Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo: A Member of 1-10 Special Forces Group (Airborne) participates in drills in preparation for their participation in Exercise Cold Response 22 in Sweden in February 2022. 1-10 SFG(A) attended the Swedish Armed Forces Subarctic Warfare Center in order to prepare for the exercise. Certification included maneuvering on skis, snowmobiles, and on foot in austere environments like the high north. This training in support of Cold Response ensured all allies and partners were able to face the demanding training scenarios encountered throughout the exercise in Norway. (U.S. Army photo by Cpt. Margaret Collins, SOCEUR)
Cold Response 22 brings together around 30,000 troops from 27 countries to train in a cold weather environment on land, in the air, and at sea in Norway and surrounding areas during March and April 2022. Read more about Exercise Cold Response 22 (NATO).
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Ukraine War Update
SOF News will return to its coverage of the conflict in Ukraine tomorrow. Here are some highlights of the past 24 hours in Ukraine until then. Almost 4,000 people were evacuated from conflict areas on Tuesday (Apr 5), many of them from Mariupol. Over 120,000 people are still trapped in the city. The Russians have withdrawn from much of northern Ukraine – Kyiv will not be captured. The fight comes now in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Mykolaiv and Kharkiv experienced heavy shelling. Turkey and Estonia will return their embassy staff to Kyiv.
New Jolly Green II Testing. The U.S. Air Force’s new combat rescue helicopter, the HH-60W Jolly Green II, has moved into its operational test phase at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The new helicopter, nicknamed the ‘Whiskey’, is the successor to the HH-60G Pave Hawk. “US Air Force’s new Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter begins operational testing”, Defense News, March 31, 2022.
The Nation’s Naval Commando Force. Rear Admiral H. W. Howard, III writes about the new initiatives that are placing a renewed emphasis on undersea and seabed warfare with the Naval Special Warfare community. He outlines the NSW’s organizational transformation and modernization priorities in progress – that include personnel changes, tactical changes, experimentation, concept development, and more. “Frogmen Solve Hard Problems – From and on the Sea”, Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, April 2022.
919th SOW Anniversary. The Air Force’s only special operations wing celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 1-3, 2022. The 919th has supported the Gulf War, Operations Just Cause, Enduring Freedom, Inherent Resolve, and many others. “919th SOW celebrates 50th Anniversary”, Air Force Reserve Command, April 4, 2022.
USASOC Tests Parachute Activation Device. The Army’s newest Enhanced Electronic Automatic Activation Device (EEAAD) is being tested at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Army plans on replacing the current reserve automatic activation device currently fielded to military free-fall (MFF) units. “U.S. Army Special Operations Command troops test RA-1 Ram Air parachute automatic activation device”, Army.mil, April 1, 2022.
CSAF Visits AFSOC. The Air Force Chief of Staff visited Hurlburt Field and Air Force Special Operations command on Monday, April 4, 2022. He got briefed up on AFSOC’s Force Generation Model, Mission Sustainment Teams, Aviation Special Operations Task Units, and Special Operations Task Groups. “CSAF visits Hurlburt Field”, DVIDS, April 5, 2022.
GAO and U.S. SOF. April 2022 marks the 35th anniversary of U.S. Special Operations Command establishment by the U.S. Congress. The Government Accountability Office marks the occasion. “As U.S. Special Ops’ Role Has Expanded, So Have Impacts on Servicemembers and Their Families”, GAO, March 31, 2022.
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Another A-29C Super Tucano for AFSOC. A third Super Tucano has been delivered to U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. The aircraft is intended for the AFSOC’s Combat Aviation Advisor (CAA) mission which is designed to build international partner capacity. The first two A-29s were delivered early in March and are already being used in training operations. “US special ops command receives A-29C Super Tucano aircraft”, Defence-Blog.com, April 2, 2022.
Navy SEAL Class Gifts. One of the traditions of the Navy SEAL selection and training classes is the presenting of a class gift to their instructors and staff at the school. Read more about these memorable gifts in “The Wild History of Navy SEAL Class Gifts”, Coffee or Die Magazine, March 28, 2022.
