Category Archives: Afghanistan

Bin Laden Raid accidently exposed super-secret Stealth Helicopter?

The day after the raid that supposedly killed Bin Laden, Reuters bought this photograph from a Pakistani soldier or policeman.  The official story put out by the US Government is that one of the helicopters involved in the raid lost lift capability sometime during the mission and the SEAL team on the ground had to demo it in place.  Here is some preliminary information about the above photograph:

1. The above appears to show the tail boom and rear rotor of a helicopter.  Having flown with Special Operations aviation, I can say that I have never, ever seen anything that looks like this.

2. Associated Press reported today that 160th Special Operations Aviation was involved in the raid.

3. There is some speculation that the above is representative of a stealth upgrade kit put onto a MH-60 helicopter.

Photo 2:

Here is a photo that appears to show the other half of the wreckage on the other side of the wall.  I got this one off Aviation Weekly’s website.  Someone posted this in the comments section, attempting to point out that the rotor blade (the main rotor in this case) parts resemble that of a UH/MH-60 helicopter.

Hypothesis:

The above photos show a previously undisclosed Special Access Project.  The helicopter is a highly modified and upgraded MH-60 helicopter that includes stealth characteristics.  The pilots may be drawn from 160th Special Operations Aviation and organized into a highly compartmentalized sub-unit.  There is also the possibility that this aircraft is flown by retired pilots working through a corporate cut-out.  Corporate propriety would provide yet another layer of secrecy, including from Congressional oversight.

This is an initial assessment and the verdict is still very much out on this one.

*Update 1

New pic of the tail section:

BuzzFeed Pictorial of wreckage/Pakistanis carting the tail section away

Concept sketch done by David Cenciotti.  Top is the stealth helicopter modification concept with the conventional MH-60 below.  Check out the Gizmodo article about it.

“Initial plans called for the low-observable Black Hawks to be formed into a new unit commanded by a lieutenant colonel and located at a military facility in Nevada, the retired special operations aviator said. “The intent was always to move it out west where it could be kept in a covered capability,” he said.  USSOCOM planned to assign about 35 to 50 personnel to the unit, the retired special operations aviator said. “There were going to be four [low-observable] aircraft, they were going to have a couple of ‘slick’ unmodified Black Hawks, and that was going to be their job was to fly the low-observables.”

SOCOM canceled those plans “within the last two years,” but not before at least some of the low-observable helicopters had been delivered to the Nevada facility, the retired aviator said. “I don’t know if it was for money or if it was because the technology was not achieving the reduction in the radar cross-section that they were hoping for,” he said. In the meantime, MH-60 Black Hawk crews from the 160th’s 1st Battalion, headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky., would rotate to Nevada to train on the stealthy aircraft, he said.”  –From the Army Times

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Castle Fortress in Afghanistan (Part II)

More pockmarks from decades of warfare.

This place was like crawling around an MC Estcher sketch.

The approach up to the entrance.

The edge of the compound.

This should give you an idea of the kind of terrain you encounter in this part of the world.  Off road driving skills are a must.

Team picture.  Myself on the far left with the SR-25 and spotting scope at my feet.  Next to me is a sniper buddy with the .300 WinMag and two other team members with suppressed M4 rifles.

 

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Koran Burning and the Muslim Inferiority Complex

A guest blog article I did for Wayne over at One Man’s Opinion:

Even the most extreme Jews and Christians will simply shrug their shoulders at the burning of their holy books. Why are Muslim’s so volatile? Remember those silly Danish cartoons that got the Muslim community’s collective panties in a knot a few years ago? What is the big deal, do you really plan on going ape-shit and killing random people every time someone burns a book?

Of course there is no logic behind these events. Some of these crowds are manipulated by mullahs, sheiks, and politicians but it is more than just that. The collective rage against the West by certain segments of the Muslim world seems to be a type of geopolitical penis envy. The Arab world sees that history has passed them by leaving them with nothing to do but watch the rest of us participate on their satellite TVs.

The rest of the article can be read over on Wayne’s blog, so feel free to take a look and add your thoughts.

By the way, the original title was, “Muslim Penis Envy” but Wayne reminded me that an article with the word penis in the headline would be sorted differently by search engines!

