Special Operations News Update 20180629

US tactical vehicle provides security on roads near Manbij, Syria. Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Koster, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, June 20, 2018.

SOF News Update 20180629 – AFSOF and directed-energy weapons, Estonia defenses, OSUT adds weeks, Autumn 2018 AAJ, French SF in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen, Syria update, drones for SOF speedboats, NATO Joint Air Power Strategy, a comprehensive CT strategy, China in Africa, ADF SF get new powers, BUD/S and old guys, Marines in Syria, anger management in the Arab world, AF SERE Specialists, Aussie SF and ‘big boy rules’, and more.

SOF News

AFSOC and Directed-Energy Weapons. A general from the Air Force Special Operations Command says the U.S. needs to work on getting more directed-energy weapons and improve on the doctrine for the use of these special weapons. BG William Whittenberger, the assistant to the director of strategic plans at AFSOC was speaking at the Third Directed Energy Summit recently held in Washington, D.C. (Air Force Magazine, June 27, 2018).

ADF SF Get New Powers. Australian special forces have new powers that expand the Australian Defense Force’s powers to search, seize, and control movements at the scene of a terrorist attack. The new measures allow the ADF to be pre-authorized to respond to threats on land, air, and sea. (The Australian, June 28, 2018). And also a news report by News.com.au, June 28, 2018.

France Flexing Its SOF Muscles. The French armed forces are heavily involved in several areas of Africa. One country that its special forces are reportedly engaged in is Yemen. (Military Watch Magazine, June 26, 2018).

Para-Commandos Jump in Utah. The U.S. Special Operations Command’s parachute team did a little free falling during the 2018 Warriors Over The Wasatch Air and Space Show in late June at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. (75th Air Base Wing PA DVIDS, June 27, 2018).

AF SERE Specialists. Learn more about the training of Air Force specialists in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape at Joint Base San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force, June 27, 2018).

Aussie SF and ‘Big Boy Rules’. The current scandal focused on the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) has capture the attention of the Australian media. Read more in an article by Chris Masters entitled “Big Boys’ Rules”The Strategist, June 29, 2018.

BUD/S and Old Guys. The age window to attend the Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training is 17 to 28. If you are older you need a waiver. But what are the chances of passing the demanding course? Stew Smith tells us in “An Old Guy Prepares for BUD/S”Military.com, June 28, 2018.

Senate Panel Approves Miller for RS Cmd. On Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee approved by a voice vote the nominee to take command of the war effort in Afghanistan. LTG Austin Miller had previously testified before the SASC and had received a fairly warm reception.

20th SFGA Charter Member Attends Last Roll Call. COL Richard Sims of Alabama passed away on June 23, 2018. He was a long-time member of the 20th Special Forces Group.

Vietnam Vet and Green Beret Recounts His Experiences. A Special Forces soldier who served with the Mobile Strike Force Command or MIKE Force chats about his wartime experiences. “Special Ops Vietnam Vet on the ‘Honor’ of Service” LI Herald.com, June 28, 2018.

Drones for SOF Speedboats. USSOCOM is looking into outfitting some of their special operations maritime platforms with ‘loitering munitions’ – a hybrid between a missile and a drone. (The Drive, June 27, 2018).

SOCOM Seeking Talking Paper. U.S. Special Operations Command is looking for private industry to help it develop paper that can carry a talking message for its future psychological operations. See “US Special Operations Forces Making Paper That Talks”Defense One, June 27, 2018.

SOF Guarding the Marijuana Industry. As the marijuana industry expands due to relaxed regulations the issue of security arises. Enter some SOF vets. Read “Special Ops Guard a Budding Business”My San Antonio, June 28, 2018.

Military News

OSUT Adds Weeks. The Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army says the stretching the training for Infantry One Station Unit Training will bolster readiness and increase the lethality of the Army. The OSUT will make new soldiers more capable and provide combat units with a better ‘product’. The additional 8 weeks will include additional weapons training, vehicle maintenance, and extended field training exercises. (DoD Defense Media Activity, June 27, 2018).

Sustaining CT Gains. The U.S. engagement in a number of regions of the world has resulted in many counterterrorism successes. The U.S. needs to continue with its comprehensive counterterrorism strategy to prevent the emergence and growth of terrorist groups – especially in regions where ‘failed states’ exist. However, there are some nations – Russia is one – that rejects the comprehensive approach to CT that the U.S. and other nations endorse. Read more in “Win the Battle, Lose the War: How the U.S. Can Sustain Counterterrorism Gains”Just Security, June 28, 2018.

