Special Operations News Update 20181217

10th SFGA troops fastrope from UH-60 near Aalborg, Denmark. Photo by SSG Steven Young, SOCEUR, Sep 2, 2018.

SOF News Update 20181217 –  A cult of lethality, review of intel processes at combatant commands, DoS back in Somalia, Mitchell (SO/LIC) on SOF, progress against jihadists in Mali, Bolton on moving AFRICOM, new SEL for USACAPOC, SF officer charged with murder, proxy warfare, Bolton on Africa’s security, and more.

“At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a “U.S. Military hero,” Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder. He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.”

President Donald Trump, Twitter Tweet, Sunday, Dec 16, 2018, 10:03 AM.

SOF News

Mitchell (SO/LIC) on SOF. Retired SF Colonel Mark Mitchell, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low Intensity Conflict, is interviewed about special operations, SO/LIC, USSOCOM, Afghanistan, and more. Very informative read! See “A View from the CT Foxhole”CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

McChrystal on How JSOC Got al-Zarqawi. LTG (Ret) Stanley McChrystal is interviewed on the leadership abilities of the head of al Qaeda in Iraq and how the Joint Special Operations Command enabled itself to track his location and kill him. Read “What Stanley McChrystal learned from Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq before leading the operation to kill him”, Business Insider, December 15, 2018.

CMO and Social Media. A Civil Affairs officer, CPT David L. Harrell, argues that that the Civil Affairs branch needs to add a social media analysis function to its extensive repertoire in Before the Engagement: Mapping Social Media for Civil Military Operations, The Civil Affairs Association, November 22, 2018.

New SEL for USACAPOC. The United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Command has a new senior enlisted leader. Command Sergeant Major Peter Trotter moved into the position on December 15, 2018. (USACAPOC DVIDS, Dec 15, 2018).

SF Officer Charged with Murder. Major Mathew Golsteyn is in some legal difficulties from an incident that took place in Afghanistan years ago. He allegedly told the CIA during a 2011 interview that he killed a suspected bombmaker who was in U.S. forces custody in Helmand province. A few years later he once again admitted he killed the bombmaker during a TV interview on Fox News. (Daily Beast, Dec 15, 2018). It appears that President Trump is going to review the murder case. 

7th SFGA Cook in Competition. Specialist Nathaniel Bansi, a culinary specialist assigned to 7th Special Forces Group, has been selected to be part of the FBNC team entered into the Joint Culinary Training Exercise to be held in March 2019 at Fort Lee, Virginia. The competition consists of 12 categories and takes place over six days. Read “Cooking up the Good Stuff” 7th SFGA DVIDS, October 30, 2018.

Military and National Security

Too Much Lethality? Sometimes militaries get fixated on one type of warfare and neglect other types. For almost 20 years some critics have said the U.S. had adopted a ‘cult of counterinsurgency’. Now it would appear (at least to some) that lethality is the soup du jour. Zachery Tyson Brown explains in “A Cult of Lethality”Strategy Bridge, December 14, 2018.

Veterans in Congress. Come January the U.S. House of Representatives will have many more veterans of the Iraq and Afghan in its ranks. Read “The Veteran Surge in Congress”, The Hill, Dec 2018.

Proxy Warfare. “Minor powers, rebel groups, and other organizations often act as proxies for more powerful states or groups, which use them to fight (or commit) terrorism, counter rival regimes, or otherwise advance their interests.” Read more in “Five Myths about Sponsor-Proxy Relationships”, Lawfare Blog,December 16, 2018.


DoD IG Report on Cbt Cmd Intel. The Inspector General for the Department of Defense did a review of the intel processes of the combatant commands and offers some recommendations for improvement in a 50-page report. Read Evaluation of Combatant Command Intelligence Directorate Internal Communications Processes, December 4, 2018.


AFRICOM to Move to Africa. It has always been perplexing to many folks on why the location of U.S. Africa Command’s Hqs is in Germany. Most national security gurus think it should be on the African continent. But . . . try finding a country that wants to host the hqs . . . and that the DoD would like to put AFRICOM in. Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, is in favor of moving AFRICOM south. (Miltary.com, Dec 13, 2018).

Bolton on Africa’s Security. The national security advisor says there should be more regional security cooperation  – like the G5 Sahel Joint Force – to provide stability to Africa. He endorses the establishment of more African regional security organizations. See “US Africa strategy hinges on local forces stepping up as Pentagon ramps down: Bolton”, Defense News, December 13, 2018. 

DoS Back in Somalia.  The U.S. has re-established a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia. IT U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu had been closed in 1991. (DoS, Dec 4, 2018).

Progress in Mali? The French task force in Mali is hitting targets frequently – trying to diminish the capability of jihadists. It appears the French are having some success. Read “The Death of a Jihadist: A Chance to Curb Mali’s Conflict”European Council on Foreign Affairs, December 13, 2018.

Middle East

Kurdish Syria. The Turks are once again threatening to attack U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria. A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel group may join forces with the Turks. The U.S., understandably, is concerned and has issued warnings of restraint. Some news reports indicate that the U.S. is aiding Turkey in the targeting of members of the PKK in the Sinjar, Iraq area.

Yemen. The U.S. Senate has voted (56 to 41) to curb the administration’s support of the Saudi fight in Yemen. A ceasefire may have been agreed upon that would implement a truce of sorts . . . but don’t hold your breath. Meanwhile U.S. involvement in Yemen remains off the front news page. It seems we do a little bit more than just provide target analysis, aerial refueling, and ISR support to Saudi Arabia and UAE. Apparently we occasionally land C-17s in Yemen to pick up wounded UAE military service members


China – No Combat Experience. The Chinese military has not fought a war in decades. The last military engagement was the embarrassing results of the Chinese invasion of Vietnam in 1979 when a seasoned Vietnamese military handed China a resounding defeat. But does a military with time spent in war make a difference? Read “China’s Military Has No Combat Experience: Does It Matter?”, by Timothy R. Heath (RAND), The RAND Blog, November 27, 2018.

NATO, Europe . . . and, of course, Russia

Strangling Ukraine. Russia is adopting ‘economic warfare’ in its ‘competition’ with Ukraine. It is cutting off that country’s access to it’s 2nd and 3rd largest seaports in the Sea of Azov by sealing off the Kerch Strait. Read “Russia Tries to Strangle Ukraine with New Maritime Strategy”, Speigel Online, December 4, 2018.

Border Build Up. According to Ukraine government sources a Russian military buildup is taking place along the border area.


Photo: 10th Special Forces Group soldiers fastrope from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter near Aalborg, Denmark. Photo by SSG Steven Young, SOCEUR, Sep 2, 2018.

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