Special Operations News Update 20190708

Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) Parachutists (SOJTF-OIR, 31 August 2018).

SOF News – Current news, analysis, and commentary on special operations, national security, and conflicts from around the world. Update on Gallagher trial, Somalia, ISIS, terrorist financing, Yemen, Iraq, Robert’ Ridge, and more.

A Small Pause. SOF News refrained from publishing the newsletter for a few days in observance of the small staff’s desire for some time off during the July 4th holiday. For those international readers wondering what the big deal is – Independence Day is a holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the 13 American colonies were no longer subject to British rule. President Trump took the occasion to make a speech in D.C. He acknowledged the efforts of all the branches of the U.S. military.

And more about the July 4th event in D.C. . . .

“Commander’s planning guidance: a Red Square-style parade displaying the nation’s full military might. Approved COA: a 4-vehicle static display worthy of a Fort Hood community barbecue. Today is a triumph for staff officers everywhere.”

Tweet on Twitter, July 4, 2019 in reference to Washington, D.C. July 4, 2019 parade.

SOF News

Gallagher Trial – Disruption of SEAL Community. In the wake of the Eddie Gallagher trial observers are commenting on how it is affecting the Naval Special Warfare community. Some are raising the alarm. Read a recap of the trial and how it is affecting the SEAL community in“Edward Gallagher: A murder trial that tore band of brothers apart”, BBC News, July 4, 2019. Apparently Gallagher will be a year shy of getting a 20-year retirement when or if he leaves the Navy. However, some are speculating he has a future – could it be a book or movie?

Remembering Roberts Ridge. In March 2002 a fierce battle took place on a snowy mountaintop in Afghanistan. Read “A Ranger Recalls the Actions of Heroes on Roberts Ridge Captured on Video”, Coffee or Die Magazine, July 5, 2019.

SFC Elliott Robbins Remembered. Florissant, Colorado honored Elliott Robbins – a SF soldier from 10th SFGA. Read “Town honors Special Forces medical sergeant who died in Afghanistan, rallies around widow”, Army Times, July 6, 2019.

Navy EOD Technicians Recognized. Two EOD techs were recognized for extraordinary heroism during a nighttime raid in Iraq while assigned to Special Operations Task Force – West. (Military.com, July 5, 2019).

P226 and Navy SEALs. The Sig Sauer P226 pistol was a favorite of the SEALs for many years. Read “Why the Navy SEALs Loved the Sig Saurer P226 Gun”, The National Interest, July 5, 2019.

Language Center for SOF. Indiana University will be establishing a Language Training Center on behalf of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office. (Indiana University News, July 3, 2019.

CWO5-Felix-Mosqueda. Commandant Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute

Photo: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Felix E. Mosqueda gives a speech during a ceremony in which he assumed command of the Warrant Officer Institute at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina April 3, 2019. Mosqueda assumed command of the Institute which educates, trains and certifies candidates to become Special Forces Warrant Officers and provides intermediate and advanced education for Warrant Officers selected to advance to higher ranks. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)

New JSOC SEL. Army Command Sergeant Major Craig Bishop, currently assigned as the command sergeant major for 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, has been selected to replace Command Sergeant Major David Blake as the command senior enlisted leader for the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Former Navy SEAL and His Coffee. A Boston coffee shop owner is showing support for police after an incident in an Arizona Starbucks. (Law Enforcement Today, July 6, 2019.

International SOF

Hybrid Warfare and Australian SOF. The rise of asymmetric threats by state and non-state actors ensures a role for special operations forces. Read “Hybrid warfare and a new role for Australia’s Special Forces?”, Defence Connect, July 4, 2019.

UK Commandos Seize Iranian Vessel. An oil tanker traveling from Iran to Syria was boarded by Royal Marines (42 Commando) near Gilbraltar. The Iranian tanker Grace 1 is allegedly breaking sanctions by attempting to deliver oil to Syria. The vessel was apparently acting in breach of established EU sanctions against Syria.

