Special Operations News Update 20190610

PC-12 Pilatus

Current news, analysis, and commentary on special operations, national security, and conflicts from around the world.

SOF News

Marine Raider to Plead Guilty. The defense attorney for a Marine charged in the 2017 death of a Green Beret in Mali will plead guilty to negligent homicide for his role in a “stupid prank that went horribly wrong”. (Stars and Stripes, June 4, 2019). And this story just keeps getting worse – read “Raiders, SEALs planned sexual assault in Green Beret hazing that led to homicide, Marine says”, Military Times, June 6, 2019.

The Hyper-Enabled Operator. “Recent technological, socio-economic, and geopolitical trends, coupled with the reemergence of great power competition, complicate the future environment in which U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) must operate. SOF professionals will need to operate not only across traditional physical domains such as land, air, and sea but also in the virtual and cognitive domains. In particular, achieving cognitive dominance over adversaries will be essential to the success of future SOF missions.” Read more in “The Hyper-Enabled Operator”, Small Wars Journal, June 6, 2019.

U.S. Navy – Little SOF Airlift Assets. A veteran Navy Seahawk pilot tells us why the Navy has little dedicated special operations airlift capacity. Read “Why navy SEALs Almost Always Go Into Action Aboard Non-Navy Helicopters”, The Drive War Zone, June 6, 2019.

Update on Niger Ambush Investigation. Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan has decided not to seek further punishment of military members involved in the Niger ambush. Apparently the military is content with punishing lower level officers at the SF detachment and company level but the battalion and group level officers will be receiving promotions and further career enhancing assignments. Read “Shanahan declines to punish senior officers in Niger ambush”, Politico, June 4, 2019. See also “Families blast decision not to punish higher-ranking officers in Niger ambush”, ABC News, June 5, 2019.

Congress and SOF. “Congress wants to ensure special operations forces are being used for missions that fit their roles, leaving other tasks to conventional troops.” See “Spec ops’ roles to deter Russia may shift to conventional soldiers”, Army Times, June 6, 2019.

Graphic Novel of SF MoH Recipient. The Association of the U.S. Army has released a graphic novel about Roy Benavidez – a Green Beret Vietnam War veteran who received the Medal of Honor. Read “AUSA Graphic Novel Features Green Beret Legend”, AUSA, June 3, 2019.

Foreign SOF

Afghan SOF Officer Takes on Corruption. General Khoshal Sadat has been the Deputy Minister of Interior for several months. He is making an immediate impact within the MoI. This 35-year old Afghan officer is one of the few things that have gone right with the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and is a glimmer of hope for the future of that country. Read “New commander takes on corruption ‘mess’ in Afghan police”, Reuters, June 4, 2019.

Publications and Papers

JDN 1-19. The Department of Defense has published Competition Continuum, Joint Doctrine Note 1-19, 03 June 2019. This 25-page doctrinal reference describes the competition continuum, discusses some of the implications for how the joint force campaigns, and describes aspects of campaigning through cooperation, adversarial competition below armed conflict, and armed conflict. I did a “Ctrl-F” for the terms SOF, special operations, and Special forces . . . nothing. Hmmm.

Modern Political Warfare. A host of writers from RAND Corporation have contributed to a new paper entitled The Growing Need to Focus on Modern Political Warfare, (June 2019, 4 pages).

SOF in Competition. Joseph Miller and Monte Erfourth, both members of USSOCOM J5 (Strategy, Policy, and Plans), have authored an article about SOF’s role in the shift of focues to deepening competition among rival actors. They advocate for change within USSOCOM – in the institutional structure, strategy, and culture of the organization. Read “SOF in Competition: Establishing the Foundation of Strategy”, Small Wars Journal, June 7, 2019.

Great Power Competition. Jeff Goodson provides his perspective on the nature of U.S. engagement with China and Russia and the use of proxies to wage conflict short of war. Read “The Line Between Conflict and Stability in Great Power Competition”, Stratfor WorldView, April 22, 2019.


Making Marine Snipers. An instructor at the Basic Scout Sniper Course at Quantico, Virginia explains his role and the training for Marine Scout Snipers. (DVIDS, June 5, 2019).

USASOC CAPEX 2019. In June the Army Special Forces, Rangers, and ARSOF aviation units will participate in the annual Capabilities Exercise at Fort Bragg, NC. Watch a 1-min video about CAPEX 2019. (DVIDS, June 6, 2019).


Photo: PC-12 Pilatus. Aircraft from 318th Special Operations Squadron practices touch-and-go maneuvers in New Mexico. Photo by Airman 1st Class Vernon R. Walker; USAF, 24 January 2019.

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