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North Korean Special Forces Master Paraglider Attacks

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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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Special Forces

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

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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.

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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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Three Green Berets Killed and Two Wounded in an Ambush in Niger

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Green Berets: De Oppresso Liber — To Liberate the Oppressed 9

Three United States Army Special Forces were killed and two were wounded on Wednesday in an ambush in Niger while on a training mission with troops from that nation in northwestern Africa, American military officials said.

“We can confirm reports that a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger,” Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said in an email.

All five American soldiers were Green Berets, said two United States military officials. The attack took place 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, near the border with Mali, where militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, have conducted cross-border raids. Niger’s troops were also believed to have suffered casualties, but details were not immediately known.

The deaths represent the first American casualties under hostile fire in a mission in which United States Special Forces have provided training and security assistance to the Nigerien armed forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. A Special Forces soldier died in a vehicle accident in Niger in February.

One of the military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss continuing military operations, said American forces were rushing to the scene of the ambush, presumably to evacuate American and Nigerien casualties, and possibly to hunt down the attackers.

President Trump was briefed on the deaths of the Green Berets, said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Details of the late-afternoon ambush were sketchy. Soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group were assisting their Nigerien counterparts with counterterrorism training when they came under attack in a remote part of the country. As of late Wednesday, there had been no claims of responsibility.

In his first eight months in office, Mr. Trump’s top military officials have shown few signs that they want to back away from President Barack Obama’s strategy to train, equip and otherwise support indigenous armies and security forces to fight their own wars instead of deploying large American forces to far-flung hot spots, including the Sahel, a vast area on the southern flank of the Sahara that stretches from Senegal to Sudan.

And that is what is happening in Niger, a desperately poor, landlocked country twice the size of California that is struggling, even with assistance from the United States and France, to stem a flow of insurgents across Niger’s lightly guarded borders with Mali, Nigeria and Libya.

But unlike recent commando raids in Somalia or Reaper drone strikes in Libya, the deadly ambush on Wednesday in a remote desert area came during what American military officials said was a routine training mission — not a combat operation — and yet the casualties by both American and Nigerien forces underscore the inherent risks of operating in a potentially hostile environment.

“These militants have proven remarkably resilient, exploiting local and/or ethnic grievances to embed themselves into communities as well as political borders and differences to escape capture,” said J. Peter Pham, a vice president at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in Washington. “It was no accident that this attack took place near Niger’s border with Mali, an area that has seen numerous incidents in recent years.”

In May, a member of the Navy SEALs was killed and two other American service members were wounded in a raid in Somalia, the first American combat fatality there since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” battle.

The government of President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger has proved to be a stalwart partner in the United States’ counterterrorism campaign in the Sahel. About 800 American military personnel are now in Niger, including a few dozen Army Special Forces who train and advise local soldiers, and about 450 American troops who operate and support drone missions from the country.

Since 2013, unarmed American drones have soared skyward from a secluded military airfield in Niamey, starting surveillance missions of 10 hours or more to track fighters affiliated with Al Qaeda and other militants in Mali.

Over the years, MQ-9 Reapers that have been based there stream live video and data from other sensors to American analysts working with French commanders, who say the aerial intelligence has been critical to their success in driving jihadists from a vast desert refuge in northern Mali.

The United States is building a $50 million drone base in Agadez, Niger. When completed next year, it will allow Reaper surveillance drones to fly from hundreds of miles closer to southern Libya, to monitor Islamic State insurgents flowing south and other extremists flowing north from the Sahel region.

Source: NYTIMES

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