Special Operations News Update 20180725

Special Tactics Airmen in pool dive training. Photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Spain, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 17, 2018.
AFSOC Divers Pool Training

SOF News Update 20180725 – video on Iraqi SOF training, war in Yemen, deteriorating situation in northeast Nigeria, NSW SWCC graduation, more money for Philippines, M-16 rifle history, ISIS media operations, COIN, EIB changes, video – EOD Dive School, OSINT collection, weaponized narratives, Russia’s GRU, China’s cold war, SOCPAC and RIMPAC, SUBOPS, losing the Kurds, Ranger Hall of Fame inductees, Marine Raider reunion, US and political warfare, and more.

SOF News

NSW SWCC Graduation. Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command graduated its 100th class of small boat operators on Thursday, July 19, 2018 at Coronado. The boat operators drive and operate the small boats that transport Navy SEALs on their missions. The training course lasts a total of 27 weeks. There are 800 members in the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen career field. Read more in “Navy Special Warfare celebrates milestone graduation”, Stars and Stripes, July 20, 2018.

SOCPAC Abn Ops and RIMPAC. Special Operations Command Pacific is conducting static line and free fall parachute operations with partner nation special operations forces during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. The multi-national exercise is taking place in the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California and includes 25 nations, 46 ships, 5 subs, 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel during the months of July and August. (SOCPAC DVIDS, July 20, 2018).

SUBOPS. View a series of photographs (with a narrative) of multinational SOF personnel launching rubber boats off a submarine. (Business Insider, July 21, 2018).

Afghan SOF – Holding the Line. A national security correspondent describes how Afghan special operations forces are holding the line against Taliban expansionism in Afghanistan. (OpsLens, July 21, 2018).

Marine Raider Reunion. The Marine Raider Association reunion was held recently. Veterans of World War II and the Global War on Terrorism had the opportunity to compare war stories and experiences. (Task and Purpose, Jul 23, 2018).

TACP Supports Trojan Footprint 2018. Operational intelligence specialists and members of a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) recently supported a special operations exercise called Trojan Footprint in the Baltic States. The special operations exercise involving SOF units from many countries was held in May and June.

JTFB Cdr is former SF. Colonel Kevin Russell, a former officer with the 7th Special Forces Group, is now the commander of Joint Task Force – Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras. (NWF Daily News, July 24, 2018).

Miss-behaving GBs. It appears that there will always be one or two teams that will find their way to obtaining spirits and companionship in a war zone. Go figure! Read “Adultery, alcohol cited in connection with Green Beret truck shooting in Afghanistan”Army Times, July 24, 2018.

24th SOW Airman Severely Injured. An Air Force Combat Controller lost his right leg part of his left hand in a July 10th bomb blast in Afghanistan. (NW Daily News, July 24, 2018).

Gen Holland (Ret) on the GWOT. A former commander of US Special Operations Command spoke recently during a community gathering about the Global War on Terror. (The Inter Mountain, July 24, 2018).

CIA’s Rangers. The death of Sergeant First Class Christopher Celiz has brought to the forefront a Central Intelligence Agency program supported by U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan. Read more in “U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan was part of CIA operation”Politico, July 24, 2018.

US SOF Continues Support of SDF. The Syrian Democratic Front, supported by United States special operations forces and other units from the US military, is continuing Operation Roundup. The operation is reducing the territory held by the Islamic State in northeastern Syria. Army Major General James Jarrad, the commander of CJTF-OIR’ Special Operations Joint Task Force, (CJTF-OIR, Jul 20, 2018) said:

“Our SDF partners are relentless in their pursuit of [ISIS] and are deftly executing that mission. The liberation of al-Dashishah brings us one step closer to ridding northeast Syria of the evils of [ISIS] and now thousands of people can return to a safe and secure environment with a brighter future for their children.”

Ranger Hall of Fame Inductees. During a ceremony on July 18th ten new members were inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame. (Fort Benning DVIDS, July 23, 2018).

Middle East

Yemen Strategy? Daniel Byman argues that the UAE and Saudi Arabia ever-increasing involvement in the Yemen civil war is heading to disaster. Read “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have a disastrous Yemen strategy”, Brookings Institute, July 17, 2018.

Islamic State and Media Ops. As the territorial holdings of ISIS has diminished over the past two years the content in its publications (online and otherwise) has changed. It has changed its propaganda in tone as well as in declined in output. The message has changed from the prospects of utopia – a caliphate state to one of military denialism. Several authors take a look at the IS media operations in Burying the Lede: The Islamic State Downsizes?, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, July 20, 2018.

Losing the Kurds. There is an old Kurdish saying – ‘no friends but the mountains’. The Kurds have been the U.S.’s best allies in Iraq and Syria. However, now that the fight against the Islamic State is ‘almost’ over and ISIS is somewhat manageable, what happens next? Diliman Abdulkader worries about the future. Read “Guest Opinion: America Cannot Afford to Lose the Kurds”, Security Studies Group, July 23, 2018.


Northeast Nigeria – Challenges Remain. The head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Nigeria (Luis Eguiluz) explains the challenges that hundreds of thousands of displaced people are facing. Read The situation in northeast Nigeria is deteriorating after years of conflict, MSF, July 18, 2018.

Drones (Now Armed) in Niger. US AFRICOM has quietly armed its drones in Niger since the October 2017 ambush and deaths of four members of the 3rd Special Forces Group. Niger is a strategic location in Africa with threats from insurgents / terrorists from Nigeria, Libya, and Mali. Read “Armed US drones up and running in Niger”, Stars and Stripes, July 20, 2018.

