Feb 28, 2011

Photo of the Month February 2011

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Hellenic Army National Guard MG3 in a shooting range.

Feb 27, 2011

SAAB 0.50 cal Trainer Advanced

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Seoul to Train 30,000 Reserve Snipers

The Defense Ministry will train about 30,000 snipers in the reserve force to counter the threat of North Korea's numerous special forces beginning this year. A ministry spokesman on Thursday said the snipers will be trained for urban warfare and to deal with North Korea's special forces. "We will assign two snipers to each unit of the Reserve Forces and have them practice shooting for four hours during their mandatory training period every year," he added.

They will practice with M16A1 rifles with telescopic sights.
New conscripts train at a boot camp in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province in January.
Mobilized reservists in their fifth or sixth year after discharge from their active military service have so far trained in reserve divisions by commuting from their homes for three days a year. But from this year, they will stay at barracks in five active Army divisions for two days during their training, the spokesman said.

"Some mobilized reservists will be deployed to front-line units, where they will train to make up for lost combat capabilities of active-duty servicemen there in preparation for an emergency," he added. "Any reservists who have skipped mobilization training will be sent to Army barracks for re-training."

Feb 26, 2011

Soldiers, NCOs compete to be "Best Warrior"

Photo Credit: Spc. Jeffrey Graves. A Soldier fires an M16 rifle during the weapons qualification portion of the 2010 Best Warrior Competition, Feb. 15 at Range 6. During the Best Warrior competition, Soldiers were tested on a variety of military skills.

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Eleven Soldiers and non-commissioned officers recently competed for the title, "Best Warrior." U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Huachuca hosted the Soldier and NCO of the Year Competition Feb. 13-16, in order to select the "Best Warrior" to serve as the Installation's NCO and Soldier of the Year. 
The competition was open to those on Fort Huachuca ranked E1-E7 (private through sergeant first class). All Army active duty, National Guard and Reserve-component Soldiers were eligible to compete. Most of the Soldiers and NCOs competing were selected for the contest by their chain of command. "They're the top Soldiers from their units," said Master Sgt. Angel Morales, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG. Most of the Soldiers and NCOs who competed won Soldier of the Month, and/or Soldier of the Quarter honors since the last board was held. "They already achieved that distinction and are recognized in their units," added Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Barbary, USAG command sergeant major added. The overall buildup of the competition determines the "Best Warrior." 
The Soldiers and NCOs are put to the test on physical, endurance and psychological tasks. They compete in events such as a physical fitness test, written examination and essay, day and night land navigation, 12-mile road march, M16A2 zero and qualification and a mystery event announced just before it takes place. The competition culminates with a board. Soldiers and NCOs report in either their Army Service Uniform or their Class A Uniform. They are then asked three to four questions by six board members, on about 30 different subjects. They are judged not only on their visual appearance but also on their knowledge execution. "The Soldier can perform well on hands-on tasks, but does he or she have the knowledge to execute as a leader?" Barbary asked, adding that the competition is designed to test the Soldiers' minds and skills. The Soldiers have to be able to compete in continuous operations. "We're not looking for an average Soldier who can answer boards and shoot a weapon. We're looking for Soldier warrior leaders who can sustain in the battlefield and train Soldiers. "It takes a unique warrior ... to have that mind set to go the distance with any kind of adverse distractions, and that's what determines the 'Best Warrior,'" explained Barbary. Those taking part in the competition agree. "Only a well-rounded Soldier could win this competition," stated Sgt. Enrique Jimenez, 18th Military Police Detachment. Jimenez has been in the Army for six years; he recently re-enlisted for three more and plans on making it a career. That's one of the reasons he says he took the competition so seriously. "For me it's a huge event, it's an honorable recognition and it would mean a lot to win. ... Winning would set you apart from the rest of the candidates being looked at for an E6, E7 promotion," Jimenez explained. "These days, how the Army is changing, you're going to need stuff like this [board]. That's why we're here," added Jimenez's comrade, Staff Sgt. Dale Kelso, 18th MP Det. Kelso has been on active duty for eight years and says he, too, plans on making a career out of the Army. Besides looking to advance their careers, Kelso and Jimenez also want to win for their unit. 
Last year, Sgt. Jeremy Scheetz of the 18th MP Det. was named NCO of the Year, so the two wanted to keep the tradition going. But, Soldiers had to work hard to win. Their passion to be counted among the best led them to intense pre-event preparation. Each felt himself ready when the event arrived. When introducing themselves at the event's ice breaker, meeting, they all stated they were the "Best Warrior" and were competing to win. "It's a great competition, we got some good competitors out here," said Pfc. Derek Nickey, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Signal Brigade. 
Nickey said the competition not only looked good for an upcoming private first class but is also good experience to gain early on in his career. Nickey has been in the Army for only 20 months. He, too, plans on staying in for 20 years. "Honestly, everybody's out here for a reason. They're all the best of the best," added Sgt. Jeremy Ramos, Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard. Barbary and Morales explain competitions such as the "Best Warrior" can help a Soldier's career, especially when looking to get promoted to the E7, E8 and E9 senior NCO ranks. "I would encourage any young Soldier to do this because these will help them out and assist them. ... They [Soldiers] went the extra mile to make sure that they put themselves ahead of their peers," Morales stated. "These are the kind of Soldiers that if I was to receive a phone call to take Soldiers downrange, I'm 100-percent sure that I would take that type of Soldiers downrange with me to sustain and survive on the battlefield," added Barbary. After a grueling competition, Spec. John Diaz, U.S. Medical Command, was named Soldier of the Year. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Morris, 36th Army Band, took NCO of the Year honors. The two will now go on to compete in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition to be held later this year at Fort Lee, Va. Tomorrow evening, Diaz and Morris will be recognized and honored for their accomplishments during the 2011 Installation Award Banquet held at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre on Fort Huachuca. Each year, the Fort Huachuca community honors individuals such as Diaz and Morris who have gone beyond the call of duty. "It's an honor to take part in this, because it ... shows that leaders on this post care and understand the importance of Soldier recognition, of how to make Soldiers become better leader-warriors to prepare for these future battles," Barbary added. 

