War on Terrorism

Friday, May 31, 2013

Manssor Arbabsiar Sentenced in New York City Federal Court to 25 Years in Prison for Conspiring with Iranian Military Officials to Assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States

Manssor Arbabsiar, aka “Mansour Arbabsiar,” was sentenced today in New York City federal court to 25 years in prison for participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. while the Ambassador was in the U.S., announced John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division at the Department of Justice and Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Arbabsiar, a 58 year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011, at John F. Kennedy International Airport.  He pleaded guilty on Oct. 17, 2012, to one count of murder-for-hire, one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and one count of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan, who also imposed today’s sentence.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, Manssor Arbabsiar is today being held accountable for his role in this assassination plot,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.  “I applaud all those responsible for ensuring that Arbabsiar and his co-conspirators in Iran’s Qods Force failed in their efforts.  Today’s sentencing serves as a reminder of the evolving threat environment we face.”
“Manssor Arbabsiar was an enemy among us – the key conduit for, and facilitator of, a nefarious international plot concocted by members of the Iranian military to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and as many innocent bystanders as necessary to get the job done,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “And but for the vigilance of our FBI and DEA partners, his plot, and the unspeakable harm it would have caused, may well have come to fruition, which is exactly why our commitment to using every resource we have to root out, prosecute and punish people like Arbabsiar, who act as emissaries for our enemies, remains unflagging.”
           
According to the complaint and indictment filed in federal court:

From the spring of 2011 to October 2011, Arbabsiar and his Iran-based co-conspirators, including members of Iran’s Qods Force, plotted the murder of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S.  In furtherance of this conspiracy, Arbabsiar met on a number of occasions in Mexico with a DEA confidential source (CS-1) who posed as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel.  Arbabsiar arranged to hire CS-1 and CS-1’s purported accomplices to murder the Ambassador with the awareness and approval of his Iran-based co-conspirators.  Arbabsiar wired approximately $100,000 to a bank account in the U.S. as a down payment to CS-1 for the anticipated killing of the Ambassador, which was to take place in the U.S, also with the approval of his co-conspirators.

The Qods Force is a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations, and kidnappings, and is believed to have sponsored attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq.  In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force as a terrorist supporter for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

Arbabsiar met with CS-1 in Mexico on several occasions between May 2011 and July 2011.  During the course of these meetings, he inquired as to CS-1’s knowledge with respect to explosives and explained that he was interested in, among other things, attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia and the murder of the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.  In a July 14, 2011 meeting in Mexico, CS-1 told Arbabsiar that he would need to use at least four men to carry out the Ambassador’s murder and that his price for doing so was $1.5 million.  Arbabsiar agreed and stated that the murder of the Ambassador should be handled first, before the execution of other attacks that he had discussed with CS-1.  Arbabsiar also indicated that he and his associates had $100,000 in Iran to give CS-1 as a first payment toward the assassination.

During the same meeting, Arbabsiar also described to CS-1 his cousin in Iran, who he said had requested that Arbabsiar find someone to carry out the Ambassador’s assassination.  Arbabsiar indicated that his cousin was a “big general” in the Iranian military, that he focuses on matters outside of Iran, and that he had taken certain unspecified actions related to a bombing in Iraq.

In a July 17, 2011, meeting in Mexico, CS-1 noted to Arbabsiar that one of his workers had already traveled to Washington, D.C., to surveil the Ambassador.  CS-1 also raised the possibility of innocent bystander casualties.  Arbabsiar made it clear that the assassination needed to go forward, despite mass casualties, telling CS-1, “They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ‘em.”  CS-1 and Arbabsiar discussed bombing a restaurant in the U.S. that the Ambassador frequented.  When CS-1 noted that others could be killed in the attack, including U.S. senators who dine at the restaurant, Arbabsiar dismissed these concerns as “no big deal.”

On Aug. 1 and Aug. 9, 2011, Arbabsiar caused two overseas wire transfers totaling approximately $100,000 to be sent to an FBI undercover account as a down payment for CS-1 to carry out the assassination.  Later, Arbabsiar explained to CS-1 that he would provide the remainder of the $1.5 million after the assassination.  On Sept. 20, 2011, CS-1 told Arbabsiar that the operation was ready and requested that he either pay one half the agreed upon price ($1.5 million) for the murder or that Arbabsiar personally travel to Mexico as collateral for the final payment of the fee.  Arbabsiar agreed to travel to Mexico to guarantee final payment for the murder.

On Sept. 28, 2011, Arbabsiar flew to Mexico, and he was refused entry into the country and placed on a return flight destined for his last point of departure.  The following day, Arbabsiar was arrested by federal agents during a flight layover at JFK International Airport in New York.  Several hours after his arrest, Arbabsiar was advised of his Miranda rights and he agreed to waive those rights and speak with law enforcement agents.  During a series of Mirandized interviews, Arbabsiar confessed to his participation in the murder plot.

In addition, Arbabsiar admitted to agents that, in connection with this plot, he was recruited, funded, and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran’s Qods Force.  He said these Iranian officials were aware of, and approved of, the use of CS-1 in connection with the plot, as well as payments to CS-1, the means by which the Ambassador would be killed in the U.S., and the casualties that would likely result.
Arbabsiar also told agents that his cousin, whom he had long understood to be a senior member of the Qods Force, had approached him in the early spring of 2011 about recruiting narco-traffickers to kidnap the Ambassador.  He told agents that he then met with CS-1 in Mexico and discussed assassinating the Ambassador.  Arbabsiar said that afterwards, he met several times in Iran with Gholam Shakuri, aka “Ali Gholam Shakuri,” a co-conspirator and Iran-based member of the Qods Force, and another senior Qods Force official, where Arbabsiar explained that the plan was to blow up a restaurant in the U.S. frequented by the Ambassador and that numerous bystanders would be killed.  According to Arbabsiar, the plan was approved by these officials.

