Posts Tagged Army

Military News: Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter Receives The Medal Of Honor

The 53 Fort Carson soldiers in the Keating fight earned the two Medals of Honor, the nation’s top award for gallantry, as well as nine Silver Star Medals, 18 Bronze Star Medals for Valor, 27 Purple Heart Medals and 37 Army Commendation Medals, leading Obama to describe them as the most decorated unit in the Army.

Quite the honor and this is the second Medal of Honor given to a participant of the Battle of Kamdesh. The first one was Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha, not to mention all of the other battlefield awards given to the units involved. Above is the list of awards the 3rd Troop, 61st Cavalry Regiment have received from just this one battle. –Matt

 

 

 

Aug 26, 2013

President awards Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a cavalry scout with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. Staff Sergeant Carter is the fifth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. August 26, 2013.

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Quotes: SIGAR’s John F Sopko On Government’s Inability To End Contracts With Al Qaeda And Taliban In Afghanistan

This is just appalling. If this doesn’t get your blood boiling, I don’t know what would. Pass this around and let your elected officials know that this is unacceptable. –Matt

 

In conclusion, I would also like to reiterate the concerns I raised in our last report about the Army’s refusal to act on SIGAR’s recommendations to prevent supporters of the insurgency, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda, from receiving government contracts. SIGAR referred 43 such cases to the Army recommending suspension and debarment, based on detailed supporting information demonstrating that these individuals and companies are providing material support to the insurgency in Afghanistan. But the Army rejected all 43 cases. The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce. I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan. I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program.” – John F. Sopko (SIGAR) in their latest report, July 30, 2013.

 

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Weapons: Switchblade Update–Army And Marines Training With The Weapon, Fielding In Afghanistan Soon

For the first time they will have their own organic ability to engage targets [with a UAV],” he said.
Units that identify potential targets typically have to call for air support, a multistep process.
Enemies often slip away by the time an armed unmanned aerial vehicle, attack helicopter, fighter-bomber or quick-reaction force arrive on station. Marines also compete with other allied units for mission priority or those taking enemy fire, so missions are not always filled.
“Think about it — pairing switchblade aerial munitions with an [unmanned surveillance drone like a] Raven, Wasp or Puma — a small team with those tools can know what is going on around them within about 15 klicks,” Gitlin said. “Once they identify a threat, Switchblade lets them engage that threat immediately.”

This is outstanding and I am glad to see the troops get their hands on these things so they can play around with them. All in all, it will be the grunts on the ground that find the true usefulness of this weapon. Their feedback is what will be most important, and I certainly hope the military and Aerovironment listens to what they have to say. I am sure the SF units that have already used this thing, are giving their input as well. So it will be fascinating how this evolves and turns out.

As to the reaction by the troops so far?  Well, here are the two quotes from both the Army and Marines about it, from both of these articles below.

“I’ve worked with the Raven B, Raven DDL, but I feel that the practicality of this system is through the roof. This system is just the bee’s knees,” said Spc. Andrew Christensen, gunner and raven trainer, 1st Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. “This UAV has the capabilities to be used numerous ways in Afghanistan. Being able to set the warhead to one, five or seven meters could lower the collateral damage and save lives.” (Army)

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is leading research into the aircraft’s potential to serve with Marine units. The aircraft showed promise during recent testing at Fort Pickett, Va., according to Brig. Gen. Mark Wise, head of the lab.
He characterized the aircraft as highly accurate.
“The Marine who was flying it, it was his eighth flight. So if you want to talk about intuitive capabilities, those are the kinds of things we are starting to generate,” Wise told a crowd of defense industry representatives May 1 at a conference in Norfolk, Va. (Marines)

Notice some of the points that the Army and Marines mentioned? ‘This UAV has the capabilities to be used numerous ways in Afghanistan’ and ‘intuitive capabilities’.  These are important, because you want a weapon that is useful and easy to use–or intuitive. This is really important during the fog of war, and anything to make it very simple to use in high stress situations is good.

