Special Operations News Update 20180702

Open House at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska on June 30, 2018. Photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Valdes.

SOF News Update 20180702 – terrorist use of social media, US Army guide to social media, briefing paper on Tripoli’s armed groups, JSOM Summer 2018 edition, book review, creators of History’s Six, NATO’s Brussels Summit (mid-July), Air Force Magazine (Aug edition), MSG Gary Gordon honored (MoH recipient), hybrid warfare in Europe, military’s new handgun, and more.

SOF News

Highway Named for 7th SFG Soldier. Green Beret Staff Sergeant Richard Lee Vazquez died in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2013. A section of a highway has been named in his honor. (Crestview Bulletin, June 30, 2018).

Russia’s SOF Helicopter. The Russian Helicopter Corporation has a new assault transport chopper on the market. The new version of the Mi-171Sh has improved electronics and weapons installed. The Mi-17 export model is rugged, inexpensive ($4-5 million each) and better suited for less affluent nations. The SOF model is more expensive – probably $20 million with all the options. Read “Special Operations: Russian Answer to the MH-60M”Strategy Page, June 29, 2018.

Golf, Trump, and the SAS. The Special Air Service might be spending some time with the American president. Read more in “Who dares swings – SAS and golf to woo Donald Trump on UK visit”The Sunday Times, July 1, 2018.

Creators of History’s SIX. An Air Force Pararescue Jumper (PJ) and his Marine veteran dad teamed up to write the pilot for History Channel’s Six. – a series about SEALs getting after it week after week, mission after mission. (We Are the Mighty, June 27, 2018).

Other Countries Catching Up? The United States special operations forces are highly trained but also resourced with equipment and transport that allows it to over-match its adversaries on the battlefield. However, other countries are modernizing their SOF as well with UAS, weapons, thermal devices, and other sophisticated equipment. Read “America’s Special Forces Are a Killing Machine. But What About Everyone Else?”, National Interest, June 30, 2018.

SOCOM and Its Missiles. U.S. Special Operations Command has contracted for some ‘mini-missile’ production ($315 million). The contract provides a number of AGM-176 Griffin missiles carried by AC-130s and allied AC-208 Combat Caravans. (The Defense Post, June 30, 2018).

Four New MH-47G’s for SOCOM. The U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment will get more SOF choppers. (Defence-Blog, June 30, 2018).

MSG Gary Gordon Honored. Medal of Honor recipient MSG Gordon was honored by the town of Lincoln, Maine. The Special Forces NCO died in the early 1990s in Somalia. Check out some videos and photos posted on the Lincoln, Maine Facebook account of the special day honoring Gordon (June 30, 2018).

Social Media

Terrorist Use of Social Media in Asia Pacific. An article published on June 27, 2018 provides an analysis of the use of social media by terror-related groups in the Asia Pacific – from The Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism.

Review of The Road to Unfreedom. David Frum reviews Timothy Snyder’s book where an explanation is provided on how Russia revolutionized information warfare with disastrous consequences for the United States and its democratic allies in Europe. Read “The Great Russian Disinformation Campaign”The Atlantic, July 1, 2018.

Army’s Social Media Guide. The U.S. Army has posted a guide for soldiers and their families that outlines some of the security risks and regulations that soldiers and their families should be aware of when it comes to using social media.

Twitter and Toy Drones. Technology has handed insurgents and terrorists a tool box full of cheap weapons that can cause a lot of harm. Read more in “A Terrorist’s Dream: How Twitter and Toy Drones Could Kill a Lot of People”, National Interest, June 17, 2018.

IO as Force Protection. Jaim Coddington and Casey Lamar explain how Information Operations can be Force Protection. (Small Wars Journal, June 2018).

Fake News and Nigeria’s Herder Crisis. Nigeria has Boko Haram to worry about. But there is also the Fulani Herdsmen (Muslims) who are traveling south into farmer regions (Christians) of Nigerian due to drought and desertification in northern Nigerian. This has set up numerous incidents where people have died. But there is some disinformation taking place as well. Read more in “Fake news and Nigeria’s herder crisis”BBC News, June 29, 2018.

NATO, Europe, and the Big Neighbor to the East

NATO’s Brussels Summit. The NATO countries are meeting in mid-July in an attempt to chart the North Atlantic alliance’s path for the years ahead. At the Brussels Summit the alliance will make some important decisions on European security, projecting stability, fighting terrorism, and more. Read NATO Summit Guide, NATO, June 28, 2018.

Protecting Against Electronic Attacks. NATO forces have been contending with hacks of the personnel devices of its troops as well as mitigating potential cyberattacks against its networks. (Business Insider, June 28, 2018).

Hybrid Warfare in Europe. UK troops deployed to Poland are under the threat of hybrid warfare from Russia. With the use of propaganda, election interference, disinformation, hacking, and cyber attacks Russia hopes to cause confusion, chaos, and create divisions in Europe. Read more in “Warnings of ‘Hybrid Warfare’ Threats for UK Troops in Poland”Forces Network, June 29, 2018.