UK Helicopters in Mali. A number of European nations are assisting in the effort to dampen down the presence of jihadist groups in the African nation of Mali. It appears that Britain is entering (or has entered) the fray. British helicopters are now based in Mali to assist the French forces in their fight against Islamist insurgents. (The Telegraph, July 20, 2018).


Philippines – Fighting Terrorism. The United States will be providing the Philippines over $26 million to boost police counterterrorism efforts. The Philippines is battling Islamic State-inspired terrorists and insurgents. (Stars and Stripes, July 19, 2018).

OV-10s for Philippines. Two props used in 2015 by USSOCOM in the Middle East are going to find their way to Asia. (Defense News, July 24, 2018).

China’s Cold War. A CIA analyst says that China is waging a ‘cold war’ against the United States. China’s rising influence, attempts to gather technology through nefarious means, and military buildup are matters of concern. (AP, July 20, 2018).

General Military News

EIB Events Changing? Fort Benning is looking to change-up things for testing of the Expert Infantryman’s Badge. (Army Times, July 18, 2018).

New Leader for SFA Directorate. Brigadier General Mark Landes has been assigned as the director of the Security Force Assistance Directorate, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army Forces Command, located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

M-16 Rifle – A Little History. Doug Livermore, a Special Forces officer, provides a bit of history and facts about America’s current rifle. Read “The Mattel Gun – History of the Venerable M-16 Rifle”Small Wars Journal, July 18, 2018.

New Rifle Sights. The Army is testing new sights for different weapons systems used by the infantry and special operations forces. Read “The Army is one step closer to fielding a next-generation weapon sight”, Army Times, July 19, 2018.

COIN: Core Elements Remain Constant. Debasis Dash, an Asia analyst with a special focus on Indo-Pacific security affairs, uses the writings of two military scholars – Clausewitz and Kautilya – to point out timeless qualities of counterinsurgency operations. Read “The Relevance of Clausewitz and Kautilya in Counterinsurgency Operations”, The Bridge – Real Clear Defense, July 19, 2018.

Social Media and Propaganda

Weaponized Narratives. Ajit Maan – Ph.D., author, faculty member, etc. – has penned an article on how our adversaries (Russia, China, and others) use weaponized narratives to achieve their national objectives. She says that the U.S. needs to develop our own comprehensive narrative strategy to include counter-narratives and operationalized (offensive) narratives. Read more in “Narrative Warfare”Real Clear Defense, February 27, 2018.

Intel Stuff

OSINT Collection. Open Source Intelligence or OSINT is one of the disciplines of the intelligence field. It is the collection of relevant information from publicly available sources – books, newspapers, Internet, etc. Read about the tool available to collect info using OSINT techniques in “You Don’t Have to be the CIA to Gather Intelligence on the Web!”McAffee Institute Blog, July 2018.

Russia’s GRU. The reports of Russian interference in the United States 2016 election has highlighted the role of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU).  In mid-July the U.S. Justice Department announced the indictments of 12 members of the GRU. NPR national security correspondent Grey Myre explains what the GRU does in this interview. (National Public Radio, July 20, 2018).

Mapping Spies Through Technology. Privacy is dead in this new technological age. Even spies, intelligence professionals, and special operations personnel can inadvertently divulge their whereabouts, activities, and patterns of life through the internet. For instance a global public fitness tracker map could provide locations of individuals. Someone’s entire professional and personal life can be compiled using social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Read “Mapping Spies Through Fitness Trackers and Phones: Privacy Is Dead Even For Those in the Shadows”, Forbes.com, July 20, 2018).

Papers, Pubs, and Books

Leadership. Captain Ron Roberts – a Civil Affairs officer with the Asymmetric Warfare Group – writes about the principle of leadership. “12 Principles of modern military leadership: Part 1”, NCO Journal, Army Press, May 25, 2018.

Small Wars, Big Data. Eli Berman, Joe Felter, and Jacob Shapiro have collaborated on a new book that “. . . presents a transformative understanding of . . .” contemporary confrontations and how they should be fought. “Modern warfare is not about struggles over territory but over people . . .”. Joe Felter is a former Special Forces officer – the other two authors are academics; providing of mixture of theory and practical experience. Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution in Modern Conflict is available at Princeton Press, 2018.

American Political Warfare. Five authors have collaborated on an important essay on the use of political warfare by the United States. Ryan Crocker (former US Ambassdor), Charles Cleveland (former cdr of USASOC), Andrew Liepman (30-year CIA veteran), David Maxwell (30-year Special Forces veteran), and Daniel Engel (RAND economist) have penned a 12-page paper dated July 2018 entitled An America Way of Political Warfare.


Qwat Khasah Training. A one minute long video about Iraqi Special Forces training taking place at Taji, Iraq provided by CJSOTF-I DVIDS – July 17, 2018.

EOD Dive School. Watch a 3-minute long video about the dive school that trains up Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians located at the Naval Support Activity, Panama City, Florida. True Grit: EOD Dive School, July 18, 2018.

USAF Pararescue Training. Watch a two-minute long video about a 7-week long training course for pararescuemen. (DoD, Jul 21, 2018).

SOCPAC Jumps for RIMPAC, U.S. 3rd Fleet, July 19, 2018. Multinational special operations forces conduct parachute jumps from C-17 Globemaster III and UH-60 Black Hawk during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

Fuerzas Comando 2018 First Four Days, Special Operations Command South, July 19, 2018. A major competitive event is taking place in Panama with many special operations units western hemisphere nations. (5 mins).


Photo: Special Tactics Airmen in pool dive training. Photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Spain, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 17, 2018.

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