November 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Iron Man suit, from the silver screen to the battlefield

By Larry Shaughnessy

A U.S. Special Operations soldier kicks in the door of a terrorist safe house.  The bad guys open fire with AK-47s, but the bullets just bounce off the soldier as he fires back.

It’s a scene that easily could have been included in any of the hugely successful “Iron Man” movies, but the man who runs U.S. Special Forces Command, Adm. William McRaven, wants to make it reality, and soon.

McRaven gave the green light to what the Pentagon officially calls a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, but everyone refers to it colloquially as “The Iron Man suit.”

McRaven recently spoke about losing a special operator in Afghanistan. "I would like that last operator to be the last one we ever lose," he said.
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Alleged al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al Libi pleads not guilty
October 15th, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Alleged al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al Libi pleads not guilty

Alleged al Qaeda operative, Abu Anas al Libi, accused of playing a role in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, has entered a not guilty plea to terrorism charges brought against him in federal court in New York on Tuesday.

An alleged al Qaeda operative accused of playing a role in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania is to appear Tuesday in federal court in New York.

U.S. Army Delta Force soldiers seized Abu Anas al Libi, a 49-year-old Libyan, on October 5 from outside his house in Tripoli, Libya.

U.S. officials say he was taken initially to a Navy ship for questioning before he was taken to the United States over the weekend.

His arrival in the U.S. has reopened a debate over whether international terrorist suspects should be tried in U.S. courts.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Libya • Military • Special Operations Forces
Officials: Al Qaeda leader captured in Libya
October 5th, 2013
07:25 PM ET

Officials: Al Qaeda leader captured in Libya

By Evan Perez and Barbara Starr

A key al Qaeda operative wanted for his role in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 has been captured in a U.S. special operations forces raid in Tripoli, Libya, U.S. officials tell CNN.

Abu Anas al Libi was grabbed from the Libyan capital in what one of the officials described as a "capture" operation from the Libyan capital. The U.S. operation was conducted with the knowledge of the Libyan government, a U.S. official said.

Al Libi - on whom the U.S. government had put out a $5 million reward - is alleged to have played a key role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya.

He has been indicted in the United States on charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, murder, destruction of American buildings and government property, and destruction of national defense utilities of the United States.

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US special forces on alert overseas to strike any potential Al Qaeda targets
August 5th, 2013
03:41 PM ET

US special forces on alert overseas to strike any potential Al Qaeda targets

By Barbara Starr

American special forces units overseas have been on alert for the past several days for a mission to attack potential al Qaeda targets if those behind the most recent terror threats against U.S. interests can be identified, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.

The official declined to identify the units or their locations because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The units, along with several others, were put on heightened alert by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week.

The United States closed embassies and consulates across an area of Africa and the Middle East and imposed a global travel alert for Americans following threats against U.S. interests described as serious and credible.
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June 18th, 2013
07:18 PM ET

DoD plans for women in combat

A dramatic moment at the Pentagon Tuesday, and another milestone for military women.

Declaring "the days of Rambo are over," officials announced that in a few years, women will be allowed in combat units.

Eventually, that may including the country's most elite special forces.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence explains how long the transition will take.

February 15th, 2013
07:12 PM ET

Navy SEAL commander rebuts 'Shooter' claim

By Barbara Starr

The commander of all Navy SEALS is sharply critical of claims attributed to a man called "The Shooter," identified in a published report to have been the SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden but felt mistreated by the military when he left the service.

Esquire magazine's riveting account of the 2011 bin Laden raid in Pakistan was based on an interview with the former SEAL, who was not named but complained about losing his health care coverage when he left the Navy last year.

He was short of the full 20-year career required to receive such benefits.

"Concerning recent writing and reporting on 'The Shooter' and his alleged situation, this former SEAL made a deliberate and informed decision to leave the Navy several years short of retirement status," said Rear Admiral Sean Pybus, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
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Pentagon weighs Afghanistan troop options after 2014
November 26th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Pentagon weighs Afghanistan troop options after 2014

By Chris Lawrence

Pentagon officials are considering a preliminary assessment by Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, on "what he needs going forward" in the country as the U.S. looks to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014, a U.S. official tells CNN.

