SOF News Update 20200114 – Curated news, commentary, and analysis about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world. New 7th CSM, bodyguards in Hollywood, Delta Force, new IDF unit, IDF drones, IS video about the Sahel, audiobook about SF in Vietnam, and Afghan conflict lessons learned.
Email Formating. We are doing a little bit of experimentation with our email format. If you notice some odd things going on over the next few weeks then we managed to muck something up. Bear with us; we will get it straightened out and hopefully provide an improved reading experience.
SF “Day on the Hill”. The Special Forces Association is looking for SFA members to support a planned “Day on the Hill” at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 2020. The intent is to visit Congressional offices to advocate for the bipartisan passage of the 116th U.S. Congress House Resolution 906 and Senate Bill 743 – “Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act”. The bill seeks to recognize the valor and contributions of the U.S. Army’s 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). The unit conducted long-range special operations jungle warfare during World War II in the China-Burma-India Theater against Japanese forces. For more information on how to help contact the Special Forces Association.
Death of 5th Group Officer. Douglas Ndole Odera, a member of the 5th Special Forces Group, died on December 23, 2019 at age 36. He was a graduate of West Point and had completed several deployments with Special Forces. Obituary.
SEAL Heading off to Space. An active-duty Navy lieutenant with an interesting career (SEALs, Silver Star, Harvard Medical School, etc.) finds himself in the astronaut program. Read “SEAL, Doctor, Astronaut – Navy Lt. Jonny Kim achieves your childhood dreams so you don’t have to”, Task & Purpose, January 13, 2020.
Promotion for Cdr 1st SOW. Air Force Colonel Michael Conley has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. He is currently serving as the commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida.
Bio of Gary Gordon – 1SFOD-D KIA in Somalia 1993. The official blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published a biography of MSG Gary Gordon. See “Gary Gordon: A Real American Hero”, VA, January 9, 2020.
Former Green Beret Pleads Guilty. A former Special Forces NCO of the 3rd Special Forces Group will be sentenced in his role in stealing money while deployed to Afghanistan. He faces 15 years in prison. (Army Times, January 13, 2020).
CMO Capacity Building in Africa. James P. Micciche, a U.S. Army Civil Affairs office, has written a lengthy essay on the need to stay for the long haul in Africa to ensure regional stability. Read “A Cause of and Solution to Extremism: A Case for Civil Military Operation (CMO) Capacity Building in African Partner Forces”, Small Wars Journal, January 13, 2020.
New 7th Group SEA. The 7th Special Forces Group has a new group Senior Enlisted Advisor. A change of responsibility ceremony was conducted on Friday, January 10, 2020 at Camp Simons, Florida with CSM Alexi Ortiz taking the reigns. (NSF Daily News, Jan 11, 2020).
SEAL Arraigned on Murder Charge. A Navy SEAL charged with murder in the strangulation death of an Army Green Beret in Mali has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Read more in “Navy SEAL arraigned on murder charges in death of Green Beret”, Army Times, January 13, 2020.
SOF Vets Work as Bodyguards in Hollywood. A firm providing protection to high-profile Hollywood actors relies on former and current members of law enforcement organizations and special operations units of the military. Read more in “Inside the Secret Service of Hollywood That Guards Stars Like Post Malone and Jennifer Lopez”, The Daily Beast, January 12, 2020.
Delta Force – Staying Elite? Sebastien Roblin explains how the selection and training process prepares its members for the difficult and dangerous missions it conducts around the world. But it also does more. Read “How does the Delta Force Remain So Elite?”, The National Interest, January 12, 2020.
Soldierstone. “Hidden high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, in a remote and unmarked field, is a secret monument honoring war veterans. The lonely pillar of polished granite sits at more than 11,000 feet, in a clearing among majestic peaks.” LTC (Ret) Stuart Allen Beckley, a former Green Beret and Vietnam Veteran, is the man behind “Soldierstone”. Read more in “Visiting Soldierstone, a hidden memorial in Colorado honoring forgotten war veterans”, CBS This Morning, December 2, 2019.
Human Domain and PSYOP. Some fascinating, futuristic reading by the Mad Scientist Laboratory (army.mil). Read Psychological Warfare in the Human Domain: Mixing AI-Powered Technology wit Psychosocial Engagement, TRADOC, January 13, 2020. The plot is about a multifunctional special operations team that infiltrates into the Ad Dali’ Province of western Yemen as part of a coalition effort that supports the UN recognized government of President Mansour Hadi, based in the southern capital of Aden in the year 2025.
