Special Forces Gear Logo
Monthly NewsletterJune 2012 
In This Issue
Dave's Message
Voice of the Soldier
Word of Truth
The Blue Warrior
Combat Survival
Warrior's Wisdom
Special Product Coupon
Aesop's Fables
Embroidered Items
Featured T-Shirts
Special Product Coupon
Quotes & Jokes
Featured Tactical Gear
Featured Items
Featured Watches
Clichés of Socialism
What Has Really Changed?

Newsletter Archive
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
Customer Comments
I am a Cpl. in the Army and just returned from Iraq. I carried my shotgun all year on my back in your shotgun scabbard, and it worked great! I was glad to have it around several times, and it proved to be an easy way to keep the shotgun handy for the squad. Thanks for your great product, and for your support of our troops!!

Cpl. C.R. [omitted]
36th Infantry Div.

Got the T-shirt....IT ROCKS!!!!

Thanks guys
kelly [omitted]

Dear Sir, The Falcon Chest Harness finally arrived to me at Camp Taji, Iraq. Thank You! It is now set up for fitting over my IOTV and Battle Ready!!!

[name omitted]

(already the guys are asking who to order one from, so you might be getting a few more requests!!!).

Dear SF company.

Thank-you for sending another t-shirt it looks great the boys in the unit will want one when they see it. I'll be sending them right to you.

Thanks again.

Another happy customer
Bob Miller

When I was stationed at Camp Pendleton I was in Weapons Company 3/5. The unit made us t-shirts with the 3/5 logo/emblem/crest, "Consumate Professionals". I was honorable discharged in 1999 and the t-shirt has been long-gone. I searched a couple of web site to find a shirt with the logo/emblem/crest but there was no luck. It didn't take me long to search this site before I found what I was looking for. When the shirt arrived it was better than what I expected. I love the t-shirt and wear it with pride and often. Thank you SpecialForces.com

Most Sincerely,
Bryan P.

Thank you!!!

Your Shirts are the best.


Dear SFG,

Thank you for being so prompt with my order, and the refund as well.

I thought a little constructive thoughts were in order.

The "HRT" boot knife is well constructed. I had to "hone" the edge though, both sides,to get it up to spec.

As for the "GI USMC Combat Knife"......Well, it wasn't really a K-Bar, at least not one that I've ever seen. It read "US", and above that it read "Ontario". No worries though, after I used a ceramic sharpening stone on both the small back edge and the full length edge, I'm quite pleased with them both. Oh, I almost forgot, both were very pretty well balanced.

I'll be purchasing again from you in the near future.

Ed Whiteside

Dear Special Forces

I received my order i have to say that is better than i expected! Thank you and you'll hear fom me soon.


They turned out GREAT!!!!!! Thanks. I will be back for other things.


Thanks Folks. As always you have been most polite and professional. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Jack And Melanie Edgar


OMG! That looks awesome! Is there any logo on the front? Can I buy these off the website? I'm sure a lot of SWCC guys are going to want these!

Thank you,

Amanda Van Every


We love the art work. They are awesome. I'll be ordering mine right after this. Thanks for all the work. I am recommending you guys to all the other battalions and ODA's.



Just to let you know all items have been recieved, fantastic quality as all ways.

Cheers Andrew and best wishes for the New Year.

Dear Dave,

Welcome to the new Special Forces Gear News Letter! Each month we send out a lot of information and great deals, and to make it easier to read, we've written a summary of the longer articles in this email.

Dave's Message


Naiveté In Leadership


"To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant."

- Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) American educator


Naiveté in leadership has changed the course of history many times and not to its' favor. Naiveté creeps into all our lives at one time or another with painful consequences and we must learn to guard against it if we want to avoid life's harsh lessons.


First I think to get going it would be best to define Naiveté in Leadership simply as "not knowing what is going on." There are different causes for Naiveté in Leadership and my hope is by identifying them for you, this will give you a chance to avoid the great mistakes others have made in the past.


Sometimes leaders are blind or unaware of something due to arrogance, lack of knowledge, want of power and inflexibility.  


There are three categories of reasons for Naiveté in leadership.

  1. Ignorance or rejection of the truth related to the reality of a situation, or the true nature of a circumstance.
  2. Arrogance as a mental attitude of jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, implacability, hatred, revenge, self pity, guilt, reaction, etc.
  3.  Motivation from a lust pattern like power lust, approbation lust, crusader lust, inordinate ambition from competition, etc.

I think the first two are pretty much self explanatory so I will focus on number three for a bit.  


Lust is a powerful force to resist and when indulged it removes the leader from reality with these results:

  1. Naiveté in leadership is first in line.
  2. Lust destroys self esteem and replaces it with inordinate desire.
  3. Lust destroys capacity for leadership.
  4. Lust produces self centeredness.
  5. The desire for self promotion to the exclusion of self responsibility and concern for those under one's command, this holds true for any situation.
  6. Lust destroys the leaders' ability to execute leadership. Lust substitutes false concepts through arrogance. The most typical is inordinate ambition and self promotion.
  7. Lust substitutes false motivations of arrogance, with ambition and self promotion for leadership.

Power lust is the main problem of Naiveté in Leadership which results in having or showing a lack of judgment in understanding information and good advice.


Two examples that come to mind are Hitler and Saddam Hussein - both examples of men who lusted for power and fell into the trap of naiveté. But evil dictators do not have a monopoly on naiveté - it is not an exclusive club.


There is a principle here: "The greater the power of a leader the greater the chance for naiveté."  


As you read these examples taken from history, try and ask yourself how they could have avoided Naiveté in Leadership. I think you will find that flexibility coupled with Humility (teachability) would have prevented their mistakes.


Gaius Julius Caesar entered into naiveté resulting in a lack of judgment in 311 iran shipregards to certain things. He was warned there was a plot to kill him, he refused to believe it and to show he was not afraid of it he dismissed his bodyguards and he also pardoned his enemies including his would be assassins, and was killed as a result. He was a great leader in Rome who had tremendous ability in every field he was in - whether it was military on the battlefield or the administration of his country but he fell prey to naiveté.


Napoleon was a man of great genius in warfare. However he was under great naiveté in regard to Russia and Spain. He wanted to invade Spain and Russia. He had an invasion army of close to half a million. In each case he assumed the power he possessed was greater than the terrain of either Spain or Russia. As a result of this and failure to recognize the information in reports that came to him he lacked information and from lacking information his army was defeated left with only 20,000 or so survivors destroying his great power in Europe.


Robert E. Lee - a respected and great general of the South - yet he was naive at Gettysburg which was the key battle in the War Between the States. Lee was leading their invasion into the north and on the first day of the battle Lee had the Union's only two corps in full retreat and there was no one to stop Robert E. Lee from going all the way to Washington. The union retreated through the town and up Cemetery Ridge but Lee did not force either General Ewell or Early to pursue them. This was a case of naiveté in leadership which changed the course of history with a missed chance for victory.


Naiveté is simplicity of nature and Ewell needed supervision because he should have pursued and defeated the two Federal Corps that had turned their backs and were running.


On the second morning of Gettysburg after leaving Ewell on the left flank Lee never rode to the left flank again and that was Naiveté of Leadership on his part again, this was to be the key battle of the entire war.

On the third day Lee's greatest example of Naiveté was demonstrated in 2 ways.


First Longstreet suggested an envelopment around the Federals left flank and then pushing on straight to Washington it was open all the way. Lee rejected this.


Second, Lee then ordered Longstreet to make an Infantry frontal attack under the illusion that it would work. This would become famous in history known as "The Charge up Cemetery Ridge" or "Pickett's Charge" named after General Pickett who led the charge although Longstreet was in command. Longstreet advised Lee that it would be a horrible mistake, the enemy was thoroughly entrenched and yet Lee said my Confederate Infantry is invincible and he told Longstreet to make the attack. This mistake from Lee's display of naiveté in all probability cost the South the war.  


Woodrow Wilson as President was rather naive at the Paris peace talks when he assumed that the US Senate would support the League of Nations and ratify the Treaty of Versailles. They did not. Woodrow Wilson lacked judgment and as a result he lost out completely on the missed opportunities at the Peace talks.  


In 1944 Operation Market Garden during World War II - where there was clear intelligence that a Panzer Division lurked near the drop zone - and it was ignored (as shown in the Movie "A Bridge to Far"). This was a clear case of Naiveté of Leadership and Operation Market Garden ended in a disaster.  


Franklin Roosevelt was naive when he said "I have Joe Stalin in my hip pocket." This was arrogance on his part, he did not have Stalin in his hip pocket it was the reverse, Stalin outmaneuvered him in every possible way. Roosevelt lacked both judgment and information.  


The same thing happened in Desert Storm. The Iraqis had turned their backs and were running. We did not pursue and destroy them so we came back and fought a costly war again. This is definitely a case of Naiveté in Leadership. I remember how shocked I was - along with others - when we all heard that we had just stopped and did not continue to pursue the enemy and that was it. I knew this was wrong and there would be consequences for this down the road. An opinion many shared at the time.


If these prolific men and events from history all failed on the principle of Naiveté in Leadership we have an even greater potential to fail.

How can the leader avoid the trap of Naiveté that so many before us have fallen victim? I think this could be answered in one word "flexibility".

Flexibility is the key to getting out of naiveté. Flexibility means adaptability and to be able to change the situation in leadership no matter whether it's on the battlefield or business, the economy, family matters, etc.  


I think a fairly recent example of Naiveté in Leadership due to inflexibility took place near the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in a place called Tora Bora where Osama Bin Laden was trapped in his favorite mountain strong hold. The Spec Ops Commander on the ground and CIA in charge on the ground both understood the importance of killing or capturing Bin Laden. They requested support in the form of an American assault force and blocking force to prevent his escape to Pakistan. This was an American objective and the Afghans had no dog in this fight. General Tommy Franks and the Secretary of Defense refused these urgent requests. They were inflexible and naive they did not listen nor would they understand the situation. They broke the cardinal rule "listen to the guys on the ground." They had a plan to use minimal US Troops and get the Afghans to do the fighting. In this particular battle they were wrong for many reasons although they are still making excuses to this day for this missed opportunity. None of us know for sure what would have happened if they had chosen flexibility listening to the guys on the ground instead of naiveté. But we can say that the head of the snake would have been removed setting an example to the remaining terrorists. Bin Laden's escape gave the U.S. a black eye giving hope and motivation to the terrorists along with being able to continue to raise funds which are key to continuing their terrorists operations. The psychological impact alone potentially could have broken Al Qaeda's back at that time and any good leader knows the difference between motivated and unmotivated troops.  


Along with flexibility leadership demands wisdom in relationship to ones command. Here are five points to this principle.

