Special Operations News Update 20180611

US Artillery in Iraq fire at ISIS locations near Iraqi-Syrian border on June 5, 2018. Photo by PFC Anthony Zendejas, US Army.

SOF News Update 20180611 – U.S Navy in the Baltics, TV spy series – Condor, Iraqi election, Syria, Trojan Footprint, CWIX, Aussie SOF under the microscope, The Russian Challenge, NATO and the Baltic States, wars of the Ottoman empire, Yemen, SFA convention, terrorism in Europe, defense of Europe, and more.

SOF News

SFA Convention. The Special Forces Association annual convention takes place this week from June 11 – 16, 2018 in El Paso, Texas.

Proteus – New Mini-Sub. The U.S. Navy is testing a versatile mini-sub named Proteus. It will carry six combat divers. (The Washington, June 7, 2018).

Former 3rd SFGA is Astronaut. An Army doctor who served with Special Forces at Fort Bragg is now an astronaut. (The Fayetteville Observer, July 16, 2018).

Aussie SOF Under the Microscope. A secret government inquiry has revealed that members of the Australian special operations community may have committed war crimes in Australia. (Radio Free Europe, June 8, 2018). Also see “Former spy boss begins wide-ranging review of Australia’s special forces”, ABC News.au, June 10, 2018.

New USASOC Commander. The United States Army Special Operations Command has a new commander. LTG Ken Tovo is retiring and LTG Fran Beaudette is taking over.

Middle East

Syria. The civil war is finally being resolved in the Assad regimes favor – with the help of Iran and Russia. The Islamic State presence has vastly diminished – with the assistance of the Syria Kurds. But the U.S. intends to keep forces in the northeastern region of Syria; much to the dismay of Syria, Russia, and Iran – and most likely – Turkey as well. The Soufan Center examines the current posture of U.S. forces in Syria and provides an analysis of the difficulties ahead in ITELBRIEF: Just How Long Can the U.S. Stay in Syria, June 7, 2018.

Iraqi Election. Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies provides his thoughts on Iraq’s political uncertainties and the security challenges the United States now faces in Iraq and the Middle East following the May 2018 Iraqi election. See “The Uncertain Iraqi Election: The Need for a New U.S. Strategy”CSIS, June 7, 2018.

Yemen. It is thought that there will soon be an offensive by Saudi backed forces to take the port city of Hodeidah currently held by Iranian backed military forces. The fight could cost up to 250,000 lives according to one United Nations official. (Reuters, June 8, 2018).

Turkey and the Wars of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey has seen a lot of headlines in recent years. Although a member of NATO it is seen as getting closer to Russia (at least for now). It is heavily involved in the Syrian conflict and is confronting Kurds in northern Iraq. The region has seen many battles in the past. An interesting account can be read in “10 Battles That Shaped the Ottoman Empire”Real Clear History, June 7, 2018.

NATO and Europe (and Russia)

U.S. Navy in the Baltics. The U.S. Navy has a worldwide reach. Its ships are busy keeping an eye on China in the Pacific, staying alert in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Syria, tracking Iranian warships, and working with other nation’s navies throughout the world. One commentator thinks we need our Navy in the Baltic region as well. He advocates boosting the U.S. Navy presence in the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, and North Atlantic to counter possible Russian aggression in the area. Read “Why America Should Deploy the U.S. Navy to the Baltics”The National Interest, June 7, 2018.

Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise. NATO is running an exercise called CWIX to improve the interoperability of the NATO nations. The exercise takes place in Bydgoszcz, Poland in June 2018.

Terrorism in Europe. RAND Corporation has published a new report about the threat posed by terrorism in Europe. Terrorism has a large negative association with economic growth with businesses, cities, and nations losing billions in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Read “The Cost of Terrorism in Europe”, RAND, June 2018.

US Plan for European Defense. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is proposing an updated plan for the defense of Europe – with a focus on Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Read “America Pitches Its Potential Defense Plan for Europe”, Popular Mechanics, June 7, 2018.

The Russian Challenge. A RAND Corporation paper provides an analysis about Russia as a source of military competition and potential conflict with the United States and its allies. It also takes a look at how to confront potential Russian aggression in the Baltic region.


New Indo-Pacific Commander. The new commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) is Admiral Phil Davidson. He takes command of the command based in Hawaii at a time of high tensions – Korea and China being a main focus. The command has been named the Indo-Pacific Command; why that was necessary I have no clue – I guess to make India feel good about the U.S. Read more in “Davidson Takes Charge of Newly Renamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command“, USNI News, May 30, 2018.

The World of Intelligence

Condor. In the 1970s a very good movie came out starring Robert Redford entitled Three Days of the Condor. It was about a rogue element in the Central Intelligence Agency that was eliminating a research unit of the CIA. Redford was an analyst with the agency and he has to solve the mystery of who has killed his colleagues. A new series on AT&Ts Audience Network follows the same theme. Could be worth checking out!

NSA Office Art. The National Security Agency did more than intercept Soviet communications during the Cold War – it also had a artistic aspect. Read “The NSA’s Declassified Cold War Propaganda Posters Are a Bizarre Delight”, Slate, June 5, 2018.


Photo: US Artillery in Iraq fire at ISIS locations near Iraqi-Syrian border on June 5, 2018. Photo by PFC Anthony Zendejas, US Army.


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