Along those lines, I posted some of the capabilities built into the Switchblade that makes it intuitive. Check out the video below if you want to see what I mean. If this UAS can pick up movement and ID that movement with a red box in the view finder, then that will help in the ‘observe’ portion of that soldier’s OODA.

Not only that, but these things will probably evolve to have all sorts of capability built in as the technology gets smaller/better/faster (Moore’s Law). For example, a sensor package that could pick up on gun shots would be fantastic. Also, an automatic loiter system would be great as well. Ultimately, a soldier should be able to deploy the Switchblade above the battle space, and the munition would intuitively pick up the gun shots of the enemy and circle around them from a high angle–ready for the drone archer to pull the trigger for a strike. Kind of like a weaponized bird of prey.

The other point is to let those who specialize in hunting on the battlefield use these things. Or at least play around with them. I am talking about sniper teams. These folks specialize in killing the enemy or spotting the enemy from far distances. A sniper might be better trained to pick up the details in a viewfinder, and the sniper is already trained in working with others in a battle space. Which also leads to an interesting thought–imagine if a sniper team killed an insurgent with a Switchblade from 5 kilometers and at BLOS or beyond line of sight. That would be quite the shot….

Although it looks like the Army and Marines are training guys to be the UAS folks on the ground. I think it would be really cool if this weapon could be used by anyone, if they were handed the thing on the battlefield. Of course you would want specialists who can control and properly use the things. But to turn this weapon into an upgraded version of a LAW or AT-4, where entire units could use them as they see fit, should be a consideration.

On the other hand, having a UAS flying in the same air space as an Apache or Kiowa, or whatever aircraft, must be a well managed and controlled event so there are no accidents. And maybe as the technology evolves, these small UAS’s will be able to integrate with these aircraft automatically and share that air space with no problems. So in the beginning, it is wise to have some squared away folks controlling these things so they can at least hammer out the bugs and apply continuous improvement to the whole system. –Matt

 

Spc. Thomas Gonzales, kneeling, and Spc. Andrew Christensen, both with Troop A, 1st Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., load the coordinates into the system before launching the kamikaze UAV, also known as the Switchblade, March 27. The 4th IBCT is one of two U.S. Army brigades being fielded the drone during its deployment.

 

 

 

Marine Corps pursues ‘kamikaze’ drone
By James K. Sanborn
Wednesday May 16, 2012

The Marine Corps is taking steps to procure its first “kamikaze” drone in an effort to provide small units the ability to quickly strike soft targets such as IED emplacement teams.
The Switchblade, produced by California-based AeroVironment, can be guided into a target and explode on impact, almost like a hand grenade, said company spokesman Steven Gitlin.
“For the first time they will have their own organic ability to engage targets [with a UAV],” he said.
Units that identify potential targets typically have to call for air support, a multistep process.
Enemies often slip away by the time an armed unmanned aerial vehicle, attack helicopter, fighter-bomber or quick-reaction force arrive on station. Marines also compete with other allied units for mission priority or those taking enemy fire, so missions are not always filled.
“Think about it — pairing switchblade aerial munitions with an [unmanned surveillance drone like a] Raven, Wasp or Puma — a small team with those tools can know what is going on around them within about 15 klicks,” Gitlin said. “Once they identify a threat, Switchblade lets them engage that threat immediately.”
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is leading research into the aircraft’s potential to serve with Marine units. The aircraft showed promise during recent testing at Fort Pickett, Va., according to Brig. Gen. Mark Wise, head of the lab.
He characterized the aircraft as highly accurate.
“The Marine who was flying it, it was his eighth flight. So if you want to talk about intuitive capabilities, those are the kinds of things we are starting to generate,” Wise told a crowd of defense industry representatives May 1 at a conference in Norfolk, Va.
The Switchblade, weighing just 5.5 pounds, can fit into an ALICE or similar pack. When needed, a single Marine can pull it from his pack, set up a small tube containing the aircraft and automatically launch it with a remote controller. It can take flight from the ground, a vehicle, ship or aircraft. After being fired from the tube, the Switchblade’s four wings spring open — lending the aircraft its name — the prop begins spinning, and it is off with a one-way ticket.
Once a target is designated and a kill order is given, the aircraft locks in on the target and follows, even if the target moves.
Designed with low collateral damage in mind, the aircraft can also be called off at the last minute and re-engage later, Gitlin said. If the target is a sniper, for example, and children wander into the area, Switchblade can disengage and reacquire the target once civilians have moved on.
Another advantage of the Switchblade is that it uses a controller common with several of the Marine Corps’ other UAVs also produced by AeroVironment. That includes the Shadow, Wasp and Raven, a capability that matches the service’s efforts to develop a single remote control that will cut down on the weight and amount of equipment Marines carry into combat.
The need for faster reaction by armed UAVs also has led the Marine Corps to push for arming the RQ-7 Shadow. The Corps has aggressively pursued an 18-month timeline to field Shadows downrange that can carry small munitions of up to 25 pounds after commanders in Afghanistan issued an urgent-needs statement last June.
But Marines calling on the Shadow still must rely on unmanned squadrons for support. With Switchblade, they can identify targets, launch and engage on their own.
The Army, also pursuing Switchblade, awarded AeroVironment a $4.9 million contract in September and plans to send soldiers to Afghanistan with the aircraft this year.
Story here.
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‘Dragon’ Brigade trains with more reliable equipment
By FORT RILEY
4/6/2012
As the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, prepares for deployment later in the spring, units are being fielded with more reliable, technically proficient equipment.
The 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment; and the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment have been training on the new back-pack sized lethal miniature aerial munitions system, or LMAMS, – the Switchblade – from March 26 to 30.
This active warhead kamikaze drone is faster, lighter and more precise than previous drone systems used in the Army today. Normally used by Special Forces units, the 4th IBCT is one of only two brigades being fielded this weapons system for its deployment this year.