One of the options being considered is "to keep a force of roughly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan post-2014," according to the official who did not want to be identified discussing ongoing deliberations. The official said that force would comprise a small number of special operations forces dedicated to counterterrorism missions, while the remaining troops "would either continue to train and advise Afghan forces, or assist with logistical issues such as medical evacuations and air support operations."

The "10,000 option" is just one of several being examined, the official said. The options represented "different ends of the spectrum" in terms of troop levels, the official added, but the official did not provide any detail as to what those options are.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not presented a formal recommendation to the White House, Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Monday. FULL POST

Special Ops' body armor recalled
November 26th, 2012
10:08 AM ET

Special Ops' body armor recalled

By Barbara Starr

Body armor plates used by special operations forces in combat are being recalled after a manufacturing defect was found in what the military says is a small percentage of the Generation III ballistic armor plates.

"No USSOCOM service members have been killed or wounded as the result of a defective ballistic plate, but the command is removing failed plates from the operational inventories," said Kenneth McGraw, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Sampling of production lots discovered failure in the lamination of ceramic and steel portions in less than 5% of the GEN III ballistic plates, which are worn inside armored vests during combat. As a result, the flawed vests are being recalled, along with specific production lots in which testing has determined the flaw has occurred.

McGraw said a procedure has been developed to test plates in the field. The problem, he said, stems from "the manufacturer's internal manufacturing and quality assurance processes. The manufacturer has provided the government all information that applies to the defect and has developed a corrective action plan designed to solve the delamination problem."

The manufacturer is Ceradyne Inc. of Costa Mesa, California.

Special Operations Command is now issuing an older generation of plates until a full inventory of GEN III replacement plates is manufactured. A contract has been awarded to Leading Technology Composites Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, to manufacture replacement plates.

Cerradyne also will produce replacement plates using the revised manufacturing and quality assurance plans, McGraw said.

Panetta: America beating al Qaeda but hasn't won yet
November 20th, 2012
09:48 PM ET

Panetta: America beating al Qaeda but hasn't won yet

By Larry Shaughnessy

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spelled out the future battle against al Qaeda, praising what has been done so far but warning much more work remains.

Speaking about the September 11 attacks in a speech at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, Panetta said, "We will do everything possible to ensure that such an attack never happens again. That means counterterrorism will continue as a key mission for our military and intelligence professionals as long as violent extremists pose a direct threat to the United States."

He said efforts against the core al Qaeda group have been largely successful. "Al Qaeda's leadership ranks have been decimated. This includes the loss of four of al Qaeda's five top leaders in the last 2½ years alone - Osama bin Laden, Shaikh Saeed al-Masri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Abu Yahya al-Libi."

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Filed under: 10 years of war • Abu Yahya al-Libi • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Benghazi • Diplomacy • drones • Libya • Mali • Nigeria • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • Somalia • Special Operations Forces • Yemen
SEAL's Osama bin Laden book sheds light on Ambien use in military
September 9th, 2012
11:22 PM ET

SEAL's Osama bin Laden book sheds light on Ambien use in military

By Larry Shaughnessy

The new book "No Easy Day" by former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette has attracted a great deal of attention for his first hand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Bissonnette chronicles the drama of the daring operation and the al Qaeda leader's final moments at his compound in Pakistan. But it also details quieter revelations, including one in which Bissonnette talks about the use by SEALS of the powerful sleep drug Ambien.

Available by prescription, Ambien is known to cause some potentially troubling side effects including sleep walking, hallucinations and amnesia, according to Dr. Thomas LoRusso, the medical director of the Northern Virginia Sleep Diagnostic Center.

According to Bissonnette's account, between the time the SEALs left the United States for the bin Laden raid in Pakistan and their return flight less than a week later, he took at least six Ambien pills, always two at a time.
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