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July 2014 Cover

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Unmanned Drone X-47B Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt

The Navy's unmanned X-47B conducts flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft.

WRECK OF USS HOUSTON LOCATED

Heavy Cruiser Sunk During World War II
By SOF

The United States Navy, working with Indonesian Navy divers, has confirmed the final resting place of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), which was sunk early in World War II.

KAYAK, CIA’s SPOOK IN LAOS

From the October 2014 issue of SOF!
By Jim Parker

More than three million American served in Southeast Asia from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s. Most in Vietnam. Some off-shore. Some in Thailand and the Philippines. A very few in Laos. In northeast Laos, which had 600 miles (900-plus km) of frontage on North Vietnam, the only American presence on the ground at any one time was a dozen or so CIA paramilitary case officers working with local guerrillas. Some came to work this remote, dangerous job from the Montana smoke jumper corps, who had years of experience working with planes in mountains similar to those in this area. This group was, to the man, hardy, rugged no-nonsense cowboys. An individual known in the CIA as “Hog” came from this group. Others came from combat tours in Vietnam, including “Kayak.” Both were, for reasons you’ll soon read, among the most interesting and unique people I’ve ever met. Kayak first. Hog next time.

THE STATE OF THE NAVY

The Numbers Aren’t There, And It’s Getting Worse
By Harold Hutchison

FALLING NUMBERS
The United States Navy is in a crisis. Its numbers are dwindling – at a time when several adversaries are strengthening. From a high of 594 ships on 30 September, 1987, it has declined to 290 ships, less than half the total.

The Navy has dropped from a high of 15 carriers on 30 September, 1991 to 10 today. Worse, in the last two years, three aircraft carriers have been either retired or sold for scrap. While the carriers were ancient (in some cases, pushing sixty years old), keep in mind it took just under five and a half years to build USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), the newest carrier in commission. Her first deployment did not occur for two years and four months after her commissioning.

MOSUL DAM IN IRAQI HANDS

Islamic State Thugs Forced Away
By SOF

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have driven terrorists from the Islamic State away from the Mosul Dam, the largest such structure in Iraq. The capture came after continued American airstrikes, including at least 15 on Monday.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP

The Navy’s Flop Could Be The Coast Guard’s Godsend
By Harold Hutchison

The Littoral Combat Ship has been a lightning rod of controversy. While it has cutting-edge technology, it has been very expensive (at least $400 million per hull), and it has been lightly armed. The Navy is planning to halt construction after thirty-two hulls, evenly divided between the Freedom-class and the Independence-class designs. The vessels are also lightly armed, presently working with a Mk 110 57mm gun and a number of .50-caliber machine guns. The armament suite seems to be closer to that of the Bertholf-class cutters in Coast Guard service than to a real warship.

X-47B Flight Operations

Marines Rearrange Taliban With Minigun and GAU-16 in Helmund

Marines Rearrange Taliban With Minigun and GAU-16 in Helmund
Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 and HMLA-169, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, provide close air support over Helmand, Afghanistan.
Published on Aug 16, 2014

"I Felt Like I Was in a Humphrey Bogart Movie": A British Merc Joins the French Foreign Legion

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A BRITISH MERC, SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, AND A FIREFIGHT
A British Merc, SOF, and Two American “Foreign Volunteers” Fight off Terrorists in Rhodesia
From SOF Archives

A War of Hired Guns

The Rhodesian Bush War pitting a white-dominated government against a black communist-sponsored terrorist insurgency launched RKB and his adventurous gun-toting comrades in what became SOF signature on the ground—hands-on combat photography and journalism around the globe.

Lynx Helicopter Landing on Rough Seas

Landing by a Prism Defence Test Pilot and Flight Test Engineer during development of Ship Helicopter Operating Limits for the Lynx Mark 90B helicopter onboard the KNUD RASMUSSEN class Offshore Patrol Vessel.
Operating helicopters onboard ships is extremely complex, due in part to the difficulty of landing a helicopter on a moving platform, but also due to numerous practical engineering issues.
Most effective watched on full screen

British Military Power 2014

The legendary saying that the sun does not set on the British Empire no longer applies since the decolonization process divested the British of most of its colonies. But there is no denying that the British Military is still a formidable force with its spectacular warbirds and vessels.
Presenting video on British Military Power 2014 in a series on multinational military powers.

French Foreign Legionnaires Engage Taliban in Afghanistan

French Foreign Legion troops take on Taliban in Afghanistan

YAZIDI MASSACRED BY ISLAMIC STATE

At Least 90 Slaughtered by Terrorist Group
By SOF

The Islamic State – a terrorist group previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – is reportedly responsible for a massacre of at least 90 Yazidi in northern Iraq. The revelation comes a day after the Obama Administration took a rescue mission off the table.