NSW Training Halted by Judge. Navy SEALs can no longer train in Washington state parks based on a judge’s ruling made on Friday (Apr1). This court action provided a victory to environmentalist who fought the military’s use of public lands. The SEALs have conducted cold water training and other special operations exercises in the state’s coastal parks for more than 30 years. “Navy SEALs Must Stop Training in Washington State Parks, Judge Rules”, Coffee or Die Magazine, April 1, 2022.
Saudi SF Host U.S. Soldiers at Their Mountain School. Royal Saudi Land Forces Special Forces hosted U.S. soldiers from the 172nd Infantry (Mountain) of the Vermont National Guard at the RSLF Mountain Warfare School in Saudi Arabia. About 70 U.S. Army soldiers attended the training a few months ago. “Vermont Soldiers hone mountain skills with Saudi Special Forces”, National Guard News, April 1, 2022.
Nepal and US SOF Training. The Nepali Special Operations Forces and a U.S. special operations unit are conducting a month-long joint training exercise focused on enhancing the capabilities for peacekeeping operations. This Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) is being conducted at the Ranger Battalion’s Singh Mahavir camp and Ranger Training Center in Nagarkot. “Nepal Army and US Special Operations Command conducting month-long training”, Khabarhbu.com, April 3, 2022.
Russians Elite VDV – Taking a Beating. The elite airborne force of the Russian army, the VDV, has been at the center of the Kremlin’s campaign against Ukraine. However, the unit has struggled in the conflict and its vaunted reputation is taking some hits. Russia’s paratroopers have experienced heavy losses in several key engagements. “Russia’s failures in Ukraine have dented the ‘elite’ status of its paratrooper force”, Business Insider, April 3, 2022.
Philippine’s SOCOM. The military of the Philippines observed the fourth anniversary of the creation of the Special Operations Command on April 1, 2022 in Fort Magsaysay. Philippine’s SOCOM is being recategorized from being an AFP-wide Service Support Unit to a Combatant Command. “The SOCOM is a joint special operations command that is responsible for planning, conducting, and supporting special operations of the military.” The primary units of SOCOM are the Special Forces, Scout Rangers, and the Light Reaction Company. “Centino recognizes Special Ops Command’s growth on 4th anniversary”, Manila Bulletin, April 2, 2022.
SOCOM Cdr Visits Norwegian SOF. General Richard Clarke, commander of USSOCOM visited Norway and met with the commander of Norway’s Special Operations Command. The Cold Response 22 exercise involving over 30,000 NATO troops is currently underway in the Norway region. “U.S. Special Operations Commander Visits Norway”, USSOCOM Public Affairs, April 1, 2022.
OSS Lessons. One of the greatest underground special operations units ever was the World War II era Office of Strategic Services or OSS. The head of the OSS was “Wild Bill” Donovan. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II. He became a successful Wall Street lawyer and businessman, an advisor to high-level politicians, and then finally the leader and driving force behind the OSS. Read more in “What the OSS Taught us About Modern Warfare”, SOFREP, March 27, 2022.
Vietnam Era MoH Recipient – Gary Beikirch. The life of a Special Forces medic who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during a fierce battle in Vietnam is described in this article. “Medal of Honor Monday: Army Sgt. Gary Beikirch”, DoD News, April 4, 2022.
Event on SOE. A panel of historians and experts will compare and contrast the work of the British Special Operations Executive across different theatres of the Second World War. The SOE was formed to support local resistance movements, conduct sabotage, espionage, and reconnaissance against the Axis powers. The Special Operations Executive: A Global Perspective, will take place on April 22, 2022 at the National Army Museum (UK).
1st African-American Master Diver. A Navy enlisted man took the plunge in 1954 to become the first African-American to graduate from the US Navy Diving & Salvage School. In 1966 he was on a diving mission to recover a missing MK28 Hydrogen bomb that fell from a B-52 into the Mediterranean Sea after the aircraft went down after a mid-air collision. He was injured during an accident that eventually required the amputation of one of his legs. He would eventually return to diving duty – overcoming a host of obstacles. “Against All Odds: Carl Brashear Became the Navy’s First-African American Master Diver”, SOFREP, April 2, 2022.
