Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world. Topics include Indian SOF, UK and the Sahel, Singlaub interview, NDAA passes Senate, Operation Red Wings, 2nd SFAB, HNA as an ASI for CA, SOF’s NSCVs, future of UW, UK’s intelligence services, and more.
SOF Culture. Emma Moore and Stewart Parker provide their thoughts on U.S. special operations forces. They say “. . . there is a diminishing need for special operations forces to shoot, move, and communicate”. They argue that SOF must adapt its image and culture and be more attractive to individuals with a broader array of skills. “Adapting the Image and Culture of Special Operations Forces”, War on the Rocks, July 22, 2020.
Ex-Green Beret in Jail – Helped With Escape of Carlos Ghosn. A former Special Forces soldier known for spiriting people out of complex situations is currently in a Massachusetts jail facing extradition to Japan. Read the fascinating story of the escape of Ghosn from Japan (inside a box for loud speakers for musical instruments on board a chartered private jet) to safety in Lebanon. “Exclusive: How Carlos Ghosn Escaped Japan, According to the Ex-Green Beret Who Snuck Him Out”, Vanity Fair, July 23, 2020.
AFSOC Airman Injured in Shooting. The civilian husband of a Hurlburt Field airman apparently shot and killed himself after shooting and wounding his wife. The injured Air Force member serves in the 1st Special Operations Wing and she was reported in stable condition at a local hospital. (North West Florida Daily News, July 26, 2020.
1st SFGA Exercise Planned. The 1st Special Forces Group will be conducting a two-week long training exercise consisting of helicopter and maritime operations in late July and early August in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord area. (The Suburban Times, Jul 25, 2020).
SOCOM to Buy Ammo for Long-range Shooting. The U.S. Special Operations Command announced plans to award a new ammunition contract for up to 400k cartridges for the 6.5 Creedmoor gas operated weapon system. (Defence-Blog, Jul 25, 2020).
3rd Group Soldier Sentenced to Prison. A former member of the 3rd Special Forces Group will be spending 25 months in prison and paying back the U.S. Army $250,000 in restitution. Bryan Allen was the property book officer for the 4th Battalion when he stole 43 enhanced night vision goggles. See “Man Sentenced for Theft of Military Property”, justice.gov, July 23, 2020. See also “Former Special Forces property book officer sentenced for stealing 43 NVGs”, Army Times, July 24, 2020.
CA: HNA as an ASI. A Civil Affairs officer writes that the Civil Affairs community is having difficulty maintaining proficiency in Human Network Analysis. She believes that there is a need to establish a Additional Skill Identifier for HNA. “CIM to HNA: Just Enough to be Dangerous”, by Whitney Waldsmith, Eunomia Journal, The Civil Affairs Association, July 27, 2020.
WV NG SF Conduct HALO Jump. Two New York Army National Guard CH-47F Chinook helicopters recently supported paradrop training in July at Camp Dawson, West Virginia. The jumpers from the 19th Special Forces Group were fulling a training requirement to maintain their airborne proficiency. “Guardsmen go to new heights for jump training”, Army.mil, July 22, 2020.
Fake SEAL Pleads Guilty. He said he was a Navy SEAL, Silver Star Recipient, and PoW. He collected more than $300,000 worth of free health care from the VA and collected monetary compensation for PTS and other combat-related injuries. His story was that he had been shot, beaten, tortured, and received shrapnel wounds. Turns out he never served a day in the military. Jail time coming up! “Fake SEAL Pleads Guilty to Stolen Valor, Stealing from VA”, Military.com, July 23, 2020.
SOF NSCVs. USSOCOM’s maintains a fleet of commercial vehicle platforms that are enhanced with mission-specific modifications to increase protection, mobility performance, and durability. “Special Operations Non-Standard Commercial Vehicles (NSCV)”, Defense Media Network, May 27, 2020.
Indian SOF. Here is a good brief on the role, organization, missions, and types of operations conducted of / by elite units of the Indian military. See “Indian special operations forces: An instrument of foreign policy?”, by Siddhant Hira, Observer Research Foundation, July 23, 2020.
New Weapons for Indian SOF. The Indian Army is set to purchase the FN Scar. See “These New Weapons Will Give Major Boost to Our Special Force”, Defence Aviation Post, June 2020.
