Special Operations News Update 20180807

A Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service instructor shows the correct way to hold and aim a 9mm pistol. Photo from video by CJTF-OIR, SGT Rodney Roldan, August 1, 2018.

SOF News Update – Book reviews, OCO funding, SOF CA working with USAID, 7th Group in 2nd place in competition, need for a COIN LAA, GPS-enabled devices while deployed, video on NSW, Delta SGM dies in parachute mishap, Aussie SAS under the microscope, new cdr for 150th SOW, video – Georgian SF, NAVSCIATTS in Bulgaria, ANASOC cdr radio interview, and more.

International SOF

Aussie SAS Under the Microscope. The Special Air Service of Australia is going through some internal soul searching as well as weathering the storm of public opinion and undergoing the glare of governmental investigations. All this due to actions over a decades long deployment to Afghanistan. (The Sydney Morning Herald, Aug 4, 2018).

Afghan ANASOC Cdr Radio Interview. Lt. Gen. Bismillah Waziri, the Commander of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command, was interviewed about ANASOC operations, missions, readiness, and training during a live talk radio show. (NSOCC-A, July 16, 2018).

Afghan Commandos Free 61 From Taliban Captivity. In an operation that took place in Helmand province Afghan SOF freed prisoners held by the Taliban.  (Radio Free Europe, Aug 3, 2018).


7th SFGA Gets 2nd Place. The team from the Green Berets based at Eglin Air Force Base were edged out once again by the commando team from Colombia at the Fuerzas Comando 2018 competition held in Panama. Read more in “7th Group places second in elite military competition”, NWF Daily News, August 5, 2018.

Delta SGM Dies in Parachute Jump. Sergeant Major Christopher Nelms died on July 1, 2018 while conducting free fall parachute training in North Carolina. He was injured during a June 27th jump. (Army Times, Aug 3, 2018).

New Cdr for 150th SOW. The 150th Special Operations Wing has a new commander. Colonel Esther Camacho Sablan, a combat rescue helicopter pilot with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, will lead the New Mexico Air National Guard unit. (Air Force Times, August 5, 2018).

Wounded 7th SFG Medic Gets Dream Home. U.S. Army SSG (Retired) Bobby Dove was severely injured in a IED blast in 2012. His road to recovery has been long but things will be a little easier with the dream home that is coming his way (ADA compliant). (MyPanHandle.com, Aug 3, 2018).

Robin Sage Kicks Off. The Special Forces Qualification Course is running its UW exercise – Robin Sage – in 19 counties of North Carolina in the early part of August. (Charlotte Observer, July 30, 2018).

SF Officer Takes Cmd of West Point Garrison. Colonel Harry  Marson is the new commander of the garrison at West Point. (The Inter-Mountain, Aug 3, 2018).

New Cdr for US Army Infantry School. Brigadier General David Hodne has taken command of the Infantry school at Fort Benning. Hodne spent some time with the 75th Ranger Regiment. (Fort Benning PAO DVIDS, Aug 3, 2018).

Michael Sheehan Dies. Ambassador Micheal Sheehan passed away on Monday, July 30, 2018. He had a distinguished career as a Special Forces officer and contributed much to the field of counterterrorism. He was the Ambassador-at-Large for CT with the US State Department, served in the UN with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low Intensity (SO/LIC) at DoD.

AFRICOM to Cut SOF Missions in Africa. In an effort to realign forces with near-peer threats (Russia, China, and others) the United States Africa Command is cutting back on operation in Africa. SOF units in Cameroon and Niger could potentially see reduced activity. (Military Times, Aug 2, 2018).

NAVSCIATTS. Naval Special Warfare instructors from the Navy Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School recently conducted a Patrol Craft Officer Coastal course at Varna naval facilities in Bulgaria. (NAVSCIATTS, Aug 4, 2018)

SOF CA Working with USAID. A desk officer with USAID provides two case studies on how US SOF Civil Affairs teams worked with USAID in Jordan and Tajikistan. Read “Institutional Learning in Responding to Violent Extremism”, Small Wars Journal, August 6, 2018.

The ‘Continuous’ Counterinsurgency Wars

Overseas Continuous Operations

Overseas Continuous Operations (OCO). The first exposure to the acronym OCO was when Overseas Contingency Operations funding was allocated by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. OCO was designed to sustain military operations over the short-term that would be over and above the regular baseline funding of the military. In time, it became sort of DoD ‘slush fund’, but that is another story. This contingency funding started under the Bush admin (called GWOT) and continued under the Obama admin (called OCO). So, apparently, there is a different funding mechanism called Overseas Continuous Operations (another OCO). Perhaps this is just a subtle, quiet move to acknowledge that ‘contingency’ really means ‘continuous’. At least according to this article by the 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs – “OCO funds support the force”, June 8, 2018.

Does USAF Need a COIN Aircraft? After a couple of decades of fighting in two major counterinsurgency conflicts the Air Force has finally come around to buying a Light Attack Aircraft (LAA) for today’s (and tomorrow’s warfighter). Perhaps this proposed contract action is just a ruse to calm Congress down with attempts to phase out the A-10? Read Notice of Proposed Contract Action for Light Attack Aircraft (LAA)GSA FedBizOpps.gov, August 3, 2018.

A Little History

1998 East Africa Embassy Attacks. Twenty years ago today (August 7, 1998) the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked killing more than 200 people, including 12 Americans.

100 Years of PSYOP. The PSYOP community gathered at Fort Bragg to celebrate an important milestone of U.S. psychological operations. Read “Psyop soldiers celebrate 100 years”The Fayetteville Observer, August 1, 2018.

International Conflicts

Syria – Stay or Go? It is almost mission complete when it comes to the degrading of ISIS in Syria. The Kurds (dependable allies that they are) along with U.S. airpower, artillery, and other enablers have been steadily taking the fight to ISIS. President Trump would love to close that chapter and move on (and out of Syria). The Syrian regime – as well as Russia, Turkey, Iran, and others – would love for that to happen. The 5th Special Forces Group – with some help from other U.S. military units and organizations – have spent a lot of time and energy there. Christopher Bolan examines the situation in “The Brewing Battle over U.S. Troop Presence in Syria”, Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), August 2, 2018.

Non-SOF Military News

DoD Policy on GPS-Enabled Devices. Devices that offer geolocation services will be restricted in some military deployment zones or ‘operational areas’. Of concern are physical fitness aids, personal phones, and other portable devices. Read more in “New DoD Policy Prohibits GPS-Enabled Devices in Deployed Settings”, Defense Media Activity, August 6, 2018.

Book Reviews

The Fighters. C.J.Chivers – currently a writer and war correspondent, and formerly Marine officer – has penned a book – The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The book is reviewed by Steve Leonard. Read “War Stories as They Should Be Told”, Modern War Institute at West Point, August 6, 2018.


The Origins of Naval Special Warfare, All Hands Magazine, August 2, 2018. A good 6-min long video on the early history of the Navy SEALs. (posted on All Hands Magazine Facebook).

Combined Urban Operations – Georgian Special Forces, DVIDS, August 6, 2018. This B-Roll video, 5-mins long, provides footage of Georgian SF conducting a high value target mission as part of exercise Noble Partner 2018.


Images: The OCO graphic by 92nd Air Refueling Wing, June 8, 2018. Top photo is of an Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service instructor showing the correct way to hold and aim a 9mm pistol; taken from video by CJTF-OIR, SGT Rodney Roldan, August 1, 2018.

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