Special Operations News Update 20180813

CV-22 from the 8th Special Operations Squadron flies over the Emerald Coast outside Hurlburt Field. (AFSOC photo).

SOF News Update 20180813 – early history of the Army of Northern Virginia (ISA), video SF in Nangarhar, SF defeats ISIS in eastern Afghanistan, PKSOI going away (maybe), video of 7th SFGA Red Empire Week, Bill Cowen – covert operator, Leapfest 2018, and more.

SOF News

Early History of the ISA. The Army of Northern Virginia is the unofficial name of the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA). In the early 1980s it was recognized that the US government needed an organization that could do both clandestine and covert operations. This would require SOF and the intelligence community working together. Some SF folks headed to northern Virginia to serve in this unit. Many would end up working (after retirement) for the CIA as case officers, paramilitary officers, or in a contract capacity. There is some interesting history on how the ISA was formed up. (Small Wars Journal, Aug 10, 2018).

SOF Logistics in Africa. Katherine Graef, a logistics officer for SOFAFRICA has penned an article entitled “Low Density Logistics: Sustaining Special Operations Forces in Africa”, Small Wars Journal, August 2018.

LTG (Ret) John Mulholland. The retired SF officer has joined Klas Telecom Government – a company that specializes in providing the DoD with lightweight, tactical communications systems. (Business Wire, Aug 9, 2018).

MG Daniel Yoo – New MARSOC Cdr. The new commander of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command at Camp Lejeune will be in charge of the Marine Raiders for the next few years. (Marine Corps Times, Aug 10, 2018).

JTAC Tale of Valor. A Joint Terminal Air Controller attached to a U.S. Special Forces team in 2009 in Afghanistan called in air strikes even though he was critically wounded. (Military Times, Aug 10, 2018).

FBNC GB Arrested. Authorities have arrested a SF soldier for forcing a woman . . . ((Army Times, Aug 10, 2018).

Leapfest 2018. Each year the Rhodes Island Army National Guard conducts a static line parachute competition with invitations to airborne units within the U.S. military as well as international parachute teams. At this year event held in early August International teams were present from South Africa, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Botswana, and the Czech Republic.

Covert Operator, Ex-Marine, & Fox News Commentator. Read the intriguing story of Bill Cowan – a man on the run. He ran top secret SAP programs for DoD, was in the Phoenix program during the Vietnam War, and played an important role in the formation of USSOCOM. And there is more! (Politico Magazine, August 10, 2018).

SOF Parachute Deaths are Up. Meghann Meyers reports on the increase in deaths related to parachute training by special operations force units. (Military Times, Aug 9, 2018).

PR Mission in HOA. In July 2016 three USAF C-130s and SOF personnel rescued US personnel in South Sudan. It was a dangerous mission with lots of complications. The air crews and ground party flew from Camp Lemonier, Djibouti to South Sudan and then on to Uganda. This story resonates with me . . . I was the operations officer for SOCCE HOA in 2008-2009 and one of my primary responsibilities was PR in over ten countries in the AO. The tyranny of geography has a special meaning in Africa. Read more in an article in The Warzone, August 9, 2018.

USSF Fighting ISIS in Afghanistan. The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) is well-entrenched in Nangarhar province. Despite constant pressure from U.S. and Afghan SOF over the past two years ISKP still remains (although at significantly reduced numbers). This past June U.S. SOF and Afghan SOF (with some good help from drones and armed aircraft) conducted a major operation to clear the Islamic State fighters from several districts. Read more in “Special Forces Soldiers help Afghan forces defeat ISIS in eastern Afghanistan”, Army.mil, August 9, 2018.

Middle East

Operation Roundup – Airstrikes. The United States has launched over 500 strikes against ISIS in the Middle East since May 2018. Many of these strikes are along the border area of Iraq and Syria. (FDD’s Long War Journal, Aug 3, 2018).


Fight for Ghazni. The provincial capital of Ghazni province – located south of Kabul is under attack. The Taliban entered Ghazni city from many directions and have advanced to the city center. The Afghan government is counter attacking with Afghan Special Operations Kandaks (SOKs) and other elite units of the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF).

The World of Intelligence

Lost Nuclear Device. In the 1960s the Central Intelligence Agency and intelligence agents of India planted a nuclear powered device that would monitor China nuclear tests. But . . . it ended badly. Read “James Bond in the Himalayas: The buried secret of Nanda Devi”, The Economic Times, August 10, 2018.

Palantir Better than DCGS-A . . . But. An Army officer with MI and computer experience provides some recommendations to ensure that Palantir does not become just another DCGS-A. (Task and Purpose, Aug 8, 2018).


PKSOI Going Away? Bad Move! There is the possibility that the Department of Defense will do away with the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. The recently signed interagency framework for conducting stability operations – the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) has prompted DoD to look at PKSOI’s future. However, the PKSOI is a critical instrument of national security. Irregular warfare is not going away and organizations like PKSOI are helpful to DoD in conducting stability operations. Read more in an article by Jeff Goodson – a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer – entitled “Defense Department wants out of stability operations”, The HIll, August 7, 2018.

Getting Better at Stability Ops. Alicia Chavy has some recommendations about the U.S. approach to stabilization in conflicts around the world. Read “The Future of Stability Operations: Can the U.S. Do Better?”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, August 11, 2018.

Interesting Stuff

A Room with a Garden. One of Ernest Hemingway’s stories that has never been published is now available. A fictional account of a war correspondent who engages in combat during the liberation of Paris (sort of parallels Hemingway’s WWII experiences. Read a review (but put aside the snide criticisms of Trump’s policies that the reviewer manages to interject in a subtle manner – after all, it is The Daily Beast). “The Real Message of Hemingway’s ‘New’ Story”, Daily Beast, August 10, 2018.

Stepping Up in the Philippines. It seems the budget for U.S. military operations in one of the most troubled Asian countries is increasing. (Marine Corps Times, Aug 9, 2018).

Videos and Movies

Inside US Longest War as it Rages on in the Afghan Mountains, ABC News, August 7, 2018. (4 mins). Embedded reporter with Green Berets in Nangarhar province.

Red Empire Week 2018 in Review, 7th Special Forces Group, August 2018.

Hunter Killer. The Russian defense minister kidnaps the Russian president. The American president orders SEALs aboard a U.S. submarine to infiltrate Russia and rescue the Russian president. What could go wrong. Coming in October . . .  a new movie. Watch the trailer.

Air Force Releases ISR Feed of Chapman’s Final Fight, Air Force Magazine, August 9, 2018. The deceased STS combat controller will be awarded the Medal of Honor.


Photo: CV-22 Osprey from the 8th Special Operations Squadron flies over the Emerald Coast outside Hurlburt Field. (AFSOC photo).

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