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Funny Stuff: Funkadelic Airborne!

This is awesome. It’s like Ron Burgundy directed this old Army recruitment video, and gave it some style. lol Classic. –Matt

 

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Weapons: US Flew The Switchblade Drone Against Taliban

This is very cool. It sounds like this little drone archer weapon was used in Afghanistan just as it was intended. The article below also hinted at how the munition worked and said it was like a ‘flying shotgun’ and ‘the operator has control of how far away from the target it goes off –preselected distances,’. It will be cool to hear more reports about it’s various uses, and especially after the Army get’s their order of $4.9 million worth of Switchblades. –Matt

 

U.S. Flew Kamikaze Drones Against Taliban
By Tony Capaccio
Oct 18, 2011
The U.S. military has launched miniature kamikaze drones against Taliban targets and plans to deploy more next year for U.S. special operating forces, according to documents and an Army official.
The tube-launched “Switchblade” drone, made by Monrovia, California-based Aerovironment Inc. (AVAV), was secretly sent to Afghanistan for the first time last year. “Under a dozen” were fired, said Army Deputy Product Director William Nichols.
“It’s been used in Afghanistan by military personnel” and “shown to be effective,” Nichols said. The drone’s GPS guidance is made by Rockwell Collins Inc. (COL) and the warhead by Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK)
Disclosure of the Switchblade’s use in Afghanistan highlights the Pentagon’s expanding range of missions for remotely piloted aircraft. The fleet also includes broad-area surveillance aircraft such as the Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) Global Hawk, the missile-firing General Atomics Co. Predator and Reaper drones, and hand-launched short-range surveillance models, such as the Aerovironment Raven.
Nichols declined to detail the Switchblade’s targets. He said the drone’s “designed for open threats, something that’s on top of a building but you can’t hit it” with regular artillery or mortars for fear of collateral damage.
The drone is less than 24 inches long and weighs about six pounds.
“It’s a ‘flying shotgun,’” Nichols said, not a “hit-to- kill” weapon that explodes on impact.
“The operator has control of how far away from the target it goes off –preselected distances,” he said in an interview Oct. 12 at the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

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Leadership: Rooting Out Toxic Leaders–The Army’s 360 Degree Evaluations

A recent survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his superior as “toxic and unethical,” while 27 percent said they believe their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.

