Special Operations News Update 20180423

Free Fall 82nd ERS Djibouti

SOF News Update 20180423 – USSOCOM 2018 Bull Simons Award, Little Birds in Manhattan, US SF history and the future, SF officer comments on Ukraine, ASSF doubles in size, UAVs for Latvia, 1st Sgts of 27th SOW, Nigerian SF demo, Gray Zone explainer, ‘protectorates’ for Syria, Russian Intelligence, rethinking NATO, Syrian strategy, expeditionary economics in IW, strife in the Philippines, advisor vs. adviser, A/C of the 160th, drone base in Niger, airborne CCA boats, and more.

International SOF

ASSF Doubles in Size. The Afghan National Army special operations forces is going through a dramatic increase in personnel numbers. The ANASOC School of Excellence is pushing trainees through the Commando course at a rapid and unprecedented rate. Hopefully the schoolhouse is not violating SOF Truths number 2 (something about mass producing . . . ). Read “Over 4,000 Afghan Soldiers Train at Commando School of Excellence”Resolute Support, April 18, 2018.

Video – Nigerian SF Demo. Watch a six minute video of Nigerian Special Forces demonstrate their capabilities during African Land Forces Summit 2018 (ALFS). (AFN Europe, Apr 17, 2018, B-roll).


USSOCOM 2018 Bull Simons Award. Dennis Wolfe, a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major received the 2018 Bull Simons Award on April 18 in Tampa, Florida. During his long career Wolfe pioneered explosive ordnance tactics for special operations. He also helped establish a world class program for countering weapons of mass destruction. Read more in “Special Operations EOD pioneer 2018 Bull Simons Award recipient” DVIDS, April 19, 2018.

US SF History and the Future. A retired SF warrant officer traces the history of Special Forces and ponders the direction that the future will take the elite regiment. Read “De Oppresso Liber – To Free the Oppressed – What’s in a Motto?” Small Wars Journal,  April 19, 2018.

Little Birds in Manhattan. The 160th provided a little bit of excitement for New Yorkers during a ‘realistic urban training’ event on April 17-18, 2018. Read more in “Night Stalker Choppers Freak Out Manhattan with Nighttime Low-Level Training Exercise”The Warzone, April 19, 2018.

1st Sgts of 27th SOW. Being a First Sergeant in a squadron of the 27th Special Operations Wing is not a walk in the park. No one day is the same as another. Read more in “Pressure: What Makes a Diamond”DVIDS, April 18, 2018.

160th’s Aircraft. Read up on the specialized aircraft used by the Night Stalkers in “These Are the Aircraft Used by the Army’s Premier Special Ops Aviation Unit”We Are The Mighty, April 2018.

NSW and their Airborne Boats. Read (and watch a neat video) about the Special Warfare Combat-craft Crewmen (SWCCs) of Special Boat Team 20 jumping from a C-17 with two of their Combat Craft Assault (CCA) boats. (The Drive, April 21, 2018).

Virginia Tech and SEAL Prospects. The school’s Naval ROTC program has a high rate of acceptance for students to be selected to attend SEAL training. Between 40 to 50 ROTC applicants are selected for SEAL Officer Assessment Selection each summer. From those candidates only half continue to BUDS. Read more in “Virginia Tech Becomes Top Producer of NAVY SEAL Candidates” The Roanoke Star, April 20, 2018.

New Commander for 1st Special Forces Command. Brig. Gen. Edwin Deedrick, Jr. will be the new head of the Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He will replace MG Fran Beaudette. Currently Deedrick is the assistant commander for support at the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). (Fayetteville Observer, Apr 21, 2018).

SOF Symposium. The Global SOF Foundation will host its inaugural Modern Warfare Symposium at Fort Bragg in August 2018. It will be co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. (Fayetteville Observer, Apr 21, 2018).

SF, Rovers, and CAS. The use of Predators and Reapers for hitting targets is aided by a portable video terminal that SOF and infantry units can use to view the video feed of an UAV overhead. Read more in “Winning: ROVER Quietly Takes Over”Strategy Page, April 22, 2018.

7th SFGA in the News – in a Bad Way. The Green Berets in the Florida panhandle are taking the pressure off the the SEALs with some serious misconduct cases. Colonel Patrick Colloton provided some details on how the group is responding to these events in an interview. See “7th Group commander addresses murder, child sex abuse cases”NWF Daily News, April 20, 2018.

NATO (and Russia, of course)

NATO SOF train in in winter warfare skills in January 2018 in mountains near Zakopane, Poland.

Photo: Polish, Lithuanian, and US SOF train in winter warfare skills in January 2018 in mountains near Zakopane, Poland. (SOCEUR photo).

Italy – Deployments Everywhere. Most people are aware the the Italians have been one of the biggest supporters of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan – as one of the ‘framework nations’ – heading up the Train, Advise, and Assist Command – West (TAAC West) in Herat. However, the Italians have troops in many places – with an ever increasing role in Africa. See a a great map with numbers of personnel, equipment, etc. by country. See “Italy: renewed focus on overseas deployments” Military Balance Blog, April 9, 2018.

SF Officer Comments on Ukraine. Colonel Liam Collins, a Special Forces career officer and director of the Modern War Institute at West Point says the U.S. Army is facing a host of complex problems in today’s global operating environment. He says the Army needs to improve our ability to deter and defeat threats to the nation – a good first step toward developing these solutions is to watch, study, and learn from the Ukraine conflict. Read “A New Eastern Front: What the U.S. Army Must Learn From the War in Ukraine” Association of the United States Army, April 16, 2018.

