US ‘Osama bin Laden’ team rescue aid workers in daring Somalia raid

Filed Under (Africa, Announcements, North American Theatre, Somalia, United States) by Kevin on 26-01-2012

We can only hope that the world governments will begin to crack down on kidnappers and pirates. Somalia should not be a haven for outlaws.

From Belfast Telegraph:

US ‘Osama bin Laden’ team rescue aid workers in daring Somalia raid

By Daniel Howden
Thursday, 26 January 2012

As Barack Obama walked out to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday night he stopped to congratulate his Defence Secretary on a “good job tonight”.

Unknown to his audience, just hours earlier the commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden last year had carried out another daring raid, this time in Somalia.

When the address got under way in Washington, US Navy Seals were flying through the darkness of the early hours in the Horn of Africa, along with two aid workers rescued from a gang of Somali kidnappers, nine of whom were killed in the operation.

Even though Mr Obama didn’t mention the mission, which was still under way, he did pay warm tribute to the team that killed al-Qa’ida’s leader. By yesterday morning, the choreography was striking. In his speech to Congress, Mr Obama said one of his “proudest possessions” was the flag the US commando team, Seal Team 6, had taken with them on the Bin Laden mission.

Hours later, a statement on the Somalia raid said: “As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission.”

An American aid worker, Jessica Buchanan, 32, and her Danish colleague Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, who were captured while working on a demining project in central Somalia three months ago, were yesterday “on their way to be reunited with their families”, according to their employers, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

The rescue marked an increased willingness by the US to send troops into Somalia, a lawless and dangerous country that, after 21 years without a central government, is beset by pirate gangs, rival clan militias and a powerful Islamist insurgency. US engagement with Somalia is haunted by the deaths of 19 troops in a botched mission in Mogadishu in 1993, immortalised in the film Black Hawk Down. But more recently the Pentagon has been willing to use Special Forces for assassination missions and drone strikes against suspected terrorists in the country.

Witnesses in Galkayo, a town near where the kidnappers were believed to be, reported seeing helicopters after 2am yesterday and gunfire was heard a bit later.

US officials said that Seal Team 6 – the same unit used in the Bin Laden raid in Pakistan last May but not necessarily the same commandos – parachuted to a site about a mile from where the aid workers were being held and approached on foot.

The raiders found the gang asleep after an evening of chewing the narcotic khat, a Somali man named Bile Hussein, who knew the gang but was not there at the time, told the Associated Press. He said three Somalis had been taken by the US rescue team. By dawn, the bodies of another nine gang members had been brought to Galkayo and some reports suggested as many as six gang members had been captured.

There have been kidnappings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya after hijackings at sea were made more difficult by the presence of foreign navies off the coast. The DRC pair – among the very few Western aid workers prepared to work inside Somalia – were seized by two trucks of gunmen in October. The Copenhagen-based group had tried without success to negotiate their release with the help of Somali elders in the area.

Al-Shabaab, the Islamist militia that controls parts of Somalia, has been blamed for some of the kidnappings, but the group has denied involvement.

The waiting game: Somalia’s remaining hostages

Judith Tebbutt

Somali pirates are believed to have kidnapped 56-year-old British tourist Judith Tebbutt from a remote beach resort near Lamu in Kenya in September last year. Her husband was shot dead in the attack. Her whereabouts remain unknown.

Michael Scott Moore

Freelance writer and dual US-German citizen Michael Scott Moore was kidnapped on 21 January this year by armed militia in central Somalia.

Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra

The Médecins Sans Frontières aid workers were abducted from Dadaab refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border in October 2011. They remain in central Somalia.

Denis Allex and Marc Aubrière

The French security advisers were kidnapped in Mogadishu in July 2009. Mr Aubrière escaped but al-Shabaab released a video of Mr Allex in June 2010, and made political demands in exchange for his release.

Filipino crews

It is estimated that more than 470 Filipino commercial sailors were kidnapped by Somali pirates between 2006 and 2011. As of January 2011, at least 74 Filipinos were being held aboard six ships.