In October 2011, after his arrest, Arbabsiar made phone calls at the direction of law enforcement to Shakuri in Iran that were monitored.  During these calls, Shakuri confirmed that Arbabsiar should move forward with the plot to murder the Ambassador and that he should accomplish the task as quickly as possible, stating on Oct. 5, 2011, “[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late…”  Shakuri also told Arbabsiar that he would consult with his superiors about whether they would be willing to pay CS-1 additional money.  Shakuri, who was also charged in the plot, remains at large.

*                *                *
In addition to the prison term, Arbabsiar was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $125,000.
This case was investigated by the FBI Houston Division, the DEA Houston Division, and the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, with the assistance of the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, its National Security Division, and the Department of State.  The Government of Mexico also cooperated with the investigation.

This case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glen Kopp, Edward Kim, and Stephen Ritchin are in charge of the prosecution with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Twins Serve Together in Afghanistan


By Army Sgt. Robert Yarbrough
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 29, 2013 – Army 1st Lts. Joseph and Joshua Mouré, twin brothers from Covington, Ga., are both deployed to Forward Operating Base Shank here with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army 1st Lts. Joshua, right, and Joseph Mouré pose for a photo May 24, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Shanks in Afghanistan’s Logar province. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yarbrough
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Joseph, about two minutes older than Joshua, is the fires support officer with the brigade’s Company C, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, and Joshua is the liaison officer for the brigade’s 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.

“It was nice always having someone there to hang out with,” Joshua said, about growing up with a twin.

“We always were on the same football team, baseball team, things like that,” added Joseph.

“We grew up playing war and stuff like that, so we decided, I guess, we’ll make it a career,” Joshua said.

Their parents, Joseph and Tammy Mouré, both served in the Army’s Signal Corps, and the lieutenants said that was a factor in their decision to join.

The twins joined the Georgia National Guard in 2006, attended the Georgia Military College, and were commissioned in 2008. They finished their degrees at North Georgia College and State University, where they met their wives, Abby and Ashley, who were roommates at the time.

Joseph attended the field artillery basic officers leadership course at Fort Sill, Okla., and Joshua attended the infantry basic officers leadership course at Fort Benning, Ga. After their training, they were assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as the Vanguard Brigade.

“Since Josh was going to be infantry, I figured he needed somebody to protect him,” Joseph joked. “It’s good being the fires support officer so I can call in air assets, artillery, and mortar fire to help out the guys. It’s pretty interesting de-conflicting and controlling those assets while the infantry are maneuvering around.”
As a liaison officer, Joshua is responsible for keeping the communication and information networks flowing between his battalion and the brigade. “I see what goes on at the brigade side, and I can help to translate down to the battalion, and vice-versa, so there’s a clearer picture,” he explained.

The Mouré twins said being misidentified can be a challenge.

“People come up and start talking to you, and you have no idea what they’re talking about,” Joseph said.
“It gets old fast,” Joshua added.

Commander: Taliban Defeat Imminent in Helmand’s Sangin District

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2013 – Afghan forces will defeat Taliban fighters in the restive Sangin district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province by tomorrow in a battle that has gone on for four days, the commander of NATO-led forces in southwestern Afghanistan said today.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller Jr., commander of the International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command Southwest, told reporters at the Pentagon via satellite that coalition forces have been called upon to provide only aerial support and resupply and logistics help for the Afghan forces fighting the battle.

“They’re closing that fight rapidly. They’ve done quite well,” Miller said, adding that the Afghan commander in Sangin has “taken the fight to the enemy and [is] clearing up the center of Sangin right now.”

Miller said casualties among Afghan forces are lower than those coalition forces suffered in the region a year ago.

Miller emphasized the Afghan-led battle in Sangin illustrates how far the country’s army and police have come in their ability to fight on their own, especially in an area that had been a hotbed of Taliban activity.
“They’re taking it on themselves for the most part,” he said, but he acknowledged that Afghan forces will continue to need additional, outside support.

“We do believe that the enablers required for the future will be in the areas of [medical evacuation] capability, as well as continuing to work with their logistics personnel to learn how to move things out more rapidly,” the general said.

More than 20,000 Marines were sent into Helmand in 2010 to flush Taliban fighters out of the province, killing or driving out many in daily battles that were some of the deadliest of the 12-year Afghan war. While coalition forces have since drawn down, replaced by Afghan forces, some Taliban have drifted back.

“If we think the Taliban will be completely destroyed, that’s not feasible,” Miller said. “The key is to get the Afghan national security forces to the level where they can maintain security for the populace of Afghanistan.”
Some of the enemy fighters in Sangin are foreign, Miller said, but he declined to say what countries or regions they are coming from.

Miller, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, commands ISAF forces from 11 nations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces. The command’s primary focus is training and advising nearly 30,000 Afghan security forces as they prepare to take the lead for security in the region ahead of the end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan in 2014.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Army Casualty



The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Christopher R. Drake, 20, of Tickfaw, La., died May 26, in Bagram, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his vehicle was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade.  He was assigned to the 1084th Transportation Company, 165th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 139th Regional Support Group, Reserve, La.

For more information please contact the Louisiana National Guard public affairs office at 866-275-8176 or 504-278-8286.

Combined Security Force Arrests Haqqani Network Leader

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani network leader and seven other insurgents during an operation in the Gardez district of Afghanistan’s Paktia province today, military officials reported.

The Haqqani leader is responsible for kidnappings of Afghan civilians, coordinates the movement of weapons and plans and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

In other Afghanistan operations today:

-- A combined force in Kandahar province’s Kandahar City arrested a Taliban leader who controls a cell responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the Panjwai district. He also is involved in financing insurgent operations, procuring weapons and conducting reconnaissance of Afghan and coalition installations. The security force also arrested another insurgent.