Italy Flexing Its Muscles. Currently Italy has an international profile when it comes to military involvement in other countries (Afghanistan for example). Some believe this commitment should continue. Read “The Future of Italy’s International Military Footprint” RUSI.org, June 12, 2018.

Middle East

Fire Support Along Syrian Border. A recently established fire support base occupied by U.S. and Iraqi artillery units provide supporting fires to forces participating in Operation Roundup – the effort to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State located in northeastern Syria. Read about the establishment of the fire support base and the use of coordinated fires to support the ground troops fighting ISIS in “Iraqi and US guns bring steel rain to ISIS”, DoD, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, June 29, 2018.

Manbij, Turkey, and the U.S. There is a stalemate of sorts in northern Syria. Manbij is one of the areas that is contested. The Turks – supposedly a NATO member – has one perspective while Kurds and the U.S. has another. Read “The Roadmap to Nowhere: Manbij, Turkey and America’s Dilemma in Syria”War on the Rocks, June 29, 2018.

Yemen. So when did the war in Yemen begin? A couple of folks attempt to answer that question. (Lawfare, June 28, 2018).


Briefing Paper on Tripoli’s Armed Groups. The Security Assessment in North Africa (SANA) project has published a 20-page report entitled Capital of Militias: Tripoli’s Armed Groups Capture the Libyan State, SANA, June 2018.

Canadians in Mali. Are the Canadians heading into a fight that may not be winnable? There is a question as to who the good guys are. (CBA News, June 26, 2018).

G5 Sahel Force Attacked. Terrorists, insurgents, or “whatever name you choose” are making it difficult for the counter terrorist forces of the G5. Recently the HQs was attacked. (France 24.com, June 29, 2018).

ISIS in Nigeria. A recent news report says that the Islamic State is conducting a ‘training exchange program’ with militant groups in Nigeria. Read “Nigeria: ISIS Sneaking Extremists From Syria into Nigeria, Report Warns”AllAfrica.com, June 19, 2018.

Libya’s Clashing Narratives. The warring factions of Libya “. . . build messing campaigns, manipulate reporting on events, and empower affiliated media to spin stories in favor of their cause”. Read more in “The Clashing Narratives of Libya’s Conflict”, by Kevin Truitte, Georgetown Security Studies Review, June 30, 2018.


Lessons for the Pacific from Wake Island. China is stepping up its military activities and expanded its reach across the Pacific. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is responding – its Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) is one such example. But is it enough? A couple of scholars look into the past to learn lessons about warfare in the Pacific. Read “The Next Pacific War: Lessons From Wake Island for the PLA”Breaking Defense, July 1, 2018.

Indonesia’s CT Force. Read about Detachment 88’s black-clad tactical response teams that includes specially trained snipers and breach squad teams. Much of the training by this unit is provided by the U.S. and Australian – with many former CIA, FBI, and SOF personnel on the in-country training staff. (The Conversation, July 1, 2018).

Military News

Cabela’s or Contract for Military’s Handgun. It appears that the U.S. military will spend $580 million in a 10-year contract for the Modular Handgun System. But would Cabela’s offer a better deal? (Army Times, June 28, 2018).

MoH Stories. Over 3,500 recipients have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor. Two of the stories are from the Battle of Little Big Horn that took place in the late 1800s. (DoD Live, July 1, 2018).

Exoskeletons. Technology is changing the nature of warfare. The ground pounder may soon see some come his way to lighten the load. (Popular Science, June 28, 2018.


JSOM Summer 2018 Issue. The latest edition of the Journal of Special Operations Medicine is now posted online.

Air Force Magazine. August 2018 edition The is now online.


DIA Roles and Missions. Watch a 4-minute long video about the roles and missions of the Defense Intelligence Agency. (DIA, June 29, 2018).

Mile 22. Mark Walhberg stars in a new movie to come out in August – a spy thriller with a dose of SOF mixed in. Watch the two movie trailers.

Close Combat Lethality Task Force. Robert Wilkie, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, describes the operations of the Close Combat Lethality Task Force and upcoming fundamental changes for the program in this video. (DVIDS, June 27, 2018, 2-mins).

Berlin. A little history about Berlin – this 30-minute film tells the storyof the city of Berlin from the end of World War II to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Posted by NATO History, June 21, 2018.

Writers Wanted

SOF News currently has an extremely small staff and needs to grow a bit. If you have an inclination to share your perspective, analysis, or commentary about a historical or current event pertaining to special operations, conflicts, war, national security, or veterans issues then give us a shout. You can write as much or as little as you want. There’s no money to be made; but you get to sway the discussion!


Photo: An Air Force Red Bull skydiver participates in an open house at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska on June 30, 2018. Photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Valdes.

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SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.