Dec 31, 2010

Photo of the Month December 2010

 Happy New Year
 Click picture to enlarge
Diamond, the third of the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 class of anti-air warfare destroyers

Dec 30, 2010

U.S. troops clash with Taliban in Afghan east

Rafiq Maqbool / The Associated Press From left, Army Spc. Christopher Wilson, Army Sgt. David White and Army Spc. Andrew Elterbrock of 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2-327 Infantry, take positions Dec. 29 during a sudden attack by Taliban on Combat Outpost Badel in eastern Afghanistan, near Pakistan border.
KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. forces clashed with insurgents in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, fending off a Taliban assault for the second time in as many days.
U.S. soldiers came under small arms fire early Wednesday morning as they set up a combat outpost in Kunar province, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. An Associated Press photographer at the base said the insurgents fired from a hillside and the U.S. troops returned fire with rifles and artillery.
The roughly 30-minute battle was the second time the same unit has come under fire in under 24 hours. Late Tuesday, they repelled a Taliban ambush and offensive using artillery and mortars in a fight that raged for nearly an hour. The outpost is said to come under attack by the Taliban as much as five times a week, at times twice daily.
NATO forces are heavily concentrated in the traditional Taliban-stronghold in the south, but the insurgents have increasingly re-expanded their reach, launching attacks in the north while allied militants such as the Haqqani network in Pakistan, have launched attacks in the east.
While NATO says the coalition is making sizable gains in quelling the insurgency, continued violence and chronic instability paint a vastly different picture of the situation in Afghanistan as the war against the Taliban approaches the start of its tenth year.
The instability has turned 2010 into the deadliest year of the conflict for international forces, with 700 NATO service members killed so far. But the Afghan army has also shouldered its share of the toll.
In the latest attack on Afghan forces, a soldier was killed in a suicide attack in the eastern Paktika province on Tuesday, according to a statement released Wednesday by the office of the province's governor. The statement said that the attack in the Barmal district left two other soldiers and five civilians wounded. Additional details were not provided.
Paktika, which borders with Pakistan, is among the areas where the Taliban and al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network is active. The group, seen as a major threat to stability efforts in Afghanistan, has been a principal target for NATO, as well as a source of consternation for the international force as Pakistan has resisted pressure to crack down on the group.
But the coalition said it was also making progress, overall.
NATO said in a statement released late Tuesday that it — in conjunction with Afghan forces — had killed more than 15 insurgents over the past 24 hours. The heaviest toll was in the eastern Kapisa province, an area where French forces are stationed. Coalition forces called in an air strike on an insurgent position as the militants were reinforcing their position in the district, NATO said, adding that at least 10 combatants were killed.
Separately, NATO and Afghan forces detained a Taliban leader in the southwestern province of Nimroz. NATO said Wednesday the man had knowledge of suicide bombers in the area and was involved in weapons procurement.
Associated Press photographer Rafiq Maqbool in Kunar province contributed to this report.

Dec 28, 2010

Army to test Marine camo

Cpl. Dwight A. Henderson / Marine Corps Members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit conduct urban terrain training on Dec. 13 aboard Fort Pickett, Va.
By Dan Lamothe and Lance M. Bacon - Staff writers
Posted : Tuesday Dec 28, 2010

The Army is moving to replace its combat uniforms, and will test variants of the Corps’ popular Marine Pattern camouflage in the process.

17,000 101st Airborne soldiers coming home

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Messages are already appearing on the facades and marquees of local businesses. Many in the community are excited.
About 17,000 soldiers — most of the 101st Airborne Division — are about to come home from war. Clarksville is ready to offer a warm welcome. "I'm excited for Clarksville," says Mayor-elect Kim McMillan. "They're a part of our community, and we want to do what we can."
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans" begin their return from Afghanistan in January. The 1st and 2nd BCTs, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade and the 101st headquarters will be home in the spring, the 4th BCT in the summer.
This return will be the largest since 2003, when most of the division returned from the initial invasion of Iraq. Before that, the largest return came after Desert Storm and Desert Shield in the Gulf War of 1990-91, when the entire division returned, according to John O'Brien, historian for the 101st.
The summer of 2010 was a lethal one for the 101st, which lost 41 soldiers in Afghanistan between March and August. Nearly 400 were wounded during that time. Overall this year, the Army division known as the Screaming Eagles, formed ahead of the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, has lost 104 soldiers — or about 1 in 5 American deaths in Afghanistan. That is close to a toll of 105 deaths in Iraq during a 2005-06 deployment that was its deadliest year in combat since the Vietnam War.
By the time the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed in August, the division's nearly 20,000 soldiers represented 20 percent of U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan, who are battling Taliban and insurgent strongholds in advance of the planned withdrawal.
Managing the soldiers' return has become the prime focus of Maj. Gen. Frank Wiercinski, acting senior commander, since he arrived at Fort Campbell a few weeks ago. Wiercinski is overseeing the redeployment and reintegration of troops, a process he says Fort Campbell has down to a science. "It's master's-degree-level reintegration that we've reached," he says. "We've learned incredible lessons on how to do this."
McMillan has pledged a successful relationship with the officials on post to make sure Clarksville helps reintegrate these soldiers, who are an important part of the community fabric.
"I intend to do whatever is necessary to make sure Fort Campbell knows we're here to do whatever we need to support the Fort Campbell community," she says.
Though the redeployment is spread over five or six months, Wiercinski acknowledges that the sheer number of soldiers coming home, many of whom have been involved in fierce fighting in Afghanistan, will present challenges.
"It could be financial. It could be behavioral health," he says. "We've got a lot of soldiers coming home in a short period of time."