Paratroopers get back to basics with JOAX

Photo Credit: Air Force Staff Sgt. Greg C. Biondo. Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division sit strapped into a C-17A Globemaster before they airdrop during Joint Operational Access Exercise at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Feb. 9.

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Feb. 22, 2011 -- After almost 10 years of deployments, the 82nd Airborne division conducted a training exercise that was all about getting back to the basics of parachute assault and full-spectrum operations skills that leaders said might have atrophied.

Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division and two of its brigade combat teams conducted a Joint Operations Access Exercise, or JOAX, Feb. 8-16, to test their ability to jump into a hostile environment and conduct combat operations. Also participating in the JOAX were Company M, 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment and the Air Force, which provided air support.
Jumping from a plane to charge the enemy battlefield has been the 82nd's meat and potatoes mission since World War II, and leaders said that's what they are training for in the JOAX.
"By performing these exercises we can build muscle memory", said Maj. Christopher Hossfeld, the 82nd Airborne Division chief of operations. "Even if the focus is on one brigade combat team, the whole division has an opportunity to learn, from the individual paratrooper all the way up the chain of command."
A lot of planning and coordination goes into synchronizing the many moving pieces such as the division headquarters, brigade combat teams, a combat aviation brigade, a fires brigade, support transportation units, and countless Air Force aircraft, Hossfeld said.
"Planning for this JOAX has been going on since September," he said. "The Air Force has been critical to our success. Their planners have been amazing."

The exercise has given everyone involved a chance to train in a number of areas from the airborne infantry jumping from a C-17 Globemaster to the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System firing on target.
"The JOAX was meant to showcase the brigade's ability to conduct a forcible entry into an airfield, seize initial assault objectives, and expand the lodgment to allow for follow on forces to continue operations," said Maj. Jason Brown, the public affairs officer for 3rd Brigade Cobat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
Brown said the JOAX was essential in helping the paratroopers get back to doing what they do best.
"We have found that over the last nine years that our Army has been at war, some of our basic infantry skills have begun to erode," Brown said. "So by doing this [exercise], we are getting back to basics."
With an exercise like the JOAX, 3rd BCT really wanted to up the complexity by having a lot of moving parts, said Maj. Michael Owens, a fire support officer for 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.

"We really wanted to maximize the training value to the Soldiers [involved]," Owens said. "We were looking for new ways to challenge them."
Some of the events used to challenge the paratroopers were an airborne infiltration with more than 1,700 paratroopers jumping, a non-combatant evacuation exercise, and some key leader engagements, Brown said.
Logistics also had a chance to practice putting their pieces of the puzzle in place. Multiple units made up the effort supporting the 82nd at the Intermediate Staging Base located at Camp Mackall.
The 11th Transportation Battalion from Fort Story, Va., the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element from Fort Eustis, Va., and the 615th Contingency Response Wing from Travis Air Force Base, Calif, all supported the division during this JOAX. Their jobs included logistics, tracking vehicles and equipment, receiving, staging, and then out loading as needed, according to the needs of the division.

Maj. Ryan King, detachment commander for the 689th RPOE spoke about the benefits of working with different branches of the military.
"Its great for all of us to get to know the other services and support. If something does happen, we are on 12-hour notice, so getting to know each other in this training really helps," King said.
An exercise as large as the JOAX is bound to have some hiccups, but the positive aspects of the JOAX were evident, Brown said.
"Our noncommissioned officer leadership really shined during the JOAX," Brown said. "They [the NCOs] really proved that they are the backbone of the Army and the brigade."
Their expertise led to "our paratroopers knowing how to shoot, move and communicate better than any other troopers in the world," he added.
"We are equipped, trained and ready to do any mission our nation calls on us to do at any time," Brown said of the paratroopers of 3rd BCT, 82nd ABN Div.

Airsoft funny Poster

Upgrading an Airsoft gun is sometimes a hard and difficult work. You have to be very well educated with deep knowledge in precise mechanic and electronic engineering. You need specialized  tools and the appropriate work space.

Feb 24, 2011

Army releases January suicide data

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 22, 2011) -- In January, the Army experienced a total of 14 potential suicides and one confirmed suicide among Soldiers on active-duty status.
The January number is up from the last month of 2010 -- in December, the Army reported 11 potential suicides and 1 confirmed suicide among Soldiers on active duty.
The January numbers are also higher than last year at the same time -- then, in January 2010, the Army experienced 12 confirmed suicides among Soldiers on active duty.