  1. Leadership generally establishes itself through superior wisdom in application or through productivity of some kind.
  2. The leader must think independently so he must not become dependent on opinions which will cost him the ability to think independently.
  3. There comes a time when a leader must make wise and independent decisions for the good of the organization falling in line with the first point.
  4. Good leadership should be flexible enough to listen to good advice from others and to recognize wisdom when presented to him.
  5. The leader must be a good listener and when people come to him with problems he must listen patiently and help them out in whatever way seems to be necessary.  

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to listen.

Leaders have a responsibility to avoid the trap of Naiveté in Leadership and always remain objective and flexible ready to adapt to changing situations and always listen especially to the guys on the ground.





"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking being done by cowards and its fighting by fools." - Thucydides                                                  





Click here to send Dave a private message. 


Voice of the Soldier
This section is designed to give you a voice where you can express opinions or give messages. We encourage you to speak out! Send us your commentary, stories, articles, etc...

Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Special Operations Warrior FoundationSpecial Forces Gear is now hosting a special section for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) provides college scholarship grants, along with financial aid and educational counseling, to the children of Special Operations personnel who were killed in an operational mission or training accident.

All profits from these items go to the
Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Learn More about the

Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) >> 

Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club

  311 iran ship 

The Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club is a not-for-profit (501c3) fraternal organization. It was formed to provide a fraternal organization for qualified military veterans who have served, or are currently serving, in the Armed Forces of the United States or US Allied Nations.  They support Veterans and Active Duty Members in many different ways.  A few of the many causes projects they support are: mailing over 900lbs of care packages to Active Duty Service Members Monthly to Visiting Veterans Homes to put a smile on a Veterans Face.  Please visit them at  www.warriorbrotherhood.com. 


All profits from these items are donated to

Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club 


Learn More about theWarrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club >>

311 iran ship
While serving as a platoon leader with 1-327th IN Bn, 1 BCT, 101st ABN Division in Konar Province Afghanistan in 2010, I had the privilege of working with Kiowa Warrior Scout Weapons Teams on dozens of occasions. KW SWT consistently showed a flexible, "can do" attitude in multiple mission sets, whether providing route reconnaissance, relaying radio traffic, providing immediate suppression of the enemy, or flying on top of enemy positions and physically marking them with smoke grenades.

 In mid Jun 2010 while conducting a company sized mission in the western Pech River valley, our platoon's lead Husky vehicle hit a pressure-plate IED, destroying the vehicle, rendering the driver unconscious, and effectively trapping the company in the ambush area. Seeing our position, the enemy quickly swarmed from neighboring areas to attack. In the ensuing four-hour firefight, the KW SWT's timely and accurate fire was instrumental in keeping the enemy at bay while we air medically evacuated 1 casualty, filled in the blast hole, and cleared the road of vehicle debris. The SWTs effectively identified and destroyed mutiple enemy positions as well suppressed the enemy for our exfil to FOB Blessing.

1 more story to follow.

CPT William H
WTB, Ft. Campbell, KY

Vietnam War Resources

311 iran ship
Anyone who ever served in Vietnam or who has an interest in the Vietnam War might be interested in this. A complete resource for Ops, Maps, Strategies, Campaigns, Battles, Weapons and Munitions for the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Resources>>> 

311 iran ship

Special Forces has been selected as one of 100 Army Navy Surplus stores around the US to help promote the Video On Demand release of Act of Valor (available On Demand June 5th.)  Hit the On Demand button on your remote control for more information. 

Starring active duty Navy SEALs, Act of Valor is an unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a film like no other in Hollywood's history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey.

Special Forces will be distributing up to 200 military ID tags towards the middle of late June.  We will be sending out a separate email when the tags are in and they will be on a first come first served basis.  e unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation, the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all.

Act of Valor combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the-minute battlefield technology, and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure film-showcasing the skills, training and tenacity of the greatest action heroes of them all: real Navy SEALs.

Click Here to See More>>>
Always Remembered

42 Years Later, Obama Awards Sgt. Leslie H. Sabo Jr. The Medal Of Honor

On Wednesday, March 16, 2012, President Obama presented the Congressional Medal Of Honor to one of America's fallen heroes, Sgt. Leslie Halasz Sabo, Jr. The moving ceremony was attended by Sgt. Sabo's widow Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, his older brother George Sabo, members of Congress and ranking officers of the United States Military. Also attending was First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary Of Defense Leon Panetta, former recipients of the Medal Of Honor and men from Sgt. Sabo's Army Unit, the 101st. Airborne. The ceremony, which took place 42 years after Sgt. Sabo's sacrifice, was long delayed as a result of misplaced military documents that were not rediscovered until 1999.


Leslie Sabo Jr. was born in Kufstein, Austria on February 22, 1948 to Elizabeth and Leslie Sabo, Sr., who fled their native Hungary to seek shelter in Austria during World War Two. After the war and the Soviet takeover of Hungary, the family emigrated to the United States. The Sabos settled in Youngstown, Ohio and later moved to Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, where Leslie Jr. attended High School. When Leslie Jr. was 16, he and his father both proudly took the oath and became citizens of the United States.

Sabo was drafted into the United States Army in April, 1969 and sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for basic  training. While on leave, he married Rose Sabo-Brown (née Buccelli), the daughter of a World War II veteran and Silver Star Medal recipient. Sgt. Sabo served in the 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, United States Army, known famously as the "Screaming Eagles."


On May 10, 1970, Sgt. Sabo gave his life in Cambodia during a battle that has become known as "The Mother's Day Ambush." The Medal Of Honor Citation for Sgt. Sabo reads as follows:


"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to


Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.
United States Army


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:


Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo Jr. distinguished himself by conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life while serving as a rifleman in Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia, on May 10, 1970. On that day, Specialist Four Sabo and his platoon were conducting a reconnaissance patrol when they were ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force. Without hesitation, Specialist Four Sabo charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat. In order to re-supply ammunition, he sprinted across an open field to a wounded comrade. As he began to reload, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Specialist Four Sabo picked it up, threw it, and shielded his comrade with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving his comrade's life. Seriously wounded by the blast, Specialist Four Sabo nonetheless retained the initiative and then single-handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon, receiving several serious wounds from automatic weapons fire in the process. Now mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Specialist Four Sabo's life. His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members. Specialist Four Sabo's extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army."


The much deserved Medal of Honor would never have been presented had it not been for the diligence of Alton Mabb, a veteran of the 101st. Airborne. In 1999, Mabb was doing research at the National Archives for the 101st. Airborne Magazine and he came across the missing documents that recommended Sgt. Sabo for the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Alton Mabb requested copies of the documentation and began the thirteen year campaign that ended on May 16, 2012 with the presentation of the Congressional Medal of Honor to the once forgotten hero. At the ceremony, Sgt. Sabo's widow, Rose Mary, expressed her feelings with this bittersweet comment, "I know a piece of cloth and a medal won't bring him back, but my heart beams with pride for Leslie because he is finally receiving tribute for his sacrifices and bravery."


Sgt. Sabo's Medal of Honor is especially significant as this year's Memorial Day marks the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam war. In that tragic war, thousands of Americans gave their lives along with millions of Vietnamese. President Obama spoke to the memory of every one of the brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, when he said, "Instead of being celebrated, our Vietnam veterans were often shunned. They were called many things when there was only one thing that they deserved to be called and that was American patriots."


Leslie Sabo Jr. was one of those American patriots who gave his life in Vietnam. On Memorial Day, the President will attend ceremonies at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. On that solemn black wall, there are 58,272 names of Americans who never returned home to their loved ones. Instead they gave their lives in the harsh jungles, skies and cities of far away Vietnam. Let us all remember their sacrifice and honor their memories.


On Memorial Day, 2012, take a moment to give thanks to all the patriots who gave their lives in service to our country. There have been many wars and many have died since this great nation was founded over 235 years ago. It was their sacrifice that allows each and every one of us to enjoy the freedoms and privileges of being an American.

Japanese Sign Final Surrender
Japanese Sign Final Surrender
Checkmates Super Hornets Aboard the
Checkmates Super Hornets Aboard the "Big E"

Word of Truth
The Word Of Truth - Alive and Powerful

By Rev G.J. Rako




Love is the most misunderstood word in the English language, for that matter in any language. Take a few moments and try to define love. How did you do? Was your definition clear and concise? Could you confidently explain it to someone else? What does it mean to love something or someone, or to have someone love you? I love ice cream. I love music. I love John Wayne movies. What is love? How does it differ from infatuation, desire, lust, passion, or attraction? More has been written about love than any other subject; more poems, books, songs, and screenplays. The Word of God also has a great deal to say about the subject of love. Yet still, no one has any idea what love is.


The Bible commands believers in Jesus Christ to love, to love God and to love man!


Deut. 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.


Lev. 19:18 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.


John 15:12 Jesus said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you".


The scripture also tells us repeatedly that God loves us. God loves the believer and the unbeliever. However, the love of God for each category of person is different.


Jer. 31:3 Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love.


John 3:16 God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten (uniquely born) Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.


Rom. 5:8 God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for us.


Eph. 2:4 God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherein He loved us.        


1John 4:10 This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.


1John 4:19 We love Him, because He first loved us.  


There are hundreds of references to love in the Word of God. Since the Bible was written for us to comprehend, then we must be able to understand the concept of love. Therefore, to understand love, we must know and understand the Word of God. The good news for believers is that God in His sovereignty bestowed upon some men in the church age the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher. The function of this gift is the accurate teaching of the Word of God. The result is the spiritual growth of his congregation to spiritual maturity. This is how believers in the church age fulfill the many commands in scripture to grow to spiritual maturity. Only as a spiritually mature Christian will you understand love.


There are two categories of true love, personal and impersonal love. Personal love is motivated by an attraction for the object of that love. Impersonal love is motivated and sustained by the integrity (virtue) of the subject. If I say that I love my friend, "I" is the subject and "friend" is the object of my love. I have an attraction for my friend because he is funny, dependable, honorable and a good conversationalist. Loving my friend is an example of personal love, there is an attraction for the object of that love. Impersonal love, on the other hand is an entirely different matter. Impersonal love demands that the subject (you) have virtue in your soul. This virtue or integrity allows you to overlook the shortcomings of the object. There are people that you know that you really do not care for, they are obnoxious. They may be petty, or boorish, completely unattractive to you. Yet, you tolerate all their flaws and treat them with respect. This is a simple demonstration of impersonal love and good manners.  


Now examine John 3:16 (above) "God loved the world so much..." this is a statement of the impersonal love of God directed toward unbelievers. The same is true in Rom. 5:8 which says, "God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners..." How can perfect God love sinful and totally depraved human beings? The Bible teaches that God can only judge sin.  