-- In Kandahar’s Panjwai district, a combined force arrested three insurgents during a search for a Taliban facilitator who is responsible for acquiring weapons and equipment for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also directs local improvised explosive device operations and manages weapons caches. The security force also seized opium in the operation.

In operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Baghlan province’s Baghlan-e Jadid district killed three insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader who facilitates IED attacks and manages insurgent weapon distribution.

-- In Kunar province’s Watahpur district, a combined force killed two insurgents during a search for a senior leader who is responsible for al-Qaida operations in the Waygal and Watahpur Valley. He oversees al-Qaida training in Nuristan, and he plans and conducts attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- A combined force in Helmand province’s Nad-e Ali district arrested a senior Taliban leader who oversees a cell responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also procures weapons for insurgents and manages Taliban personnel actions in his area. The security force also arrested eight other insurgents and seized three rifles.

-- In Helmand’s Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force arrested a senior Taliban leader who controls insurgents responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also runs IED operations in two districts and has handled logistics for suicide bombings. The security force also arrested another insurgent and seized a pistol.

-- A combined force in Kandahar province’s Zharay district arrested a Taliban leader who coordinates IED activity and facilitates Taliban weapon movement. The security force also arrested another insurgent.
In May 26 operations:

-- A combined force killed two insurgents during a search in Paktia province’s Sayyid Karam district for a senior Haqqani network leader who is involved with IED attacks, coordinates insurgent movement and attacks, and provides information to senior Haqqani leaders. He also facilitates the movement of IEDs, weapons and money into the area.

-- In Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district, a combined force arrested a Haqqani network high-profile attack facilitator who also houses transient Taliban commanders when they pass through his area. The security force also arrested another insurgent and seized more than 50 pounds of bomb-making materials.

-- A combined force arrested a Taliban facilitator who provides weapons and equipment for insurgent groups and coordinates suicide-bombing operations. The security force also arrested another insurgent.
In May 25 operations:

-- Afghan special forces soldiers, local police and coalition forces killed 22 insurgents after insurgents engaged the combined force with fire in Ghazni province’s Gelan district. The forces were in the area to discuss the construction of future local police checkpoints with local residents when the incident took place. An Afghan quick reaction force joined the fight shortly after local police radioed the district operations coordination center for reinforcements. Following the engagement, Afghan forces recovered five motorcycles, weapons and ammunition.

-- In Nangarhar province’s Achin district, a combined force killed eight insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader who has planned, coordinated and executed attacks against Afghan government facilities and against Afghan and coalition forces. He controls insurgent groups and relays operational guidance to them from senior Taliban leadership.

-- A combined force in Paktiya province’s Gardez district arrested a Haqqani network high-profile attack facilitator who acquires weapons and equipment and distributes them to local insurgent groups. At the time of this arrest, officials said, he was actively planning an attack involving several suicide bombers. The security force also arrested another insurgent.

-- In Kandahar province’s Arghandab district, a combined force arrested a Taliban facilitator responsible for procuring IEDs and distributing them to insurgent groups. He also is involved in indirect-fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The security force also arrested two other insurgents and seized a handgun.
In May 24 operations:

-- Afghan local police killed a Taliban insurgent and wounded two others while defending the Haji Safraz checkpoint in Kunduz province’s Archi district. The local police returned fire after Taliban fighters attacked the checkpoint with small-arms fire.

-- In Kandahar province’s Mya Neshin district, Afghan special forces and local and uniformed police killed an insurgent while responding to an ambush targeting the district police chief.

-- A combined force in Logar province’s Muhammad Aghah district killed two insurgents and wounded two others during a search for a Haqqani network-affiliated Taliban leader who plans, facilitates and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He purchases and distributes explosives, weapons and equipment for Taliban and Haqqani insurgent cells.

-- Provincial Response Company Ghazni, enabled by coalition forces, found and destroyed more than a ton of potassium chlorate, an ingredient in homemade explosives, in Ghazni province’s Dey Yak district.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Combined Force Arrests Taliban Facilitator in Kandahar

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 24, 2013 – An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban facilitator and two other insurgents during an operation in the Dand district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province today, military officials reported.

The facilitator is a vital member of improvised explosive device networks in Kandahar City. He procures and distributes IED-making materials, weapons and other military equipment for use in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

In other Afghanistan news today:

-- Combined forces confirmed yesterday’s arrest of a Taliban facilitator in the Baghlan-e Jadid district of Baghlan province. The facilitator exercises command and control over a group of fighters responsible for attacks on Afghan and coalition forces. He also uses his residence as a storage facility for military equipment and coordinates the acquisition of weapons for use in insurgent activities.

-- Combined forces confirmed the death of two senior Haqqani leaders, Qari Azzam and Mukhlis, during a May 21 operation in the Zurmat district of Paktiya province. Azzam, also known as Maulawi Sahib, served as an intelligence operative responsible for providing information to senior Haqqani leadership about attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He was also involved in coordinating mine and IED emplacement in the local area, providing military equipment to insurgents and organizing kidnappings in order to extort money. Mukhlis, also known as Wazir, planned and participated in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also interfaced directly with senior Haqqani leadership to relay strategic guidance to insurgent fighters.
And yesterday, Provincial Response Company Logar, enabled by coalition forces, seized a large cache of explosives-making materials during a cordon-and-search mission in the Pul-e Alam district of Logar province. The cache consisted of one IED, 374 pounds of ammonium nitrate and 110 pounds of phosphorous fertilizer. All seized materials were destroyed on location.

Afghan, Coalition Forces Arrest Insurgents in Baghlan Province

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 23, 2013 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force in Baghlan province’s Baghlan-e Jadid district arrested six insurgents today during a search for a Taliban facilitator, military officials reported.

