Special Operations News Update 20180521

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) provide security for a Coalition mortar crew providing fires support to SDF against ISIS locations in Operation Round Up taking place in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV) in Syria. (photo by SSG Timothy Koster, CJTF-OIR, May 13, 2018).

SOF News Update 2010521 – New leadership in Iraq, containment strategy for Syria, Russian hybrid warfare, Indonesian terrorist group, Baltic air defense, SOCOM’s elusive floating mothership, reducing risk for SF in Africa, converting M4A1 carbines, CANSOF rescue in Afg, hints for passing BUD/S, AFSOC, history of 56 RQS, Australia’s Operation Augury in the Philippines, Special Forces news, SOF officer assignments, video of parachute water jump, history of military advising, and more.

International SOF

War Story – CANSOF Rescue in Afg. Read the account of how an Australian Chinook helicopter crew rescued Canadian SOF in Afghanistan. “Just Absolute Mayhem Erupted”Australian War Memorial, May 18, 2018.

Afghan SOF Opns. Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) has been busy with the start of the Taliban’s annual spring offensive. Read about some of the latest ASSF operations in “Afghan Special Forces Conduct Persistent Night Raids”, NSOCC-A DVIDS, May 9, 2018.

Australia’s Operation Augury in the Philippines. The presence of foreign troops in Philippines is a touchy topic – so much so that Australia is taking some unusual steps to downplay its involvement amid fears of a rise of ISIS in Southeast Asia. In addition there is probably more to the story. Read more in “Operation Augury: Australia’s war on terror goes ‘dark’ in the Philippines, but why?”ABC.net.au, May 20, 2018.


SOCOM’s Elusive Mothership. Have you ever heard of the ship called Ocean Trader? Not many people have. It spends a lot of time at sea, doesn’t seem to have a home port, and rarely uses its AIS transponder. Read “Photo of the Pentagon’s Shadowy Special Operations Mothership Emerges”The WarZone, May 18, 2018.

SOCOM and M4A1 Carbine Conversions. The United States Special Operations Command is looking at ways to convert the M4A1 carbine into a personal defense weapon. (National Defense Magazine, May 18, 2018).

Passing BUD/S. Read nine suggestions (or mistakes to avoid) on how to make it while training for BUD/S by We Are The Mighty, May 14, 2018.

AFSOC Video. Watch a neat 20 second long time lapse video of Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft at rest on the flight line at Hurlburt Field, Florida. AFSOC Aircraft Timelaspe1st SOW PA DVIDS, May 2, 2018.

3rd SFGA Honors Fallen. The 3rd Special Forces Group paid tribute to their fallen comrades and celebrated their families during an event held on Saturday, May 19th. They also honored Col. Maj. Moussa Salaou Barmou – the head of Niger’s special operations forces – who was in attendance. In the past year the group has lost eight of its soldiers. Four died in the Niger ambush in October 2017 while four others were lost due to non-combat related incidents. Read “3rd Special Forces Group honors fallen, celebrates families”The Fayetteville Observer, May 19, 2018.

7th SFGA Hosts German Troops. Fifteen members of the German military got a tour and briefings of the 7th Special Forces Group and its compound in Florida. Read “7th Group hosts German Army Troops”NWF Daily News, May 18, 2018.

7th Group Rededicates Memorial Wall. New names were added during a ceremony held by members of the 7th Special Forces Group. (NWF Daily News, May 14, 2018).

10th SFGA Health Seminar. A health and wellness seminar was held for soldiers and their families to help them become aware of the resources and services available to ensure they are prepared mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. See “Taking Care of the Team: 10th Group Holds Health Seminar for Soldiers and Families” 10th SFGA (DVIDS), May 4, 2018.

19th SFG and Exercise Combined Resolve. Green Berets assigned to a National Guard unit recently worked in an exercise involving the use of attack aviation helicopters in Hohenfels, Germany. (SOCEUR DVIDS, May 3, 2018).

Video – 478th CA Water Jump. Paratroopers assigned to the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion – an Army Reserve unit based in Florida – recently conducted a deliberate water parachute jump out of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter into Biscayne Bay, Homestead, Florida. Watch the 7 minute long video (May 18, 2018).