Very interesting. I have talked about evaluations in the past as a valuable tool for companies to track how policy and leadership interact out in the field. It is a metric, and it is something that most companies of various industries use to great effect–if they are done properly, and used properly….

So I can see where the Army is going with this, and I would be very interested to see the impact of this program. And I also think any leader that truly cares about doing a good job, will actually take a great interest in this kind of feedback from their subordinates. I know I would. It would be really cool if they applied this to NCO’s as well?

This also addresses the reality of what today’s forces are composed of. Millennials make up a large component of today’s military, and these guys like feedback. They want to know if they are screwing up or if there is something they can improve upon, and they seek feedback. Part of the reason for this is that technology has kind of molded this generation into a group that appreciates feedback more.

A guy posts a picture of his kit on an online forum or Facebook, and he will get multiple guys giving input about that equipment. You will see all sorts of replies addressing the pro’s and con’s of that individual’s gear. That is just one example, and technology makes it very easy to ask the group what they think.

You see very simple examples of this all over the place. Open source software is stuff built by the crowd, and critiqued by the crowd. It absolutely must have feedback in order to work. And this feedback loop is what a lot of people come to rely upon. Google lives for that feedback, or if you go onto Amazon.com, you see numerous folks giving feedback about all sorts books and products. All of this is very valuable to those who desire to build a better product or buy the best product. ‘Get feedback’ is also a jundism.

But I will hold judgement on this program until it has been applied and tested. The benefits could be many, just as long as it is not abused. Imagine a higher retention rate of troops, all because they have more respect for their management? That they actually feel that their feedback has value, and those in their command actually listen. Or imagine the residual effect of good leaders, and how that rubs off on the subordinates. You would be amazed at how much damage a bad leader can cause with their ‘poor example’.

On the other hand, an evaluation system like this should not be abused to the point where officers feel they cannot do what they gotta do to accomplish the mission. In war, ordering men and women to risk their lives, or to kill people is a reality. Hopefully an evaluation system like this does not weaken an officer’s ability to give those orders or to do the hard things. So we will see if this program actually adds value.

Another point I wanted to make with this is that if a leader is surrounded by yes men, or is plagued by group think with his immediate group of supervisors, then how would they ever know if they are being effective?  If everyone agrees with him all of the time, or that everyone thinks alike, then how will that management team ever know if they are doing well?  Or how will they sniff out problems, if all they care about is the input of one another?  Boyd would call this a ‘closed system’, and closed systems are bad.

By reaching out or by giving your subordinates the means to communicate their thoughts and ideas, you are turning your closed system into an open system.  Thus turning it into a system that can reach ‘equilibrium’. Or in the terms of the military or private industry, every one in the unit feels like they are actually part of a team.  Problems will not build to a point where things blow up and get ugly. That everyone’s ideas matter, and that they too can help build a better team, a better idea, a better business. Stuff like this is essential for unit cohesion, and that is why I refer to this as ‘feedback gold’. –Matt

 

Rooting out toxic leaders
By Michelle Tan
Sunday Oct 9, 2011
Soldiers will now be asked — and expected — to rate their bosses.
Effective Oct. 1, officers will be required to assert that they have completed a 360-degree evaluation — where the officer is graded by his subordinates, peers, subordinates and superiors — within the past three years.
Requiring officers to complete 360-degree evaluations should encourage them to grow and, at the same time, weed out potential toxic habits among officers, officials said.
A recent survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his superior as “toxic and unethical,” while 27 percent said they believe their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.
The survey, conducted by the Center for Army Leadership, also stated that rooting out toxic leadership from the ranks requires “accurate and consistent assessment, input from subordinates, and a focus beyond what gets done in the short-term.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said when he was the Army chief of staff that senior leaders must “change the culture of the Army to embrace 360s” and develop a culture where leaders want to know how they’re viewed by their peers and subordinates.
The 360-degree evaluation now required of officers is called the Army 360 Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback. This addition to the Officer Evaluation Record is among a list of changes the Army is making to the officer evaluation policy. The changes apply to OERs with a “thru date” of Nov. 1 and later.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said he believes “multidimensional feedback is an important component to holistic leader development.”

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