"Army-wide efforts implemented during 2010 to improve the health of the force and enhance our overall resiliency will continue to be a focus for all members of the Army family in 2011," said Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy director, Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Task Force. "We must continue to examine our risk reduction and health promotion programs to ensure that in every instance they are readily available and accessible to those in need."
Numbers for reserve-component Soldiers not on active duty were also released. Among that population, a total of seven potential suicides were recorded in January. Of those, two have been confirmed and 5 are pending confirmation.
In 2010, the Army experienced a total of 240 confirmed suicides, and 63 potential suicides -- a total of 303 -- among Soldiers on active duty and Soldiers in the Reserve Components. Of those 303 suicides, 286 were male Soldiers and 17 were female Soldiers.

WWII-era M1919A4 headed to US weapons museum after discovery in Iraq

A World War II-era Browning machine-gun discovered by US Army reservists in Iraq will soon have a home in a U.S. museum.
The M1919A4 machine-gun was discovered by the 96th Sustainment Brigade of Utah’s Fort Douglas in Taji, Iraq, during its 2009-2010 deployment, The Standard-Examiner reported Tuesday.
The unit was working with Iraqi military and found the weapon while sorting through debris after the bombing of a supply depot.
Capt. John Lovejoy of the 96th Sustainment Brigade said the gun was immediately recognized by reservists, who got permission to keep it from the Iraqi military.
“There were probably 15 or 20 of them,” he said. “Their goal was to bring it back to Utah.”
The gun has been cleaned and demilitarized so it can’t fire and will soon be installed as an exhibit at the Browning Arms Museum at Union Station in Ogden. The Browning Arms Co. was founded in the northern Utah city.
Machine-guns are illegal to import, and the military paperwork involved in bringing one can be daunting, Lovejoy said.
Just how the Browning ended up in Iraq is a mystery.
The M1919 was invented by John M. Browning after World War I General of the Armies John J. Pershing asked him for something lighter and more durable than the water-cooled M1917.
The machine-gun was then exported extensively, including to the British, who occupied Iraq in 1917 and gave it political independence in 1927 but kept troops there to protect its oil interests.
Engraving on the recovered machine-gun shows it was made by General Motors at its Michigan steering gear works, said Roberta Beverly of the Union Station Foundation. She said she hasn’t had time yet to chase down its history through the serial number.
Diana Azevedo, who manages machine-gun displays at the museum, said the weapon will be displayed to play up the story if its discovery by the troops who determined they wanted it to go to a museum.
Lovejoy said that, as a soldier, he has great admiration for the Browning M1919A4. An upsized version, the M2 that uses .50-calibre bullets, is still in use today.
“Every war after (John Browning) invented it, that’s our primary weapon,” Lovejoy said. “Without that weapon, a lot more lives would have been lost.”

QinetiQ - Gunshot targeting microphones.

Small lightweight microphones are saving the lives of US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Shoulder Worn Acoustic Targeting Systems (SWATS), developed by defense company QinetiQ, use shockwave and muzzle blast noise to locate enemy gunfire . A single shot is all it takes to give the soldier the bearing and distance to the sniper trying to take his life. A tactical display or audio alert from the device tells the soldier where to look so they can return fire or take cover. 
With SWATS, you go from sitting duck to well-informed angry defender in less than a second. QinetiQ recently announced that the US Army had ordered 13,500 SWATS units, with the option to pick up 30,000 more. The Marine Corps placed an order for 900. 
According to the MC Times, these branches already have roughly 4000 and 150 of the units in the field, respectively. Watch SWATS in action with real gunfire in the videos below. Sensors like these are just some of the many devices that are augmenting human soldiers for modern warfare.

Knowing when to shoot

Photo credit James Law (Adelphi Laboratory Center)
Sgt. Joe Pergerson monitors Lt. Juan Ortiz during an active-shooter scenario using the MILO Range Advanced System. The system is used by the Adelphi Laboratory Center Police Department to maintain firearm proficiency and improve critical law enforcement tactics.
So you think you\'re good at Wii Sports? Think you can tear up the floor with Dance Dance Revolution? Think you can jam like Van Halen on Guitar Hero? Think again - because the Adelphi Laboratory Center has a new game in town that's more realistic, more useful and more fun.

The MILO Range Advanced System is an interactive training tool now being used by the ALC Police Department to maintain firearm proficiency and improve critical law enforcement tactics.
MILO consists of a laptop computer, high-definition projector and a large screen with hundreds of scenario possibilities including target practice, active-shooter, traffic stops, domestic disputes, workplace violence and more. But it's the system features that make the scenarios realistic -- things like:

* Hit detection and resulting scenario adjustments
* Carbon dioxide cartridges to simulate weapon recoil
* Various game weapons such as handguns, long guns, Tasers, batons and (OC) cannisters (i.e. pepper spray)
* An adjustable line-of-fire gun that shoots actual pellets at trainees to simulate bullets

"The MILO can help keep our police officers and security guards proficient in between scheduled visits to the actual firing ranges out at Blossom Point." said ALC Chief of Police Charles Roberson. "It also allows us to get our new employees initially qualified." And although MILO won't ever completely take the place of real range training, every officer and guard must qualify on the MILO system as part of the ALC Police Department's continuing, mandated in-service training.
It will also allow for year-round training in various real-world scenarios that actual firing ranges can't offer - things like the ability to change or adapt the scenario on the fly depending on how the trainee responds. For example, in a traffic stop scenario, the MILO trainer can adjust the module to reflect a compliant driver who responds to an officer's request, a belligerent driver who may pose a risk or a driver who hauls out a handgun. The trainee must then determine the appropriate use of force to resolve the situation. If the scenario calls for responding with deadly force, the actors in the video respond accordingly. If an officer's shot is within the "lethal" zone on the attacker's body (a zone which can be adjusted by the trainer), the actor may drop dead; but if the shot catches the actor outside the zone (such as a hand or leg shot), he or she could continue to be a threat.

