Special Operations News Update 20190123

82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper. DoD, April 18, 2018.

Recent news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and current conflicts from around the world.

SOF News

Brazil’s Combat Diver’s Group. The Brazilian Navy has a unique unit that is adapted to respond to national and international naval special operations contingencies. The Brazilian Navy’s Combat Diver’s Group (GRUMEC) was created in 1964. The commander of the GRUMEC is interviewed about his unit. Read “The Combat Diver’s Group: Brazilian Navy’s Elite Unit”, Dialogo, January 21, 2019.

19th SFGA Chaplain Dies. The chaplain for the 19th Special Forces Group died while swimming. Read “National Guardsman who died swimming remembered as ‘phenomenal chaplain and soldier'”, Desert News, January 20, 2019.

7th SFGA in El Sal. A former warrant officer who served in the 7th Special Forces Group provides a glimpse of what the Green Berets accomplished in South America in the 1980s / 1990s. Read “7th SFG Stemmed the Tide, Guaranteed the Peace in El Salvador”, Special Operations, January 21, 2019.

Raider Wrap Up. The Marine Raider Foundation has published its Fall/Winter 2018 issue.

SEAL Team Six Op in Somalia – January 2012. Two civilians held for four months by Somali pirates are rescued by the U.S. Navy. (We Are the Mighty, January 22, 2019).

Petra Malm – Swedish SOF Operator. The first female special operations operator in the Swedish Army has called it quits after 7 years in the regular Army, 10 years in the Swedish SOF, and many deployments to Afghanistan. Read “Being SOF Operator is ‘nearly as tough as being a mum”, Spec Ops Magazine, January 22, 2019.

Hero Laid to Rest. A Green Beret is placed in his final resting spot. Read “At Arlington, another hero is laid to rest”, Cape Cod Times, January 22, 2019.

Arlington Ceremony Scheduled. Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, will be laid to rest during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on Thursday, January 24, 2019.

Missing 7th SFGA Soldier Arrested. For days (since Jan 14th) Sergeant Greco Tucker of the 7th Special Forces Group had been missing. He was arrested in South Florida on Sunday night (Jan 20th) for aggravated assault on law enforcement and resisting arrest. Read “Missing Crestview soldier arrested in South Florida”, News WKRG 5, January 21, 2019.

National Security

Defeating Hybrid Warfare. Luke Coffey offers some recommendations on how to keep the ‘little green men’ at bay. He says that a well-governed society is a resilient society that can resist efforts by states using hybrid warfare tactics. Read “How to Defeat Hybrid Warfare Before It Starts”, Defense One, January 21, 2019.

Counterinsurgency – A Better Way. Nicholas Madsen provides his input on the conduct of COIN in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read “Rethinking Counterinsurgency”, Foreign Policy Press, January 21, 2019.

Leaving COIN Behind. Stephen Tyminski, U.S. Army infantry officer, writes on how the U.S. Army is putting more emphasis on large scale combat operations (LSCO) and a lot less emphasis on counterinsurgency. Read his article entitled “Preparing for the Future: Insurgents Get a Vote”, Small Wars Journal, January 22, 2019.

Building BPC. A part of the military strategy of the United States is to build Partner Nation forces. Michael Murray, a training integrator at the Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group, provides us an explanation of how to go about this difficult yet important task. He is a retired Marine infantry officer who has performed advising missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia. Read “Building Partner Capability and Capacity Post-NDAA 2017: A Practical Approach”, Small Wars Journal, January 22, 2019.

Drones – Escalation Risk. Some experimental war games reveal that the deployment of drones could contribute to lower levels of escalation and greater crisis stability. This runs counter to prevailing thought that the use of drones lowers the risk to friendly forces, making it easier to escalate crises. Erik Lin-Greenberg, a fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, explains in “Game of Drones: What Experimental Wargames Reveal About Drones and Escalation”, War on the Rocks, January 10, 2019.

National Intelligence Strategy. “This National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) provides the Intelligence Community (IC) with strategic direction from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for the next four years.” This new publication (34 pages) published on January 22, 2019 is now available online.

Transgender Policy. The Pentagon said it would not implement any changes to its current transgender policy for now – even though the Supreme Court ruled that the DoD could put limits on which transgender personnel may be allowed to serve. (Military Times, Jan 22, 2019).

Milley at AUSA. The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, addressed the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare recently. He stated during his speech that the Army has set the conditions for a successful future. Read “Milley: Conditions Are Set, Still Much to Do”, AUSA, January 22, 2019.

Middle East

Abu Musa, Millenniun Challenge 02, UAE, and Iran. A war game conducted in 2002 could very well be the predictive of a conflict some 20 years later. Read “The UAE Will Triumph Over Iran in the Next Middle Eastern War”, The National Interest, January 19, 2019.


Syria Update. The Trump administration continues to chat with Turkey on the future of northeastern Syria. Turkey has expressed a strong desire for a 20-mile buffer zone along the Syrian-Turkish border. It also says it wants to occupy Manbji; displacing Kurdish forces.