The facilitator controls a group responsible for attacks on Afghan and coalition forces, stores insurgents’ equipment in his home and coordinates the acquisition of weapons.

Also today, a combined force in Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district arrested an insurgent during a search for a Taliban leader who directs and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also procures and distributes bomb-making materials to insurgents and serves as an intelligence operative for senior Taliban leadership.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Paktia province’s Sayyid Karam district killed three insurgents during a search for a senior Haqqani network leader involved with improvised explosive device attacks. He also coordinates insurgent movements and attacks, provides information to senior Haqqani leaders and facilitates the movement of IEDs, weapons and money into the area.

-- Provincial Response Company Logar, enabled by coalition forces, seized and destroyed an IED and almost 500 pounds of ingredients for homemade explosives in Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district.

In May 21 operations:

-- Afghan soldiers, along with uniformed and local police, destroyed 20 IEDs during a checkpoint emplacement operation in Helmand province’s Nahr-e-Saraj district.

-- Two senior Haqqani network leaders were killed during an operation in Paktia province’s Zurmat district. One, an intelligence operative, also was involved in coordinating mine and IED placements, providing equipment to insurgents and organizing kidnappings for ransom. The other deceased insurgent leader planned and participated in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, and relayed strategic guidance to insurgents from senior Haqqani leaders.

Combined Force Arrests Taliban Leader in Helmand Province

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 22, 2013 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader and four other insurgents in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province today, military officials reported.

The leader plans, directs and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also is instrumental in producing and planting improvised explosive devices and conducts reconnaissance and intelligence gathering for local insurgents.

Also today, a combined force in Wardak province’s Sayyidabad district arrested two insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader who controls about 70 insurgents responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also oversees weapons trafficking and reports on insurgent operations to higher-ranking Taliban officials. The security force also seized an assault rifle and ammunition.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Paktia province’s Zurmat district killed four insurgents during a search for a senior Haqqani network intelligence operative. He also coordinates placement of mines and IEDs, provides equipment to insurgents and organizes kidnappings for ransom.

-- Afghan local police and coalition forces found and destroyed an explosives laboratory in Logar province’s Baraki Barak district. The lab contained more than 150 pounds of ingredients for homemade explosives, several hand grenades and two rocket-propelled grenade warheads.

McRaven Sets Future Course for Special Ops Command

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

TAMPA, Fla., May 22, 2013 – After 12 years of unprecedented demand for special operations forces capability worldwide, the commander of U.S Special Operations Command is shaping his forces for the future based on his “SOF 2020” vision.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven began an assessment of how to posture special operations forces to meet 21st-century challenges shortly after taking command in August 2011. He formed operational planning teams to focus on four major priorities:

-- Win the current fight in Afghanistan;
-- Strengthen the global special operations forces network;
-- Preserve the force and families; and
-- Resource responsibly.

By necessity, McRaven said, winning the current fight remains at the top of the list, a vital step toward accomplishing the other pillars of the vision.

“Every commander that is in my position realizes that you have to take care of the 25-meter target first. For us, that is Afghanistan,” the admiral told several hundred participants at the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference here last week.

“And I think we are making great strides in Afghanistan,” he said, citing the success of a new command structure that aligns various NATO and U.S. special operations forces under a two-star headquarters.

“We are achieving in the SOF world probably the best results we have seen in many, many years in terms of synchronizing the effect on the ground, on the battlefield by pulling together all three of the SOF components,” he said.

But shaping for post-2014, McRaven said, the defense strategic guidance released in January 2012 and the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations championed by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, form the baseline for Socom’s future force and operations.

“Special operations forces are uniquely suited to implement the guidance outlined in these documents,” he told the House and Senate armed services committees earlier this year.

With a pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region and continuing focus on the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the guidance includes a solid role for special operators around the globe, McRaven told the Tampa forum.
“I am very comfortable that … there will still be a place for a force that is small, light, agile, networked, partnered -- the sort of things that are a part of the SOF core competencies,” he said.

But looking to the future of the special operations force, McRaven said, those enamored with “Zero Dark 30” -- the blockbuster movie depicting the SEAL mission that took out Osama bin Laden -- and the myriad bestsellers about high-profile special operations forces activities are likely to be disappointed.

“The fact of the matter is, that [counterterrorism] piece -- that we do better than anybody in the world -- … is a small part of our portfolio,” McRaven said. “The broader part of our portfolio is how we build capability, how we link with our allies and our partners overseas so that we can help them take care of their problems so we don’t have to end up doing [counterterrorism].”

This capacity-building is vital in confronting the long tentacles of trans-regional and often globally networked adversaries, the admiral told the audience.

“There is no such thing as a local problem any more,” McRaven said. “If you have a problem in Mali, it will manifest itself in Europe. And that problem in Europe will manifest itself in the Far East. Then the problem in the Far East will manifest itself in the Middle East. The world is linked, and therefore we need to be linked. We have to build a network to defeat the enemy network.”

McRaven’s SOF 2020 vision calls for a globally networked force of special operations forces, interagency representatives, allies and partners, with aligned structures, processes and authorities to enable its operations.
Globally networked forces, he explained, will provide geographic commanders and chiefs of mission with improved special operations capability as they respond rapidly and persistently to address regional contingencies and threats to stability.

McRaven noted his own experience working with the Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. “It has been interesting to work in a network like that, and we do that very, very well on the direct-action side,” he said. Part of the Socom plan, he added, is figuring out how to extend that network out to the theater special operations commands and down to special operations forward elements and forces assigned to them.
But McRaven said his No. 1 mission -- one on which every other initiative depends -- is the preservation of the force and family.