The ‘New’ SOF M110K1 Sniper Rifle. A sniper rifle used by Special Operations Forces is getting an upgrade that will allow it to remain in the SOF arsenal for a few more years. Read “The U.S. Special Forces ‘New’ M110K1 Sniper Rifle: The Best on the Planet?”, The National Interest, January 11, 2020.
Crash of SOF Drone Cause Revealed. The cause of a September 2018 crash of a MQ-9 Reaper was revealed in a recently released Air Force accident investigation. The aircraft was assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon AFB, N.M. Thirty-four MQ-9s have been destroyed (by various means) during the 2009-2019 time frame. Read “Report: MQ-9 Crash Caused by Faulty Engine Design”, Air Force Magazine, January 13, 2020.
Israel’s Drones. Seth Frantzman, a Jerusalem-based journalist, enlightens us on “How Israel Trains Its Elite Drone Warriors”, The National Interest, January 11, 2020.
India’s VIPs Losing NSG Security. The government of India has decided to withdraw the security details provided to VIPs by the National Security Guard Black Cat Commandos. Read “Govt to Withdraw NSG Commandos From All VIP Security Duties”, Indian Defense News, January 13, 2020.
IDF Establishes New ‘Multidimensional Unit’. The Israeli Defense Forces announced the formation of a new unit that will help Israeli ‘strike the enemy faster’. Personnel assigned to the new unit will come from a variety of other IDF units to include intelligence, special forces, reconnaissance, paratroopers, air force, and others. The new unit will be led by a former commander of the elite Duvdevan special forces unit. Read “IDF Launches New Combat Unit”, Arutz Sheva, January 1, 2020.
Military News and National Defense
Contractors Supporting Military Operations. Russia, China, and the United States are increasingly using private military contractors to accomplish national security objectives. Read more in “The Dark World of Private Military Contractors”, Inside Over, January 7, 2020.
Hearings on Lessons Learned. Mr. John F. Sopko, the head of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) will be testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 10:00 am (EST). The hearing is about the U.S. Lessons Learned in Afghanistan. You can watch the testimony live.
Norway and SSA. Two Norwegian Army officers collaborate in an essay describing the Security Sector Assistance capabilities of Norway – touching on the use of Unconventional Warfare, Military Assistance, Security Force Assistance, and Security Sector Reform. The article describes how small states can punch above their own weight. See “Small States – Big Gains: Understanding the Dynamics of Security Sector Assistance (SSA)”, Small Wars Journal, January 13, 2020.
Turkey, Diplomacy, and Operation Peace Spring. Turkey’s ambitious involvement in Syria is causing domestic and international problems for its leadership. Read more in “Turkish Public Diplomacy and Operation Peace Spring”, by Ozlem Kayhan Pusane, War on the Rocks, January 13, 2020.
Books, Pubs, and Papers
Audiobook – SF in Vietnam. John Stryker Meyer has published an eleven hour long audiobook entitled Across the Fence: The Secret War in Vietnam. His audiobook details the deadly and secret war in Laos and Cambodia fought by Special Forces men assigned to the top secret Military Assistance Command Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group or SOG. The audiobook is available on Audible – an Amazon company.
Journal of Military History. The latest issue is posted online. Must be a current member of the Society for Military History to access.
TV, and Videos
68 Whiskey. James Clark of Task & Purpose reviews a new CBS comedy about medics serving in Afghanistan. He says “Don’t bother”. Read “CBS’s new dark comedy ’68 Whiskey’ is everything that’s wrong with network military shows”, Task& Purpose, January 13, 2020.
Video – IS Operations Across the Sahel. A new Islamic State video details the jihadist group’s varying operations across the Sahel over the past few years. The group, known as the Islamic State’s West African Province, is also known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). The operations that are presented in the video take place in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Read more in “Islamic State video details operations across the Sahel”, FDD’s Long War Journal, January 10, 2020.
Tampa Bay Frogman Swim. Watch a video from the January 12, 2020 event that raised money for the Navy SEAL foundation. (six minutes).
1917. This movie is about two young British soldiers who are given a seemingly impossible mission to cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers. Watch the official movie trailer by Universal Pictures, posted December 18, 2019 on YouTube, 3 minutes long.
Merrill’s Marauders. The 530th Composite Group conducted special operations missions in the Asian theater against Japanese forces during World War II. Watch a 3 minute long video about their missions.
USASOC PAO, YouTube, 28 August 2019.
Photo: A Soldier assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group participates in Wet Silk Training at the Iron Horse Physical Fitness Center on Fort Carson, Colorado, on September 9, 2019. Photo by Special Christopher Stevenson, 10th SFGA.