Special Operations News Update 20180829

A PJ parachutes over Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on March 3, 2018. (USAF photo)

SOF News Update 20180829 – Intel conference, USSOCOM contract for air support, GB’s amazing transition story, USSOCM and its quest for technology, Yemen CRS report, Stabilization Symposium, SOF airman found dead in Japan, Don Bolduc on Africa, and more.

Quote of the Day

“We’d been fighting in Afghanistan for 5 years already when Twitter was born. Today the Taliban can Uber a convoy to an AirBnB safehouse.” Ben Collins, Twitter, Aug 28, 2018

Intel Quiz

“What does the “G” stand for in “NGA”?
(answer at bottom)

SOF News

USSOCOM Air Contract. The United States Special Operations Command has awarded Berry Aviation a $30 million increase to an existing contract for passenger, cargo, aeromedical evacuation, and STOL services within CENTCOM. (Rotor and Wing International, Aug 26, 2018).

SOF Airman Found Dead in Japan. A member of the 1st Special Operations Squadron was found dead on Tuesday in his off-base home in Japan. His unit flies the MC-130 Combat Talon II aircraft. (Air Force Times, Aug 27, 2018).

SOCOM and Technology. The special operations command in Tampa, Florida keeps advancing in the field of technology to support its SOF warfighters. Read “SOCOM seeking technologies for war in a post-cyberpunk era”, by Kelsey Atherton, C4ISRNET, August 27, 2018.

NSW Gets New Dry Bag. The SEAL and SWCC teams will get a new rucksack especially designed for amphibious operations. (Military Times, Aug 28, 2018).

Stan on McCain. General (Ret) Stan McChrystal – former commander of ISAF in Afghanistan and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has some kind words for Senator John McCain. (Fortune, Aug 28, 2018).

Medal of Valor for Retired SOF Contractor. A contractor working as a CIED SME for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency received recognition for his bravery displayed during a deployment in support of a Special Forces detachment in Afghanistan in 2015. (Skiatook Journal, Aug 28, 2018).

Don Bolduc on Africa. A former commander of SOCAFRICA comments with a detailed article (good reading) on how pulling US SOF out of Africa would be a bad thing. Read “The Pentagon Wants to Pull Special Operations Forces Out of Africa. That’s a Huge Mistake”, Task and Purpose, August 28, 2018.

SF Rucking Story from Bolivia. A former 7th Grouper tells us a story of rucking with trainees . . . and a prosthetic leg. Read “We Keep Rucking Until Our Leg Falls Off . . . Right?”Special Operations.com, August 28, 2018.

Thai Commando Unit Formed. A new group of elite police have been assigned to a force that will guard the Thai Royal Family. Read “Commando Unit Formed to Protect Royal Family”, Bangkok Post, August 27, 2018.

GB’s Amazing Transition Story. A serious wound suffered in Afghanistan proved to be difficult to overcome for a Special Forces NCO. But with some help from others Kevin Flike was able to overcome the obstacles. (Military Times, Aug 27, 2018).


ISGS Top Official Killed. France’s military says that Mohamed Ag Almouner was killed in an operation in Mali. He was a top official of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). two Mirage jet fighters struck the camp and French Commandos went in and secured the camp where they found his body.  (France 24,  Aug 27, 2018).

Niger Base. Air Base 201 is nearing completion and will be home to a large contingent of US troops – along with some drones. “US Stepping Up Armed Drone Efforts in Niger”, Voice of America, August 26, 2018.

Middle East

CRS Report on Yemen. The Congressional Research Service has published a 27-page report entitled Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention, August 24, 2018. Posted on EveryCRSReport.com.

NATO and Europe (and Russia, of course)

Poland Reacts to Russia. The Russians continue to build up their military forces that are arrayed on the borders of NATO members and some East European nations are a bit nervous about that. Read “Amid Russian military buildup, Poland reacts”Defense News, August 27, 2018.

UK’s Future Airborne. This article (part 2) addresses the contemporary issues facing airborne forces and making recommendations for the future. Read “The Future British Airborne Force”, Wavell Room, August 28, 2018.

US Airbase in Romania. Valerie Insinna writes about the U.S. and its building of air bases in eastern Europe. Read “In its bid to counter Russia, US Air Force to spend $40M on Romanian air base”, Defense News, August 27, 2018.

Wagner Group. Read about the elusive private military company that has made its way to Africa. See “Russia’s Favorite Mercenaries”The Atlantic, August 27, 2018.


Highest Pace of US Airstrikes. US strikes against the Taliban and ISKP in Afghanistan has been at the highest rate since late 2010. The insurgents have increased their operations (and control of territory and population) over the past few years and the Afghan security forces are struggling in what is now referred to as a stalemate. (CENTCOM, August 2018).

Privatization of Afghan Conflict. Erik Prince has pushed hard the past few weeks to advance his plan for contractors to provide training to Afghan army units and air support. Critics say that contractors shouldn’t be doing the military’s job in Afghanistan. Currently we have about 16,000 U.S. military members in Afghanistan. A little bit of info is provided below on the number of contractors there now in country. (Source is CENTCOM, July 2018).

National Security

Proxy War. Daniel Byman writes about the pros and cons of wars by proxy forces. He calls it an ‘imperfect form of warfare’ that is unlikely to go away. Read “Why States are Turning to Proxy War”, National Interest, August 26, 2018.

Irregular Warfare is the Future. Seth Jones believes that future competition between the United States and its main adversaries will likely be irregular – not conventional. “The Future of Warfare is Irregular”, National Interest, August 26, 2018.

Legality of Precision Strikes. A legal beagle examines the legal basis for the use of air strikes (manned and unmanned) to hit targets. Read “Not Your Grandfather’s Zone of Twilight: Civil Military Relationships in Debatably Legal Precision Strikes”, Harvard National Security Journal, August 27, 2018.

Stabilization Symposium. In June 2018 the Stabilization Symposium took place at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. You can read the executive report plus watch videos of presentations and breakout sessions.

Publications & Books

Perspectives on Terrorism. The latest issue has been posted. It is a peer-reviewed online journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative.

Enemy in the Wire. Read a review of a new book – fiction – that sheds light on the details of SEAL life and the modern-day operators of the military’s elite units. (Shooting Illustrated, Aug 28, 2018).


September 4-5, 2018. National Harbor, MD
2018 Intelligence & National Security Summit
Spargo, Inc.

September 7, 2018. FBNC
Civil Affairs Centennial Lecture Series
US Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School

September 8, 2018. Spring Lake, North Carolina
USAJFKSWCS 2018 Fall Formal
US Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School

Intel Quiz Answer
“National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency


Images: Top Photo is of a PJ parachuting over Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on March 3, 2018. (USAF photo). Charts from a CENTCOM report about contractors dated July 2018.

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