Rom. 6:23For the wagesofsin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


God's perfect righteousness and justice would be compromised if He personally loved the world. However, God's essence is not compromised in loving the world impersonally. We as sinful unbelievers are completely repugnant to God. God relates to unbelievers through His integrity. When we accept the free gift of salvation, and eternal life, by faith alone in Christ alone as Rom. 6:23 and John 3:16 direct, then God loves us personally. He is now free to love us personally because He imputes to the believer His very own righteousness.  


2 Cor. 5:21    He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might becometherighteousness of God in Him.


John 17:23 " I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me."


John 17:26 " and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."


How can we fulfill the Deut. 6:5 command to love God? How can we love someone we cannot see? We cannot love someone we do not know. In order to love someone you must know them. God is only revealed in His Word. Believers in Christ must make the Word of God a priority in their lives.

2 Tim. 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Heb. 4:12 For thewordofGodis alive, and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and ofthe joints and marrow, and is a discerner ofthe thoughts and intents ofthe heart.


Serious students of the Word of God will grow to spiritual maturity. They will know God and His incomparable personal love directed toward them. They will understand and execute the mandate to love the brethren.

1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love ofGod has truly been perfected. By this, we know that we are in Him.


To understand love, to love, or to be loved you must know and understand the source of love. God is love.



Contact Reverend Rako >>  

Blue Warrior
Blue WarriorBlue Warrior


Tactical Response to Barricaded Gunmen & Hostage Situations for Uniformed Officers



Responding to a barricaded gunmen or a hostage situation requires a tactical approach from the first responder to ensure the safety of all involved. A tactical response has some basic fundamentals and objectives that can vary from agency to agency however, the fundamentals are similar in most cases.


When a call goes out over the radio to respond to most any critical incident a basic understanding of tactical operations and planning may help you provide a safer response.


Although, hostage and barricade incidents have a similar response the resolution tactics are very different.


Barricaded Gunman


First responders must try and determine if they have a barricaded suspect or a barricaded subject before they formulate a tactical response. A couple factors that the first responder needs to identify immediately are:


  1. is the subject armed?
  2. is the subject believed to have been involved in a crime?
  3. is the subject a significant threat?
  4. is the subjects position concealed or open?
  5. is the subject suicidal?


It is important to recognize the difference between a barricaded suspect and a barricaded subject. A barricaded suspect is a suspect of a crime that has taken a position in some type of structure, vehicle, or other environment that doesn't allow police access and who refuses to submit to custody.


A barricaded subject is not suspected of a crime but is need of some other type of police intervention such as a mental commitment. These individuals often suffer mental illness and or suicidal tendencies.


These two types of barricaded gunmen pose various tactical problems and present different levels of police response. A tactical commander of a special response team will have a different response for each.


The barricaded gunman has limited offensive tactical options to use against the first responding officer therefore the response and risks taken by the officer should be limited. Don't get sucked into thinking a barricaded gunman, that is shooting from inside his stronghold is an active shooter. He may be a danger to himself but as long as the first responder has secured the location and perimeter an immediate response may not be warranted unless he starts to shoot at law enforcement or has access to victims.


To further test your leadership, on many occasions officers have responded to barricaded gunmen, entered the premises, and the officers shoot the subject, only to have an attorney later down the road accuse them of forcing the situation, making them the cause of the problem. This happens far to often and supervisors become gun shy when their decision-making is fogged by thought of civil litigation. Good judgment, and common sense, is an absolute requirement for successful combat leadership.


The tactical commanders first priority will always be to negotiate first to resolve this type of incident and only make an intervention when all tactical options have been exhausted. This priority should remain the same for the first responder.


Hostage Situations


The hostage situation includes all of the aforementioned elements, with the added responsibility of the welfare of an innocent victim. A hostage is a person held against his or her will by an armed or dangerous subject who has demonstrated his intentions to harm his victim.


To further complicate matters hostage takers typically are troubled and emotionally unstable. These individuals can be very complicated and unpredictable to deal with. The first responder must not let emotion dictate how he or she responds but let sound police tactics drive his decisions as the situation unfolds.


As some officers respond to a hostage situation they often will justify in their minds that this is an active threat requiring an active shooter response. This is a complex decision to make as a first responder with limited intelligence and the desire to quickly save the victim(s).


A common definition of an active shooter is "an armed subject whom has used deadly force on other persons or is inflicting great bodily harm and continues to do so with unrestricted access to additional victims". The key to the active shooter is if they have stopped killing and the officers can determine that the offender stopped his shooting and has taken a position with a victim then you now have a hostage situation.


Some hostage situations may require an immediate response from first responders. History has proven this with incidents in the past were the hostage takers motive was sexual assault. The decision to make an intervention as a first responder or uniformed command officer will be the most difficult one in your career in this type of situation. Your intelligence on the situation will be very limited as you ponder your tactical options. The best advise for the first responder in this situation is to remember the priority of life, make a calculated tactical plan providing complete domination of the situation using every possible tactical tool and weapon system available to you. Then exploit your adversary's weakness and effect your plan with an overwhelming amount of dominating force.  


Three questions that a first responder must answer before he formulates a tactical plan are:


  1. Does the suspect have a hostage?
  2. Does the suspect indicate by action, words or deed his desire to inflict great bodily harm to the hostage?
  3. Can you reasonably verify that the hostage taker has the ability to carry out his threats?


If the first responder can answer yes to all three of these questions than most likely deadly forced used against the hostage taker would be warranted. Then it's time to act in the interest of the hostage(s) giving careful consideration to bystanders and remaining mindful of the safety of the officers involved.




Progressive police agencies are training first responders in tactical negotiator tactics. These negotiators should be dispatched to all critical incidents and as uniformed officers their response will provide an immediate tactical option. My agency alone in the past two years have dispatched trained tactical negotiators, that work in uniform, to more than a dozen critical incidents each year with great success. Many times these negotiators bring a resolution to an incident before it has time to develop into a barricaded or hostage situation.  


Incident Command


The first responder should be trained in Incident Command and must be capable of performing as the incident commander until he or she is relieved. The following are some of the objectives that you must take into consideration as the first responding incident commander that will help you navigate through a hostage situation or barricaded gunman:


  1. Conduct an initial response analysis.
  2. Determine what resources are needed such as swat, k-9's, bomb techs, etc.
  3. Determine what resources are anticipated to be needed.
  4. Be prepared to take immediate action if needed.
  5. Designate a staging area for responding units, preferably before they arrive.
  6. Establish an inner perimeter and evacuate civilian persons.


If you are faced with an immediate intervention a contact team should be formed under the supervision of the most qualified officer on scene. The objective of the contact team is to locate, neutralize, and apprehend the suspect, preventing the suspect's access to additional hostages, containing the suspect when possible, and preventing escape.


The initial objectives of the first responder will require a lot of the first incident commander. In most cases the incident command will be passed on to a higher-ranking command officer as they arrive. The following objectives will need to be performed by an incident command that can provide his attention not to response but to expanding the incident command concept:


  1. Establish outer perimeter.
  2. Establish a command post.
  3. Identify victims and witnesses.
  4. Gather intelligence as needed.
  5. Brief Swat and other units as they arrive.
  6. Media control.





Many officers have responded to hostage incidents and barricaded gunman with great success. Maintaining your situational awareness will provide good judgment, clear analyses and proper decisions as you face your tactical challenges. Don't fear the decisions you make just respond as a confident warrior.


Stay safe,

Sgt. Glenn French  

Glenn French, a Sergeant with the Sterling Heights (Mich.) Police Department, has 22 years police experience and currently serves as the Team Commander for the Special Response Team, and Sergeant of the Sterling Heights Police Department Training Bureau. He has 14 years SWAT experience and served as a Sniper Team Leader, REACT Team Leader, and Explosive Breacher.  

Glenn has instructed basic and advanced SWAT / Tactical officer courses, basic and advanced Sniper courses, Cold Weather / Winter Sniper Operations and Active Shooter Response courses, Tactical Lifesaver Course and others. Sgt French served in the U.S. Army. During his military tenure Sgt French gained valuable experience in C.Q.B., infantry tactics and explosive breaching operations. He is the author of "Police Tactical Life Saver" and President of www.tacticallifesaver.org.    

Combat Survival



In many, actually in most, attack scenarios, disasters or collapse scenarios bugging out may not be necessary or even prudent; in these cases people should plan on sheltering-in-place or bugging in. Bugging in may be sheltering where you already are, or traveling a short, pre-plotted distance to your bug in location (BIL), for most this will typically your home or maybe even a family farm or ranch. There are many advantages to bugging-in, the greatest of these being that you don't have to carry all the necessities for survival on your back. In several of my past articles I've talked about how most people aren't ready to survive out of a backpack for an extended number of days (10+) and while there are some of us that could pull it off, and are used to lugging around a 50-60lb pack with a gun and some ammo, our spouses and children more than likely couldn't do it. It's just not the way we train and that is a fundamental flaw in the plans of most of those thinking about bugging out or simply surviving off grid when the stuff hits the fan.


When bugging in, you must 311 iran ship plan/provide for your basic needs (food, water, and shelter) without counting on external supports like electricity and running water or modern conveniences like flushing toilets and microwaves. Even given these minor limitations, it should be a relatively simple thing for most people to prepare for a bug-in lasting 7 days, or longer. Stock up on those $1.00 solar landscape lights and you'll have lights when you need them; dig yourself an outhouse pit now and build the house over it, close the pit and use it as yard art until the time comes when you need it. The biggest issue is already taken care of; shelter. You're at home; you have all or most of your clothes and all your gear at hand. If you have been preparing properly, you should have stocked at least 90 plus days (I recommend 1 year) of ready to eat or easily prepared food and an ample store of water. You're hot water heater will hold 30-50+ gallons of additional water and the pipes in your house perhaps an additional 1-4 gallons depending on the home. Should this be a life altering scenario, such a Zombie invasion, economic collapse or massive natural disaster; you will want to be prepared to start gardening and heating your home as well. Home Security will then become a greater issue because people that see you heating the house and staying in for the most part will quickly realize you have what they need and they'll come for it.


The drawback of bugging-in is that you grow reluctant to leave your home and it could be the place you have to make your last stand. So, at the onset of a major ordeal; when you know it's coming or just after it happens don't hesitate to get out there and board up your windows leaving just enough room to get your shotgun barrel out. Have some interior barricades ready to keep people from caving in your points of entry or exit and if at all possible have a contingency plan in place that family is familiar with in case you need to make a get away from the house. Know where you will meet up and have a bug-out bag ready to go for just that purpose. Whatever your plans- keep them realistic and practical for everyone in your family or group. Remember if you're planning on pushing grandma up the mountain with a rifle and a 40lb pack on, she's probably not going to be able to do it; so plan around that. Enjoy your prepping and survival training; get everyone involved now while you can so that when the time comes to depend on those skills, they'll be second nature.




