SPECIAL OPERATIONS UNITS IN 2300AD
By Jason Weiser
Version 1.5 July 2003
Acknowledgement and Dedications:
Dedications-To MSG Richard Darr, United States Army Special Forces, thank you for all you taught me. You were the best professor I ever had. I will have that coffee at Langley for the both of us. I am only sorry you will not be able to join me.
To Timothy Knight. I only knew you through your work sir. But you were the best writer I ever saw. God bless you and weíll have a cold one when I get to Fiddlerís Green.
I would also like to thank the following members of the Etranger Listserv for their patient and helpful assistance. James Boschma, Adam Gelber, Peter Grining, Abraham Gubler, Dan Hebditch, Morgan Keyes, Ben Levy, Byrn Monnery and Kenji Schwartz
I'd also like to thank Tim Walker for some of the advice he handed me over the lifespan of this project
Maerks slowly made his way to the lip of the ravine and looked out with the scope of his laser designator. He smiled mirthlessly, A Kafer SAM site filled the reticule of his LD scope and it needed to be taken out if the 7th Marines were going to get down safe on Dunkelheim. But then, thatís what ASF Combat Controllers trained to do.
Without taking his eyes off the scope, he whispered, "Do it, Kaesich".
Kaesich pointed a small box toward the sky and pressed a button, giving him a star fix, which then allowed him to make the adjustments needed for the fire mission he was calling in from the Jefferson. He then leaned over to the SRC-97 and set it to "burst "mode. Maerks pushed a button on his LD, this took a measurement of the location of the SAM site and an internal CPU converted this to a gridref, next, he pushed another button that activated the data link and sent the burst transmission burning into the sky to the Jefferson.
A reply appeared in text on the SRCís screen 10 seconds later "Thor 21,Fire Mission arriving shortly, observe and correct. Ladybird ENDIT" Ladybird was Jeffersonís callsign, the callsign for Maerks and Kaesich was "Thor 21"
A half-minute after that, a freight train like roar and a bright flash and loud rumble marked the death of the SAM site from no less than three KE RVs. The rounds had been on target, there was nothing left of the site, or the 18 Kafers "kafering" it.
Maerks punched up his helmet headset and patched into the SRC, "Ladybird, Thor 21, Gomer 27 is down, repeat, Gomer 27 is down. Target Cease Fire. Am moving on to alternate position Delta, over."
The reply was tinny and a bit filled with static. "Roger, Honcho says for you guys to stay put upon reaching Delta and await arrival Bulldog, report all Kafer movements to Ladybird, Out". Honcho was the TF Flag and Bulldog was the 7th Marines.
Maerks and Kaesich packed up quickly and wordlessly, and scuttled off into the sunrise as silently as they had come. Thor 21s work was just beginning.
The United States of America, while no longer the preeminent power of pre-Twilight War era, is still a nation with considerable military resources, among them are her many special operations units. These units have a myriad of roles and missions and are all very highly trained and motivated, with most volunteers never making the cut to enter these selective units. The entire US Military Special Operations structure comes under the United States Special Operations Command or SOCCOM, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of the various American Special operations units under "one roof". On the whole, US Special Operations units have a good, solid reputation and are considered, at their best, the equals of the SAS or GIGN.
Mission and Commanders
SOCCOM is one of the few joint commands that survived the Twilight War without some major modification. While there have been changes in capabilities and missions, SOCCOM's responsibilities remain the same. Founded in the late 1980s after the Goldwater-Nichols act mandated that the US military must begin to take steps to operate more jointly and form joint commands to prevent such debacles as Desert One. SOCCOM functioned and still functions as an umbrella for all of the various special operations groups of the USA, USAF, USN, USMC and ASF, as well as JSOU-Echo (Although Echo's chain of command bypasses SOCCOM, it still has its logistical tail handled by SOCCOM, like everybody else). Their purview extends from the ASF's C-SAR, to the US Army's Civil Affairs and PSYOP teams. SOCCOM still operates out of Ft. Bragg, NC. It's subordinate commands are:
With America's expansion off world and it's involvement in the Kafer War, SOCCOM has had to establish off world headquarters, logistical structures and even training facilities. The first of these off-world headquarters is the SOCCOM-AMARCOM, which is responsible for all Special Operations units operating in the American Arm. It is a semi-autonomous headquarters and often has to act without guidance from higher headquarters. It was established in 2185 on Ellis and operates out of Ft. Patton.
The second headquarters was only established last year, and is still working out a lot of problems in logistics and communications, that is the AEFFA-SOC (American Expeditionary Force-French Arm-Special Operations Command). Like it's fellow subcommands in AEFFA, it is having growing pains, as well as a number of problems dealing with reluctant French officials, both military and civilian. It, like the rest of HQ-AEFFA, operates out of the Spaceport Extrality zone on Vogelheim.
The commander of SOCCOM is LTG Michael Vanzetti, USA, who was a 1st SFG operator and eventually came to command USASOC, and was finally tapped for the job of CG, SOCCOM in 2298.
The commander of SOCCOM-AMARCOM is RADM Betty Jorgensen, ASF, who is the former commander of ASFSTC and requested this command. She is the first Combat Controller to get a major Spec Ops command in the ASF; as such billets usually go to C-SAR officers.
The commander of AEFFA-SOC is MG Richard "Too Tall" Haroldsen, USMC who was first a Force Recon Operator, then joined SAP and eventually came to command the unit when he made Colonel in 2269. His last posting was the vice-commander of USMC-SWC.
The US Armyís Special Forces Groups are in some ways, both the most visible and invisible aspect of the US Special Operations community. It is visible because of the "Green Beret" persona, but, yet, somehow, the units manage to keep their operations out of the limelight of the media or the public. The Selection of prospective Special Forces troopers is a lengthy process, with no applicant even considered before the reaching the Rank of E-5, or Sergeant, or officers before they reach 0-3, or Captain. Consequently the makeup of Special Forces is considered "mature", yet they manage to post some very impressive PT scores, even with 1st SFG's "official" posting on Ellis. However, in keeping with the typical US Armed Forces misinformation campaign, one can find Special Forces "A-Teams" anywhere in US territory or Colonies, and sometimes elsewhere.
Special Forces troopers are selected in three phases, all of which are demanding and rigorous. The first phase, known as the SFAS (Special Forces Aptitude Selection) is conducted at Fort Benning, Eglin ASFB, the Allan B. Sheppard Joint Forces Hostile Environment Training Center on Mars and Fort Ramirez, NM. SFAS consists of basic conditioning, patrolling and survival skills, as well as learning basic skills that every Special Forces trooper should know. It is also seen as a means for the instructors to see who will be worth training and who should be cut early. The second phase, for the survivors of the first two months is training in their specialties, Medics train at Fort Ramirez, NM for 45 weeks, with another 18-week practicum at a New York or Chicago urban area hospital. Weapons, Engineering and Intelligence Specialists at Fort Benning, GA for 24 weeks and Commo Specialists at Ft. Gordon, GA for 36 weeks. Information Warfare Specialists train at Fort Lewis, WA for 24 weeks.
