Special Operations News Update – April 19, 2022

NAVSCIATTS Patrol Boat Lght. Photo by Angela Fry, Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, October 30, 2018.

Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.

Photo: NAVSCIATTS Patrol Boat Light. Photo by Angela Fry, Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, October 30, 2018.

Ukrainians Graduate from NSCITTS Training. Ukrainian soldiers are heading home after having received training at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School in Biloxi, Mississippi. NSCITTS is a security cooperation school that is operated by the U.S. Special Operations Command. The Ukrainians received training on patrol craft operations, communications, and maintenance. Since the conclusion of the formal course in early March, the school has provided the Ukrainian group additional training – to include the operation of the Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicle.

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SOF News

NSW and the MV Carolyn Chouest. A highly-modified SOF mothership recently took part in the Balikatan 22 exercise held in the Philippines. This annual exercise featured SOF units from the United States, Australia, and Philippines. The SOF vessel is not usually featured in DoD photographs but recent releases by the Defense Department provides a good look at this unique vessel. “Pentagon Posts Rare Photo of Navy SEAL-Laden Special Ops Sea Base”, The War Zone, April 18, 2022.

The Career of a Navy SEAL. One of the SEALs best, now retired, is highlighted in this story about a 26-year Navy career that spanned the globe. “Hunter, Frogman, Sniper, Spy: Retired SEAL Terry Houin is Just Getting Started”, Coffee or Die Magazine, April 17, 2022.

Mozart Group – SOF Vets Helping in Ukraine. A private organization is assisting Ukraine with personnel that have some specialty skills – among them medical, information operations, training, logistics, open source intelligence, and emergency ordnance disposal. The Mozart Group is providing training, equipment, and advice to Ukraine SOF and resistance units. The founder of the group is Andy Milburn, a retired Marine Corps officer rich in special operations and combat experience. Read a 16-page PDF describing the organization’s mission and capabilities.

Retired SF Soldier and January 6th. A retired Special Forces soldier is among those accused of participating in the January 6th event at the U.S. capitol. He now faces new charges that he held onto secret national defense documents from his time in service. “Retired soldier charged in Capital riot held secret military documents, feds say”, Army Times, April 18, 2022.

USSOCOM and Ukraine’s SOF. The commander of USSOCOM recently testified before Congress on the training provided by U.S. SOF to Ukrainian special operations forces. “U.S. SOCOM Has History With Ukraine’s Special Forces”, The Cipher Brief, April 12, 2022.

USSOCOM Vehicle Upgrades. U.S. special operators have the ability to tap into a fleet of unique vehicles to accomplish their missions. The inventory includes joint light tactical vehicles, non-standard commercial platforms, all-terrain vehicles, and more. Read about the MRZR Alpha, LTATV, MRAPs, JLTV, and other vehicles used by U.S. SOF. “Special Operations Command Targets Vehicle Upgrades“, National Defense, April 19, 2022.

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International SOF

Russian SOF – A Tough Fight for a Special Unit? The war in Ukraine has yielded many surprises. The pluck of the Ukrainians, the way NATO and the West finally got its act together opposing Russia, and the dismal performance of the Russian military. The Russians have failed miserably thus far; although the war is not over and has entered a new stage where the aggressors may make some concrete gains. Russian SOF suffered some severe losses when it attempted to take an airfield a few miles northwest of Kyiv during the initial days of the invasion. Beyond that operation, however, not much is known about the Russian Spetsnaz’s involvement in the war. “Russia’s special -operations forces are under fire in Ukraine”, Business Insider, April 18, 2022.

Brit SOF Stepping Up – Ukraine. There is some recognition in the SOF world that the UK is providing some great assistance to the Ukrainians. The effectiveness of the anti-armor NLAW missiles against Russian tanks and APCs has been widely reported.

New SOF Training Base for Georgia. The government of Georgia has announced plans to establish a base for training special operations forces in the country. Known as the Mukhrovani Base, it will be completed in two to three years. “Georgian PM announces plans for special operations base”, Agenda.ge, April 18, 2022.

Former Afghan SOF With a Fresh Start. Former Afghan Special Forces soldiers and their families are learning how to fit in to their new community. They are assisted by a ‘cultural mentor’ who guides them through the daily activities of living in the United States. The mentor helps them find jobs, set up bank accounts, shop, and perform other life tasks. The former elite Afghans soldiers are now performing menial jobs – a tough transition to make. “Former Afghan special forces members adjust to new lives in Las Cruces”, Sun News, April 7, 2022.

British Sniper Has the Deadliest Mustache. One of the best mustaches ever was on display during the 2022 International Sniper Competition held at Fort Benning, Georgia in early April 2022. Thirty teams from across the U.S. military and law enforcement community as well as the around the world participated. A member of the British sniper team stood out among the competitors. “This British sniper may have the deadliest mustache in the world”, Task & Purpose, April 18, 2022.

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SOF History

Book Review – Bush War Operator: Memoirs of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, Selous Scouts and Beyond. A.J. Balaam follows his first book about military service with the Rhodesian military with a second book. It covers his formative years, life serving with elite Rhodesian military units during the bush war, and his adventures across the African continent after the transition from white rule to the new regime in Zimbabwe. Read a book review on Balaam’s new book. (Havoc Journal, April 15, 2022).

Daring SAS Operation in Afghanistan. Following the terrorist attacks in September 2001, US and UK special operations forces began operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime. One operation stands out – Operation Trent. The raid was conducted by the SAS operators of A and G Squadrons in November 2001. “This daring daytime Afghanistan raid was the largest SAS operation since WWII”, We Are the Mighty, April 16, 2022.

Army Rangers and Just Cause. Part of the invading force to arriving in Panama in the early morning hours of December 20, 1990 came from the Ranger Regiment. The Rangers parachuted from C-130 Hercules and C-141 Starlifter transport planes onto three different airfields from the low altitude of 500 feet. Read more in “Operation Just Cause: Untold Stories From the Army Rangers Who Invaded Panama”, Coffee or Die Magazine, April 15, 2022.

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National Security

SOF Vision. ASD SO/LIC and USSOCOM released a new document entitled SOF Vision & Strategy that lays out the future of special operations forces and its role in strategic competition. Jonathan Schroden examines the document and provides his perspective on the good and bad. “What the New Vision for US Special Operations Gets Right – and Wrong”, Modern War Institute at West Point, April 18, 2022.

Website on Disinformation. A new website launched by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is designed to identify nations using deception operations to manipulate potential adversaries, and their own populations. The Understanding Global Disinformation and Information Operations site provides information on state actor media campaigns. Read more in “Understanding global disinformation and information operations”, The Strategist, April 11, 2022.


Video – 53rd Ordnance Company SOF Support Training. An NCO with the 53rd SOF SST talks about providing support for U.S. special operations forces that are deployed around the world. The SOF Support Training (SST) element was created a few years ago. DVIDS, April 1, 2022, 2 minutes.

Video – Who Are the Green Berets? “The US Army’s Special Forces (often called the Green Berets after their distinctive headgear) are an elite brotherhood of soldiers who, at their core, are problem solvers. They embody the ethos of special operations — working outside conventional units among indigenous personnel who share a common enemy, training them, and often fighting alongside them. This means learning culture and languages; it also means operating in small numbers and having to master countless combat skills in order to pack one of the hardest punches US ground troops have to offer.” Coffee or Die Magazine, April 15, 2022, YouTube, 3 minutes.

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SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.