Special Operations News Update – Monday, June 29, 2020

US and Latvian SOF HALO Jump

Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.

SOF News

Interview – USASOC Commander. The head of the United States Army Special Operations Command, LTG Fran Beaudette is interviewed. He answers questions on several topics to include the future of conflict, modernizing, ARSOF, and USASOC’s focus. (Special Operations Outlook, May 28, 2020).

July 9th – First Female Soldier to Graduate from SFQC. For the first time, a woman will graduate from the Special Forces Qualification Course. The graduation ceremony will be on July 9, 2020. The female soldier is a member of 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group of the Florida Army National Guard.

Women, Physical Standards, and SFQC. A recent article by SOFREP argues that there would be “. . . a significant net benefit gained by reasonably adjusting female physical standards in a manner that accounts for the natural biological differences between men and women.” This would provide more opportunity for female soldiers to complete the Special Forces Qualification Course. Read “Women & standards in special operations and special mission units”, We Are the Mighty, June 26, 2020.

SOCOM Tech Initiatives. New hardware and software programs will be used in the fight against terrorism as well as with focusing on competition with Russia and China. These include the ‘hyper-enabled operator’ concept. Read “SOCOM’s Tech Initiatives Reflect Old, New Mission Sets”, by Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense Magazine, June 26, 2020.

International SOF

Sri Lanka’s Special Forces Regiment. In 1988 the First Regiment Special Forces was established – forming around the core of previous elite units. Read “A confluence of courage and stealth”, Daily News, June 29, 2020.

Aussie SF – War Crimes Acknowledged. The senior army officer commanding Australia’s special forces (SAS and Commandos) has admitted that elite soldiers had committed war crimes in Afghanistan. See “Special forces chief acknowledges war crimes, blames poor moral leadership”, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 28, 2020.

SOF History

15 Years Ago – Operation Red Wings. Navy SEAL Michael Murphy was recognized for his bravery during Operation Red Wings a decade and a half ago in Afghanistan. He would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during a fierce engagement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of several Naval Special Warfare sailors. (Task & Purpose, Jun 28, 2020).

Navy SEAL Widow. Char Fontan Westfall’s husband died 15 years ago during an ill-fated mission in Afghanistan. Adjustment to life after her husband was killed has been difficult – a time of grief and acceptance. (Military.com, June 28, 2020).

Army Rangers and WWII. Members of the U.S. 1st Ranger Battalion were trained up at a British Commando training depot before taking part in the invasion of Europe. Read “U.S. Army Rangers: Why You Can’t Stop Them in a War”, Yahoo! News, June 28, 2020.

Wuhan Virus and the Military

Coronavirus Update. The U.S. seems to be backsliding in the attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. And we are leading the world in reported deaths. The global death rate for Coronavirus has passed the 500,000 mark. The U.S. is now at 150,000 dead from COVID-19; accounting for more than a quarter of the world’s coronavirus death rate. The U.S. has 4% of the world’s population.

The European Union is opening up travel to the continent beginning July 1st – but travelers from three nations are considered too risky and are likely to be barred from entering (United States, Brazil, and Russia). The U.S. military is still conducting exercises in Europe but effective and stringent control measures are now in place for COVID-19.

The U.S. military has taken some significant steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus within its ranks. Exercises and training continue, although at a reduced rate. Online training has increased significantly.

Great Power Competition

China’s Private Military and Security Companies. Christopher Spearin, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, writes that U.S. policymakers should strive to rein in and temper the current global expansion of China’s use of private security entities. The U.S. should persuade China to utilize PMSC’s in a “. . . way that is defensive, transparent, and not assertive in the context of gray zone conflict.” Read “China’s Private Military and Security Companies: “Chinese Muscle” and the Reasons for U.S. Engagement”, PRISM, Vol. 8, No. 4, National Defense University Press, June 2020.

Concerns about China in Europe. Russia isn’t the only great power flexing its muscles and influence in Europe. China has been busy as well. Read “China Becoming Concern for U.S. Commanders in Europe”, by Jim Garamone, DoD News, June 26, 2020.

Upcoming Events

11th SFGA Reunion Cancelled. Every year former members of the 11th Special Forces Group (Airborne) gather at Fort Meade, Maryland to renew ties with old acquaintances and make new friends. This years event is cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Videos, Podcasts, and Movies

Podcast – Green Beret Book Author Interview. Former Special Forces soldier James Stejskal is interviewed about his book Special Forces Berlin.
Hazard Ground, June 23, 2020, 58 minutes.

Movie Review – Wasp Network. Rick Francona, of Middle East Perspectives, reviews a recent Netflix movie about a Cuban spy network that operated in the U.S. in the 1990s. If you are interested in intelligence operations and Cuban exile groups then check it out.

Video – Special Forces train Latvian soldiers in small-unit tactics. U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers trained soldiers from the Latvian Zemessardze (national guard) 53rd Battalion in small-unit tactics in June 2020. Special Forces operators often train national guard soldiers in the Baltic Republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, improving their skills while enhancing their ability to work with U.S. forces in crisis situations. B-roll, June 7, 2020, Latvia.


Photo: U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers prepare to conduct a high-altitude, low-opening jump over Latvia on 18 June 2020. U.S. Special Forces often practice free-fall jump techniques with their counterparts in the Latvian Special Operations Unit. Photo by Robert L. Kunzig, Navy Publice Affairs Support Element East, Jun 18, 2020.

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SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.