The scenarios are replete with other interactive characters who could be victims, innocent bystanders, or accomplices. It's the trainee's job to sort it out and respond accordingly.
"The system videotapes the entire training session to assist with debriefings," said Sgt. Joe Pergerson, ALC Police Department Training Coordinator. "After each session, I discuss the scenario with the trainee, and then we review the tape together to see what really happened."
"The debriefing after the scenario teaches us how to articulate our actions and describe why," said Lt. Juan Ortiz following a training session. "This can be especially helpful in training officers and guards to explain their actions to command officials during real world use-of-force events."
Approximately 80 percent of the ALC police and guard force have qualified on the system since it was installed in December, and many of them have also been trained on specific scenarios. The $65,000 system is projected to pay for itself in 2-3 years by decreasing the number of out-of-cycle range visits.
The system can accommodate multiple trainees at once, which allows pairs or groups of officers and/or guards to practice communication and teamwork skills. An additional feature allows the organization to actually create their own scenarios using local facilities and terrain. Chief Roberson has plans to do that in the future so his staff can train on scenarios that are realistic to ALC.
"Eventually we may have scenarios for the Building 205 lobby or the front gate or other areas," Roberson said. "That would make the MILO system an even more valuable training tool." 

Feb 22, 2011

Propper’s New design on Combat Shirt


Propper unveiled their new line of Tactical ACUs that soon to be available in A-TACS, to record crowds. The introductory product line will include basic ACUs and boonie caps all sewn to military specifications.
Soon to follow, Propper revealed their latest TAC-U series of gear in the pattern which will feature a newly designed Combat Shirt and Pant loaded with innovative features including a half-zip front with loop fastener for nametape on back of the collar, a fully articulated elbow with external elbow pad openings, integrated dual cuff with thumb hole and A-TACS printed hook and loop fasteners, multiple dual layer pockets and a double layer stretch shoulder with shoulder pad pockets. 

Click picture to enlarge

Propper gear in A-TACS will be commercially available at a number of tactical retailers this Spring. Check back soon “Where to Buy” section that will list retailers carrying these items and other A-TACS gear.

Feb 21, 2011

F-15 pilot selected to receive Jabara Award

Captain Mike Polidor
by Steven Simon
Air Force Academy Development and Alumni Programs Office


U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An F-15E Strike Eagle pilot and 2004 graduate of the Air Force Academy was selected Jan. 25 to receive the 2011 Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship.

Capt. Mike Polidor, a member of Air Force Global Strike Command, distinguished himself through heroic actions in an Operation Enduring Freedom sortie supporting United States and Afghan National Army ground forces.
"This year's competition was extremely tough, and you can be proud of your selection. It is a true testament of your exemplary performance and professionalism," Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould wrote in his congratulatory letter to Captain Polidor announcing the selection.
Captain Polidor was one of a record 12 Academy graduates nominated for the Jabara Award this year by major commands, forward operating agencies and direct reporting units.

Captain Polidor was the flight lead of an F-15E two-ship tasked Oct. 3, 2009, to support Coalition Observation Post Keating in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. More than 80 Coalition soldiers were pinned down and taking fire from a well-orchestrated 360-degree attack of 250 Taliban insurgents in the steep and rugged Kamdesh Valley.
Shortly after arriving on station, Captain Polidor assumed the tactical air control-airborne role. He quickly assessed the ground picture, which revealed multiple fighting positions, several insurgents inside the boundary, and more than 90 percent of the post either on fire or destroyed.
He immediately began deconflicting aircraft and establishing a communications relay amid smoke, approaching thunderstorms and radio communication that was severely degraded by the surrounding terrain.

Captain Polidor was also forced to perform a battle damage check for his wingman, who experienced a severe hydraulic failure and had to return to base. The weapons systems officer on that aircraft was Captain Prichard Keely, Captain Polidor's Academy classmate and close friend. Coincidentally, Captain Keely won the Jabara Award in 2010, making it two consecutive Jabara Awards for the Class of 2004.
"Without Ox being overhead, there would have been significantly more casualties," said Captain Keely, coincidentally the 2010 Jabara Award recipient, upon learning of Captain Polidor's selection. "This was the first attack of its kind, and his quick thinking in the dynamic environment paid huge dividends for the American forces on the ground."
Low on fuel, Captain Polidor continued to orchestrate incoming air assets while aerial refueling. Once he arrived back on station, he safely managed another airborne emergency when an F-15E experienced a rapid cabin decompression and had to leave the fight.

Later, while relaying target data, Captain Polidor recognized that one of the coordinates was within dangerously close proximity of friendly forces. He ordered the bombing run aborted until the coordinates could be updated, which resulted in the employment of 14 guided bombs with zero fratricide.
During his 7.8-hour sortie, Captain Polidor coordinated and integrated 19 aircraft, including six F-15Es, four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, two AH-64 Apaches and a B-1 Lancer, orchestrating precision strikes on the enemy. He also arranged for additional tanker assets, ensuring continued air power over the battle area.
He didn't just remain above the fray, relaying information and direction. During four different attacks, he expertly expended four bombs and executed a perfect 20mm strafe against a target in close proximity to friendly forces, effectively destroying multiple enemy fighting positions.