During this second phase, if the trainee is not airborne qualified, then he is sent for a 6 week course at the Army Airborne School at Fort Bragg. (The Army tries to make sure that all Infantry MOS applicants are airborne qualified before they are sent to selection, but for non-infantry MOS, the standard tends to break down.) The third phase is the infamous "Q-Course" and lasts 24 weeks, and while it is demanding, especially with the "Robin Sage" graduation exercise in the last 6 weeks, it is rare that a trainee fails at this stage. The instructors have a huge incentive to help along a trainee at this stage with the financial and emotional investment made in their training. Upon graduation, the new Special Forces Trooper is assigned to a Group and is sent to the Defense Language Institute (DLI) at Fort Wadsworth, NY for 18 weeks in intensive language training in a language specific to their group's area of responsibility. Failure rate for the entire course runs about 75%, with two-thirds of that percentage coming in the SFAS and Specialty training phases.
Once a trooper joins his 12-man Operational Detachment Alpha or ODA (aka: A-Team), he usually remains with that ODA until he leaves the Special Forces, barring any unforeseen personnel changes. Each ODA is commanded by a Captain and is divided into 3 four-man patrols, but units rarely operate in smaller than ODA size. The team consists of a Chief Warrant Officer as ODA XO and 10 NCOs of between Sergeant and Master Sergeant, each of who is specialist from one of the afore-mentioned categories. Six make up a B-Team, which is largely an administrative unit; All Special Forces Groups have 4 Battalions of 3 B-Teams each.. Like the British SAS, a new trooper is considered "probationary" until he has done a year with his team.
There are currently 4 Special Forces Groups, three RA and two USAR:
The history of the modern Special Forces begins in 1961. President John F. Kennedy authorized the formation of the Special Forces as a way of combating the expansionist policy of the then Soviet Bloc, especially their "wars of national liberation". The Special Forces soon made their impact felt in Vietnam and their aid of the Montengnard and Hmong tribesmen in their war against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. 300 years later one can still find many a tradition among the Special Forces that was first formed in the highlands of Western Vietnam and Eastern Laos and Cambodia. Things in the 1980s were, for the most part, pre-occupied with digesting the lessons of Vietnam, except for the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1989 invasion of Panama. The Special Forces truly came of age in both Desert Storm and the Twilight War, as their support of Kurdish and Polish/Ukrainian guerrillas managed to achieve many things all out of proportions of available support, especially in the latter phases of the war. One interesting side note is the actions of some Vietnam Special Forces vets and their actions in support of anti-New American Guerrillas around St. Petersburg, FL. Today, 3rd SFG wears St. Petersburg proudly as a battle honor.
Recently, 3rd SFG supported both regular US forces in the stalemated US-Mexican War, as well as Texan separatists and the losing rebellion in the Southwest against Mexican authority. 1st SFG was also reportedly involved in both support of the Elysian rebellion against France and assisting Texan colonial forces in suppressing Mexican terrorists on 82 Eridani in 2174-75 in the wake of the "Rochembeau Scandal". It was publicly involved in a "exchange" role with French and Japanese forces during the Central Asian War. Due to some very ill-planned early operations in support of French forces, a bad taste was left in the mouth of many Special Forces personnel with respect to French commanders, an enmity that continues today, in fact, "froggie" is a very common term heard among the Special Forces.
Today, Special Forces trains a lot in its usual roles: Strategic Reconnaissance for the theater commander and/or the support of Friendly insurgents. These missions are the "bread and butter" of the Special Forces, and serve to separate it from its cousin, Echo. As for deployments, there are a few, most of them classified, with few details, though it is suspected that an A-Team deployed to Novoa Kiyev on Aurore to assist the USMC in operations with the local Ukrainian partisans. There are also reports of joint SAS/SFG teams on Dunkelheim and Crater performing much the same role with guerrillas there.
However, the Special Forces are capable of performing Direct Action missions when necessary and more than one A-Team trains for them. They also train to for the General Officer protection role (ie: Bodyguarding the Brass), which took on a new importance due the uncanny Kafer ability to determine the identities of Human leadership, as well as their importance.
There is also the training role that SFG performs, training friendly militaries and colonial militias in Unconventional Warfare, CQB and other advanced techniques. Such training is going on with the French, Ukranian and Tanstaffl militias on Aurore under the guidance of ODA 3345, detached from 1st SFG to operate "Camp Victory" 5 km outside Tanstaffl City. There, they, British SAS and USMC Raider detachments run both the Ramrod Selection Course and an advanced infantry skills school. The Special Forces run similar courses for the Elysian military on Joi.
Equipment for the Special Forces trooper varies widely depending upon the mission requirements and the Special Forces trooperís training stresses adaptability above all, as the Special Forces have found that the more missions a unit can perform, the more useful it will be.
The US Army's 75th Ranger Regiment prides itself on being among the finest light infantry in the world, while there are, perhaps some other units that might dispute this, the fact is, the Rangers have few equals when it comes to raiding and coup-de-main work. The Rangers have the longest history in the US SpecOps community, their roots tracing back to Robert Rodgers and his Rangers of French and Indian War fame. The modern Rangers, were, of course, a product of the Second World War, and COL Darby, and the links they formed with the wartime British Commandos exist today with the RM Commandos. Exploits such as Gela Beach in Sicily and Point De Hoc in Normandy (which incidentally, 356 years after the fact still considered US soil.) solidified their reputation in the US Army, and their motto, "Rangers, lead the way!"
The Rangers soldiered on in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm and the Twilight War, where their actions in the massive POW rescue Operation Reindeer in Iran in 1999 against various Soviet POW camps added to the Ranger history. In recent actions, Rangers were very active in the 2nd Mexican-American war, including the wildly successful El Paso raid. They also saw exchange service in the Central Asian War, performing many a successful coup de main on bridges in Manchuria for the French, who lacked a similar capability at the time. One says the Rangers like the French almost as much as the Special Forces hate them. The links are especially strong with the Foreign Legion.
The Rangers are a tough unit to get into, as the US Armyís Ranger School, a 24-week course, is no picnic, but for those wanting to actually join the Regiment, there are two phases, the first is Ragner School. Ranger School is a three phase program, first phase is, like the Special Forces Q-Course, at Fort Benning and stresses basic infantry skills and the skills that one will need for phase two. Phase two is at the facility at Eglin AFB, where the students parachute in and are then treated to a 8 week counter-insurgency war with the instructors and Special Forces students playing the rebels. They are also taught advanced infantry skills and survival skills. They are then sent to New Mexico, where again, they parachute in and are ordered, with little prep time, to carry out a raid on a mock "Aztlan" military bivouac. This raid, and the studentsí participation, is graded ruthlessly, as it is the "final exam".