Corps continues testing so-called green round

The Marine Corps is continuing to test the Army’s lead-free 5.56mm round, but is proceeding skeptically.
While the Army plans to make the round, which was tested by soldiers in Afghanistan this summer, standard, the Marine Corps may not follow suit.
The M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round was delivered to Army units this summer. The service plans to buy more than 200 million rounds in the next year, replacing the Cold War-era M855 round, which was developed in the 1970s and approved as an official NATO round in 1980. Soldiers and Marines have widely criticized it in recent years, saying it is ineffective against barriers such as car windshields, and that it often travels through insurgents, limiting its stopping power.

Dec 27, 2010

New green leather boots hit the market

The new boot available now has a nonskid sole and rubber toe and heel guards.

Wait no more for the new green leather boots. Online and mail-order companies are already offering boots they think will match the ones the Air Force plans to field at the end of 2011.
The official Air Force-issued boots are still in the development phase, but if you can’t wait to wear them, ask your supervisors if you can wear the green leather boots already on the market, said Maj. Joel Harper, a spokesman for the Air Force Uniform Office at the Pentagon.

Helo crews slammed for Tahoe dip

SAN DIEGO – A Navy investigation into a Sept. 13 flight in which two MH-60R helicopters hovered over and dipped into Lake Tahoe, Calif., slammed the crews for risky actions, but none will get punishment other than “administrative” action.
The incident, which was captured on video by a local hiker who posted it on YouTube, caused $505,751 in damage to the two helicopters with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41, drew strong rebukes from a senior aviator, who called it an “entirely preventable” incident that risked death from carelessness, complacency and sloppy procedures.
“Hovering without sufficient power caused these helicopters to drop without warning and placed all ten crew-members at mortal risk,” Vice Adm. Allen G. Myers, who commands Naval Air Forces in Coronado, Calif., wrote in a Dec. 20 endorsement to the command investigation into the incident. “The aviation community was lucky this day, and a horrific loss of life was narrowly avoided,” Myers added.

Corps searches for improved body armor

Advanced vests would be used by MARSOC and recon Marines

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Dec 26, 2010

The Marine Corps is searching for new armor that will be issued to elite Marines on the toughest of missions, acquisition officials said.

Dec 25, 2010

Route clearance in Iraq goes high-tech

Photo credit 2nd Lt. Matthew Fumagalli
Sgt. Brian Curd and Spc. Nicholas Boxley, both combat engineers with Company E, 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg., 3rd AAB, 4th Inf. Div., prepare the RQ-16A Tarantula Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
BASRA PROVINCE, Iraq -- Thanks to improving technology, the Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company E, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, have made improvements in route clearance in Basra, Iraq. The Soldiers in 1st Platoon are taking advantage of relatively new technology, such as the RQ-16A Tarantula Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

The T-Hawk has the ability to launch remotely from the back of a truck, with Soldiers only having to dismount from their vehicle for a few minutes. The T-Hawk gives the platoon the ability to observe surrounding areas and parallel routes, and provides a bird's-eye-view of the convoy while it's on the move.
"The T-Hawk is very easy to fly and is extremely stable in the air," said Spc. Nicholas Boxley, combat engineer and T-Hawk pilot.
Unlike some other models of UAVs, the T-Hawk can take off and land vertically, which makes it useful in areas with obstructions like buildings or mountains where other UAVs cannot operate. The ability to land vertically also allows the operators to land the T-Hawk within 15 feet of their location, limiting their exposure while on patrol.
When using the T-Hawk, the platoon is able to see a greater distance in any direction than before. This is a tremendous capability in the marshlands of Basra province.
During the rainy months of winter, many areas will become impassible to military vehicles. The T-Hawk's ability to fly in nearly any weather will help ensure these areas remain free from insurgent activity.
Although the T-Hawk is relatively new, the engineers of Company E have learned how to put it to good use during their patrols. The T-Hawk allows them to sit far enough away that they can observe the area without being seen.
The buzzing in the sky also serves as a reminder that Company E is always watching.

