Special Operations News Update 20171117

SF soldier from SOTF-A waits for nightfall prior to start of operation in Alingar district, Laghman province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo, Sep 4, 2016).
SF soldier from SOTF-A waits for nightfall prior to start of operation in Alingar district, Laghman province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo, Sep 4, 2016).

SOF News Update 20171117 – SOF’s MWDs, AAR of ZAPAD 2017, lecture at USSOCOM by book author, movie actor workout program, Afghanistan’s GCPSU, Soldier dies in Kuwait (Nov 14), review of Hollywood movies about Vietnam, coup in Zimbabwe (?), new Army secretary, importance of OSINT, SOFWERX ThunderDrone Rodeo, SOF officer promotions, ARSOF soldier died during PT, medal for 5307th, review of books on SF, Navy SEAL dies in dive accident, and more.

SOF’s MWDs. A new documentary is out on HBO’s online service that commemorates the multi-purpose canines fighting alongside U.S. Special Operations Forces downrange.The film – “War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend” – chronicles the bonds between special operations troops and the canines they train and hand downrange. Read “New HBO documentary highlights the sacrifices of special operator’s canines”Military Times, November 15, 2017.

USSOCOM Lecture: U.S. and China. Dr. Graham Allison, author of “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?”, delivered a lecture to senior leaders at USSOCOM. (USSOCOM, Nov 15, 2017).

14K U.S. Troops in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon there are now (as of Nov 14th) 14 thousand U.S. service members in Afghanistan.

ARSOF Soldier Dies During PT. SGT Robert Thornton, age 29, died while running during physical training on Ardennes Road, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was a member of the 528th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Special Forces Command. (Fayetteville Observer, Nov 16, 2017).

Afghanistan’s SOF Police. The General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU) is where the Afghan Ministry of Interior’s special operations police are found. Currently there are three operations units – CRU 222, CF 333, and ATF 444. The Crisis Response Unit 222 is the best known of the three – based in Kabul it will respond to the high-profile terrorist attacks one reads about in the news media. There are plans to significantly increase the size of the GCPSU with the establishment of National Mission Units 555, 888, and 999. Read more in a news report by Marty Skovlund entitled “This Elite Police Force is Afghanistan’s Secret Weapon Against Violent Extremists”Task and Purpose, November 15, 2017.

The CIA and OSINT. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is a key component of the Central Intelligence Agency’s information gathering activities. However, a few misconceptions cloud the utility of OSINT. A former high-level CIA official who is a former director of the CIA’s Open Source Center explains in “Open Source Information: Info Ops’ Untapped Weapon”The Cipher Brief, November 17, 2017.

New Army Secretary. The Senate has confirmed former Raytheon executive Mark Esper as the new Army secretary . . . finally. Esper is a former Army LTC and graduate of West Point. He served for a decade on active duty to include a combat tour in Iraq during Desert Storm. (Military Times, Nov 15, 2017).

Navy SEAL Dies in Accident. A Coronado-based SEAL died in an off-duty diving-related accident off the coast of Africa on Veterans Day. (CBS 8 TV, Nov 16, 2017).

Medal for 5307th. Two U.S. Senators have introduced the bipartisan Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act (S.2114) to recognize the efforts of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) for their heroic service during World War II. (Savannah CEO, Nov 16, 2017).

Death of Soldier in Kuwait (Nov 14th). The Department of Defense announced the death of SFC Hughton Brown, of the 411th Engineer Brigade, from a non-combat related incident. (DoD, Nov 15, 2017).

Movie Star will depict SEAL. Joe Manganiello is an action movie type of guy. And he really gets into acting the part. Learn how he prepared for an upcoming movie (Rampage) where he plays the part of a U.S. Navy SEAL. Read “Joe Manganiello on What It’s Like to Train With SEAL Team Six”Men’s Health, November 15, 2017.

USSOCOM’s SOFWERX ThunderDrone Rodeo. Military and civilian personnel attended an event held at the SOFWERX facility in Tampa, Florida in late October and early November that was dedicated to drone prototyping. The event focused on exploring drone technologies through idea formation, testing, and demonstration. View twelve photos about the event.

Review of Books on SF. Steve Balestrieri writes on good books to read about Special Forces history. (Special Operations.com, Nov 15, 2017).

SOF Officer Promotions. USAF COL Brenda Cartier has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. She is currently serving as commander of the 58th Special Operations Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. USAF COL Robert Lyman has been nominated to be a BG – he is currently serving as the director of communications for HQs JSOC.  USAF COL Michael Martin, cdr of 24th SOW, to be a BG as well.

Review of Hollywood Movies about Vietnam. Movies about Vietnam run the range of realistic to outright foolish. Some are deep, dark dramas while a few are works of comedy. A recent review provides review of 25 movies. When I read the review I figured, as a Vietnam-era veteran, I would have seen all of the movies. But, by my count, I haven’t seen nine of them. Got some work to do. Read “Vietnam and Hollywood: The realism quotient”Stars and Stripes, October 24, 2017.

ZAPAD 2017 AAR. Christian Novak, a research assistant in the University of Sydney’s Department of Government and International Relations has provided an After Action Report of Russia’s recent (and very large) military exercise held in the neighboring country of Belarus, Western Russia, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The exercise had regional countries on edge – with some thinking it might be a pretext to Russia leaving troops behind in Belarus. Read “Zapad 2017: an early assessment”The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), November 15, 2017.

Coup in Zimbabwe? Early on Wednesday, Nov 15th, elements of the Zimbabwe Army moved to occupy important symbols of state power in what appears to be a coup to remove President Roberto Mugabe. TV stations, the airport, and strategic locations in the capital city were taken under control of the Army. Jennifer G. Cooke, the Director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic & and International Studies (CSIS), provides insight into the Zimbabwe situation in Zimbabwe Coup, CSIS, November 15, 2017.

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