Israeli SOF Officer Resigns. A commander of a special operations unit of the IDF is stepping down in the aftermath of a special forces operation in the Gaza Strip that went badly in 2018. (Times of Israel, July 4, 2019). Additionally, news reports say that the Israeli special forces officer killed in the Gaza Strip operation in November 2018 was hit by friendly fire from another member of his team.

Costly SOF Aircraft for Canada. Three new surveillance aircraft will arrive in 2022 for use by CANSOF. But some are wondering why Canada is paying double what the U.S. would pay for the Beechcraft King Air planes. (Ottawa Citizen, July 3, 2019).

Exercise Ridge Runner. Members of the West Virginia National Guard Special Forces recently completed irregular and unconventional warfare training with some NATO allies from Poland and Latvia. Read “Special Forces Soldiers train with Polish, Latvian allies in West Virginia”, Army.mil, July 3, 2019.

Middle East

Iraq’s Militias. Last week the Iraq government took steps to exert more control over powerful Iran-backed militias in Iraq. The armed groups were placed under the full command of the Iraqi armed forces. See “Iraq moves to limit influence of Iran-backed militias”, Military Times, June 2, 2019.

Yemen – Rock Bottom. This impoverished Middle Eastern country is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis (according to the UN). Read more in “Five years into war, Yemen a ‘rock bottom'”, France 24, July 7, 2019. In other news, the UAE is apparently scaling down its involvement in the Yemen conflict. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues its involvement in Yemen – with a bit of drone activity.

German Troops for Syria? The United States has formally requested assistance from Germany in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Read “US calls for German ground troops in Syria”, Deutsche Welle, July 6, 2019.

U.S. Drones and Iran’s Airspace. Sean Naylor provides some detail into drone operations along the borders of Iran. Read “Drone shootdown highlights history of U.S. incursions into Iran’s airspace”, Yahoo! News, July 6, 2019.


Sudan Update. A special report by Reuters examines the current political and security situation in Sudan. Read “Abandoned by the UAE, Sudan’s Bashir was destined to fall”, Reuters, July 3, 2019.

Niger Update. AFRICOM said it provided surveillance support (drones) and contracted air evacuation of Niger forces caught in a battle with Islamic militants at a Niger army camp near the Mali border. The attack killed 18 soldiers and wounded more. French Mirage fighters most likely provided air support as well.


Awards Related to Insider Attack in Afghanistan. Six soldiers were given awards for actions during an insider attack in southern Afghanistan in October 2018 that claimed the life of some high-ranking Afghan security officials. One of those killed was General Abdul Raziq. (Army Times, June 2, 2019).

Afghan Peace Talks. The 7th round of peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban are underway. Despite optimistic statements about progress from the U.S. delegation most observers are pessimistic about the outcome – whether there is an agreement or not.

Reports, Papers, and Pubs

Understanding Terrorist Financing. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has published a 66-page report entitled Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment Guidance (July 2019).

Future Conflict. Read a collection of essays about contemporary trends in war and warfare, and how they will shape the actions of belligerents in future conflicts in this 89-page paper. The Future of Conflict Operating Environment Out to 2030, editor Peter Roberts, Royal United Services Insitute (RUSI) for Defence and Security Studies, June 2019.

Army History Magazine. The Summer 2019 edition is now available online.

Videos and Podcasts

Special Ops Over MCTAB. Members of the Special Operations Command Pacific and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 conduct parachute operations around Marine Corps Training Area Bellows. (Video by Cpl. Brendan Custer, USMC, June 19-20, 2019, 2 mins.

Podcast – Dan Byman’s Book. An author is interviewed about his new book entitled Road Warriors: Foreign Fighters in the Armies of Jihad. Presented by the Lawfare Blog, July 6, 2019, 46 minutes.


Photo: Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) Parachutists (Photo by SOJTF-OIR, 31 August 2018).

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