SWAT Roundup International 2010

SRI 2010 featured 51 tactical teams, judges and nationally renowned instructors from 81 agencies, 22 states and 12 countries including teams from Kuwait, Hungary, Canada, Bosnia, Jamaica, Germany, Brazil and The United States.
The SWAT Roundup International (SRI) 2010 was held November 7 - 12 at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office firearms range just outside Orlando, Florida. The SRI 2010 featured 51 Tactical teams, judges and nationally renowned instructors from 81 agencies, 22 states and 12 countries including teams from Kuwait, Hungary, Canada, Bosnia, Jamaica, Germany, Brazil and The United States. The six day symposium consisted of education and training seminars, a trade show by over a hundred vendors and manufacturers as well as the legendary head-to-head tactical competition.
Each eight member team was challenged with five events that included the Tower Scramble, Hostage Rescue, Pritcher Scramble, Officer Rescue and the grueling 16 stage obstacle course. Each competitor had to wear their mission ready uniform and gear during the events. Each event is designed to physically stress the competitors even before they reach the firing line by running, climbing, rappelling and crawling through water and clinging mud that coats their gear and weapons.
The overall SRI winner was the Lakeland Police Department BLUE (Florida) with second place going to Marion County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) followed by Hungarian TEK Team Nine (Hungary), Osceola County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) and Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) in fifth. The tremendous San Antonio team withdrew from the competition to return to Texas in response to a shootout that left some of their fellow team members wounded during an operation. The sobering news made many more of the competitors want to accompany the San Antonio officers to assist in the on-going investigation.
The SRI competition event is considered by the competitors and their agencies as a premier training opportunity and gives teams the ability to find out what works during use and under stress as well as providing officers with a better ability to protect their home jurisdictions.
The date for SRI 2011 is currently scheduled for November 6 – 11, 2011 and for more information about the SWAT Roundup International please view

SWAT Round Up International 2010 Final Standings
Standing Team Points
1 Lakeland Police Department BLUE (FL) 243
2 Marion County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 217
3 Hungarian TEK Team Nine (Hungary) 215
4 Osceola County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 210
5 Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 206
6 NASA Kennedy Space Center (FL) 199
7 Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 196
8 Lakeland Police Department RED (FL) 195
9 Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (FL) 192
10 Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 188
11 Hungarian TEK Team Six (Hungary) 183
12 Hamilton Police Department (OH) 181
13 Lake County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 180
14 Gainesville Police Department (FL) 180
15 Kissimmee Police Department (FL) 175
16 Collier County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 171
17 Orlando Police Department BLACK (FL) 169
18 Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 167
19 Orlando Police Department GOLD (FL) 158
20 Orange County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 157
21 San Antonio Police Department (TX) 153
22 Winter Park Police Department (FL) 144
23 Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 143
24 Plano Police Department (TX) 143
25 Canton Sarajevo (Bosnia) 142
26 Leesburg Police Department (FL) 140
27 Kuwait SWAT (Kuwait) 138
28 Brevard County Corrections (FL) 130
29 SEK Niedersachsen RED (Germany) 126
30 Neenah Police Department (WI) 124
31 Orange County Corrections (FL) 122
32 Cape Coral Police Department (FL) 120
33 Lake Mary Police Department (FL) 112
34 St. Petersburg Police Department (FL) 100
35 Durham Regional Police (Canada) 96
36 Pinellas Park Police Department (FL) 91
37 Irvine Police Department (CA) 88
38 SEK Niedersachsen WHITE (Germany) 87
39 Waynesville Police Department (NC) 87
40 U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton (WV) 66
41 Anti Organized Crime (Hungary) 60
42 Eustis Police Department (FL) 58
43 Ft. Campbell SRT (KY) 58
44 Jamaican Firearms & Tactical Training (Jamaica) 54
45 Palm Bay Police Department (FL) 50
46 Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (FL) 49
47 North Miami Beach SRT (FL) 48
48 South Florida Joint Tactical Response Team (FL) 38
49 Davie Police Department (FL) 34
50 SOE-DHPP (Brazil) 23
51 Florida Counterdrug (FL) 18

