Special Operations News Update 20180511

Photo of a group of Boko Haram fighters line up in this still taken from a propaganda video dated March 31, 2016. Cover photo for a CTC report on Boko Haram dated May 9, 2018.

SOF News Update 20180511 – Popular Mobilization Forces (PMFs) of Iraq, ARSOF and AI, infantry rifle prototypes, DoS news conf on JCPOA, JSOU research topics, new JSOC commander, Israel hits Iranian targets in Syria, USSOCOM PEO C4, NATO topics, Trump’s CT policy, AC-130J, report on Boko Haram, and more.

SOF News

ARSOF AI in Future. Artificial intelligence is going to make things harder for Army special operations troops in the future. An increasingly connected world will present some challenges. Robert Toguchi, the chief of the concepts division at the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) spoke at the Association of the United States Army Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama where he detailed the Army Special Operations Forces’ (ARSOF) goals for 2035 and beyond. Read “Preparing Army Special Operations for ‘changing’ ground warfare” Federal News Radio, May 4, 2018.

JSOU Research Topics for 2019. The Joint Special Operations University has released a new JSOU Press publication (51 pages) that highlights a wide range of topics developed and prioritized by experts from across the SOF community. The list is tailored to address command priorities and are intended to guide research projects for professional military education (PME) students, JSOU faculty, fellows, and students writing about special operations during this academic year.

Programs of USSOCOM PEO C4. The Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications and Computers (PEO C4) fields systems that collectively make up the Special Forces Information Environment. It helps garrison and tactical users with reach-back to national assets enabling special operations forces to communicate through a variety of media. The PEO C4 runs a portfolio of 14 programs valued in the billions of dollars. Deb Woods, the executive officer for PEO C4, is interviewed in “Why Special Operations Command wants new algorithms”C4ISRNET, May 9, 2018.

AC-130J – ‘Most Requested’. An AFSOC officer characterized the revamped AC-130J Ghostrider as “. . . our big gun truck.” It will have more powerful engines, a more efficient fuel rate, better sensors, and updated weapons systems. Read more in “Special Operators Predict AC-130J Will Be ‘Most Requestd’ Aircraft”Military.com, May 9, 2018.

New JSOC Cdr. Lt. Gen (Air Force) Scott A. Howell will take over JSOC. Current commander is LTG Scotty Miller; and he has been nominated for a fourth star. Perhaps Miller will take over command of USFOR-A and Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan with the anticipated departure of General Nicholson.

Middle East

Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria. Israel responded to Iranian rockets launched at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positions in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Just hours after the Iranian attack from Syrian territory Israel launched a massive missile and aircraft attack against over 50 Iranian targets across Syria. The airstrikes were on Iranian intelligence facilities, logistic headquarters, observation posts, weapon storage facilities, and vehicles used to launch rockets into Israeli territory. (Business Insider, May 10, 2018).

U.S. Policy in Syria Needs a Re-Evaluation. Melissa Dalton writes that “The United States, showing flagging support for a sustained commitment in Syria, is increasingly losing its remaining leverage in Syria to Iran and Russia. It must adjust course so as not to facilitate a complete win for Iran and Russia in Syria”. Read “Syria is the Current Theater for Strategic Competition: Time to Step it Up”Center for Strategic & International Studies, May 2, 2018.

PMFs of Iraq. Two U.S. Army officers have collaborated on an article about the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMFs) of Iraq and the role the PMF plays in politics, security, and sectarianism. A good read on how the Shia PMFs, Sunni PMFs, and Shia Militia Groups (SMGs) interact. Read “Security Sector Reform and Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq”Small Wars Journal, May 9, 2018.

DoS News Conf on JCPOA. On May 8, 2018 senior State Department officials hosted a press conference (Q and A) on the President Trump decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement. Interesting stuff. (U.S. Department of State, May 8, 2018).


Report on Boko Haram. The insurgency in Nigeria has remained one of Africa’s enduring conflicts. A new report challenges some key misconceptions about the insurgency (both Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa) and provides new analyses and insights in six areas. The report will assist in understanding the topics of ideology, gender, leadership, counterinsurgency, regional dynamics, and terrorist networks. Read Boko Haram Beyond the Headlines: Analyses of Africa’s Enduring Insurgency, CTC Report, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, May 9, 2018.

Rhodesian SAS Attempt to Kill Mugube. In the late 1970s members of the Special Air Service of Rhodesian mounted a raid into Mozambique in an effort to kill the leader of the Zimbabwe National African Union (ZNAU). Read more in a news report by the Daily Mail (UK), May 10, 2018.

SEALs Reenacting Normandy Beach Landing. A group of SEALs will undertake a Swim/Ruck challenge to recreate the spirit of the D-Day mission of the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDU’s) that took part in the invasion for Europe in June 1944. (Task & Purpose, May 10, 2018).


Norway Air Base in Arctic. The Andenes air base in on the North Cape of Norway may remain open after all. Plans to close the base may be on hold given Russia’s recent provocations in the region; NATO may have an interest in the base for contingency operations. Currently Poseidon air surveillance aircraft conduct patrols over the ocean (subs?) from this strategic location. Read more in “Arctic air base could be saved last minute by NATO’s growing focus on North Atlantic”The Barent Observer, May 9, 2018.


Trump’s CT Policy. Stephen Tankel of American University and the Center for a New America Security writes about the U.S. counterterrorism policy and use of SOF since 9/11 with recommendations for the Trump era. Read “Donald Trump’s Shadow War”Politico Magazine, May 9, 2018.

Partnered Operations and the Human Costs. The new normal for U.S. military operations is to work through host nation and partnered forces to reduce conflict and establish stability. However, one vexing problem in this ‘By, With, and Through’ environment is that partnered operations put civilians at risk – which will sometimes put U.S. goals at risk. A collaborative group of writers provide some options for addressing this issue in “Reducing the Human Costs of ‘By, With, and Through'”Defense One, May 9, 2018.

Military News Updates

Msg to Wpns Manufacturers – Quit Stalling. The lead man with the DoD job of getting transformation to happen in the combat arms has blasted the defense industry for failing to develop needed equipment for the military. MG (Ret) Bob Scales heads up the “Close Combat Lethality Task Force” which is charged with facilitating fundamental transformation for the Army and Marine infantry and Special Operations troops. Read “Mattis’ infantry reformer blasts weapons makers to quit stalling and make a better, more lethal rifle”Military Times,  May 8, 2018.

FM 3-0. Missing Some LL. One military officer seems to find find the new Army field manual on Operations lacking. It seems to jump into how to fight a near peer enemy and leaves behind the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more in “What’s Wrong With FM 3-0? Lots”Task & Purpose, May 10, 2018.


Photo: The top photo is of a group of Boko Haram fighters lined up in a still taken from a propaganda video dated March 31, 2016. Cover photo for a CTC report on Boko Haram dated May 9, 2018.

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