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Counterinsurgency

Check out these YouTube videos uploaded by ISAF showing U.S. Army soldiers, Marines, and unidentified troops in Desert Combat Uniforms armed with Kalashnikovs (Salamander says they’re Macedonian) fighting off Taliban insurgents during Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul.

While the insurgents failed to do serious harm to the embassy and its staff (though there were numerous Afghan casualties) they did seem to gain a PR victory due to the amount of media attention the incident received.

ISAF went on a PR offensive of its own, though, including a great twitter fight between ISAF and the Taliban during the kinetic assault. These videos are another part of that offensive. Just like insurgents love to broadcast their battlefield exploits, NATO is now showing off it’s fighting prowess in a timely manner. Enjoy.

Two more videos below the jump.

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Being part of Military​.com, it wouldn’t be right if we here at DT didn’t do something to recognize the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. We figured we’d list off some of the most significant advances in weaponry that have occurred over the last decade — some driven by the wars spawned by that day, some independent of them. We gradually saw a shift away from extremely high-end weaponry designed to defeat major armies in favor of tech that could be fielded quickly and rapidly adapt to the needs of “low intensity” warfare. Case in point; the F-22 Raptor buys being cut while buys of relatively low-tech drones and propeller-driven ISR planes were dramatically increased . However, now that those wars are winding down, we may see a return to high-end tech at the cost of low-end tech.

You’ll find our list below, set up in no particular order. We’ve kept it to major weapons systems that have become operational in the last decade. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

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A U.S. Army general today dropped a bit of interesting news about a U.S. Air Force program today. The air service will decide the winner of the Light Air Support — or COIN plane — contest in November, Army Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller told bloggers this morning.

For years now, the Air Force has been looking to buy a handful of light, turboprop-driven planes that can be used to train foreign pilots and carry out light attack missions. Embraer’s Super Tucano, already used throughout Latin America for these missions is a perfect example of this type of plane.

The Super T has been pitted against Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6 (shown above) in the competition for up to 20 birds to help train the nascent Afghan National Army Air Force.

However, the program has been scaled back considerably since early 2010 and seemed stalled out when original the June 2011 contract award date came and went without a peep from the air service. Then, last month, news surfaced that the Air Force was to choose a winning plane in September.

Here’s what Fuller, deputy commander of programs for NATO’s effort to build the Afghan military and police, said today when DT asked for an update on the Afghan air force:

They have asked for a fighter jet, the F-16 specifically. Instead, we’re going to provide them a close air support, turboprop aircraft and it’s in source selection right now with the U.S. Air Force. The U.S Air Force is going to buy that same aircraft and when the U.S. Air Force decides what aircraft they’re going to procure, we’ll buy the same aircraft. So, sometime in November they should complete that source selection and we’ll start fielding them in about the 2014–2015 time-frame.

(I’ll let you know what the Air Force says about this when we hear back from them.)

Fuller was explaining how the U.S. is guiding the Afghan air force toward buy the right, aka cost effective airplanes such as the light attack fighter and 20 of the twin-engine C-27A Spartan transport despite the fact that local officials sometimes want to buy expensive hardware like F-16s or brand new C-130Js. “They have asked for the C-130 and we said, you can’t afford a very expensive aircraft,” said Fuller.

The same goes for ISR gear, according to the two-star.

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Remember when we showed you the badass gear that might have been worn by Cairo, the military working dog that participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden?

At the time, there was no direct evidence of any of the specific gear that Cairo wore. All anyone could do was make educated guesses as to the type of equipment the dog wore on the raid based on the fact that we know the SEALs give their dogs vests that can be equipped with everything from radios to night vision cameras.  Still, we had no confirmation as to what gear the SEALs actually put on their dogs’ vests.