Attendance at Ranger School doesnít make one part of the regiment, however, as the Ranger School is more of a small unit leader development course. The regiment picks up itís younger soldiers either through either specifying in their enlistment contracts a shot at the regiment, or, by "poaching visits" to Infantry and other selected MOS AIT centers throughout the country to find qualified candidates. Either way, these prospects, upon their completion of Basic and AIT, are put through a three-week Ranger Indoctrination Program or RIP. Graduates of this program are then sent to the first available Ranger School cycle. This prospective Ranger is then kept out of the regular replacement pipeline until he completes Ranger School. Prospective Regimental candidates are the only E-4 and below soldiers, or non-combat arms soldiers allowed to attend the school. For candidates E-4 and above, the Rangers tend to prefer promotion from within, but they will offer slots to Honor Graduates of a given Ranger School cycle. (To be an Honor Graduate of the Ranger School, you must be in the top five percent of your class, and be recommended by two of your instructors.) This practice, which is a direct response to pre-Twilight War SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) concerning the makeup of the Rangers, thus, the Regimentís battalions are often 10-15% under strength, given the proximity to the end of the fiscal year.
Ranger operations can be summarized in two words: Maximum Violence. The Rangers are raiding troops and this mission they excel at, there are few objectives that can withstand an assault by a well-prepared and equipped Ranger Company. As such, the Rangers rarely operate as a regiment, but they are trained to do so if the need arises for a large, high value target. Recently, during the war scare with the Hyderabad Republic (one of the Indian states) over the development of a nuclear weapons facility in 2273. The Rangers trained for weeks for an eventual regimental raid on the facility before French, British and American diplomacy averted war.
The Rangers use standard US Army equipment and weapons and are organized as a standard Light Infantry brigade, (however, they are officially a regiment) they do train to use captured equipment as well, and have become very proficient in doing so. These days, the Regiment is scattered, with 1st Battalion being off Ėworld at Fort Powell on Tirane, 2nd Battalion being at Fort Bragg and 3rd Battalion at Ft. Cambell, and the 4th (Training) battalion scattered between Bragg, Eglin and Ft. Ramirez, the battalions pretty much function on their own. Also, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions trade off every three months having a reinforced company in the role of the Ranger Alert Force or RAF. This force would be the first Ranger force to deploy anywhere in the event of a crisis. Furthermore, the 1st Battalion has one of its companies trade roles every two months in the Extra-Solar RAF role, which does the same mission for off world threats.
What vehicles there are in the Rangers are modified Swift Warbirds with extra armor and the M-997 modular weapons system, which has point and area anti-personnel as well as anti-armor kits. The kits are type standardized and have "plug and play" targeting software. One can change a kit within 20 minutes and only needing a multi-tool. The Rangers also have a Combat Walker company, made up of 75 Combat Walkers of the M-100A1 type, which was a joint design of Harrrington Land Systems, a newcomer to the Combat Walker arena and Materriealschafft, AG, the designers of the Kz-7. The M-100 is very similar to the Kz-7, except it can also accept the M-997 weapons system and as such, gives the Rangers a lot of flexibility.
The one thing the unit does want is to see action against the Kafers, complaining that the Marines are "hogging the war for themselves". But, with more and more US military assets being deployed to the French Arm, it seems to be only a matter of time before the 75th is called upon once more. Rangers, of course, wear their Ranger "scroll" and their black berets when not in the field.
The 160th was born in the aftermath of the disastrous Desert One raid in 1981 to free the US hostages in Iran. The US Army, as much as the Goldwater-Nichols act of 1986 had mandated that the Armed Services must act in a joint fashion (a law still on the books today), was concerned that non-Army helicopter pilots didnít know the needs of Army SpecOps units and/or their specific mission profiles. Thus, the 160th was born. Itís past ever since itís inception, is shadowy, and until just before the Twilight War, it was not even allowed to acknowledge its existence. It is known that it saw extensive service in Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, and the Twilight War, but the Army is still very tight-lipped about the details of such operations. Recent operations have been rumored to be involvement in the 2nd Mexican War, including the El Paso Raid, and the Central Asian War.
Equipment consists of 54 MT-703 Tilt Rotors, the aircraft double as gunships, mounting 2 25mm Auto cannon to both sides and 4 M-318 Anti-Vehicle missiles under each wing, controlled by a gunner/sensor package operator in the cargo bay. The aircraft have up rated engines that give the aircraft a 700-kph top speed and a 450 kph cruising speed. (Evasion: 6). The aircraft RCS has been heavily modified, (Signature: 2) and the sensor package and armor package is up to AXW-54 standards. The aircraft can in-flight refuel from USAF tankers and has a TFR package. This does conspire to decrease the cargo capacity, from 17, 340kg to 8,500kg.. All of these things make the MT-703 a very capable aircraft. The 160th also uses the AT-693, which is a light attack version of the scout-tilt rotor. There are 24 in the unit, with an enhanced sensor package, increased armor and hard points on the wings for munitions. It can also in-flight refuel.
Aircrew training is not well known, but is rumored that the selection course takes place both at Fort Rucker, AL and New Mexico, though nothing can be confirmed. What is known is that the 160th does most of its flying at night and has among the best N/AW pilots in the world. The 160th does not have any identifying patches of any kind, or anything that might point out a member of the unit.
There is a long-standing rivalry between the 160th and the USAF 1st Special Operations Wing (SOW). Mainly it dates to the fact that the USAF would like to see the 160th; a rival for funding and a redundant unit (at least, according to the Air Force) go away. The Army, on the other hand, likes an in-house capability to transport itís Special Operations units.
The USMC has maintained a robust Special Operations capability since the Second World War. The Force Recon legend really started in Vietnam as a Marine answer to the Armyís LRRP troops. But, while the Army mostly did away with the LRRPs, the Marines adapted the Force Recon role, mostly to provide beach landing information and reconnaissance and to identify targets for the SEALs to blow up. This arrangement held till the Twilight War, where frustrated Marine Force Recon teams would take it upon themselves to take out various targets simply because there were not enough SEALs to go around. After the Twilight War, the 2nd Key West conference made the USMC an independent service, and as such, gave the beach demo mission to the Marines. Force Recon went on to provide valuable intel during the 2nd Mexican War, the Central Asian War and everywhere else US Marines found themselves on the sharp end. This continues today with the Kafer War on the French Arm, with the Force Recon detachments being used in conjunction with ASF Combat Controllers to mark and clear the LZs for the 7th MIBís landing on Dunkelheim.
Force Recon selection takes place at Camp Roberts, CA and lasts 24 weeks. It is, by all accounts, grueling. The new Force Recon candidate is put through everything from Parachute training, to SCUBA work, he spends many hours learning the geology and hydrographics of beaches, so he is able to do on-the-spot analysis work. And, he is taught to kill VERY quietly, as unlike their flashier SEAL cousins, the Force Recon folks like to get in and out quietly. Once a candidate passes selection, he takes a further 12-week course in extra-solar recon work on Tirane at the Joint Forces Pathfinder School at Fort Powell, TI, with graduation being that they are inserted into a remote area of the Tiranian wilderness and ordered to recon and mark a LZ. Often they train with and alongside prospective Army Pathfinders from the XVIII Airborne Corps and the various Airborne LRSU (Long Range Surveillance Unit) battalions
Upon completion of training, the Recon Marine is posted to a Brigadeís Recon Battalion, and is expected to work directly for that brigade and that brigade only. Thus, the working relationship between Recon and regular Marines is very good. Not so, however, is it between the Recon Marines and the pathfinder elements of the Armyís XVII Airborne Corps, which share a similar role to the Force Recon. During the annual SANDLINE exercises in 2290, the Force Recon and Pathfinders engaged in a war of nasty and downright cruel practical jokes. They culminated with a bunch of Force Recon Marines moving some Pathfinder beacons some 6km to the outskirts of Nogales, NM. Needless to say, the townsfolk were scared out of their minds when an entire battalion of the 82nd Airborne Brigade executed a transorbital drop on their sleepy town, none were hurt, but careers were ended, and while the enmity continues, it does so a on a lot more low key level than before.
Equipment for Force Recon is USMC standard, with the M-41A1 being standard issue. Many Recon Marines procure large-caliber revolvers (a Force Recon tradition) and the most important piece of equipment that the Recon Marine possesses, the SRC-97 SATCOM radio. Finally, every Recon Platoon has 3 Scout/Sniper teams, which consist of an observer, with a LD and a Sniper with an M-10 sniper Rifle. They are trained to find "high-value targets" on or near the LZ and "neutralize" (i.e.: Kill) them. Scout/Snipers are volunteers and take an 18-week course on Scout/Sniper work at the Hathcock Range at Camp Kelly, WA. A qualified Recon Marine is allowed to wear his Recon "wings" and for snipers, the "expert" marksmanís badge.
The USMCís SAPs or SAPers, as they are (sometimes derisively) referred to as, are a new creation that is a response to the special needs of the 24th Century. The SAPís main duties are as a special assault force, posted usually one to a Task Group or MIF and tasked with "special boarding duties" such as barricade situations or opposed EVAs to board crippled enemy warships or airless outposts, space stations or asteroid bases. SAPers are highly trained and well-equipped assault troops to whom EVA and Zero-G operations are a natural thing, and as such, even Fleet Marines and Recon Marines look upon them with a mixture of horror and awe. They are, as stated, a relatively new formation, officially being formed in 2297, but it is thought that they may have existed earlier, though their lineage extends back to the Marine FAST (Fleet Armed Security Team) Platoons of the 20th Century.
Both selection and operations are a closely guarded secret; the best guess is that the initial training takes place at Camp Roberts, CA. It then moves to Grissom Station at L-5. As for operations, it is suspected that a recent hostage situation aboard the Cunard Space Lines vessel Royal Anne involving a very violent cell of Provolutionists in Hermes orbit last year was resolved by the timely intervention of a SAP unit. The presence of the USS Truman, a Kennedy Class Cruiser in system as the crisis wore on seems to point in that direction, as well as the fact that no Provolutionists were taken alive.
Equipment seems to consist of Armored EVA suits, in a low-visibility, mottled gray-blue-black camouflage scheme, modified M-41 rifles and the heavy use of small shaped charges as breaching weapons. In fact, this is so much so a part of SAP doctrine, that reportedly, the vessel the SAP practices on has had to be replaced twice already due to the number of holes blown in it. They are also reportedly crack shots at close quarters, and are equally skillful at various forms of Zero-G martial arts, such as the French Savat de Vacume and the Modernist school of Russian Sambo. As for standard uniform, it is USMC standard, with no identifying badges having to do with the SAP.
As for the USMC Raider battalions developed in the wake of the War of German Reunification, these are not under the Special Warfare Command, and thus, not under SOCCOM authority. The USMC went with this option so as to have some Special Operations capability directly responsible to the on-scene Marine commander in particular and the USMC in general. There is also some suspicion of there being too much Army and Aerospace Force influence at SOCCOMís higher command levels.
The USAF Pararescue or PJs as many an Aerospace Pilot affectionately knows them, have a history almost as long as the USAFís, dating back to their formation in 1966. During Vietnam, the PJs truly came into their own, snatching many a downed pilot from the clutches of the NVA/VC and taking suicidal risks to do so. Many PJs made the ultimate sacrifice to do so. The odyssey of BAT 21 is an example of the lengths the Pararescue service will go to get a pilot in trouble out. During the Gulf War and the Twilight War, this level of dedication continued, as was seen in both the sagas of a downed F-14 pilot in Iraq and a F-117 crewman in Poland. The PJs also saw service during the 2nd Mexican War, being termed by the Mexicans as "los diablos locos" or "the crazy devils" for the seeming suicidal risks that the PJs ran to get American aircrew out.
But, in a rarity for the many enemies that the PJs have faced over their existence as a service, the Mexicans declined to fire on the PJs. They respected their bravery and life-saving mission. It was a favor the PJs respected, and soon Mexican C-SAR was left alone as well. USAF PJs also saw foreign exchange service in both the Central Asian War and the War of German Reunification, and many a French aerojock can attest to their bravery. The most famous of these is the high-scoring ace of the Central Asian War, Marcel DeBouis, who was shot down after his duel with Wen Ho Ling, the Manchurian Ace, and spent 20 minutes being hunted by Manchurian troops, bent on his capture. A USAF Pararescue Tilt-Rotor, with a escort of 8 French Strike Aircraft held off a Manchu infantry company for an hour before Marcel was loaded into the back of the Tilt-Rotor and airlifted to a hospital in Karaganda.
Today, the PJs trains in both peace and war as peacetime accidents often have a need for their services as trained rescue operators. But they also have a more sinister job, PJs are trained that if they canít recover folks who have highly sensitive information, such as Electronic Warfare Officers, then they are to silence them. It is a task the PJs take seriously, but reluctantly, and they take pride in the fact that so far, the PJs havenít had to do it since Vietnam. Selection and Training take place at Robbins ASFB in Georgia, with a 15-week selection course in basic Trauma Aid and Infantry skills. The next year is a practical course taught at Mountain Home ASFB in Montana, where the skills specific to a Pararescue Operator are taught to the prospective PJ. He and his flight are evaluated in a 4-week final exam that has them looking for a downed pilot in Montana while elements of the National Guard play a hostile force looking for the pilot.
Pilots in the Pararescue service are among the best in the Aerospace Force, and they not only have to go thru the same training as the PJs they will one day fly into battle, but they train for 16 weeks at Huebert ASFB, Florida, in low-level and N/AW (Night/Adverse Weather) flying. This is the same course that the pilots of the 1st Special Operations Wing undergo as well.
Equipment in the Pararescue service is camouflaged flight suits for the PJs and their pilots, with Survival Vests and M-4A3 Carbines for the PJs, often, they will also procure large-caliber revolvers, for both their reliability and tradition. The PJs also carry a very well stocked medic bag that is designed to do anything and everything to help stabilize a patient till they can get him back to somewhere they can do more for him. The units fly MT-703s for the most part, liking the type immensely, and especially appreciating it can suppress itís own LZ, it is a love they share with the 160th SOAR.
