SOF News Update – SOF News has been dormant for a few weeks. The small staff took a break from writing and posting in order to spend time with family, enjoy the holidays, and get some small projects done. As always, the news stories tend to ‘pile up’. Found below is a selection of some of the more important happenings that took place over the past month. We have resumed ‘normal’ operations and once again you will discover our newsletter in your inbox before your morning coffee has perked or your afternoon tea has brewed.
International SOF News
Irish SF in Mali. Members of the Army Ranger Wing – Ireland’s special forces – are heading to Mali to be part of the UN mandated mission. They will be taking part in the MINUSMA mission. Read “Risk is real as Irish Special Forces to deploy to Mali”, RTE, January 13, 2019.
UK’s Elite Para Regiment. An article provides information about the selection and training for the Paras. (Independent, Jan 10, 2019).
Russian SOF Mini-Subs. In 2022 Russian special operations forces will be getting six futuristic mini-subs. (Defense One, January 11, 2019).
TV Show – “SAS: Who Dares Wins”. A television show pits 25 men against harsh environments all around the world in a two-week long training course similar to SAS selection. Read “5 Reasons We Love SAS: Who Dares Wins”, Men’s Health UK, January 11, 2019.
Peru’s 1st SF Brigade. The commander of Peru’s elite unit is interviewed in “Peruvian Army’s 1st Special Forces Brigade Fights Terrorism and Narcotrafficking”, Dialogo Magazine, January 6, 2019.
MAF to Establish SF Command. The Malaysian Armed Forces will be establishing a special forces operations command – combining elements of the army, navy, and air force. (The Sun Daily, Jan 3, 2019).
Navy SEAL New Master Chief for 6th Fleet. Master Chief Petty Officer Derrick Walters will be the 6th Fleet’s master chief in early 2019. (Stars and Stripes, January 11, 2019).
New Building for SWCS. The John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School dedicated a new building. Clay Hall will house the Special Warfare Education Group, special operations language and cultural classrooms, and the Marquat Memorial Library. Read “Fort Bragg dedicates cultural school”, The Fayetteville Observer, January 11, 2019.
AFSOC’s Stealth Aircraft. Read “The Mysterious Saga of America’s Hunt for a Stealth Special Operations Transport”, The War Zone, January 8, 2019.
SEALs and the H7K P9S. Charlie Gao writes about a pistol that Navy SEALs used for a while. Read “Meet the Heckler & Koch P9S: The Gun the Navy SEALs Loved”, The National Interest, January 12, 2019.
SOF and ‘Mindfulness’. A new study shows that mindfulness can reduce stress in elite US soldiers. Read “Mindfulness May Enhance the Performance of US Special Forces”, Psychology Today, January 11, 2019.
PMCs and SOF. Taylor Clausen writes about private military corporations in “Force For Hire: The Private Market for Special Operations Forces”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, January 10, 2019.
MAG Aerospace. A firm in Fort Walton Beach, Florida has opened a new 25,000-square-foot facility that will focus on special warfare systems used by AFSOC. (NWF Daily News, Jan 11, 2019).
AF SERE Specialist Training. The Air Force is spreading the word about its training for one of its smallest career fields. Read “SERE Specialists Working to Expand Their Ranks, Improve Recruitment”, Air Force Magazine, December 31, 2018.
The Darby Project. A non-profit helping Rangers transition from the regiment. By Luke Ryan of The Freq, January 3, 2019.
10th SFGA – As First Responders. Over the course of the last few years a number of SF Soldiers from 10th Group have helped other people in a medical emergency. Read “Green Berets Save German Lives”, SOCEUR DVIDS, December 1, 2018.
US SOF Under the Microscope
Retired GB Killed in Iraq. A former Green Beret working as a contractor supporting a U.S. SOF project was killed in Iraq. His death apparently was caused by a beating allegedly administered by fellow Americans. Two Marines and a Navy Corpsman – members of a MARSOC unit – are under investigation. (Special Operations, January 11, 2019).