UK’s ‘Strike Company’. The United Kingdom’s Army Commandos and Royal Marines have formed a new high-tech strike company with new gadgets and weapons. The The ‘Vanguard Strike Company‘ will deploy small teams to work worldwide. (Daily Mail, Jul 21, 2020).
India’s Parachute Regiment. The ‘PARAS’ or the ‘Maroon Berets‘ come under the fold of the infantry branch of the Indian Army. The Parachute Regiment is organized, trained, and equipped to plan, execute, and support special operations. (ABP Live News, Jul 21, 2020).
Belarusian SOF. The president of Belarus visited his country’s special operations forces for a briefing and inspection. “5th Special Operations Brigade shows Lukshenko its weapons and gear”, Bleta, July 25, 2020.
Viking Boats for Greek SOF. The Hellenic Armed Forces are going to acquire Munin S1220 craft. “Greek SF to use Viking boats”, Shepard Media, July 27, 2020. (subscription required).
Australian SAS – Culture of Cover-up. Philip Dwyer, a professor at the University of Newcastle, says it’s time for Australia’s SAS to stop its culture of cover-up and take accountability for possible war crimes in Afghanistan. (Modern Australian, Jul 24, 2020).
General Singlaub at 99. A legend in the special operations community has just celebrated his 99th birthday. He served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He will be interviewed by former Green Beret Jim Morris. (Connecting Vets, Jul 20, 2020).
International Spy Museum. Washington, D.C. is the location of a 140,000 square foot museum that comprises galleries, exhibitions, educational resources, and event space. The museum depicts the reality of espionage rather than the romantic aspect reflected in Hollywood movies. “Going undercover at the International Spy Museum”, Blooloop.com, July 20, 2020.
Operation Red Wings. In June 2005 a team of four U.S. Navy SEALs inserted into enemy territory in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The mission turned into a disaster. The insertion was conducted by crews of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). This article provides the perspective of the mission from an air ops point of view. “Operation Red Wings Through the Eyes of the Night Stalkers”, Coffee or Die Magazine, July 26, 2020.
Wuhan Virus and the Military
The COVID-19 threat is rising in Florida, Texas, and California. The U.S. passed the 140,000 death mark for COVID-19. I recall a White House briefing a few months back by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx where they stated . . . if we do everything right we can hold the death count to between 150,000 to 200,000 people.
Herd Immunity – What is It? The concept of heard immunity is coming into sharper focus – but much is still unknown. “The Role and Risk of Herd Immunity When It Comes to COVID-19”, GAO WatchBlog, July 23, 2020.
Suing China. Some members of Congress are pushing for the United States to impose accountability on China with a series of measures to include investigations, sanctions, reforming of WHO, and more. In addition, there is a desire by some Congressmen to sue China in an international forum for damages arising from COVID-19’s spread. See “Can the United States Sue China over COVID-19 in an International Court?”, Congressional Research Service (CRS), July 24, 2020.
Russia, the Pandemic, and Disinformation. Russia is using social media to spread conspiracy theories and confusing messages about the virus risks and origins. “Memes, the pandemic and the new tactics of information warfare”, C4ISRNET, July 24, 2020.
NDAA. The Senate passed a defense policy bill – the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The vote was 86-14. The next step is the reconciliation of the Senate and House bills.
Pathfinder School – Shutdown Near? A three-week course that teaches troops to prepare parachute drop zones and helicopter land zones for assault forces may be shutting down. “Army considers shuttering its Pathfinder School”, Army Times, July 23, 2020.
MSO and the Coast Guard. A career U.S. Coast Guard officer argues that the U.S. should add to the responsibilities of the Coast Guard. “Make Maritime Stability Operations a Core U.S. Coast Guard Mission Focus”, by Dan Owen, Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC), July 23, 2020.
Future of UW? Defense and security experts convened in a virtual event to examine the future of unconventional warfare. The “Women in Future Operations” working group presented the event in partnership with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). “The Future of Unconventional Warfare (2035-2050)”, Grounded Curiosity, July 26, 2020.
UK’s Intelligence Services. The British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has published its annual report on the nation’s intelligence services. Learn more about MI5, MI6, and the GCHQ. “What we just learned about British intelligence”, Washington Examiner, July 24, 2020.