Rethinking NATO. According to one observer “NATO members should seek opportunities to identify and commit to a more pragmatic set of principles . . . ” to guide its future. Read “Time to Rethink the NATO Alliance for the 21st Century, Again”, by Eric Altamura,  Georgetown Security Studies Review, April 19, 2018.

Latvia Gets UAVs. The USA is funding the acquisition of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Latvian National Armed Forces. (Baltic News Network, Apr 16, 2018).

NATO Air in the Baltics. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization continues to rotate air units into the Baltic Region for the Baltic Air Policing mission. The Portuguese will take the lead in May – assisted by France and Spain. (NATO, Apr 16, 2018).

Russian Intelligence. There are a number of overlapping and competitive intelligence organizations within the Russian governmental and military structure. This is by design – allowing Putin to keep a steady eye on possible power grabs. It also lends to a bit of inefficiency. Read more in “Inside the Competitive, Corrupt World of Russian Intelligence”The Cipher Brief, April 20, 2018.

Middle East

Map Middle East

Protectorates for Syria. An intriguing plan set forth by the Security Studies Group advances the concept of establishing four protectorates for the fractured country of Syria. Basically southeast Syria remains with the Assad regime aided by Iran and Russia, northeast Syria becomes a Turkish protectorate, southeast Syria becomes a Sunni protectorate (GCC doing the hard work there), and northeast Syria becomes a Kurdish protectorate. Could be a way out for the U.S. and a way to cease the conflict. An interesting read – “An End Game for Syria” SSG, April 8, 2018.

A Syrian Strategy? France and UK Weigh In. A few of the allies that are working with the U.S. in the Middle East are calling on the United States to form a long-term strategy aimed at a ceasefire and a political settlement to the seven-year old war. (Military.com,Apr 19, 2018).

Moscow in the ME. To help solve the crisis in the Middle East it is important to understand the objectives of Russia. Russia foreign policy has a lot to do with domestic consumption. Russia’s key objective is to seize opportunities to forge anti-US blocs. Read “Beyond Syria: Moscow’s Objectives in the Middle East”Atlantic Council, April 17, 2018.


SOF Shift in Africa. Some news reports indicate the US special operations forces will be shifting their advisory effort from the tactical (small unit) level to the more operational or strategic level. This will put less US SOF in harms way.

Green Berets and Drones in Africa. Eric Schmitt, a senior writer for the New York Times, provides a detailed look at the expanding US drone base in Niger. One question he asks: is the base going to contribute to greater security or will it be a destabilizing effect? Read “A Shadowy War’s Newest Front: A Drone Base Rising From Saharan Dust”NYTs, April 22, 2018.

Canadian Choppers in Africa. I always enjoyed flying with the Canadians. They bring a different perspective to traveling in war zones. I spent a considerable amount of time flying on refurbished Hueys flown by Molson Air. Those folks who will be operating in Mali will have the opportunity to see Canadian helicopters – two Chinook and four Griffon – in action. (CBC.ca, April 20, 2018).

Other News

Boykin on Pompeo Confirmation. Retired LTG William Boykin (SF and Intel guy) says that “Mike Pompeo has the leadership, experience, instincts, and training to be successful as the next Secretary of State.”. Read “Pompeo Is Ready to Lead”Real Clear Defense, April 20, 2018.

Examining TAA in Philippines. The Department of Defense Inspector General’s office plans to take a close look at the U.S. effort to train, advise, assist, and equip the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Operation Pacific Eagle – Philippines (OPE-P). I am sure that SOCPAC will get a visit. (DoD IG, Apr 19, 2018).

Expeditionary Economics in IW. Understanding how expeditionary economics nest within the larger the larger economic development objectives pursued by civilian organizations can improve support to irregular warfare (IW) campaigns. This is especially true in the case of foreign internal defense (FID), counterinsurgency (COIN), unconventional warfare (UW), and stability operations. Jeff Goodson, a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer with lots of stability experience in conflict zones, explains in “Expeditionary Economics in Context”Small Wars Journal, April 2018.

Preventing More “Marawis”. The Philippines has been facing multiple secession and terrorist threats in Mindanao for several decades. During the most recent crisis U.S. special operations forces were immediately deployed to Marawi to provide intelligence, surveillance, and other support. However, in order to respond to future events, other initiatives should be taken along with the military response. Read more in “Preventing other Marawis” Policy Forum, April 19, 2018.

Video – “Gray Zone” Explainer. The Russians, Chinese, Iranians and others are great employers of Gray Zone tactics. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford recently provided a short explanation to the House Armed Services Committee. Watch a 2-minute long video. (The Joint Staff YouTube.com, Apr 17, 2018).

Former JSOC Officer Talks Desert Storm. Colonel Bill Ostund is now at West Point. In a prior life (coming from the Ranger Regiment) he spent time with the Joint Special Operations Command. But, like other officers, he started out as a Lt. Learn (listen) about his early days and his participation in Desert Storm. See “Podcast: The Spear – Desert Storm Air Assault”Modern War Institute at West Point, April 18, 2018.

Advisor vs. Adviser. Hmmmm. When you write about FID, SFA, SFAB, SF, and other related topics you find yourself using the word ‘adviser’ quite often. I use ‘advisor’. But what is the correct spelling? (Merriam-Webster).

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Top Photo Credit: Airmen with the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron perform a Military Free Fall jump in Djibouti on April 17, 2018. Photo by Sgt Gustavo Castillo, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

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