Shortly after assuming command, McRaven received the results of an extensive evaluation of the special operations forces community, directed by Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, the former commander. The findings were sobering, he said.

“It said the SOF force as a whole was frayed,” McRaven said, a state he said continues with no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of operational demands. “I would say, in the last 20 months, the force is fraying at a rate I am not comfortable with at all,” he added.

McRaven recalled his initial SEAL training, provided by Vietnam veterans who, along with their families, weren’t properly cared for after the war. “We are not going to let that happen to this force,” he said. “So we are putting a fair amount of effort, money, manpower [and] time into preserving the force and families.”
Finally, McRaven underscored the importance of responsive resourcing for the special operations forces community and the “strategic employment” of SOF funding.

Socom’s unique acquisition authorities are critical to meeting the demands of the force and its operations, he said. The goal, he added, is to simplify processes and cut through red tape to “move money more quickly to deal with problems from the field and be able to provide that capability as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, McRaven acknowledged budgetary constraints during his congressional testimony and affirmed his commitment to “common-sense steps to cost-cutting and cost avoidance.”

As he implements the SOF 2020 vision and aligns resources to meet it, the admiral emphasized to Congress the value special operations forces deliver to the United States.

“Special operations forces exemplify the ethic of smart power -- fast and flexible, constantly adapting, learning new languages and cultures, dedicated to forming partnerships where we can work together,” he said.

Obama Delineates Counterterrorism Policy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2013 – President Barack Obama spoke today on U.S. counterterrorism policy and looked at how the United States can defend itself from terrorism, yet remain true to core beliefs.

The president’s speech at the National Defense University on Fort Lesley J. McNair here took a broad view of counterterrorism efforts. Obama reviewed what has taken place since September 11, 2001, and how the counterterrorism effort has changed.

In 2001, Al-Qaida was the threat. It was that organization, led by Osama bin Laden, that planned and executed the attacks that killed 3,000 people on 9/11. “Now the core of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat,” the president said.

The United States has relentlessly pursued al-Qaida’s senior leadership and the threat of a 9/11-scale attack is greatly reduced, he said.

At the same time the threat has morphed. Al-Qaida affiliates – notably those in North Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula – remain threats to the American homeland. Threats have grown following the unrest in the Arab world, although those are mostly local or regionally based.

Finally, there is a threat from homegrown extremists like those who are alleged to be responsible for the bombing in Boston.

Attacks like those from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, like those against our embassy in Benghazi and like those in Boston represent the future of the threats we face from terrorism, the president said.

“We must recognize, however, that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11,” he said. “With a decade of experience to draw from, now is the time to ask ourselves hard questions – about the nature of today’s threats, and how we should confront them.”

Since 9/11, the United States has spent well over a trillion dollars on war. “Our service members and their families have sacrificed far more on our behalf,” he said. “Nearly 7,000 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice. Many more have left a part of themselves on the battlefield, or brought the shadows of battle back home. From our use of drones to the detention of terrorist suspects, the decisions we are making will define the type of nation – and world – that we leave to our children.”

No one can promise the total defeat of terror. There will always be people misguided enough to resort to attacks on society, the president said. “What we can do – what we must do – is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend,” Obama said. “To define that strategy, we must make decisions based not on fear, but hard-earned wisdom.”

The threats do not arise in a vacuum, the president said. There is the belief in many parts of the world that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. “Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam; and this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist acts,” Obama said.

The ideology persists, however, and all parts of the U.S. government must work to counter it, he said.
The United States must continue to defeat al-Qaida and its associated forces, the president said. In Afghanistan, U.S. forces will follow the NATO plan and continue training Afghan security forces up to the end of NATO combat operations there at the end of next year, Obama said.

“Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” he said. Most of these will be done in partnership with other nations, he said, specifically mentioning Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The United States will continue to cooperate with other nations and share counterterrorism intelligence with these nations, he emphasized, butwill not be afraid to work alone when the situation calls for it.

Al-Qaida looks for ungoverned areas to set up and plan, he noted. “In some of these places … the state has only the most tenuous reach into the territory,” Obama said. “In other cases, the state lacks the capacity or will to take action.”

In cases when using American troops in these places isn’t possible and lethal action is needed, he said, “The United States has taken lethal, targeted action against al-Qaida and its associated forces, including with remotely piloted aircraft commonly referred to as drones.”

The technology raises profound questions about targeting, civilian casualties and the risks of creating new enemies, he said, but Obama maintained the strikes strikes have been effective and are legal nationally and internationally. “Simply put, these strikes have saved lives,” he said.

Beyond Afghanistan, the United States only targets al-Qaida and its associated forces, the president said.
“America does not make strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists - our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them,” Obama said. “America cannot take strikes wherever we choose – our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty. America does not take strikes to punish individuals – we act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat. And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.”

The president insists on strong oversight of all lethal action. “After I took office, my administration began briefing all strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan to the appropriate committees of Congress,” he said. “Let me repeat that – not only did Congress authorize the use of force, it is briefed on every strike that America takes.”

The use of force must be part of a larger discussion about a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, he said, adding that. force alone cannot make America safe.

“We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the well-spring of extremism, a perpetual war – through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways,” the president said.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Battaglia Praises Students for Mural Honoring 9/11 Victims

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

NEW YORK, May 22, 2013 – In a dedication ceremony here yesterday, the U.S. military’s top enlisted member commended students who produced a mural that honors the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Paintings of family members and victims, inspired by artists Michelangelo and Rodin adorn the walls of William McKinley Intermediate School 259 in Brooklyn, N.Y., where more than 60 students created a 270-foot mural dedicated to first responders, military members and all victims from the 9/11 attacks. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, toured the completed mural and delivered remarks during the Armed Forces Wounded Warrior Mural dedication ceremony in New York on May 21, 2013. DOD photo by Amaani Lyle
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The ceremony culminated a year of tireless creativity from about 60 students at William McKinley Intermediate School 259 in the borough of Brooklyn.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, spoke at the Armed Forces Memorial Mural dedication ceremony to commend the students who created a 270-foot-long mural across two stories of the school with artwork, poetry, and more than 6,000 names painstakingly painted in gold.

