Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
SOF Aircrews in Search for USAF Pilot. A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle crashed on June 15, 2020 in the North Sea and the pilot has been declared deceased. The aircraft was from the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath, UK. It was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board at the time of the crash. The aircraft was working with three other aircraft during the training sortie. U.K. search and rescue was supporting the search. U.S. SOF aircraft involved in the search included a MC-130 and two CV-22s from the 352nd SOG Wing at RAF Mildenhall and an USAF RC-135. The cause of the crash is under investigation. See “USAF Pilot Dies After F-15 Crashes Into the North Sea”, Popular Mechanics, June 16, 2020.
Acting ASD SO/LIC Moving On. Thomas Alexander is leaving the Defense Department to join the Office of Management and Budget. This leaves the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low Intensity Conflict vacant. The presidential nominee for the position, former Navy SEAL Louis Bremer, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Read more in “Latest Pentagon official overseeing special operations leaving as musical chairs continue”, Task & Purpose, June 15, 2020.
Lasers for SF Dune Buggy? Polaris Industries has won a new contract that will keep it supplying DoD with all terrain vehicles for several years. It currently has contracts to build the MRZR 2 and MRZR 4 lightweight tactical all-terrain vehicles for SOCOM. It soon will be providing the Polaris MRZR Alpha. Read more in “Polaris Will Build a Dune Buggy for U.S. Special Forces”, The Motley Fool, June 15, 2020.
Korean War Special Operations. A forgotten part of the Korean War is the history of special operations. Thousands of Koreans never returned from their ‘suicidal missions’ behind enemy lines in North Korea. The U.S., after World War II, had demobilized its special operations capability. Read more “The Lasting Legacies of Korean War Special Operations”, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2020. (scroll down to read the article).
Safer Telework for DoD. The coronavirus pandemic forced many military members to work from home. This prompted some quick work to make working remotely over the internet safer. Read more in “New collaboration tools and controls have made DoD telework safer”, Defense News, June 15, 2020.
Cutting U.S. Forces in Germany. The reaction to the Trump administration’s plans to cut forces in Europe has prompted many national security experts to weigh in with their opinions. Michael E. O’Hanlon provides his in “Why cutting American forces in Germany will harm this alliance”, Brookings Institute, June 15, 2020.
Great Power Competition
Paper – China in the Red Sea. Beijing is expanding its influence and presence around the world. It has established a strategic base in Djibouti – a small coastal country in the Horn of Africa. The military base, opened in 2017, is located at the mouth of the Red Sea overlooking a major strategic chokepoint and a heavily-trafficked shipping lane. Could Djibouti be slipping into the Chinese sphere of influence? Read more in Great power rivalry in the Red Sea: China’s experiment in Djibouti and the implications for the United States, by Zach Vertin, Brookings Institute, June 2020, PDF, 31 pages. https://www.brookings.edu/research/great-power-rivalry-in-the-red-sea/
(Editor’s Note: I spent six months in DJ on Camp Lemonnier as an operations officer in a SOF assignment. The location is key for staging operations – land, air, and maritime – throughout the Horn of Africa and beyond).
Grassroots Nat Sec and GPC. Emmanuel Gfoeller argues for greater interoperability across all agencies to ensure that the U.S. strategy is turned into action. Read “Grassroots National Security and Great-Power Competition: Sharpening the Tip of the Interagency Spear”, Modern War Institute at West Point, June 15, 2020.
Turkish Bases in Libya? The two countries are exploring the use of two military bases by Turkey in the North African country. This would give Turkey a lasting presence in the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey has sided with the Government of National Accord (GNA) that is fighting the Libyan National Army (LNA). Lately the LNA has been taking a beating losing a significant number of key positions during a GNA offensive. Read more in “Turkey in talks to use two Libya military bases”, Reuters, June 15, 2020.
Malian Soldiers Killed in Ambush. A fight with jihadist gunmen has killed 24 soldiers traveling in a convoy in central Mali on Sunday, June 14, 2020. (Reuters, June 15, 2020).
Photo: Special Forces Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Special Forces Group deploy light tactical vehicles from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade during exercise Saber Junction in Germany. (photo SOCEUR Twitter 12 Dec 2019).