Special Operations News Update – Monday, June 1, 2020

UH-60 Crew Chief

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

SOF News

Study: SF Soldiers and Brain and Spine Trauma. In 2019 the Green Beret Foundation collaborated with the Department of Neurosurgery at the Mount Sinai to study the effects of traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Read more in “Green Beret Foundation and Special Forces Neurosurgery Collaborative Announce Study Results”, Green Beret Foundation, May 30, 2020.

Promotion Withdrawn for Former SF Group Cdr. The promotion of Colonel Bradley Moses to brigadier general has been withdrawn by the U.S. Army. Moses was the commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group when the a 3rd SFGA team was ambushed in October 2017 resulting in the deaths of four soldiers. (Task & Purpose, May 30, 2020).

McRaven to Graduates: “Save the World”. Retired Navy SEAL Admiral William McRaven told graduating students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that they are the “real heroes” who will save the world from pandemics, war, climate change, poverty, and racism. (Military Times, May 30, 2020).

Marine Reconnaissance? What Does it Take to Join? Being an athlete and staying positive in adverse conditions helps. But there is more. Read “What it Takes to Become One of the Marine Corps’ Elite”, The National Interest, May 30, 2020.

Mission Command and a Pane of Glass. United States Special Operations Command is looking into new technologies to track missions, the enemy situation, and the friendly situation. Sort of a high-speed integration of CPOF, JADC2, Tactical Assault Kits, and more. The development of this ‘Mission Command’ will be overseen by SOF Digital Applications – a new program office to develop SOF-unique software and applications. See “Special Operations Command wants to put all mission data in a single pane of glass”, C4ISRNET, June 1, 2020.

SF and Ethics. A paper evaluates the ethical and moral reasoning through the lens of Army special operations forces. The author, SGM Timothy Lawn (USAR), examines the ‘ethical triangle’, three types of ethics, and more. Read “Army Special Forces and Ethics”, The Civil Affairs Association, May 26, 2020.

CA Association – Call for Papers. The Civil Affairs community is looking at ways to better integrate its force for influence, collaboration, and competition for threats and challenges in multi-domain and information operations. The Civil Affairs Association has issued a “Call for Issue Papers” from the CA community. (Civil Affairs Association, May 13, 2020).

International SOF

KSK and Neo-Nazi Crisis. The Special Forces Command (KSK) has some 20 soldiers under investigation because of neo-Nazi ties. Read more in “Germany’s KSK commando unit in turmoil over neo-Nazi infiltration”, The Sunday Times, May 27, 2020.

Great Power Competition

Russia’s IO Offensive Attempts in Poland. The next phase of DEFENDER-Europe 2020 is about to commence in early June in Poland. The Russian hackers and IO practitioners have been busy posting false narratives about how the U.S. military is not so keen on the Polish military. (The First News, (PL), May 29, 2020.

China’s Maritime Insurgency. The United States is devoting a lot of energy for the great power war but China could win without firing a shot. Read “Win Without Fighting”, Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, June 2020.

Russia in Central Asia. While Russia is strengthening economic ties with Central Asian nations it is also prepared to conduct destabilization activities as well. This would set the scene for Russia to increase its military and political influence over Central Asian governments. Read more in “Russian Influence Grows in Central Asia”, Real Clear Defense, June 1, 2020.

Middle East

SOJTF-OIR and Kurdish Officials Meet. The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve met with top Kurdistan region officials on May 30-31, 2020. The topic was the recent spike in activities of the Islamic State and the need to strengthen coordination between the Peshmerga and Coalition forces. See “Top Kurdistan Region officials meet anti-ISIS Coalition commander”, Kurdistan24.com, May 30, 2020.

New TOC for CTS. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the war against ISIS is waged. The virus has severely limited person-to-person contact in the war zone which limits advising and coordination opportunities. To compensate for this the Iraq Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) has adapted by creating a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) with video conferencing capabilities that allow the CTS to communicate with the SOJTF personnel. Read “VTC Victory”, DVIDS SOJTF-OIR, May 27, 2020.


Countering Russia in Africa – an SFAB Mission? Elements of one of the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades may soon be working in north Africa. The United States Africa Command has said it may be putting ‘advisors’ into Tunisia. The African country is adjacent to the northwest border of Libya – where Russia is increasing its influence. See “U.S. Eyes Use of Security Brigade in Tunisia Amid Russia Concerns”, New York Times, May 29, 2020.

Germany in West Africa. The German troop deployment to Mali has been extended until 2021. In addition, German combat divers will train special forces personnel in Niger. See “Germany extends Bundeswehr mission in Mali”, Deutsche Welle, May 29, 2020.

Books, Pubs, and Reports

CTC Sentinel. The May 2020 issue of The Sentinel is now available online. Some interesting articles are in this issue. One reviews Iran’s proxies by region. A second looks at how one man can be an important part of a terrorist organization. Another examines the recovery of Islamic State operations in Iraq during the 2019-2020 timeframe. Published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Videos, Podcasts, and Movies

Video – AFSOC Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Air Force Special Operations Command leadership recognize the history of AF SOF over the past 30 years. 1st SOW PA, May 19, 2020, 2 min.


Photo: An Army crew chief checks for clearance while a soldier fires an M240 machine gun at targets from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an aerial gunnery training exercise near Marine Corps Outlying Field Atlantic, N.C., Oct. 22, 2016. Army photo by Sgt. Steven Galimore.

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