Special Operations News Update – Aug 30, 2019

Special Tactics Parachutist

Photo: A Special Tactics Airman parachutes during Exercise Emerald Warrior 2018 (Photo by DoD).

Topics: Curated news, commentary, and analysis about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world. Mattis on politics, SOF and hatchets, 18-series re-up bonus, future kit for UK’s Royal Marines, Syria’s ‘safe zone’, and some great videos.

Labor Day Weekend. The weekend in the United States we will be celebrating Labor Day. SOF News will be offline for a few days. For the international audience – Labor Day is in honor of the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, and prosperity of the U.S.A.

SOF News

Bonus Increase for 18-series Field. A soldier Special Forces is now eligible for a reenlistment bonus of up to $81,000. If in the rank of E6 or E7 and they reenlist for 60 months or more they will see a big payoff. See “Army raises max re-up bonuses to $80K for certain jobs”, Army Times, August 27, 2019.

SOF and Hatchets in Combat. The Standing Orders of Roger’s Rangers include “Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.” Today’s special operations fighters also have uses for the modern hatchet. See “Modern Special Operators Are Using Hatchets in Combat – Here’s Why”, by Luke Ryan, Coffee or Die Magazine, August 26, 2019.

Revenge Porn – GB Loses Lawsuit. A Special Forces major has lost a lawsuit brought about by his ex-wife who accused him of posting nude pictures online. Read “Woman awarded $3.2M in revenge porn case against 2 Army officers”, Army Times, August 27, 2019.

GB Still Awaiting Trial. A Special Forces officer who is charged with killing a Taliban bomb maker in 2010 has had his day in court postponed once again. (Military.com, Aug 25, 2019).

International SOF

International SOFOutfitting UK’s Future Royal Marines. Britain’s best and brightest engineers are imagining the kit for the future. The ideas focus on rucksacks, intelligence briefings, methods of insertion, resupply airborne stealth pods, drones, gecko units for climbing, dual mode rifles, battlefield perception helmets and more. Read “Royal Marines of the Future”, Royal Navy, August 2019.

Military and National Security

Military Intelligence Consolidation. A former senior Army intelligence officer says that a big future challenge for military intelligence is to leverage all of the IC’s capabilities. The IC must become more integrated and agile to take advantage of emerging technologies and to address growing and changing threats. Read “Intelligence Consolidation Looms for the U.S. Military”, SIGNAL (AFCEA), August 26, 2019.


Mattis on Leadership and Service. Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has an essay published entitled “Jim Mattis: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism”The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2019. (subscription needed).

“I did as well as I could for as long as I could. When my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated, it was time to resign.”

Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, August 28, 2019.

National Security and Commentary

RAND Report on NATO Collective Defense. A 92-page report examines the factors that make NATO allies more or less likely to respond to a Russian attack . . . and it looks at how these factors change in the face of a Russian unconventional attack. Read An Attack Against Them All, RAND Corporation, August 2019.

YPG Begins Withdrawal. The U.S. and Turkey appeared to have reached an agreement for the establishment of a buffer zone along the Syrian-Turkish border. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have begun withdrawing from the border area according to some YPG spokesmen. See “YPG begins withdrawal from Syria-Turkey border”, The Defense Post, August 27, 2019. In abidance with the security mechanism framework the SDF have begun the destruction of some military fortifications within the proposed buffer zone.

Can We Trust Turkey? Critics worry that the ‘safe zone’ will likely result in the depopulation of Syrian Kurds (they would move south) and the establishment of permanent settlement of some 3 million Syrian refugees from Turkey. See “U.S.-Turkey “Safe Zone” Likely to Add Fuel to Syria Conflict”, Just Security, August 27, 2019. See also “Should we trust Turkey on a Syria safe zone? History suggests no,”The Washington Examiner, August 26, 2019.

Yemen Update. Government forces have been on the offensive and have scored some successes – retaking the interim capital of Aden.

Djibouti – What is Plan B? China has established a robust presence in Africa to include the country of Djibouti where the U.S. maintains a few thousand service members that conduct a variety of missions in the Horn of Africa (and beyond). With the growing clout and influence of China growing our days in DJ could be numbered. Just one more thing on the plate of MG Mike Turello – commander of CJTF-HOA. Read “It’s Time the Pentagon Finds an Alternative to Djibouti”, The National Interest, August 25, 2019.


Sep 9, 2019, Roundtable on Sahel. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies of the National Defense University is conducting a public roundtable entitled Strategies for Peace and Security in the Sahel. It will be held on Monday, September 9, 2019 at Fort McNair, Washington, DC. This half-day event will feature interactive sessions with ambassadors of the G-5 Sahel countries as well as leading experts examining the drivers and responses to the region’s overlapping security challenges.


Tip of the Spear. The August 2019 issue by the United States Special Operations Command Tip of the Spear is now available online. The 40-page pub has articles on operations by the theater and component commands and more. Topics include exercises such as Trojan Footprint, Rapid Forge, and Talisman Saber. Also include is coverage of the DoD Warrior Games recently held in Tampa.

Perspectives on Terrorism. The August 2019 issue is now available online. Numerous articles about terrorist organizations, foreign fighters, right wing extremism, radicalization, and more.


3rd Special Forces Group Command Video 2019. 3rd Group deploys competent, adaptable fores worldwide and across the range of military operations. The group provides a scalable and self-sustaining special operations capability operating by, with, and through partnered forces to address our nation’s most complex problems. Have a look at the capabilities of the Green Berets in 3rd SFGA located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 3rd SFGA, August 26, 2019, 3 minutes.

Merrill’s Marauders. The 530th Composite Group had the mission to cross 800 miles of jungle and mountains to capture an airport in 1944. Along the way they fought five major battles against the Japanese. Watch this 8 minute long video produced by the United States Army Special Operations Command on August 28, 2019.

The Liberation of Mosul. The Media Section of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service has produced a 8 minute long video about the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State. The video pays tribute to the lost soldiers of the CTS who played a major role in the recapture of Mosul. Published on August 28, 2019.

CTS Academy Cadets Showcase Capabilities. This 60 second video produced by the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve showcases the capabilities of cadets of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Academy. The cadets display marital arts skills, running through an obstacle course, rappelling, and more. Published August 6, 2019.

What’s in the Kit of a Spanish Dog Handler? What does a Spanish dog handler carry in his pack to deploy to a disaster zone, terrorist attack scenes, or other emergency happenings? Private Ruben Suarez Valbuena, a dog handler with his dog Phantom, will show you what he carries in his backpack. Published by NATO, August 26, 2019, 60 seconds.

Mission of Army Divers. The 7th Engineer Dive Detachment based in Hawaii stays busy. Published by the U.S. Army, August 27, 2019, 2 mins.

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