Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo: German and Dutch paratroopers conduct jump training during Swift Response 22 at a Military Training Area Lest, Lithuania, May 9, 2022. Exercise Swift Response 2022 is an annual multinational training exercise, which takes place in Eastern Europe, the Arctic High North, Baltics and Balkans from May 2-20. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tamillyah Jo)
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LTG (Ret) Fran Beaudette Now With Warrior Sportsmen. The former commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) will now lead Warrior Sportsmen as the newly elected President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. The mission of Warrior Sportsmen is to provide US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) a means to enhance recovery from the physical, mental, and emotional stress caused by injury or long-term overseas deployments.
NSWC Report on Trainee Death. Naval Special Warfare Command released its Line of Duty investigation into the death of Seaman Kyle Mullen. He was a Navy SEAL candidate who died on February 4, 2022 immediately after completing “Hell Week”, during BUD/S training. His death was in the line of duty and Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) were not a contributing cause of death. According to the autopsy report, Mullen died of acute pneumonia with cardiomegaly as a contributing factor in the hours after successfully completing Hell Week. A separate investigation is being conducted by the Commander, Naval Education and Training Command (NETC). Members of the Navy SEAL community have been reprimanded (Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct 2022) over the death of the trainee. Read the NSWC press release dated 12 Oct 2022. Another article on the death of Mullen provides more information not provided in the NSWC press release. Read “Instructed Not To Call 911: Report Reveals Confusion, Failure and Fear in SEAL Candidate Death”, Military.com, October 12, 2022. See also an article by The Washington Post.
JSOC Brief. Read about the creation, history, purpose, organization, and missions of the Joint Special Operations Command. Jordan Smith provides a detailed brief on JSOC and its missions of counterterrorism, counter proliferation, AFO, hostage rescue, HVT kill or capture, and more. “JSOC: America’s Joint Special Operations Command”, Grey Dynamics, October 14, 2022.
USSOCOM’s Deployed SOTFs. An article by Walter Pincus provides information of the various Special Operations Tasks Forces that are deployed worldwide. “Change is in the Mission for U.S. Special Operations Command”, The Cipher Brief, October 12, 2022.
Defense Strategies Institute presents SOF & Worldwide Operations, December 7-8, 2022, Tampa, Florida. The 11th Annual SOF & Worldwide Symposium will convene senior level leaders and decision makers from across the Special Operations Community, regional combatant commands, Department of State, intelligence community, academia, and industry.
Gen (Ret) Scott Miller with Sig Sauer. The former commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and last commanding general of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan has joined Sig Sauer, Inc. as Defense Advisor. The firm provides weapons and other equipment for military, law enforcement, and commercial users.
EOD Soldiers Support SF. U.S. Army EOD technicians are training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Read more in “Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers sharpen Special Forces support skills in Danger Zone”, Army.mil, October 14, 2022.
Ranger Deaths. Three Army Rangers of 1st Ranger Battalion have died since July 2022. Two of them were suicides and a third death is under investigation. The most recent death occurred on October 6th. “Two Army Rangers have died by suicide at Hunter Army Airfield since the end of July”, Task & Purpose, October 15, 2022.
7th SFGA Gets Child Care Center – Finally. A child development center will be located on Camp Bull Simons in Florida. Families of the 7th Special Forces Group have been asking for this for years. Child care locations are sparse in the area. “These Florida military families will finally get a child care center”, Army Times, October 14, 2022.
Qatar Naval SOF Training Centre. Qatar has a new training facility for its naval special forces. It has been established on the eastern side of the Bay of Zekreet in western Qatar. The facility can train 200 personnel at time and consists of a indoor range, urban warfare training area, and other facilities. “Qatar shows new naval special forces training centre”, Janes.com, October 12, 2022.
British and Swedish Rangers Train Together. Two elite units took part in Exercise Jagare in Arvidsjaur, Sweden. The British Army’s Ranger Regiment and Sweden’s Norrland Dragoon Regiment took part in long range distance patrols and reconnaissance missions. “New bonds forged between British and Swedish Rangers”, UK Army, October 14, 2022.
Project 404 – Air Advising in Laos. In the mid-1960s the U.S. Air Force began the mission of providing the Kingdom of Laos with covert air support. The project changed codenames frequently, which made it difficult to track this secret effort. A great history of the air advisory and support effort can be found in “Project 404: United States Air Force Advisory Mission and the CIA’s Secret War in Laos”, Grey Dynamics, October 3, 2022.
Air Force’s Brown Beret is Retired. A unit that played a major role in building up friendly air forces for decades has been inactivated. “The end of the brown beret: Air Force special ops squadron shuts down after 28 years advising allied aviators”, Task & Purpose, October 10, 2022.
Navy SEAL Training – It’s Supposed to be Hard. Commander (Ret) Dan O’Shea, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, provides his perspective on outsiders weighing in on the difficult training candidates at BUD/S experience. He provides the historical background on why the training is so demanding and worries about attempts to ‘soften’ the training. “Navy SEAL Training is Brutal for a Reason”, Armed Forces Press, September 14, 2022.
Don’t Nerf SEAL Training. A retired Navy SEAL officer has come out against softening up BUD/S training despite the recent training death of a Navy SEAL candidate. The Silver Star recipient and book author says that the BUD/S training pales in comparison to combat and making it less grueling would ultimately weaken the SEAL teams. “Jocko Willink Warns Against Nerfing ‘Brutal’ SEAL Training”, by Mac Caltrider, Coffee or Die Magazine, October 12, 2022.
