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Former Navy SEAL Richard Machowiz died from brain cancer



Former Navy SEAL scout/sniper

The sad day for SOF community as Richard “Mack” Machowicz, a TV star and former SEAL scout/sniper, passed away after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Once upon time he described himself as a “difficult, intense personality.” That’s why the former Navy SEAL wound up becoming a Zen Buddhist. The goal, Mack said, was to learn to “access a part of myself, to care about [others], that I never was able to before.”

Machowicz, the host of Discovery Channel’s “Future Weapons,” died January 2, 2017, of stage IV glioblastoma, according to his friend and SEAL teammate Craig Sawyer. Sawyer shared news of his friend illness in an Oct. 5, 2015 on his personal Facebook account. According to his Discovery Channel biography, he spent ten years in the US Navy, and was Leading Petty Officer of Land, Mountain and Arctic Warfare with the SEAL training cadre.

But Machowicz, who was born in 1965, found himself as a television host. That was a job he clearly loved. He hosted multiple reality-television series, including Spike TV’s “Deadliest Warrior,” which led to his becoming a playable character in the video game “Deadliest Warrior: Legends.” Mack hosted and appeared in programs on the Military Channel, the History Channel, and Bravo.

On the Discovery Channel’s “Future Weapons,” his role included playing with some of the newest cutting-edge weapons systems on the planet. On the episode “Top Guns” he grinned as he got to test the then-new Barrett M468 carbine, which fired a larger caliber round than the standard M4. Mack followed that up with a look at the M777 howitzer, and then took a ride in an F/A-18 Super Hornet off the USS Eisenhower (CVN-68).

He was a SEAL, a tv host, writter and beloved husband and father. He is survived by his wife Mandy and two daughters.


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Special Forces

Niger Green Beret Slaying Exposes West’s Unacknowledged Conflicts in Africa



The killing of three American special forces personnel in Niger exposed just one of the many unacknowledged conflicts the US is currently fighting across the African continent. What’s more, the country isn’t alone.

The death of three American Green Berets in an ambush in Niger catapulted the US’ little-known war in the fractured country into mainstream consciousness for perhaps the first time. Nonetheless, the presence of hundreds of US troops to not merely Niger, but other African countries including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Uganda and South Sudan, remained largely unremarked upon.

US military presence in the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions has grown to at least 1,500 troops, roughly triple the official number of American troops in Syria, according to Pentagon and White House figures.

In June, the official number of US troops supporting Niger’s military was 645, up from 575 in December 2016 — that figure has risen to at least 800 as of October. Troops are drawn from Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders, but reinforcements are primarily Air Force personnel, who manage flights by drones and spy planes.

While apparently totalling less than 1,000, the number of US military staff deployed to the country is a significant jump from the 100 troops then-President Barack Obama deployed to the country — and plans are underway to accommodate an even greater presence, including spending US$50 million to construct an airstrip in the northern city of Agadez, one of the Niger’s most volatile areas.

An October 5, Congressional Research Service report notes the growing foreign military footprint in the country “appears to have fed local backlash against both the government and Western countries,” making residents more susceptible to jihadist recruiters.

“Some observers have raised concerns about plans to move US operations to a new Air Force-constructed base near the volatile northern city of Agadez, [and] questioned whether Niger can absorb and sustain rapid increases in external military assistance, and whether US security investments can be maintained amid political uncertainty, and responses to near-term security challenges are having an impact on the medium-term stability and democratic trajectory of African counterterrorism partners. The threat environment may also raise questions about US military rules of engagement and force protection,” the report notes.

The report barely touched on other deployments, although as of June, another 300 US troops operate in neighboring Cameroon, up from 285 in December, and at least 410 US military personnel are nearby in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Uganda and South Sudan, targeting the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Due to the nature of the conflicts — battles against localized guerrilla insurgent groups — the line between military advice and combat roles is becoming blurred in each region, as supporting patrols conducted by local soldiers often come under attack.

Group Effort

The UK is also embroiled in a number of ongoing conflicts in Africa, similarly largely unacknowledged in the mainstream.

For instance, in Somalia a number of British military personnel are developing the Somali National Army and supporting the African Union Mission, and the SAS is also covertly fighting al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in the country, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. SAS Forward Air Controllers have even called in airstrikes against al-Shabaab targets by the Kenyan Air Force.

The UK facilitates, and assists in, drone strikes against jihadists in the country, with GCHQ providing “locational intelligence” to US forces for use in these attacks.

In early 2016, Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, said his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go “over the border” to attack al-Shabaab.

In North Africa, it was reported in May 2016 that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya, mere days after Defense Minister Michael Fallon told MPs Britain was not planning “any kind of combat role” in the country. Well into 2017, British commandos were conducting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in Misrata.

A team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations center in Benghazi supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, and helping to coordinate airstrikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government — that British troops are also meant to be supporting.

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Special Forces

North Korean Special Forces Master Paraglider Attacks



According to a South Korean military source, paragliders could be used for surprise nighttime attacks against the military facilities of Seoul and Washington. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported about the North Korean special forces launching their first-ever paragliding infiltration drills to target the allies’ command post.

Yonhap quoted a South Korean defense source as saying that the military exercises, which were conducted in mid-September, included a simulated attack on the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command with the help of paragliders.

The source expressed alarm about the drills, referring to a paraglider as something that “could be useful for making a surprise attack, like a drone,” given the fact that the paraglider flies at a low altitude without making a sound.

“I believe that North Korean special forces are adopting amazing methods of infiltration with limited resources,” the source said, expressing doubt that a nighttime airborne attack by the North’s paragliding troops will be duly detected by the South Korean Army’s radar.

A model of the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae was specifically constructed for the drills, which included special force units from North Korea’s Army, Navy and Air Force, according to the source. Yonhap described the paraglider as an easy-to-operate light vehicle which can be carried by North Korean special forces on their backs to launch surprise attacks, including from a summit.

The news agency also quoted another South Korean defense source as saying that North Korea’s paragliding infiltration drills prodded Seoul and Washington to carry out their first joint short-range air defense exercise in late September.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula deteriorated in recent months due to Pyongyang’s missile launches and nuclear tests, all conducted in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

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