Special Operations News Update 20180507

173rd Parachute Jump in Italy on March 12, 2018

SOF News Update 20180507 – Syria, intelligence, PLDs, SEALs and drugs, Jade Helm, PR in Yemen, life transitions, Morell on intel, Wagner Group, 2nd Fleet re-established, BPC seminar in Australia, Somalia build up by US, how much is an AK-47 on the black market, the science of camouflage, Ukraine, Bin Laden is missed, NATO’s cyber defense exercise, SOFEX in Jordan, and more.

SOF News

SEALs and Drugs. Some Navy SOF folks will soon be looking for a new job due to being administratively discharged from the service for testing positive for cocaine or methamphetamines. (USNI News, May 3, 2018).

Jade Helm. A former CIA director says that Russia influenced the perceptions of Texans on the conduct of the Jade Helm exercise. Russia was so successful that their actions prompted Governor Greg Abbott’s decision in 2015 to ask the Texas State Guard to monitor the federal military exercise. Read “Hysteria over Jade Helm exercise in Texas was fueled by Russians, former CIA director says”The Texas Tribune, May 3, 2018.

PR for SOF in Yemen. With personnel recovery assets (air) severely over committed around the world the US military uses civilian contract air for some casualty evacuations. Read more in “US Special Operators Scattered Across Yemen Might Soon Rely on Contractors to Rescue Them”The War Zone, May 2, 2018.

SOAC Gets New CCWO. Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Greenwood is the new Command Chief Warrant Officer for the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command. (Fayetteville Observer, May 2, 2018).

BG John Evans Leaves SOAC. The commander of the Army Special Operations Aviation Command is moving on but takes time to make some comments on his time at Fort Bragg. (The Fayetteville Observer, May 3,2018).

Video – SECAF Visits Hurlburt Field. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, visited the Air Commandos at Hurlburt Field in early May 2018. Watch a one-minute long video with her statements before an AFSOC audience. (1st SOW DVIDS, May 4, 2018).

Transition from SF to Civilian Life. One Special Forces veteran talks about the move from the team room to the ‘pasture’. Read “Left for a Younger Man”ThatChillaxDude, May 2018.

Gov Greitens (Ex-SEAL) Has Problems. The current governors days are probably numbered when it comes to being a chief executive of a state. (St Louis Today, May 5, 2018).

GB Running for Senate. A Special Forces veteran is on the campaign trail to win a Senate seat. (Task and Purpose, May 3, 2018).

SOFEX in Jordan. A defense exhibition focused on special operations and national security in the Middle East and North Africa opens on Monday, May 7th in Amman, Jordan. More than 350 companies from 35 countries will participate in the three-day event. Read more in “Special Operations Forces Exhibition opens today”The Jordan Times, May 6, 2018.

Security Force Assistance (SFA)

BPC Seminar. The Australian military recently held a seminar on building partner capacity. A series of videos have been published of several of the presentations. In this video Group Captain Nicholas Hogan talks about the strategic context surrounding BPC missions. ADF Approach to BPC Missions, The Cove, May 4, 2018.

Whole of Govt Approach to COIN and CT. Patrick Blannan writes about the need to increase the harmonization between military and civilian activities in order to deliver tangible results in the ongoing and concurrent counterinsurgent and counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Read The Good Operation: Notes on a Whole-of-Government Approach to National SecurityModern War Institute | West Point, May 4, 2018.

Build Up on Somalia. The efforts of the U.S. and other nations to rebuild Somalia’s army is continuing. It appears that the U.S. is in Somalia for the long haul based on observations of base construction in that country. (Vice News, May 3, 2018).

Spy Stuff and the Intel World

Interview with Michael Morell. The former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency is interviewed about his popular podcast Intelligence Matters. He is starting his second season and answers questions on what the podcast series will bring in the future. Read “Why Intelligence Matters”The Cipher Brief, May 3, 2018.

Middle East

Syrian Brief. Former CIA Chief of Middle East Operations Robert Richer delivered a presentation during the 2018 Threat Conference held in Amman, Jordan. A transcript of the presentation can be read here “Syria’s Reality: A View from Amman”The Cipher Brief, May 3, 2018.

