Special Operations News Update 20180919

Friendship Festival 2018 at Yokota Air Base, Japan on Sep 16, 2018. Photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore, USAF.

SOF News Update 20180919 – SOF of the future, 19th SFGA valor awards, Kurds fighting Iran, Iraq’s M120 mortars, fight for Idlib, CT training facility in Senegal, FARC returning to the fight(?), Mattis visits Macedonia, urban warfare training, USAF’s men on horseback, HH-60W training systems, Fort Trump, quiet war in Tunisia, SOCOM training contract, AFSOC’s DSOs, UK SF instructors acquitted, SMGs for CF, and more.

SOF News

SOF of the Future. The world is changing – the U.S. special operations forces need to anticipate the change. There are going to be some “. . . key military and geopolitical challenges across this transition.” SOF will need to increase its ability to anticipate, innovate, and adapt. Read more in “SOF Futures: Pathways Through the Transition”, Small Wars Journal, September 2018.

19th SFGA Valor Awards. Members of 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group were present awards for valor during a ceremony conducted on September 16, 2018 at Fort Carson, Colorado. B/5/19th did a tour in 2017 in Afghanistan where they partnered with local military agencies to train, advise, and assist in the fight against the Taliban and ISKP. One Silver Star, five Bronze Stars for Valor, and five Army Commendation Medals for Valor were awarded. (10th SFGA DVIDS, Sep 16, 2018).

NSW Seeks Applicants. The U.S. Navy is seeking E-1 through E-5 applicants for conversion into the Special Warfare Operator and Special Warfare Boat Operator ratings. (Military.com, Sep 17, 2018).

AFSOC’s DSOs. The Air Force Special Operations Command Direct Support Operators (DSOs) provide valuable information to flight crews and ground units. Three members of the 25th Intelligence Squadron flying as members of AFSOC air crews recently were recognized for their contributions during combat operations. Read “Direct Support Operators reach new heights”DVIDS 25th Air Force Public Affairs, August 27, 2018.

HH-60W Training Systems. The Weapons Systems Trainer for the Combat Rescue Helicopter will soon be operational. (Aviation Pros, Sep 18, 2018).

UK SF Instructors Acquitted. Two UK Special Forces soldiers have been acquitted of negligence over a Brecon Beacons march in which three reservists died in 2013. (Forces Network, Sep 18, 2018).

SOF RAPTOR IV Contract. U.S. Special Operations Command has announced a training contract worth $350 million. The contract includes training services and products, requirements analysis, prototyping new capabilities, and more. The final RFP will be posted in October. “Bloomberg Government, Sep 18, 2018).

Middle East

Kurds and Iran. A Kurdish resistance group that has been engaged in a persistent guerrilla war against the Iranian regime since 1979 is promising to step up its activities as a result of an Iranian missile attack against it on September 8th that killed 15 of its members. Read “Kurdish Militants Vow ‘New Resistance’ Against Iran Following Missile Attacks”, Voice of America, September 17, 2018.

ISF’s M120 Mortars. Instructors from Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. are training up Iraqi troops on their newly acquired M120 mortars. (DoD, Sep 18, 2018).

Syrians Shoot Down Russian Aircraft. It appears that Syrian air defenses – using anti-aircraft missiles supplied by the Russians – shot down a Russian aircraft in recent days. Muddying the waters is an Israeli air strike occurring at the same time.

Idlib, Syria. A major assault on Idlib by Syrian and other forces (Iranians, Hezbollah, etc.) is looming. The city, home to about three million people, could be the setting for a major humanitarian disaster. Attempts by Turkey and Russia to come to a negotiated agreement to preclude a major fight is in the works but it remains to be seen what the end result will be. The rebels who currently control Idlib are a mix of groups with a strong presence of Islamist groups led by the former Nusra Front. Some rebel groups have Turkish backing. This city is the last major opposition foothold in Syria. Read the importance of Idlib in “Why Idlib matters and the obstacles Assad faces there”, Reuters, September 17, 2018.

CJTF-OIR Briefing. Colonel Sean Ryan provided an update on the fight against ISIS and train up of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) via VTC from Baghdad on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. The coalition is assisting the ISF in finding and eliminating remaining pockets of ISIS in Iraq. In Syria ground operations for Phase Three of Operation Roundup began intending to defeat ISIS in the clearance of the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV). The coalition is supporting the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) with air support, training, MEDEVAC, ISR, and equipment. Stabilization activities post-conflict are important to get the respective conflict areas functioning normally. The coalition was not involved in the discussions between Turkey and Russia on the agreement about Idlib, Syria. Col Ryan delivered a prepared statement and then took questions. (DoD, Sep 18, 2018).


New CT Training Facility in Senegal. The Department of State has dedicated a new Regional Tactical Training Center that was funded, constructed, and equipped through the DoS Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA). This is ATA’s first regional training center in West Africa. (DoS, Sep 6, 2018).

Tunisia Update. The United States has maintained a military presence in Tunisia for the past four years or more. The US military involvement has been mostly a train, advise, and assist mission with the providing of enablers (ISR, air support, etc.). Read “America is Quietly Expanding Its War in Tunisia”, The National Interest, September 18, 2018.

South America

Peace in Colombia? It could be that the troubles in this South American country could resume. Some FARC fighters could be taking up arms again. (NYT, Sep 18, 2018).


Mattis in Macedonia. SECDEF Mattis visited Macedonia and met with military and government leaders of that country. Macedonia is hoping to gain membership in NATO – which has not pleased the Russians one bit. Macedonia has been a big supporter of the the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Many US service members who spent time at ISAF/RS HQs in Kabul will remember the Macedonians guarding the towers and entry points of the HQs compound. (DoD, Sep 17, 2018).

Estonia’s Defense Minister on Defending the Baltics. The Minister of Defense for Estonia is in the lead for upgrading the capabilities of his country’s military in the face of possible Russian aggression. He is interviewed about his job and possible future conflict in the Baltic region. (Defense News, Sep 17, 2018).

Fort Trump. The U.S. is considering a request from Poland for the establishment of a U.S. military base. It seems the Poles have offered to name it “Fort Trump”. (Reuters, Sep 18, 2018).


A Digital Dictatorship. An illuminating and scary article about how China has established a digital environment to monitor its citizens. The monitoring of all aspects of a citizens life will provide input to a ‘social credit score’ – that will result in privileges or punishment. It is 1984 in China. Read “Leave no dark corner”, ABC Australia, September 18, 2018.

Military News

SMGs for CF. US special operations forces have been using sub-machine guns for some time. Now the Army is looking to provide SMGs to conventional force units. (Army Times, Sep 18, 2018).


Training Beyond ‘Battle Drill 6’. Clearing a room (building) is one of fourteen drills that infantry platoons and squads need to master. But John Spencer, a retired Army major, thinks we need to go beyond that and refine and improve our urban combat training. Read “Getting Beyond Door Kicking: Four Tasks For Urban Warriors“, Modern War Institute, September 18, 2018.


Cool Jobs: Mounted Patrol. So we know that SOF has specialized courses for horsemanship in the event they are called upon to charge against tanks in battle (see 12 Strong) but did you know the Air Force also has horses? This video will explain. (DoD, Sep 18, 2018, 30 secs).


Photo: Members of the 1st Special Forces Group prepare to conduct a static line parachute jump during Friendship Festival 2018 at Yokota Air Base, Japan on Sep 16, 2018. Photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore, USAF.

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