National Security and Defense
Don’t Forget COIN! Todd Moulton, a Navy intelligence planner with U.S. Second Fleet, reminds us that the U.S. military will still need to keep its counterinsurgency doctrine and TTPs current. Although the DoD has shifted its focus to ‘Strategic Competition’ it will more likely than not be faced with countering insurgents – either directly or through proxy forces. Read his perspective in “Preparing for Future Conflicts: Refining Conventional and Counterinsurgency Doctrine“, Small Wars Journal, April 1, 2022.
Rebalancing the Army. “The Army now finds itself in the early stages of another post-war rebalancing effort following the post-9/11 wars, and, so far, the Army seems to be repeating its previous postwar alterations. If it shifts too far to refocus on large-scale combat operations, the Army might once again find itself out of balance to accomplish its myriad missions across the competition continuum.” “Rebalancing the Army for Military Competition”, Modern War Institute at West Point, April 5, 2022.
Pentagon Budget. General Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday (Apr 5) on the Fiscal 2023 Defense Budget Request of $773 billion for the Pentagon. “Potential for Great Power Conflict ‘Increasing,’ Milley Says”, DoD News, 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.
Books, Podcasts, Videos, and Movies
Book Author Interview – Code Over Country. Matthew Cole is interviewed about the narrative the U.S. Navy would like you to believe and the facts behind the public image of the U.S. Navy SEALs. Since 9/11, the combat experience and accomplishments of SEAL Team 6 have piled up, so have the scandals. He provides a description of his new book – Code Over Country: The Tragedy and Corruption of SEAL Team 6 (2002). “America Loves the Navy SEALs. It Hasn’t Been Good for Them”, by Rebecca Onion, SLATE, March 28, 2022.
Publication – The Mini-Manual for the Urban Defender. John Spencer has updated his recent publication that is a guide to the strategies and tactics of defending cities. Originally published in February 2022, he has provided new content to this more recent edition (Version 4). It is available in English, Ukrainian, Latvian, and Japanese. PDF, 76 pages.
Movie Trailer – The Contractor. An Army Special Forces NCO gets booted out of the Army for using unauthorized pain killers for his damaged knee. Debts mount up and he turns to ‘contractor work’. But that gets a bit dangerous. Watch the movie trailer.
Videos – SOCOM, SO/LIC, and Cybercommand Funding Testimony Before Senate. The Senate Committee on Armed Services spoke with Christopher Maier, assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Army Gen. Richard Clarke, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, and Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, U.S. Cybercommand commander and National Security Agency director, about the posture of United States Special Operations Command and United States Cyber Command in review of the defense authorization request for fiscal year 2023 and the Future Years Defense Program. Senate Committee Reviews Posture, 2023 Authorization Request, DVIDS, April 5, 2022. Part 1 and Part 2.
Video – What Is a Marine Raider? The Marine Corps special operations unit is featured in the video. The newest addition to the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) was established in 2006. It’s critical skills operators were officially designated “Raiders” in 2015, reflecting the history of the Marine Raiders of World War II. Coffee or Die Magazine, YouTube, March 31, 2022, 3 minutes.
Video – MARSOC demonstrates SABRES capabilities and benefits. Special Operations Assessment Baselining and Readiness Evaluation System is designed to test the feasibility of administering various assessment tools related to neurocognitive function and behavioral health for each service member, as well as gather opinions on each assessment tool. SABRES seeks to efficiently and comprehensively enhance service members’ spiritual, social, psychological and physical well-being to further develop strong ethical character and core values. DVIDS, December 3, 2021, 2 minutes.
Video – US and Philippine SF Conduct Parachute Jumps. Philippine Special Forces and U.S. Army Special Forces conducted freefall and static line jumps from a U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II during the Balikatan 22 exercise in the Philippines in March 2022. (YouTube, 6 minutes)
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