Dec 24, 2010

Imaging gear would give soldiers 'Terminator'-like vision

No more will soldiers' vision be limited to the socket-embedded spheres that God intended. The Pentagon now wants troops to see dangers lurking behind them in real time, and be able to tell if an object a kilometer away is a walking stick or an AK-47.
In a solicitation released today, Darpa, the Pentagon's far-out research branch, unveiled the Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras effort, or SCENICC. Imagine a suite of cameras that digitally capture a kilometer-wide, 360-degree sphere, representing the image in 3-D onto a wearable eyepiece.
You'd be able to literally see all around you, including behind yourself, and zooming in at will, creating a "stereoscopic/binocular system, simultaneously providing 10x zoom to both eyes." And you would do this all hands-free, apparently by barking out or pre-programming a command (the solicitation leaves it up to a designer's imagination) to adjust focus.
Then comes the Terminator-vision. Darpa wants the eyepiece to include "high-resolution computer-enhanced imagery as well as task-specific non-image data products such as mission data overlays, threat warnings/alerts, targeting assistance, etc." Target identified: Sarah Connor... The "Full Sphere Awareness" tool will provide soldiers with "muzzle flash detection," "projectile tracking" and "object recognition/labeling," basically pointing key information out to them.
And an "integrated weapon sighting" function locks your gun on your target when acquired. That's far beyond an app mounted on your rifle that keeps track of where your friendlies and enemies are.
The imaging wouldn't just be limited to what any individual soldier sees. SCENICC envisions a "networked optical sensing capability" that fuses images taken from nodes worn by "collections of soldiers and/or unmanned vehicles." The Warrior-Alpha drone overhead? Its full-motion video and still images would be sent into your eyepiece.
It also has to be ridiculously lightweight, weighing less than 700 grams for the entire system -- including a battery powerful enough to "exceed 24 hours [usage] under normal conditions." That's about a pound and a half, maximum. The Army's experimental ensemble of wearable gadgets weighs about eight pounds. And it is to SCENICC what your Roomba is to the T-1000.
Here's how far advanced SCENICC is compared to bleeding-edge imaging and networking capabilities that the Army is currently developing. Right now, the Army's asking three different companies -- Raytheon, Rockwell Collins and General Dynamics -- to build a wearable platform of digital maps, computers and radios, networked with one another. Soldiers would have war-zone maps beamed onto helmet-mounted eyepieces.
The system, known as Nett Warrior, needs to weigh less than eight pounds, and it builds on a years-long and ultimately fruitless effort called Land Warrior. (One of the problems with Land Warrior is it was heavy and cumbersome, owing in part to battery weight.) The Army hopes to choose one of the Nett Warrior designs by March.
By the time it'll actually roll out Nett Warrior after testing, production and deployment -- a few years, optimistically -- SCENICC will already be hard at work on its replacement. Darpa wants a hands-free zooming function within two years of work on the contract. By year three, the computer-enhanced vision tool needs to be ready. Year four is for 360-degree vision. Then it's on to development.
The Army is generally hot for combat-ready smart-phones to keep soldiers linked up with each other. And the buzz-generating tool for the soldier of the near future is mapping technology, delivered onto a smart-phone or some other hand-held mobile device, at least judging from this year's Association of the U.S. Army confab.
But all of these representation tools are two-dimensional, and require soldiers to look away from their patrols in order to use them. Textron's SoldierEyes Common Operating Picture, for instance, lets soldiers see icons on a tablet-mounted map telling them where their friends, enemies and neutrals are. It can't put those icons onto a 3-D picture sent to a soldier's eyes, let alone allow a 10x zoom for a kilo-wide 360-degree field of vision. Why would anyone use a map on a smart-phone when they could have SCENICC?
Even with all the advances in digital imaging, it'll be a tall order to put together 360-degree vision and 10x zoom and mapping software and integration with weapons systems and lightweight miniaturization and network connectivity.
Darpa doesn't really address how the system's networked optics would work in low-bandwidth areas like, say, eastern Afghanistan (though maybe drone-borne cell towers can help).
Indeed, judging from the solicitation, while SCENICC is supposed to be networked, it doesn't seem to have any communications requirements for soldiers to talk through what their optics are sharing with each other. Maybe there's a role for those new soldier smart-phones after all.

  • The Pentagon's Darpa unit unveiled a camera system that can project a 3-D image
  • You'd be able to see all around you, including behind yourself, and zooming in at will
  • An "integrated weapon sighting" function locks your gun on your target when acquired

Dec 23, 2010

U.S. Forces in Korea Get an Armor Upgrade

With tensions on the Korean peninsula at a boiling point, the U.S.’ Second Infantry Division stationed there is set to receive upgraded M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles starting this month.
“While this is not an increase in the number of U.S. combat vehicles on the Korean Peninsula,” said Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, 8th Army commander. “It is a significant increase in combat capability.”
The A2 version of the legendary Abrams features improved depleted uranium armor mesh, digital situational awareness tools, improved radios and navigation gear, an extra thermal sight for the tank commander and improved fire controls allowing the tank to engage multiple targets in short order.
Meanwhile, the A2 version of the Bradley comes with an improved, 600 horsepower transmission, better armor including the option for reactive armor and spall protection. Newer versions of the Bradley A2 suite also feature the same digital situational awareness suite as the Abrams, a GPS navigation system, missile countermeasures, a laser range finder, a thermal sight for the driver, better internal stowage capacity and even a heater to warm up MREs
The division currently operates the original M1A1 and an older version of the M2A2, and expects to fully swap out its older vehicles for the new ones by May 2011.
An Eighth U.S. Army announcement on the upgrade says its “a key indicator of the importance our Army places on troops here in Korea.”

I’d say the fact that the forces in Korea are just now getting the nearly 20-year-old upgrade kit (for the tanks, at least) might be an indication of how much the fights in Afghanistan and Iraq have pulled resources from other critical flash points around the globe.

Dec 22, 2010

25K soldiers headed to Afghanistan in 2011

By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Dec 22, 2010

Nearly 25,000 troops will board planes for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan starting soon after New Year's, the Defense Department has announced.
About 18,000 soldiers in five infantry brigade combat teams as well as two combat aviation brigades and a headquarters element will deploy to Afghanistan as part of the regular troop rotations.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed the deployment orders a day after President Obama said he will start bringing troops home from Afghanistan in July. In the same breath, he said the U.S. will not finish transitioning military forces out of Afghanistan until 2014. The U.S. has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, 67,000 of them soldiers.
Soldiers will start deploying in early 2011 with departures continuing through the fall of next year. There, these soldiers will continue to root out Taliban influence from Afghanistan and train up Afghan military forces to take over defense of the country.

