Special Operations News Update 20190712

MV-22 Fast Rope

SOF News Update 20190712 – Current news, analysis, and commentary on special operations, national security, and conflicts from around the world. LTG (R) Ken Tovo with GBF, ATAC a problem, SOF in Syria, military transformation, new Army handgun, Houthi’s drones, Canada and NMI, and more.

SOF News

Tovo with GBF. Retired LTG Ken Tovo has been elected as Chairman of the Green Beret Foundation’s Board of Directors effective July 1, 2019. He is a former SF ODA, company, battalion, and group commander. He headed up the CJSOTF-AP in 2003-2004 while commanding 10th SFGA. He retired as the USASOC commander.

Deep Dive Fundraiser 2019. The Combat Diver Foundation is holding an event scheduled for September 21, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. The all-day event is to build awareness of the foundation’s mission and bring together members of the Combat Diver community.

9th Annual Blackbeard’s Ride. The SSG Matthew A. Pucino Memorial Foundation, Ltd. will be conducting the annual motorcycle ride in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts on Sunday, July 14, 2019. SSG Pucino was a SF Soldier who died in Afghanistan in 2009 and the foundation raises money to benefit wounded warriors and their families.

ATAC et al: Endangering SOF? Read an interesting article, “Mapping Apps are Endangering Special Operators”, about mapping apps for JTACs – ATAC, KILSWITCH, and APASS. Provided by Puzzle Palace: The Unofficial Command Think Tank, July 7, 2019.

AC-130U’s Final Combat Tour. The AFSOC gunship that saw years of service in combat zones around the world is facing retirement. Read “AC-130U ‘Spooky’ Gunship Completes Its Final Combat Deployment”, Military.com July 10, 2019. And read about the AC-130J Ghostrider Gunships first combat missions, The Drive – War Zone, July 10, 2019.

Gentex Corp Gets Contract. A $95,000,000 contract was awarded for the purchase of SOF personal equipment advance requirements (SPEAR) coxswain helmet systems. This special helmet is geared for Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen – sailors who operate advanced SOF boats for the Naval Special Warfare community.

Key West Dive Medical Course. The U.S. Army Special Forces dive school in Florida offers a special two-week medical course for divers. Read more in “Dive Medicine and Rescue Course Enhances Military Medical Readiness”, DVIDS – Defense Health Agency, July 8, 2019.

International SOF

Syria. Britain and France have signed on to increase their SOF presence in northeastern Syria. This is an example of some burden-sharing the U.S. is seeking as it pulls out some of its own troops.

Exercise Chandrapura 2019 – SOF in Pacific. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Commandos and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS) concluded a special operations exercise in Indonesia in July 2019. (Army Recognition, July 11, 2019).

SOF Conference in Chile. Top military and civil authorities from a host of countries in the western hemisphere gathered for a five day conference in Santiago, Chile. The senior leader conference was part of Fuerzas Comando 2019 – a U.S. Southern Command-led special operations competition that was conducted by SOCSOUTH and Chile as the host nation. Read “Chile Brings Together Regional Special Operations Leaders”, Dialogo Digital Military Magazine, July 11, 2019.

Fast boats for Italian Navy SOF. The Operational Raiders Group (Gruppo Operativo Incursori) has received a high-speed multi-purpose vessel specifically designed for naval commando operations. (NavalToday.com, July 11, 2019).

Military News

Military Transformation. The Pentagon’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF) has been developing concepts that would transform the U.S. miltary’s infantry units into highly-effective units similar to the 75th Ranger Regiment. That, of course, would cost a boatload full of money. Read “No Grunts Under 26, $250K Bonuses: DoD’s Most Radical Ideas to Transform the Infantry”, Military.com, July 6, 2019.

New Army Handgun. The U.S. Army will be going with its new Modular Handgun System that will replace the M9 9mm pistol. The new pistol comes with 17-round and 21-round magazines are are equipped with a host of attachments. Read “The Army’s New 9mm Handgun is Finally Approved for Full Material Release”, Military.com, July 9, 2019.

New CJCS. Army General Mark Milley, a former SF ODA commander, is up for confirmation to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Read more about “Trump’s newest ‘central casting’ general”, Politico.com, July 10, 2019. Milley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, July 11, 2019. You can watch a video of his two hour long testimony – “Senate Committee Considers Joint Chiefs Chairman Nominee“, DVIDS Defense.gov.

Middle East

Iran Update. The oil shipping routes off the coasts of Iran and Yemen are subject to interdiction by Iran. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz – which could significantly affect the oil markets. The U.S. is working hard behind the scenes to put together a coalition to safeguard the oil routes. There was a recent confrontation between Iran and the UK after Iranian vessels (IRGC) tried to interdict a British merchant ship traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. The presence of the HMS Montrose put a stop to that escapade. Iran is warning that it will begin to breach the 2015 nuclear agreement if U.S. economic sanctions continue.

Yemen – Drones, Drones, and more Drones. The Houthis have been peppering targets in Saudi Arabia – with an ever-increasing number of attacks launched. These small weaponized drones are targeting military installations and airports. The United Arab Emirates has announced that they are moving from a “military-first” to a “peace-first” strategy.

Forgetting Allies. Lawrence Freedman, a professor of War Studies at King’s College London, provides his thoughts on a recent book about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. See “Forgetting Allies: Writing the British Out of the History of the Iraq War”, War on the Rocks, July 9, 2019.

Canada to Lead NMI. The Canadian military will lead the NATO Mission Iraq until late 2020. NMI is a non-combat training and capacity building mission – sort of a ‘train the trainers’ effort. The NMI effort is part of a bigger profile of Canadian forces in the Middle East. See “Canada to Lead NATO Mission Iraq for Another Year”, Lawfare Blog, July 11, 2019.

Leaving Syria. Two national security commentators voice their thoughts on the U.S. involvement in Syria – and why we need to recalibrate our strategic goals. Read “A Return to American Restraint Begins in Syria”,The Century Foundation, July 10, 2019.


More Afghan Peace Talks. The focus over the past year for Afghanistan has been the negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban. The 7th round of talks were just completed – with statements issued about a “roadmap for peace”. In another development, the Taliban met with ‘private citizens’ who represented various segments of Afghan society.


CSIS Webcast. The Center for Strategic & International Studies presented a panel discussion entitled Military Advice and the “Forever War” in Afghanistan, July 10, 2019. The hour-plus long program featured LTG(R) David Barno, Johnathan Schroden, and Linda Robinson.

Video – Saber Guardian: Joint Exercise with Romanian Forces, U.S. Army, July 9, 2019, 2 minutes. Saber Guardian 19 is an exercise co-led by the Romanian Joint Force Command and U.S. Army Europe. The exercise took place in June 2019 in various European locations.

Video – 75th Ranger Regiment Capabilities Demonstration. On July 9, 2019 the Rangers demonstrated their unique capabilties on Fryar Drop Zone (Fort Benning, GA, Facebook)


Photo: A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa 19.1 conducts fast-rope insertion drills from a MV-22 Osprey on Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, Jan. 7, 2019. SPMAGTF-CR-AF is deployed to conduct crisis-response and theater-security operations in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Christin St. John)

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