SOF News Update – Curated news, commentary, and analysis about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world. SEALs gone wild, proxie armies, deployable SOF base camp, and more.
“SOF is out of control, pull them out and restructure the orgs.”
“Well, we’ll have to replace them with 100k regular army troops . . “
“How much drinking are we talking about here . . . ?”Twitter, #GreenBeretTwitter, July 26, 2019.
Deployable SOF Base Camp. The U.S. Army is working on a future 25-man Expeditionary Outpost that could be used by special operations forces or Security Force Assistance Brigades. The design consists of a kitchen, laundry, shower, latrine, and tent living modules. The modules are contained in a single ISO container package that are deployable by helicopter or aerial insertion. The package can also be dropped by C-130 or C-17 utilizing JPADS. Read “First Look: Inside the US Army’s SOF base camp”, Shepard Media, July 26, 2019.
SEALs, Alchohol, and Sexual Assault. Reports of a sexual assault by a senior member of a Navy SEAL platoon against a female attached to the unit led to an investigation that revealed the use of alcohol by the elite Navy special operators. The platoon was ordered out of Iraq and has returned to San Diego. (Stars and Stripes, July 26, 2019).
CA Building Trust. Members of a Civil Affairs unit are serving as cultural and governance experts who form a key part of the U.S. mission in East Africa. The soldiers are helping the U.S. to accomplish the aims of strengthening civic institutions, improve education, and boost job growth. (Stars and Stripes, July 26, 2019).
SOCOM and War Casualties. Almost all U.S. deaths in Afghanistan to date this year (2019) – except for three Marines killed by an IED – were Army special operations troops or their enablers. However, readiness is still rated as high. Read “SOCOM: Bulk of war casualties may be operators but SOF readiness is at all-time high”, Military Times, July 26, 2019.
SOCNORTH’s ‘Roadrunners’. The Crisis Response Team (CRT) of Special Operations Command North will soon be outfitted with six Chevy Suburban sport utility vehicles modified for the CRT mission. (The Warzone, July 26, 2019).
Former AFSOC Cdr Now With AETC. Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the former commander of Air Force Special Operations Command is now the commander of Air Education and Training Command. See “AETC welcomes new commander”, U.S. Air Force, July 26, 2019.
SOF Colonel Now at Ft. Drum. Colonel Jeffery Lucas, a long-time member of the special operations community, is now the new garrison commander at Fort Drum, New York. Lucas served at USSOCOM as well as USASFC and USASOC. (NNY350, July 26, 2019).
SEAL Team 6 Sailor Accused of ‘Catfishing’. The Navy is currently conducting an investigation into a scheme to get women to send nude photos. A sailor with ST 6 is facing allegations that he is culprit. Read “Sexting, salacious snapshots: Inside SEAL Team 6’s spoofing scandal”, Navy Times, July 26, 2019.
Votel – Named to Position at CTC. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has announced that General (Ret) Joseph Votel (former JSOC, USSOCOM, and CENTCOM cdr) has been named its Class of 1987 Senior Fellow. (CTC, July 25, 2019).
SOF Veteran’s Stuff. What does a special operator collect in the manner of ‘stuff’. A fellow with 24 years service tells us what works and what doesn’t. Here are his top picks for ‘average folks’. Read “Special Ops Veteran Relied on These Products in Combat and Says You Should Too in Daily Life”, The Drive, July 26, 2019.
SEALs in the News – in a Bad Way. The Navy SEALs have had a rough couple of years when it comes to public relations. Most of the news from Naval Special Warfare has been about SEALs misbehaving and committing crimes (drugs, murder, etc.). Read “Booze. Coke. Hazing. Force Redeployment. What’s wrong with the Navy SEALs?”, Task and Purpose, July 25, 2019.
AI and NATO SOF. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization special operations community is working hard to understand how artificial intelligence will play a role in future conflicts involving SOF units. Big data and AI will play an increasingly critical role in processing information into actionable intelligence. Read “How NATO’s special operations can take advantage of AI”, by Andrew White, C4ISRNet.com, July 27, 2019.
FFL Win Sniper Contest. The French Foreign Legion won the U.S. Army’s 2019 European Best Sniper Team Competition recently held in Grafenwoehr, Germany. More than 30 teams from 17 countries participated in the annual event. This year’s event was hosted by the U.S. and Latvian military. The top five teams were France, Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, and Sweden. (Stars and Stripes, July 26, 2019).
Comms and UK Commandos. This article articulates the proposals to develop Signals vocational training and how the branch could be restructured to support the ‘Future Commando Force (FCF)’. Read “No Comms, No Bombs: Optimising the Signals Branch for the Future”, Puzzle-Palace.com, July 25, 2019.
UK Revises Story on Death of British SAS Member. A soldier was reported to have died in Syria in 2018 from a roadside bomb. However an investigation reveals that he died from an accident. Explosives carried by American forces were detonated killing the soldier. MSG Jonathan Dunbar (USASOC) was also killed in the incident. They were killed on March 30, 2018 near Manbij, Syria. Typically the UK will not announce SAS deaths – Matt Tonroe was initially identified as a member of 3 Para. See “British soldier Sgt Matt Tonroe killed by American friendly fire”, BBC News, July 27, 2019.
Iraq’s ‘Golden Division’. The Counter Terror Service (CTS) was instrumental in the defeat of ISIS from Mosul and other cities and towns in Iraq. But the fight with ISIS is not over yet and the road ahead is long. (Independent, July 28, 2019).
