Special Operations News Update 20180727

SOF operators prepare to parachute during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercise. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Cynthia De Leon, 17 July 2018.

SOF News Update 20180727 – NZ SAS FET, Islamic State’s propaganda machine, OSINT and IW, Fuerzas Comando 2018, defeat of ISIS predicted, CJTF-OIR video briefing, America’s first spymaster, SF icon buried at Arlington, CSM Socha honored, 7th SFGA on the front lines, and more.

International SOF

NZ SAS FET. Adaptability, flexibility, and a high level of physical fitness are key ingredients to the success of a group of female SOF personnel that works alongside New Zealand’s Special Air Service. The Female Engagement Team (FET) was established in 2017 to support SOF objectives. The FET women receive a wealth of diverse training to prepare them for their missions. Read more in “The SAS Female Engagement Team deploys”NZ Defense Force Medium, July 23, 2018.

Fuerzas Comando 2018 – Senior Leader Symposium. Military officers from 17 countries in the western hemisphere gathered in Panama for a Senior Leader Symposium as part of the Fuerzas Comando 2018 exercise currently underway. Some of the presentations that were provided included the topics of organized crime, cyber threats, anarchism, and irregular migration. (SOCSOUTH, Jul 23, 2018).

Afghan Commando TAC. Read about the six-week long course for the Afghan National Army’s SOF Tactical Air Coordinator (TAC). (RS HQs, July 26, 2018).


TV Show – Hard to Kill. Tim Kennedy, Green Beret (19th SFGA) and former UFC fighter, will be starring in a new TV show called Hard to Kill on the Discovery Channel. See “Special Forces sniper takes on tough jobs in new TV show”, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), July 25, 2018.

SF Icon Buried at Arlington. Caesar Civitella was in the Coast Guard, 82nd Airborne, OSS, Special Forces, and the Central Intelligence Agency. For his efforts during his life-long career in special operations he received USSOCOM’s Bull Simons Award in 2008. He was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery in July 2018. Read “OSS Plank Holder and Special Operations Legend Laid to Rest at Arlington”, USSOCOM, July 26, 2018.

7th SFGA on the Front Lines. Congressman Matt Gaetz represents Florida’s First Congressional District. He has penned an article highlighting the contributions of 7th Special Forces Group in South America. “7th Group on the front lines fighting terror”The Walton Sun, July 26, 2018.

Frogmen of WW II. Read up on the history of Navy and Marines swimmers who swam into enemy waters to survey beach and harbor defenses. (We Are the Mighty, July 25, 2018).

CSM Socha Honored. The late Command Sergeant Major Frank Socha of the 10th Special Forces Group was honored during a dedication ceremony for the group combatives complex on July 23, 2018. He was instrumental in the longevity of the groups combative program. (10th SFGA DVIDS, July 23, 2018).

Green Beret Develops Police Shield. A former Special Forces NCO, Robert Scali, has developed a new way to protect police officers. The Boston area businessman has sold the product to over 60 police departments. (Boston CBS, July 25, 2018).

Post Office Renamed After Green Beret. A United States post office in Bristol, Rhode Island will be named after a Special Forces soldier who died in Afghanistan. SFC Andrew McKenna was killed in 2015 in Kabul. (Stars and Stripes, July 26, 2018).

SOF in Africa – Secret Wars. Nick Turse, a frequent commentator of U.S. special operations (and one that tends to put a slant on the story line), provides us with his usual rant of how U.S. SOF is out of control in Africa. Read “U.S. Secret Wars in Africa Rage On, Despite Talk of Downsizing”, The Intercept, July 26, 2018.

CT and Targeting. We all have read numerous reports of how the #3 terrorist leader of an insurgent / terrorist group in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or elsewhere has been eliminated either by a drone attack or SOF raid. It seems that a few weeks later another #3 terrorist leader of the same group has been taken out. Call it the ‘whack a mole’ syndrome. Many insurgent groups by design establish a bureaucracy that automatically fills vacant positions almost overnight. So is leadership decapitation a valid strategy? It seems yes and no. Read more in “Counterterrorism: Taking Down the Big Man”, Real Clear Defense, July 26, 2018.

Islamic State

IS Propaganda Still at Work. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been heavily damaged – losing most of its personnel in combat losses and only retaining a sliver of territory that it had held for a few years after its 2014 offensive. ISIS propaganda machine is also hurt but it is still functioning. Read a 34-page report entitled Down, but Not Out: An Updated Examination of the Islamic State’s Visual Propaganda, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, July 2018.

Defeat of ISIS – Months Away. The end of the Islamic State is in the near future but there is still months of ‘hard fighting’ ahead according to a French general who held a press conference in Baghdad. He cited good intelligence providing a good read on where the remaining insurgents are located – saying the IS fighters are ‘trapped’. The Coalition and its partners (SDF, etc.) are conducting the ‘final offensive’ to wipe out remnants of ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV). (Washington Examiner, July 24, 2018).

