Special Operations News Update – Friday, May 29, 2020

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

SOF News

Task Force SIG and Green Berets. The SIG Sauer Academy, a firearm instruction and tactical training school, is adding a new and unique team-building course to its training schedule. The one-day intensive course is taught by current and former Special Forces soldiers. The course groups the students into teams where they are tested in their ability to perform in a high-stress environment. Read more in “SIG Sauer Academy Launches Task Force SIG”, American Rifleman, May 26, 2020.

Green Berets and Their Extracurricular Work. The members of Special Forces are trained to conduct unconventional warfare – working with guerrillas, resistance movements, and anti-government groups. Sometimes this work is done after the Green Berets have retired from active service. The recent cases of Mike Taylor spiriting an accused man out of Japan and Jordan Goudreau’s ill-fated coup in Venezuela have been in the news this past month. Read about other adventures involving former Green Berets in “4 Times Former Green Berets Took on Extracurricular Work”, by Blake Stilwell, Military.com, May 27, 2020.

SOCOM: AI Will Revolutionize War. The advances in artificial intelligence are going to change how U.S. special operations conducts its missions in the future. (Connecting Vets, May 28, 2020).

Former Officer Who Served With JSOC Now with GPO. The U.S. Government Publishing Officer has a new Deputy Directory. Patricia Collins will serve in the agency’s second-highest-ranking position as CEO. Prior to joining the GPO Collins spent 24 years with the U.S. Army – serving several years with JSOC and retiring as a colonel. (What They Think, May 28, 2020).

Dash-8 Contract. Leidos Inc. of Reston Virginia was awarded a $22 million contract for a De Havilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft with modifications in support of USSOCOM.

International SOF

Women in Elite IDF Units? Young Israeli women have petitioned the Supreme Court demanding to be tried-outed for joining elite Israeli combat units. Read more in “IDF not in hurry to integrate women in elite combat units”, Al-Monitor, May 27, 2020.

Venezuela Plot – Involvement of Questionable Supporters. The case of the attempted Venezuela coup to remove the current president by Green Berets and rebel Venezuelans is getting more curious. Apparently the group’s U.S. leaders were relying on questionable support from allies of the socialist government. Read “Failed Maduro coup leader flew on pro-govt magnate’s plane”, Associated Press, May 28, 2020.

“The Det”. The 14th Intelligence Detachment served in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles”. It was tasked with mounting surveillance and intelligence gathering operations against the Irish Republican Army and their allies. The Det has now been absorbed into the British Army’s Special Reconnaissance Regiment. “The Det: Secret soldiers and unsung heroes of the troubles”, We Are The Mighty, May 28, 2020.

SOF History

SF History Going Away. The Special Forces community is loosing a valued piece of its heritage. The United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) has decided to close the Special Warfare Museum located on Fort Bragg. This action, lacking in transparency, has agitated the SF community – especially in the retired ranks. Many veterans with decades in SF see this as a slight to their service. One retired Green Beret has posted his thoughts in a recent news article. Don Bendell is a best-selling author and Vietnam veteran with years of SF service. Read “Green Berets, ‘What were they, daddy?”, The Fayetteville Observer, May 26, 2020.

Great Power Competition

China’s IO Campaign Against the U.S. Military. China is attempting to weaken the morale of U.S. military personnel and to undermine the credibility and influence of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region. Read more in “PRC Wages Psychological Warfare Against the U.S. Military”, by Aaron Jensen, Real Clear Defense,May 28, 2020.

GPC in the Arctic Region. Read an interesting essay about the dynamics between Russia, China, United States, and Denmark relating to Greenland. See “The Kingdom of Denmark: Battleground for Great Power Competition over Control of the Arctic Region”, Canadian Global Affairs Institute, May 2020.

Russian Claims on the Arctic. There are six nations that aspire to have influence or a presence in the Arctic region – Russia, China, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and the United States. Russia’s blanket claims of territorial sovereignty pose a direct challenge to current law of sea conventions. The U.S. should respond to these threats. Read more in “Russia’s Arctic Empire”, Gatestone Institute, May 29, 2020.