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Castle Fortress in Afghanistan

When I first saw this castle I thought it must have been built by Alexander the Great’s troops when he fought his way through Afghanistan thousands of years ago.  Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed to learn that it was built sometime in the 1960’s.

The dirt ramp up to the castle entrance wrapped all the way around the hill.  Up on the parapets was a DShK heavy machine gun.  Needless to say, it was a very defendable position and as you will see it had been fought over several times over the decades.

Myself on the ramp up to the entrance.  We were invited up to take a look around by the guards who occupied the fort.

Note all the bullet holes…

Another view (with team mate’s head in the foreground!) of the interior of the castle.  The design was kind of haphazard, a sort of labyrinth, probably from having been rebuilt so many times.

Me and a team mate with a few of the guards.  I’ll have some more of these pictures up this weekend.

Love learning about war history? Check out history degree programs.

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Mayflower lightweight unconventional warfare chest rig

Click on the picture above for a detailed breakdown on the Mayflower unconventional chest rig.  The above is a lightweight, low-cost, low-profile combat rig.  I bought this just as I was leaving the Army and didn’t have the chance to use it in combat, but found it to work like a charm out on the range while field testing the SCAR rifle.

Here is all of the equipment I had loaded in this chest rig when I took these pictures.  I’m only showing this as an example of how much you can carry comfortably.  This is not an example of what I would necessarily carry in combat.  Here we have 4x M4 Magazines, 2x CMC .45 magazines, a monocle, lock pick set, gloves, headlamp, Garmin Foretrex, and a pocket calculator.  You could cram more in there if you were so inclined but this is a good sample.

What separates the Mayflower UW rig from others is it’s emphasis on what for lack of a better term, could be called tactical ultra-light.  While most combat gear these days is advertised as being “bomb proof” the UW rig is made from lightweight materials, taking a minimalist approach.  After eight years split between the Ranger Regiment and Special Forces, I definitely agree with this approach.  There is no need to wear body armor into every single scenario, nor is it necessary to carry eighty to ninety pounds of kit on your person at all times.   A lot of this happens because commanders are obsessed with safety and fail to consider the effect that carrying all that kit has on men, weapons, and equipment.  I’m not making an argument against body armor, I’m just saying that because it has saved lives in some instances doesn’t mean it should apply in all instances.  Think dismounted patrols through the deserts of Iraq or mountains of Afghanistan.

Is all this really needed….

In this environment?

In maneuver warfare, not to mention unconventional warfare, troops need to be able to, that’s right, maneuver.  The inclination towards wearing every piece of armor and carrying every bit of kit, just in case, is extremely powerful.  I had a Sergeant Major who said something along the lines of, “If you give a Ranger a bigger rucksack, he’s going to go ahead and fill it to the top.”  It was meant as a warning.  Our rucks are to damn big, and just because you have some excess webbing on your body armor doesn’t mean you need to attach something there.  In the above pic of me moving that rebar out of the way, I could barely damned move.  Yeah, the gym helps, but only so much when you are carrying that much in the Summer heat.

If I was to add something, it would be a place for a camelbak.  No matter how lightweight you want to go you still need water.  Overall I have been very pleased with the UW rig.  The more experienced you become as a soldier and a shooter the more you ditch all the excess equipment and move back to the basics.

I was inspired enough by this design that I got to thinking about what an updated LCE would look like.  What I came up with is something I will post here in the future.  Until then, if you are interested in going ultra-light you can’t go wrong with the UW rig.  If you want to read up on the tactics that justify the above mindset please read “The Last Hundred Yards,” “Brave New War,” or do some research on the Rhodesian Light Infantry.

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Call For Fire with Cobra Gunship in Afghanistan

Here is a picture of myself taking part in some Call For Fire (CFF) training in Afghanistan.  It was my first time and you can tell my virgin status because I’m holding the cheat sheet in my left hand and the hand mic in my right as I talk to the Cobra pilots.  Over all I thought the Marine Cobra pilots were impressive as hell, they certainly didn’t have many of the restrictions that regular Army pilots had.

Coming in on a gun run.  As the CFF mission comes in, the pilot heads towards the target while angling up into the air.

Next he comes hurling downwards like cresting the peak of a hill on a roller coaster.