In all, more than 30,000 pounds of ordnance and 170 rounds of strafe eventually eliminated enemy strongholds, saving 72 American and Afghan national army lives. Eight soldiers from Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team were killed in the battle, according to Associated Press reports.
Captain Polidor joins an extremely exclusive group, becoming the 50th Air Force Academy graduate selected for the award. Among the previous winners are such notable alumni as Vietnam War heroes Karl Richter and Steve Ritchie from the Class of 1964, pioneering astronaut Karol Bobko ('59), and Hudson River landing pilot Chesley Sullenberger ('73).
Captain Polidor was excited and humbled to learn he had won the Jabara Award.
"I am tremendously honored to be receiving this award from the Jabara Family, the Association of Graduates and the Air Force Academy," he said. "Adding my name to a list of aviators that includes Richter, Ritchie, and Keely is a very proud moment in my Air Force career."

Established in 1967, the Col. James Jabara Airmanship Award is presented to a USAFA graduate, living or deceased, whose actions directly associated with an aerospace vehicle set him/her apart from contemporaries. The annual award is jointly presented on behalf of the Academy, the Association of Graduates and the Jabara family.
Col. James Jabara was the first jet ace and the second leading ace in the Korean War. In 1951, he won the Air Force Association's most prestigious award and in 1957 was recognized as one of the 25 Americans who had contributed the most to aviation.
The Jabara Award is not the first honor Captain Polidor has received for this mission. He and his WSO, Capt. Aaron Dove, also received Distinguished Flying Cross medals, which are awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievements during flying operations.

Col. Marty France, head of the Academy Department of Astronautics and a 1981 graduate, said Captain Polidor showed clear signs during his cadet career that he had the potential for greatness.
"We're just so overjoyed to hear that Mike won the Jabara Award," Colonel France said. "Academic excellence is a huge part of one's duty -- excellence and professionalism in the classroom and lab translates into excellence and bravery in the battlespace, too."
Captain Polidor didn't just excel in the classroom. He was also a member of the Academy ice hockey team. A four-year letter winner and three-year starter, he was named the Air Force Academy's scholar-athlete of the year and the College Hockey America conference student-athlete of the year in 2004. That year, he also earned College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors.
Hockey head coach Frank Serratore said he was not surprised that his former player has gone on to do great things in the Air Force.

"The focus, commitment, and discipline needed to become a great pilot are the same attributes needed to excel as an elite-level collegiate student-athlete," Coach Serratore said. "Mike Polidor displayed this and more as a hockey player at the Air Force Academy, excelling at one of the most dangerous and pressure filled positions in all of sports, that being an ice hockey goaltender. It should surprise no one that Mike went on to become a decorated pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Nothing surprises me when it comes to Mike Polidor. He is simply a remarkable person."
Captain Polidor will be presented the 2011 Jabara Award for Airmanship on May 6 during the noon meal at Mitchell Hall, and will be feted with a dinner and award reception at Doolittle Hall later that evening. Captain Polidor made the trip to the Academy last year to see his classmate receive the Award. Captain Keely hopes to repay the favor this year.

Feb 20, 2011

Nano Hummingbird from AeroVironment Phase II fly video,

AeroVironment Develops World's First Fully Operational Life-Size Hummingbird-Like Unmanned Aircraft for DARPA. 

For more information visit: www.avinc.com/nano

Feb 19, 2011

Army special ops continues to grow, increase optempo

Photo credit Staff Sgt. David William McLean
Staff Sgt. Jakob Anderson enters shot data into a ballistics PDA during a long-range target session while a student of the Special Forces Sniper Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, N.C.
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Feb. 17, 2011) -- U.S. Army Special Operations Command has more than doubled its manpower since Sept. 11, 2001, and according to its deputy commander, mission requirements and operations tempo will continue on an upward glide path.
Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller said special operations forces are presently working on 116 missions in 53 countries -- and "that's actually sort of low. It's usually somewhere between 60 and 65 countries, small numbers of people in most spots that total between 5,500 and 6,000 people."

Briefing members of the Association of the U.S. Army at its monthly Land Warfare Institute breakfast here, Feb. 15, Fuller added that with regard to fiscal realities, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC, was better off than anticipated. He said the command would still find ways to creatively adjust and set priorities, but the investment would still need to be significant in order to maintain technological advantages over adversaries.
"In 2004 we were able to execute 61 percent of the missions we were asked to do," he said. "In 2010, we could only do 47 percent of what we were requested to do, and we believe we'll maintain about that 50-percent level out to around 2012, which is as far as we can really see. So optempo (operational tempo) is really a big issue for us."
Elaborating on deployment versus dwell time, Fuller said that while the Army was working hard to achieve a one-year to two-year ratio or better, he didn't see any USASOC elements getting to that level. Of six USASOC commands, the best dwell time ratio any has is one-to-one.
"We're also working to stand up a new active-duty civil affairs brigade that will be in direct support of our conventional brigade combat teams and divisions, and USASOC is now, for the first time part of ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation)," he added. He noted that in four years, USASOC had grown civil affairs to a brigade of five battalions and he expects that again to double by 2015.
With such rapid growth comes concern about the ability to grow enough noncommissioned officers to man the new formations. He also said he does not want to wreck existing units by pulling their noncommissioned officers to build new units.

