SOF News Update – A curated summary of current news, analysis, and commentary about special operations forces, national security, and conflicts from around the world. OSS, SEALs in trouble, Syrian Arab Army, hyperfit women and SOF, new SECDEF, and more.
“We have 100 percent of the caliphate, and we’re rapidly pulling out of Syria. We’ll be out of there pretty soon. And let them handle their own problems. Syria can handle their own problems — along with Iran, along with Russia, along with Iraq, along with Turkey. We’re 7,000 miles away.”President Trump, Cabinet meeting, July 16, 2019.
Navy SEAL Platoon Booted from Iraq. The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR) has sent a SEAL Team 7 platoon back to the states due to drinking in a combat zone. The commander lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission. A series of events during early July 2019 led to the expulsion from Iraq. Drinking in a combat zone violates General Order No. 1, which bans alcohol use. Some critics of the SEALs are worried about a ‘culture’ problem within the Navy’s special operations community. Read “SEAL shenanigans in the spotlight (again)”, Navy Times, July 24, 2019.
Lucien Conein, OSS, and Some History. Jelle Hooiveld, a PhD Candidate of Military History at Leiden University, provides a some history of the OSS and the influence the organization had on the birth of U.S. Army Special Forces. “Lucien Conein, Ledendary OSS, Special Forces and CIA Officer – Forgotten by the USASOC Historian Office?”, Small Wars Journal, July 22, 2019.
‘Hyperfit’ Women and SOF. Since the Pentagon opened all combat jobs to women almost four years ago a handful have successfully completed some very tough training courses. At least 30 women have earned the Ranger tab and two have graduated Marine infantry school.The Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts will conducting a series of tests to study the women who have completed these arduous courses to try and identify mental, physical, or psychological attributes that can be attributed to their success. Read “Hyperfit women intrigue U.S. military”, The Washington Times, July 21, 2019.
SEALs Conduct Capabilities Exercise. Marty Skovlund Jr. had the opportunity to visit Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group 2 on the East Coast to watch a capabilities exercise (CAPEX). It was a display of helicopters, SWCC boats, and U.S. Navy SEALs. Read “Navy SEALs Conduct an Impressive Capabilities Exercise – Here’s How It Went Down”, Coffee or Die Magazine, July 24, 2019.
The Woes of SEAL Team 10. An internal report has exposed cocaine abuse, lax testing, and other problems of a Little Creek, Virginia Naval Special Warfare unit. Four members of the unit have been administratively separated from the sea service. A fifth SEAL has killed himself. A sixth has lost his trident. As a result of the investigation Naval Special Warfare Group 2 is refining it urinalysis program. Read “Internal report exposes cocaine abuse, lax testing, inside SEAL Team 10”, Navy Times, July 23, 2019.
SOF and the Terror Fight. Jack Detsch has written how the Pentagon’s command for elite special operations forces is assessing how repeated deployments to the Middle East during the war on terror have impacted the forces core values. Read “Special operations forces reflect on lessons of terror fight”, Al-Monitor, July 24, 2019.
Croatian Soldier Dies in Afghanistan. A member of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission from Croatia was killed during an IED attack in Kabul on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. Two other Croatian soldiers were wounded.
New SECDEF. The U.S. Senate, on Tuesday, July 23rd, voted to confirm Mark Esper as the new Secretary of Defense. Esper is a former Army Ranger and West Point graduate.
Milley Confirmed. General Mark Milley was confirmed by the Senate following an 89-1 vote on Thursday, July 25th. Milley, a native of Winchester, Massachusetts, is a former Special Forces ODA commander who spent some time at FBNC. (Army Times, July 25, 2019).
16 Marines Arrested. Apparently a few members of the Marine Corps had picked up a part-time job driving illegal immigrants who have crossed the border. The Marines were arrested during a battalion formation Thursday morning (25 Jul) at Camp Pendleton, California.
Turkey – US at Odds Over Syria. The impasse between Turkey and the United States about the proposed ‘safe zone’ that would form a corridor along the Syria – Turkish border is continuing. The Turks want to man the ‘safe zone’ with Turkish military units – which would displace Kurdish units (YPG) and place a significant portion of the Syrian Kurdish population under Turkish control. Turkey says that if an agreement is not reached it may resort to a military offensive in northern Syria against the YPG.
Report on the Syrian Army. Gregory Waters has provided a detailed report about the Syrian military. Read The Lion and the Eagle: The Syrian Arab Army’s Destruction and Rebirth, Middle East Institute, July 18, 2019.
Videos, Movies, and TV
‘The Code’ is Cancelled. It is another case of Hollywood fails again. CBS has taken a military drama that featured Marine Corps lawyers off the air. The show was riddled with inaccuracies about life in the Marine Corps in general. Read “To the surprise of no one, CBS cancels Marine courtroom drama ‘The Code'”, Military Times, July 24, 2019.
Photo: Soldiers at sunset. DoD photo.