GB Charged with Murder Should be Pardoned. Colonel (Ret) David Hunt (SF officer) has penned an opinion piece for Fox News (Dec 25, 2018) that says Major Golsteyn should be pardoned by President Trump.
Presidential Interference? A Green Beret, MAJ Golsteyn, has been accused of the murder of an Afghan bomb maker. President Trump says he will review the case. Is this presidential interference? An Army lawyer examines the issue. (Lawfare Blog, Jan 3, 2019).
Navy SEAL Remains in Brig. A Navy SEAL is still confined and is awaiting his trial for the murder of a Iraqi prisoner of war. (Navy Times, Jan 10, 2019).
Dave Maxwell on SOF. A retired SF colonel is interviewed on changes coming to the special operations community and the rash of ‘bad news’ over the past year about SOF operators straying across the ethical line. Read “Special Operations Focuses Inward”, The Cipher Brief, January 11, 2019.
Some SOF History
Air Support to OSS in WWII. Read up on how the U.S. Army Air Corps supported the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. See “In the Air With Operation Carpetbagger, a Secret WWII Mission”, Real Clear Life, January 4, 2019.
Hugh Montgomery – OSS to Cold War Warrior. He started off as an OSS commando who jumped into France before the Allied invasion force stormed the beaches of Normandy. Then he worked as a case officer for the CIA during the Cold War. He ended his career as an Ambassador. Read more about Hugh Montgomery in “A Master Spy: From OSS Commando, to Legendary Cold War Case Officer”, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, January 5, 2019.
SOG Mission New Year’s Day 1969. A SF Vietnam veteran of the Studies and Observation Group (SOG) writes about a dangerous mission that cost the lives of three Green Berets. By John Stryker Meyer. (The Freq, Jan 1, 2019).
CST Veteran Explains Her Service and Future Plans. A member of a Cultural Support Team (CST) that worked alongside U.S Special Forces in Afghanistan has returned to civilian life. Read about her service and future aspirations. (Standord News, Jan 1, 2019).
Europe and NATO
Germany Leads VJTF. German forces took the lead for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force as of the beginning of the year. In 2018 Italy was the lead nation. Read “Germany steps up to lead NATO high readiness force”, NATO, January 1, 2019.
Mark Bowden on Somalia. A journalist and writer (author of Black Hawk Down) has penned an opinion piece on what to do in Somalia. He traces the history of that troubled country (going back to the early 90s) to today. Read “The Legacy of Black Hawk Down”, Smithsonian Magazine, January 2019.
Somalia: Analysis. Caleb Weiss, A research analyst with the Long War Journal, provides information on the growth of the Islamic State in Somalia and how its operations may be limited by al-Shabaab. Read “Analysis: Islamic State expanded operations in Somalia in 2018”, FDD’s Long War Journal, January 4, 2018.
Air Strikes in Somalia. The United States Africa Command released news that airstrike targeting al-Shabaab resulted in the death of 10 militants. Evidently, at least according to the AFRICOM headline, the killing of the 10 combatants has degraded al-Shabaab. The strike took place on January 2, 2019.
Syria – Confusion in the Trump Administration. President’s Trump ‘tweet’ saying that the U.S. would withdraw all military personnel from Syria within 30 days (tweeted out a few weeks back) has put U.S. strategy and policy in the Middle East into turmoil. On admin official says the withdrawal is ‘conditional’, another says the U.S. will stay until there are no Iranian boots on the ground in Syria, and the military has been withdrawing personnel and equipment.
McGurk is Out, Jeffrey is In. Ambassador James Jeffrey has been appointed as the Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. I am sure there is an acronym for that position. Brett McGurk resigned – it seems in protest of President Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. military personnel from Syria in 30 days.
Mosul – Lessons Learned. Two Army majors write about “Five Operational Lessons From the Battle for Mosul”, Military Review, January-February 2019.
