Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo: U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Airmen assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron perform static line and military free fall jumps from a KC-130J, flown by Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron-234, (VMGR-234) over Djibouti, June 21, 2021. Special Warfare Airmen maintain jump proficiency to enable rapid personnel recovery, combat search and rescue capabilities, and to rapidly deploy to austere locations to support U.S. and partner forces within the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Asselta).
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Memorial for MG (Ret) Eldon Bargewell. A memorial is planned to honor MG Bargewell in his home town of Hoquiam, Washington. Bargewell earned many honors during his service to the nation – including the Distinguished Service Cross, 6 Bronze Stars (3 with V), and 4 Purple Hearts. He was a recipient of the 2010 Bull Simons Award given by the U.S Special Operations Command. The date for the ceremony and dedication of the memorial park is May 20, 2023 – on Armed Forces Day. General (Ret) Peter Schoomaker and Lt Gen (Ret) Lawson Magruder will be the speakers. SGM (Ret) Mike Vining will hosting a donors only reception. Members of the 2/ 75th will form the honor guard. Learn how to donate to the memorial at the Eldon Bargewell Memorial Group.
AFSOC: From JSOAC to SOTG. Air Force Special Operations Command has, for a long time, had a focus on providing crisis response capabilities and countering violent extremist organizations (C-VEO) utilizing the Joint Special Operations Air Component (JSOAC) deployment model. It is now shifting gears to develop the attributes and capability to succeed in the new operational environment – including campaigning in the gray zone, employing SOF-peculiar capabilities, and developing and advancing relations with international partners and allies. This transition is bringing about the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG). “From the ‘AFSOC We Have’ to the ‘AFSOC We Need'”, Air Force Special Operations Command, October 6, 2022.
SF, SFABs, and SPP – SFA Triad. A recent paper published by the Association of the U.S. Army entitled “The Army’s Security Force Assistance Triad: Security Force Assistance Brigades, Special Forces and the State Partnership Program” promotes the concept of the Army’s SFA effort is in leveraging relationships with allies and partners – utilizing an ‘SFA triad’. The 16-page PDF describes the unique contributions of the three components of the Army’s SFA community. “Security Force Triad is Powerful Army Tool”, AUSA, October 16, 2022.
New Dep Cdr for NSWC. Captain Andrew J. Schreiner, selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as deputy commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, San Diego, California. Schreiner is currently serving as commanding officer, Navy Reserve, United States Northern Command Headquarters, Fort Carson, Colorado.
AFSOC’s Aircraft. The Air Force Special Operations Command utilizes a variety of aircraft to accomplish its mission. A recent news article provides a description of three of these aircraft: the AC-130 Gunship, the MH-53 Pave Low, and the CV-22 Osprey. “The Aircraft of AFSOC”, by Christian Orr, 1945, October 3, 2022.
SEALs and Tear Gas Training. A video showing Navy SEAL candidates subjected to tear gas found its way to the media. And now there is an investigation into the tear gas training. Seems that the tear gas was ‘administered’ too close to the trainees and for too long of an ‘application’. Read more in “Tear gas video triggers investigation into Navy SEAL selection course”, CBS News, October 4, 2022.
AFSOC’s Mission Sustainment Teams. The Air Force Special Operations Command is trying out some new concepts for support operations overseas. They are forming up cross-functional support teams that can be deployed forward to support deployed AFSOC squadrons and units. “New Air Force special ops teams model future of ‘agile’ air wars”, Air Force Times, October 4, 2022.
Parachuting Into the Arctic. An airborne operation under very cold conditions requires extra preparation and a lot of training. Read more in “Frozen compass, frigid wind – How Green Berets would airdrop into the Arctic in a future war”, Task & Purpose, October 5, 2022.
Bolduc for Senator. Brigadier General (Ret) Don Bolduc, a retired Special Forces officer, is running for Senate in New Hampshire. Kevin Maurer, a journalist for Rolling Stone, has penned an article about Bolduc’s time in Afghanistan and on the campaign trail as he tries to unseat a Democrat Senator. Not quite a favorable piece; although he does write some nice things about Bolduc’s time in Afghanistan. “The Retreat of the MAGA General”, Rolling Stone, October 9, 2022.
SF and New Rifle Scopes. USSOCOM has placed an order with Lightforce USA for new scopes. “New rifle scopes come closer for US special forces”, Shepard Media News, October 6, 2022.
Former 2/75th Ranger Now Hollywood Star. A former member of the Rangers has leveraged his military time to land roles in TV and the movies. “Tim Abell Brings His Experience as an Army Ranger to His Acting Career”, War History Online, October 6, 2022.
Building Named for SFC Jeremiah Johnson. A member of the 3rd Special Forces Group who was killed during an October 2017 enemy attack in Niger has been honored at Fort Bragg with a building dedication. (Fayetteville Observer, Oct 6, 2022).
SOWF and Helping SOF Families. Alex McClintock is the surviving spouse and Declan is the son of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Matthew McClintock, who lost his life in 2016 serving with the 19th Special Forces Group while deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan. Alex and Declan have received valuable assistance from the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Read “Against All Odds”, SOWF, October 6, 2022.