Middle East

US Base Sends ‘Signal’. The U.S. military is training a Syrian military group called Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT) at a remote U.S. base in southern Syria near the Jordan, Iraq, and Syria border. Along with training the rebels the base also sends a signal to Iran. (VOA, July 25, 2018).

ME Tour by 3rd Bde, 10th Mountain. A U.S. Army brigade just completed (May 2018) a nine-month long deployment to the Middle East with soldiers in Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. (Army Times, July 26, 2018).


Time to Talk? A former U.S. Army officer with service in Afghanistan says the 17-year war in Afghanistan has failed at every level and the security situation is only getting worse. Read “Time to Talk to the Taliban”, The American Conservative, July 24, 2018.

Intelligence World

Open Source Intel. The significant growth of social media and the computer applications that can mine this vast informational world has increased the value of open source intelligence. OSINT has tremendous value to the analysts who work in the realm of irregular warfare. Read “The Unrealized Value of Open Source Intelligence for Irregular Warfare”The Strategy Bridge, July 25, 2018.

Revolutionary Spymaster. Many remember George Washington as the commander of the Continental Army that defeated the British and as our first president. What is less known is that Washington was also an accomplished spymaster. Read “George Washington, Spymaster”, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, July 2018.

Short History of Russian Espionage in US. If you have lost track of some of the Russian intelligence operations mounted against the United States over the past decade this short article will bring you up to date. “From Russia With Love: The History of Russian Espionage in the US”, WTMJ Wisconsin Radio, July 24, 2018).

Intelligence and Trump. There is a rift between the countries President and the U.S. intelligence community. David Priess, a career CIA official, calls it the ‘time of troubles’. Read “The ‘Time of Troubles’ Is Back for America’s Spies”Foreign Policy, July 26, 2018.

Do We Need an Intelligence Reserve Corps? Daniel Byman is advocating the a new organization be formed to counter the terrorist use of the internet. The organization would be modeled loosely after military reserve programs utilizing part-time government personnel with a technical background. (Hoover Institution, July 25, 2018).

Military News – General

Promotion System Overhaul. The military officers promotion system may be undergoing some big changes in the future. Some believe the revisions will be the most dramatic since the 1970. Seniority will be a lesser factor in the future; with merit and job performance having a more important role. Read “Congress is giving the officer promotion system a massive overhaul”, Military Times, July 25, 2018.

Man-buns: Updated Navy Uniform Policy. The U.S. Navy has made some big strides in keeping up with the times in the past few years. Just a year ago the Navy did away with the famous ‘blueberries’ – a uniform designed to protect sailors from discovery by the enemy should they fall overboard. Now we hear of a more modern grooming policy designed to increase the recruitment of the 18 to 24-year-old recruit pool. Sailors are now authorized to wear man-buns while in uniform; although the new regulations are rather strict in the implementing instructions. Read more in “Navy Approves Man-buns for Sailors”, DuffelBlog, July 25, 2018.

‘Mickey Mouse’ Boots Going Away. A cold weather boot introduced to the Army in the 1960s may soon be replaced. (Army Times, July 26, 2018).


Overuse of US SOF. Kirtpatrick Sale, author of 12 books, provides his thoughts on the overextension of the use of special operations forces. He wonders if we create more problems than we solve with the deployment of SOF to so many countries. Read “Special Forces, special problems”, The Post and Courier, July 26, 2018.


CJTF-OIR Briefing. A French general provided a 30-minute update on July 24th on operations conducted by Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) via a video broadcast from Baghdad on July 24, 208. Part of the brief includes the contributions of French forces in the fight in Iraq (and Syria) and the civil-military operations conducted by CJTF-OIR.

2018 Antiterrorism Message. The head Provost Marshal leaders for the Army provide a quick message about the Army’s efforts to combat terrorism (DVIDS, July 18, 2018).

Video – Free Fall Training. Nice 4-minute long video of Reconnaissance Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit performing free fall parachute training on Guam in June 2018. (Marine Corps, posted July 25, 2018). www.dvidshub.net/video/615198/free-fall-training

EOD MU3 Video. EOD technicians assigned to EOD Mobile Unit 3 participate in underwater detonation training during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

One Station Unit Training Changes. The U.S. Army is providing an explanation of the changes happening to the Infantry One Station Unit Training in this 2 minute long video. (U.S. Army, July 26, 2018).

SERE Instructors and Their Jobs. Four instructors of the SERE training course at Joint Base San Antonio chat about their jobs. A 10-minute video of their interviews. Video taped in January 2018 and posted on July 25, 2018. (DVIDS).


Photo: SOF operators prepare to parachute during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercise. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Cynthia De Leon, 17 July 2018.

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