About the author: Jason Hunt is the President of Frontier Christian University and the Chief Instructor for Hunt Survival, Inc. a wilderness & rescue training institute based in Kentucky.

Warrior's Wisdom

Who's the Best Sniper

When comparing one snipers record with another all things are not equal so it is difficult to say one is better than another. Because in combat the out come of any engagement  depends on many factors, not just on how many kills you make. It involves the enemies will to fight, their numbers, the terrain, his equipment, your equipment, motivation, morale, physical condition, training, momentum, leadership and for those who have faith in God providence and for those who don't, a little luck.

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Quotes & Jokes

"To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted."  
--Alexander Hamilton  

"Who killed the 20-30 million Soviet citizens in the Gulag Archipelago -- big government or big business? ... Who deliberately caused 75 million Chinese to starve to death -- big government or big business? ... Would there have been a Holocaust without the huge Nazi state? Whatever bad big corporations have done is dwarfed by the monstrous crimes ... committed by big governments."
--radio talk-show host Dennis Prager

"The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy them, and only in the short run. The current outbreaks of riots in Europe show what happens when the truth catches up with both the politicians and the people in the long run. Among the biggest lies of the welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic is the notion that the government can supply the people with things they want but cannot afford. Since the government gets its resources from the people, if the people as a whole cannot afford something, neither can the government." --economist Thomas Sowell   

"The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery."

                             --Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)


"The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality."  

--economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

'Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. ... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.'"
- Former slave Frederick Douglass 

"A good leader lets his people shine, and that reflects on him without him having to beat his own drum."

Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution.
- General Douglas Mac Aurthur  


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Clichés of Socialism
 "Tell me, just what liberties
 have you lost?"

People who bemoan the loss of freedom have this cliché hurled at them repeatedly, not only by devotees of omnipotent government but by many so-called conservative who think they are faring all right under the status quo.
     Anyone sensitive to what's going on politically in this and other countries is aware of lost freedom. Indeed, it is axiomatic that freedom is lost in direct ratio to the imposition of governmental restraints on productive and creative efforts; the more political controls, the less freedom. But to proclaim this conviction is to invite the question, "Tell me, just what liberties have you lost?" Unless one can respond intelligently, he only lends credence to the fatal fallacy that we are suffering no loss of freedom.
    Why is the question so difficult to answer? Because, for one thing, it is impossible to describe erosion in precise terms. It is like asking a sexagenarian, "Just what abilities have you lost?" "Well," he reflects, "I can see, hear, smell, taste, feel, remember, think, walk, run, play golf-why, there are no lost abilities. I can do everything I could do in my youth." Yet, further reflection will reveal an erosion of most abilities. He has to wear glasses; his false teeth aren't quite as efficient as the teeth he once had; his walk isn't as spry; if he runs, he runs out of breath; his golf swing takes more out of him but puts less on the ball; and, frankly, his memory has lost some of its keenness. But how to be precise in describing these erosions?
    A rough-not precise-measure of eroded freedom may be observed in the growing take of the people's earned income by government. It has now reached the all-time high of 35 per cent, and grows apace!
However innocently asked, "Just what liberties have you lost?" is a trick question. To devise a trick answer would only make this a contest in cleverness-no help in advancing an understanding of freedom. A logical and sensible response would be in the form of a rebuttal question, "Do you happen to have at the tip of your tongue a list of all the restraints to productive and creative action imposed by the federal government, the fifty states governments, and the more than 200,000 other units of government during the last thirty years? If you will recite these restraints, you will accurately answer your own question." The list, of course, is enormous.
    While most of our lost freedom is in the form of a gradual and indefinable erosion, there are instances where the loss is already completed and, thus, can be specifically named. These instances, however, are not at all impressive or persuasive except to the few individuals to whom a specific instance applies. Suppose, for example, one were to reply, "I have lost the freedom to plant all the tobacco I please on my own land." Who cares, except that infinitesimal part of the population who might want to grow tobacco? Or, "I have lost the freedom to work for anyone at less than $1.25 per hour." Again, who cares, except those unfortunate individuals whose services aren't worth this much? Or, "I have lost the freedom to pick up a passenger at the Greater Cincinnati Airport in my own taxicab." Who cares, except Cincinnati taxicab operators? Or, "I have lost the freedom to competitively price services rendered by my own railroads? Or, "I have lost the freedom to raise whatever grain I please to feed my own chickens." Most voters don't raise chickens and, thus have little concern for the plight of these few.
    For more bits of lost freedom see next page, bearing in mind that no one in a lifetime could possibly put all the bits between covers. However, what is most important to any individual is not the freedom he personally has lost but the freedom someone else may need to do things beneficial for him and for others. This freedom we can assure to the unknown person only by giving it to everyone.¹
L. E. R.

You have lost the freedom of choice over that part of your property taken to:
  •     pay farmers for not growing wheat, cotton, peanuts, corn, rice, tobacco;
  •     support prices of cheese, butter, and countless other items at levels beyond the reach of willing customers so that costly surpluses accumulate in storage;
  •      pay for urban renewal and other rehabilitation projects in communities across the nation;
  •       provide power and light at less than market rates to residents of the Tennessee Valley;
  •       subsidize socialistic foreign governments and beam socialistic propaganda all over the world;
  •       cover the costs of other government gifts and "loans" to politically selected beneficiaries at home and abroad.
For these and many other welfare state projects, you have no choice but to help pay.
  •       If your wealth is in cash, you may decide to whom it will be loaned and at what price, but, if you are among certain manufacturers with your wealth in goods, you have lost your freedom to give customers quantity discounts.
  •       If you run a railroad, you have lost your freedom to refuse to pay for work not done. (Featherbedding)
  •      If your newspaper carries advertising and if the ads come in mats readied for press, you have lost your freedom to refuse to pay for useless setting and knocking down of duplicate type.
  •       If you are among the large producers of packaged tobaccos, you have lost your freedom to become a member of the tobacco manufacturers' trade association. You are compelled not to belong!
  •       If you are an employee, you have, in millions of instances, lost your freedom not to join a labor union. You are compelled to belong!
  •        Whoever you are, you have lost your freedom to deliver first class mail for pay.
  •      While foreign governments may obtain U.S.A. gold in exchange for their goods, you as a citizen of the U.S.A., have lost your freedom to do so and, with it, a measurable loss of control over governmental inflationary practices.
  •      If you wish to set yourself up in the business of extracting teeth, prescribing for sore throats, gout, and other physical ailments, designing houses or bridges and so on, cutting hair and a host of other activities, you have lost your freedom to do so. You must first get a license from the government.
  •      Ownership without control is an empty term, Thus, you have lost the freedom to own property to the extent that governments forbids the sale of your business to certain others. (Prohibited mergers)
  • Most adult Americans have lost the freedom not to have government take their property for such hazards as unemployment and old age.
  •       Millions of employees have not only lost their freedom to bargain individually with their employer but also have lost their freedom to select their own bargaining unit.
  •        Thousands of employers have lost their freedom to hire or fire their own workers.
  •      Thousands of employers have lost their freedom to deal directly with their own employees.
  •      Thousands of employers have lost their freedom to subcontract their work, even though they can get it done at a price lower than by their own employees.
  •      Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera-ad infinitum.

What Has Really Changed?


Is not what's left over;
it is what makes the whole transaction possible 1963
Unions and government both seem to think Profit is what is left, after a business transaction has been completed. (So both try to get most of it, even though neither owns it.)
    Profit actually is what makes everything else possible-jobs, wages, taxes, our government itself.
A company's profit:
1.    Helps support the government (52% of that profit is paid out in tax).
2.    Creates jobs by financing research and development.
3.    Improves jobs by supplying money for new machinery, which makes wages, increases, security possible.
When a company does not make a profit:
--it pays no taxes, does not help support government.
--it provides fewer and fewer jobs because it cannot afford money for new products and markets.
--it cannot increase wages and if forced to do so, provides no taxes, soon no jobs at all.
    Therefore profit benefits everyone, and any government or union which hampers it is cutting its own throat-and yours.

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 Special Operations Forces
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Continued Engagement, Continued Growth
SOCOM and SOF Component Commands 2009-2010

Like other years of this first decade of the 21st century, 2009 was a busy one for the "quiet professionals" of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). But instead of being able to maintain their low profile and discreet movements, 2009 began for SOCOM's warriors with one of the most spectacular media events of the year. Capt. Richard Phillips, ship's master of the American-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama, was being held hostage by a band of Somali pirates in the western Indian Ocean. After being thwarted in their attempt to take over the ship, the pirates had taken Phillips as a hostage and left aboard a ship's lifeboat, which was quickly surrounded by U.S. naval vessels, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Then on April 12, things began to turn deadly. The pirates were growing restless and one of them turned a weapon on Phillips, apparently preparing to kill him.

However, before the weapon could be fired, the crisis ended with three near-simultaneous, precision sniper shots into the heads of the Somali pirates by a trio of U.S. Navy Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) operators. Their faces never seen and identities remaining hidden even today, the SEALs then quietly packed their gear and returned to base with the discretion expected of SOCOM. This amazing act of marksmanship, firing from the rolling, pitching deck of the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was just the most visible sign of the growing strength, mobility, and capability of SOCOM and its components, as they enter their 10th year of combat against global terrorism since the attacks of 9/11. In short, the wars of the first decade of the 21st century have highlighted American special operations forces (SOF), and their reach has become global.

Along with combating Somali pirates, Taliban fighters, al Qaeda terrorists, and other threats, 2009 saw SOCOM growing and prospering, while remaining fully engaged and most often downrange. New aircraft and weapons systems are regularly entering service, including state-of-the-art UAVs. Most important of all, the selection, qualification, and training of new special warfare professionals has entered a time of continued growth, something America urgently needs as it heads into a second decade of war on terrorism.

Leadership, Lessons Learned, and Training

For a command with more than 54,000 military and civilian personnel, SOCOM's organizational structure is surprisingly lean. Although SOCOM's fiscal year 2010 budget submission envisions a growth of 2,349 billets (military and civilian) command-wide, the headquarters staff at MacDill Air Force Base (AFB) in Tampa, Fla., is actually being cut by 11. The four-star commander, Adm. Eric T. Olson (USN), who is on his second command tour at SOCOM, is assisted by a three-star deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney (USA). In fact, with only three commanders since 9/11, SOCOM has been the most stable major command in the U.S. military, something valued by presidents and the Pentagon during wartime.