Osprey Recovered. While participating in a training exercise in Norway, a CV-22B Osprey from the 352nd Special Operations Wing experienced an inflight emergency and landed on the island of Senja. It sat there for 6 weeks until a recovery team was able to move it off the island. It is now at a Norwegian military base where maintainers from the 752nd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron will perform repairs to get the aircraft flying again. Once repaired, it will fly home to its base in the United Kingdom. “Osprey Recovered in Norway”, DVIDS, October 5, 2022.
AUKUS SOF and GPC. In September 2021 the trilateral AUKUS pact was announced – a collaboration of Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States. Dr. David Kilcullen has written an essay that explores the evolution of Australian, British, and American special operations from the War on Terror toward Great Power Competition . . . and examines how AUKUS can help reorient SOF to the new environment. “AUKUS and the Evolution of Special Operations for Great-Power Competition”, Security & Defense Plus, September 2022.
SFA in Niger. This paper provides a detailed analysis on the creation and employment of Niger’s Special Forces Command and security force assistance provided by other nations. “The Impact of Security Force Assistance in Niger: Meddling With Borders”, International Affairs, July, 2022.
Iran’s SF. The Islamic Republic of Iran has several special operations forces. One of these is the elite Quds Force – a unit that is responsible for exporting the regimes agenda into other countries. Learn more in “Quds: How Dangerous Are Iran’s Special Forces?”, by Maya Carlin, 1945, September 21, 2022.
NATO SOF and Airframes. European special operations forces are looking at how to best use their aviation capabilities as they shift focus from CT and COIN to operations against likely opponents in future conflicts. “NATO seeks to optimize SOF airframes to match peer adversaries”, Janes.com, October 7, 2022.
Canadian Military’s New Pistol. After a JTF-2 soldier was shot in the leg while using a Sig Sauer P320 on a training range. The Canadian Special Forces and Department of National Defense conducted an investigation. However, Canadian federal procurement officials have now chosen the Sig Sauer P320 as the pistol to replace their current handguns. “Canadian military’s new handgun was at centre of misfire probe last year”, CBC.CA, October 7, 2022.
6th SOS Inactivated. The 6th Special Operations Squadron at Duke Field, Florida is being phased out. The squadron was the home of the Combat Aviation Advisors tasked with conducting Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) and Security Force Assistance activities during the past few decades. “Inactivation of 6th Special Operations Squadron transitions a storied legacy”, 492nd Special Operations Wing, October 6, 2022.
Battle of Mogadishu. On the afternoon of 3 October 1993 Task Force Ranger sent 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and 160 men to kill or capture two leaders of a renegade Somali warlord’s clan. Read more in “Operation Gothic Serpent”, SOF News, July 18, 2020.
Podcast – Chaplain (MAJ) Jeff Struecker – Rangers, Somalia, and Faith. A retired chaplain and former member of Task Force Ranger recounts his experiences during Gothic Serpent. USSOCOM, YouTube, Oct 5, 2022, one hour.
DoE Commando Force. The Department of Energy had a nuclear commando task force in the 1980s that looked straight out of ‘Counter Strike’. Task & Purpose, September 27, 2022.
EC-130J – Final Broadcast. The airmen from the 193rd Special Operations Wing transmitted their last broadcast on September 17, 2022 at a community air show in Pennsylvania. The EC-130J Commando Solo performed its mission for many decades. “EC-130J Commando Solo performs final broadcast”, Pennsylvania National Guard, September 19, 2022.
50th Reunion of Arctic Rangers. More than 30 veterans from Company O (Arctic Ranger), 75th Infantry Regiment gathered for a reunion at Fort Bragg, N.C. in late September 2022. (DVIDS, Oct 6, 2022).
National Security, Defense, and Commentary
Aviation Advising – Making it Better. Jonathan Magill and Tobias Bernard Switzer collaborated in an article that points out the past successes and failures of the air advising effort in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The Iraqis and Afghans were provided with aircraft that were too complex to fly and maintain. The U.S. air advisor effort utilized an ineffective ad hoc approach, and strategic policy makers had excessive ambitions that they couldn’t implement. The authors provide four recommendations to increase the capability and effectiveness of air advisors. “How to Improve Your Pickup Aviation Advising Game”, Modern War Institute at West Point, October 4, 2022.
Haiti, Chaos, and Foreign Troops. Gangs and protesters have caused unrest in Haiti. This is compounded by a severe shortage of water, fuel, and basic goods. The U.S. Embassy has warned U.S. citizens to leave due to the current health and security situation. The country’s leaders are considering asking for international intervention with foreign troops. “Haiti’s Leader Requests Foreign Armed Forces to Quell Chaos”, Voice of America, October 7, 2022. See also “US Reviewing Haiti’s Request for International Security Assistance”, Voice of America, October 8, 2022.