Until now. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU — otherwise known as SEAL Team Six) wants to buy a camera that can be carried by a dog and beam images back to the SEALs, according to this Aug. 26 U.S. Special Operations Command solicitation:

The contractor shall provide a a canine transmit and receive kit (1.0 — 1.5GHz) comprising of Transmitter/Camera Unit; including a battery and antenna. Includes Receiver includes battery and antennas. Six-way Battery Charger, Peli-Case, and user manual shall be included.

The kit we showed you a few months ago was made by the Canadian firm, K9 Storm. In this case, DEVGRU wants to buy a camera made by Cobham’s tactical communications & surveillance division or the equivalent.

In the meantime, check out this dog-mounted, infrared, wireless video camera made by Tactical Electronics. It seems to be along the lines of what the SEALs want:

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Well, it was a V-22 Osprey that had the job of ferrying Osama bin Laden’s body from Afghanistan to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian sea where he was dumped overboard, according to an article in The New Yorker that stitches together a ton of details about the tech used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

At dawn, bin Laden was loaded into the belly of a flip-wing V-22 Osprey, accompanied by a JSOC liaison officer and a security detail of military police. The Osprey flew south, destined for the deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson—a thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing in the Arabian Sea, off the Pakistani coast. The Americans, yet again, were about to traverse Pakistani airspace without permission. Some officials worried that the Pakistanis, stung by the humiliation of the unilateral raid in Abbottabad, might restrict the Osprey’s access. The airplane ultimately landed on the Vinson without incident.

Notice how author, Nicholas Schmidle mistakenly calls the Osprey a “flip-wing” aircraft instead of tilt-rotor. I’ll forgive him given the remarkable amount of detail in this piece. heck he even points out that the White House ordered food from Costco for staffers gathered in the situation room during the raid. (seriously, who woulda thought that Costco catered for the White House?)

Another interesting part of the article details the fact that four MH-47 Chinooks were dispatched to support the initial assault team who rode in two stealthy Black Hawk helicopters. Apparently, two of the Chinooks contained a backup contingent of SEALs in case things went wrong at the raid site while the other two flew into Pakistan and landed in a riverbed were they served as a forward refueling point for the one remaining Black Hawk that left the compound.

Forty-five minutes after the Black Hawks departed, four MH-47 Chinooks launched from the same runway in Jalalabad. Two of them flew to the border, staying on the Afghan side; the other two proceeded into Pakistan. Deploying four Chinooks was a last-minute decision made after President Barack Obama said he wanted to feel assured that the Americans could “fight their way out of Pakistan.” Twenty-five additional SEALs from DEVGRU, pulled from a squadron stationed in Afghanistan, sat in the Chinooks that remained at the border; this “quick-reaction force” would be called into action only if the mission went seriously wrong. The third and fourth Chinooks were each outfitted with a pair of M134 Miniguns. They followed the Black Hawks’ initial flight path but landed at a predetermined point on a dry riverbed in a wide, unpopulated valley in northwest Pakistan. The nearest house was half a mile away. On the ground, the copters’ rotors were kept whirring while operatives monitored the surrounding hills for encroaching Pakistani helicopters or fighter jets. One of the Chinooks was carrying fuel bladders, in case the other aircraft needed to refill their tanks.

And no write up about the raid would be complete without mentioning the role played by the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel drone:

Brigadier General Marshall Webb, an assistant commander of JSOC, took a seat at the end of a lacquered table in a small adjoining office and turned on his laptop. He opened multiple chat windows that kept him, and the White House, connected with the other command teams. The office where Webb sat had the only video feed in the White House showing real-time footage of the target, which was being shot by an unarmed RQ 170 drone flying more than fifteen thousand feet above Abbottabad. The JSOC planners, determined to keep the operation as secret as possible, had decided against using additional fighters or bombers. “It just wasn’t worth it,” the special-operations officer told me. The SEALs were on their own.

The piece goes on to provide a great account of how one of the stealth helicopters famously crashed at the scene. It also mentions the specific weapons carried by the SEALs on the raid including a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, M4 carbines and Heckler and Koch MP7 submachine guns.

Check out the whole article here.