Arab Troops for Syria? Egypt’s foreign minister said that sending Arab troops to Syria is a possibility. (Reuters, May 4, 2018).

Bin Laden is Missed. Al Qaeda has suffered in some respects with the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Read more in “Did bin Laden’s death help the Islamic State?”The Washington Post, May 2, 2018.

CT and the UAE. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ approach to counterterrorism. Read more in Terrorism Monitor by The Jamestown Foundation (May 4, 2018).


Conflict in Mali. The northern Menaka region of Mali is the scene of constant strife. Pro-government militias are fighting it out with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). There have been several incidents of extra-judicial killings noted. There is a bit of intercommunal conflict between Tuaregs, Fulani, and other populations inhabiting the Mali-Niger border areas. (FDD’s Long War Journal, May 4, 2018).

NATO (and Russia)

Ukraine Drones. News reports indicate that the Ukrainian forces are using commercial drones to bomb separatist positions. See “Cry ‘Mavic’ and let slip the drones of irregular war”C4ISRNET.com, May 3, 2018.

Javelins for Ukraine. The U.S. has delivered American-made Javelin antitank missile systems to Ukraine. Certainly Moscow can’t be happy with this development. (Radio Free Europe, April 30, 2018).

NATO’s Cyber Defense Exercise. The world’s largest cyber defense exercise is Locked Shields – a war game run by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Watch a six-minute video about the exercise in By Staging War Games, NATO Members Prepare for Cyber Attacks, Public Broadcasting System (PBS), May 5, 2018.

Mirror Images: The West and Moscow. The west (U.S. and Europe) are at odds with Russia on a number of issues – Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, threats of Russian expansion into northern and eastern Europe, hybrid warfare engagements, cyber warfare, and more. It is unlikely that a rapprochement will occur soon. There are a number of conflict areas where escalation could take place so it is necessary that Russia and its ‘adversaries’ keep open channels for communication to scale back possible conflict points. Read “Mirror Images: The Standoff between Moscow and the Western Capitals”, by Magdalena Grono, International Crisis Group, May 4, 2018.

Wagner Group. A few months back the U.S. conducted artillery and airstrikes against an armed force in Syria that attempted to attack a position where a U.S. Special Forces detachment was located. The force – composed of Russians and others – suffered severe losses. It would seem that the many Russians that died were part of the Wagner Group. Read more about this shadowy mercenary group that is implementing Russian foreign policy around the world in “SWJ Factsheet: Observing Wagner Group – An Open Source Intelligence Study”Small Wars Journal, May 2018.

New JFC Norfolk. The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it has offered to host the proposed NATO Joint Force Command for the Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. (DoD, May 4, 2018).

Second Fleet Re-Established. The return to great power competition has prompted the U.S. Navy to re-create an organization with the primary mission of securing the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean. (CNN,  May 4, 2018).


Miscellaneous News

Locator Beacons for Army. Soon soldiers will be using over $34 million worth of Personnel Locator Devices (PLDs) in training and during combat operations. The PLDs will supposedly operate in a GPS degraded environment. Read “Never lose a soldier again. The Army buys locator beacons to help find lost troops”, Army Times, May 2, 2018.

Cost of an AK-47. The first model of the AK-47 assault rifle was introduced to the Soviet Army in 1948. Since that time the rifle has been manufactured and distributed around the world. In addition to its cheap price the AK-47 is reliable and durable – making it a favorite of military organizations as well as terrorists and insurgents. Read more in “The Cost of An AK-47 on the Black Market Around the World” Forbes, March 30, 2017.

A Love for Body Armor. A little history and some facts about body armor used by military forces from around the world. (The National Interest, May 6, 2018).

The Science of Camouflage. Scientists are investing novel ways to develop a camouflage skin for soldiers taking a cue from the octopus. Read “Army, Cornell Researchers Study Octopus Skin to Use in Camouflage” Armed Science, April 27, 2018.


Photo: The top photo is of paratroopers from the 173rd brigade jumping in Italy, DoD photo, 2018.


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