Lined up with the target that has been pin pointed by ground troops the Cobra opens up with it’s minigun and hoses the target down.  In this instance, we are just training by calling in gun runs on some empty connex containers.

These pilots would fire on targets so close to us that we would get showered with hot brass as the helicopter flew overhead.  You could hear it dropping all around us like rain drops.

The real fun came during the night portion of this training.  We were pin pointing the targets down range with infrared lasers mounted on our rifles.  Because of the dust kicked up from previous gun runs, our lasers were blocked out by the cloud of debris about fifty yards in front of us.  The pilots thought that we were intentionally targeting something fifty yards to our front and went ahead and lit that area up, the minigun almost putting lead down in our laps.

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Firing some Taliban guns in Afghanistan

In 2004 my Task Force rounded up a former (current?) member of the Taliban who was up to no good.  I won’t mention his name here for OPSEC reasons, but I will say that we were forced to release the jackass a few weeks later due to lack of evidence.  In the meantime we shot the guns we confiscated from him out at the range.  It’s the least we could do, I did have to carry crates of his ammunition down the side of the mountain he lived on.

The PPSh-41 is a Soviet WWII era Sub-Machine Gun that was designed for close in fighting in urban and forested areas.  Like other drum-fed machine guns, I found this one was very prone to Failure to Feed malfunctions.  On the other hand it could be that this specific gun was as old as Uncle Joe Stalin and had been kept in a Taliban cache for god knows how long.

Firing a .303 Lee Enfield rifle.  Strong recoil but a nice rifle to shoot.  I’d love to know the back story of how some of these weapons found their way to Afghanistan.  Among other confiscated items we had laying around was what looked like a Rhodesian web gear harness…I can only imagine.  One thing I found notable about the .303 was that the sights can be adjusted out to 1000 meters.  A friend told me that in the old days the British were prone to sending volleys of fire.

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60mm and 81mm Mortars in Afghanistan

In this picture our mortar section is conducting some cross training with the rest of the Task Force.  This was a pretty good introduction to mortar systems before I went to the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant course years later…I was never that great running the Fire Direction Center (FDC) but running mechanical mortars and hanging some rounds is always a great time.  Here is myself a second after dropping a 60mm HE round down the tube.

Here is a cool picture where I am firing the 60mm hand held, also called shooting from the hip.  Using your left hand you aim the tube with your thumb.  Looking down, you use the level above the trigger mechanism to cant the tube at the proper angle for the desired range.  With that done, you squeeze the trigger and a firing pin fires the round.  Watching Red Phosphorous burn at night is cool as hell!  We also fired some “shake and bake” fire missions which consists of a couple HE rounds followed by a RP round.

Here is the real deal.  A couple guys from our mortar section set up this mortar pit out in Indian Country to provide fire support for our maneuver element.  This one is actually a 81mm mortar system, giving the gun team some much needed range for call for fire missions.  Also, note the 81mm rounds on standby next to the gun.  The Phosphorous rounds are stored nose up, otherwise the jelly inside sticks to one side, drastically altering the trajectory of the round.

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Day to day living conditions in Afghanistan

In a past post I showed some pictures of our compound in Iraq in 2010, where we lived in CHU’s.  CHU’s are Compartmentalized Housing Units imported to Iraq from Italy.  Basically they are micro-trailer homes, or a really high end whack shack, depending on your point of view.  Still, that is pretty good living compared to Afghanistan in 2004 where as a dozen troops, we were crammed into a GP Medium tent.  In this picture you can see my bunk, with the jumbo sized duffle bag sitting underneath (jumbo sized for transporting dead hookers of course!), and my SR-25 sniper rifle laid out on my shooting mat.

Okay, okay, let me explain the crucifixes…  We built those to sling our combat gear over.  The shoulder straps of your body armor rest on the lateral portion and your helmet sits up on the vertical piece at the top.  This way your gear is always ready to go at a moments notice.

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Afghanistan Pictures (Barret .50 Cal)

My printer/scanner came in the mail today so I began scanning all my old pictures from Afghanistan.  I’ve got some pretty good ones, I think, so keep an eye out for them over the next month or two.  Here is a preview, me shooting the .50 caliber Barret Anti-Material rifle.

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