More Spies Needed. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, wants to station more agents overseas. But in a world of high tech, digital footprints, and the world wide web – this is extremely difficult. Read “CIA Chief Pushes for More Spies Abroad; Surveillance Makes That Harder“, NPR, January 3, 2019.
CIA – Women in the Lead. The latest appointment by CIA Director Gina Haspel has put women in charge of all three directorates of the Central Intelligence Agency. The three directorates are analysis, operations, and science and technology. The CIA’s work force is about 50 percent women. The agency’s general counsel is also a woman. Read “All three CIA directorates will now be headed by women”, NBC News, January 5, 2018.
Shutting Down the PKSOI. Read the letter (29 Nov 2018) from Howard Lind, President and Executive Director of the Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute to the Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. Posted on Small Wars Journal.
The Long War Against Islamic Jihad. Jeff Goodson, a career foreign service officer, provides his views on the nature of current conflicts around the world and the need for strong regionally-based CT platforms. Read “There’s no walking away from Islamic Jihad”, The Hill, January 13, 2019.
Book Review – Small Wars, Big Data. Zachary Griffiths, an SF officer, reviews a new book that argues the “. . . U.S. military should focus its efforts not on winning hearts and minds, but rather on acquiring information from the people about insurgent networks.” Read “Lessons from the Long War: The Role of Information in Counter-insurgency”, War on the Rocks, January 6, 2019.
Reports and Publications
U.S. Military Deployments Abroad. The Congressional Research Service has published a 47-page report entitled Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2018, CRS, December 28, 2018. It is a long list!
Drones. The Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute has published a case study (24 pages, pdf) entitled A Drone’s Strike Away: Peace and Security in the Age of Automated Warfare, PKSOI, December 2018.
Air Observer. The biannual journal of he 137th Special Operations Wing. (January 2019, 21 pages).
U.S. Using PMSC’s for UN Operations. Erik Grossman provides his perspective on how the United States could use Private Military and Security Corporations while participating in United Nations peacekeeping and enforcement operations. Read “Private Parts: The Private Sector and U.S. Peace Enforcement”, Small Wars Journal, January 3, 2018.
Allen on ISIS. General (Ret) John Allen, currently president of the Brookings Institution, has provided his thoughts on recent policy decisions on Syria and the current fight against ISIS. (The Washington Post, Jan 3, 2018).
March 5-7, 2019. Tampa Bay, Florida
2019 Global SOF Symposium
Global SOF Foundation
March 8-9, 2019. Monterey, California
SORA / JSOU Annual Symposium
Naval Postgraduate School
Special Operations Research Association and
Joint Special Operations University
May 6-10, 2019. Charlotte, North Carolina
Scientific Assembly and Exhibition
Special Operations Medical Association
May 20-23, 2019. Tampa, Florida
Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC)
National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
Video – SPMAGTF-CR-Africa Trains with German Fallschirmjager Regiment. A short video of U.S. Marines training with German paratroopers in Germany. (DVIDS, 28 Dec 2018).
Video – “Stalingrad: The Campaign“. The Army University Press posted a 1-hr video on the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad. It applies lessons learned to current U.S. doctrine. Good learning tool for urban warfare in the future. (Jan 2, 2019)
Video of Early Era “O&I” Spy Gear. The equipment used by today’s Special Force Intelligence Sergeant is light years ahead of the secret tools used by students of the old Operations and Intelligence (O&I) Course of the 1960s. Watch a quick video of the spy gear used during the Cold War by SF Intel Sgts.
What Do You Take to Sea? The Italian Mariner. LT Francesca Greco describes what she takes to sea in this 1-min long video. (NATO, Jan 4, 2019).
Triple Frontier – Trailer. A small group of former SOF operators take on a drug cartel in South America to score some fast cash. Now on Netflix.
Photo: MEDEVAC in Iraq – pilots from Task Force Warhorse fly a UH-60 Black Hawk during a medical evacuation at Camp Taji, Iraq. Photo by Specialist Javion Siders, CJTF-OIR, December 18, 2018.