Fuller also addressed Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, commonly referred to as MAVNI. In short, MAVNI are foreign-born Soldiers the U.S. has brought into USASOC who already have the language, cultural and macro-regional expertise the command is looking for.

He said it was harder to teach American Soldiers cultural and language skills than it was to teach foreign-born Soldiers how to learn and handle new weaponry. Fuller noted that taking a foreign-born Soldier and turning him into a special operator was the way USASOC was heading.
USASOC also wants to institutionalize and make a permanent part of its formation the cultural support teams or female special ops engagement teams the Army placed in Afghanistan for various types of operational support.
The general said investing in talent management is a priority, and that USASOC was reworking all of its Special Operations Force career models and patterns to better emphasize joint and inter-agency skills. He said the staff had coordinated with the senior leader development office to identify key positions outside Special Operations Forces in the Defense Department, at Army headquarters, the combatant commands and inter-agency organizations where Special Operations Forces talent can be matched with requirements and demands.
Fuller capped his brief adding that USASOC was looking for a new light vehicle that can be transported by the CH-47 Chinook and is capable of maintaining low visibility and long-range infiltration.

Brain experts meet to further Soldier head protection

Photo credit PEO Soldier
The Advanced Combat Helmet is one of many pieces of protective gear fielded to Soldiers by Program Executive Office Soldier. The agency recently stood up Task Force Soldier Protection to help ensure Army standards and policies for procurement of Soldier protective gear -- including such things as body armor, helmets and eyewear -- are followed across the entire chain of agencies and organizations involved in fielding such equipment.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 17, 2011) -- Soldiers can have some of the same brain damage as boxers, according to one researcher who presented at the Soldier Protective Conference.
Dr. Ann McKee, a neural pathologist from Boston University, discussed her team's research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, during an Army conference set up to discuss ways to protect Soldiers' brains, Feb. 17.
McKee said CTE is a "progressive neurodegeneration" disorder and the symptoms have a slow "insidious onset" and tend to develop in mid-life. Symptoms include memory loss, "irritability, agitation, and a short fuse," she said. Boxers have shown particular susceptibility to CTE and have a particular form called "dementia pugilistica."
McKee presented slides that demonstrated human brain specimens that were both normal and affected by CTE. The normal brains, when specially prepared with a dye, appeared blue. The diseased brains were shrunken and atrophied, and when dyed, showed brown spots in key areas -- evidence of concentrated areas of hyperphosphorylated tau protein.
"There's very little hyperphosphorylated tau protein in the brain normally," she said.
The bulk of the 66 brains in her team's "brain bank" are boxers and football players who had experienced repeated blows to the head during their careers. But she did have in her collection the brains of five former Soldiers. The disease, CTE, is the result of repeated trauma to the head.
"This disease does develop in military veterans -- it really has been described in many different types of mild traumatic injury," McKee said. "It's less important how you get the injury, what's important is that you had repetitive injury.

"This is the challenge I think with any discussion about helmet and equipment, how do we protect the brain from the long-term damage we are seeing in these players and Soldiers?"
Dr. Dixie Hisley, of the Army Research Lab, presented information related to her team's efforts to find the most effective way to measure the impact on a Soldier's head when their Advanced Combat Helmet is struck by a bullet.
A video she presented showed the helmet stopping a bullet, but it deforms inside as it absorbs the momentum of the speeding projectile. Inside the helmet, a speeding bullet creates a "helmet backface deformation," or helmet BFD, that appears as a bulge that grows instantly inside the helmet near a Soldier's head.
The bulge can be three to four inches in diameter. But inside the helmet, there may be between 1/2 to 3/4 inch between the helmet and the Soldier's head.

"You can see we have a potential for a pretty good impact to a Soldier's head," Hisley said, going on to explain one hypothesis that says "helmet BFD acts more like the mechanical equivalent of a direct impact from a less-than-lethal projectile or blunt object.
"What we at the ARLS (Army Research Lab) would like to do is come up with the one to two experimental techniques that would allow us to replicate and measure this phenomenon very accurately."
Hisley explained her team's use of instrumented head forms to measure helmet BFD, as well as the use of digital image correlation. She said high-speed cameras can record the deformation as it happens, and measure how fast the deformation occurs. They pay particular attention to how the velocity of the expansion of the bulge changes as it grows and eventually comes into contact with a Soldier's head.
Maj. Jason Morneault, with Program Executive Office Soldier, protective equipment, discussed advancements in the Army's head protection for Soldiers. Currently, the Army uses the Advanced Combat Helmet. More than 1 million of the helmets have been fielded to Soldiers.
The next generation helmet, Morneault said, is now in "first article testing" -- part of the government's acquisition process. It's expected the Enhanced Combat Helmet will be available for Soldiers this fall.

He said the Enhanced Combat Helmet is made of a new material, different from the Advanced Combat Helmet, and is meant to provide 35 percent more fragmentation protection than the Advanced Combat Helmet, but he said it does better than that.
"We're seeing upwards to 50 percent better -- along with some small arms," he said.
The Enhanced Combat Helmet is slightly thicker than the Advanced Combat Helmet, but is also about four ounces lighter.
Also new is the second generation helmet sensor expected to be in the field by August. The sensor measures the head impact Soldiers experience in combat. The data collected from the sensors can be used to help develop better injury models "to better understand what's going on in IEDs and different blasts and blunt impact trauma we're seeing downrange."
Moreneault also discussed the competition to develop a different or better pad and suspension system for Soldier helmets.

