Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo: A Green Beret from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) readies to conduct an ice dive on Fort Carson, Colorado, 18th February, 2021. The training is part of a wide range of training conducted by the Green Berets on Fort Carson to help maintain their proficiency in Arctic warfare. (U.S. Army photo by SSG Eliverto V Larios)
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We will be back on Friday with our usual coverage of the Ukraine War. For now, here are some highlights from the past 24 hours. The Russians have withdrawn some (20%?) of the forces arrayed around Kyiv and they are now reorganizing and refitting in Belarus. They will likely be committed to the Donbas region. The Ukrainians are conducting limited counterattacks with some success in the north and in the south. Mariupol is being devastated by Russian aerial attacks. The Russians are slowly advancing in Mariupol and may capture the citys in a few days. More Russian units are arriving in Ukraine from the country of Georgia and Russia.
Two Retired Green Berets Heading to Ukraine. Two U.S. Special Forces veterans are going to Ukraine to provide some emergency medical care to the Ukrainian people. One is a physician’s assistant and the other a nurse practitioner. They are self-funding their trip with a little help from a GoFundMe effort. “Vail area man on a mission to Ukraine”, Vail Daily, March 30, 2022.
U.S. SF, UW, and Ukraine. Behind the scenes and not widely known is the fact that Army Green Berets have been engaged in training Ukrainian forces in resistance and unconventional warfare since 2014. Read about it in “U.S. Special Forces’ training boosts Ukraine in fight against Russian invasion”, The Fayetteville Observer, March 31, 2022.
USASOC’s Sniper Competition. The Army Special Operations Command hosted its international sniper competition at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in March. The event featured teams from the U.S. military, law enforcement organizations, and military teams from around the world. Some of the foreign countries participating included Germany, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, and Italy. The top three teams were from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, France, and the 20th Special Forces Group. “Here are the results of Army special operations’ annual sniper competition”, Army Times, March 29, 2022.
Improvements for SOF’s CV-22. The Osprey has been in the air since 1989 and U.S. special operations forces has been using the tilt rotor aircraft for a variety of missions around the world to include the infiltration, resupply, and extracting of U.S. SOF ground units. The aircraft is scheduled for $81 million worth of improvements for the tilt rotor. (ABC 7 News, Mar 30, 2022).
Ghostrider Training Leaving Hurlburt. The formal training for the AC-130J “Ghostrider” gunship will be moving from Hurlburt Field, Florida to Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. The move is expected to take place this summer and take several years to complete. At least seven AC-130J aircraft and about 370 personnel will make the move from AFSOC to AETC. Kirkland AFB is the home to the 150th Special Operations Wing, a New Mexico National Guard unit that provides training for AFSOC units. “Ghostrider gunship training to leave Hurlburt Field beginning this summer”, NWF Daily News, March 30, 2022.
MARSOC Cdr Asked to Drop Charges. U.S. Representative Brian Mast (R-Fla) has called on the U.S. Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSO) to drop the manslaughter charges against Marine special operators who accidently killed a retired Green Beret contractor in Iraq in 2019. (Florida Daily, Mar 30, 2022).
123rd ST Squadron Trains in Sweden. Member of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron of the Kentucky Air National Guard participated in an arctic warfare training course for two weeks at the Swedish Subarctic Warfare Center in January 2022. “Kentucky Air Guard trains in Sweden for arctic warfare”, National Guard, March 29, 2022.
USASOC Officer Found Dead. A member of the United States Army Special Operations Command was found unresponsive in a parked vehicle on Fort Bragg on Friday. He was pronounced dead at the base hospital. (Yahoo! News, Mar 29, 2022).
20 Year Legacy of SEAL Team 7. A series of events took place in Coronado, California to mark the 20th year since the establishment of SEAL Team 7 just six months after 9/11 in March 2022. Over the years the SEAL team has deployed numerous times to the CENTCOM and PACOM areas of responsibility. “Looking to the Past: SEAL Team 7 Celebrates 20 Year Legacy”, DVIDS, March 17, 2022.
NATO SOF Maritime Conference. The first NATO Special Operations Forces Maritime Conference took place in Italy on March 29-30, 2022. It was hosted by the Italian Joint Command for Special Operations in collaboration with NATO Special Operations Headquarters, Belgium. Read more in “First NATO Special Operations Forces Maritime Conference Held in Italy”, SHAPE NATO, March 30, 2022.