The units are:

• I Corps Headquarters, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
• 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.
• 82nd Airborne Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
• 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
• 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
• 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska
• 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
• 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

McChrystal writing memoir about career.

4-star general, fired as Afghan war commander in June, wants book to have ‘long-term value’

NEW YORK — Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the Afghanistan war commander forced out in June after making negative comments about Obama administration officials, is working on a memoir.
McChrystal will write about his recent controversy, but as part of a broader story about his career and changes in the country’s military since he was at West Point in the early 1970s, he said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“I like to be thought of as absolutely honest, but I am not seeking to write a combative work,” said McChrystal, 56, known for his blunt and uncompromising instincts. “I am trying to write a memoir and history that has real value. It’s not designed to be part of the daily news cycle. It’s designed to have long-term value.”
Much of McChrystal’s career was spent on the front lines in the war on terrorism, studying al-Qaida and orchestrating secret raids. In 2006, his operation was credited with nabbing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and one of the most-wanted fugitives there. His special operations forces that year were also accused by human rights activists of abusing detainees at Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport.
President Obama appointed McChrystal in June 2009 to lead the fight in Afghanistan but fired him a year later after a Rolling Stone magazine article featured unflattering remarks by McChrystal and his inner circle about political and diplomatic officials.
McChrystal, a four-star general, retired in July with full military honors.
Asked if he would express second thoughts in the book, McChrystal said that it was inevitable to wish some things “might have gone differently, but that he certainly didn’t “get up in the morning regretting things” he had done.
McChrystal said he had worked under “some extraordinary leaders,” civilian and military, and wanted to write about what he had learned. He cited the autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant as a model, praising Grant’s self-effacement and ability to capture a vital experience in a sentence or two.
McChrystal said he has started the book, currently untitled and scheduled for 2012, and that he would be assisted by a “couple of people who I am close to and trust,” although he declined to identify them. The book will be published by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).
“Amidst all the media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, few people know who Gen. Stan McChrystal really is and what he has accomplished,” Portfolio publisher and president Adrian Zackheim said in a statement. “Nor do people realize what a fascinating career he had for 38 years in the Army and what he can teach all of us about effective leadership under extreme pressure.”
McChrystal was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose clients include Obama and former President George W. Bush. Financial terms were not disclosed, but McChrystal said part of the proceeds would be donated to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a nonprofit organization for injured service members and their families. McChrystal and his wife, Annie, are members of the fund’s board of directors.

Amos forms front-line groups to study enemy

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Dec 21, 2010

Commandant Gen. Jim Amos is bringing back “red cell” groups, which he used while commanding Marines in Iraq, to study enemy tactics.
The groups formed of officers and staff non-commissioned officers were handpicked to analyze the enemy threat, including tactics, techniques and procedures on the front lines, and determine the necessary operations to defeat that threat.

Navy Launches First Aircraft Using Electromagnetic System

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The Navy made history Dec. 18 when it launched the first aircraft from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Lakehurst, N.J., test site using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, technology.

The Navy has been using steam for more than 50 years to launch aircraft from carriers.

The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet Dec. 18 using the EMALS technology that will replace steam catapults on future aircraft carriers.

"This is a tremendous achievement not just for the ALRE team, but for the entire Navy," said Capt. James Donnelly, ALRE program manager. "Saturday's EMALS launch demonstrates an evolution in carrier flight deck operations using advanced computer control, system monitoring and automation for tomorrow's carrier air wings."

EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and future Ford- class carriers.

"I thought the launch went great," said Lt. Daniel Radocaj, the test pilot from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX 23) who made the first EMALS manned launch. "I got excited once I was on the catapult, but I went through the same procedures as on a steam catapult. The catapult stroke felt similar to a steam catapult and EMALS met all of the expectations I had."

The current aircraft launch system for Navy aircraft carriers is the steam catapult. Newer, heavier and faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult system.

The mission and function of EMALS remains the same as the steam catapult; however, EMALS employs entirely different technologies. EMALS will deliver the necessary higher launch energy capacity as well as substantial improvements in system weight, maintenance, increased efficiency and more accurate end-speed control.

"I felt honored to be chosen as the shooter to help launch the first live aircraft tested on the new EMALS track at Lakehurst," said Chief Petty Officer Brandon Barr, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Test Department, Lakehurst. "It was very exciting to knowingly be a part of naval aviation history. Petty Officers 1st Class Hunsaker and Robinson, Petty Officers 2nd Class Williams, Wong and Simmons, were the Sailors on my team who worked together to help make this test a success. We all look forward to seeing this cutting edge technology deployed on the Gerald R. Ford."

