SOF News Update 20170927 – Winner of Marine fitness competition, 15th SOS provides relief, Russia’s proxy forces in Ukraine, video on career opportunities with DIA, MG (Ret) Sidney Shachnow, Iraqi Kurds vote, Black Hawks for AAF, new strategic concept for NATO, video about SOF by NYTs, Dr. Mike Vickers now with Metis Solutions, new sub that supports SOF, CIA’s cultural Cold War against the Soviet Union, Iraq battle update, Chad included in travel ban, and more.
Iraq Battle Update. Christopher Woody writes on the current state of conflict in Iraq. With Mosul and Tal Afar taken by Iraq Security Forces (and partners) the focus now turns to Hawija (north-central Iraq) and Anbar province (western Iraq). The progress is promising although the Hawija fight is complicated by the Kurdish referendum for independence. Read “Iraqi forces are going after the last ISIS holdouts in Iraq – here’s what they’re up against”, Business Insider, September 26, 2017.
Fittest Marine. MARSOC Marine gets first place in Ultimate Tactical Athlete competition . . . for the second year in a row. The event is an intense, three-day competition that challenges physical strength and endurance as well as mental toughness. Read “The Exercises That Helped This Man Become the Country’s Fittest Marine”, Men’s Health, September 25, 2017.
15th SOS from Hurlburt In Caribbean. Aircrew members from Hurlburt Field’s 15th Special Operations Squadron helped with the evacuation of medical students from the island of Montserrat after Hurricane Maria. The students were suffering from a lack of medical care, food, water, and basic amenities. In addition there were threats from looters. See story by DVIDS, September 23, 2017.
Taya Kyle’s Letter to the NFL. The widow of Chris Kyle (Navy SEAL sniper) has penned a response to the kneeling NFL players. She tells them to get off their knees and get to work in their communities. (Fox News, Sep 26, 2017).
Video – The Growth of SOF. A nine-minute long video explains how special operations forces came to be the ‘go to’ force to combat terrorism. The success of the Israeli Entebbe raid and the failure of the US hostage rescue of the embassy in Iran led to the establishment of capable U.S. SOF forces. Watch the video How Special Ops Became Central to the War on Terror, The New York Times, September 25, 2017.
Dr. Mike Vickers with Metis Solutions. The CEO of Metis Solutions announced that he has a new addition to the firm’s Board of Directors. Vickers is a former Green Beret, CIA paramilitary officer, and once served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC). Read a press release on the appointment (PR Web, Sep 26,2017).
Report – Russia’s Proxy Forces in Ukraine. The Institute for the Study of War has published a 56-page report about Russia’s political-military campaign in Eastern Ukraine and how it threatens the rest of Europe. The Ukraine campaign is part of a larger strategy to assert dominance over the territories of the former Soviet Union. While Russia has failed to extend the campaign of subversion across the remainder of Ukraine with its proxy forces it continues to attempt to extend and exploit the conflict to destabilize Ukraine and prevent its further integration with the west. Read The Kremlin’s Irregular Army: Ukrainian Separatist Order of Battle, by Franklin Holcomb, The Institute for the Study of War, September 2017.
Video – Career Opportunities with DIA. The Defense Intelligence Agency is looking for some folks to join up. Watch a two-minute long video by the DIA (April 26, 2017) on employment opportunities.
USS Colorado – Navy’s Newest Sub. The 15th submarine of the Virginia-class has been accepted by the Navy. Among its features is the ability to support the projection of SOF ashore. The submarine has special features including a reconfigurable torpedo room with will accommodate SOF personnel and their equipment. It also has a large lock-in / lock-out chamber for divers. (Naval Sea Systems Command, Sep 21, 2017).
Chad included in Travel Ban. A bewildering development has many people questioning the State Department and White House. Chad, a key U.S. counterterrorism ally, has been added to the travel ban – barring its citizens from the United States indefinitely. Read “Why Was Chad Included in the New Travel Ban?”, The Atlantic, September 26, 2017.
Honoring MG (Ret) Sidney Shachnow. A legendary Special Forces officer will be honored at the Country Club of North Carolina on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Learn more at this event announcement.
Kurd Vote – More to Come. The recent vote for Kurdish independence (in Iraq) sets the stage for negotiations and heightened tensions in the region. The Iraqi Kurds will be looking for some serious concessions from the dysfunctional Iraqi government – as the Kurds are currently in a position of strength. Iran, Syria, and Turkey are looking on with dismay as many of the Kurdish people live in their nations.
Book Review: CIA’s Cultural Cold War Against the Soviet Union. Steve Slick, a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin reviews Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers (OR Books, 2017). He doesn’t recommend the book but the article is very revealing of the CIA’s actions against the Soviet Union in the literary world. See “A Lost Opportunity to Learn Lessons from the Cultural Cold War”, Lawfare Blog, September 26, 2017.
Black Hawks for Afghanistan’s AF. The U.S. plans to replace the Mi-17 utility helicopter currently in use by the Afghan Air Force (AAF) with the UH-60 Black Hawk. The initial set of the U.S. helicopters were delivered to Kandahar Airfield in September 2017. More than 150 Black Hawks will be sent to Afghanistan over the next several years. So now the fledgling Afghan Air Force will have to learn how to fly and maintain yet another aircraft – while they are struggling to fly and maintain the ones they currently have in their air fleet. The Russian Mi-17 is ideally suited for the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, the AAF has trained pilots and maintainers, and it is fully integrated into combat operations. The Black Hawk is too complex, the fuel quality requirements exceed that of the Russian chopper, it struggles in the higher elevations, it is harder to maintain, it poses another pilot training problem, and the supply chain is too cumbersome and extensive. But U.S. congressional politics will usually win out. Congratulations to Sirkorsky and the congressional delegation from Connecticut. Read more in “Army divested Black Hawks reach Afghanistan“, Army.mil, September 25, 2017.
NATO and Strategy. There is some pressure for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to update its strategic concept. The current 2010 Strategic Concept is considered outdated considering the ever-growing Russia aggression in Eastern Europe. Read more in a paper by Patrick Keller entitled “A New Strategic Concept for NATO?”, AEI, September 26, 2017.