Special Operations News Update 20180819

Student in the Advance Operators Training Course (AOTC) clears a room in live fire shoot house in Baghdad, Iraq on December 19, 2019. Photo by SGT Brandon Franklin, 10th SFGA.

SOF News Update 20180819 – Book reviews, IMET, McRaven speaks out, preparing to be a SEAL, the secret ‘Rice Paddy Navy’ of WWII, ‘Outstanding Airman’, CST team member on adjusting to garrison life, cocaine smuggling (7th SFGA), SOF isn’t for everyone, SOF and beards, Trumps and drone warfare, Erik Prince on Afghanistan, SOFREP is now NEWSREP, Modern Warfare Symposium & Expo, USACAPOC’s cdr on the unit’s worldwide mission, Syria stabilization assistance, and more.

“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that
you can never know if they are genuine.”
– Abraham Lincoln, 1963


SOF News

“Revoke my Security Clearance”. Admiral (Retired) McRaven, former Navy SEAL and former commander of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) takes a stand against President Trump over the stripping away of retired CIA director Brennan’s security clearance. Kori Schake provides some perspective on the topic in “McRaven’s Rousing Protest: Are Civil-Military and Democratic Norms in Tension?”, War on the Rocks, August 18, 2018.

New USSOCOM Cdr? Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke (who?) may be the next commander for U.S Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida. He would replace General Tony Thomas who will retire next year. He once commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment (6 years total with the Rangers) and worked as an operations officer at JSOC for two years. Seems he is a little bit light in SOF experience and the upper levels of SOF command. Didn’t head up NSW, AFSOC, MARSOC, JSOC, or USASOC. Has not commanded a theater SOC. Things that make you go “Hmmm”. So there were no Green Beret general officers available?

The Secret “Rice Paddy Navy” of WWII. A secret land-based group of U.S. Navy personnel were responsible for training a large guerrilla army, intelligence network, and aircrew recovery mechanism in China. A great story about a little known special operations effort against the Japanese. Read “Inside a Secretive Joint US-China Intelligence Unit, Dubbed the “Rice Paddy Navy”, by Matt Fratus, Coffee or Die Magazine, August 2018.

CST Member on Adjustments to Garrison Life. A soldier assigned to a Cultural Support Team (CST) that support MARSOC and SF teams in Afghanistan reflects on the transition from a combat zone to garrison life. Read “Veteran works to heal and empower service women after own experience”, ConnectingVets.com, August 16, 2018.

SOFREP is now NEWSREP. The SOF community’s second favorite SOF news site has gone away – more or less. The Special Operations Report (www.sofrep.com) has changed up things. It is now NEWSREP. Same folks, different coverage – sort of.

Global SOF Foundation Event. The Modern Warfare Symposium & Expo will be held at Fort Bragg, NC August 21-23, 2018. The event takes place in Fort Bragg’s Iron Mike Conference Center. It is co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces Command (USASOC).

Valor on the Battlefield. A member of the 19th Special Forces Group who was awarded the Silver Star for heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2007 says valor isn’t always recognized or rewarded, but it happens all the time. “Silver Star Recipient: “It’s Not About Awards; It’s About People”DoDLive, August 19, 2018.

Another OSS Veteran Passes. Prince Michel de Bourbon-Parma had an extrodianary career – including time with the Office of Strategic Services. Read his life story. (Washington Post, August 18, 2018).

Air Commando Named ‘Outstanding Airman’. A Tech Sgt with the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida has been named one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year by the Air Force Association. (NWF Daily News, Aug 16, 2018).

NDAA – SF Medic to PA. The NDAA grants the authority to conduct a “Pilot program on earning by special operations medics of credit toward a physician assistant degree”. Section 735, NDAA, 2019.

SOF – Not for Everyone. Steve Balestrieri writes about how hard it is to pass the different training programs for the U.S. special operations forces. Read “Sorry, We Are Not All Created Equal – SOF Isn’t for Everybody”, Special Operations.com, August 17, 2018.

