SOF News Update 20181105 – Refining strategic intelligence, gender in combat arms, Danish SOF and new technologies, review of Hunter Killer, IDF SOF in Cyprus, strategic intelligence, Chinese influence in HOA, Turkey drifts to Iran and Russia, Saudi war in Yemen, UK and more SOF choppers, 7th SFGA and hurricane relief, women allowed to join UK SAS, another insider attack in Afghanistan, ceremony for MoH recipient at Special Tactics Memorial, Russia’s GRU, SOCOM looking for PFIFF technology, and more.
“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper,
cheers the spirit and promotes health.”
International SOF News
Experimentation by Danish SOF. The Danish Special Operations Command (SOCOM) tried out some next-generation counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) and command and control (C2) technology during its recent Night Hawk 18 exercise. Read more in “Danish SOCOM Trials C-UAS, C2 Technology at exercise ‘Night Hawk 18′”, Jane’s 360, November 1, 2018.
UK Seeks More SOF Choppers. Boeing may be the recipient of an effort by the United Kingdom to purchase 16 Chinook helicopters. The choppers are likely to be configured similar to the MH-47G Chinooks flown by U.S. Army SOF. Read more in “United Kingdom Looks to Buy New Special Forces Helicopters”, Elite UK Forces, October 10, 2018.
IDF SOF Trains in Cyprus. Israeli special operations forces recently conducted a training exercise on the island of Cyprus. Members of the elite Maglan unit took part in a week-long CT drill. (The Times of Israel, Nov 2, 2018).
Three SF Vets Express Opinions on Afghanistan. Three Green Berets that were part of the initial invasion of Afghanistan (ODAs 595/511) voice their opinions on the 17-year long conflict. (Tampa Bay Times, Oct 25, 2018).
Russia Delays Hunter Killer Release. A new film starring actor Gerard Butler tells the story of US Navy SEALs rescuing a Russian president taken hostage by rogue military units. However, the screening in Russia has been delayed by the ‘culture ministry’. Read “Hunter Killer Film Release Delayed in Russia”, BBC News, November 1, 2018.
Women Allowed to Join SAS. For the first time women will be allowed to join the Special Air Service. (BBC News, Oct 25, 2018).
U.S. SOF News
7th SFGA and Hurricane Michael. The Florida panhandle got hit hard by a recent hurricane on October 12th. Hundreds of 7th Group Soldiers took time to help out Emerald Coast communities in hurricane recovery efforts. (DVIDS 7th SFGA, Oct 26, 2018).
Punishments Administered for Niger Mission. The punishments for the botched mission by a 3rd Special Forces Group team in Niger in October 2017 have been administered. Two members of the team and others have received formal letters. The highest ranking service member receiving a letter was the commander, a MG, of Special Operations Command Africa. Read more in “An Operation in Niger Went Fatally Awry. Who Is the Army Punishing?”, The New York Times., October 3, 2018.
SOCOM Seeking PFIFF Technology. The incidents of insider attacks that are killing U.S. advisors and service members in Afghanistan has United States Special Operations Command looking for technology to use in a ‘Partner Force Identification Friend or Foe’ device. Read “SOCOM Wants New Tech to Stop US Troops From Shooting Their Allies”, Task & Purpose, October 29, 2018.
Navy SEAL Pioneer Dies. Hank Weldon died on October 5, 2018 at age 95 years old. Hank had a storied career in service to his country to include time with his OSS team – UDT-10 during World War II. See “One of the Pioneers of the Navy SEALs just died”, Business Insider, October 26, 2018.
Female Rangers: Not a Recruiting Tool. Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy – a Ranger School graduate – says female soldiers who graduated from Ranger School would not be starring in any Army recruitment videos. (Military.com, Nov 1, 2018).
MoH Recipient Honored at Special Tactics Memorial. Air Force Master Sergeant was recognized during a ceremony at the Special Tactics Memorial at Hurlburt Field. (24th SOW DVIDS, Oct 27, 2018).
NSW Discontinues Black Camouflage. Activist groups have taken delight in the firing of Megyn Kelly by NBC News for her ‘blackface’ comments. Now it seems USSOCOM is buckling under pressure from commentators and critics as well. Read “Navy SEALs no longer allowed to wear blackface”, Duffelblog.com, November 2, 2018.
Beyond JIPOE and PMESII. Lt. Col. David Hall, a strategic intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, writes on how we need to go beyond the doctrinal analysis of the operational environment (OE) to consider (and understand) critical variables – or what he calls the “nature of the environment”. He lists some intangibles such as political dynamics, competing agendas, and relationships among the people, military, and government that need analysis. Read “Strategic Intelligence and the Decision to Go to War”, Modern War Institute, November 2, 2018.
Russia’s GRU. The Russian military’s main intelligence agency has been in the news over the past several months – especially because of a number of high-profile blunders that have received a lot of media attention. But of concern is not the failed and embarrassing operations of the GRU – more troubling is the threat of what the GRU can do.
“It has conducted tens of thousands of successful cyber espionage attacks over many years. These may not be as elegant as those by some other Russian security services, but the GRU has experience, a history of successes, and abilities greater than many of their targets.”
Read more in “Russia’s Military Spies Are a Laughing Stock, But They’re Dangerous as Hell”, Daily Beast, November 3, 2018.
Gender and Sexes in the Armed Forces. Dr. Jill S. Russell, a military historian and commentator on military affairs, offers her thoughts on the integration of women into the combat arms. It seems that one way of disarming the opposition to women in the infantry is to attack the concept of masculinity. While I am not opposed to female soldiers and believe there is a place for them in the combat arms (even in SOF in some specific cases) I am very much in favor in keeping my ‘manliness’ intact. Russell’s argument seems to less about what women bring to the infantry and more about how ‘men’ are messed up . . . and need to be less masculine. Hmmm. Read her piece entitled “My Correct Views on Everything: Gender and the Sexes in the Armed Forces”, Wavell Room November 2, 2018.
