Special Operations News Update 20180816

Special Forces soldier participates in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) training exercise near Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Specialist Jason Johnson, U.S. Army, July 18, 2018.

SOF News Update 20180816 – ISIS lingers on in Iraq and Syria, NDAA, intelligence matters, security – development nexus, book reviews, videos, IO constraints, MARSOC awards (secret missions), new bn SGM for 1st MRSB, BG (Ret) Bolduc on Afghanistan, Navy SEAL advises on Cruise movie, Aussie SOF abuse scandal, and more.

SOF News

New Wpns System for SOF. United States Special Operations Command is getting a new suppressed upper receiver group to augment the M4A1 rifle for its SOF troops. (Military Times, Aug 13, 2018).

MARSOC Valor Awards (Secret Missions). Two Marine Raiders received awards for heroism during a fight with al Qaeda militants in an undisclosed location in North Africa in early 2017. (Task and Purpose, Aug 15, 2018).

Navy SEAL as Movie Advisor. Tom Cruise’s newest film has been influenced by a former Navy SEAL. The film – “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” has been released in theaters. (Military Times, Aug 15, 2018).

General Thomas on Big Data and Warfighting. The USSOCOM commander provided some perspective on the tools and services that help his command focus on the emerging technologies found in today’s society. His comments were made at the Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference held in mid-August 2018. (DVIDS, Aug 13, 2018).

Retired SOF Soldiers Honored for Gallantry. Three former special operations operators were recognized for their actions in combat in Afghanistan while employed as civilian contractors by NATO Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan (NSOCC-A). LTG Darsie Rogers, a career SF officer, made the award. Read more in “Civilian Contractors Receive Medal of Valor for Actions in Afghanistan”, Defense.gov, August 15, 2018.

Aussie SOF Rocked by Abuse Scandal. The special operations forces of Australia is under the microscope and it could have long-term consequences. Actions of some of the SOF unit members in Afghanistan are being brought to light that reflect badly on the Australian SOF community. (Foreign Policy, Aug 14, 2018).

Merrill’s Marauders Proud Descendants Reunion. The final reunion is scheduled for August 27-30 in New Orleans. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans will be holding the event to highlight the legacy and sacrifice of the 5307th in Burma during World War II.

BG (Ret) Bolduc on Afghanistan. A long-time career Special Forces officer has provided his comments on the long conflict in Afghanistan. Read “Retired Special Ops General: The Current Approach in Afghanistan Isn’t Worth One More Body Bag”, Task and Purpose, August 14, 2018.

77th SFG Veteran Dies. An Estonian-American who was one of the early members of the 77th (and later 7th) Special Forces Group has passed away at age 95. He served in the Finnish Army during World War II fighting the Soviets and then – with the U.S. Army – served in Laos. He had a moment in the spotlight in a U.S. Army promotional film about guerrilla warfare entitled “Guerrilla USA”. You can read about Jyri Laats and watch the 27 minute long film at “1 of first 7th Group soldiers dies”, Northwest Florida Daily News, August 14, 2018.

Middle East

ISIS Lingers On. After four years of bombing and offensive operations by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Kurds, and others the Islamic State continues to hold on . . . although in a different organizational form and operational status. While it no longer holds cities or territory (to an appreciable degree) it does conduct insurgent and terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria. According to the Defense Department there are still more than 28,000 IS fighters in Iraq and Syria. That is probably an indication that the root causes of the insurgency have still not been solved. So, basically, the strength of ISIS now is the same as when the Coalition air strike campaign began four years and 24,000 air sorties ago (at a cost of $14.3 billion). Read “Far From Dead: Tens of Thousands of IS Fighters Linger in Syria, Iraq”, Voice of America, August 14, 2018.

National Defense News

National Defense Authorization Act. President Trump signed the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA while visiting Fort Drum, New York on August 13, 2018. (DoD, Aug 13, 2018).

Marines Seek Lighter Body Armor. The Corps wants to field newer protective gear for its Marines engaged in low-intensity conflicts that will complement the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI). (Marine Corps Times, Aug 15, 2018).

The Intelligence World

Intel Isn’t Always in a Cubical. Some folks vision of the intelligence world include drones, satellites, signal intercept, and other technical means. What is not readily apparent is what goes on in the human environment away from the technology. Read about the sex worker – militant network that provides al-Shabaab with intelligence in the Horn of Africa region in “Al-Shabaab’s Mata Hari Network”, War on the Rocks, August 14, 2018.

Intel Reachback Capability. Tomorrow’s brigade and division staffs need to be smaller and more agile. One way of getting to that point is using a reachback capability for intelligence products. But . . . the devil is in the details. Read “The Intelligence Reachback Conundrum”, Modern War Institute at West Point, August 10, 2018.


Winning but Losing? Anthony Cordesman writes that the U.S. is winning tactical victories but is having trouble attaining a strategic victory or bringing about a stable peace in a number of conflict regions. In addition, it appears that the Trump administration has abandoned the civil side of warfare, instead treating ” . . . insurgencies and civil war as if they were limited terrorist movements.” Read more in “Losing by ‘Winning’: America’s Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria”, Center for Strategic & International Studies, August 13, 2018.

IO Constraints. In the fight against ISIS the approval to release ordnance on a preplanned target in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is at the brigadier general level. The approval to conduct an information operation (radio broadcast, leaflet drop, etc.) is at the major general level. “The disparity in approval authorities between dropping bombs and dropping leaflets is puzzling for those who study foreign policy.” Read  “Bombs, Not Broadcasts: U.S. Preference for Kinetic Strategy in Asymmetric Conflict”, Joint Force Quarterly 90, July 5, 2018.

The Security – Development Nexus. General (Ret) John Allen, former commander of ISAF, writes on the importance of maintaining the ” . . . full capabilities of military, diplomatic, and development tools.” Read “The case against a US retreat from international development”, Brookings Institute, August 10, 2018.


NDAA Signing, DoD, August 14, 2018.

New Bn SGM for 1st MRSB. The 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) has a new battalion sergeant major. (DVIDS, Aug 14, 2018).


Photo: Special Forces soldier participates in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) training exercise near Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Specialist Jason Johnson, U.S. Army, July 18, 2018.

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