“We understand the commitment, drive, focus and determination that it takes to build and produce a winning product,” Battaglia said. “Those paintings and the names of our fallen written in gold depict powerful imagery that accurately captures and proudly honors our U.S. military, especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”

Leaders from the military and the New York fire and police departments also attended the unveiling in conjunction with Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit organization that assists post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have suffered physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

“It was fairly easy to determine that these folks were on a mission,” Battaglia said of the students. “Not just a mission of a student coming to school to get education, but rather a larger mission where education was taken to a whole different level.”

The sergeant major said he also marveled at his first tour of the school earlier this year, when three young students described the symbolism of each piece of art -- with inspiration ranging from Michelangelo to Rodin -- that captured individual and team actions of first responders and military members.

“Never should a day go by where we are absent in thanking the brave and courageous volunteers who provide the freedom and security that we enjoy,” Battaglia said. “And on that September morning when our nation was brutally attacked, many have and many still continue to answer the call of duty.”

Battaglia said he found it powerful that everyone gathered to commemorate such an impactful piece of art that “depicts real and authentic images about first responders -- military service members and many others saving lives, administering first aid, trauma care and humanitarian assistance.”

Tom Buxton, a McKinley English teacher, collaborated with art teacher Roma Karas to inspire the children to depict how 9/11 resonated with them, even though many of the artists were not yet 2 years old on that fateful morning.

“I had to wake up at 6 a.m., because I live pretty far from the school, and I worked mornings and during lunches to paint,” said artist Anne Wang, age 14. “Everyone was proud of what we’d done, and we just wanted to show it off.”

The students took nearly a year to display moments in time from 9/11 to present day.

Spectators can enjoy the mural view from a large window on the third floor hallway, where, when the sunlight intensifies, the names painted in gold are illuminated, said artists Ayisha Siddiq, 13, and Nada Farraq, 13.
Battaglia called several students up to the stage to present them with a shadow box containing a U.S. flag he flew over Afghanistan. In return, he received an art book created by the students that recently earned an Ezra Jack Keats Award.

Obama Vows to Close Guantanamo Detention Facility


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2013 – President Barack Obama today vowed to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the prison has become a symbol of an America that flouts the law.

Obama spoke at the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. McNair here. His discussion on the Gitmo facility was part of a larger discussion on counterterrorism policy.

The original premise for opening the detention center at Guantanamo was that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention, he noted during his remarks, but added the Supreme Court found that unconstitutional five years ago.

“In the meantime, Gitmo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” the president said. “Our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at Gitmo. During a time of budget cuts, we spend $150 million each year to imprison 166 people –almost $1 million per prisoner. And the Department of Defense estimates that we must spend another $200 million to keep Gitmo open at a time when we are cutting investments in education and research here at home.”

Obama has tried to close the facility and transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress stopped the process, he noted. “These restrictions make no sense,” he said.

Obama said he believes these detainees can be held in U.S. prisons and prosecuted in U.S. courts. “No person has ever escaped from one of our super-max or military prisons in the United States,” he said. “Our courts have convicted hundreds of people for terrorism-related offenses, including some who are more dangerous than most Gitmo detainees.”

The president called on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from the facility.
“I have tasked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions,” he said. “I am appointing a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries. I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case-by-case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee.”

There will still be detainees who have participated in attacks on Americans who cannot be prosecuted due to tainted evidence, Obama noted. “But once we commit to a process of closing Gitmo, I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law,” he said.

The president was interrupted several times by a heckler who yelled that the president should close the facility now. He said her voice needed to be heard.

Obama asked if Guantanamo is the kind of legacy America wants or deserves. “Is that who we are? Is that something that our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?” he asked. “Our sense of justice is stronger than that.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Former Marine, Fire Captain Describes Loss of Sons on 9/11

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

BROOKLYN, N.Y., May 21, 2013 – Former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant and retired New York City fire captain John Vigiano is all too familiar with what he calls bad days.

Speaking after the Armed Forces Wounded Warrior Mural Dedication Ceremony at the William McKinley Intermediate School here, the soft-spoken, silver-haired veterans’ advocate discussed his experiences as military member, first responder and grieving father.

Having spent nearly four decades as a firefighter in Brooklyn, he seldom considered his life-saving responsibilities as work so much as a passion.

“Thirty-six years … I think I went to work five days, maybe six,” Vigiano said. “The rest of it was just great.”

Other days, he remembered, were not so great.

“Those were days of pretty significant losses,” Vigiano said. “When a fireman dies in your hands, you never forget that. It’s not a good day. The first time you find someone burned to death, it’s not a good day.”

But nothing, he said, could ever prepare him for the events of Sept. 11, 2001 –- the morning that both of his sons, John Jr. and Joe, perished in the line of duty while saving lives as the World Trade Center collapsed.
“9/11 will take me to the grave; both my sons were killed that day,” he said, his head lowered. “You go to bed saying, ‘I hope I don’t dream about it again, but you do.’”

John Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps as a New York City firefighter, while his younger brother, Joe, served as a detective in the New York Police Department. That particular morning, Vigiano was home watching the tragedy unfold with the rest of the world.

“The police department took my wife and me down to headquarters that afternoon and I stayed there until they closed the site,” Vigiano said. “Everyday from 6:30 in the morning to midnight, I’d walk the pile.”
At his wife’s request, he did not dig.