MoD Advisors Program. Established in 2009, the Ministry of Defense Advisors Program or MODA was a key tool in providing trained advisors to the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense. The goal of the program is to standardize the selection and training of the DOD’s advisors. The MODA is now seeking applicants. (Defense News, Jul 20, 2020).
Great Power Competition
SOF Culture and GPC. Several people have joined together to write an article that explains how SOF will need to rely on its organizational culture in its transition to great power competition. The authors include John Taft, Ken Tovo, John Forsythe, Adam Routh, and Joe Mariani. “SOF Culture is the Mission”, Deloitte, July 15, 2020.
Russian Military and Russian Foreign Policy. Anna Borshchevskaya examines how the Russian military bolsters the international interests and goals of Russia. “The Role of the Military in Russian Politics and Foreign Policy Over the Past 20 Years”, Orbis, July 2020.
Lessons of the North Caucasus Insurgency. The First Chechen War lasted for nearly two years and ended in victory for the Chechen militants. Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Chechnya in 1996. Elina Driscoll provides a detailed look at the First Chechen War and explores the reasons for Chechnya’s successful performance in 1994-1996. “Insurgency in the North Caucasus: Lessons of the First Chechen War”, Small Wars Journal, July 26, 2020.
Iraq Mission – a “Great Success”. According to the deputy commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve the coalition has achieved great success in its mission to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Iraqi Security Force efforts are enabled by coalition support – including advising, intelligence planning, and precision airstrikes. (DOD News, Jul 23, 2020).
U.S. Army Casualty. The Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. Sergeant Bryan Cooper Mount, age 25, died as a result of a vehicle rollover accident while conducting reconnaissance operations in Eastern Syria. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.
Former ISIS Fighters and Justice in Iraq. Vera Mironova writes about the thousands of ISIS prisoners awaiting trial in Iraq. She examines the justice system and the opinion of segments of the Iraqi population on what a just punishment is for a former ISIS fighter. “Iraq’s Broken Justice System for Islamic Fighters”, Lawfare Blog, July 24, 2020.
South Central Asia
2nd SFAB Retraining. The 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade has returned from its deployment to Afghanistan. As part of its lessons learned they identified areas to improve on. One of these was the ability to ‘negotiate’ with members of a partner nation force. A team of SFAB soldiers took part in a 4-day course on the art of negotiation at West Point. (Pointer View, Jul 23, 2020).
Pakistani Counterinsurgency. Daniel Harris, a columnist for the Security Studies Review, says that Pakistan needs to modify its COIN strategy to degrade the insurgency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. “Pakistani Counterinsurgency in the FATA: Repeating Past Mistakes”, Small Wars Journal, July 25, 2020.
UK and the Sahel. The United Kingdom has been trying to focus resources on the Sahel region of Africa since 2018. However, in a cost savings effort that commitment may soon diminish. “Ministers mull U-turn in Britain’s Sahel strategy”, The Telegraph, July 22, 2020 (subscription required).
‘Talibanization’ of the Sahel. Europe is stepping up its presence in the Sahel region of Africa. France has led the effort for the past several years but success is fleeting. (Washington Examiner, Jul 22, 2020).
Videos, Podcasts, and Movies
Podcast: Competition, Conflict, and the Future of Irregular Warfare. Dave Stephenson, the director of the Joint Staff’s Officer of Irregular Warfare and Competition, has a conversation about the role of IW and how it fits into the notion of great-power competition. Modern War Institute at West Point, July 22, 2020, 36 minutes.
Video – How the Private Military Industry Went Global. The private security business in the U.S. is a massive industry employing hundreds of thousands of people. These firms can range from security contracts at shopping malls, to former U.S. special forces soldiers who guard diplomats. Private security is expected to grow to an $81 billion industry by 2023. CNBC, July 23, 2020, 12 minutes.
Video – Longtab’s Release of JBO. David Holland is interviewed by the ‘Texas Beer Dude”. Long Tab Brewery had been dedicating its beer for fallen Green Berets. TxBeer Dude JD Duran, July 19, 2020.
Photo: Pararescue specialists with the 103rd Rescue Squadron, Westhampton Beach, New York, conduct multi-component training at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center, at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, during Northern Strike 20 on July 21, 2020. (U.S. Air National photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa)