Tag Archives: green berets

The World According to Shephard: Week 3

A game of charades?

This week the Geobukseon dives into the possible repercussions of constitutional change in Japan, suggesting that the country has never really been a pacifist nation. Tensions in the region have reignited debate regarding the nature of Japan’s self-defence forces, with many claiming it is a military force by another name.

Meanwhile, Gordon Arthur reports on the strengthening cooperation between Japanese paratroopers and US Army Green Berets who have conducted a mass airdrop exercise.


Qatar’s searches for new friends

Qatar’s Defence Minister has detailed plans to increase the country’s order of Hawk training aircraft from six to nine units. The announcement comes amid a rapid build-up of the Gulf-nation’s defence capabilities, in particular relating to its air force.

The minister also stressed that Doha is seeking to enhance and diversify its defence relationships with a wide range of ‘friendly’ nations. This was clearly demonstrated by the recent displays of Chinese and Turkish military equipment at Qatar’s National Day Parade.


Helicopter orders fly in

The US Army has wasted little time in moving its purchase of 35 new UH-72 Lakota aircraft forward, it is even prepared to proceed without a competitive process. The announcement came one day after the army’s deadline for industry to respond to how they could meet the service’s requirement to purchase the H145M.

The Indian Army is facing the peculiar dilemma of having to stall deliveries of HAL’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) due to the unavailability of spares for the fleet already in service. There are more ALH aircraft on the production line than the army is willing to take as maintenance of the existing fleet remains a key concern.

India HAL heli

Indonesia’s military has also been receiving new aircraft, recently accepting two Airbus Helicopters AS565 MBe Panthers, three armed H125M Fennecs and a CN-235-220 aircraft. The Panthers, part of a November 2014 contract for 11 aircraft for the Indonesian Navy, are configured for anti-submarine warfare. Further deliveries of AS565s are expected in early 2018.

Finally, the Russian Air and Space Force (RuASF) has added 14 newly-built Ka-52 attack helicopters to its fleet. The RuASF now has a fleet of over 100 Ka-52s operated by its army aviation branch. The Russian MoD also expects to receive two enhanced Mi-28NM attack helicopters by the end of this year.


Nightwarden sale looms

Textron is confident that the first sale of its Nightwarden UAV is on the horizon. Beth Maundrill reports that the first deal is likely to be an international sale and it is understood this would be a completely new customer for the company. It is also possible that Sweden may select the Nightwarden as part of a UAS upgrade.


The future is here: quantum computing, AI and robotics

US Army leaders are seeking ways to capitalise on advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. The army’s top four-star general has warned that the military must address the ‘fundamental change in the character of war’. To this end, the service is working to develop new weapons systems to meet challenges posed by near-peer and peer threats such as Russia and China.

Meanwhile, the European Space Agency and its industrial partners are planning to launch two quantum key distribution satellites at the beginning of next decade to deliver commercial services to private and governmental entities. Quantum cryptography, which relies on encrypting data into the quantum states of particles is believed to be inherently unbreakable.






Special Forces honour JFK’s early vision

Representatives of the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), led by Maj Gen Francis Beaudette, 1st SFC (A) commanding general, held the commemorative President John F. Kennedy Wreath Laying Ceremony at the JFK grave site at Arlington National Cemetery on 25 October.

In doing so, they continued a Special Forces tradition of paying tribute to JFK’s vision of building a dedicated counter insurgency force, a vision that helped build the Green Berets into the elite force they have become over the last five decades.

John F. Kennedy Wreath Laying Ceremony

According to records at the JFK Presidential Library, then-President Kennedy visited Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the US Army Special Warfare Center, home of Army Special Forces on 12 October 1961.

During the course of their meeting, the president asked Brig Gen William P. Yarborough, ‘Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?’ Yarborough replied, ‘They’re fine, Sir. We’ve wanted them a long time.’

Following a Special Forces capability demonstration, Kennedy sent a message to the general which read, in part, ‘The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one and I know that you and the members of your Command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.’


Soon after, Kennedy authorised the Green Beret as the official headgear for all US Army Special Forces and further showed his support for Special Forces in publishing an official White House Memorandum to the US Army dated 11 April 1962.

This stated in part that ‘the Green Beret is again becoming a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom’.

The wreath laying ceremony continues a Special Forces tradition that honours Kennedy’s prescient vision.

Written by Scott Gourley, North American Group Editor for Shephard Media.

SOCOM seeks new technologies

Few events on the defence exhibition calendar provide as much direct engagement with the user community than the SOF Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa every May.

As well as giving industry the invaluable opportunity of getting their kit directly into the hands of SOF operators, SOFIC provides a unique insight into those capabilities currently required by USSOCOM.

While yours truly was unable to attend the event due to the small matter of my wife giving birth (baby boy, chunky 9.5lbs, parents thrilled), Shephard Media was there in force interviewing key members of the command and representatives from industry.

As SOCOM Commander Gen Raymond A. Thomas III explains in our focus piece in the latest issue of Special Operations Forum magazine, the command at 30 remains an ‘unmatched capability to conduct counter-terrorism operations with our partners and execute a select set of niche missions in support of the joint force’.

Nevertheless, Thomas has cautioned that the command’s current expertise and equipment set is not necessarily tailored to compete with near-peer competitors.

Indeed, he argued that peer competitors were exploring ‘leap-ahead approaches’ that threatened to exceed the pace of the Pentagon’s own capability development, while less-capable foes were exploiting commercial technologies and new TTPs to gain an advantage.

Recently, Daesh insurgents in Iraq were able to literally fly under the radar of the Coalition’s air superiority with swarms of $2000 quadcopters, including at least one that had a ‘40mm weapons device’ attached to it.

While the problem was quickly overcome on that occasion, SOF operators will need access to effective counter-UAS technologies beyond simply small arms fire.

Elsewhere, SOCOM is investigating a range of new technologies to be able to operate in the potential denied battlefields of the future. Focus areas include submersibles, terrain following/avoidance and all-weather radar, advanced electronic attack capabilities, countermeasures and precision munitions.

Western SOF forces can no longer rely on the current generation of night vision technologies to provide a tactical advantage, given the advances and availability of Chinese and Russian equipment.

A recent solicitation revealed the command is considering upgrades in the area of optics, lasers, sensors and radar technology capable of enhancing ground-to-ground and air-to-ground targeting.

Consideration is being given to man-portable equipment as well as long-range enemy identification based on laser vibrometry technology.

SOCOM is seeking a next-generation capability in regards to fragmentation weapons as well as future technologies in the area of personal protective equipment, including ballistic body armour, combat helmets and eye protection.

Specifically, SOCOM is looking for lighter weight solutions with improved protection levels – the command is seeking protection against small arms ammunition up to 7.62x51mm in calibre with a ballistic insert plate measuring no more than a single inch in thickness.

As well as continuing to refine both tactics and technological developments to enhance its manhunting and network defeat capabilities, SOCOM is investigating ‘machine learning‘ to shift through vast amounts of ISR data.

The command has also published requirements for next-generation human performance technology, designed to improve physiological, physical, psychological and intellectual performance.

As our online coverage of SOFIC demonstrated, SOCOM’s leadership and industry are largely in unison about the areas needing investment in order to maintain technological superiority – but equally aware on the challenges ahead.