Special Operations News Update for Sep 9, 2019

MDSU 2 Ice Divers

Photo: Divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 surface through an ice hole during ice diving training on a frozen lake at Camp Ripley in Minnesota. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jeff Atherton, February 11, 2019.

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

SOF News

Nine SF Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan by IED. A Special Forces team responded to a suicide car bomb blast on Thursday, September 5, 2019 that killed and wounded at least 15 people outside an Afghan military base in Logar province. The SF team was then targeted by a blast at the scene of the earlier bombing that wounded at least nine SF soldiers. According to some sources all have been released after receiving medical treatment. (Newsweek, Sep 5, 2019).

10th SFGA Medic Profiled. Read up on the story of the 21-year career of a Special Forces Medic. See “Jeff ‘Patch’ Adams: Combat stories worthy of an HBO series”, Spec Ops Magazine, September 7, 2019.

Navy SEAL Team 7 Leadership Fired. The Naval Special Warfare Command announced on Friday, September 6, 2019 that the three senior leaders of SEAL Team 7 were relieved of their positions “due to a loss of confidence that resulted from leadership failures.” (New York Post, Sep 6, 2019).

“Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command Rear Adm. Collin Green relieved the three senior leaders of SEAL Team Seven from their positions Sept.6. Green relieved the unit’s commanding officer, Cdr. Edward Mason; executive officer, Lt. Cdr. Luke IM; and the team’s top enlisted leader, Command Master Chief Hugh Spangler due to a loss of confidence that resulted from leadership failures that caused a breakdown of good order and discipline within two subordinate units while deployed to combat zones.”

Statement by NSW on September 6, 2019.

Former SEAL May head SO/LIC. A former Navy SEAL is being considered for the top civilian post overseeing special operations forces. Lou Bremer is an eight-year pre-9/11 SEAL veteran who left the Navy and eventually became successful in the private equity investment world. He has ties to the Trump administration – his firm’s head was involved in advocating for the privatization of the Afghan war. Read more in “Tequila-drinking Navy SEAL in the running to oversee elite troops“, Politico, September 8, 2019. (Editorial note: currently Mark Mitchell (ret SF) is in the seat (acting ASD) – one wonders why he isn’t being nominated. Probably not seen as a Trump loyalist.)

International SOF

New Cdr of Belgian SOF. Colonel BEM Tom Bilo took over command of the Belgian Special Operations Regiment. He has a long history of service with parachute and SOF units and commands. The regiment consists of the Special Forces Group, the 2nd Commando Battalion, and 3rd Parachute Battalion, the Commando Training Center, and the Parachute Training Center. (Army Recognition, Sep 7, 2019).

SOF Competitions. Annual events such as Fuerzas Comando or Warrior Competition that pit special operations teams from various countries are important of the exchange of new TTPs and improving regional interoperability. Read more in “Special Operations: The Competitions”, Strategy Page, September 6, 2019.

UK’s SAS Seeking Communicators. A dwindling recruitment pool is hampering efforts to keep the ranks filled in the British Special Air Service. Read more in “SAS forces to take out job advert as elite regiment battles recruitment crisis”, Mirror, September 7, 2019.

Britain’s SAS of Cyber-Warfare. One of Britain’s top female spies will head a new cyber-warfare unit of the UK. Read more in “Female spy to net terrorists as head of ‘cyber-SAS’”, The Sunday Times, September 8, 2019.

Middle East

Syria. Joint U.S. and Turkish military patrols have begun in the newly established (but still evolving) ‘safe zone’ in northeastern Syria. Also of note is the Iranian oil tanker seized by the British for violating EU sanctions against Syria but then released has been spotted off the Syrian coast. The Danish government has announced that they will deploy military forces to Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Denmark will be working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to ensure that ISIS remains degraded.

U.S. Bases in Middle East. The United States has military personnel scattered throughout the ME region to include personnel from all of the services. Read more in “US-Iran Dispute Brings Attention to Military Bases in Middle East”, Voice of America, September 6, 2019.


The Ogaden War (1977-1978) and HOA Today. Sam Wilkins, an active-duty U.S. Army Special Forces officer, provides us with a history of the Soviet-U.S. cold war activities in the Horn of Africa and compares it to the future China-U.S. rivalry in the HOA. Read “Buried in the Sands of the Ogaden: Lessons from an Obscure Cold War Flashpoint in Africa”, War on the Rocks, September 6, 2019.

Islamist Extremist Threat in Burkina Faso. West Africa is facing a growing presence from Islamist extremist groups. They have established themselves in remote areas of northeaster Burkina Faso. Read more in “Coastal West Africa Now Facing Islamist Extremist Threat”, Council on Foreign Relations, September 4, 2019.

Dictator of Zimbabwe Dies. The long-time leader of Zimbabwe, former President Robert Mugabe, has died. He is known for being one of the leaders of a faction that fought for independence from the white minority ruled country of Rhodesia. His long tenure as president is marked by human rights abuses and gross economic mismanagement that impoverished millions of his nation’s citizens.


U.S. Casualty Identified. The Department of Defense announced on September 6, 2019 the death of SFC Elis Barreto Ortiz, from Morovis, Puerto Rico. He was killed in action on Thursday, September 5, 2019 when a VBIED detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, NC. A Romanian soldier also died in the same bombing incident.

Trump Nixes Peace Talks. On Saturday evening (Sep 7th) President Trump tweeted out news that he cancelled a series of meetings involving President Ghani, President Trump, and Taliban leadership to be held on Sunday at Camp David.

CIA Staying in Afghanistan? The White House is considering expanding the Central Intelligence Agency’s presence in Afghanistan if / when international forces begin their withdrawal from that nation. Read more in “Trump wants the CIA to stay behind in Afghanistan. What could possibly go wrong?”, Newsweek, September 6, 2019.

Europe and NATO

Poland – A Key NATO Country. The eastern European country is becoming increasingly important in NATO efforts to deter Russian military threats. Read “Poland is Becoming the Keystone of NATO’s Evolving Security Architecture”Real Clear Defense, September 6, 2019.

Books and Videos

Small Boats and Daring Men. Major Zachary Griffiths, a Special Forces officer, reviews Benjamin Armstrong’s new book entitled Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy, (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019). Read the review in “Battlefield Lessons from the Swashbuckling Irregular Warfare of the Early American Navy”, Modern War Institute at West Point, September 6, 2019.

Call Sign Chaos. Jim Mattis and Bing West have collaborated on a book about leadership. Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead focuses on three levels of leadership: direct, executive, and strategic. Read a book review by Dave Maxwell (ret SF Col) posted on Small Wars Journal, September 6, 2019.

Trojan Footprint: Embedded with Special Forces in Europe. Marty Skovlund, Jr. travels to eastern Europe to embed with the U.S. Special Forces “Green Berets” for one of the largest multi-national special operations training exercises in the world: Operation Trojan Footprint. Over 1,400 special operators from ten different nations participate in small teams in Hungary, Romania, and Bulgari to conduct training in the air, sea, and on land. Watch a 14-minute-long video published by Coffee or Die Magazine on September 5, 2019.

1st SFC CBRNE VALEX. Soldiers of the the 1st Special Forces Command validated their ability to neutralize and render safe chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah. Video by 10th Special Forces Group, September 4, 2019, 1 min.

SIG Sauer P365 SAS. The pistol manufacturer has produced a new variant of the P365 line with the ‘Sig Anti Snag’ pistol. Read about and watch a video in “Sig Sauer Quietly Launches the P365 SAS Pistol”, Recolin Web, September 6, 2019.

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