"I'm excited about the improvement EMALS will bring to the fleet from a capability and reliability perspective," said Cmdr. Russ McCormack, ALRE, PMA-251, deputy program manager for future systems. "EMALS was designed for just that purpose, and the team is delivering that requirement."

The system's technology allows for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the carrier's ability to launch aircraft in support of the warfighter.

The system will provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms – lightweight unmanned to heavy strike fighters.
Engineers will continue system functional demonstration testing at NAVAIR Lakehurst. The team will expand aircraft launches with the addition of T-45 and C-2 aircraft in 2011.

Dec 20, 2010

Army seeks 3 variants of camo to replace UCP

The new camo patterns would cover global climates and environments
By Lance M. Bacon - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Dec 19, 2010

The Army is shopping for three new combat uniforms — a woodland variant, a desert variant and a “transitional” variant that covers everything in between.
As the search begins, it is evident the current Universal Camouflage Pattern is not even an option.
Officials are adamant that the selection will not be a “fashion contest” in which Pentagon generals pick the one they like best. Instead, hundreds of test hours and mountains of data will be compiled to determine the right mix of colors and patterns.
In the words of Col. William Cole, project manager of Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, the intent is to provide an “operationally and scientifically validated” camouflage pattern that will provide global coverage for an expeditionary Army.
For now, the design and colors of your next uniform are anyone’s guess. For example, digital patterns work well in some environments, but not as well in others. Sometimes a vertical orientation is best, while other times a horizontal would be optimal. And when it comes to colors, there are 15 different military operating environments with unique colors that change with elevation and seasons.
The Army followed by testing dozens of camouflage patterns in four backgrounds common to Afghanistan: The rocky desert terrain, mountainous terrain, cropland/woodland terrain and sandy desert terrain. The top performers were MultiCam, Woodland and Desert MARPAT and AOR 1 and 2 uniforms. UCP, on the other hand, was in the bottom 10 for all four backgrounds “and did not perform well in any of them,” according to the report.

MARSOC purchases retro woodland camouflage

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Dec 19, 2010

The order consisted of 300 sets of Crye Precision’s G3 combat pant and G3 combat shirt in the woodland pattern, and green AirFlex knee pads and AirFlex field elbow pads.

Dec 19, 2010


The U.S. Special Operations Command notified FN that the MK 20 MOD 0 Sniper Support Rifle (SSR)—a variant of the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) family of weapons, MK 17 (7.62mm)—was granted Milestone C and approved for full-rate production. The Full-Rate Production Decision Review by the Milestone Decision Authority occurred on October 28, 2010. The MK 16, MK 17, and MK 13 weapons received Full-Rate Production approval in July of this year and fielding of the MK17 and MK13 variants to SOF operational units is underway. The MK 20 is expected to start being fielded in mid -May, 2011.
FN Herstal, a worldwide recognized firearms supplier to generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines since 1897, has ramped up production and assembly at its manufacturing facilities to meet the delivery orders placed by USSOCOM.
Following a worldwide solicitation to the firearms industry in 2004, FNH was awarded the contract by USSOCOM for its SCAR submission after passing all of the Go/No-Go criteria required by the solicitation and being selected by a source selection board composed of senior operators from every SOF component.
The MK 20 was originally designated as the Sniper Variant of the SCAR Heavy now known as the MK17. Upon the MK 17 reaching the status of Operationally Effective / Operationally Suitable and Sustainable, the sniper community within SOF focused on refining the Sniper Variant to more suit the needs of long range, precision shooting. With the revisions, the Sniper Variant weapon was military-type designated as the MK 20.
The MK 20 features an extended receiver which provides the additional rail space required for mounting in-line night vision and thermal devices with standard/sniper day optics, a non-folding precision stock with an adjustable cheek piece and length of pull that provides adjust-ability and a more rigid firing position for making long range target engagements, a beefed up barrel extension and barrel profile to reduce whip and improve accuracy, and an enhanced modular trigger that can be configured for single-stage or two-stage operation, requires no adjustments, and is ruggedized for field use. As a part of the SCAR Family of Weapons, the MK 20 shares a high percentage of parts commonality (over 60%) with the MK 17, maintains the enhanced ergonomics and improves accuracy.
The MK 20 SSR is built with an eye to careful economic stewardship and the small logistical footprint required of today’s highly mobile military. Overall life cycle costs are reduced by features such as a chrome-lined, hammer forged steel barrel with a service life of far more than 15,000+ rounds. Each component of the MK 20 SSR is built for years of dependable service while minimizing maintenance downtime.
Engineered for uncompromising accuracy, the MK 20 SSR’s free floated, chrome-lined, cold hammer-forged barrel is tightly attached to the monolithic receiver by a specially designed barrel extension, which along with a massive recoil lug, provides consistent shot-to-shot performance. And like its MK 17 counterparts, the MK 20 SSR’s barrel can be easily removed by the operator within minutes for detailed cleaning or maintenance.
Source: FNH USA

Body suits provide realistic medical training

Corpsmen get chance to operate on ‘live’ patients by using ‘cut suits’

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Dec 18, 2010

Medical mannequins more akin to crash test dummies than live patients may be a thing of the past. Hospital corpsmen, doctors and other first responders can now “operate” on live patients during training.
A Marine or sailor can wear a “cut suit” — officially called the Human Worn Partial Task Surgical Simulator — during medical drills. Weighing about 30 pounds, the suit is equipped with various fake organs, including a bladder, kidneys, veins and skin that can be cut, sliced, sutured and removed.
The “cut suit” is the brainchild of Stu Segall, a Hollywood producer and president of Strategic Operations, a San Diego-based tactical training company that has helped train thousands of Marines and sailors.

