Special Operations News Update 20180824

Pararescuemen of 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron jump out of French SA 330 Puma helicopter during PR training in Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Djibouti on August 13,2 018. USAF photo by Senior Airman Haley D. Phillips.

SOF News Update 20180824 – Baloch separatist movement, new USASOAC commander, 1202 authority to conduct IW, South Asia Strategy, Medal of Honor ceremony, Green Berets in Ghazni fight, RS Cdr update brief, weapons of SOF, AFSOC officer promotion, Estonia in Africa, denuclearization of Korea, Free Burma Rangers, lessons of cold war, SOG podcast, video of Marine Raiders, SOF mini-drone competition, North Korea SOF, book on Det A, and more.

SOF News

New USASOAC Cdr. The U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command has a new leader. Brigadier General Allan Pepin (newly promoted general officer) is taking charge at Fort Bragg, NC. Read “USASOAC commander gets first star”, Army.mil, August 20, 2018.

North Korea’s SOF Capabilities. David Maxwell (ret SF officer) writes about the special operations capabilities of North Korea. (Real Clear Defense, Aug 23, 2018).

Weapons Used by USSF. Kyle Mizokami provides an informative article on the weapons used by U.S. Special Forces in an article posted by the National Interest. (Aug 23, 2018).

SOF Mini-Drone Competition. USSOCOM will be holding a competition for small drones in November. Read “Special Ops Command to Hold Flyoff of Tiny Drones”, Breaking Defense, August 23, 2018.

Det A in Berlin. An article on a book about Berlin’s ‘Det A’. Read “A Secret Cold War Unit Was the Basis for Today’s Special Operations Units”We Are the Mighty, August 23, 2018.

AFSOC Officer Update. Air Force Colonel David Harris, Jr. has been nominated to the rank of brigadier general. Harris is currently serving as director, Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Silver Star Recommendation – Niger Ambush. The team leader of the 3rd Special Forces detachment ambushed in October 2017 has been recommended for a valor award. (The New York Times, Aug 23, 2018).

Medal of Honor Presentation. The widow of Air Force Tech Sergeant John Chapman was presented with his Medal of Honor by President Trump. Chapman, a USAF Special Tactics Combat Controller attached to a team of Navy SEALs, died in the battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan in March 2002. (DoD, Aug 23, 2018).

1202 Authority to Conduct IW. The Department of Defense has issued a directive (August 3, 2018) on engaging in low-visibility, irregular warfare. Congress has specifically authorized SECDEF to provide support to irregular forces, groups, or individuals in the support of irregular warfare operations by U.S. SOF in the FY2018 defense authorization act. Read more in an article by the Federation of American Scientists (August 21, 2018).

Lessons of the Cold War. Seth Jones – an expert on CT, COIN, UW, and covert action – told the audience at a symposium held at Fort Bragg this past week that special operations would play a key role in future conflict. He was speaking at the Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo cohosted by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the Global SOF Foundation. Read “Expert: Cold War offers lessons for future fights”, The Fayetteville Observer, August 22, 2018.


Green Beret Teams in the Ghazni Fight. After a four-day battle the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) managed to dislodge over 1,000 Taliban fighters from much of the provincial capital of Ghazni province. The ANDSF had considerable assistance from U.S. air power and three SFODA’s from the 1st Special Forces Group. Nine U.S. personnel were wounded during the operation. One SFODA had 7 out of 10 armored vehicles damaged. (Time, Aug 23, 2018).

RS Update on Afghan Conflict. The commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan – General John Nicholson – provided a 30-mins briefing to the DoD press corps on August 22nd. He stated that the ANDSF are making progress in their capabilities – citing growth of the Afghan Air Force and Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF). He said that the South Asia strategy introduced a year ago is working and has resulted in the Taliban being more receptive to reconciliation and reintegration. This was his last press briefing as RS cdr as General Scotty Miller will take over for him on September 2nd. Read a transcript of the teleconference. (DoD, Aug 22, 2018). Watch the video.

Commentary on Gen Nicholson. The briefing by Gen Nicholson was critiqued widely by the media. Basically the press (or most of the press) noted that the RS cdr continued to press home the prospect of reconciliation with the Taliban as signs of progress that things were getting better. But most discounted his press conference as one more optimistic presentation of a bad situation. (Long War Journal, Aug 23, 2018).

“It remains to be seen if Miller, like all of the generals who have preceded him, will continue to provide rosy assessments of Afghanistan as the country continues to slide into anarchy.”

South Asian Strategy – How’s that Working Out? The Trump Administration rolled out its South Asia strategy this time last year. The loosing of constraints for air support, influx of more advisors (think 1st SFAB), and greater flexibility for train, advise, and assist mission at lower unit levels (brigades and kandaks) was designed to enhance the fighting effectiveness of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and to force the Taliban to the negotiation table. Well . . . . Perhaps its time to take a step back and see how the past year went. Read “Is South Asia Strategy Working in Afghanistan?”Voice of America, August 21, 2018.

International News

Pakistan’s Longest Insurgency? The average life span of an insurgency is about 12 years. The insurgency in Afghanistan has been going on for 17 years (the conflict much longer). However the Baloch separatist movement in Pakistan has been going on for many years. An article by Waleed Hashmi, a program analyst with the U.S. Department of State, provides a basic overview of the conflict, describes what the insurgents and counterinsurgents have done well – and not done well, and provides some lessons to improve COIN operations. Read “Fierce and Warlike: Could the Baloch Separatist Movement Remain Pakistan’s Longest Insurgency?”, Small Wars Journal, August 20, 2018.

Free Burma Rangers. Want to learn more about unconventional warfare in southeast Asia? Read an informative article about Burma entitled “Insurgent Relief and Assistance Teams: The Free Burma Rangers Organize-Train-Equip-Sustain Model”, Small Wars Journal, August 2018.

And about Korea . . . . A retired Special Forces officer who closely follows events on the Korean peninsular provides his perspective on the current negotiations with the North Korean regime. Read “Slow and Unsteady Progress with North Korea Helps Kim Jong Un”The Cipher Brief, August 25, 2018.

DoD Annual Report on China’s Military. The Department of Defense has released the Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2018. The 145-page report details China’s growing military and economic power. Not much info on SOF except brief mentions on page 21 and 110. (DoD, August 2018).

Estonia in Africa. The small Baltic nation sitting across the border from thousands of Russia tanks doesn’t seem to shirk its international responsibilities. It is sending troops to the Sahel region to assist with France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism operation. (The Defense Post, March 21, 2018).


Induction in Medal of Honor Hall of Fame. Air Force Tech Sergeant John Chapman was inducted into the Medal of Honor Hall of Fame at the Pentagon on Thursday, August 23. (DVIDS, 45 min).

Backpack Contents. A 60-second long video by NATO explains the contents of a Polish paratrooper’s backpack.

Video – Media Training for ISF and CTS. An instructor provides information about IO training for members of the Iraqi Security Forces (to include Counter-Terrorism Service) in this 5 minute long video. (DVIDS CJTF-OIR, Aug 20, 2018).

SOG Podcast. A one-hour long audio of two Green Berets assigned to Studies and Observations Group (SOF) during the Vietnam conflict. (We are the Mighty, Aug21, 2018).

Marine Raiders Integrate with AFSOC, DVIDS, 1st Special Operations Wing, 23 May 2018.  A one-minute long video provides nice footage of members of the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion training at Hurlburt field, Fl in May 2018.


Photo: Pararescuemen of 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron jump out of French SA 330 Puma helicopter during PR training in Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Djibouti on August 13,2 018. USAF photo by Senior Airman Haley D. Phillips.

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