SOCOM established a new Directorate for Science and Technology (S&T) early in FY 2009 within the Acquisition & Logistics branch. The S&T Directorate is organized with divisions for technology discovery and strategic planning, applied research, technology development, demonstrations and experimentation, technology exploitation, and capability transition. In addition, SOCOM is continuing to evolve both its Joint Special Operations University, which is getting ready to move to MacDill AFB from Hurlburt Field, Fla., and its Lessons Learned Program, which now is a permanent part of the command's organizational structure and budget.

Navy Special Warfare reserve component sailors from SEAL Team 18 maintain security during a direct action mission with the German Kommando Spezialkrafte (KSK) during Cold Response 2010, a Norwegian exercise open to all NATO nations for winter warfare and joint coalition training. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ashley Myers.
Observers and journalists unfamiliar with American military history, laws and traditions sometimes refer to SOCOM as a "fifth service," parallel to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. In fact, U.S. Special Operations Command was born on April 16, 1987 as a new unified command mandated by Congress in the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, and the Nunn-Cohen Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1987. Uniquely among the Unified Commands, SOCOM has its own pot of money under Title 10 of the U.S. Code to develop and buy new equipment (having its own budgetary authority through a Major Force Program (MFP-11: "the jewel of SOCOM" line item in DoD's budget). But it draws on all the services for personnel, along with its own force of civil servants. Another small but critical pot of money that enables SOCOM's worldwide activities is called "Section 1208 (Support to Foreign Forces)." Section 1208 authorizes the DoD "to reimburse foreign forces, groups, or individuals supporting or facilitating ongoing counterterrorism military operations by U.S. special operations forces." While the Obama administration did not request any changes to Section 1208 authority, the bill increases Section 1208 funding from $35 million to $40 million for FY 2010.

Growth is always a challenge for special operations, since SOF personnel and units cannot be mass produced, and cannot be created after emergencies occur. In his 2009 SOCOM Posture Statement, Olson noted that "SOF cannot grow more than three to five percent per year in those key units and capabilities that must be developed within our own organizational structures and training pipelines." This goal is being rapidly met, thanks to the growth plan mandated and confirmed in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In every SOCOM component command, there is steady and measured growth ongoing as this edition goes to press. From new squadrons of CV-22 tilt-rotor transports being formed to new battalions of Special Forces soldiers standing up, America's special operations forces are becoming stronger and more dominant than at any time in history.

SOCOM continued its drive to support modernization of allied SOF forces in 2009 when they signed a new memorandum of understanding with the Polish armed forces during the NATO meeting in Krakow, Poland, in February. 2009 also saw SOCOM's Joint Special Operations University hosting the Sovereign Challenge conference with more than 130 personnel from 50 countries, focusing on creating strategies to combat terrorism. There also was time in 2009 to remember past achievements, including the 20th Anniversary of Operation Just Cause, the 1989 invasion of Panama. Just Cause was SOCOM's first major joint operation following its creation, and showed the potential of SOF in future conflicts. From the rescue of businessman Curt Muse (Operation Acid Gambit), to the destruction of Manuel Noriega's private jet and yacht by Navy SEALs, SOF units performed ably throughout.

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)

Headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Fla., AFSOC is one of the 10 Air Force major commands. Led by Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster since November 2007, AFSOC has approximately 16,000 active, Reserve, Air National Guard, and civilian personnel. Wurster is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in both combat search and rescue (CSAR) and special operations aviation aircraft. Maj. Gen. Kurt A. Cichowski (a command pilot with more than 3,400 flying hours) is vice commander, and Michael P. Gilbert is the command chief master sergeant. Some important subordinate units (under the umbrella of the 23rd Air Force, which stood up at Hurlburt on Jan. 25, 2008) include:

*1st Special Operations Wing (Hurlburt Field, Fla.)

*27th Special Operations Wing (Cannon AFB, N.M.)

*919th Special Operations Wing (Duke Field, Fla. This Reserve unit provides MC-130E aircraft supporting U.S. SOCOM helicopter refueling requirements.)

*352nd Special Operations Group (Royal Air Force Mildenhall, U.K., is the Air Force component for Special Operations Command-Europe.)

*353rd Special Operations Group (Kadena Air Base, Japan, is the Air Force component for Special Operations Command-Pacific.)

*720th Special Tactics Group (Hurlburt Field, Fla., trains, organizes, and equips the 800 combat controllers, special operations weathermen, and pararescuemen for special tactics squadrons.)

*18th Flight Test Squadron (Hurlburt Field, Fla., with a detachment at Edwards AFB, Calif.)

U.S. Air Force CV-22 Ospreys assigned to the 8th and 71st Special Operations Squadrons demonstrate their capabilities at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The simulated combat operation provided a realistic view of special operation forces in the field for Congress members touring Hurlburt Field. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila DeVera.
Cannon AFB, in the remote northeastern corner of New Mexico, has proven to be a particularly important asset for AFSOC in recent years. In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure commission recommended that Cannon Air Force Base be closed. Fortunately, the expansion of Air Force special operations came to the rescue. With superb flying weather and excellent infrastructure, Cannon is an ideal location for AFSOC basing and training. The base itself sits on 3,789 acres of land, and the Melrose Range training area is 60,010 acres. Operations on Melrose Range also cover an additional area of 2,500 square miles of airspace.

A vital recapitalization program for AFSOC is the replacement of the wide variety of aging C-130 airframes that make up a large portion of the force structure. The venerable "Herky Bird," which first flew in 1954, recently set a record for the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. Funds are currently budgeted for replacement of the 37 oldest aircraft with new production C-130J "Super Hercules" models. The Air Force also awarded a $470 million contract in mid-June 2008 to Lockheed Martin for six modified KC-130J aircraft for use by Special Operations Command. These C-130J variants will replace aging HC-130s and MC-130s. With modern digital avionics (including head-up displays for each pilot) the J-model significantly reduces crew requirements - typically, two pilots, one loadmaster, and one crew chief - no navigator or flight engineer. An additional 15 J-model birds are scheduled to be purchased to replace the oldest of the AC-130 gunships; this time armed with air-to-ground missiles and a 30 mm cannon.

In addition, 2009 saw the CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor proving its worth in both Marine and AFSOC service. The first operational CV-22 was delivered to 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in January 2007, with a total of 50 CV-22 aircraft scheduled to be delivered by 2017. In late 2008, AFSOC deployed four CV-22 aircraft of the 8th Special Operations Squadron to Bamako, Mali, in Africa to support Flintlock 09, a training exercise designed to build relationships and to enhance Trans-Saharan nations' ability to patrol and control their territory. The exercise marked an important milestone for the CV-22s as their first operational deployment. Since that time, Osprey operations have continued to grow in significance and complexity, taking their place alongside other tactical rotorcraft in combat across the globe.

One more unique event occurred within AFSOC in 2009. In June, the 3rd Special Operations Squadron (SOS-the "Dragons"), which moved to Cannon AFB in 2008, won the award as AFSOC's top squadron in 2008. What makes this so very special is that the 3rd SOS flies the MQ-1 Predator UAV that has proved so effective and deadly since 9/11. Every month in 2008, the Dragons flew more hours than the rest of AFSOC combined, and have done so with the largest UAV force in the U.S. Air Force. AFSOC is also standing up additional UAV units, including the 2nd SOS, an Air National Guard unit that will fly the new MQ-9 Reaper.

Another decoration of note in 2009 went to Staff Sgt. Zachary Rhyner, a combat controller who earned an Air Force Cross for his actions in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan in 2008. In addition, three Bronze Stars and seven Air Force Combat Medals were awarded to combat controllers of the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron in a ceremony held at Hurlburt Field in October. Finally, 2009 saw another first in AFSOC: a female squadron commander. Lt. Col. Brenda Cartier assumed command of the 4th SOS, which flies the AC-130U "Spooky" gunship.

Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC)

MARSOC Marines take a knee in a wheat field in Suji as Afghan National Army Soldiers and Marine Special Operation Command Marines patrol through the village in Farah province, Bala Baluk district, Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt. Sergeant Nicholas Pilch.
Historically, the Marines have been a bit skeptical about SOCOM. After all, if you ask any Marine, you will be reminded that all Marines are "special." But since its establishment in February 2006, MARSOC has stepped up to the manifold tasks of being a SOCOM component with customary dedication and professionalism. Based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., MARSOC has a strength of about 2,500 Marines and sailors. The command is led by Maj. Gen. Paul E. Lefebvre, who became its third commander when he relieved Maj. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson on Nov. 20, 2009. The command sergeant major is Richard W. Ashton.

MARSOC now includes five major subordinate units:

*The Marine Special Operations Advisor Group

*1st Marine Special Operations Battalion (at Camp Pendleton, Calif.)

*2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion (at Camp Lejeune, N.C.)

*The Marine Special Operations Support Group

*The Marine Special Operations School

MARSOC took over its own purpose-built headquarters facility during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in April 2009. That month also saw another important milestone, when 50 Marines graduated from the first MARSOC Individual Training Course.

Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM)

Naval Special Warfare Command is located near San Diego, Calif., at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, and is commanded by Rear Adm. Edward G. Winters, III, USN, who assumed his duties on Sept. 5, 2008. Winters' deputy commander is Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli, USN. NAVSPECWARCOM has about 5,400 active-duty personnel, including about 2,450 SEALs and 600 Special Warfare Combatant Craft crewmen, plus some 1,200 reservists.

A U.S. Navy SEAL takes up a defensive position in a village in northern Zabul province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2010. Afghan National Army soldiers, assisted by U.S. Special Operations members, investigated the presence of drug facilities in the province. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jeremy L. Wood
NAVSPECWARCOM is organized into six major components:

*Naval Special Warfare Center (Headquarters and Schoolhouse - Coronado, Calif.)

*Naval Special Warfare Group 1 (SEALs - Coronado, Calif.)

*Naval Special Warfare Group 2 (SEALs - Little Creek, Va.)

*Naval Special Warfare Group 3 (SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) - Coronado, Calif.)

*Naval Special Warfare Group 4 (Special Boat Teams (SBTs) - Little Creek, Va.)

*Naval Special Warfare Group 11 (Naval Reserve SEALs - Coronado, Calif.)

For a command that traditionally shuns publicity, 2009 was a year of highly visible success with the aforementioned rescue of Phillips on April 12. On Aug. 14, the lifeboat from this incident was placed on display at the U.S. Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla. Columbia Pictures has reportedly acquired the rights to make a film for possible release in 2010 about Phillips and his rescue. Another positive indicator of NAVSPECWARCOM's performance in combat was the award of a Silver Star to Chief Petty Officer Mitchell Hall, a SEAL, for actions in al Anbar province in 2007.