Dec 18, 2010

General Dynamics V-22-Deployable Truck

The Flyer Vehicle
The Flyer is an air-transportable, lightweight vehicle capable of internal or external transport on the V-22, CH-53, C-130 and C-5 aircraft. It is highly adaptable to severe, rugged and restrictive terrains and provides off-road, cross-country mobility. The vehicle can be quickly configured in the field to perform multiple missions such as light strike assault, rescue and evacuation, command and control and reconnaissance, either armored or unarmored. The Flyer is offered in partnership with Flyer Defense, LLC.

The Flyer has an integrated C4ISR package, provided by General Dynamics C4 Systems, that improves Size, Weight, Ergonomics, Efficiency, Power and reduces Cost (SWEEP-C). This approach eliminates stovepiped engineering where multiple, disparate systems are installed after vehicle delivery, resulting in a costly mismatch of electronics which affect vehicle safety, usability, maintenance, logistics and operator performance.  The Vehicle Service Oriented Framework (VSOF) is an open, license-free Service-oriented architecture (SOA), with a software development kit (SDK). It provides for rapid “plug-n-play” insertion of new capabilities and is hardware platform independent.


Dec 17, 2010

Aimpoint FCS12 Fire Control System

The Aimpoint FCS12 is a Fire Control System for weapons like the recoil-less Carl Gustav and Panzerfaust as well as Automatic Grenade Launchers and other support weapons. The operator aims at the target on a direct line-of-sight, which allows both eyes open. The optical axis between the eye and the target is not broken or linked by use of prisms.
The sight contains an eye safe 1550 nm LRF (Laser Range Finder), a ballistic computer with the capability to store up to 50 different ballistic algorithms, and a parallax free optical channel with unlimited eye relief.
The FCS12 compensates automatically for the ballistic drop of projectiles at measured distances, factoring in variables such as: rotational (spin) drift, propellant temperature and terrain angle.
The system consists of two separate modules — the sight and a remote grip interface which transmit commands to the sight via a wireless link. The remote grip interface is designed to control the most important functions for operating the system during combat.

The introduction of the Aimpoint® FCS12 follows after a period of intense product development and initial deliveries on a contract for the Swedish Defense Forces. The Swedish Defense Materiel Administration (FMV) placed an order with Aimpoint in April 2009 for the supply of a Fire Control System for the M/86 Carl Gustaf 84mm recoil-less rifle.
“The Aimpoint® FCS12 is a unique product on the market and development has forced Aimpoint to take a huge step in research and development in order to meet customer requirements and our own expectations,” says Aimpoint President Mr. Lennart Ljungfelt. “The Aimpoint® FCS12 implies a dramatic increase in hit probability, and reduces time used for engagement, which in turn raise the overall effectiveness of the weapon system considerably.” 
The Aimpoint® FCS12 comprises a sight module with a Laser Range Finder, a ballistic computer and a state-of-the-art heads-up display as well as a wireless remote control. Despite the advanced technology and complexity of the product, operation in a combat situation is extremely user friendly and intuitive. In most cases, the operator only needs to push one button before pulling the trigger of the weapon.

Aimpoint Commercial Advertisement Video

Aimpoint ML2

Aimpoint AB was founded in 1974 and is the originator of the electronic red dot sight. This revolutionary new product was early recognized as the fastest way to aim a firearm, and has achieved a high level of success and acceptance worldwide.
Aimpoint has more than 20 years of experience when it comes to delivering high quality products to Special Operations and military units throughout the world. Aimpoint has been awarded bigger contracts the last few years to supply its well-known red dot sights to the Armed Forces of the USA, France, Sweden, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands. Aimpoint’s products are manufactured in Sweden and the company is certified in accordance with ISO 9001 and the production meets the highest standard of quality.
One of the best commercial videos from Aimpoint, the leading company in aiming

Betters sights eyed for grenade launchers

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Dec 16, 2010

The Marine Corps is searching for new, high-tech gun sights for 40mm grenade launchers, including the multi-shot M32 and the single-shot M203 that mounts to service rifles.
The service wants at least 2,500 grenade launcher sight systems, acquisition officials said in a Nov. 23 notice to industry. The Corps asked companies to propose by Dec. 7 how their commercially available items could work with the Corps’ launchers. The sights must be compatible with the M203, and ideally will also work with the six-shot, rotational-action M32, Marine officials said.