Feb 18, 2011

Aviation brigade flies final hours, sees change in Iraq

Photo Credit: Spc. Roland Hale. Army Black Hawk crew chief Spc. Christopher Wilmeth watches the Iraqi countryside Feb. 10 during a mission near Baghdad. The Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division is flying its final hours in Iraq, where it has served as the Army's first and only enhanced aviation brigade, responsible for providing support to the entire country. Wilmeth is assigned to the brigade's A Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Roland Hale, eCAB, 1st Inf. Div., PAO
CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Feb. 17, 2011) -The Army's last active-duty aviation brigade in Iraq is heading home after a year-long deployment in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

The Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, deployed from Fort Riley, Kan., in March, and quickly became an integral player in U.S. Forces-Iraq's mission here.
When it first arrived, the unit was one of four aviation brigades in Iraq. Over the course of the deployment, however, it rapidly assumed responsibility for all Army aviation operations in the country. It is now the Army's only aviation brigade here, bolstered to meet that charge with increased numbers of troops and aircraft.
With nearly 4,000 troops and more than 200 helicopters, the brigade is double the size of a normal aviation brigade. The increased numbers make it the Army's first and only enhanced aviation brigade.
The brigade has made good use of every aircraft. It leaves Iraq having flown nearly 125,000 hours in support of USF-I's mission here.
"The statistics are an indication of what we've done to support the mission," said Col. Frank Muth, the brigade's commander. "What's behind the numbers are the hundreds more hours that Soldiers are turning wrenches to make the aircraft fly, supporting the mission."
The brigade's primary mission is the support of U.S. ground forces, which involves freedom of maneuver, counter indirect fire, route clearance, and convoy security. It leaves with that mission accomplished, said Muth.
"We're ensuring we leave behind a safe and secure environment that allows the Iraqi government to flourish," said Muth.
The brigade's Apache aircraft provided security above Iraqi cities while the country held its second set of parliamentary elections last March. After nine months of political deadlock following those inconclusive elections, the brigade watched the Iraqi parliament approve a new government.

Also, the brigade played its part in providing troops with air transportation between bases as much as possible. With IEDs as one of the leading killers of service members here, keeping U.S. forces off of the roads was one of the brigade's top missions.
The brigade has transported nearly 300,000 personnel and 10 million pounds of cargo this deployment.
In addition to fulfilling the unit's mission, the brigade has seen drastic improvements in Iraq overall, said Muth.
"The Iraqi nation has turned a corner," said Muth. "What I see is more lights on, more commerce taking place, more traffic on the road, people moving around to do business." he said.
The brigade has also invested its time in training with their Iraqi aviation counterparts.

On Camp Taji, one of the brigade's battalions has flown several partnership missions with an Iraqi squadron, as well as helped train Iraqi air traffic controllers. The brigade has also assisted ground forces in training Iraqis in air to ground integration operations.
The brigade is scheduled to end its mission here next month, when it will pass its mission to the California National Guard's 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.
The unit's overall impact here will depend on how well it prepares the 40th CAB to continue that mission, said Muth.
"The mark of a good unit leaving is when you hand off that mission to the new unit, the unit doesn't skip a beat, the mission isn't affected, and it's a smooth transition," said Muth.

Feb 17, 2011

Army armors more heavy tactical trucks

Photo credit Army file photo
New modular, add-on armor is now available for the Army's newest tactical trucks, such as the M915-A5 Line-Haul Tractor shown here.
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Feb. 16, 2011) -- The Army has introduced modular, add-on armor capability to key portions of its fleet of heavy tactical trucks to include the new M915-A5 Line-Haul Tractor, Palletized Load System PLS-A1, and Heavy Equipment Transporter HET-A1, service officials said.
"These vehicles are designed so you can take armor off during peacetime to reduce the burden on the platform itself -- as well as drive down the peacetime operating costs," said Col. David Bassett, project manager for Tactical Vehicles.
The move toward scalable armor for medium and heavy tactical vehicles is part of the Army's Long Term Armor Strategy articulated in its recently released 2011 Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy - a document which lays out the Army's plans for its 290,000 vehicle-strong tactical fleet through 2025.
"The truck fleet that the Army has and is continuing to field today is really different than the one we went into these conflicts with. We've gone from having what was almost a completely un-armored fleet to one in which every vehicle that is used operationally overseas today is armored against the threats that face our Soldiers. We've rapidly modernized our fleet," said Bassett.
These new armored trucks represent the most recent addition to a large TWV fleet of trucks already equipped with modular armor, including the new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles and the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks, know at HEMTTs.
The modular armor approach - explained as an A-kit plus B-kit solution - allows a truck with a small amount of built-on integrated armor to accept additional add-on armor when dictated by the threat environment.
"In accordance with our Army modernization strategy, we are going to procure trucks that are adaptable so that they can be used in many different environments. They will have the ability to accept armor and then relinquish that armor when it is no longer needed," said Maj. Gen. Tom Spoehr, director of force development, Army G-8.
The modular armor strategy is designed to allow for the rapid incorporation of newer, potentially lighter-weight armor composites as technology progresses and makes them available, Spoehr said.
"They will be able to accept new forms of armor as science and industry produce new materials," he said. "These vehicles will have growth potential."

