Special Operations News Update 20181019

High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jump from a C-130J over Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on March 23, 2018.

Topics Covered: Mercenary mission in Yemen, JFK wreath laying ceremony, Army National Guard’s SFAB, Australia’s SF medics, USSOCOM acquiring Russian-style weapons, damaged F-22s, airstrike in Somalia, Spanish SOF conduct sniper course for Afghan Commandos, refocusing SOCOM, SOCOM’s mini-drones, Niger drone base, court date for Navy SEAL, US strategy in Asia, and more.

SOF News

US Ex-Soldiers on Strange Mission in Yemen. A group of former soldiers went on a private mission in Yemen on behalf of the UAE. The small team involved foreigners, a former Navy SEAL, and current/former member of US Army NG Special Forces. Or so the story goes. Read an interesting and strange story of a U.S. firm involved in some international intrigue. (BuzzFeed.News, Oct 16, 2018). A couple of legal beagles from a nat sec blog take exception and call for a criminal investigation. (Just Security, Oct 16, 2018).

Spanish SOF Conduct Sniper Course for Afghan Commandos. The Spanish Special Operations Advisory Team (SOAT) assigned to Afghanistan’s National Army  Special Operations Command (ANASOC) held a two-week sniper specialty refresher course for Afghan Commandos. Read “Spanish special operations forces sharpen Afghan commando sniper skills”, Army Recognition.com., October 16, 2018.

Court Date for Navy SEAL. A SEAL is facing an Article 32 hearing next month for allegedly killing an ISIS fighter who was a prisoner. (Task & Purpose, Oct 19, 2018).

Oct 19, 2001. SF Infils into Afghanistan. Its been quite a few years since teams from the 5th Special Forces Group infiltrated on 160th SOAR helicopters into the mountains of Afghanistan to link up with the Northern Alliance to fight the Taliban. (Special Operations.com, Oct 19, 2018).

Australian SF Medics. The medics of Australia’s Special Operations Command will be featured in an eight-part documentary. See “Voodoo Medics: Inside the world of Australia’s elite combat medics”, News.com.au, October 18, 2018.

SOCOM’s High-Tech Research. The University of Florida is working with special ops command in the creation of an engineering laboratory that will assist in equipping commandos with the latest innovations. (Tampa Bay Times, Oct 16, 2018).

Refocusing SOCOM Priorities. Chad Pillai, an Army strategist, provides recommendations on how the American special operations enterprise can integrate, prioritize, and posture to accomplish the goals of the new National Security Strategy. Read “Shifting Fires: Optimizing Special Operations for Today and Tomorrow’s Fight”, War on the Rocks, October 19, 2018.

USSOCOM to Contract for Russian Style Weapons. The United States Special Operations Command may be establishing – through commercial firms – production lines that will produce Russian style weapons like the PKM and NSV machine guns. Read “Russia Rages at Pentagon Plans to Build U.S. Made Derivatives of Soviet-era Small Arms”The Warzone, October 17, 2018.

JFK Wreath Laying Ceremony. On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 Green Berets gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to President Kennedy’s vision of unconventional warfare and his support of the U.S. Army Special Forces during the annual JFK wreath laying ceremony.

JFK Wreath Laying Ceremony 2018

Military and Defense News

Army NG and SFAB. The Army National Guard is standing up one of the six Army Security Force Assistance Brigades or SFABs. It is may be called the 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade. That makes sense, because there are to be six total – five on active duty and one in the Guard . . . so calling it the 54th SFAB makes perfect sense. (Army Times, Oct 16, 2018).

Damaged F-22s? The Air Force says that damage from a recent hurricane that struck Tyndall AFB to 17 advanced fighter jets is less than initially reported by the media. The AF says ‘too early to tell’. Production, research and development costs put the price per aircraft at $330 million per unit.

Upcoming Army Unit Deployments

  • 1st BCT, 1st ID to Europe
  • 1st CAB, 1st ID to Europe
  • Sustainment Bde, 1st ID to Afghanistan
  • 1st Cav Div HQs to Afghanistan
  • 3rd BCT, 4th ID to Kuwait
  • 1st BCT, 101st AD to Iraq
  • 2nd SFAB to Afghanistan


U.S. Airstrike in Somalia Kills 60. About 60 fighters of the al-Shabaab extremist group met their demise as a result of a U.S. airstrike. The strike took place in the central part of Somalia, about 300 miles northeast of Mogadishu, on Friday, October 12th. There are currently 500 U.S. military personnel in Somalia. The U.S. has conducted 27 airstrikes in 2018 in Somalia. (AP News, Oct 16, 2018).

Drone Base in Niger. Akhilesh Pillalamarri, a fellow at Defense Priorities, questions the usefulness of the drone base (Nigerien Air Base 201) in Niger that has/is costing $100 million to build. In addition, the cost of operating the facility will be about $30 million per year. Read “Is the new US drone base in Niger worth the cost?”, Defense News, October 17, 2018.

“The United States does not need to meddle in every part of the world that faces a lack of security, especially if we can count on our friends. Moreover, by getting involved in local fights against radicals — most of which can be dealt with by regional powers — we often go looking for trouble. American interests are better served by a more hands-off approach to Niger and the Sahel.”


US Strategy in Asia. Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has penned a paper about the continued actions of China increasing its influence within the Pacific region. Read Reflections on American Grand Strategy in Asia, Harvard Kennedy School – Belfer Center, October 2018.

Trump Staying the Course. William McHenry, a student of politics and policy about Eurasia, writes that President Trump has “. . . accepted that the risks of withdrawal outweigh the costs of perpetuating a military commitment to a conflict without a coherent plan to end it.” Read “Why Won’t the US Leave Afghanistan?”, Small Wars Journal, October 2018.

Afghanistan is Lost. Thomas Joscelyn provides a dim assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan and argues that the U.S. is desperate for a way out. Read “The Afghanistan War Is Over. We Lost”, The Weekly Standard, October 18, 2018.


MDMP Outdated? An Army officer argues that the Military Decision Making Process is flawed and advocates for a more stream-lined process that can rapidly evaluate the situation and put a plan into action. Read “The Military Decision-Making Process Is An Inflexible Mess. Here’s How to Fix It”, Task & Purpose, October 16, 2018.

Sweden Edges Closer to NATO. Military units from Sweden are participating in the huge NATO military exercise called Trident Juncture. As Russia gets more assertive in eastern Europe the Swedes get more aligned with NATO. Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, provides his perspective and analysis in “The End of Scandinavian Non-alignment”The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, October 18, 2018.


SFAS and SFQC. A 7-minute long video details the Special Forces Assessment and Selection and the Special Forces Qualification Course. Produced by JFK Special Warfare Center and School (2018).

More SOF videos:


Photo: High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jump from a C-130J over Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on March 23, 2018. DoD photo.

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