Special Operations News Update – Thursday, August 1, 2019

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search and rescue K-9, land at Fort McCoy, Wis. July 17, 2019, as part of an domestic operations exercise. Callie is currently the only search and rescue dog in the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

SOF News Update – Curated news, commentary, and analysis about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.

SOF News

Former Green Berets Now Into Music. A group of retired Special Forces soldiers have formed a business producing music. Read “Former Green Berets form record label in Fayetteville”, Fayetteville Observer, July 27, 2019.

AFSOC Conducts Comms Exercise. The Air Force Special Operations Command has concluded a two-week long communications exercise. See “AFSOC leads Joint Lightning 2019 field training exercise at MacDill”, DVIDS, July 15, 2019.

Trump and the Eddie Gallagher Case. President Trump has ordered the Navy to rescind awards given to prosecutors who lost the case against the Navy SEAL. (Task & Purpose, July 31, 2019).

Uzbek Minister of Defense Visits USASOC. Senior defense leaders from Uzbekistan visited Fort Bragg to become familiar with ARSOF. Read “USASOC hosts Uzbekistan partners”, Army.mil, July 24, 2019.

Cyber Training and SOF. In 2018 the U.S. Cyber command was elevated to a unified combatant command after being modeled on the U.S. Special Operations Command. Read “Lessons from Special Operations Command: Cyber training for the multidomain force”, C4ISRNet, July 31, 2019.

MG David San Clemente Retires. The Air National Guard Advisor to Air Force Special Operations Command retired in July at Hurlburt Field, Florida. He spent more than 30 years in the Air Force serving with the Air National Guard and AFSOC. He commanded at the squadron, group, and wing level – both at home station and in combat.

Next Navy CNO and SEAL Culture. The nominee for the Navy’s top uniformed post has promised to deal with any leadership failures within the Navy Special Warfare community. See “CNO nominee vows probe into Navy SEAL standards”, Navy Times, July 31, 2019.

International SOF

Story of Former Legionnaire and Serbian Commando. A former commander of the Serbian secret police special unit – the Special Operations Unit (JSO) – was convicted of the assassination of former Serbian President and Prime Minister. (Spec Ops Magazine, July 30, 2019).


U.S. Special Forces – Stay Abroad. Lawrence Franklin, a retired USAF 06 and former Iran Desk Officer, explains what Special Forces is doing in many countries in Africa and provides an argument for continuing the engagement. Read “Why U.S. Special Forces Need to Remain Abroad”, Gatestone Institute, July 29, 2019.

‘Combat Veteran’ or ‘War Veteran’. A former soldier who served two years in the Army and one year in Vietnam as a personal clerk believes we need to lose the term ‘combat veteran’. He says the term diminishes the service of the many staff and support troops who served in a war zone but didn’t ‘see combat’. Read “What Did You Do in Vietnam?”, HistoryNet.com, October 2019.

Political Warfare and Influence. Alexander Grinberg, an officer in the U.S. Army, provides his perspective on political warfare, social media, and how a nation’s policy can be changed by outside state and non-state actors. Read “Controlling the Narrative: How Political Warfare Can Influence Policy”, The Strategy Bridge, July 31, 2019.

Middle East

Turkey Keeps Threatening to Attack SDF. Turkey’s National Security Council met on Tuesday (Jul 30) to decide whether to launch a military offensive into Syria against the YPG Kurdish militia. This could put Turkey and the U.S. on a collision course – as U.S. Special Forces (and other troops) are dispersed throughout northeast Syria advising and training the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara wants to create a 40-kilometer-deep buffer zone into Syria. (Voice of America, July 30, 2019).

Extremism in Syria’s Refugee Camps. Lara Seligman informs us on how a U.S. withdrawal from Syria would leave tens of thousands vulnerable to Islamic State indoctrination. An estimated 130,000 people are living in refugee and IDP camps in the SDF controlled part of Syria. Read “In Overflowing Syrian Refugee Camps, Extremism Takes Root”, Foreign Policy, July 29, 2019.


Funding for Somalia Takes a Hit. International funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been significantly reduced. his is occurring as the Somali National Security Forces try to pick up the security functions within the conflict-ridden country. Read “Funds to Kenya troops in Somalia halved”, Business Daily Africa, July 30, 2019.

UK in Mali. The United Kingdom is committing about 250 troops to assist a United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali. But some analysts are worried that not enough ‘strategic thinking’ has been done about the UK’s offer to its partners in the Sahel and the African continent. The members of a long-range reconnaissance task group is scheduled for a 2020 deployment. See “Why is the UK going to Mali?”, Oxford Research Group, July 30, 2019.

Burkina Faso’s First Militant Islamist Group. There are three jihadist groups troubling Burkina Faso. One of the had a brief period of growth followed by a decrease in size and influence from 2016 to 2018. Read “Ansaroul Islam: The Rise and Decline of a Militant Islamist Group in the Sahel”, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 29, 2019.

NATO, Europe, and Russia

Keeping Sea Lanes Open. The inability of western nations to come together to provide security for oil tankers transiting the waters in and around the Persian Gulf may be sending a signal to Russia that they could have some maritime leverage in the Baltic Sea region. Read “Fracturing alliances – from Hormuz Strait to the Baltic Sea”, Vantage Point North, July 29, 2019.

Cultural Awareness and Partner Operations. An Army officer has written about working with partner nations (in this case Romanian military). See “You Can’t Surge Trust: Lessons on Working with Allies and Partners”, Modern War Institute, July 30, 2019.


U.S. Forces to be Reduced. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Trump wants U.S. forces reduced in Afghanistan by the next U.S. election. (Reuters, July 30, 2019).


Photo: Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search and rescue K-9, land at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. July 17, 2019, as part of an domestic operations exercise. Callie is currently the only search and rescue dog in the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

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