History of 56 RQS. A brief history of the 56th Rescue Squadron – now located at Aviano Air Base in Italy – is provided in “56 RQS tells the evolution of search, rescue”31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs (DVIDS), May 17, 2018.

SOF Officer Movements

MG Mundy to be Cdr of Marine Corps Forces Central Command. The current commander of the Marine Special Operations Command at Camp Lejeune will be heading to CENTCOM overseeing the Marines operating in over 20 countries across the Middle East and Central Asia. See “Raider Commander to Lead Marines Operating in the Middle East”Marine Corps Times, May 19, 2018.

Army SOF. BG Jonathan Brago – currently director CJ3 for the CJTF-OIR will be commander of Special Operations Command Pacific. BG Tony Fletcher currently director J-5 SOUTHCOM – will be commander of Special Operations Command South.

Middle East

New Leadership in Iraq. It appears that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi – a moderate Shiite Muslim – is on the way out. The results of the recent elections have positioned Muqtada al-Sadr as the new political heavy-weight. While he may not end up being prime minister he certainly will play a role in the selection of the next PM. His militias fought U.S. troops for years during the Iraq conflict and at one time he was being targeted by US SOF. If I recall correctly this was during the 2004 time frame; and perhaps one or two times following that year as well. Interesting times ahead. So what should the U.S. do? Pull out of Iraq? Perhaps not. Perry Cammack and Daniel Benaim suggests stepping back a bit but staying involved. Read “Playing the Long Game in Iraq”War on the Rocks, May 18, 2018.

New Strategy for Syria. Seth Jones of  the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) argues that the U.S. needs to develop a containment strategy for Syria to balance against Russia, Iran, and prevent a terrorist resurgence. He provides three recommendations for action. See “Developing a Containment Strategy in Syria”CSIS, May 17, 2018.


Reducing Risk and Effectiveness of SF in Africa. In the wake of the Niger ambush tragedy and subsequent AFRICOM investigation steps are being made by the Department of Defense and Africa Command to reduce risk to military personnel in Africa. Some small bases may be shut down, operations must be approved at a higher level, and the train and advise effort has been shifted away from the small unit level. (Council on Foreign Relations, May 18, 2018).

Destination Maghreb. Haim Malka takes a close look at the Maghreb region of Africa in its role as a gateway for migration to Europe and also as a destination for sub-Saharan Africans. Read more about the changing migration patterns in North Africa in an article posted on the website of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (May 2, 2018).


Russia’s ‘Hybrid Warfare’. It appears the Russians would like to see a deterioration of relations between Poland and Ukraine. A disinformation campaign to do just that was uncovered by the Polish intelligence agency ABW. Read more in “Poland busts Russian ‘hybrid warfare’ ring”Deutsche Welle, May 17, 2018.

Baltic Air Defense – Weak Link. The countries of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are interested in improving their air defense posture and are asking for assistance from NATO. (The Baltic Times, May 18, 2018).

Western Alliance at Stake. An interesting perspective on ‘European schizophrenia’ is presented by Prince Micheal of Liechtenstein in “Is the North Atlantic partnership in danger?”, Geopolitical Intelligence Services, May 16, 2018.


Indonesian Worries of Terrorism. ISIS-linked Jamaah AnSharut Daulah (JAD) is a militant group that has taken root across the country. Read “Indonesia is Islamic State’s new frontline”Asia Times, May 17, 2018.

Some History

Arty Support for SF in Vietnam. A New Hampshire National Guardsman in an artillery unit called to duty during the Vietnam War talks about firing guns at remote mountain tops in support of Special Forces teams out on patrol. “Jungle Battery vets look back 50 years later”Union Leader, May 19, 2018.

History on Military Advisors. Dr. John Dreyer provides us a short history lesson on the military advising mission – starting from the 18th century to today’s Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs). “A Brief History of the Military Advising Mission”Small Wars Journal, May 20, 2018.

Board Member of OSS Society. Dana Hudson has been nominated to the Board of the OSS Society. The OSS was the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Army Special Forces.


Top Photo: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) provide security for a Coalition mortar crew providing fires support to SDF against ISIS locations in Operation Round Up taking place in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV) in Syria. (photo by SSG Timothy Koster, CJTF-OIR, May 13, 2018).

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