NAVSPECWARCOM units participated in a number of specialized training operations in 2009, showcasing their maritime SOF skills. As part of Operation Northern Edge in June, SEALs from the west coast exercised with the Army's Task Force 49 in the largest exercise held on the vast Alaska training ranges. In November, members of Special Boat Team 20 spent three weeks assisting crewmen from the USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and USS Dubuque (LPD 8) hone their boarding tactical skills prior to a scheduled deployment. Special Boat Team 22 crews also received a visit from the Romanian Navy's chief of staff Adm. Gheorghe Marin - who was being hosted by Bonelli - while training at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Along with their achievements during combat operations, NAVSPECWARCOM personnel also participated in a number of disaster/humanitarian efforts in 2009. When a devastating tropical storm struck the Manila area in late September, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, members of Navy SEAL teams and Naval Special Boat Teams 12 and 20 attached to the task Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, responded, working to rescue people from rooftops, deliver food, and distribute medical supplies. Joint task force rescue teams launched two F-470 Zodiac boats into the floodwaters and transported people to evacuation shelters 24/7.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command - Airborne (USASOC)

Headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C., USASOC is led by Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, Jr., who assumed command on Nov. 7, 2008. USASOC's deputy commander is Brig. Gen. Raymond P. Palumbo, while Command Sgt. Maj. Parry Baer serves as the top-ranking NCO.

A U.S. Special Forces soldier walks through a field in Uruzgan, Afghanistan on April 24, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nicholas T. Lloyd CJSOTF-Afghanistan.
USASOC has seven main components:

*U.S. Army Special Forces Command (popularly known as "Green Berets");

*John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (the "school house" for Special Forces);

*75th Ranger Regiment;

*160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the "Nightstalkers");

*Special Operations Support Command;

*4th Psychological Operations Group; and

*95th Civil Affairs Brigade.

Although the demanding cycle of combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other venues dominated 2009 for USASOC, the year saw Army special operations warriors training, fighting, and conducting humanitarian assistance missions around the globe. They also took some time to celebrate their 20th birthday as a major Army command in December. 2009 saw impressive growth in the structure of USASOC, with 3rd Special Forces Group standing up its 4th Battalion, and the activation of the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion.

USASOC personnel received their share of combat decorations durin the year, including a pair of Silver Stars awarded to Staff Sgt. Linsey Clarke and Master Sgt. Anthony Siriwardene of the 3rd Special Forces Group for actions in Afghanistan in February. In addition, Staff Sgt. Michael Morton, a squad leader in the 75th Ranger Regiment, received a Silver Star for his own actions in Afghanistan.

Regional SOF Components

While the service components of SOCOM select, train, and organize SOF units, it is the SOF component commands of the unified combatant commands that actually package and take them into battle. As such, each of the unified combatant commands has its own SOF component, commanded by a senior special operations officer who provides command, control, and support for deployed special warfare units. 2009 was perhaps their busiest year of the past decade, as they provided SOF units for a wide variety of operations, from training and battle lab experiments to combat and disaster/humanitarian relief operations.

Special Operations Command Joint Forces Command (SOCJFCOM)

Headquartered in Norfolk, Va., Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) evolved from U.S Atlantic Command (1947-1999). JFCOM has a strong SOF-centric focus, as show by the fact that the current deputy commander of JFCOM is Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, USA, whose unconventional warfare assignments included a tour as a Special Forces Operational Detachment team leader in Panama. He served two tours as a field advisor in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and as the chief of operations for the United Nations mission in Haiti. JFCOM's deputy commander until 2009 was Vice Adm. Robert S. Harwood, a career SEAL who was the first commander of Task Force K-BAR in Afghanistan.

The Special Operations component of JFCOM is located in Suffolk, Va., and performs key tasks that include:

*Train joint task force and geographic combatant commanders and staffs;

*Train theater SOF units and joint special operations task forces commanders and staffs;

*Collect and report operational insights and lessons learned;

*Support JFCOM missions specified in the Unified Command Plan  (mainly to be the "transformation laboratory" for developing testing and training new concepts); and

*Facilitate JFCOM-SOCOM interaction and cooperation.

The leadership of SOCJFCOM passed from Army to Air Force for the first time in July 2009 when Col. Wesley L. Rehorn, USA, relinquished command to Col. David A. Mullins, USAF. Mullins is a 1984 graduate of the Air Force Academy and a command pilot with more than 6,500 flying hours. One of Mullins' tasks will be to standup a JFCOM Irregular Warfare Academic Center of Excellence to apply the work of many academic institutions studying counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, stability operations, unconventional operational methods, and hybrid warfare.

Special Operations Command - Central (SOCCENT)
While Australia swelters in summer heat, soldiers from Australia'­s Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) in Afghanistan make the most of a winter wonderland. NATO photo.

With ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a strategically vital area of responsibility wracked by many other conflicts, SOCCENT faces immense challenges. Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland commands more than 7,000 personnel, and serves as the senior special operations advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, the CENTCOM commander. SOCCENT Forward is located in Qatar, with SOF in Afghanistan under a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force headquartered near Bagram air base north of Kabul, and camps near Kandahar in the south and Khost in the east. Requirements of operational security make SOCCENT understandably publicity-shy (their CENTCOM Web page is blank), but there are a few events of note in 2009 that were made public, particularly in Iraq.

As American forces continued their drawdown in 2009, improving the security forces of Iraq has been a priority within Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP) through foreign internal defense (FID) missions. In 2009, this included two Special Forces A-Teams working with the Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade to professionalize their selection and training programs. Similar CJSOTF-AP FID missions were conducted with Iraqi SWAT teams and the Iraqi 9th Regional Commando Battalion in al Anbar province. CJSOTF-AP also worked closely with personal security details, which have the critical mission of protecting the new leaders of Iraq in the post-Saddam era.

Special Operations Command - Europe (SOCEUR)

Headquartered at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, SOCEUR is responsible for SOF readiness, targeting, exercises, plans, joint and combined training, NATO/partnership activities, and execution of counterterrorism, peacetime, and contingency operations. The commander of SOCEUR since May 2008 has been Maj. Gen. Frank Kisner, USAF, a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours. He will be relieved in 2010 by Maj. Gen. Michael Repass, USA, the present commander of U.S. Army Special Forces Command. Permanent SOCEUR components include:

*352nd Special Operations Group (USAF - Royal Air Force Mildenhall, U.K.)

*Naval Special Warfare Unit 2 (Panzer Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany)

*1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Stuttgart, Germany)

*SOCEUR Signal Detachment (Stuttgart, Germany)

SOCEUR is an active component of the forces assigned to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and contributed forces to both in 2009. This included Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 10th Special Forces Group, which fought a vicious two-day firefight in Afghanistan in April. Teamed with a Romanian Special Forces unit, Bravo Company personnel earned two Bronze Stars and seven Army commendation medals for their actions. 2009 also saw the 65th anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 1944), with 300 airborne troops from SOCEUR jumping as part of the celebrations.

Special Operations Command - South (SOCSOUTH)

Based in Miami, Fla., U.S. Southern Command is responsible for 31 countries and 10 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean. SOCSOUTH is the special operations component of SOUTHCOM, responsible for special operation missions throughout the area of responsibility. SOCSOUTH commands, controls, and executes more than 75 SOF deployments per year, with an average of 20 missions in 12 countries at any time. Army Brig. Gen. Hector E. Pagan commands SOCSOUTH and is an experienced special warfare officer with combat experience in both Southwest Asia and Latin America. SOCSOUTH has four permanently assigned operational units:

*Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group

*Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment

*Naval Special Warfare Group 2 - Detachment South

*A Joint Special Operations Air Component

Over the past decade, SOCSOUTH has been among the most busy and successful of America's SOF components, with a particular emphasis on the FID mission. SOCSOUTH's long-term FID effort with Colombia has broken the back of the FARC insurgency over the past five years, with the added benefit of building a world-class SOF force for the host nation. This focus on FID has led to the yearly Fuerzas Commando competition, the sixth of which was hosted by Brazil in 2009. Twenty-one countries sent teams to what is rapidly becoming the pre-eminent SOF skills competition in the world today. In addition, MARSOC has begun to make itself felt in SOUTHCOM, with a 2009 marksmanship FID mission to the Dominican Republic by MSOG-2's Marine Special Operations Team-8.

Special Operations Command - Pacific (SOCPAC)

Headquartered in Hawaii, U.S. Pacific Command has the largest geographic area of responsibility of any of the Unified Commands. SOCPAC, the special operations component of PACOM, is led by Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, who assumed command at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, in June 2009. He is a career SEAL officer, with multiple joint SOF duty assignments. Special Operations Command Korea (SOCKOR) is an important sub-component of SOCPAC. During wartime, SOCKOR combines with the Korean Special Warfare Command to form the Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard S. Haddad assumed command of SOCKOR in April 2009. "Beef" Haddad is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours, and has spent his entire career flying various models of the C-130 Hercules.

Other SOCPAC units include:

*1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Torii Station Garrison, Japan)

*353rd Special Operations Group (USAF-Japan)

*Navy Special Warfare Unit One (Guam)

*Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P - Camp Navarro, Zamboanga)

JSOTF-P has been active in the region since early 2002, and has been extremely successful in its FID-based mission of supporting the Philippine government in its effect against Islamic insurgent groups like Abu Sayyaf. Much of their efforts in 2009 centered on community outreach in the southern Philippines, along with training in critical skills like bomb/improvised explosive device (IED) disposal. Sadly, JSOTF-P lost two Special Forces soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, to an IED in September, the first killed by such a weapon in the Philippines.

Special Operations Command - Africa (SOCAFRICA)

In August 2007, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) stood up a transitional headquarters that became the basis for SOCAFRICA. In August 2009, SOCAFRICA held its first change of command, when then-Col. (now Brig. Gen.) Christopher K. Haas, USA, relieved Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Higgins, USA, at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. While SOCAFRICA is still in the process of maturing, one component of AFRICOM has been active since 2002: Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

CJTF-HOA is presently the only permanent U.S. military presence on the African continent, located at Camp Lemonnier in the small east African nation of Djibouti. CJTF-HOA hosts a variety of SOF personnel, and is commanded by Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, USN. Losey has operational experience in both SDV and SBTs, as well as the SEALs. In the words of its Mission Statement:

"CJTF-HOA employs an indirect approach to counter violent extremism. We conduct operations to strengthen partner nation and regional security capacity to enable long-term regional stability, prevent conflict and protect U.S. and coalition interests."

Special Operations Forces Combat Medicine

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Pararescuemen from the 304th Rescue Squadron, Portland, Ore., prepare a patient in a Stokes litter to be hoisted into an HH-60 helicopter off of Mount Hood, Ore., during a training exercise. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Ruby Zarzyczny.
Special Operations Forces, typically working in isolation in far forward positions that require stealth, must be largely self-reliant when it comes to combat medicine.  Their unique requirements have led to the creation of Special Operations Command (SOCOM) joint standards for both medics and individual warfighters that far exceed those of traditional forces, such as the Army 91W Health Care Specialist (medic).