U.S. Soldier Seriously Wounded. A U.S. Army Captain injured in the suicide bombing that claimed the lives of four Americans on January 16, 2019 is in serious condition in a military hospital in Germany. Captain Jonathan Turnbull was first evacuated to Baghdad, Iraq and then later to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. See “American soldier wounded in Manbij attack fighting for his life”,  Stars and Stripes, January 22, 2019.

US Forces in Syria Attacked. The Twitter account for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve @OIRSpox confirmed on Monday that a “. . . combined U.S. and Syrian partner force convoy was involved in an apparent VBIED attack today in Syria. There were no U.S. casualties.” Left unsaid by CJTF-OIR is that five members of the partner force were killed and two U.S. service members wounded.

Kurds: “US Embarrassed”. Senior leaders of the Syrian Democratic Front say that U.S. commanders on the ground in northeastern Syria are embarrassed by the Trump administration plan for Syria. (NBC News, Jan 18, 2019).

Israel Stepping Up Attacks in Syria. Iranian troops, proxy forces, and installations in Syria have been hit repeatedly by Israeli aircraft. The abrupt change in U.S. policy in Syria and resulting plan to remove the more than 2,200 U.S. military personnel has prompted Israel to re-calibrate its policy in Syria. On Sunday three squadrons of Israeli aircraft hit targets in Syria killing scores of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members. Read more in “Intelbrief: How Will The U.S. Withdrawal Impact Israel’s Strategy in Syria?”, The Soufan Center, January 22, 2019. Read also – “Israeli Strikes in Syria Reveal New Battlefield for Post-Civil War Era”, Middle East Forum, January 21, 2019.


Somalia Backgrounder. Ed Marek provides a detailed background on the conflict in Somalia. It has eight sections. (Talking Proud, Dec 17, 2018).

Al Shabaab Fight – It isn’t Over. The African Union plans to end the peacekeeping mission in Somalia in 2021. This is probably another case of “Mission Accomplished”. Read “The Fight Against al Shabaab Isn’t Over”, by Carline Goodson, AEI, January 15, 2019.

Essay on Ad Hoc Security Coalitions. Paul Williams, an assistant professor at George Washington University, writes an informative essay about peace keeping operations in Africa. He explores what is needed to authorize, finance, and support these peace operations. Read “Can Ad Hoc Security Coalitions in Africa Bring Stability?”, IPI Global Observatory, January 14, 2019.

UN Troops Attacked in Mali. An al-Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility for an attack on Sunday (Jan 20) on a United Nations peacekeeping camp that killed 10 blue helmets from Chad. An additional 25 were wounded. (VOA, Jan 20, 2019).

USARAF Cdr Interviewed. Major General Roger Cloutier is interviewed and provides his perspective on the mission of U.S. Army Africa in “Looking forward, new USARAF commander brings hard lessons learned”, Stars and Stripes, January 17, 2019.

Europe, NATO, and the Bully to the East

Don’t Forget the Balkans and Black Sea! Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, worries that NATO is more concerned about the security of the Baltic States – and less concerned about the Balkans and the Black Sea. Read “Message to NATO: Don’t Forget the Black Sea and the Balkans”, The Hill, January 20, 2019.

Baltic States – Regional Military Cooperation Needed. Two national security analysts believe that the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia need to cooperate more with each other to ensure a collective defensive posture against Russia aggression. Read “The Unfinished Business of Baltic Security”, Modern War Institute at West Point, January 22, 2019.

Latvia’s KGB Informants. In the Soviet times some Latvians worked for the Russian intelligence agency known as the KGB. Secret files have now been made public disclosing the names of over 4,000 informants. (National Post, January 21, 2019).


Chinese Army Dealing with Toxic Masculinity. A decorated army officer and son of the legendary General Li was relieved of his command amid allegations that he fostered an atmosphere of negative command influence. Read “Captain Li Shang Relieved of Command for Toxic Masculinity”, Duffel Blog, January 21, 2019.

Videos, Books, & Movies

Video – Former CIA Chief Explains How Spies Use Disguises, WIRED, October 22, 2018, 10 mins. Former Chief of Disguise for the Central Intelligence Agency explains how disguises are used in the CIA, and what aspects to the deception make for an effective disguise.

Movie Trailer – Ashes in the Snow, Verticle Entertainment, December 17, 2018, 2 mins. During World War II, a 16 year-old aspiring artist and her family are deported to Siberia amidst Stalin’s brutal dismantling of the Baltic region.

Article – Upcoming Book Thrillers. There are a lot of spy, detective, and adventure novels coming in 2019. See “The Real Book Spy’s 2019 Reading Guide: Every Thriller We Know About So Far”, The Real Book Spy, January 1, 2019.

Article – Netflix War Films. Read up on the 14 best war movies on Netflix. Popular Mechanics, January 22, 2019.


Photo: 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper. DoD, April 18, 2018.

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