Special Operations Forces (SOF) News Update – 20170630

Soldier from 1st Special Forces Group performs a helicast during Organization Day 2017 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. (photo by SGT Brandon Welsh, 1st SFGA, 22 June 2017).
Soldier from 1st Special Forces Group performs a helicast during Organization Day 2017 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. (photo by SGT Brandon Welsh, 1st SFGA, 22 June 2017).

SOF News Update 20170630 – Video of Philippine SOF engaging insurgents, volunteers for MAVNI program face deportation, Black Hornet mini-UAV, drug use in SOF, Leahy Law & security assistance, SOF’s counter culture, SPMAGTF-CR-AF, not losing in Afghanistan, SOF caught in the middle in Syria, and more.

Video of Philippine SOF Engaging Insurgents. Vice News provides a 9-minute long video of Philippine special operations forces (SOF) snipers engaging insurgents in Southern Philippines.

PD-100 Mini-UAV for SOF. The Black Hornet PD-100 is a very tiny helicopter UAV used by a number of SOF units from across the globe. Read more in “Warplanes: Something The Batman Would Hang On His Belt”Strategy Page, June 28, 2017.

MAVNI Program Hits Roadbump. During the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it became apparent that the U.S. military did not have enough Arabic and Dari / Pashtun speakers. Admiral Eric Olson, a past commander of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), was instrumental in establishing the Pentagon’s “Military Accessions Vital to National Interest” program that recruited foreign-born individuals with language abilities needed by the military. Many members of the program worked as interpreters for U.S. SOF and a few have entered the training pipeline for SOF. Now it appears that President Trump’s new immigration policies is putting the program through some hurdles. Over 1,000 individuals with signed contracts are facing deportation. Read more in “Lawmakers press Trump not to deport foreign-born military recruits”Stars & Stripes, June 28, 2017. The Office of Inspector General for the DoD recently published a report relating to counterintelligence and insider threats and the MAVNI program. It probably is good reading but it is classified.

Green Beret Challenge. A former Special Forces Soldier is hosting an event for about 24 people who want to know what it is like to be a Green Beret. This is an opportunity for ordinary people to test themselves by experiencing what a SF Soldier does in training and in the field. (Macon.com, June 29, 2017).

UK’s SBS Train on Oil Rigs. The United Kingdom’s Special Boat Service (SBS) has been conducting training exercises on North Sea oil rigs. (Energy Voice).

Canadian SOF Mission in Iraq Extended. Canadian SOF will continue their mission to train up the Peshmerga in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Read more in “Liberals extend ‘advise and assist’ mission in Iraq to March 2019”National Post, June 29, 2017.

SOF’s Counterculture. Boots unbloused, no hat, sun glasses on head, rolled up sleeves, and more in a war zone will easily help you identify an SF guy. The conventional CSM or SGM sees a young trooper who is undisciplined but perhaps there is more to that Soldier than meets the eye. Read “Surfers, Hippies, Hipsters, and Snowflakes – Counterculture in SOF”SOFLETE.com, June 29, 2017.

2017 Navy SEAL Patriot Award. The Navy SEAL Foundation announced that Kenneth Griffin will receive their annual award for his work in support of the Naval Special Warfare community. General (Ret) David Petraeus is the keynote speaker for the event to be held in September 2017.  (PR Web).

SPMAGTF-CR-AF Train Up with Explosives. The personnel of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa have been training up on the use of explosives in Spain with members of the Spanish Second Air Support Deployment Squadron (SEADA). (Marines.mil, June 28, 2017).

Drug Use in SOF Units? Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are under the impression that U.S. special operations forces has a big drug use problem. Read “House lawmakers demand accountability review for U.S. special operations forces”The Washington Times, June 28, 2017.

Road to Stalemate in Afghanistan. The Afghan security forces are slowly losing ground in Afghanistan. While the government controls the major cities and provincial capitals its hold on the rural countryside is tenuous. The U.S. strategic plan for Afghanistan has yet to be unveiled but it is unlikely to lead to victory. James Dobbins, a veteran diplomat with a lot of Afghan experience, writes “Trump’s Options for Afghanistan: Losing or Not Losing”RAND Corporation, June 23, 2017.

More on Leahy Law. The passage of the Leahy Law is seen as an obstacle to SOF units attempting to provide training to indigenous forces in other countries. Vetting of units is problematic and time consuming. Rachel Kleinfeld opines on the Leahy Law, how U.S. security assistance is effective at the tactical level, how security assistance most times fails to achieve our national interests, and ‘failed states’. Read “Rethinking US Security Assistance Beyond the Leahy Law”Just Security, June 28, 2017.

SOF in the Middle: Between Turks and Kurds. A news report states that U.S. special operations forces are being positioned in key areas in an attempt to prevent Turkish military forces from attacking our Kurdish allies. Read more in “U.S. special operations forces dispatched to Tal Abyad in northern Syria”Military Times, June 28, 2017.

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