SOF News Update 20180518 – SOFEX 2018 in Jordan, Russian blunders, video investigation, another SEAL book, congressional intelligence oversight, Denmark’s SF in Iraq, Gov Greitens (ex-SEAL) profile, Russian blunders, ISGS, SOF acquisition, history of the MC-130, more on Gov Greitens (ex-SEAL), NATO military committee meeting, secret war in Laos, Haspel confirmed, Italy’s CoESPU, and more.
SOFEX 2018. This event was held in Jordan from May 7 to May 8. The Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference is one of the biggest SOF global defense exhibitions. The event takes place biennially at the King Abdullah I Airbase in Amman in Jordan. It is a four-day event with a conference, seminars, and exhibition.
Denmark’s SF to Leave Iraq. The Danish Defence Ministry said that Danish special forces will leave Iraq this coming fall due to the liberation of most of Iraq from the control of the Islamic State fighters. (Spec Ops Magazine, May 17, 2018).
Book – SEAL on Battling Depression. Jimmy Hatch was shot in the leg during the raid to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Not only did he have to endure a painful physical recovery but he was troubled with depression. He has since wrote a book about his physical and mental recovery. (Stars and Stripes, May 15, 2018).
Short History of the MC-130. The C-130 is one of the most versatile air platforms available; and the SOF version is even better. Read why the “Herky Bird” is a favorite of Rangers and special operations forces.”, We are the Mighty, May 17, 2018.
Governor Greitens (ex-SEAL) Profile. The current governor of Missouri is alleged to have committed some serious crimes. He may end up losing his office and possibly do some jail time. Then again, he may survive what he calls a political witch hunt. There are some current and former SEALs that tried to raise the alarm about Greitens before he was elected governor. Read more in “The Lesson of Eric Greitens, and the Navy SEALs Who Tried to Warn Us”, The New Yorker, May 17, 2018.
SOF Acquisition. The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has a streamlined acquisition process that results in rapid delivery of modern capabilities. The five tenets of the SOCOM acquisition model are speed, risk tolerance, scale, inclusivity, and relationships. Read “Strengths and myths of what makes special operations forces acquisition special”, Army.mil, May 14, 2018.
SOF Afghan Video Investigation. In early 2018 a video of (probably) SOF personnel firing a shotgun into the window of an Afghan truck surfaced causing some discomfort for Resolute Support, CENTCOM, and the SOF community as well as prompting an investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. The results of the investigation are in. The shotgun had fired a beanbag to encourage an Afghan truck driver to heed warnings not to encroach on the U.S. convoy. He had ignored several previous warnings. (Stars and Stripes, May 16, 2018.
Officer Assignments. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman will soon be the commanding general for the I Marine Expeditionary Force. He is currently serving as the deputy commander, U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.
Russia’s Adventures in Europe and Beyond
Russian Blunders. William Courtney and Michael Haltzel say that Russia has miscalculated the resolve of European nations and has been frustrated by a decades long attempt to divide the Europeans and split them off from the United States. Russia has experienced unexpected European unity of purpose in opposing its gray zone activities in eastern Europe. Read more in “How Russia’s Blunders Abroad Have Galvanized Europe”, The RAND Blog, May 10, 2018.
NATO Meeting. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford attended the NATO Military Committee meeting this past week and said the discussions (Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, etc.) have set the stage for decisions by alliance defense ministers and heads of state. Read “Dunford Pleased With Results of NATO Military Committee Meeting”, Department of Defense, May 17, 2018.
Italy’s CoESPU. The Italian Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units was created in 2005. It’s purpose is to improve the quality and capability of formed police units (FPUs) deploying to UN and regional peace operations. (DIPNote, DoS, May 16, 2018).
There is no shortage of news about the Middle East. The Yemen conflict still churns. ISIS continues (shifting tactics) to operate in Iraq and a long-time political nemesis of the U.S. (who is responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members during the Iraq war) apparently wins in the Iraq elections. The Russians and Iranians have solidified Assad’s hold on Syria, ISIS still has pockets of resistance in Syria, and the Syrian Kurds see diminished support now that ISIS is on the ropes.
Middle East Context. Lela Gilbert, a columnist for NewsMax, provides some context to the current situation in the Middle East, Gaza violence, and the ancient Islamic dispute between Sunni and Shiite rivals. “Gaza Violence Can’t Mar the Beauty of Thriving Israel”, NewsMax, May 16, 2018.
Has Syria Won the Civil War? Micheal Eisenstadt takes a look at Syria’s gains in the long-running conflict and concludes that on the surface the Assad regime has ‘won’ but the long-term success may be fleeting. Read “Has the Assad Regime ‘Won’ Syria’s Civil War?”, The Washington Institute, May 15, 2018.
French Spy Aircraft. A secretive French C-160G Gabriel ISR aircraft has been supporting the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Only two of the aircraft exist. It is known to be a signals intel collector. (The WarZone, May 17, 2018).
ISGS Now On The List. The State Department has added the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorist organizations. (FDD’s Long War Journal, May 16, 2018).Asia
When it comes to special operations news from around the world this column seems to give scant attention to the Pacific region. Is that because the SOF News staff is focused on Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East with little experience in Asia? Or is it (other than the Philippines and Korea) there is not much in the way of SOF news in the public domain. Hmmm. That’s not to say that 1st SFG isn’t busy or that SOCPAC doesn’t have a PAO. We will try to do better! Perhaps SOF News needs a ‘contributor writer’ to provide some insight on SOF in Asia! Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Laos, the Secret War, UXO, and Children. For some the southeast Asian war still continues. Especially for those children who innocently pick up unexploded bombs of bomblets dropped by the U.S. Air Force decades ago. Read “Laos: The Legacy of the US ‘secret war’ still takes a deadly toll”, MENAFN.com Asia Times, May 15, 2018.
Congressional Oversight. Tommy Ross provides some commentary on the intelligence community working in a new environment of high tech, rapid news cycle, and social media. In the new modern era covert operations, undercover identities, and tradecraft secrets are easily discovered and exposed to the world. Ross argues that, it this new era, the balance between congressional support and congressional oversight is becoming problematic. Read more in “At a Crossroads, Part II: No More Shadows: The Future of Intelligence Oversight in Congress”, War on the Rocks, May 16, 2018.
Gina Haspel Confirmed. The U.S. Senate gave the green light for the first woman to be appointed as director of the CIA. The vote was 54 to 45 with many opposed to her involvement in the George W. Bush-era enhanced interrogation program.
Top Photo: MKVI Patrol Boat in Pacific Ocean. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Nelson Doromal, Jr., May 10, 2018.