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Special Unit FAES strikes fear in Venezuela

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Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales FAES Venezuela - Special Unit FAES strikes fear in Venezuela

FAES – the special operation forces – has earned notoriety since the uprising against Nicolas Maduro began last month in Venezuela. Graffiti artists have daubed Caracas’ walls with messages denouncing its operatives as “murderers of the people”. Activists who are protesting against government suspect Nicolás Maduro has tasked FAES (Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales) with pacifying the city’s barrios in order to snuff out the protest in areas once considered the cradle of Chavismo.

But little is known so far about the elite special operation forces inner workings or even who exactly commands the unit. In a recent report, the Venezuelan human rights group Provea said FAES unit was created by Nicolas Maduro in 2017 to fight “organized crime and terrorism” and was part of Venezuela’s national police force, although some stories in state-run media outlets describe it as being directly under the command of the Venezuelan military. By last year it boasted almost 1,300 operators.

In a recent post on its official Instagram account, the unit said its role was to “guarantee security, tranquility and peace” for all Venezuelans. But activists claim it has taken on an explicitly political role since the most severe challenge to Nicolas Maduro’s rule erupted last month.

In one Instagram video, a FAES commander with his face hidden by balaclava urges troops to show “absolute loyalty to Maduro” given the “extremely difficult moments” his administration was facing. “As soldiers who are faithful to the revolution, let’s go for it, let’s really go for it – without hesitation,” he says.

FAES operators - Special Unit FAES strikes fear in Venezuela

FAES operators performing operation in Caracas suburb (Photo: Pinterest/Venezuela)

Provea’s coordinator, Rafael Uzcátegui, said: “What the government is trying to do is contain the discontent, to contain the anger – not by addressing the citizens’ concerns but by instilling terror and fear.”

Uzcátegui said his group had counted 43 killings linked to the protests. It had not been possible to identify the perpetrators of each death but he believed Faes was the number one culprit, followed by the pro-government paramilitary groups known as ‘colectivos’. FAES’ role appeared to be “neutralizing the greatest possible number of people”, not bringing criminals to justice.

Asked about alleged FAES killings on Venezuelan television last week, the attorney general, Tarek William Saab, said the criminal responsibility for such acts was “individual. Those who commit violations … will be prosecuted, whichever part of the police they are from.”

However, FAES continues to operate and execute various mission even after those allegations.

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British Special Forces Lacks of Recruits

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British Army soldiers boarding Chinook

British elite special forces, including SAS and SBS, are 200 soldiers short after ­recruitment plunged 20 percent. The lack of “good quality” soldiers has hit the Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS) and SRR, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. Hardest hit is the Special Boat Service, down in numbers by around 100. The SRR needs 60 and the celebrated Special Air Service – motto Who Dares Wins – is 40 light. Each unit normally has 340 to 400 operators.

Senior defense sources say the SBS and SRR are now classed as being “over-stretched” with troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Baltic States and Africa. The shortage is being linked to cuts and a recruitment and retention crisis affecting the rest of the armed forces.

The British Army is down in size from around 150,000 in 1990 to 78,000. Despite that reduction, the SAS and the SBS have remained the same size.

A military source said: “The talent pool is shrinking. A lot of guys who built up experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and who would often see the special forces as the next step have left. In the last 25 years, the SBS has increased in size and the SRR has been created but the Army has shrunk around 40 percent. So there are fewer quality people coming through. But we have been down this road before and it hasn’t had an impact on our operational commitments. It means that everybody has to work harder to get the job done.”

Twice-a-year selection courses are tough and an average pass rate of 10 percent has led to as few as eight recruits. One serving member of the SAS said: “Life is tough. You spend a lot of time on operations, overseas exercises and on courses. It is unrelenting.”

British Special forces earn about £30 extra a day but experienced operatives can earn far more in private security. The British MoD does not comment on special forces.

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Witness seeks immunity to testify against Navy SEAL accused of battlefield murder

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Chief Gallagher - Witness seeks immunity to testify against Navy SEAL accused of battlefield murder

Prosecutors could gain an ally in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of executing a young ISIS fighter during the battle of Mosul in 2017 and his commanding officer, who allegedly failed to report the incident.

Author of the article:

An attorney for a fellow SEAL has requested immunity for his client in return for testifying that Chief Edward Gallagher called in “false target coordinates to engage a mosque” and put his team at risk, yet Lt. Jacob Portier failed to relieve him on several occasions, Navy Times’ Carl Prine first reported.

Gallagher is charged with premeditated murder for allegedly using his knife to kill a wounded ISIS fighter and then posing for a reenlistment video next to the man’s corpse. Portier has been charged with obstruction of justice and related offenses for allegedly destroying evidence in the case and lying about Gallagher, as well as dereliction of duty for allegedly not stopping Gallagher from wounding two non-combatants.

The SEAL who served with Gallagher and Portier is requesting immunity so that he will be protected against any possible retaliation in the future, said attorney Michael Hanzel, who is defending the SEAL along with his wife Lauren and a Navy attorney.

“Our client has done nothing wrong, and we believe the record will demonstrate that,” Hanzel said in a statement to Task & Purpose.

“It is never an easy thing to be placed in the middle of a situation like this, but it is crucial to the integrity of the military justice system that witnesses in a case as high-profile as this are protected from retaliation later. The only way to ensure that is through grants of immunity, which is why we requested that for our client.”

The SEAL is showing “great courage” by offering to testify about what he witnessed during the deployment with Gallagher and Portier, said Hanzel, who added his client is not seeking any publicity, nor does he bear a grudge against any of the accused SEALs.

The full article can be found here.

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