New Weapons for India’s SOF. India will be purchasing updated weapons from the United States through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. Among the items scheduled for the para-commandos are rifles, carbines, parachutes, sniper rifles, machine guns, and other equipment. (TimesNowNews.com, India, July 26, 2019).
More Arrests at Pendleton. Three more service members have been arrested for human smuggling and use of drugs at Camp Pendleton, California. This brings the total of arrests to 19. (Stars and Stripes, July 26, 2019).
31st MEU – Lethality from Sea. the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit patrols the Indo-Pacific region. Read about the 31st Golf Company that fulfills the role of amphibious raid company. (31st MEU DVIDS, July 25, 2019).
IW, COIN, and SFA – the French Experience. Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, writes about the French Foreign Legion in Indochina and Algiers – and lessons learned. Read “The Insurgent Counter-Insurgent: The French Army’s Hero and Some Truths about Modern Warfare”, War on the Rocks, July 26, 2019.
SOF and Culture. Special operations forces are making the news for drug abuse, sexual assault, murder, and other forms of misconduct. See “Is there a values crisis in US special forces? Our national security could be at risk”, USA Today, July 26, 2019.
UK to Escort Ships. Following the Iranian seizure of a British oil tanker the Royal navy will begin to escort UK ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. (BBC News, July 25, 2019).
Iran’s IRGC. Mark Episkopos wrote how the Quds Force has been a constant thorn in the side of American interests in the Middle East. The organization provides military aid and direct combat support to anti-US militants throughout the region. Read “Trump’s Worst Nightmare? Meet Iran’s Deadly Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”, The National Interest, July 25, 2019. And here’s more: “Shadow Force: The secret history of the U.S. intelligence community’s battle with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard”, Yahoo@ News, July 26, 2019.
The Kurdish Struggle. U.S. SOF has a long history of working with the Kurds of the Middle East. In the months following Desert Storm (1991) the 10th Special Forces Group deployed to border areas of Turkey and into northern Iraq to assist with the Kurdish humanitarian crisis. This mission was extended for a few years (Provide Comfort). 10th group and later 5th group worked with Iraqi Kurdish units following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. For the last few years the Syrian Kurds (YPG / SDF) have been provided advice and support by U.S. Special Forces – leading to the defeat of ISIS in Syria. The Kurds have been useful allies of the U.S. What should this relationship look like in the future? Read “The Kurdish Struggle for Autonomy from the 1970s to the Present”, by Julia Maenza, Foreign Policy Research Initiative, July 26, 2019.
Turkey, Patriots, and S-400. Jim Townsend and Rachel Ellehuus inform us on how Turkish-U.S. relations have nosed-dived over the past several years. A little history of how a U.S. Patriot air defense system deal for Turkey went sour, how the Russians scored with the S-400, and the overall political environment in Turkey (and Syria). Read “The Tale of Turkey and the Patriots”, War on the Rocks, July 22, 2019.
Iraq’s Paramilitaries. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are complicating efforts by Iraq to put the militias under government control. The military units are considered potential threats to American and other regional interests. Read “Iraq Struggles to Bring Paramilitary Forces Into the Fold”, The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2019. (may require subscription).
New AFRICOM Cdr. General Stephen Townsend has assumed command of U.S. Africa Command. You can watch the Change of Command ceremony held in Stuttgart, Germany held on July 26, 2019. The video, 50 minutes long, is provided by Defense.gov on DVIDS.
Instability in Niger. The increase in violence in Niger threatens to spread from the border areas into the interior of that country. It’s military is stressed to the max to counter the violent extremists. Read “Niger: A Bulwark against Further Instability in West Africa”, by Daniel Mahanty and William Meeker, Center for Strategic & International Studies, July 24, 2019.
Videos and Podcasts
Video – 10th SFGA Jump. Watch a short video of 10th Special Forces Group soldiers parachuting from a helicopter. (Instagram, July 23, 2019).
Video – Talisman Sabre 2019. Military units of the U.S. and Australia have concluded a bit exercise in Australia named Talisman Sabre 2019. Watch a 1-min long video entitled Amphibious Landing in Stanage Bay, U.S. Army, July 22, 2019.
Video – LIfe of a Cannoneer. Check out how cannon crew members learn to operation heavy machinery to support the Army mission. Watch What it’s like to be part of a cannon crew, U.S. Army, July 17, 2019, 4 mins.
Video – CV-22 Water Hoist. Pararescuemen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron practice water-based aerial extraction. (27th SOW, July 23, 2019, 30 secs.)
Video – The Sturm Center 2019. The University of Denver offers a Behavioral Health Center for Veterans. This includes current service members, veterans, and their families. The center provides a wide-range of behavioral health services. The University of Denver (and Sturm Center) are sponsors of and associated with the veterans Fight Oar Die organization. (University of Denver, January 8, 2019, 3 mins).
August 11, 2019, Saturday. Houlton, Maine
SFC Aaron Henderson Memorial 5K
Green Beret Foundation
September 27-29, 2019. Charleston, S.C.
HBOT 2019 Hyperbaric Medicine Symposium
Hyperbaric Medicine International
See more SOF events at SOF News Events Calendar.
Photo: Australian Army soldiers from 2nd Commando Regiment move towards a maritime target in rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) during counterterrorism training. Photo by Australian Army, Twitter, 20190727.