Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world. SOCOM needs new aircraft, Venezuela coup, suicides in SOF community, Germany’s KSK in trouble, Russian bounty for US soldiers, COVID-19 and military, and more.
SOF’s Need for Modern Aircraft Platforms. A few generals and an admiral got together and wrote an Op Ed piece about how USSOCOM needs support in their quest for aircraft that will increase its capability. Read “The Growing Need for a Modern Aircraft Platform for Special Forces”, The Hill, July 2, 2020.
Jordan Goudreau – Would Be Liberator of Venezuela. A former Green Beret failed at an attempt to mount a private incursion of a South American country to topple the regime. “The Mercenary Who Bothced a Maduro Coup Is Lying Low in Florida”, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 1, 2020.
Suicides in the SOF Community. Nick Turse, a ‘journalist’ who is an expert on digging up or inventing bad news about SOF, provides some reporting on suicides in the special operations ranks. He says an unreleased report commissioned by U.S. Special Operations Command found deficiencies in the military’s suicide-prevention programs for its elite troops. Certainly this is a serious issue; but with Turse as the author you need to carefully evaluate the article. See “U.S. Commandos at Risk for Suicide: Is the Military Doing Enough?”, The New York Times, June 30, 2020. (subscription is sometimes needed).
$700 Million for RFCM Systems. The United States Special Operations Command has awarded a contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. for the development and procurement of Radio Frequency Countermeasure systems for the AC-130J and MC130J aircraft. (Defence Blog, Jul 2, 2020).
New SOCOM Tech Office. There is a new organization on MacDill AFB solely geared toward software acquisition. It’s mission is to rapidly consolidate, integrate, and acquire SOF-unique software solutions. “SOCOM Rolls Out New Software Program Office”, National Defense Magazine, July 1, 2020.
Changes Coming for Germany’s Elite KSK. The elite German special operations unit will be seeing some significant change over the coming months. Germany’s defense minister announced on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 that the KSK would be partially disbanded. Some elements of the unit had been infiltrated by far-right extremism. One of the four fighting companies would be disbanded and the other elements of the KSK would be overhauling its personnel, training, and leadership. See “Germany to dissolve special forces unit over far-right links”, Reuters, June 30, 2020.
Arms for India’s SF. The Indian Army is going to buy small arms from FN Herstal for its elite units. Read “Modernization of Special Forces, Indian Army to Buy Small Arms for Special Forces”, Indian Defence News, June 29, 2020.
COVID-19 and the Military
Out of Control. According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “. . . coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to bring under control.” (CNBC, Jun 29, 2020)
101st CAB In 14 Day Isolation. The Combat Aviation Brigade will spend 9 months in Germany. The first two weeks will be at Camp Kasserine in Grafenwoehr, Germany in quarantine. See “Brigade Quarantines After Arriving in Germany in Support of Atlantic Resolve”, Defense.gov, July 1, 2020.
Forgetting COIN? “A COIN capability is critical to American competition and conflict with other states, and war with nonstate actors. The US Army should be careful lest it commit too many resources to high-intensity war”. Alexandre Caillot, a Junior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, provides his views in “Forgetting Counterinsurgency, Again: Lessons From Reconstruction and Operation Iraqi Freedom”, Modern War Institute at West Point, July 2, 2020.
Organic and Lethal Drones Needed for Ground Combat Units. The death of four Special Forces troops in Niger in 2017 illustrates the need for armed drone support of U.S. ground combat units. Read “Unmanned, Lethal, and Organic: The Future of Air Support for Ground Combat Forces”, Modern War Institute, July 1, 2020.
Russian Bounty for U.S. Military Personnel in Afghanistan. It is no surprise that the news of Russia paying the Taliban to kill U.S. service members has turned political and partisan. The Democrats say that Trump is being played by Russia, is ignoring threats to the U.S. military, and doesn’t read his intel updates. The Trump Administration says that the news is an unproven allegation. Read “Intelligence Leaks Provoke White House Ire”, Voice of America, June 30, 2020.
“The President does read, and he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president, I will tell you, is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats we face.”Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, June 30, 2020.
Air Strikes by iPhone? Julian Wong, a policy researcher at RAND Corporation, says that Pentagon and commercial technologists should focus on lowering bureaucratic barriers and managing expectations on what technologies will be beneficial and how they can be used. “Why You Can’t Call In An Air Strike With An iPhone”, War on the Rocks, July 2, 2020.
Great Power Competition
A Rising China and Need for a Long Term Strategy. The National Security Strategy announced in late 2017 by the Trump Administration serves as a much-needed wake up call. However, it is inadequate – the U.S. needs to recognize that – due to our size and superpower status – it must lead the world in a cooperative effort, working with other countries, institutions, and alliances. Joseph Nye, Jr., a former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, provides his perspective in “Perspectives for a China Strategy”, PRISM, Vol. 8, No. 4, National Defense University Press, June 2020.
Failed Peace Deal. The United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban, but significant challenges, such as political power-sharing, the role of Islam, and women’s rights, remain for achieving intra-Afghan peace. Seth Jones provides his perspective in “A Failed Afghan Peace Deal”, Council on Foreign Relations, July 1, 2020.
Videos, Podcasts, and Movies
Video – 352 SOSS Readiness Exercise. U.S. Air Force Special Tactics operators assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing, conduct a 352 SOSS readiness exercise on STANTA Range, Thetford, United Kingdom, Mar. 27 2020. The training encompassed D.A.G.R.E unit response, mission planning, SERE training, CASEVAC, TAAR and INFIL/EXFIL utilizing the 352d SOW’s CV-22 Osprey and MC-130J Commando II. The exercise highlighted the use of the Air Rapid Response Kit, or ARRK, which is a highly mobile platform for the 352d SOW. The ARRK technology allows for a rapid employment capability to operate airpower throughout the SOCEUR theatre. Posted on DVIDS on June 30, 2020, 2 minutes long.
Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt Kevin Randall – a SERE Specialist – uses a communication tool during a combat search and rescue exercise in Arizona. USAF photo by A1C Jacob Stephens, June 10, 2020.