The 1st SOW has a history that dates back to the days of WWII in Burma, with the 1st Air Commando Group. The Group was formed to insert raiding parties into airfields behind Japanese lines at newly built and poorly maintained airfields. It was as a unit, a huge success, but sadly, the unit was disbanded and it was not resurrected in any form until Vietnam, where the unit controlled the AC-47, and the later AC-130 gunships in country. After the war, it became rather apparent that the various special operations groups of the US Military needed a robust delivery capability tailored to their operational needs, especially Delta, Special Forces, SEALS and those needing a "quiet" entry. They also needed massive fire support that could loiter on station for extended periods. Thus, in 1982, the 1st SOW came into being. The wing immediately formed out of two C-130 models, the AC and MC 130s and several models of MH-53 helicopters. Needless to say, the wing saw a lot of action, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, and the Twilight War; all of these added much to the annals of the Wing. After the Twilight War, the wing, as a unit operating aircraft, was not reformed until 2073, at that point, it was flying MT-22 Tilt-Rotors and it participated in the famous El Paso raid, that crippled Mexican logistics in the theater and led to the favorable cease-fire. The unit also saw action, as small elements, in the War of German Reunification and the Central Asian War.
Selection to be in the aircrew of the wing is, to put it mildly, tough, a prospective addition is put through his paces and must already have at least 1500 hours of flight time under their belt, or 4 years of experience in their job. They are then tested and put on probationary status for one year, during which time, any member of the unit may have any probationary or "probie" as they are known, RTUíd (Returned to Unit) for any sufficient reason, regardless of the probieís rank. This leads to a unit where the members trust each other implicitly and thus, can pull of feats of aerial skill at low-level and N/AW flight others might find suicidal.
Uniform is the same as the Pararescue service, and aircrews often fly with NVGs (Night Vision Goggles) as a matter of course. As for the Aircraft, the 1st SOW uses the MT-193, a special operations/gunship version of the standard CT-193 tilt-jet cargo hauler. It has a crew of five, consisting of a Pilot and Aircraft Commander, a Co-Pilot, an Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), a Weapons Package Operator (WPO) and a Loadmaster. The aircraft has an enormous sensor package and an improved power plant, details of which are classified. The armament fit is thought to be 13cm Mass Driver, 2 25mm binary propellant autocannons, with one on each side of the aircraft and a 9cm Electro-Chemical-Thermal Howitzer for use against point targets It also has 2 Hyde Dynamics AATED (Active Aerial Threat Engagement Device). It consists of a 0.25MW frequency-hopping laser and a millimeter-wave Radar meant to engage SAMs and aircraft within a half-kilometer. The system, with one emitter on either side of the aircraft, is controlled by the EWO (Electronic Warfare Officer). The aircraft have recently been retrofitted with the Airborne Active Denial System (AADS). It is a set of wire antennas that have a range of 4 km. It projects a microwave pulse that causes a fever-like reaction in human targets, thus causing discomfort and delirium, however, the weapon can kill within 250m. However, the weapon is very useful for OOTW (Operations Other Than War) tasking. The crew space is believed to be armored with a mix of Kevlar and synthetic spider silk compound developed by American materials scientists for use on American space probes in the 2050s. Furthermore, the armament is modular and can be changed out in a hangar, under the most primitive conditions in under 45 minutes.
Wing headquarters is at Hulbert Field, FL, with the 351st Special Operations Group operating out of the base there for Atlantic and Gulf Coast Theatre Special Operations support.
Other units include:
There is also the reserve 939th Special Operations Wing of the Aerospace Force National Guard, which is headquartered out of Wilkes-Barre, PA. It controls the following units:
Combat Controllers have a unique job in the USAF, their job is simple, parachute in with gear and a radio behind enemy lines and go into newly captured airfields and set up all the necessary things to support friendly air operations. All without being caught. Not only that, but they have to gather weather data and to land aircraft on a newly captured airfield. In short, they do it all. Combat Controllers operate in 6 man teams, each with a different specialty, medical, commo, meteorology, recon/security, engineering and airfield operations. Each is cross-trained in the other's job. They pride themselves on being able to run a fully operational approach center from a roadside.
Combat Controllers date back as long as there has been an Air Force, but they really came into their own during the Gulf and Twilight wars. They came into their own in the Twilight War, with their ability to get former Soviet airfields operating in Poland for NATO aircraft within hours of their capture.
All prospective combat controllers attend a 9-month selection course; first, they got to Hubert Field, FL for basic selection, where those lacking the strength and especially, stamina to be controllers are weeded out over the course of a month. They are also given classroom instruction in the basics of being a Combat Controller. Then, for three months, it's off to Ft. Dix for basics in infantry tactics. After that, it's 6 weeks at the Army Airborne School at Ft. Bragg. For the remaining four months, the Aerospace Force sends them to Nellis AFB to practice their training, with a final exercise as part of a Ranger assault on a "Aztlan" bivouac in New Mexico AFTER a parachute drop and 10km march with 60-80lbs of equipment each Their role is to coordinate a mock setup of an airfield near the site to coordinate the extraction of the many forces involved.
The mission of the
TACP (Tactical Air Control Parties) is to insert behind enemy lines and
call down aerospace assets onto enemy targets. While their mission is
somewhat less involved than the Combat Controllers, it is by no means,
safer, as their activities eventually, and invariably cause the enemy
to look for them and put them out of business, permanently.
a TACP team is also six men, which can be broken down into three two-man
teams of observer and communicator.
Equipment is standard, but commo gear is of the highest order, a well-trained CC or TACP team can talk to anybody, anywhere, anytime, and can pack up that gear and be gone within minutes. Weapons choices are the same as the PJs, as they tend to have similar views on firearms.
ASF C-SAR teams are as old as the service itself and are the spaceborne version of the USAF's PJ teams. They operate in "companies" of 30 each with one company assigned to one of the Force's six Albacore-class Forward Repair/Rescue ships (FRR), these companies are further split into 5 6-man "divisions". Each division has Damage Control, EVA, Hostile Environment, Piloting, Medical, and Intelligence specialists as part of their teams, and in response to the Kafer war, Xenobiology. There are also roving divisions in the ASF, usually deployed 1 or 2 per Task Force/Group. One such division, 4418, is aboard the Jefferson on the French Arm at Aurore.
To join the C-SAR teams is a tough process, and perhaps 20% of the applicants make it. First, all candidates are put through the Hostile environment and Zero-G course at the Dorie Miller Naval Hostile Environment course on King, then into orbit at the "Mary Celeste", a hulked starship used for rescue/boarding training. The toughest part of the course is the "Hell Day", where the trainees are asked to perform highly physical and sometimes dangerous tasks in King's hostile environment for a period of 24 hours without sleep and only two changes of batteries for the suits. This is done for a single reason: to test the trainee's ability to perform under the most stressful of situations. The most trying part of Hell Day is the "Tear and Swear" exercise, where, throughout the day, instructors will perform minor punctures of the trainees suits and measure their reactions, as well as the fellow members of their training division. Instructors will intervene if things become life threatening, but that man has failed the training and will be washed out.