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Feb 16, 2011

X-47B UCAS First Flight Music Video

Two minute musical revue of historic first flight of the U.S. Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration aircraft, designed and built by Northrop Grumman Corporation. Flight occurred Feb. 4, 2011 at Edwards AFB, Calif.

Chicago Auto Show spotlights Army technology

Photo credit OCPA Midwest
The Military Extreme Truck, known as the MXT-MV, is part of the Army's display this week at the Chicago Auto Show.
CHICAGO (Army News Service, Feb. 14, 2011) -- This week the Army is exhibiting prototype vehicles and other technologies at the Chicago Auto Show.

The Army exhibit covers 12,000 square feet and is showcasing green and stealth technology, unmatched in the civilian sector, at the show which runs through Feb. 20.
The Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle, or CERV, is one of the future concept vehicles on display by the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. This hybrid vehicle combines an all-wheel-drive diesel power train with a light-weight chassis aimed at reducing fuel consumption by up to 25 percent compared to conventional vehicles.

The CERV was jointly designed by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies and TARDEC's National Automotive Center in Detroit.
The Future Tactical Truck System, or FTTS, is another Army vehicle on display by TARDEC. The FTTS has onboard diagnostics and prognostics along with advanced suspension propulsion systems, and an onboard power generator. It was designed to be deployable by C-130 aircraft.
A third vehicle on display, the Military Extreme Truck, known as the MXT-MV, is now being tested by several commands, including the Michigan Army National Guard. The MXT-MV has a 30-foot fording capability and Diamond Logic electrical system.

In addition to the vehicles, the U.S. Army Accessions Command, Recruiting Command and Cadet Command are conducting operations at the show to increase public awareness of the Army. The "Strength in Action Zone," hosts numerous interactive displays.
The displays are designed to increase understanding and appreciation of the benefits and value of Army service, officials said. They said the displays should enhance awareness of the unmatched education, career and leadership opportunities available in the Army, as well as educate the public on Soldiers, Army life and the leading-edge technology the U.S. Army provides.
Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, Recruiting Command's deputy commanding general, hosted a Partnership for Youth Success, or PaYS program signing ceremony with the mayor of Itasca, Ill., at the auto show. Also in attendance at the ceremony were representatives from the Itasca Police Department and Soldiers from the Homewood, Ill., Recruiting Station.

Chicago Recruiting Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Brian Bassett and Command Sgt. Maj. Renee Dozier joined Miss Illinois Whitney Thorpe Klinsky at the PaYs ceremony.
The Partnership for Youth Success program began in FY 2000 as a U.S. Army Recruiting Command program designed to reconnect America with the Army. This program is a strategic partnership between the U.S. Army and a cross section of corporations, companies, and public sector agencies intended to provide an additional recruiting incentive to increase the Army's ability to man the force.
The program provides America's youth with an opportunity to serve their country while they prepare for their future.

Feb 15, 2011

US commander: Special operations forces stressed

WASHINGTON (AP) — The elite troops of U.S. special operations forces are showing signs of fraying after nearly 10 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, their commander said Tuesday.
Adm. Eric T. Olson says that while the number of special operations forces has doubled to about 60,000 over the last nine years, the total of those deployed overseas has quadrupled. Roughly 6,500 special operators are in Afghanistan and about 3,500 are in Iraq, although those numbers can vary as units move in and out of the war zone.
Olson said the demand for the specialized units in Afghanistan is insatiable, forcing troops to deploy to war at a rate that is off the charts. And he said he does not see that demand declining in the next several years.
As an example, he noted that while 100,000 regular forces have been pulled out of Iraq, leaving about 47,000 there, just 500 or so special operators were part of that withdrawal, which was just a fraction of the elite force there.
"Not on the same scale, but like the rest of the force we're seeing the indicators — pressure on duty, pressure off duty," Olson said at a conference in Washington. Even though the size of his special operations force has grown, they are being asked to do more, he said, "so we are, frankly, beginning to show some fraying around the edges that we are addressing."
Altogether, about 12,000 special operations forces are deployed, and those not in Iraq and Afghanistan are scattered in other hot-spots around the globe, such as Yemen.
Olson said one sign of the strain is that more mid-grade forces are opting to leave service this year than in previous years. As much as 60 percent of his force, he said, joined in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and believe they were part of something important for the last eight or nine years.

"But what seems good for eight or 10 years, maybe doesn't seem as good looking ahead to 18 or 20 years," Olson said.
While the force and their families have proven to be resilient, he said leaders are now taking measures to address the emerging strains.
Officials, he said, are trying to increase training, make deployments more predictable, and stick to the schedules so there are fewer unexpected shifts.
In addition, he said they are working to educate families about what the forces do and what they can expect. And Special Operations Command is devoting more resources to programs for wounded and ill service members, he said.
The challenge, said Olson, is to stem the loss of the mid-grade troops, so that over the next 20 or 30 years the U.S. will still have a high-quality special operations force.

The Associated Press.

Military Jewelry

Jeni Benos, of Jenuinely Jeni Inc. hand crafts all of her Pistol Petals from sterling silver wire, brass ammunition cartridge casings and in some cases genuine gem stones. Many of the shells used in this project were even fired by Jeni.

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