Current news, analysis, and commentary on special operations, national security, and conflicts from around the world.
SHOT Show. The annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade event known as “SHOT Show” attracts a lot of members of the special operations community. One of the many organizations with a presence at the SHOT Show include the U.S. Special Operations Command or USSOCOM. Read more in “SHOT 2019 A Glimpse Behind the Curtain”, Defense Media Network, June 10, 2019.
Navy SEAL’s Troubles Mount. A SEAL is fighting accusations that he killed an unarmed prisoner in Iraq. Now it appears that news stories are surfacing about him being a ‘loose cannon’ in Afghanistan. More will likely surface on this front in the coming days. Read “Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was also alleged to have committed murder in Afghanistan”, NEWSREP, June 12, 2019.
Niger Ambush Investigation. Various news media outlets continue to report on the ambush of a 3rd Special Forces Group team in Niger in October 2017. New reporting raises questions about the Pentagon’s report which placed most of the blame on the Special Forces team. Read “Why did a U.S. mission in Niger turn deadly?”, National Geographic Magazine, July 2019.
SOCOM and AP Round. U.S. Special Operations Command is looking for a viable armor piercing round for its snipers. (Military Times, June 11, 2019).
USSOCOM to Get More MH-47G Choppers. The Boeing Co. was awarded a $194,224,723 modification of a current contract to procure six renew-build and one new-build MH-47G rotary wing aircraft. This will help USSOCOM sustain heavy assault, rotary wing aircraft capability.
WW II Marine Raider Shares his Story. A veteran of the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion recounts the Pacific campaign against the Japanese. (DVIDS, June 11, 2019).
Marine Raider Competition. The Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) hosted the 2019 Marine Raider Competition at Camp Lejeune, NC on June 12, 2019. The event is designed to “. . . build camaraderie and test operational capabilities consistent with special operations missions and to honor Marine Raider heritage.” Read “Spiritus Invictus: Marines team up in 2019 Marine Raider Competition”, DVIDS MARSOC, June 12, 2019.
Former GB Continues to Serve. A Special Forces soldier left the Army and entered civilian life – but the transition was less than smooth. Now he works to help other service members adjust to civilian life and to work through PTSD issues. Read “A Green Beret Shares His Story of Service and Healing”, The Epoch Times, June 13, 2019.
Remembering John Kedenburg – MoH Recipient. In June 1968 SPC5 John Kedenburg’s actions in Vietnam would result in his being awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously). He was assigned as the Team Leader of Recon Team Nevada of MACV-SOG. (Special Operations.com, June 13, 2019).
Owen West to Resign. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) will be leaving his post in June 2019. Mr. Owen West has been in that capacity for about one and one-half years. He will be replaced by Col (Ret) Mark Mitchell.
British SF Changing Focus. The British special forces units are going to be doing a little less counterterrorism work and paying more attention to Russia. See “UK’s special forces set for new Russia mission”, BBC, June 13, 2019.
France Seeks Help from European SOF. European powers are being asked to provide special forces to support its troops struggling to contain a rise of violence in West Africa. Islamist militant attacks and inter-ethnic violence has rose significantly in the Sahel region. See “Amid Sahel violence, France seeks more European special forces”, Nasdaq.com, June 13, 2019.
Poland. The U.S. will send almost 1,000 more troops to Poland in the coming year. A White House statement has the specifics of the agreement. Of mention is a clause that states “Establishment of United States special operations forces capability in Poland to support air, ground and maritime operations.” (White House, June 12, 2019).
Baltic Sea Exercise. Baltic Operations, known as BALTOPS, is one of the largest exercises in northern Europe. It encompasses over 50 ships, two subs, numerous aircraft, and thousands of troops. The exercise runs in the month of June 2019. Read “Russia, China on the Prowl: How US Navy is Responding”, by Carla Babb, Voice of America, June 13, 2019.
AFRICOM Cdr Optimistic on Somalia. General Thomas Waldhauser says there has been some fairly good progress in Somalia in the last few months in regaining territory lost to al-Shabaab. He did describe the progress as ‘incremental’. Read “AFRICOM commander sees recent signs of progress in Somalia”, Stars and Stripes, June 12, 2019.
Troubles in Mali. Nearly 100 people were killed in an attack on a village in central Mali in the Mopti region. Those killed were members of the Dogon ethnic group – the attackers apparently members of the semi-nomadi Fulani herders. Read “Mali attack: ‘100 killed’ in ethnic Dogon village”, BBC News, June 10, 2019.
Things That Make You Go “Hmmm”
Female Reservists Would Get Maternity Leave. It seems that legislation has been introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (KS) to guarantee paid maternity leave for guardswomen and reservists. Read “Some Military Women Miss Out on Maternity Leave. This Bill Would Fix that”, Military.com, June 12, 2019.
Papers, Reports, and Books
Australia and U.S. Alliance. A recent paper examines the challenges that China poses in the Pacific region in the context of Australian-U.S. relations and cooperation. Read The Future of the US-Australia Alliance in an Era of Great Power Competition, by Dr. Charles Edel and Dr. John Lee, University of Sydney, June 13, 2019, 24 pages. (no mention of SOF).
History of the Fight for Baghdad. A bunch of authors have collaborated on a 319-page paper entitled The U.S. Army and the Battle for Baghdad: Lessons Learned – And Still to Be Learned, RAND Corporation, June 2019. Special operations gets mentioned quite a bit although it seems (with a casual scanning) to be “JSOC” heavy in content.
Paper – Salafi-Jihadi Movement. Katerine Zimmerman, a research fellow with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has penned a 31-page report entitled Road to the Caliphate: the Salafi-Jihadi Movement Strengths, June 2019.
Book Review – Building Militaries in Fragile States. Matthew J. Kuhlman, a Foreign Area Officer, reviews Mara E. Karlin’s book. The book cites the failures of and provides recommendations for building partner military capacity in failed or fragile nations.
Author Interview. Nada Bakos is interviewed by Michael Morell (Intelligence Matters) about her new book The Targeter. Bakos worked for the CIA and was involved in the counterterrorism fight. (CBS News, June 12, 2019).
Paper – Detained Foreign Fighters in Syria. Brian Michael Jenkins, a well-known terrorism expert, has a paper published by the CTC Sentinel entitled “Options for Dealing with Islamic State Foreign Fighters Currently Detained in Syria”, May / June 2019, 13 pages.
Movies & Videos
Daughter of the Wolf. A female special operations ‘operator’ returns home to the wilds of the northwest to rescue her son and deal with a gang of criminals. Gina Carano – a mixed martial artist, actress, fitness model, and television personality – is showcased in this film. Read a review of the movie.
How Security Cooperation Advances US Interests. On June 4, 2019 Brookings Institute hosted a conversation between Michael O’Hanlon and LTG Charles Hooper (Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency) on how DSCA advances U.S. foreign policy objectives in an era increasingly driven by great power competition. (one hour video).
Panel on Maritime IW. The Hudson Institute will host a panel discussion with two book authors who have explored the topic of maritime irregular warfare. Some of the speakers include Benjamin Armstrong (author Small Boats and Daring Men), Linda Robinson, and others. Could be of interest to those in the D.C. area. Wednesday, June 26, 2019 – “Maritime Irregular Warfare: Preparing to Meet Hybrid Maritime Threats”.
Photo: Taken from recruitment video by U.S. Navy SEALs.