French Desert Commando Course. A few times a year, select US troops get to attend a very special course in the deserts of Africa. The French Desert Commando Course is run by the French Foreign Legion for French soldiers heading to fight Islamist extremists in the Sahel region of Africa. The two-week course is conducted in Djibouti where the French have a military base. “Inside the French Foreign Legion commando course that puts US troops to the test in the African desert”, Business Insider, March 28, 2022.
Balikatan Friendship Jump. Philippine and U.S. special operations personnel conducted a series of static line and freefall parachute drops in the Philippines in the past few days. The event took place as part of a larger annual exercise. Two MC-130 aircraft performed the airdrops. “PH, US troops join ‘Balikatan’ free-fall drills”, Philippine News Agency, March 30, 2022.
Dutch Divers and O2 Rebreathers. The Royal Netherlands Navy performs yearly medical assessments of its military divers. U.S. Dive Medical Officers (DMOs) and Dive Medical Technicians (DMTs) could find the medical findings of this academic paper informative. The paper, published in March 2022, can be read online or downloaded.
Navy Special Warfare History. One of the first members of the special operations community began his service in World War II as a Navy officer. In the early 1960s he was put in charge of Naval Special Warfare Group One and Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) 11 and 12. “Here’s why Phil H. Bucklew is the father of special warfare”, We are the Mighty, March 30, 2022.
2022 NDS. The Department of Defense has sent the classified 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) to Congress (28 Mar 2022). The NDS is the capstone strategic guidance document for the DoD. It translates national security priorities into guidance for military planning and activities. The 2022 NDS is consistent with President’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance that was released in March 2021. The unclassified version of the NDS will be coming out shortly and sequenced with the release of the unclassified National Security Strategy. Learn more about the 2022 NDS in this DoD fact sheet (DoD, 28 Mar 2022, PDF, 2 pages).
2023 MI Program Budget Request. On March 28, 2022 the Department of Defense released the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) top line budget request for fiscal year 2023. The total is $26.6 billion. And if you follow the link you will find very few details . . . as it is classified.
The High North Gap. Should the current conflict in Ukraine escalate into a limited or bigger shooting match between the West and Russia a number of strategic areas of the world will be contested. One will be the North Cape of Scandinavia where Russian submarines will need to transit to stop the forward movement of NATO naval forces. Read more in “Plugging the High North Gap with Expeditionary Advance Base Operations”, Small Wars Journal, March 29, 2022.
New Sniper Rifle. By 2023 each Army infantry squad will have a new sniper-like capability when it receives the squad designated marksman rifles (SDMR). The M1101A1 is a semi-automatic, 7.62mm rifle based on the Heckler and Koch G28/HK417 system. Most sniper rifles have a 20-inch barrel, this one has a 16.5 inch barrel. The rifle will mount the Sig Sauer TANG06 scope. “Squad-level sniper rifle to complete fielding by next year”, Army Times, March 30, 2022.
Benning Jump Towers Upgrade. The 250-foot towers at Fort Benning, Georgia where Army paratroopers undergo airborne training are getting a new parachute system that more closely mimics those used to jump from airplanes. The rate of descent of the new tower chutes will be faster – more closely aligned with the rate of descent of the actual parachutes used in airborne training. “New gear headed to Army paratroopers and air crews”, Army Times, March 30, 2022.
Online Event – Civil Affairs Roundtable. The panel participants with provide organizationally related updates and review what their initiatives are to foster an expanded civil-military learning network. The event, sponsored by the Civil Affairs Association, takes place on Zoom on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
SOF News welcomes the submission of articles for publication. If it is related to special operations, current conflicts, national security, or defense then we are interested. And of course, any guest articles about Putin’s War are welcomed as well.
Books, Podcasts, and Videos
Movie Trailer – Top Gun: Maverick. Paramount Pictures has released another movie trailer for the long-awaited sequel to the original Top Gun. Tom Cruise comes back as a ‘special instructor’ for a group of young, hot naval aviators and a special mission. The movie hits theaters in May.
Video – Cold Response 22: Allies & Partners. While the U.S. has been trying to refocus its attention to the Indo-Pacific region, it still recognizes the need to be prepared for crisis or war in Europe. A variety of exercises are conducted each year with NATO and other partner nations. One of these in Cold Response – an exercise hosted by the Norwegians, a NATO country. DVIDS, March 30, 2022, 7 minutes.