SOF News Update – Current news, analysis, and commentary about special operations forces, national security, and conflicts from around the world. Ranger Rgt CoC, MC130J rodeo, new sniper rifle, 40 Commando, Devil’s Brigade, Baltic states, Iran, and much more.
CoC 75th Rgr Regt. Colonel Todd Brown took command of the Rangers on July 12, 2019 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Units of the regiment has been in continuous combat since October 2001; usually with one third of the regiment deployed at any given time. LTG Fran Beaudette, USASOC commander, served as the reviewing officer for the ceremony. “75th Ranger Regiment changes command”, DVIDS, July 16, 2019.
“Rangers on the field, you serve in the greatest, most professional and most lethal Infantry unit in recorded human history. We’re incredibly proud of you. You continue to make a tremendous, positive impact in combat for our nation each and every day.”LTG Francis Beaudette, USASOC commander, July 12, 2019.
CoC 7th SFGA. Colonel John Sannes has taken command of the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Sannes has a lot of time with 3rd Group. Colonel Pat Colloton will head to Tampa to serve with USSOCOM.
MC-130J Rodeo. U.S. Air Force Commando II aircraft from the 67th Special Operations Squadron conducted a four-day MC-130J rodeo competition in July 2019. The crews were evaluated on their performance in precision landings, vehicle infil/exfil, equipment airdrops, tactical offload, and low-level flight. (352nd SOW PA DVIDS, July 17, 2019).
Top AF Cdr Visits 352nd. USAF General Jeff Harrigian visited the AFSOC folks at RAF Midenhall, UK on July 15, 2019. The Air Commandos provided the general with briefings on the six squadrons located at the airbase as well as on the MC-130J Commando II and the CV-22B Osprey. (352nd SOW, July 18, 2019).
Few Remaining Members of Devil’s Brigade. Another former member of the World War II era First Special Service Force has passed away. Only eleven members of the famed WW II unit remain alive. (Global News.ca, July 16, 2019).
Russia’s New Sub – Spetsnaz Capable. The P-750B, a new small attack submarine, was highlighted at a recent maritime defence show in St. Petersburg, Russia. It can carry a large force of Naval Special Forces to attack land targets. Read “New Russian Submarine Design: P-750B”, HISutton.com, July 17, 2019.
Marines’ New Sniper Rifle. The USMC has declared its new sniper weapon, the Mk13 Mod7, as fully operational capable. The long range sniper rifle will partially replace the M40A6. The Mk13 delivers a bullet at greater distances and one that is more stable. (Defence Blog, July 18, 2019).
An Infantryman’s Combat Gear. How much weight should a foot soldier carry? Today’s infantryman is protected by a heavy helmet, body armor, medic kit and more. In addition, he carries a variety of mission essential equipment on his vest or in a combat back pack. Read “This is how much weight you should actually carry in combat”, We Are the Mighty, July 8, 2019.
NATO, Europe, and . . . the Eastern Neighbor
40 Commando and Northern Wind 2019. The countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland conducted a joint military training exercise with over 10,000 personnel participating. The UK also took part in the event held in northern Sweden in March 2019. Read more in “Commandos in the Northern Wind 2019”, Vantage Point North, March 25, 2019.
U.S. and Baltic Region Defense. Ever since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014 the NATO countries (including the U.S.) has stepped up their involvement in the military defense of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. All three countries have a Russian ethnic minority population that could be used by Russia as an excuse to invade (as in eastern Ukraine). The Baltic States are especially keen on the participation of the United States military in their defense – seeking a constant presence of either permanently based or rotational units in their countries. Read more on this in “Do the Baltics need more US military support to deter Russia?”, Defense News, July 16, 2019.
Lithuania’s Defenses. In the face of a Russian build up of military power in Kaliningrad and its Western Military District the Baltic Nation of Lithuania is investing in the modernization of its defensive capabilities. Read more in “In Russia’s growing shadow, Lithuania modernizes its defense”, Defense News, July 16, 2019.
NATO in the Balkans. Much of the world media following NATO covers the defense of the Baltic states (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia). Less attention is given to NATO’s role in the Black Sea / Balkans region. However, the United States and NATO are conducting multi-national training in the area with a high level of military cooperation. Read more in “Interoperability in the South-East: NATO’s Involvment in the Balkans”, Finabel – European Army Interoperability Centre, July 17, 2019.
Iran Seizes Oil Tanker. The elite revolutionary guard forces of Iran have taken control of an oil tanker and its 12-man crew. The ship was based in the UAE.
Russian Support to Iran in Syria. The movement of Iranian weapons, material, and personnel to Syria is conducted with the knowledge and support of Russia. This has allowed Iran to increase the capabilities and influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC-QF). A team of researchers from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (Seth Jones, Nicholas Harrington, and Joe Bermudez) have examined this topic in detail in an eight-page paper (PDF). Read Russian Cooperation with Iran in Syria, CSIS, July 16, 2019.
Turkey Removed from F-35 Program? The U.S. will most likely take action against its NATO ally for going with the Russian-made S-400 missile interceptors. Turkey will probably be removed from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. They had ordered 30 of the Lockheed Martin-made jets; with the possibility of ordering up to 100. Some members of Congress are encouraging President Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey for purchasing Russian-made military equipment. Read more in “Looks Like Turkey is Getting Booted from the F-35 Program”, Defense One, July 16, 2019.
Troops to Saudi Arabia? Apparently the United States is looking at sending 500 additional troops to Saudi Arabia – probably as a signal to Iran and for contingency operations.
Somalia – Terror War Continues. The al-Shabaab insurgent / terrorist group is resilient and is not going away soon. U.S. drones are periodically hitting targets of opportunity in an attempt to eradicate the groups leadership and cadre. Read more in “In Anarchic Somalia, the Global War on Terror Continues”, Strategy Page, July 16, 2019.
Taliban Smell Blood. The insurgent group has been launching attack after attack in the cities and rural areas of Afghanistan; but the U.S. still hasn’t suspended Afghan peace talks. Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S. (2008-11) and now member of the Hudson Institute, provides his thoughts on current peace talks. Read “The Taliban Smell Blood”, Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2019.
Afghan Bde Cdr Killed. An insider attack has resulted in the death of a brigade commander of the Afghan National Army (ANA). He was killed in Ghazni province by two members of the ANA affiliated with the Taliban. (Tolo News, July 17, 2019).
Bergdahl Loses Appeal. An Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a deserters guilty plea and previous sentence. He went AWOL in Afghanistan and was subsequently captured by the Taliban – prompting the U.S. to expend time, energy, and resources to look for him on the battlefield. (Army Times, July 18, 2019).
Diego Garcia – Of Strategic Importance. In May 2019 the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution calling for the British government to cede Diego Garcia to Mauritius. Although non-binding it is cause for concern – as the island is a very key defense installation for the UK as well as the US. Read “Mauritius Scores a Pyrrhic Victory in the Indian Ocean”, War on the Rocks, July 12, 2019.
Sig Sauer Now on GSA Schedule 84. The Sig Sauer Academy, located in New Hampshire, is one of the leading provider of firearms instruction and tactical training. It now (GSA Schedule 84) provides contracted services for the military. (AmmoLand.com, July 17, 2019).
Photo: A Special Missions Aviator assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron leans out the window of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 26, 2019. These highly trained specialists have multiple integral roles and monitor all functions for the aircraft, even providing weapon defense when necessary, in order for the team to successfully complete its missions during an exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)