Special Operations News Update – Tuesday, May 26, 2020

SG43 Machinegun

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

Memorial Day

On Monday, May 24th, the United States observed Memorial Day. This is a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died while serving in the armed forces. It is observed on the last Monday of May. Visits are made to cemeteries and memorials. This year was different due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some occasions were cancelled, scaled back, or held virtually.

The last week of May is a time of remembrance by many military organizations across all of the services. For example, each year the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) holds a memorial service for those USASOC service members who have died over the past year. This year the service was held virtually and a video posted of the event. The video begins with opening remarks by the USASOC Command Chaplain. The commander of USASOC – LTG Francis Beaudette provides his remarks. The names of the recently fallen are then announced. (USASOC, May 20, 2020, 11 minutes)

SOF News

Protecting the SOF Enterprise. CSM (Ret) Michael Hall, a Special Forces soldier, comments on the up and down cycle of building up and then scaling back the special operations forces of the United States. He argues that we live in dangerous times and we shouldn’t be decreasing the SOF budget. He also argues for elevating the ASD SO/LIC to a higher position within DoD. Read “Protecting the future of the special operations forces enterprise”, Military Times, May 23, 2020.

SOF Officer Assignments. Rear Adm. (lower half) Bradley Andros will be assigned as deputy director of plans and policy for countering weapons of mass destruction, U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Captain Matthew Burns has been selected for promotion and will be assigned to Joint Special Operations Command. He is currently serving as commander of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

NSW Freefall Contract. Marana Tactical Flight, LLC in Arizona was awarded a $10 million contract to provide military freefall services in support of Naval Special Warfare Command.

AC-130 and MEU Conduct Training. JTACs from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted joint integration training with a SOCCENT AC-130W aircraft. (26th MEU DVIDS, May 23, 2020).

PJ’s on Being a Pararescue Jumper. Three U.S. Air Force PJs explain the process of becoming a pararescue jumper and what it means to be a PJ. (Coffee or Die, May 20, 2020).

Bay of Pigs Museum. A memorial to Brigade 2506 can be found in a small museum in Hialeah Gardens, Florida. The site pays tribute to 1,200 CIA-trained Cuban exiles who landed on Cuba’s shores in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961. Read more in “Bay of Pigs Museum Awaits Trump christianing”, The Washington Examiner, May 24, 2020.

COVID-19 and the Military

AF ST Officer Aids Food Drive. A Special Tactics Airman is leading outreach efforts to collect food and supplies for COVID-19 relief in Washington state. (24th SOW, May 24, 2020).

AFSOC and Remote Learning. The coronavirus pandemic has hastened the plan to increase the USAF special operations community’s remote learning capabilities. Read “U.S. Air Force Special Operations School excels through innovation during COVID-19”, 492d Special Operations Wing, May 18, 2020.

National Security & International News

‘Grey Zone’ Warfare – Not Exactly New. Dr. Geraint Hughes, a UK veteran and conflict researcher, argues that ‘grey zone’ warfare is not unprecedented and that numerous examples can be found in the past. Read “Historical Relections on the ‘Grey Zone'”, Defence-in-Depth, King’s College, London, May 19, 2020.

IO and GPC. Russia and China are very adept at conducting information operations within the ‘great power competition’ environment. The disinformation campaigns of both countries have caused considerable confusion on the social media platforms in the U.S. – obscuring the distinction between fact and fiction. Recent examples are the conspiracy theories about COVID-19 within the United States. Read more in “The Kremlin’s disinformation playbook goes to Beijing”, Brookings Institute, May 19, 2020.

Politics of HA in Syria. The power brokers involved in the Syrian conflict (Turkey, Russia, Iran, and the United States) are using the opening and closing of humanitarian assistance corridors to advance political objectives. Read more in “US may try to raise the stakes for Russia in Syria”, Al-Monitor, May 22, 2020.

3-Day Ceasefire. The Taliban and government of Afghanistan have announced that they will observe a cease fire for the Eid holiday. In addition, President Ghani pledged to release 2,000 more Taliban prisoners.

Libya Update. Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has been experiencing some reversals in his attempt take capture Tripoli. His rivals have been aided by Turkey with the providing of needed war supplies and Syrian proxy fighters.

“Project Opus” in Libya. According to the United Nations a private paramilitary group including Australian, British, South African, and U.S. citizens was conducting operations in Libya on behalf of the Haftar faction. The plan to intercept weapons shipments ‘fizzled out’. The operation had an $80 million price tag. Equipment to be provided included two RHIB boats and six helicopters. See “Military contractors left Malta for secret mission to Libya”, Times Malta, May 25, 2020..

Upcoming Events

May 26, 2020 – 9:30 am. An online video event entitled “Understanding Career Foreign Fighters” by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP). The panel discussion will examine how career foreign fighters can impact current conflict dynamics to help future prevention efforts.

May 26, 2020 – 10:00 am. An online webcast entitled “Webinar: The future of high-tech warfare”. This event features Chris Brose, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who authored The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare.

June 25 – 26, 2020. Orlando, Florida
2020 Blackbeard Golf Tournament
SSG Matthew Pucino Memorial Foundation

July 12, 2020. Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
10th Annual Blackbeard’s Motorcycle Ride
SSG Matthew Pucino Memorial Foundation

August 22, 2020. Newport, Kentucky
3rd Annual Riverboating for Berets – A Bourbon Excursion
Green Beret Foundation

August 29, 2020. Virtual Fundraiser
Deep Dive 2020
Combat Diver Foundation

Books, Pubs, and Reports

Shadow Warriors: The Irish Army Ranger Wing. Read a review of a new book releases that describes the elite force of Ireland. (Leinster Leader, May 24, 2020).

Videos, Podcasts, and Movies

Video – 7th SFG FTX. The Group Support Battalion of the 7th Special Forces Group conducted a field training exercise in the fall of 2019. This video was posted in May 2020 and depicts some scenes from the FTX. (7th SFGA DVIDS, May 13, 2020, 5 mins.)


Photo: A student assigned to the U. S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is in the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course fires a SG43 machinegun during weapons training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina May 13, 2020. (U.S. Army photo illustration by K. Kassens)

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