All of this lasts 6 months and is meant to measure two things: One, how will a student react under Hostile/Zero-G conditions and Second, how will he function in such conditions under stress.
Afterwards, the new "probie" or prospective "Ceasar" as they are colloquially known in the ASF are then sent to their various schools for varying lengths of time.
After the individual schools, a new Ceasar is assigned to a division and is put through an 18-month probationary period where any other member of the division can have the "Prob" returned to unit for any reason. The selection, to be a Ceasar is thus, some of the longest training times in the entire US military.
Equipment is heavy duty Armored Vacc Suits, usually the SM-109 model, which is loosely based on combat walker technology and is fitted with hard points for an single APW (anti-personnel weapon) and a laser welder or other cutting tool. The suit his lined with a Kevlar/Mylar mesh mixed with a new Pentapod living synthetic that strengthens the tensile capacity of the mesh by 200%. The visor on the helmet has a holographic heads-up display and a voice activated 50km radio. It also has a powerful auto-distress beacon with a range of 100,000km. It's a tough, tricky suit to master to any degree, and new Ceasars spend a great deal of time doing just that.
The Combat Controllers are also as old as the ASF. Their mission is just like that of the USAF Combat Controllers, but unlike them, they often have to deploy off world and operate in conjunction with USMC Force Recon teams. They also are the only trained personnel that can call in accurate Ortillery support through a variety of methods. In recent actions, they saw a lot of service on the French Arm, helping retake BCV IV, Kimanjano and most notably, Dunkelheim.
Training Combat Controllers is done in three phases; the first takes place at Camp Kelley, WA. Here, prospective Combat Controllers are put through basic infantry training and fieldcraft, this phase lasts 10 weeks. The second phase is moved to Mars, where they are taught Hostile Environment training, at the Allan B. Sheppard Armed Forces Hostile Environment course. This phase lasts 6 weeks, the final phase is on Tirane, where they prospective Combat Controllers are taught personal orbital reentry (ie:drop) techniques and put in a graduation exercise with a live drop and calling in live munitions from orbit at New Cascadia Training Center. This is a 3-week exercise and is often done in conjunction with Marine Force Recon teams.
After training, the new combat controllers are paired together with an experienced member and assigned to a USMC Brigade, operating out of the ANGLICO section of the H & S (Headquarters and Service Company). A given brigade has enough teams for each battalion to have it's own Combat Controllers. They work exclusively for their battalion alone, and usually work with a single starship, though Combat Controllers do have the training and equipment to coordinate the fire of a classified number of starships.
With the advent of the Kafer War, and the ever-increasing US involvement of America on the French Arm, the ASFís pre-war structure for Combat Controllers has been outstripped, so the ASF is training USAF CCT personnel in the ASF CCT mission in a one month "conversion" training, that admittedly, is at times, a bit lacking.
Uniform is USMC standard, with ASF rank insignia. They carry USMC standard firearms, with one exception, as many Combat Controllers carry revolvers out of tradition and dependability. The Hancock 9-23 is a favorite, although, with the Kafer War, many are now looking for more powerful revolvers. The most important piece of equipment, however, is the SRC-97 SATCOM radio, which is a multifunction, EMP resistant, multi-powered 10 Gigawatt set. It can send Voice or Data/FAX up to 100,000 miles and can be configured for tight-beam, burst or wide beam transmission. It auto-encodes it's own transmissions using the new Auto SOI software that has been standard in the American Military since 2291.
The ASFís Special Weapons Security Teams are some of the most highly trained security professionals in the American armed forces. Their mission is simple, to ensure the proper custody of all Special Weapons in the ASF arsenal. They ride shotgun on every detonation missile shipment and a detachment is at every ASF base that stores warheads. They have a very clear mandate, keep the warheads and associated paraphernalia under their control at all times. They are cleared to shoot at any potential threat in that vein, and are given wide latitude in doing so, having on one occasion, shot and killed a radical NARL activist protesting the storage of SIM-14 warheads at the Halstead Space Force Munitions Depot. The activist was caught climbing over a fence not 150 meters from a storage area for detonation warheads. While the activistís family, who happened to be a prominent Senator from Michigan, sued the ASF in court, and eventually lost, and the press demonized the unit, the ASF stands by the need for the unit and its training and use. Since the incident, however, each 60-man SWST detachment has a 3-man full-time hostage negotiation team attached and the unit is one of the prime development agencies for non-lethal weapons in the US military. While the ASF does consider the SWST a special operation unit, the force doesnít operate under day-to-day control by SOCCOM, but now, with the ever-widening nature of the Kafer war, more and more SWST detachments are being seconded to SOCCOM.
Selection for the teams is carried out at Boise Space Force Station on Ellis, the prospective "Swisters" (whom are exclusively selected from the regular force of ASF Military Police) are trained for 28 weeks in special weapons security procedures (with special emphasis on secret procedures in how to disable the weapons under their custody, so as not to turn them over to the enemy in case of potential capture) and Zero-G combat. They are then sent planetside to Fort Patton, where Special Forces instructors train them in advanced infantry tactics consisting of mostly CQB-style training for another 16 weeks. (Considering Mexicoís robust Special Operations capability, the US military trains its military police and infantry to a very high standard of counter-special operations readiness). The trainees are expected at the end of this training, to protect a simulated weapons storage facility against a force of Marine SAP troops. If they win, they pass, if they donít they fail. The ASF realizes that potential terrorists have to only be lucky once.
Swisters operate in 70 man detachments, with 4 15-man Troops, one troop acts as the weekly Quick Reaction Force, and can scramble to reinforce the regular MPs within 90 seconds. Another troop is on standby to reinforce the QRF, if called upon, they will take five minutes to reinforce the QRF. The third troop is normally in a admin/training cycle, and would take a half an hour to become ready to support the two other troops. Finally, the fourth troop is usually stood down for an rest cycle, and can take as much as an hour to reconstitute and reinforce the rest of its detachment. Each 15-man troop is commanded by a Senior Warrant Officer and consists of two seven-man fire teams. Each team consists of a Petty Officer as team leader, and one entry specialist (or doorman), a sniper, medic and 3 assaulters. Each man is cross-trained in each otherís role. Usually, the troops rotate in their roles each week. Usually, each Space Force Base and fleet has 1 or 2 SWST detachments. The detachment HQ is a ten-man demi-troop, with a Lieutenant as detachment commander, and a JG as his XO, with a CPO as Detachment SNCO. There is also the three-man negotiation cell and a four-man intelligence and interrogation cell, which handles the evaluation of potential threats to the weapons the SWST is charged to protect.
Equipment is as per SAP, but in planeside assignments full body rigid armor is worn with high threat helmets with HUDs.
The US Navy's Sea, Air and Land or SEAL teams have been around since 1962, but their legacy is longer than that, as it stretches back to the UDT teams of the Second World War and Korean War era. The SEALs took over for the UDT teams in the mid-1990s and assumed their legacy as well. They are, in the word of one anonymous Pentagon official, "The bad boys of the American Military."
