Special Operations News Update 20180427

SOFWERX Virtual Symposium

SOF News Update 20180427 – SOCNORTH 101, USSOCOM and real-time data fusion, SOFWERX Virtual Symposium, GBs smartest of the elite, new CANSOFCOM Cdr, WVNG Ridge Runner program, SOF beard envy, White Flags of northern Iraq, SEALs and NCATs, DoD Niger investigation, all about INSCOM, interview with publisher of Soldier of Fortune, Taliban Spring Offensive, France in Syria, Tom Cruise free-falling, SOF selection, Afghan SMW, UK parliament oversight for SAS, Lithuania hosts SOF conference, Syria, SEAL training, French SOF in Syria, and more.

International SOF

New CANSOFCOM Cdr. The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command officially changed hands at a ceremony in Ottawa. Major General Peter Dawe is now in charge. He is the former deputy commander of CANSOFCOM and has more than 28 years of experience in the Canadian military. He has operational tours in Cyprus, Bosnia, and two tours in Afghanistan. (Ottawa Citizen, Apr 25, 2018).

Lithuania Hosts SOF Conference. In March 2018 Lithuanian SOF hosted a three day conference attended by NATO and Partner SOF commanders. The intent of the conference was to provide SOF commanders with an update on operational activities within NATO. Discussions were held about counter terrorism, contingency planning, and the NATO Eastern Partnership. (Lithuanian Armed Forces, April 25, 2018).

French SOF in Syria. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently said that France has sent special operations forces to work alongside U.S. SOF in Syria. (Expatica.com, Apr 26, 2018).

UK Parliament Oversight for SAS. Usually requests for information from parliament on Britain’s special operations forces is met with silence or a “No comment”. However that could change. Read “Pressure for Special Forces to Face Parliament Scrutiny”, Forces Network, April 25, 2018.

Afghan SMW. The Special Mission Wing is the SOF element of the Afghan Air Force that supports the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF). One of the SMW’s pilots is attending a professional career course with the U.S. Marines here in the United States. He has wrote an article about his unit entitled “Introducing Special Mission Wing: The Most Modernized Unit in Afghanistan”Marine Corps Gazette, May 2018. (Paywall).

WVNG Ridge Runner Program and Latvia. Leadership from the West Virginia Army National Guard and the Ridge Runner program recently met (April 2018) with the representatives of Latvia’s Zemmersardze (National Guard). The process of the vigorous special forces training program was explained during the meeting. (WVNG DVIDS, Apr 25, 2018).

SOF News

All About SOCNORTH. The only Theater Special Operations Command (TSOC) that has both a domestic and foreign mission is Special Operations Command North. SOCNORTH covers the geographical areas of Canada, U.S. Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean. It supports five mission areas: SOF response to crisis, partner capability development, counter threat networks, counter state aggression, and defense support to civil authorities. Read more in “SOCNORTH 101”Small Wars Journal,  April 25, 2018.

USSOCOM and Real-Time Data Fusion. General Tony Thomas, the commander of United States Special Operations Command, recently spoke at the GEOINT 2018 conference about the processing and sharing of data and how his command could learn good TTPs from the private sector. See “USSOCOM Commander Seeks Real-Time Data Fusion” Trajectory, April 24, 2018.

SEALs and NCATs. In the special operations community personnel tend to minimize injuries and push on through operations or training events so they don’t appear as weak or ‘slow down the train’. But overlooking concussions has long-term effects. Navy SEALs now are having their brain health monitored by neuro-cognitive awareness testing (NCAT). Read “Special Report: Heavy Impacts and Hidden Scars” WAVY.com, April 24, 2018.

SEAL Physical Standards. What are the minimal and optimum physical fitness standards to get accepted to and to pass Navy BUD/S training? (Military.com, Apr 26, 2018).

Why Green Berets are The Smartest. According to Daniel Brown and Paul Szoldra the Quiet Professionals are the most lethal and smartest of the elite fighting groups in the world. The article is a little light on the evidence but has some really cool pictures taken from DVIDS and DoD archives. Read “Why Green Berets are the smartest, most lethal fighters in the world” Business Insider, April 25, 2018.

SOF Selection. Becoming a member of the U.S. special operations community is a tough endeavor. You first must pass a rigorous selection process and then receive further training in a qualification course. Read about the various SOF selection courses of the U.S. military services in “An Overview of Special Ops Prep Courses and Pre-Selection Programs”Military.com, April 2018.

SOF Beard Envy. It appears that you no longer have to go through a grueling special operations selection and qualification course to grow a beard in a combat zone. Now this option is available to those who profess to be heathens and members of the Norse Pagan faith. (Army Times, Apr 26, 2018).


SFAB Recruiting. The U.S. Army is busy recruiting for several of their high-priority units – the Security Force Assistance Brigade. The 1st SFAB is currently deployed to Afghanistan where it is fielding 36 advisor teams. Read up on a recent recruiting effort at Fort Hood. (Fort Hood Sentinel, Apr 26, 2018).