Cocaine Smuggling – Not for Everyone. A Master Sergeant from the 7th Special Forces Group has gotten into a little bit of trouble in an attempt to add to the balance of his checking account. Unfortunately – something in his cunning plan went wrong – and now he is facing charges of smuggling 90 lbs of cocaine from Colombia to Florida. (NBC News, Aug 17, 2018). See also a story by Jared Keller on Task & Purpose.

Preparing to be a SEAL. The everyman’s guide to preparation for SEAL training. (Military.com, Aug 2018).

USACAPOC’s Worldwide Mission. The command of the United States Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command provided his perspective on the units way forward and its current worldwide mission. Read an article by the USACAPOC PAO entitled “USACAPOC(A) seeks to stay ready and become a learning organization”, DVIDS, August 14, 2018.

Green Beret Running for Congress. Joe Schneider is running against Democrat Seth Moulton for representative in Massachusetts. It’s a Green Beret running against a Marine. Interesting times from Massachusetts. Read “From child refugee to Green Beret – to a seat in Congress”The Boston Globe, August 18, 2018.

More Military News

Trump and Drones – Trusting the Generals. The use of armed drones has expanded over the years through the Bush, Obama, and now the Trump administration. The public exposure given to the public has changed as well – now tending more towards less transparency and less high-level bureaucratic restrictions. Two former members of the National Security Council (NSC) (Obama era?) have some thoughts on this topic. Read “Trump’s Secret War on Terror”The Atlantic, August 10, 2018.

Ukrainian Military – Rebuilding. The Ukrainian military has, with a lot of international help, been improving its capabilities. It still is no match for Russia and is constantly engaged in the fight against separatists who are supported and assisted (in many ways) by Russia. Read about how the country’s armed forces have improved over the past few years in The Ukrainian Military: From Degradation to Renewal, Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), August 17, 2018.

Syria Stabilization Assistance. Various news reports are indicating that there has been a reduction of funding for stabilization efforts in Syria by the Department of State. Read DoS’s explanation (spin) on the topic. (U.S. Department of State, August 17, 2018).

SFAB in Afghanistan. Rick Montcalm provides a progress report on the first six months of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade in Afghanistan. (Modern War Institute, August 16, 2018).

US and NATO. Despite the negative views of a certain occupant of the White House about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization the U.S. Department of Defense remains solidly committed to the Atlantic defense alliance (much to Russia’s dismay, I am sure). Read more from a DoD website that tells us how much the U.S. loves and supports NATO.


IMET – Good Training Program. The International Military Education & Training program operated by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) helps to educate and train foreign military officers in the U.S. Read how it improves rapport and understanding between the U.S. and foreign militaries in “The Importance of Educating Foreign Military Officers”, Small Wars Journal, August 17, 2018.

Kim Dozier – ‘Enemy of the People’. A journalist writes about the dangers that war correspondents face on the battlefield while trying to report the ‘truth’ on what our military does in conflicts. Read “The Last Time I Was Called ‘an Enemy of the People'”, Daily Beast, August 15, 2018.

Book Reviews

The Forgotten Front. The concept of conditionality when it comes to aid to host nations in the midst of a counterinsurgency fight is not a new thing. The United States did it successfully in the Philippines – not so much in South Vietnam. While Resolute Support talks a lot about conditionality when working with the security ministries of Afghanistan it is not apparent if it is actually working. Walter C. Ladwig III”s book The Forgotten Front: Patron-Client Relationships in Counterinsurgency (Cambridge University Press, 2017) states that the relationships between the U.S. and local government (and instituting successful reforms) is just as important as the military aspects of COIN. Read a review of Ladwig’s book by Andrew Byers in Joint Force Quarterly 90, July 5, 2018.


Erik Prince on Afghanistan. 2,000 Green Berets and 6,000 contractors will set the conflict on the right path. So says a former SEAL and founder of Blackwater. (MSNBC, August 17, 2018, 8-minutes).


Photo: Student in the Advance Operators Training Course (AOTC) clears a room in live fire shoot house in Baghdad, Iraq on December 19, 2019. AOTC prepares Iraqi soldiers for the rigorous training that they will be exposed to in their selection and training process for Iraqi Special Operations units. Photo by SGT Brandon Franklin, 10th SFGA.

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