The SEAL story begins in Vietnam, where they picked up the nastiest of reputations in the Mekong Delta, and basically were among the few American units that could meet the VC on their own terms and beat them consistently.
During the 1980s the SEALs responded to the growing threat through the formation of SEAL Team 6, which became the Navy's dedicated anti-terror unit and participated in some quiet tasks against various terrorist groups in the 1980s. It was also involved in the public fiasco in the attempt to capture wanted terrorist Abu Nidal and his confederates after the Achille Lauro hijacking (This fiasco, to be fair, can not be laid at the feet of the SEALs, but instead at the feet of Italian authorities).
In 1983, the SEALs were involved in a mishap in Grenada when they were tasked with a multitude of missions, taskings that fall to teams 4 and 6. Sadly, two SEALs drowned on the way in to help some USAF Combat Controllers pave the way for the Rangers at Point Salineas and another SEAL detachment was pinned down for 24 hours at the Governor-General's Mansion till they were relieved. But, their beach recon for the Marines and even the Governor-General's operation ended successfully.
Also in the mid-1980s, the SEALs were involved with the CIA's Special Armed Service (SAS) in the mining of Nicaraguan harbors in support of the contras.
Another mishap in 1989 at Padilla airfield was again, more bad luck than any wrongdoing by the SEALs. Mainly, the SEALs on that operation were operating in multi-platoon groups, something SEALs neither do very often, nor are trained for. Second, like many other plans to get Noriega in Operation Just Cause, the fact of the matter was, the intelligence on Noreiga was just plain bad. At Padilla, it had fatal consequences. However, the SEALs did accomplish the mission of disabling Noriega's Lear Jet.
In the 1991 Gulf War, the SEALs proved their mettle again by simulating an amphibious landing on the shores of Kuwait. Six men managed to pin down four whole Iraqi divisions for some critical hours, allowing the Coalition to drive further into Kuwait faster than would have been the case.
The Twilight War saw all six SEAL teams busy world wide, from the raids in cooperation with SBS on naval anchorages in Murmansk and Polyyarny, including the SSBN pens, where the SEALs managed to disable three SSBN, including one Typhoon. Then, there is the also wildly successful operation in support of 1st Marine Division in Iran, where one SEAL platoon managed to do everything from blow up the 105th Guard Airborne Division's POL stores, to assassinate the entire Divisional Staff with a rather large C-4 charge. Needless to say, the Soviet Desantniki were in no shape to repel the Marines the next morning.
After the Twilight War, the SEALs were kept busy, mostly with operations against New America, and their Mexican backers. The SEALs were soon harkening back to their Vietnam days and outfitting former cigarette boats and cabin cruisers with Kevlar and twin .50s and wreaking all kinds of havoc on Mexican arms shipments to New America. The SEALs were also teaming up with the Coast Guard in New England to suppress the Mafioso-backed empire of the United Brotherhood of Fishermen or UBF. Their crowning post-war achievement was in 2026, when the SEALs snatched the #3 man in the then structure of New America from his Savannah beachfront home.
After the recovery, the SEALs, like the rest of the US armed forces reorganized and re-focused many of their missions in the light of America's newfound standing in the world. During the 2nd Key West conference in 2055, the structure of the US military again changed, with the USMC becoming independent of the Navy and the Marine Force Recon getting the beach Demo mission. The SEALs moved their training facility to Little Creek. VA and began to turn out a new generation of operators, mostly focusing on other SEAL tasks, such as supporting the Navy by port raids and intelligence gathering. Team 6 began to focus on the new challenges of the deep water mission and was redesignated "Combat Swimmer" to designate itís new status.
The SEALs were soon busy again, by 2099; the US was at war with Mexico. The SEALs raided Veracruz and managed to sink almost a third of the Mexican navy. They also raided the PEMTEX facility outside Veracruz and caused some 100 billion pesos in damage that took 5 years to fix.
After the Mexican-American War, the SEALs went through growing pains, with the off-world expansion of the United States. A Team 7 was formed to operate in the maritime "environments" of America's colonial holdings. It was based on Ellis, at the Robert Kerry Naval Special Warfare Facility on Tirane, where they often exercise against elements of 1st SFG and support the operations of the US 8th Fleet.
The SEALs didn't see much foreign service, save a few deep-water missions by Team 6 for the French, against Manchurian suicide commandos that took over offshore mining facilities looking for Tantalaum off the coast of Gabon (normally, the Groupement Fusiliers-Marins Commandos handle such missions, but much of their assets were busy in Central Asia).
Today, the SEALs are made up of 7 teams, each comprising 3 30 man Platoons each and each has its own area of Operation
SEAL Team members are selected in a series of grueling exercises that have changed little since the 20th Century, with "Hell Week" being a consistent feature of the exercise. Perhaps 10% of those who begin the training actually become SEALs after the end of the year's ordeal. But, it produces the intended effect, a operator who can swim 10 miles in any weather, with 80lbs of equipment and ammunition, and then go for 36 hours without stop in accomplishing their mission and then having the stamina to swim 10 miles back to meet their extraction. SEALs are truly the "problem children of the American Military." It is a reputation that SEALs do nothing to dissuade
A new development for the SEALs is the need to operate in the deep ocean waters and in sub-aquatic habitats. Selection for Team Six, the team tasked with such assignments is grueling and is carried out at the Diamond Head Deep Water Naval Special Warfare Facility in Hawaii. Details of the course are classified, but it is grueling, and it is said the failure rate averages about 85%. Those that pass are known as Combat Swimmers, a deliberate misnomer meant to misinform potential adversaries of the unit.
As for equipment, SEALs utilize a version of the Springfield Armory MP-2297 Tactical Machine Pistol that can fire underwater and the 5mm Remington-Colt "Super Hush Puppy" silenced pistol to remove sentries and guard dogs. Their sniper rigs are designed by Colt- Remington, a modified version of the Model 9000. It fires an accurized 7.5mm round with a 1/2 MOA up to 1km. Each rifle is specially built for their intended user, and as such, each is one of a kind.
Their diving rig is among the best and many features of it is classified. Combat Swimmers use the AM-44 deep water rig, which resembles a smallish Combat Walker, and borrows much of its design philosophy from Combat Walkers. The suit has a rated crush depth of three miles and the operator is supported on a computer controlled LOX setup that alters the oxygen pressure tobe sea level equivalent at all times, so as to allow a minimum of need for depressurization support. The suit has a modular hardpoint system on either arm that allows the mounting of everything from assault rifles to sniping lasers (usually in a blue-green wavelength to allow use underwater), all other details are classified.
J-SOUE is a joint services unit specifically formed to respond to covert and clandestine taskings as decided by the JCS and the NCA (National Command Authority). It was formed in 2030, as a replacement for Delta, which had, over the years since it's formation in 1977, had accrued a negative public perception over seeming debacles in Iran in 1980 and Somalia in 1993. Added to that was an ugly scandal involving Delta operators double-billing the State Department and the Department of Defense for foreign travel and other fraud and graft occurring within the ranks of the unit. These were both not the fault of the unit, but the damage had been done. Even covert successes such as the takedowns of hijacked airliners in March of 1981 in Thailand and August 1984 in Venezuela as well as the semi-covert success in the rescue of Kurt Muse in Panama in 1989 during Operation Just Cause did little to change the unit's image.