SOF: Total Defense and Resistance. Dr. Kevin D. Stringer has penned a paper entitled “Special Operations Forces (SOF): The Integrators for Total Defense and Resistance”, Journal on Baltic Security, Volume 8, Issue 1, October 3, 2022, PDF, 11 pages. He states that two key components for any effective Total Defense concept are national special operations forces and volunteer, citizen-soldier territorial defense forces.
USAF and SFA – Not So Much. Apparently, the Air Force believes that it no longer needs units dedicated to the air advisor mission. It is inactivating units like the 6th Special Operations Squadron that conducted Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) with its Combat Aviation Advisors. AFSOC CAAs have deployed to more than 45 partner nations and engaged with more than 40 different types of aircraft to carry out their mission. However, there are some concerns raised with this apparent shift away from maintaining a dedicated security force assistance capability. Read “Integrated by Design: Building a Partner Air Force”, War on the Rocks, October 14, 2022.
10 U.S.C. 127e – CT Funding Authority. For the past two decades DoD has used a little-known counterterrorism funding structure to create and ‘control’ proxy forces across the world; primarily in Africa and Asia. These countries include Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Yemen, and others. 127e allows U.S. forces to provide support to foreign militaries, paramilitaries, and private individuals that are supporting US CT operations. While 127e provides a tool for conducting operations, it is not itself a legal authorization for operations. The two authorities that allow DoD to conduct CT opns are the 2011 AUMF and Article II of the Constitution. Katherine Yon Ebright explains 127e, the AUMF, and Article II in greater detail in “What Can a Secretive Funding Authority Tell Us About the Pentagon’s Use of Force Interpretations?”, Lawfare Blog, October 11, 2022.
Haiti in Crisis. A food and fuel shortage are contributing to a crisis in Haiti that is aggravated by gangs that have stymied efforts by the government to alleviate the problems facing Haitian citizens. The Haitian government has appealed to the international community for armed military forces to intervene and help restore order and stability. A U.S. interagency delegation visited the Caribbean nation on a two-day trip and met with government officials about the ongoing crisis. Canada is assisting with equipment. “Canada delivers long-awaited armored vehicles for Haiti police as gang attacks escalate”, Miami Herald, October 15, 2022. The equipment was transported from Canada by the Royal Canadian Air Force and U.S. Air Force. See also “U.S. Air Force delivers Haitian National Police equipment to Haiti”, U.S. Southern Command Press Release, October 15, 2022.
New Search and Rescue Helicopter. The Air Force’s HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search-and-rescue chopper has deployed overseas for the first time. The Air Force has declared initial operational capability of the chopper. (Lockheed Martin, Oct 2022). The aircraft came from the 347th Rescue Group based in Georgia. It is unknown where the Airman deployed to. “Air Force’s new search-and-rescue helicopter heads to first deployment”, Air Force Times, October 12, 2022.
U.S.-Africa Partnerships. There is an awareness within the U.S. military and political community that the two nations posing the most threat to U.S. interests in Africa is China and Russia. This is one of the reasons that the U.S. maintains a military presence on the continent. That . . . and the efforts to enhance Africa’s peace and prosperity and to bolster Africa’s ability to solve regional and global problems. There is no doubt that there is a competition underway between the major powers to shape events in Africa. It is the United States Africa Command’s mission to build U.S.-Africa partnerships that will assist Africa in the coming years as well as advance America’s national interest. “U.S. National Security Strategy: Build 21st century U.S.-Africa partnerships”, AFRICOM, October 14, 2022.
Afghanistan Update. The Department of State has issued an Inspector General report on Afghan Special Immigrant Program Metrics and has imposed visa restrictions on Taliban members. Read Afghanistan news updates on immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more about Afghanistan (Afghan Report, Oct 14, 2022).
U.S. IO Efforts – Overt and Covert. The United States military has had an on and off again approach to the use of social media to spread conduct influence operations. The efforts have been met with criticism. “U.S. Influence Operations: The Military’s Resurrected Digital Campaign for Hearts and Minds”, Lawfare, October 11, 2022.
Ukraine, ROC, and Info War. At the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C. military leaders, including the USASOC commander, spoke of the importance of info war training in future conflicts. They pointed to the resistance operating concept employed by the Ukrainians in the fight against Russia as well as the importance of being able to get ‘the message out’. “Ukraine’s experience spurs allies’ interest in ‘resistance,’ info war training”, Breaking Defense, October 11, 2022.
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November 8-9, 2022. Fort Bragg, NC
Modern Warfare Week
Global SOF Foundation
November 17-18, 2022
33rd Annual NDIA SO/LIC Symposium
December 7-8, 2022
SOF & Worldwide Operations
Defense Strategies Institute (DSI)
Podcasts, Books, Videos, and Movies
Podcast – Hope in the Trenches. Former Green Beret Ryan Hendrickson, the author of Tip of the Spear, is interviewed by Chaplain Wayne Clyne. DVIDS, October 15, 2022, one hour.
Video – Special Ops Contractor Training Afghan Partners, The Team House, October 10, 2022. Joan Barker talks about her time with the Peace Corps, as a contractor in Afghanistan, assisting in language training on USSOCOM contracts, and her work helping at-risk Afghans evacuate Afghanistan after the Taliban took power. 2 hours.
Video – Romania’s Special Operations Forces in Action, NATO, September 26, 2022, 2 minutes.