Votel Next CTC Distinguished Chair. General (Ret) Joseph Votel will be the next Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point Distinguished Chair. He is the former commander of JSOC, CENTCOM, and USSOCOM. “Combating Terrorism Center Announces New Distinguished Chair”, HSToday, October 4, 2022.
Women and Special Forces. David Walton provides his perspective on the selection and training of women in the SF training pipeline. He reviews the standards of training applied to those attending the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) course and how they may or may not differ from men. “Are Green Berets Turning Pink? Integrating Women Into Special Forces”, War on the Rocks, September 20, 2022.
China and Influence Operations. The People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party continue to use organizations that operate in the United States to spread their narrative and influence U.S. policymakers. The U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) has issued a warning about these Chinese efforts. Read more in “US Intelligence Warning: China Escalating Influence Operations”, by Judith Bergman, Gatestone Institute, October 7, 2022.
Afghanistan Update. Read curated news and analysis about Afghanistan, the Afghan Evac community, efforts in the Senate and House to pass the Afghanistan Adjustment Act, and more. (Afghan Report, 30 Sep 2022).
ISIS Leaders Killed in Syria. American military forces killed senior leaders (The New York Times, Oct 6, 2022) of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria over the past several days in northern Syria. The first was during a nighttime helicopter raid (The Drive, Oct 6, 2022) conducted by SOF and the second action was a drone strike.
Ukraine Update. The Russians are withdrawing (retreating) in the northeast and in the south in the face of continuous Ukrainian offensive actions. Putin has called up an additional 300,000 Russians to provide more troops to the conflict. Thousands of Russian men have flown out or traveled via land routes to neighboring countries to escape the mobilization. Two arrived by boat in Alaska and have claimed asylum in the U.S. Putin has also once again threatened the use of nuclear weapons. Eight senior Russian generals have been fired since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine – in part for the failure to take Kyiv, topple the Ukrainian government, and the loss of territory on the eastern and southern fronts. The attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge (SOF News, Oct 8, 2022) has embarrassed Russia and the country has accused Ukraine of terrorism (Reuters, Oct 9, 2022). Russia has named a new commander for the war in Ukraine. (NYT, Oct 8, 2022). The latest shakeup has taken place in the past several days. (The Washington Post, Oct 8, 2022).
Report on Ukraine. Russia’s War in Ukraine: Military and Intelligence Aspects, Congressional Research Service (CRS), September 14, 2022, PDF, 30 pages.
Fact Sheet – Assistance to Ukraine. In total, the United States, has committed approximately $17 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. This includes more than $16 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on February 24. A two-page PDF document lists the types and quantities of equipment and material provided to Ukraine as of the end of September 2022. “Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine”, DoD, 28 September 2022.
SOF and Resistance in Ukraine. In the new contemporary operational environment, Russia and China are flexing their muscles. U.S. special operations forces has embraced “resistance” as a core methodology to counter these moves. US SOF are employed around the world – in subtle ways – to cultivate and weaponize resistance movements worldwide. US SOF has promoted this resistance operating concept (ROC) since 2014 in Ukraine. Nicholas Krohley shares a unique perspective on ROC in “Guerrillas on the Bench: Operationalizing Resistance in Ukraine and Beyond”, Small Wars Journal, October 5, 2022.
November 8-9, 2022. Fort Bragg, NC
Modern Warfare Week
Global SOF Foundation
Books, Pubs, and Reports
Pub – IW Strategy. David H. Ucko and Thomas A. Marks have written a pub entitled Crafting Strategy for Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Analysis and Action, second edition, National Defense University Press, September 2022, PDF, 107 pages.
Sentinel. The October 2022 issue is now posted online. It includes a review of the books Tip of the Spear and Operation Pineapple Express. Other articles are on topics such as the 10th SFGA, Sandinistas, and more. This quality magazine is published by Chapter 78 of the Special Forces Association.
Infantry. The Fall 2022 issue is now online. Articles about sniper courses, reconnaissance, the Russian BTGs, mortars, Army combatives, and more.
DoS IG Report – Afghan Special Immigration Visa Program Metrices, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of State, September 2022.
Podcasts and Videos
Video – Inside the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course, Coffee or Die Magazine, September 18, 2022, YouTube, 18 minutes.
Video – Army Objective Force – Special Operations Modernisation, Australian Army, October 3, 2022, 3 minutes, YouTube. An initiative of the Army Objective Force is ensuring Special Operations remain contemporary, at the cutting edge, ready, and able to respond to the threats of the future.
Video – Challenges and Support for Women in SOF, Special Operations Association of America (SOAA), October 7, 2022, 5 minutes. SOAA Board Member Jax Scott speaks about the hardships that women in special operations face. Informative about the Cultural Support Teams deployed to Afghanistan.
Podcast – After Mali: Learning From the French Experience of Irregular Warfare in the Sahel, Irregular Warfare Podcast, Modern War Institute at West Point, October 7, 2022. A panel discussion that explains why the French were involved in combat operations in the Sahel region of Africa and how their forces were organized against several armed insurgencies. The panelists explore the light-footprint approach and building partner-force capacity by the French.