“She said, ‘if anything happens to you, I have nobody,’” he recalled. “So I just stood in the back and when a body was recovered, I’d go down and say a prayer and go back.”

His voice trembling, Vigiano said rescue teams found Joe’s remains, but they never found John Jr.
The elder Vigiano said his young granddaughter grew to comprehend that the spirit of her father lives on.
“That’s taken a lot to try and explain to her that his soul is still with us – that the body doesn’t mean anything,” Vigiano said.

Still, John and his wife of 50 years, Jan, pray for the day they find the bit of DNA that can finally bring them some closure.

“My wife and I bond together and we had 34 and 36 great years,” Vigiano said of his sons’ respective lives and, ironically, John Jr’s badge number, 3436.

“The last words that I spoke to my sons: ‘I love you’ and they said ‘I love you. It don’t get better than that.”

Combined Force Wounds Taliban Leader, Arrests Insurgent


From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 21, 2013 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force wounded a senior Taliban leader and arrested another insurgent in the Zharay district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province today, military officials reported.

The Taliban leader, who was wounded after he attacked the security force, is responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He and his subordinates facilitate the movement of insurgent weapons and equipment, and they build and plant improvised explosive devices, resulting in the deaths of Afghan civilians, officials said.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Kunar province’s Ghaziabad district wounded an insurgent during a search of a senior Taliban leader who relays instructions from senior Taliban leadership to other insurgents. He extorts money from local businesses to fund insurgent activity and coordinates attacks on Afghan government officials. He also recruits Taliban members and facilitates the movement of equipment for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- In Nangarhar province’s Lalpur district, a combined force killed three insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader who is the ranking military official in the province’s Bati Kot district. He controls an insurgent IED cell, recruits suicide bombers and is involved in kidnappings of Afghan officials.

Special Ops Components Adapt for Future Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

TAMPA, Fla., May 21, 2013 – Look for big changes in special operations forces as they shape for what’s ahead after a dozen years of intensive, high-operational-tempo missions focused predominantly on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Commanders of the special operations components laid out their plans for the future to members of the special operations community and the defense industry last week during the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference here.

The Navy SEALs will undergo “an amphibious evolution in reverse,” returning to their maritime roots, Navy Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, told the assembly.
Army Special Forces will concentrate on rebuilding their regional expertise and relationships in parts of the world, Army Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, reported.

Air Force Special Operations Command will strive to to rebalance its portfolio to provide broader support to geographic and theater special operations commanders, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel, the AFSOC commander.

And Marine Corps Special Forces Command, the newest of special operations components, will work to institute a cultural shift that maximizes the myriad technologies developed during the past decade-plus of conflict, Marine Corps Col. Mike Sweeney, the deputy MARSOC commander, told the group.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, opened the conference telling participants to think of a future that extends beyond the high-profile missions heralded in best-sellers and across the big screen.

“The fact of the matter is that [counterterrorism] piece that we do better than anybody in the world … is a small part of our portfolio,” he said. “The broader part of our portfolio is about how we build partner capacity [and] how we link with our allies and partners overseas so that we can help them take care of their problems so that we don’t end up having to do [counterterrorism].”

U.S. special operators “will continue to take care of the bad guys and rescue the good guys better than anybody in the world,” McRaven emphasized. But by helping partner nations build their own capacity, he said, “they can take care of their own security problems …[and] do the things that we now don’t have to put U.S. forces against.

“That is the value of U.S. special operations forces as we go forth in the future,” he added.

That concept, encapsulated in McRaven’s “Special Operations Forces 2020” vision, requires transition across the special operations service components.

Those changes are well underway in the SEALs, which Pybus said are expected to reduce the number of theater platoons in Afghanistan by at least half by the year’s end.

“Our SEALs have been fighting two land wars for the last decade, and there is plenty of work back in the maritime environment,” he said. “That is playing out before our eyes.”

The drawdown in Afghanistan will free up forces to better support the U.S. strategic pivot toward Asia or demands in other parts of the world, he said, citing examples of the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Guinea or the Persian Gulf. “There are plenty of things to do in support of our theater [special operations commanders] and all their requirements,” he said.

The timing is right for most of the SEALs’ return to the water, Pybus said, noting that by the end of the decade, 90 percent of the world’s population will live in megacities on or near the coast. “So it is the right time for one of the two maritime components of U.S. Socom to make sure that we are covering down on our obligation as a maritime special operations force.”

For the Green Berets, Cleveland emphasized the importance of shoring up gaps in regional expertise due to the command’s heavy focus on combat operations in the Middle East. “We have these regionally expert forces, but we surged to Iraq and Afghanistan, and by necessity, we sacrificed over the past 12 years a knowledge and expertise that we need of the rest of the world,” he said.

“That’s not to say we don’t have it,” Cleveland added. “But we don’t have it in the density that we need. And that is the gap we are going to work to fix.”

Meanwhile, Army Special Operations Command, like its sister special operations component commands, is striving to preserve strides made in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We cannot lose what we have developed over the last 12 years,” Cleveland said. “I think we are taking steps to not do that.”

Sustained combat operations served as a “forcing function” for special operators to work in synchronization with not only conventional forces, but also interagency and non-governmental organization partners, he said.
The challenge, once combat operations are over, is to maintain those bonds for the future, Cleveland said. He shared an observation by a State Department official who suggested forming a “league of extraordinary operators” who maintain a connection, rather than forming one when a crisis erupts.

“We ought not wait until we have to descend on a problem to create this connection, and are starting to work on that,” Cleveland said.

Regardless of where on the globe Army Special Forces operate, Cleveland said, “two exquisite capabilities” will remain paramount: surgical strike and special warfare. “The country needs both of these capabilities,” he said, emphasizing the need to continually evolve for complex challenges that will test the mettle of the future force.

Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, said he expects little letup in the years ahead for the command’s highest-demand capabilities: mobility, strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Tasked by McRaven “to generate and sustain as much combat power as possible,” Fiel said, he is working to rebalance the command’s portfolio to better serve all theater special operations commanders.

Despite flying tactical missions every day in support of every geographic combatant commander and theater special operations commander, all want “more, more, more” capability, Fiel said.

New hardware entering the inventory is a step in the right direction, he said. Another big advance is the new Air Force Special Operations Warfare Center, stood up in February. Its mission includes executing special operations test, evaluation and lessons learned programs and developing doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures for AFSOC.

Fiel shared Cleveland’s assessment of progress made in building more cohesive and interconnected teams across the special operations force community.

“Socom and [special operations forces] is a team sport. It really is the only joint force in the Department of Defense. Sometimes you are on offensive, sometimes you are on defense, and sometimes you are on special teams,” he said. “But we are the only force in the DOD that grows up together.”

Since its activation in 2006, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command has hit the ground running with no pause in the pace of its operational missions. But looking ahead to a post-Afghanistan future, the command is preparing to transition from landlocked operations to future maritime missions around the world, Sweeney told the audience.

In another change to come, Marsoc plans to make its battalions regionally focused to better support theater requirements.

In posturing for that future, Sweeney said, the Marines hope to find better ways to integrate the kinds of technologies integrated into the battlefield in Afghanistan. If anything, Marine special operators are “too heavy on technology,” he said.

“When I see our teams and our Marines out there, and they have to have five or six sets of equipment to access five or six networks, that is problematic,” he explained. “We are now increasing the burden on the force from a load perspective.”

Ideally, Sweeney said, he would like to see one multitiered network that integrates these capabilities.
Another challenge, he said, is to change the culture to take full advantage of what technologies deliver. Sweeney likened the process of compiling multiple data streams to form one operational picture to the broadcast of a “Monday Night Football” game.

“I, as a consumer, see one picture, and that is the picture I want to see,” he said. He recognized, however, that someone behind the scenes has made decisions, selecting views from 40 or more screens to deliver what the viewer sees.

“That type of talent is extremely difficult to build in the military,” he said, emphasizing that it’s not a job that should be relegated to a junior officer or a mid-level noncommissioned officer.

“That is somebody who is well-educated, understands the warfighting functions, can quickly assimilate information, turn it into knowledge and present it to the commander,” he said. “It is very, very challenging to do.”

The problem, Sweeney said, is that the military – or at least the Marines – don’t put emphasis into developing those capabilities or rewarding those who have them.

“From the Marine Corps perspective, if you are an innovator, if you are a visionary, if you are a science-and-technology guy, you are probably not going to do well at the promotion board,” he said. “I think what we owe you [in industry] and we owe ourselves is a culture and a mindset shift about how we go after capitalizing on the technology you provide and using that to our advantage to bring power to bear where it counts most.”

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.       

They died May 16, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fort Juan Muna, Guam.       

Killed were:         
Sgt. Eugene M Aguon, 23, of Mangilao, Guam, and         
Spc. Dwayne W. Flores, 22, of Sinajana, Guam.          

For more information media may contact the Guam National Guard public affairs office at 671-735-0409 or 671-734-4082.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Afghan, Coalition Forces Arrest Insurgents in Khost Province

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2013 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested three insurgents today during a search for an insurgent leader with ties to the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist networks in the Sabari district of Afghanistan’s Khost province, military officials reported.

The leader finances insurgent networks, plans and executes assassinations of Afghan civilians, uses his home as a staging point for insurgent operations, and obtains weapons and equipment for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

The security force also seized ammunition in the operation.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Jowzjan province’s Khanaqa district killed two insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader who is responsible for illegal tax collection in Jowzjan and Balkh provinces to fund Taliban operations and has assassinated village elders who resisted. He also facilitates the movement of weapons and equipment for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- Afghan special forces soldiers and coalition forces killed two insurgents and detained another in Herat province’s Shindand district after they were fired upon while en route to a meeting with religious leaders.

-- A combined force in Paktia province’s Gardez district arrested a Haqqani network improvised explosive device expert who directs and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The security force also arrested four other insurgents and seized three rifles.

-- In Nangarhar province’s Khugyani district, a combined force arrested five insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader who oversees a group involved in ambushes, IED operations and attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also facilitates the movement of weapons and serves as an intelligence operative for more senior Taliban officials.

-- A combined force in Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district arrested a Taliban leader who controls a group responsible for attacks on Afghan and coalition forces, facilitates the movement of insurgent weapons and manages personnel decisions for the local Taliban network. The security force also arrested another insurgent.

In a May 18 operation, a combined force in Wardak province’s Sayyidabad district killed an insurgent during a search for a senior Taliban leader who is responsible for attacks targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He also makes and plants IEDs, procures and distributes weapons and equipment and oversees kidnappings of Afghan civilians.

In May 17 operations:

-- Afghan special forces soldiers and coalition forces killed 12 insurgents in Ghazni province’s Qara Bagh district after insurgents fired on them near a local police checkpoint.

-- Afghan local and uniformed police secured a weapons cache that included 107 mm artillery shells and five rockets and coordinated for its controlled detonation in Ghazni province’s Deh Yak district. Local police received intelligence concerning the cache’s location and called for an Afghan army explosive ordnance disposal team.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Army Casualty



The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

Sgt. 1st Class Trenton L. Rhea, 33, of Oakley, Kan., died May 15, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, after drowning while attempting to cross a body of water during combat operations.  He was assigned to the 603rd Military Police Company, 530th Military Police Battalion, 300th Military Police Brigade, 200th Military Police Command, Belton, Mo. 

For more information please contact the 200th Military Police Command public affairs office at 301-693-3108 or 612-805-3544.