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New Stealth Helicoptor? Or Modification of Comanche Stealth Helicopter Design?

Filed Under (New Military Technology, United States) by Kevin on 05-05-2011

 Interesting that the internet and news are buzzing with rumors that a stealth helicoptor may have been used to insert our troops without being detected. 

One has to wonder if this is a modified Blackhawk, or a passenger carrying helicopter based on the Comanche stealth helicoptor.

 See the ABC News article below.


Top Secret Stealth Helicopter Program Revealed in Osama Bin Laden Raid: Experts

May 4, 2011

Before an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs executed a daring raid that took down Osama bin Laden, the commandos were able to silently sneak up on their elusive target thanks to what aviation analysts said were top secret, never-before-seen stealth-modified helicopters.

In the course of the operation that cost the al Qaeda leader his life, one of the two Blackhawk helicopters that carried the SEALs into bin Laden’s Pakistani compound grazed one of the compound’s wall and was forced to make a hard landing. With the chopper inoperable, at the end of the mission the SEALs destroyed it with explosives.

But photos of what survived the explosion — the tail section of the craft with curious modifications — has sent military analysts buzzing about a stealth helicopter program that was only rumored to exist. From a modified tail boom to a noise reducing covering on the rear rotors and a special high-tech material similar to that used in stealth fighters, former Department of Defense official and vice president of the Lexington Institute Dan Goure said the bird is like nothing he’s ever seen before.

PHOTO: The wreckage of one helicopter that clipped a rotor on a compound wall, was abandoned and destroyed.
European PressPhoto Agency
Photographs taken after a Navy SEAL team raided Osama bin Laden?s compound in Pakistan show the wreckage of one helicopter that clipped a rotor on a compound wall, was abandoned and destroyed.
“This is a first,” he said. “You wouldn’t know that it was coming right at you. And that’s what’s important, because these are coming in fast and low, and if they aren’t sounding like they’re coming right at you, you might not even react until it’s too late… That was clearly part of the success.”

In addition to the noise-reducing modifications, a former special operations aviator told The Army Times the general shape of what was left of the craft — the harsh angles and flat surfaces more common to stealth jets — was further evidence it was a modified variant of the Blackhawk.

A senior Pentagon official told ABC News the Defense Department would “absolutely not” comment on anything relating to the destroyed bird.

Neighbors of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told ABC News they didn’t hear the helicopters the night of the Sunday raid until they were directly overhead. The rotor covering, along with a special rotor design, suppressed the choppers noise while inbound, Bill Sweetman, editor and chief of Defense Technology International, said.

“Helicopters make a very distinctive percussive rotor sound which is caused by their rotor blades and if you can blend that down, of course that makes a noise that is much less likely to be heard and much more likely to blend into any background noise that there is,” Sweetman said.

Parts of Helicopter Taken From Crash Site

The U.S. has attempted to use stealth helicopters before. In the mid-90s, the Army developed several prototypes of the Comanche helicopter, a reconnaissance helicopter that was at the time a revolutionary step in stealth technology. But in 2004 the Department of Defense scrapped the program and promised to used technology developed for the Comanche on other crafts.

Since, the government has been working to silence the Army’s Blackhawk helicopters but an official program for the stealth choppers was never publicized. The wreckage, Sweetman said, is the first the public has ever seen of an operational stealth-modified helicopter.

Goure said he believes the stealthy Blackhawks have been in use for years without the public’s knowledge.

PHOTO: The wreckage of one helicopter that clipped a rotor on a compound wall, was abandoned and destroyed.
European PressPhoto Agency
Photographs taken after a Navy SEAL team raided Osama bin Laden?s compound in Pakistan show the wreckage of one helicopter that clipped a rotor on a compound wall, was abandoned and destroyed.
“We probably have been running hundreds of missions with these helicopters over the last half dozen years, and the fact is, they’ve all been successful — or at least the helicopters have all come back,” he said.

But now that one went down and photographs emerged of large sections being taken from the crash site under a tarp, former White House counterterrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said U.S. officials may have reason to worry about where those parts end up.

