russian T-72 tank, for example, has been upgraded numerous times since its initial construction in the 1970s.

Analysts have also said that the Russian military made huge amounts of conventional and nuclear weapons in the 80s, ranging from rockets and cruise missiles to very effective air defenses.

In fact, the Russian built S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft air defenses, if maintained and modernized, are said to be particularly effective, experts have said.

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Wikipedia

In the air, the Russian have maintained their 1980s built Su-27 fighter jets, which have been postured throughout the region by the Russian military.

Often compared to the U.S. Air Force’s F-15 Eagle fighter, the Su-27 is a maneuverable twin engine fighter built in the 1980s and primarily configured for air superiority missions.

While many experts maintain that NATO’s size, fire-power, air supremacy and technology would ultimately prevail in a substantial engagement with Russia, that does not necessarily negate the Rand study’s findings that NATO would be put in a terrible predicament should Russia invade the Baltic states.

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