Middle East

Northern Iraq. Jeff Schogol writes on the new insurgent groups popping up in areas where the Islamic State was at one time dominant. One new group is called the “White Banner” (or “White Flags”). Read about it in “A Post-ISIS Insurgency Is Gaining Steam in Northern Iraq, Analysts Say” Task & Purpose, April 24, 2018.

France in the Syria. A long and detailed article of past and current French involvement in the Middle East and specifically in Syria. Read “The French in Syria – a long and tortured history”Lima Charlie News, April 19, 2018.

Recalibrating U.S. Policy towards Syria and Turkey. John Alterman and Heather Conley examine U.S. policy in the Middle East and conclude that our influence is diminishing. They make the case that the Syrian regime – although brutal – should continue to exist and that the U.S. should realign its interests with Turkey. I wonder where this leaves the Syrian Kurds? Read “Syria, Turkey, and the Eastern Mediterranean”Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS),  April 19, 2018.

Russian Contractors in Syria. It appears that Russian civilian military contractors are helping train the Syrian military. (Business Insider, Apr 25, 2018).

AC-130s Getting Jammed in Syria. It would seem that Russia is practicing a little electronic warfare against U.S. gunships flying over Syria. Read “American General Says Adversaries Are Jamming AC-130 Gunships in Syria”The War Zone, April 25, 2018.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for Turkey? Maybe not. It appears that some Congressmen fed up with the actions of the leader of Turkey are writing up a bill that would cancel sales of the advanced aircraft to our not-so-friendly NATO.


17th Annual Taliban Spring Offensive. Every year around this time the Taliban announce the start of their spring offensive. This year is no different. The “Al-Khandaq” offensive will feature new and intricate tactics. This coming fall Resolute Support will announce their 17th Annual Fighting Season Success Story in thwarting the Taliban attempt to capture and hold a provincial capital and to defeat the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) on the battlefield. In a related story the U.S. State Department tells us why the Taliban should not start yet another spring offensive.


Report: Niger Ambush Deaths. A Pentagon investigation into the deaths of the four members of the 3rd Special Forces Group in Niger in October 2017 has been completed. A principal finding was that ‘a culture of excessive risk-taking, poor training and complacency were factors . . .” It seems the press is making a big to do about ‘copying and pasting’ from one CONOP to another. Ummm. Who hasn’t done that? The families of the slain soldiers have been briefed. Congress gets briefed next and then a version of the report will be released to the public. (Stars & Stripes, Apr 26, 2018).

U.S. Troop Presence in Niger. SECDEF Jim Mattis says that the U.S. will keep a smaller troop presence in Niger over the long-term. (Military.com, Apr 26, 2018).

CA Course in Uganda. Members of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) became Civil Affairs qualified in a 10-week long Civil Military Operations course held at the Peace Support Operations Training Center (PSO-TC) at Camp Singo, Uganda in April 2018. Soldiers from the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion attached to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) provided some instruction. (CJTF-HOA DVIDS, Apr 13, 2018).

Other Stuff (Not SOF)

What is INSCOM. A military intelligence brigade commander fills us in on what Intelligence and Security Command is. “What’s INSCOM For? A Brigade Commander’s Perspective”Small Wars Journal, April 26, 2018.

Hybrid War in Eastern Europe. The six countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine are at risk from an aggressive Russia that is considered a dangerous threat. Russian hybrid warfare has been targeting several countries in the Eurasia region. (New Eastern Europe, Apr 26, 2018).

Tom Cruise Free Falling. Tom has been known to do his own stunts. This is still true for a soon to be released movie (Summer 2018) where he is filmed free falling from 25,000 feet. (USA Today, Apr 26, 2018).

Brown of Soldier of Fortune Interview. In the 1970s it seems that all SF team rooms had copies of Soldier of Fortune lying around the tables and bookshelves. The publisher of SOF – LTC (Ret) Robert Brown – is interviewed about his time in Special Forces, the publishing business, and guns. Read “Interview with Lt Col. Robert K. Brown of Soldier of Fortune” Ammoland, April 24, 2018.

CTC Sentinel. The April 2018 issue of the CTC Sentinel published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is now available online. Some of the articles include topics on the Boston Marathon bombing, radicalization in New York City, Islamic State’s lingering legacy among young men in Mosul, ISK in Afghanistan, and jihadism.

Green Beret Reality TV Star. Mykel Hawke is profiled in this article – his wartime experience, special forces training, and contracting time in Africa and elsewhere has provided him the knowledge and skills to produce survival TV programs. (Military Times, Apr 26, 2018).


Photo Credit: SOFWERX. USSOCOM’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate is offering virtual symposium presentations as a way to communicate S&T areas of interest in FY19.  The presentations are now available for viewing.

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SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.