National Security

Going it Alone – and U.S. National Security. Paul Cobaugh provides his perspective on how building and sustaining relationships with other countries is important to our national security. Read “How Our National Security Suffers When America Goes Alone”, Homeland Security Today, May 25, 2020.

Civilians Need Support. At any given time there are thousands of U.S. civilians working for different U.S. agencies (DoD, DoS, USAID, etc.) in hostile fire zones or dangerous regions of the world. Many of these civilians have made a career in this type of work. However, on their return they find that civilians don’t get the support that is available to military members who return from combat zones. Read more in “Civilians Returning from War Zones Need More Support”, RAND Blog, May 18, 2020.

5th SFAB Official Activation. The U.S. Army officially activated the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The 5th SFAB is one of six advisor brigades that have been established over the past few years. Their principal mission is to provide teams that will advise, support, liaise, and assess allied and partner security forces. (5th SFAB, May 28, 2020).

SFAB Company Heading to Colombia. The Army’s 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will be sending advisor teams to Colombia in June to support the counternarcotics mission of the Colombian security forces. (UPI, May 28, 2020). See also a message posted by Southern Command about elements of the 1st SFAB deploying to Colombia. (May 28, 2020).

Crum's Sauce


Dissolving the ALP. Current and former members of the U.S. special operations community that were involved in the creation and growth of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) may have some angst over the ending of the local police program. The ALP was a part of the Village Stability Operations (VSO) program run by U.S. SOF to establish security, governance, and development in rural areas of Afghanistan that were being contested by the Taliban. Read more in “Why dissolving the Afghan Local Police program troubles its American architects”, Army Times, May 28, 2020.

Release of Prisoners – Will it Bring Peace? The Afghan government is releasing thousands more Taliban prisoners. The hope is that the Taliban will respond and begin to seriously negotiate with the Afghan government for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan conflict. (Coffee or Die Magazine, May 28, 2020).

Withdrawal by Nov 2020 Election? The Pentagon will be presenting a series of options and timelines for consideration by President Trump. One option includes a full withdrawal of U.S. troops in time for the November 2020 U.S. presidential election. (Marine Corps Times, May 25, 2020).


LNA Lose Russian Mercenary Support. Commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) is suffering some military setbacks in their attempt to capture Tripoli. To compound these military misfortunes is the departure of hundreds of Russian mercenaries that were assisting Haftar in the fight against the UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA). The Wagner Group mercenaries were evacuated by an Antonov 32 military cargo planes. The planes are reported to be bringing in arms and ammunition and leaving with the Russian fighters. (Aljazeera, May 25, 2020).

Russian Fighter Jets in Libya. Fourteen Russian military aircraft have been sighted in Libya. The jets, with a new paint job to hide Russian markings, appear to be Mig-29s and Su-24s. Read more in “Why are Russian fighter jets in Libya and why is that a big deal?”, SANDBOXX Blog, May 27, 2020.

Guest Writers for SOF News

Books, Pubs, and Reports

Kilcullen Interview. Dr. David Kilcullen is the author of a just published book entitled Dragons and the Snakes – How the Rest Learned to fight the West. He is interviewed by Octavian Manea. Read “Liminal and Conceptual Envelopment: Warfare in the Age of Dragons”, Small Wars Journal, May 26, 2020.

Book Review: Special Forces Berlin. James Steijskal’s book about “Det A” in Berlin during the Cold War is reviewed. BLUF: Buy it, a good read about SF history. (AR Gunners, May 28, 2020).

New Editor for Small Wars Journal. Dave Maxwell, a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer, will be taking over the position of Editor-in-Chief of Small Wars Journal. The previous Editor-in-Chief, Dave Dilegge, passed away in May 2020.

Podcasts and Movies

Podcast – Scott Mann on Leadership. A former Green Beret officer and book author is the featured guest on a one-hour long podcast. “Green Beret behind the Afghan SOF Strategy, Scott Mann, talks Leadership”, SANDBOXX, May 28, 2020.

Space Force. Steve Carell stars as a four-star Air Force general put in charge of the newly established “Space Force”. The Netflix series begins tonight. Watch the trailer.


Photo: Navy SEALs conduct military dive operations off the East Coast of the U.S. on May 29, 2029. Photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jayme Pastoric.

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