Global Peace Index 2018. A 100-page document provides an update on by the Institute for Economics & Peace on improvements and deteriorations in world peace. Iceland is the most peaceful nation in the world followed by New Zealand. Syria is the most violent followed by Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Somalia.
China in HOA. Doug Livermore, a SF officer, provides us with an update on the growing influence of China in the Horn of Africa (HOA). China has reassessed its strategic interests and roles around the world and that includes having a robust presence in the HOA. China’s expansion into this region of Africa provides the US with challenges and opportunities. Read “On the Horns of a Dilemma – Addressing Chinese Security Engagement in the HOA”, Small Wars Journal, November 2, 2018.
Turkey’s Alignment with Iran and Russia. Colin Clarke and Ariane Tabatabai examine “. . . Turkey’s drift away from the United States and toward Iran and Russia.” They list several reasons (Erdogan, Kurds, ISIS, distrust of US, and more) for the emerging realignment and the implications for the US. See “Is Major Realignment Taking Place in the Middle East”, Foreign Affairs, October 31, 2018.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia’s Yemen War. Alexander Yacoubian believes “It is time for the U.S. to end its casual support of a war that has turned into a strategic blunder and a humanitarian disaster”. Read “The Cost of a Relationship: U.S. Complicity in Saudi’s Controversial War”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, October 26, 2018.
Brief History of US Involvement in Yemen. Bruce Riedel, a student of Middle East happenings, provides some historical context to the US involvement in the Yemen conflict. See “A brief history of America’s troubled relationship with Yemen”, Brookings Institute, October 22, 2018.
Advisors and Moving the Goals. SIGAR released another audit of the DoD’s effort in Afghanistan – this time it was the performance of advisors at the Afghan ministries. The report revealed that the Pentagon doesn’t know how well its advisors are advising in part because it keeps moving the goalposts. Read more in “SIGAR’s Advice on Afghanistan Advisors: Please Track and Train”, The Diplomat, November 2, 2018.
More on the Killing of General Raziq. The insider attack that took place at the Kandahar governors compound has caused a deterioration of the relationships (if only temporarily) between the ANDSF and U.S. forces. Advising efforts and interactions with the Afghan security forces were dramatically scaled back (at least for a few days). Rumors persist that the U.S. had a part in the killing of the popular General Abdul Raziq. Read more in “How a Taliban Assassin Got Close Enough to Kill a General”, The New York Times, November 2, 2018.
Another Insider Attack in Afghanistan. A U.S. service member was killed in a green-on-blue incident in Kabul on Saturday, November 3rd when a member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) opened fire on a group of Americans. Another U.S. service member was wounded – and was subsequently medevaced to Bagram Air Field for medical treatment. The ANDSF member was killed by other Afghan security members. A member of the Utah Army National Guard, Major Brent Taylor, was a mayor of a small town in Utah and was serving as an intelligence advisor in Afghanistan. He was on his fourth combat deployment. (RS HQs, Nov 3, 2018). See also “Utah major killed while deployed in Afghanistan”, CNN World, November 3, 2018.
US IO in Afghanistan – Failure? Thomas Johnson, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), spent time in Afghanistan as a counterinsurgency advisor where he was part of the IO effort. He has a recent book entitled Taliban Narratives: The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict that has been reviewed by J.P. Lawrence. Read “How the US lost the propaganda war in Afghanistan”, Stars and Stripes, November 2, 2018.
NATO and NATO’s Big Neighbor
Finland and Hybrid Warfare. The quick takeover of Crimea by Russia and the aggressive activities of Russia in eastern Ukraine has alerted the European community on the prospect of further aggression by Russia. This is especially true of the nations in the north Europe region. Finland is one nation that has taken some very concrete steps to be able to resist a Russian attack. Michael Peck provides more info in “Forget Russia: Is Finland the Hybrid Warfare Champion?”, National Interest, October 27, 2018.
Marines, Sailors, Beer, and Iceland. There is nothing like ending a military exercise with a little celebration in a foreign country. That was probably some of the highlights of the many European exercises (Flintlock, etc.) that I participated in during the 19 – . . . well, quite a few decades ago. US Sailors and Marines recently visited Iceland as part of the Trident Juncture exercise (NATO). And the force of 7,000 spent some time in the country’s capital city of Reykjavik quickly consuming almost all the beer to be had. Breweries had to work overtime to help in the thirst quenching. Now that the US servicemen have departed the small population (120,000) of Iceland’s largest city can get back to some normal activities.
But one question remains: Who drank more beer? The sailors whose ships were in port or the Marines doing rucksack marches in the island interior? Hmmm.
Read “Iceland’s bars ran out of beer trying to serve drunk US sailors and Marines”, Military Times, October 27.
Kibler – SERE Instructor, Defense.gov DVIDS, November 2, 2018. An instructor at the army SERE school at FBNC is profiled in this 2-min long video.
Through the Decades 2000s, U.S. Marines Defense Media Activity, November 1, 2018. A 3-min long clip noting the achievements of women in the Corps and outside of the military.
JWC Command Video 2018, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, October 24, 2018. Learn about the Joint Warfare Command based in Stavanger, Norway and how it supports exercises conducted by NATO. JWC provides an ideal opportunity for the collective training and certification of NATO’s joint operational and component HQs. (5 mins)
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Photo: NAVSCIATTS Patrol Boat Light. Photo by Angela Fry, Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, October 30, 2018.