Special Operations News Update 20171003

Capt. Kaci Dixon, an Intelligence Officer with AFSOC, poses for a photo before an incentive flight on an F-15 (AF photo, March 2014).
Capt. Kaci Dixon, an Intelligence Officer with AFSOC, poses for a photo before an incentive flight on an F-15 (AF photo, March 2014).

SOF News Update 20171003 – SFABs not quite SF, KIA in Iraq, females in AFSOC, new head of DIA, two Navy pilots die in crash, U.S. drone shot down in Yemen, Egyptian weapons intrigue, Kurds and Iran, Marine Raider SGM heading to JTFN, Sebastian Gorka – lecturer for SOF, new BG in RI NG, DNI speaks at BU, OSS’s Det 101, and more.

SFABs Not Quite SF. The nature of war has changed significantly. Some folks believe that counterinsurgency is best conducted when U.S. troops go to a foreign land and fight insurgents on behalf of the host nation. But true counterinsurgents know that you send advisors to a foreign land and ‘train, advise, and assist’ (TAA) host nation forces so that they can fight and defeat the insurgents. The Army organization that does this ‘advising’ mission best is the U.S. Army Special Forces. However, in today’s world there just is not enough SF teams to go everywhere. SF ODA’s are scattered in over 70 different countries worldwide. So part of the TAA task inevitably goes to the conventional Army.

Past experience in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that the Army is slow to stand up trained and effective advisor units. Slowly the MiTTs (Iraq) and the (ETTs and then SFAATs) got better – but it was an ad hoc arrangement. In addition, the Advise and Assist Brigades (AABs) in Iraq and the Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) in Afghansitan were stood up – but only in the later stages of the conflict and once again an ad hoc arrangement. So now the U.S. Army is being proactive with the establishment of permanent force structures for the TAA mission. Enter the Security Force Assistance Brigades or SFABs. They seem very similar to SF. But some in the SF community are questioning the reason for the SFABs and are irked that the mission is being ‘stolen’ from SF. Read one veteran SF Soldiers perspective in “SOF Truths – SOF Can Not Be Mass Produced . . . Right? Apparently Not”Special Operations.com, October 2, 2017.

Coalition Death in Iraq. A Coalition service member was killed and another wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb on Sunday, October 1, 2017. A Pentagon spokesperson has said the fatality was a U.S. military member. He was identified as Army Specialist Alexander Missildine, 20, of Tyler, Texas.  (Stripes, Oct 2, 2017).

MARSOC SGM to JTFN. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Aaron McDonald, currently assigned as the Marine Raider Regiment sergeant major is going to be the command senior enlisted leader for Joint Task Force North, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Females in AFSOC. The Air Force Special Operations Command has many career opportunities for females. One female officer, Kaci Dixon – an Intelligence Officer with AFSOC, shares her experience in “Face of Defense: Total Force Air Commando Continues Breaking Barriers”DoD, October 2, 2017.

Dir of National Intelligence at BU. Dan Coates, the top intelligence advisor to President Trump spent some time at Boston University speaking about intelligence, threats, and his job of advising the president. See “Trump’s Top Intelligence Advisor Visits BU”BU Today, October 2, 2017.

OSS’s Det 101. The Office of Strategic Services Detachment 101 was a mostly Army unit that conducted guerrilla operations in Burma during World War II. Read “Detachment 101: A Top-Secret WWII Unit”Scout.com, September 30, 2017.

New BG in RI NG. The Rhode Island National Guard has a new brigadier general with extensive Special Forces experience. (LaCrosse Tribune, October 2, 2017).

Sebastian Gorka – a SOF Asset? The embattled former presidential advisor seems to have a history with the special operations community. He has been a guest speaker at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg as well as the USSOCOM Joint Special Operations University (JSOU). Read more in “Sebastian Gorka, former Trump aide, recalled as stellar teacher at SOCOM”Tampa Bay Online, October 2, 2017.

Two Navy Pilots Die in Crash. The U.S. Navy has confirmed that a student pilot and instructor pilot died in a crash in east Tennessee. The aircraft was a T-45 training aircraft.  (The Hill Blog, Oct 2, 2017).

New Head of DIA. LTG Robert Ashley will become the 21st director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He is a longtime JSOC member. His previous positions include squadron commander in TF Orange, J2 of JSOC, ISAF, and CENTCOM.

Kurds and Iran. The Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelming in favor of independence from the central government of Iraq. Neighboring countries with significant Kurdish population are not happy (Syria, Turkey, and Iran). Iran has sent tanks and artillery to the border area of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. Now that ISIS is almost defeated within Iraq borders the Arab population of Iraq will turn its attention to the Kurds. (Reuters, Oct 2, 2017).

Egypt Buys PG-7s from North Korea. In the world of secret arms deals this one is strange. A large commercial vessel flying a flag of convenience (Cambodia) left a North Korean port destined for Egypt. The U.S. notified the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and Egypt stopped and search the vessel. On board were 24,000 rocket propelled grenades. See “A North Korean Ship was seized off Egypt with a huge cache of weapons destined for a surprising buyer”The Washington Post, October 1, 2017.

U.S. Drone Shot Down in Yemen. A MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down in Yemen on October 1, 2017. The Reaper is a armed hunter-killer UAV that also doubles as an ISR platform. The U.S. has been backing the Saudi’s and the UAE in the civil war and also attacking Al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) targets. Iran is backing the Shiite rebels. See “US MQ-9 drone shot down in Yemen”Military Times, October 2, 2017.

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