NATO, Europe, and Russia (of course)

Estonia – Relying on NATO. Jonatan Vseviov, of the Estonian Ministry of Defence, is interviewed about the Russian threat, NATO’s presence in the Baltic States, cyber warfare, and Estonia’s defense modernization efforts. (Defense News, June 26, 2018).

NATO Joint Air Power Strategy. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization released its Joint Air Power Strategy on June 26, 2018. The strategy presents the importance of air power in cooperative security, collective defense, and crisis management. The new strategy is key to deterring the great bear located to the east of the NATO countries. (DoD, June 27, 2018).

More Troops for Europe? The quest is on to answer the question on whether the U.S. needs more troops stationed in Europe on a permanent basis. (Defense News, June 26, 2018).


Conflict in Northern Somalia? A dispute between Puntland and Somaliland could break out into open warfare. This would be disastrous for northern Somalia. Read “Averting War in Northern Somalia”International Crisis Group, June 27, 2018.

China in Africa. The Asian nation is seeking to increase its defense engagement with a number of African nations – a move that would complement its economic and commercial presence on the continent. See “China Says It Will Increase Its Military Presence in Africa”CNBC, June 27, 2018.

Niger, People Smugglers, and the Terrorist Threat. Europe has clamped down on illegal migration of Africans and this has caused some economic distress to people smugglers in northwest Africa. Some smugglers may turn to terrorist groups for a living. Read more in “New terrorist threat as EU stance on migrants triggers disquiet in Niger”The Guardian, June 27, 2018.

Fulani Herdsmen – Farmer Dispute. Nigeria has several security problems to deal with. The Boko Haram terrorist group in northeast Nigeria is still wreaking havoc in the border areas. Over the last few years a conflict has erupted between Muslim nomadic herdsmen and Christian farmers in central Nigeria. (CNN World, June 27, 2018).

Middle East

Yemen – the Goals of UAE and Saudi Arabia. Two countries are allies in the fight against the Iranian-backed opposition but – they have divergent goals for Yemen. (Geopolitical Intelligence Services, June 27, 2018).

Emma Sky on Iraq. An ‘expert’ on the Iraq conflict is interviewed on the current political and security situation in the region. “Interview – Emma Sky” E-International Relations, June 26, 2018.

Yemen – A Brutal Stalemate. Despite complete air and naval superiority and the use of Yemen militia groups the Saudi – UAE coalition is still having difficulty in subduing the Iranian-backed Houthi military forces. The 3 1/2 year long war continues with the coalition having difficulty in dislodging Houthi forces from Hodeidah (a strategic port city) and Yemen’s capital (Sanaa). (Brookings Institute, June 25, 2018).

Libyan Gets 22 Years Jail. A militant who took part in the 2012 attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans has been sentenced to jail. (AP News, June 27, 2018). Read a news report on the same topic by Stars and Stripes, June 27, 2018.

New Offensive in Syria. A pro-Syrian government offensive is underway in the southwest to retake territory controlled by rebel forces. The government forces are reportedly assisted by Russian air strikes. Meanwhile the U.S. and other coalition forces have been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iran during the month of June. A de-escalation agreement for SW Syria signed by several countries appears to be carrying little weight. Some of the fighting is taking place near the Golan Heights and Jordanian border area. This will increase anxiety with Jordan as it will likely see an influx of refugees and jihadists coming across its border.

Operation Roundup. A Marine Corps artillery unit is providing a helping hand to the U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF in northeast Syria. The anti-ISIS operation was launched in May 2018. Read more in “Silence on Syria: This is why the Corps is mum on recent operations”Marine Times, June 27, 2018.

Anger Management and the Arab World. The Arab world is in the middle of a deep social and political change. Jose Antonio Sabadell has penned an article about the politics of frustration in the Arab world and its implications for the west. Anger Management, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, June 21, 2018.


Autumn 2018 AAJ. The latest Australian War Journal is now posted online. Several articles of interest to read to include challenges for the Australian Army in the Indo-Pacific century, operations in Afghanistan, military writing, and more.


Photo: A US tactical vehicle provides security on roads near Manbij, Syria. Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Koster, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, June 20, 2018.

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