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Irish Special Forces On Their Way to Mali

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Army Ranger Wing ARW - Irish Special Forces On Their Way to Mali

The Army Ranger Wing – a part of Ireland’s special operations forces – are to be deployed to Africa as part of the Defence Forces UN-mandated overseas commitments. Their destination is Mali, where the Irish Army already providing 20 people to the EU Training Mission (EUTM), which is aimed at developing the Malian army’s capacity to re-establish some stability in a country that has seen intensifying conflict since 2012.

The Irish Ranger Wing will not be helping in the EUTM, instead, they will be taking part in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), described by The Washington Post as “The World’s Deadliest Mission”. What does that mean for the Irish Special Operations Forces? It means that they will dive into a highly complex regional conflict.

The Irish Special Operations Forces will send a 12-man team and their main task will be operating on long distance patrols in what is effectively a counter-terrorism model mission. In fact, they will continue the efforts of the other European armies which fight an insurgency in Mali. The last counter-offensive by French troops with air support and the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission have not stopped attacks by the local al-Qaeda affiliate rising. They have quadrupled since 2015.

The human cost is the potential for casualties in the new deployment. Northern Mali is a war zone where MINUSMA is seen as a legitimate target. A statement around this time last year said the following: “The casualties in 2017 are the highest number ever recorded by the Committee.

“In the past five years, at least 310 United Nations personnel have died in deliberate attacks. For the fourth year in a row, the peacekeeping mission in Mali suffered the greatest loss of life with 21 peacekeepers and seven civilians killed.”

Homemade bombs or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have taken a terrible toll on the blue helmets. MINUSMA patrols come up against militias who have experience in Libya and who are well armed and well resourced. The most recent UN report on Mali in August 2018 said there had been an increase in “complex attacks” (ambushes) on international forces. The interesting analysis of the further Irish Army Ranger Wing deployment is published in RTE article “Risk is Real as Irish Special Forces Deploy to Mali“.

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Marine Raider was awarded the Silver Star for taking out an ISIS car bomb

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us marines firing rocket - Marine Raider was awarded the Silver Star for taking out an ISIS car bomb

A Marine special operator received the nation’s third-highest valor award after his heroism in Iraq during the bloody fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State saved his comrades’ lives.

A staff sergeant with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion received the Silver Star for repeatedly braving enemy fire while surrounded by dozens of terrorists to take out a vehicle-borne explosive device that was careening toward him, according to his award citation. The previously undisclosed award was first reported by Marine Corps Times.

The Raider, whose name Military.com agreed to withhold since he’s still carrying out missions with Marine Corps Special Operations Command, is the first Marine to receive a Silver Star in the fight against ISIS. Defense Department data shows a sailor, an airman and three soldiers have received the combat-valor award for their actions during Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon’s mission to eliminate the Islamic State terror group.

The Marine was serving as an assistant element leader in Mosul on Oct. 20, 2016, when he and his team positioned themselves between two enemy-held villages. The Marines had taken fire throughout the day, and that evening launched a counterattack on “25 heavily armed fighters and an armored vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,” according to the citation.

The staff sergeant was able to take down some of the terrorists with his sniper rifle, but the vehicle was still headed toward them. Still facing enemy fire, he climbed onto the top of a nearby vehicle to retrieve a Javelin portable anti-tank missile.

He fired, but the missile failed to launch. Still under fire, he got his hands on a second Javelin and launched another missile that took out the vehicle.

“His decisive actions under fire [repelled] the enemy and saved the lives of friendly forces,” the award citation states.

The battle for Mosul left thousands of civilians and coalition fighters dead. ISIS had taken hold of the city in 2014, and it took three years to recover it from the terror group’s grip.

U.S. troops, including Marines, are still fighting ISIS across sections of Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Most are on advise-and-assist missions, but the Raider’s Silver Star citation shows that some of those troops find themselves on the front lines of that fight.

At least 47 U.S. troops have been wounded in action during Operation Inherent Resolve, Marine Corps Times reported.

Editor’s Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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The amphibious warfare is tip of the spear

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Assault Amphibious Vehicle - The amphibious warfare is tip of the spear

The cornerstone of how the United States Marine Corps trains and fights is based around amphibious warfare. For AAV (Assault Amphibious Vehicle) crewmen or Amtrackers, as they are often identified, the role is critical and provides immensely to the United States Marine Corps warfighting capability. “AAV crewman are the tip of the spear when it comes to amphibious operations,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin Storman, instructor, Assault Amphibian School Battalion, Training Command.

At Assault Amphibious Vehicle the curriculum is sharpened on training Marines in the military occupational field of an AAV crewman, which involves learning the base knowledge of how to operate, fix and tactically employ an Assault Amphibious Vehicle.

AAV crewmen training is 55 days long. In the first phase of the training, Marines are instructed how to drive an AAV on land. The second phase teaches the basics for water driving and the third phase teaches employment of the vehicle’s two weapon systems; the MK19 40 mm grenade launcher and the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. In the final portion of the training, Marines learn how the Assault Amphibious Vehicle compliments non-motorized infantry forces and advanced amphibious assault tactics.

“We teach the students everything from starting the vehicle to all the components on the vehicle and what they are called,” said Storman. “We also teach them how to drive the AAV on land and on in the water. Finally, how to shoot the vehicle weapons and how to employ them tactically.”

Amphibious assault school’s instructors are hand-picked for being the best in their community, and because they possess increased levels of experience. The greatest advantage of this selection process is that it ensures their knowledge and expertise is passed to new students, and that the probability of continued success on the battlefield improves.

“Amtraking isn’t just about what you learn in the classroom, it’s about what you can come up with on the fly,” said Storman. “As an amtraker you have to be able to think on your feet. Come up with the best solution for the situation that is going to help you to complete the overall mission.”

Assault Amphibious Vehicles transport Marines from ship to shore and can move inland up to 200 miles supporting the infantry along the way with firepower and supply.

“The amtrak community is very prideful in what we do,” said Storman. “We are what makes the Marine Corps amphibious, and we believe that to the core of our soul. We take what we do very seriously and we are some of the hardest working Marines you will find.”

Storman said it is important to continue to pass AAV skills down to new Marines to keep the Marine Corps alive and fighting hard. Adding that the “ball needs to keep rolling,” and Assault Amphibious Vehicle crewman must keep applying their knowledge and skills now and with future amphibious vehicle technologies.

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