"The 91 Whiskey course provides emergency medical technician training at the basic level," SOCOM Command Surgeon Capt. Frank Butler, a Navy SEAL, explains. "Our training provides that at the paramedic level, so our guys get cardiac life support, pediatric cardiac emergencies, civilian trauma, and, in addition, get the same TCCC (Tactical Casualty Combat Care) principles the 91s get. So there is significant overlap, but our course is a bit longer - six months - and gives them a bit more depth.

"There are many things about our combat medics regulated at the component level. For example, the 18-Deltas (Army Special Operations Medical Sergeants) have skills that go above and beyond the standard we expect everybody to have. And the SEALs go above and beyond as well, but in a somewhat different direction, working more with diving medicine than Green Beret medicine. So we build the standard and the components build on that to fit their own particular needs."

Col. Warner "Rocky" Farr, who serves as both Army deputy chief of staff-surgeon and command surgeon-Army Special Forces Command (USASOC), says a lot has changed since he was a medic in Vietnam, not only in the training SOF medics and team members receive, but especially in the equipment they carry into battle

In addition to training, SOCOM has sought to standardize equipment and medicines - all of which must fit into the medic's pack, with few or no opportunities for resupply in the field.

"In all wars up until the current, the killed in action rate - those who die before getting to a medic - has been about 20 percent," Farr says. "We have fielded enough new equipment, such as dressings - not just to medics, but to individual soldiers, as well - that those numbers have dropped substantially. A lot of that is due to technology, from tourniquets to dressings."

USASOC fields two kinds of SOF medic, the 18Ds, who are cross-trained members of the Special Forces (Green Beret) A-Teams, and the Special Operations Combat Medics (SOCMs), who are assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and Special Operations Support Command (Airborne). About 80 percent of USASOC medics are 18Ds.

"That SOCM has had a 24-week medical course, where the 18Ds get 46 weeks. We front-load trauma medicine into the first part, so the SOCMs have the same trauma training as the 18Ds," Farr says.  "The 18-Deltas also are trained for unconventional warfare, where they go into a country to train a local indigenous force, which might include dependents or the local population. So the second part of the course they get has veterinarian, pediatric, and so on. The SOCMs go primarily to the Ranger regiment, where trauma training is the priority.

"We also have about 50 physicians. Each unit, down to the battalion level, has a physician and physician's assistant. There are Special Forces Group surgeons and Ranger regimental surgeons - usually a lieutenant colonel - a battalion surgeon, who is a major, and a captain. Because Special Forces train indigenous forces, they have a lot more medics than they need for themselves. That also is true at the Ranger level."

A significant change in how SOF doctors move through their careers took place in 1999. Prior to then, doctors coming out of medical
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Soldiers from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School practice evacuating a casualty during a training exercise at Fort Bragg's Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center. The JSOMTC conducts the intensive medical portion of Special Forces Medical Sergeant training. U.S. Army photo by Gillian M. Albro, USASOC PAO.
school would complete their internships, then join SOF units as general medical officers. After serving two years with a combat unit, they would enter a hospital residency program in their area of specialization and only rarely return to combat medicine.

The Defense Department Office of Health Affairs decided to reverse that path, requiring physicians to go directly into a residency program from their internships, then to the combat units as board-certified physicians. That transition occurred from 1999-2002, so today every SOF doctor has completed an additional three-to-five years of training and certification than was true prior to 1999. About half of those specialized in emergency medicine and the majority of the rest in family medicine, although a few other specialties also are represented.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, regular Army and Navy doctors were placed in new forward teams, moving that level of medical care farther forward than had ever been the case for traditional combat units. SOF doctors, however, have always faced assignment much closer to the front lines - if not beyond them - even working alongside frontline SOCMs.

"It is very mission dependent how far forward the doctor goes; it has always been that way," Farr notes. "Clearly, if a physician with more training can have the medics see patients first and select who comes back to him, that's a good use of his expertise. But he will go as far forward as needed and wherever he thinks his skills are best used.

"We sometimes are supported by an FST (Forward Surgical Team) because our docs are doing the lifesaving care and want to turn those patients over to a surgeon at an FST or Level 3. But where we operate, it may be a very long way to that FST, so we may have to save the casualty's life and then have a long way to get to that next level."

In the military medical chain, Level 1 is the combat medic, Level 2 a casualty collecting point, and Level 3 a combat support hospital. The FSTs essentially are a piece of the CSH transplanted into Level 2, but the FSTs are still farther back than SOF doctors, who function exclusively as Level 1 and 2.

"We have a small Level 2 in our sustainment brigade - not an FST, but a holding hospital piece. We then get an FST to fall in on top of that to provide our surgical care. We use that to support ourselves and any other SOFs assigned to our task force," Farr explains.

While the structure may differ from one service SOF component to another, under the relatively new SOCOM directives, there is close coordination among all Special Operations medical teams.

"There is complete cross-over in Special Ops," Farr says.  "All our medics are trained to the same standards.  Within the command in Tampa, we have not only SOCMs and 18-Deltas, but Navy SEAL medics, PJs (Air Force Special Ops ParaJumpers), and 4N AFSOC medics, all trained to the same level. If you are fighting a SOF war and a PJ gets off the helicopter, you want to know he has the same training as an 18-Delta."

Whatever a SOF medic can fit into his backpack may be the extent of his field supplies for days at a stretch, placing pressure on the services to find the best possible components - small, light, multifunctional, and, aside from mission-specific items, standardized and interoperable.

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Capt. Jessica Maverick, simulating a victim, is carried on a stretcher by Air Force pararescuemen toward a Marine CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter during a search and rescue exercise. Whatever service SOF medical personnel come from, all medics are trained to the same standard. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky A. Bloom.
"For the most part, when we send medics forward, whether Special Ops Forces medical elements or PJs, they have to have the capability to be self-sufficient, with a small footprint, and operate for prolonged periods of time in austere environments without outside support," notes Lt. Col. Michael Curriston, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) chief of operational medicine. "We train all AFSOC operators to be first responders, to provide triage capability."

While the PJs are inserted, usually by helicopter, to provide medical care far forward, they are considered ground operators; every effort is made to limit their involvement in casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) to no more than one hour's transport before they can return to the combat site.

"If there is a prolonged transport time, that's when mission planning looks at establishing a transload site within an hour's distance, where they would go to a Special Ops medical element for handoff. That is generally a flight surgeon, PA [physician's assistant] and IDMT [independent duty medical technician] for prolonged flight transport as well as advanced monitoring and medical capabilities," Curriston says.

"We also have a Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST) and Special Operations Critical Care Evacuation Team (SOCCET), which are similar to the conventional mobile field surgical team or critical care air transport team. The primary difference is additional training to work far forward for prolonged periods with a smaller footprint.  SOST is a couple of surgeons, a nurse anesthetist, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) for initial resuscitation after surgery; SOCCET is an emergency medicine physician and nurse as well as a respiratory therapy technician for ventilatory support in-flight."

Butler says a lot of time and effort has gone into reducing the SOF medical pack and protocols to the fewest instruments and medications providing the greatest versatility of  use. For example, while a hospital can store dozens of different antibiotics to fight infectious diseases, SOCOM has narrowed that to a few broad-spectrum antibiotics that do not require refrigeration.

The SOF combat operations environment also affects those choices as well as training, including how best to deal with both trauma and non-trauma medical emergencies in a tactical setting.

"We expect our combat medics, if confronted in an austere environment with pneumonia or an allergic reaction, to have both the training and equipment to treat those. That is a capability that, at this point in time, is unique to SOF medics," Butler says.

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Staff Sgt.Thomas Brennan, Multi-National Corps-Iraq Surgeon Cell, applies the Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet to the arm of Sgt. Sherrie Knight, MNC-I Surgeon Cell, during a class at Camp Victory. While training and the standard of care have seen major improvements in SOF medicine, new technologies have also been saving lives. DoD photo by Spc. Jeremy D. Crisp/MNC-I PAO.
"The standard we aspire to is to have each combatant provide life-saving care for his teammate, so if three operators are on a mission and the medic goes down, the other two can care for him," Butler explains. "That was mandated in response to a growing awareness, based on individual reports coming back from theater, that training medics in TCCC was a good and correct step, but an incomplete solution. There were multiple reports of individuals who had to have life-saving care rendered by a teammate when no medic was available."

Neither JSOMTC nor the service SOCs provide special training for physicians, nurses, or PAs assigned to SOF units, but they are encouraged to become familiar with field medic operations.

"From a SOCOM standpoint, we have not tried to impose a standardized training package for physicians beyond the Joint Special Operations Medical Officer orientation course, which is taught at the Joint Special Ops University twice a year," Butler says. "The new training instruction strongly encourages commanders to send their nurses, physicians, and PAs to this course, because most have no background in Special Ops and won't get that in hospitals or medical school. So it is important to get a look at Special Ops force structure and some of the peculiar characteristics of SOF medicine."

Among those unique aspects is who provides what level of care in the field. SOF non-commissioned officers are trained to use equipment and techniques only employed by medical professionals in conventional forces.

"They use ultrasound to look for blood in the belly; shoot, develop, and interpret their own X-rays," Keenan says. "That equipment - similar to what you would find in a field hospital and used by physicians, nurses, or physicians assistants - is packaged in parachute-droppable containers to be deployed in theater for use by SOF NCOs. They also carry broad-spectrum antibiotics, narcotics, and interosseous fluid administration kits, which not all conventional medics carry.

"These are high-school graduates doing physician-level work. That's the uniqueness, not special equipment. The equipment is standard, the soldier is the special part of the system."

In addition to caring for local human and animal populations, SOF medics also are trained to repair a wide range of medical equipment - including older systems rarely found in U.S. hospitals or clinics. The end goal is not to use such host nation resources, which often are scarce, but to return them to use by local doctors and nurses. When their own supplies begin to be depleted, SOF medics will call back to their support chain and request parachute drops of "push-packs" - supply pallets they created prior to deployment.

As to the future, Butler says it will be a continuing evolution, combining lessons learned from every combat theater of the past with new techniques and technologies, creating an ever-more capable medical care system for Special Operators in remote, austere environments.

"If you look at what has happened since Vietnam and the original TCCC paper, there has been a recognition of the need to combine good tactics and good medicine. That led to the concept of three phases of care - under fire, tactical field, and CASEVAC," he says. "Each phase has a gradual reduction of the threat from the enemy and an increase in the capability to do more advanced things for the casualty. You can do more while flying back on a helicopter than on a battlefield under fire, but in the past those differences were not defined in terms of what specifically could be done in each phase.

