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US Secretly Deploys Commandoes Near Iran's Border


January 25, 2012
PressTV & DangerRoom, Wired Magazine

Wired magazine reports that Washington has stationed a special team of highly trained commandos near Iran's border for possible sabotage operations. The magazine quoted Maj. Rob Bockholt, a spokesman for special-operations forces in the Mideast, as saying that the task force provides "highly trained personnel that excel in uncertain environments," and "seeks to confront irregular threats."

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/222504.html

'US Posts Elite Commandos Near Iran'
PressTV

WASHINGTON (January 22, 2012) -- The US-based Wired magazine says Washington has stationed a special team of highly trained commandos near Iran's border for possible sabotage operations. Quoting a US Army officer speaking on behalf of Special Forces, the report by the magazine's columnist, Spender Ackerman, said a team of "highly trained personnel that excel in uncertain environments" are operating near Iran.

According to Ackerman, the team called Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Coordinating Council (JSOTF-GCC) is now on the ground to instruct local troops in special operations. This is the first time the US has acknowledged the existence of the team, which apparently did not exist before the middle of 2009.

"The primary, day-to-day mission of the team... is to mentor military units belonging to the US oil-rich Arab allies... [which] consider Iran to be their primary foreign threat," he added.

Ackerman also quoted Maj. Rob Bockholt, a spokesman for special-operations forces in the Mideast, as saying that the task force provides "highly trained personnel that excel in uncertain environments," and "seeks to confront irregular threats."

The report said the unit began its existence in mid-2009 -- around the time that Iran rejected President Barack Obama's offer of diplomatic dialogue.

"Whatever the task force does about Iran -- or might do in the future -- is a sensitive subject with the military," it added.

"It would be inappropriate to discuss operational plans regarding any particular nation," Bockholt said when asked about a possible link between the unit and terrorist operations in Iran.

Ackerman quoted Col. Tim Nye, the chief spokesman for the US Special Operations Command, as saying that the task force is responsible "for coordinating all SOF [Special Operations Forces] engagements and training with [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council nations."

"The special operations forces of those nations have shown a notable improvement over the past year. Qatari commandos quietly traveled to Libya ahead of Muammar Gaddafi's downfall to prepare Libyan rebels for the successful capture of Tripoli. The United Arab Emirates, another close US ally, has also made its elite forces a priority, even hiring [the American security affairs company] Blackwater's founder to bolster their training," he added.

According to Ackerman, US military officials have thus far refused to identify missions of the task force, its leadership or its headquarters, citing the safety of the personnel involved and the success of those missions.

He noted that even if JSOTF-GCC is primarily a training team, it represents another military option for the US in the region at a time of escalating rhetoric with Iran.

"The Iranians are threatening to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the sea lane through which a fifth of the world's oil travels, as two US aircraft carrier battle groups float nearby. And when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says the US could reopen the waterway by force, there might be an elite commando team nearby to help do it," Ackerman concluded.



Exclusive: New US Commando Team Operating Near Iran
Spencer Ackerman / DangerRoom, Wired Magazine

(January 19, 2012) -- Tensions between the US and Iran are at a high point, as the Islamic Republic threatens to close off a vital waterway and two US aircraft carrier battle groups sit in the seas off the Iranian coast. But across the Persian Gulf, the US has a previously unacknowledged weapon in reserve: a new special operations team.

Danger Room has confirmed with the US Special Operations Command that a new elite commando team is operating in the region. The primary, day-to-day mission of the team, known as Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Cooperation Council, is to mentor military units belonging to the US' oil-rich Arab allies, who collectively are known as the Gulf Cooperation Council. Those Arab states consider Iran to be their primary foreign threat.

The task force provides "highly trained personnel that excel in uncertain environments," Maj. Rob Bockholt, a spokesman for special-operations forces in the Mideast, tells Danger Room, and "seeks to confront irregular threats." The US military has not previously acknowledged the existence of the team, known as JSOTF-GCC for short.

The unit began its existence in mid-2009 -- around the time that the Iranian leadership rejected President Obama's offer of a new diplomatic dialogue and underwent a serious internal challenge to its legitimacy from Green Movement protesters. But whatever the task force does about Iran -- or might do in the future -- is a sensitive subject with the military.

"It would be inappropriate to discuss operational plans regarding any particular nation," Bockholt says about Iran.

There is no direct evidence that JSOTF-GCC has been involved in offensive action against Iran. It is unlikely, for instance, that JSOTF-GCC killed Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan last week, an assassination the US has firmly denied any role in and for which the Israelis, reports Eli Lake of Newsweek, are all but openly taking credit.

Some special-operations veterans -- who did not wish to be identified or quoted -- downplayed the significance of the new task force, expecting it to primarily advise Gulf nations on how to train their own forces, and speculated that its actual role against Iran was indirect at most. Col. Tim Nye, the chief spokesman for the US Special Operations Command, says the task force is responsible "for coordinating all SOF [Special Operations Forces] engagements and training with Gulf Cooperation Council nations."

The special operations forces of those nations have shown a notable improvement over the past year. Qatari commandos quietly traveled to Libya ahead of Moammar Gadhafi's downfall to prepare Libyan rebels for the successful capture of Tripoli. The United Arab Emirates, another close US ally, has also made its elite forces a priority, even hiring Blackwater's founder to bolster their training.

Not many details are available about the task force. It's built around Naval Special Warfare Unit Three, one of the elite Navy SEAL teams. But the "Joint" in the task force's name signals that it draws from the special-operations forces in the Army, Air Force and Marines as well. Its commander is a Navy captain or equivalent in a different service.

Officials would not identify missions of the task force, its leadership or its headquarters, citing the safety of the personnel involved and the success of those missions.

Even if JSOTF-GCC is primarily a training team, it represents another military option for the US in the region during at a time of escalating rhetoric with Iran. The Iranians are threatening to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the sea lane through which a fifth of the world's oil travels, as two US aircraft carrier battle groups float nearby. And when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says the US could reopen the waterway by force, there might be an elite commando team nearby to help do it.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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