Unmanned strike jet nearly set for 1st flight

The first unmanned aircraft designed as a carrier-based strike jet is almost ready to take to the air for the first time, Navy officials have confirmed.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration drone has been performing taxi tests for several weeks at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as engineers run the aircraft through a long series of pre-flight tests and checks.
Program officials had hoped for a flight by mid-December, but weather and other factors have delayed the event. Officials were reluctant to specify an exact date, but are hopeful the flight will take place before the end of the year.
Two X-47Bs have been built by Northrop’s Integrated Systems sector under a 2007 development contract. The stealthy aircraft, which resembles a miniature B-2 bomber — also built by Northrop — is intended to test the concept of operating a small, unmanned, combat jet from aircraft carriers.
Although numerous technical and command-and-control issues need to be addressed to bring the concept to maturity, war planners have routinely been using X-47s in war games as part of a carrier strike group. In some cases, they have even swapped out the manned air wing for an all-UCAS wing, with, reportedly, great success.
Northrop’s work on the program includes the design and development of airborne precision-guided positioning system algorithms to help navigate the aircraft, and autonomous aerial refueling technology to keep the planes aloft — perhaps for several days at a time.
The first plane was to have taken to the air in late 2009 under the original contract, with the first at-sea tests on a carrier to have been in 2011, but those dates have been pushed back. Initial seagoing tests now are scheduled for early 2013.
The single-engine, tailless X-47B has a wingspan of 62 feet and is 38 feet long. It is designed to carry more than 4,500 pounds of weapons in its payload bay, reach high subsonic speeds, and fly to altitudes of about 40,000 feet. Without refueling, it should be able to operate at ranges up to 2,100 nautical miles and stay in the air for more than six hours.
Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and GKN Aerospace are teamed with prime contractor Northrop on the UCAS-D program.

Dec 15, 2010

West Coast tank unit to deploy to Afghanistan

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Dec 14, 2010

The Marine Corps has identified the unit that will operate the first U.S. tanks used in the 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., will deploy early next year, said 1st Lt. Joseph Reney, a spokesman with Twentynine Palms’ 1st Marine Division. It will provide heavy firepower and armor and the ability to observe the enemy through advanced optics from more than a mile away.

Dec 14, 2010

XM2010 New Army Sniper Rifle at the Range

PEO soldier published some nice pictures of the new XM2010 sniper rifle designed to replace the M24.The pictures below are the first with the rifle in the field.

Click pictures to enlarge

Unmanned Boeing UAV in First Flight

Boeing Phantom Ray image courtesy of Boeing
A hi-tech unmanned surveillance craft for military research has taken to the air for the first time, but not under its own power.

On 13 December, 2010, the Boeing Phantom Ray UAV was transported on the back of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and this in itself was historic, since no other aircraft apart from the Space Shuttle had previously been carried in this way. Beyond this, though, the flight paved the way for the Phantom Ray’s own flight, set to take place in coming weeks.
UAV designs in present-day US military service include the MQ-9 Reaper, produced by General Dynamics. Boeing’s own UAV portfolio features six designs, from the comparatively low-cost ScanEagle (approximately $100,000 apiece), up to the A160T Hummingbird, which costs upwards of $10m.

Boeing UAV First Flight

The new Boeing UAV’s first flight will occur at Edwards Air Force Base in California – the home of USAF aircraft experimental technology research programmes – and it will follow extensive taxi trials.
“This is exciting not just because it's the first time that an aircraft other than the space shuttle has flown on the SCA, but also because it puts Phantom Ray that much closer to making its first flight”, Boeing’s Phantom Ray program manager, Craig Brown, stated in a company press release issued online.

Phantom Ray UAV

The Phantom Ray UAV was unveiled by Boeing in May 2010. A highly-developed design, work on it has been taking place for two years. According to Boeing, the Phantom Ray will carry out traditional UAV work – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – but it will also be used in combat, and could even gain an air-to-air-refueling capability, too.
The Phantom Ray won’t itself enter US military service, but will be used to take UAV technologies to a new level of advancement. It spans 50 feet across and is set to reach speeds of just below Mach 1, and altitudes of 40,000 feet.
The Boeing 747 SCA has been in use for over three decades. Compared to the standard 747 commercial airliner, the SCA has a reinforced fuselage, stabilizers added to the tail area for improved flight control and a stripped-out cabin.

Dec 13, 2010

Shooting experts eye multi-gun training

By Tony Lombardo - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 13, 2010

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — A Marine’s rifle jams during combat. Rather than waste precious time, he throws it down, pulling out the pistol from his drop holster. When that’s out of ammo, he scans the ground, picks up an AK47 from a slain Taliban, and uses that to fire on the enemy.
This combat scenario is not far-fetched. It could happen to you. But are you ready for it?
Experts from Weapons Training Battalion at Marine Corps Base Quantico believe a new trend in shooting competition, termed multi-gun, could be key to better prepping Marines for combat. The battalion is looking to push this training far and wide across the Corps, to a base near you.

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