"The original combat casualty care paper also made a point of saying combat medics might need to return fire instead of render care, at least initially," Butler continued. "There were those who said medics should be observant of the Geneva Convention and not carry automatic weapons. We researched that with Convention lawyers and found SOF combat medics are not afforded any special protections because they do carry weapons and do not wear a Red Cross. So they are considered combatants who know how to treat injuries."

The distinction is not a mere technicality. Even as all SOF combatants are now being trained in combat casualty care to a level equivalent to Vietnam medics, so have all SOF medics become full-time warriors.

This article first appeared in The Year in Special Operations: 2006 Edition.

 USSOCOM Explores New .300 Win Mag Options

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Comparison between cartridges. From top to bottom: .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Winchester Short Magnum, .308 Winchester, .223 Remington. Photo by Dt3ft
In another possible reflection of the emerging Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) program [See DMN: "USSOCOM Outlines Restart for Precision Sniper Rifle," posted June 7, 2011], United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is conducting a market survey on "the commercial availability of .300 Winchester Magnum cartridges capable of increased performance over current fielded .300 Winchester Magnum variants."

The goal of the market survey is the procurement of a representative sampling of 2000-2500 rounds from each of the newly identified sources. The test samples will then be evaluated out of the XM2010 weapons system (suppressed and unsuppressed) [See DMN: "New 'Game Changing' Army Rifle Starts Bridging Sniper Gap," posted May 27, 2011]; MK 13 Mod 5 weapon system (suppressed and unsuppressed); and Electronic Pressure, Velocity, and Action Time (EPVAT) system.

Requested technical performance standards for the potential new rounds include: "The overall length of cartridges submitted shall be less than or equal to 3.60 inches.

The average corrected chamber pressure of ammunition supplied conditioned at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (ºF) shall not exceed 68,500 pounds per square inch (psi). When the cartridges are conditioned to 70ºF, neither the chamber pressure of an individual sample test cartridge nor the average chamber pressure plus three standard deviations of chamber pressure shall exceed 72,900 psi. When the cartridges are conditioned at -20ºF, and +165ºF, the average corrected chamber pressure shall not exceed 70,300 psi and neither the chamber pressure of an individual cartridge nor the average chamber pressure plus three standard deviations of chamber pressure shall exceed 76,400 psi."

By way of comparative technical specs, the March 2009 description for the military's current ".300 Winchester Magnum Match, MK 248 MOD 1" cartridge include: "nominal overall length of the assembled cartridge shall be 3.500 inches maximum, 3.450 inches minimum" and "corrected average chamber pressure shall not exceed 68,100 pounds per square inch (psi) at 70°F. Neither the chamber pressure of an individual sample test cartridge nor the average chamber pressure plus three standard deviations of chamber pressure shall exceed 78,900 psi."

The new market survey also identifies both threshold (T) and objective (O) requirements for a range of velocity and accuracy issues.

Velocity goals, for example, include: Muzzle Velocity Standard Deviation at 70 degrees F: 15 fps (T) 10 fps (O); Hot / Cold Muzzle Velocity Extreme Spread (-20F to 165F): 75 fps (T) 50 fps (O); and Residual Velocity at 1500 meters: 1128 fps at Sea Level at 70 F (T) 1350 fps (O).

In terms of accuracy requirements, the market survey calls for: 300 Meter Extreme Spread 1.11 MOA (T) 0.75 MOA (O); 600 Meter Extreme Spread 1.11 MOA (T) 1 MOA (O); and 1500 Meter Extreme Vertical Spread 1.7 MOA (T) 1.5 MOA (O).

Cautioning that "Procurement of samples from sources identified through the market survey does not serve as a guarantee for future procurements," USSOCOM representatives identify a potential quantity interest of "3 to 5 million rounds of .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition annually." 

Hostages Freed in Somalia by
U.S. Special Operations Forces

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An MH-47G Chinook during a nighttime mission. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel P. Shook
On Tuesday night, as President Barack Obama was making his State of the Union Address, U.S. special operations forces were concluding a joint operation to free two captives held in Somalia.

The two hostages, American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Thisted, had been kidnapped in October 2011 while working in Somalia with the Danish Demining Group.

According to the few details released by DoD, there were no casualties among the captives or the special operations forces who carried out the operation, while all nine Somali captors were killed.

We will follow up on this story when more concrete information is available from official sources.

In the meantime, Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued the following statements, the most interesting aspect of which may be Panetta's special mention of the FBI, illustrating again the intersection between civilian intelligence and investigative agencies and the DoD today, a topic covered in greater depth in the upcoming print edition of Defense.

Statement by President Barack Obama on Successful Hostage Rescue

On Monday, I authorized an operation to rescue Jessica Buchanan, an American citizen who was kidnapped and held against her will for three months in Somalia. Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our special operations forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home. As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts.

Jessica Buchanan was selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being. Last night I spoke with Jessica Buchanan's father and told him that all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family. The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice. This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people.

Statement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Hostage Rescue Operation in Somalia

Last night U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted, by order of the President of the United States, a successful mission in Somalia to rescue two individuals taken hostage on October 25, 2011. Ms. Jessica Buchanan, an American citizen employed by the Danish Demining Group, and her Danish colleague, Mr. Poul Thisted, were kidnapped at gunpoint by criminal suspects near Galcayo, Somalia.

Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted have been transported to a safe location where we will evaluate their health and make arrangements for them to return home.

This successful hostage rescue, undertaken in a hostile environment, is a testament to the superb skills of courageous service members who risked their lives to save others.  I applaud their efforts, and I am pleased that Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were not harmed during the operation.  This mission demonstrates our military's commitment to the safety of our fellow citizens wherever they may be around the world.

I am grateful to report that there was no loss of life or injuries to our personnel.

I express my deepest gratitude to all the military and civilian men and women who supported this operation.  This was a team effort and required close coordination, especially between the Department of Defense and our colleagues in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  They are heroes and continue to inspire all of us by their bravery and service to our nation.

Revolutionary Lightweight Machine Gun Prototype Unveiled by GDATP

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General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products' new .338 Norma Magnum Lightweight Medium Machine Gun (LWMMG) promises to deliver accurate automatic fire at engagement ranges up to 1500 meters, with better ballistics than 7.62 mm and similar ballistics at long range to the .50 caliber without the weight penalty. Photo courtesy of GDATP
In what could represent a revolutionary departure in traditional western machine gun design philosophies, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GDATP) has unveiled a prototype for a new Lightweight Medium Machine Gun (LWMMG) that provides range lethality close to that of a traditional .50-caliber heavy machine gun at the weight of a traditional 7.62 mm medium machine gun.

Although some early firing demonstrations have been conducted with select elements in the special operations community, the weapon was publicly unveiled at last week's Joint Armaments Conference, Exhibition and Firing Demonstration in Seattle, Wash. (May 14-17, 2012). The annual event is sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA).

[q]The 24-pound weapon design features a fully collapsible stock, providing superior mobility and portability in mounted and dismounted operations. Perhaps most significantly, weapon developers utilized the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge, which provides significantly increased accuracy and lethality out to distances of 1700 meters.

According to Kevin Sims, senior manager of business development and capture at GDATP, "about two years ago" the company "recognized a potential capability gap that our U.S. forces were having in theater. That capability gap was between 7.62 and .50 caliber, and it involved the ability to engage targets before you are being engaged yourself. In many cases the U.S. forces had the low ground and enemy forces had the high ground. And if you're receiving PKM fire you may be in a position where you can't really respond. So bounding into position to react to that contact was very difficult."

Noting that the M2 .50-caliber weapons are not available in every engagement scenario and that the weapon's weight usually precludes use on dismounted patrols, Sims explained, "The M240, while it's a great weapon system, is sort of drifting at 800 meters, especially if you're shooting 'up.'"

"On the flipside, at a closer range, you have 'energy issues,'" he said. "My example would be an adobe mud hut at 600 meters. If there's an enemy target inside of that structure and you don't have a [Carl] Gustav, and a 240 is your only heavy weapon, it has to be a precision game. If you are just shooting at the wall you may not be penetrating it. So, having a better penetrating capability to defeat targets at closer ranges is also important."

Drawing on a company legacy from Saco Defense, manufacturer of the M60 7.62 mm machine gun, and its role as original equipment manufacturer for the M2, the company began looking for options to fill that capability gap.

"The PSR [USSOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle] was still rumbling around, and it showed us that there's a need for extended range capabilities," he noted. "And we designated that at about 1500 meters. So we started looking at what would give us that range and accuracy. Of course some of us are prior shooters, so we said, 'The .338 caliber' [approximately 8.38 mm]. Then it became a question of, 'If we design a .338 caliber machine gun, how much does it have to weigh?' Because you have recoil forces that you have to mitigate."

He added, "Usually mitigating those recoil forces involves either adding mass to the weapon system or length to the receiver. But we have a technology called 'Impulse Averaging' that was used on the XM806 [lightweight .50-caliber machine gun program]. But that technology alone didn't get us there on a suppressive fire capability."

However, by combining the lessons learned with other technologies like a short-stroke gas piston, the company came up with a Short Recoil Impulse Averaging technology that substantially reduces recoil and improves target retention.

[q]The reduced recoil and target retention features were clearly evident during live fire opportunities provided to several attendees at the NDIA gathering.

In an effort to enhance producibility and reduce system cost, the LWMMG design also relies on available subsystem components rather than exotic material developments.

Sims said that the design focused on the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge over the more commonly-known .338 Lapua for several reasons, including increased barrel life.

The Norma cartridges, joined by a company-developed link design, currently feature a 300 grain Sierra Match King projectile. However, Sims was quick to highlight the availability of other potential projectiles based on user requirements.

"The output of all that is that we have a 24-pound machine gun, which is 3 ½ pounds less than an M240 Bravo today, firing 500 shots per minute," Sims summarized. "There are no exotic materials inside of it. It has the recoil of a 7.62. There's no recoil mechanism that comes back into the stock; we could use a spade grip or a folding stock; it [recoil] all happens in the receiver. At this design stage we have elected to go with a 6-power scope to give us a broad view, and an E-4 machine gunner can get behind this weapon and actively engage, with point precision, targets at 1000 - 1200 meters. Your machine gunner can do that now."

Significantly, the design features are "scalable" and could be applied to future weapon requirements for calibers ranging anywhere from 5.56 mm to .50 caliber.

Sims said that the development of the prototypes, which were funded as an internal research and development investment by GDATP, took approximately 12 months.

The next 12 months will feature a number of prototype demonstrations for potential customers.

"We've got quite a bit lined up," he said. "It's going to be a pretty busy year for us with this weapon system."

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