Before the Twilight War, there had been some official discussion about handing over the CT part of Delta's mission to the FBI and the covert operations to the SEALs and Special Forces. However, the Twilight War changed that. One of Delta's Twilight War operations was in 1998, when a Team of Delta's B squadron managed to snatch the then head of the Soviet GRU in Poland from his mistress's dacha outside Lublin. This didn't help Soviet morale any. What made it worse was the state General Lubanknov was in when the operators arrived. He was as one operator put it "Drunker than a whino in Fayettenam." It was an experience getting him out of Lublin and to what was then, the last working MH-60 in Europe for extraction.
In the chaotic aftermath of the Twilight War, Delta performed quite a few overseas missions to recover American citizens or property that was useful to the nation's recovery. One of the more famous of these types of mission that Delta operators was involved in was Operation Homeward Bound, an operation in late 2002, where some 15 B-52, B-1 and B-2 crewmembers were being interned by French authorities in Senegal. They were trapped in Sengal after their delivery of nuclear weapons on Soviet targets and recovery. The USS Corpus Christi, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine delivered an 8-man Delta team and in a swift, violent raid with no American casualties, the 15 aircrew were recovered and returned to the submarine and eventually, the United States.
But these acts were not enough to save Delta, and upon the reunification of the US government in 2025, Delta was disbanded, (not just because of itís bad reputation, but also because of a very high wartime attrition to itís personnel, facilities and equipment.). But, time would soon prove this to be a bad decision.
In October 2028, word was received that the US-flagged tramp steamer Golden Promise was seized by Caribbean pirates and demanded 10 million in gold for the desperately needed Albertan grain that was needed to cover a nasty famine in Southeastern Georgia. SEAL Team 6 was busy and the FBI HRT hadn't been reformed yet. The demand was ruinous, and 2 US State Department envoys were brutally beheaded, along with the 19-crew members and a representative of the Albertan Farmer's Cooperative. Worse yet, the ship was sunk and the grain looted and sold on the black market. Then president John Morrow made a decision; to reform Delta, with a new name, and a new mission, to be the primary overseas unit for CT and covert operations work against military targets. Echo came into being at Fort Bragg 18 months later.
Its first six months were nothing short of amazing. First, there was the very public success of their takedown in a joint operation with the FBI's HRT against a die-hard New American terrorist group that took a number of hostages in a elementary school not ten miles outside Reston, VA. The hostages included President Kostek's 3 year-old daughter Maria. The terrorists were demanding freedom for their leader, Carl Hughes, who was being held in Supermax prison in Colorado and passage out of the country. President Kostek refused to negotiate and gave the execute order to Echo and the FBI.
The actual operation took place under the cameras of several major media outlets, and was reminiscent of the Princess Gate takedown that made the SAS famous. Echo achieved the same thing. The whole matter was done in 90 seconds and none of the New Americans survived the assault. One hostage, a teacher, was shot in the leg when a Echo operator mistook her for a terrorist because she failed to heed the instructions of the assaulters to get down. She was too busy making sure her young charges did so instead. After that, there was an operation to rescue the staff of the US Embassy in Guatemala during some nasty anti-American violence there. Both of these operations did much to restore a sense of pride in American arms after the bruising it took in the Twilight War.
Echo executed many more and quieter operations over the years, and expanded their operations into space as America did so. Echo, like the SEALs, was not utilized on foreign service, but there was a very public incident in December of 2110, when a Japanese hypersonic transport was hijacked by Provolutionist terrorists and forced to Seattle Interfaceport. Again, Echo and the HRT rolled into action because it was soon determined that the terrorists were heavily cybered. Nevertheless, Echo pulled off the takedown with their usual panache. Sadly, one operator and two hostages were killed in the process.
Upon the outbreak of the Kafer War, Echo has become increasingly active off world. There are signs that the recovery of sensitive crypto gear from the remains of Marine Firebase Tango on Kimanjano was a Echo operation, as well as the elimination of the Kafer sub-commander, "Smasher-of-Dreams", who had been giving Anglo-French forces fits during the allied attempts to retake Beta Canum.
However, Echo was not only active off world, the recent and unexpected delivery of notorious Sikh terrorist Lal Singh to US custody in July of 2299, where he had been wanted for the destruction of the US flagged merchant starship Providence Star at L-5 on 13 August 2294. Some 40 people were killed in the incident. Singh was probably seized in a joint FBI/Echo operation. Details are still closely held on Singh's capture.
There is a lot of seeming overlap between JSOUE and AIS SSF (Special Strike Force) which have similar missions, but there is a distinct and, to the members of JSOUE, an important difference. JSOUE is not utilized against civilian targets except in a clear foreign CT role and only when okayed by both the JCS and NCA. Needless to say, JSOUE and SSF don't get along at all. JSOUE sees SSF as a bunch of spies playing soldier and soulless killers. SSF sees JSOUE as soldiers playing spies and as treading dangerously close to their turf. However, Echo has not seen fit to subsume the Zero-G counter-terror mission, as that usually gets handed to USMC SAP. But Echo does train for both missions, mainly for redundancy reasons.
As for other traditions, JSOUE picked up many of Delta's old traditions. They maintain the "ranch" at Fort Bragg, where Delta, and now JSOUE train and maintain the long hairstyles and de-emphasis on what they in JSOUE call the "Huah" culture that they feel pervades the rest of the US military. They take a particularly dim view of the Rangers, with whom they operate and cross-train with frequently.
Selection for JSOE is open to all five branches of the service, and standards are extremely tight. To even be considered, an applicant must be an E-4 or above or O-3 and above, with consistently excellent FITREPs and score in the top five percentile of the ARMY PT test. They must also score expert on rifle and pistol and have at least 3 years prior special operations experience. Furthermore, they must be Airborne, Air Assault and Ranger qualified or must become so before application. As for the actual selection process or what is expected, little is known. Even the failure rate is classified.
As for equipment, you name it; JSOUE can get it. Simply put, they are the best-equipped unit in the Armed Services, and they (at least in their minds, earn their budget) have no sign of ever letting go of their coveted place in the US military. This of course, has not helped Echo's reputation with the rest of the Military Special Operations community. They resent Echo's "fair-haired" status, contempt for the rules, and their seeming to be the "go-to" force for strategic tasking and the direct line the unit has with the JCS and the NCA, thus bypassing the chain of command with SOCCOM.
Furthermore, there is a sense that Echo did little to "earn" it's status as it is seen as a "postwar creation" that usurped Delta's rightful place and while it observes many of it's traditions, it's still not Delta and as such, hasn't done enough to earn much respect.
LOOK FOR PT. 2, US CIVILIAN SPECOPS UNITS, COMING SOON!