Special Operations News Update – Monday, April 20, 2020

SF Sniper Team

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

SOF News

ARSOF Officer Assignments. BG Allan Pepin has been selected as deputy to the commanding general for USASOC. He is replacing BG Thomas Drew. Pepin is currently the commander of the United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC).

Air Force’s Security Force Unit – DAGRE. A tactical organization that provides security for forward deployed aircraft and crew in austere locations around the world receives specialized training. The DAGRE program was implemented in 2008 and it’s long name is Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element. DAGRE operations currently fall under AFSOC hqs and training is at the 371st Special Operations Combat Training Squadron. Read more in “AFSOC Uses ‘Dagger’ Teams as its Pointy Tip of the Spear”, National Defense Magazine, April 17, 2020.

Africa’s Golden Hour Gone? A news report says that helicopter medical support may be reduced for U.S. units in Africa. Special Forces teams could be vulnerable in places like the Sahel. Read more in “U.S. Military Cutting Medevac Flights for Troops in West Africa”, The New York Times, April 18, 2020. (subscription required).

SF Doc Returns from Space Trip. A former surgeon who served with U.S. Army Special Forces has returned from his nine month trip to space aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Colonel Andrew Morgan had served with the 3rd Special Forces Group. Morgan has had an interesting career – soldier, astronaut, Ranger School graduate, member of the West Point Black Knights parachute team, and SF bn surgeon. He returned to earth on April 17, 2020. Read more in “Welcome Home! Army Doc Returns from International Space Station”, DVIDS – U.S. Army Medical Command, April 16, 2020.

SOCOM’s MDO – a Model for DoD. The organic network of relationships that have developed under SOFs structure should be replicated by conventional units. Read more in “Convergence within SOCOM – A Botton-UP Approach to Multi Domain Operations”, by Andrew Smith, Over The Horizon Journal, April 9, 2020.

HII Secures SWMS-A Contract. Huntington Ingalls Industries has secured a $22 million contract as part of the SOCOM-Wide Mission Support-A contract. They will provide analytical services to the USSOCOM Intelligence Directorare (J2). Shephard Media, April 17, 2020.

Veterans Alternative. A former Green Beret, Brian Anderson, started a service for fellow veterans that provides a place to feel safe and seek normalcy when attempting to reintegrate back into civilian life. The services include yoga, meditation, physical fitness, and counseling. The program is now offered online. Read more in “Green Beret hosts therapy sessions online for veterans during coronavirus shutdown.”, 10 News WTSP, April 14, 2020.

Qatar SOF Course Graduation. New members of the Qatar special operations community graduated from their 28-week long qualification course. Read more in “Joint Special Forces celebrate graduation of Marine Special Forces Courses”, MENAFN, April 18, 2020.

Wuhan Virus and the Military

GoFundMe – Charlie Mikes. An SF hangout in Fayetteville, NC – some call it the “New Green Beret Club” – is suffering the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. SF alumni can help out.

19th Group Riggers Switch Gears. The riggers of the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group based in West Virginia are working 7-days a week making face masks. (The Weirton Daily Times, April 19, 2020).

Fighting Coronavirus with Haircuts. The Marines are sticking to their guns when it comes to haircuts. However, not all Marines appear to be complying with the guidance from USMC Hqs. Read more in “Marine dies after 8 days without haircut”, DuffelBlog, April 17, 2020.

Military Topics

Army Upgrades Arctic Tab. The Army has upgraded the design of its Arctic Tab and issued new guidance for wearing the tab. The Arctic Tab was originally worn below a soldier’s unit patch and could only be worn while assigned to Army Alaska. Now it can be worn throughout the Pacific command’s area of operations. The elite Arctic Tab is earned by completing either the Cold Weather Leaders Course (15 days) or the Cold Weather Orientation Course (4 days) at the Northern Warfare Training Center in Alaska. The training conditions for the Cold Weather Leaders Course can sometimes be rigorous – at times training has been cancelled due to harsh weather conditions. (Army Times, Apr 18, 2020).

Great Power Competition

Needed – Definition for GPC. One commentator thinks we need to come up with a ‘single correct definition’ for great power competition that will help move the US government toward a clear strategy. Read “What is Great-Power Competition, Anyway?”, by Alexander Boroff, Modern War Institute, April 17, 2020.

Norway Faces an Assertive Russia. The potential of Russian military power has changed significantly in the past several years. Russian authorities are more willing to apply military means to fulfill their goals. Norway’s location in Northern Europe near the Kola Peninsula makes the country a geopolitically key player. Norway is now considering a new long-term plan for its defense. Read more in “Preparing for the unknown, Norway bolsters its Armed Forces,” The Barents Observer, April 17, 2020.

Evolution of Modern Warfare. Doug Livermore, a Special Forces officer, has penned an article entitled “The High-Tech Arsenal of Democracy: Economic Strength and Scientific Innovation in the Evolution of Modern Warfare”, Small Wars Journal, April 19, 2020.

Middle East

Syria and Turkey’s Drones. The Turkish air force has conducted hundreds of drone stirkes against the Syrian Army Army units. The drones helped halt a Syrian advance that threatened the Turkish coalition in Idlib governorate. Read more in “Turkey’s Drone War in Syria – A Red Team View”, Small Wars Journal, April 17, 2020.

ISIS Rebounds in Central Syria. The Islamic State has been waging an effective and deadly insurgency in central Syria for the past few years. The operations against Syrian government forces have taken its toll on the regime. Read an 18-page paper entitled A Force They Haven’t Seen Before: Insurgent ISIS in Central Syria, by Gregory Waters, Middle East Institute, April 2020.

Guest Writers for SOF News

Books, Pubs, and Reports

Paper – Career Foreign Fighters: Expertise Transmission Across Insurgencies. A recent report examines the case of foreign fighters once they have completed their ‘first tour’. Those that return to their native countries generally do not pose a significant threat when compared to career foreign fighters. Some of those that move on to another ‘insurgency’ transfer their newly-acquired skills and assume leadership positions. This 36-page report is posted on Resolve Network, April 2020, United States Institute of Peace.

Videos, Podcasts, and Movies

Podcast: Escalating Protest in Iraq. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides a 14-minute podcast about Iranian proxies efforts to oust the U.S. from Iraq. Recorded on March 13th, this presentation features Iraq experts Nicholas Heras, Katherine Lawlor, and Brandon Wallace.

Video – SOJTF-OIR Mission Statement. A introductory video that highlights the purpose of the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. Coalition forces advise, assist, accompany, and enable partner forces to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh and provide a secure environment for the people of Iraq and Syria to rebuild and prosper.
(SOJTF-OIR, April 17, 2020, 1 min)

Video – Operation Mask Up. Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians from the 6th Battalion, 2nd Special Warfare Group (Airborne) have launched “Operation Mask Up”. Textile fabrication is part of the advanced skills training offered by the 6th Battalion to select Green Berets, and the Cadre and Staff put their skills and equipment to use in order to provide masks to soldiers assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School during the COVID-19 crisis.
(USAJFKSWCS, April 18, 2020, 1 min)

Video – U.S. Green Berets vs. Norwegian FSK. A 45-minute long video shows the competition between “two battle-hardened veterans of U.S. Special Forces” and a pair of commandos from “Norway’s super-secret FSK”. Those who follow Tim Kennedy will enjoy this video. Courtesy of History Channel’s “Ultimate Soldier Challenge”, April 9, 2020.


Photo: Special Forces sniper team. Posted by 1st SFGA on March 26, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Welsh.

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SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.