SOF News Update for 20160810

CIA's 'Elephant Counter' Used in Vietnam War
CIA's 'Elephant Counter' Used in Vietnam War

SOF News Update Topics: We like football, they like soccer; airborne & SOF books, CIA’s ‘Elephant Counter’, Paratrooper Leapfest competition, endgame in Libya, SAS in Syria, DoD IG report on JIDA, TV documentary on India’s paratroopers, CENTCOM ‘cooked the books’ on intel reports about ISIS, and more.

CIA’s ‘Elephant Counter’. During the Vietnam War the Central Intelligence Agency employed Laotian tribesmen to conduct surveillance on the ‘Ho Chi Minh’ trail. The trail was a jungle / mountain road that traversed the length of Laos from the North Vietnamese border to the South Vietnamese border. The trail was used by North Vietnam to move men, supplies, equipment, and weapons from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. The CIA’s ‘trailwatchers’ were usually illiterate so a device called the ‘elephant counter’ was designed for the Laotians dispatched to watch the trail and record the traffic. Read more in an account by the CIA in “Elephant Counter”.

Books – by ASOMF. The Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation (ASOMF) has an online bookstore worth checking out.

SF WO Greg Suchanek runs to rally point during Leapfest 2016.
SF WO Greg Suchanek runs to rally point during Leapfest 2016. Photo by SGT Pritchett.

Leapfest Competition. Paratroopers from around the world gather once a year to participate in the Rhodes Island Leapfest competition. The 19th Special Forces Group stages the competition every year. Read more on the “Leapfest Facebook” page.

Modern Warfare Has Changed. The U.S. Marine Corps top general, Marine Commandant Robert Neller, has made some comments on the changing nature of warfare. He compares our (the U.S.) concept of warfare with that of our adversaries in sports terms. Read “Top Marine general: We like football, they play soccer”Washington Examiner, 9 August 2016.

Australian Defence Magazine. The latest issue (August 2016) of Australian Defense Magazine has been published online.

More on Lost SOF Equipment in Afghanistan. Earlier reports had said that a special operations forces position had been overrun and some SOF equipment captured by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Now it appears that the Resolute Support HQs is refining the story by saying that the equipment was inadvertently abandoned due to a withdrawal of SOF personnel under fire. Read more in a news report by Reuters, August 9, 2016.

Libya – What is the Endgame? Once the U.S. gets involved in a conflict there is consternation about how it all ends. As in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, . . . and now Libya. We currently have special operations forces on the ground and are conducting bombing raids (manned and unmanned). So we are looking for a short-term gain (degrading or defeat of ISIS in Libya) but what about long-term stability? Read “How Not to Plan for ‘The Day After’ in Libya”The Atlantic, August 9, 2016.

Brit SAS in Syria. It appears that the Brits are committing their Special Air Service troops to Syria for the long-haul. Read a news report in The Sun, August 9, 2016.

Private U.S. Contractors in Syria. It appears that private contractors will soon be working alongside U.S. troops in Syria. Read more in “Spies-for-Hire Now at War in Syria”The Daily Beast, August 9, 2016.

Pentagon IG Report on JIDA. The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency has some housekeeping to do according to the Defense Department’s inspector general. Read “Effectiveness of some counter-IED efforts unproved, Pentagon report finds”Military Times,  August 9, 2016.

TV Special on Indian Army’s Paratroopers SF. The Discovery Channel will air a special program titled ‘India’s Paratroopers: Earning the Badge’ on August 15th, 2016 at 9:00 pm.

USSOCOM Awards Aviation Contracts. Four firms are the recipients of contract work from the United States Special Operations Command. Read more in a news report by IHS Jane’s 360, August 9, 2016.

CENTCOM Intel Officials Cooked Books. Inaccurate reports by leading intelligence officers at Central Command downplayed the strength of the Islamic State. Read more in “ISIS Intel Was Cooked, House Panel Finds”The Daily Beast, August 9, 2016.

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