“There are probably people in the Pentagon tonight who are very concerned that pieces of the helicopter may be, even now, on their way to China, because we know that China is trying to make stealth aircraft,” he said. The Chinese military is known to have a close relationship with the Pakistani military.

Changes At Pentagon Signal Of Cuts In Defense Spending?

Filed Under (Military Spending, United States) by Kevin on 28-04-2011

Intereting news today about Leon Panetta selected to head up the Pentagon.  Could this signal budgetary cuts in defense spending?  Could General David Petraeus’ selection for CIA Director signal we’re preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan in spite of the fact that the fighting isn’t completely over?  Share your thoughts on the forum at


Obama to shake up security team, Leon Panetta to Pentagon

Director of the CIA Leon Panetta waits for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai before a USA-Afghanistan expanded bilateral meeting at the U.S. State Department in Washington May 11, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

By Phil Stewart and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON | Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:53pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will on Thursday name CIA Director Leon Panetta to become U.S. defense secretary and nominate General David Petraeus, who is running the war in Afghanistan, to take over the spy agency.

The long-anticipated shakeup could have broad implications for the Obama administration, which is seeking deeper Pentagon spending cuts and aims to start drawing down U.S. forces from Afghanistan in July.

Panetta, a Democratic Party insider and former White House budget chief, is expected to oversee steady declines in Pentagon spending that diverts weapons dollars to the Treasury Department to help reduce the U.S. deficit.

The departure of Petraeus, considered one of the top U.S. commanders, mixing political savvy with military know-how, also raises big questions about the future of the unpopular, nearly decade-old war effort in Afghanistan.

Analysts fear his departure could derail momentum and undermine efforts to improve U.S. ties with Pakistan.

The White House declined formal comment on the changes, but a senior Obama administration official said Petraeus would retire from the military to take the CIA job.

Details of the changes were confirmed on Wednesday by several U.S. officials.

The shakeup will also include Obama’s nomination of the trouble-shooting diplomat Ryan Crocker — who has served as ambassador to Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon — as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General John Allen, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, will succeed Petraeus as head of the Afghan war effort, U.S. officials said.

The White House hopes Panetta will be able to assume his post on July 1, pending Senate confirmation. Petraeus would take his job at CIA headquarters by the beginning of September.


Veteran Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration who planned to step down this year, has voiced concerns in the past about Pentagon budget cuts.

Loren Thompson, a prominent industry consultant with close ties to the Department of Defense, said substituting Gates with Panetta, 72, “would undoubtedly result in a faster pace of cuts to the defense budget in future years.”

Although it will be difficult, analysts believe Panetta — a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton — has the experience and clout needed to brave the budget battle.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he was one of the Democratic House members who negotiated with President George H.W. Bush’s White House chief of staff, John Sununu, to reach a 1990 budget agreement to cut the deficit.

The agreement led Bush to violate his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, which disappointed Republicans and helped Clinton win the presidency in 1992.

Petraeus, 58, is credited with pulling Iraq from the brink of civil war and has trumpeted battlefield successes in Afghanistan after a surge of 30,000 additional troops ordered in by Obama in late 2009.

“We’re just starting to see some momentum, some shifts, and now we’re swapping out the Afghanistan commander,” said Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, an Afghanistan veteran and a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Petraeus will find a somewhat less optimistic view of the Afghan campaign from inside CIA headquarters, where analysts have advanced a more cautious outlook about the war in the face of rampant corruption and a still-resilient Taliban.

Before word of the reshuffle broke, some Washington insiders had said the White House wanted to find a high-profile position for Petraeus to ensure he would not be recruited by Republicans to challenge Obama next year, perhaps as a vice-presidential candidate.

Thursday’s announcement is not expected to be Obama’s final change to his national security team.

Obama is also expected to soon announce the successor to the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, whose term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expires at the end of September.

The presumptive candidate to replace him had long been General James Cartwright. But the failure of the White House to announce a nomination for Mullen’s job raised questions about whether Obama was ready to commit to a decision just yet.