Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo / Image: U.S., Norwegian, and Swedish Special Operations Forces drive a combat rubber raiding craft during SUBSOF 2022 in Norway, Aug. 14, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class William Carlisle)
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Former 18Ds – Still Teaching and Drinking Beer. Two former Special Forces medics are ‘teaching class’ evenings at Charlie Mike’s, an SF hangout just outside of Fort Bragg, NC. “We Didn’t Know Jack – With Beers and Jokes, 2 Retired Green Berets Mentor a New Generation”, Coffee of Die, October 19, 2022.
NSW – Seeking Diversity. The leadership of Naval Special Warfare believes that fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion is a critical factor to current and future success. “The Pursuit of Diversity in Naval Special Warfare”, Navy.mil, October 19, 2022.
Death of SEAL Team Commander Investigation. The United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) has provided more details on the death of a U.S. Navy SEAL who died while fast-roping from a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Black Hawk helicopter in December 2021. “Army reveals new details on SEAL team commander’s training death”, Navy Times, October 20, 2022.
USASOC and Recruiting Difficulties. The United States Army Special Operations Command is looking to step up its recruiting efforts. It has pinpointed recruitment for more 18Xs (volunteers right off the street for Special Forces training) and more 37Xs for psychological operations roles. “Army Special Operations Command aims to reverse recruiting woes”, Army Times, October 19, 2022.
Recruiting for PSYOP. Another article on the same topic as the paragraph above, but this time on the search for men and women to join PSYOP units. “The Army needs to get better at recruiting PSYOP soldiers, general says”, Task & Purpose, October 20, 2022.
Move of GBs and SEALs to Germany Base Questioned. For years U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) has wanted to send U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEAL units to an Army base in Baumholder, Germany. However, there are some lawmakers in Congress that believe they should move a little closer to the ‘front lines’ – the Baltic States or Poland. The move would place the SOF units in a more rural area more suitable for training. SOCEUR would remain in the Stuttgart area, a fairly congested part of Germany. At one time – 2020, SOCEUR was being programmed to move to Belgium. “Transfer of Green Berets, SEALs to Army base in Germany questioned in House funding bill”, Stares and Stripes, October 20, 2022.
SOF NCOs Selected to Serve in White House. A former Ranger and a Green Beret have been named as White House Fellows. They will work in D.C. working with senior White House staff. “Special Operations NCOs Named White House Fellows”, Association of the United States Army, October 19, 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.
Shark RCWS for Naval SOF. Compact boats that go at high speeds help special operations forces conduct their infiltrate, conduct missions, and exfiltrate. On smaller boats, like the 11-m RHIB, crews have difficulty in stabilizing weapons systems to put fire on targets accurately. General Robotics has introduced the Shark Remote Controlled Weapons Station (RCWS) that addresses the need for SOF to operate their weapons on small boats. “General Robotics unveils Shark naval RCWS for Special Operations small boats at Euronaval 2022”, Navy Recognition, October 18, 2022.
SOF and the Importance of Data. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on U.S. SOF stated that special operations troops could be hindered by unclear data from their command and control structures. There is a lack of standard terminology and the information is not complete and readily available for those who are deployed. “Unclear Data Could Hinder Special Opps”, FEDWeek, October 20, 2022.
363 ISRW (SOF) Signals Intelligence Program. One of the Air Force units that supports special operations forces is the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Read more about it in a recent Air Force news release. (16th Air Force, Oct 20, 2022).
SOF Training at JBLM. Elements of U.S. Army Special Operations Command will be doing some military training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in late October and early November. The nights will be filled with the sound of helicopters and airplanes. “Special operations training at JBLM”, Army.mil, October 21, 2022.
Diversity in SOF – There is a Downside. Rod Dreher, the senior editor at The American Conservative, has some concerns about USSCOM’s drive for diversity. He says that when you build a military for any reason other than winning wars, you place the safety and liberty at risk. “Diversity Is Our Strength, They Lied”, The American Conservative, October 20, 2022.
Redefining Irregular Warfare. David H. Ucko and Thomas A. Marks set out to ‘interrogate’ the meaning of irregular warfare (IW) and to provide a reworked definition of IW. The proposed definition of IW reflects on the lessons and experiences of the past; yet, it also applies to the new strategic environment. “Redefining Irregular Warfare: Legitimacy, Coercion, and Power”, Modern War Institute a West Point, October 18, 2022.
Report – U.S. Military Strength. Each year, The Heritage Foundation publishes the Index of U.S. Military Strength which gauges the U.S. military’s ability to perform its missions in today’s world. The 2023 report finds that the U.S. military is at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests. The report uses the term ‘weak’ in this task. It further states that the Army is “marginal”, the Navy as “weak”, the Air Force as “very weak”, and the Marine Corps as “strong’. The newly established Space Force gets a ‘weak’ grade. “Executive Summary of the 2023 Index of U.S. Military Strength”, Heritage Foundation, October 18, 2022.
Russia, Africa, and Tweets. An examination has been made of tweets in Africa that pertain to Russia between January and August 2022. Russia continues to target African information spaces to discredit Western nations and grow support for Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Topics include the blockade on Ukrainian ports by Russian vessels (affecting grain shipments), western sanctions damaging the Russian economy, and punishment of Africa by Western nations due to luke-warm support for Ukraine. “Russian disinformation in Africa: What’s sticking and what’s not”, Brookings Institute, October 17, 2022.
Russia and the Northern Sea Route. Russia is claiming jurisdiction over parts of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in the Arctic region (map). One aspect of this jurisdiction is a proposal by the Russian legislature to require diplomatic clearance for any foreign warships transiting the straits of the Northern Sea Route. Read more about this topic in “Wrangling Warships; Russia’s Proposed Law on Northern Sea Route Navigation”, Lawfare Blog, October 17, 2022.
China and YouTube. A lot of criticism is directed at China for its policies in Xinjiang province, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. However, China has been able to get its ‘message’ across as well; sometimes eclipsing the criticism with ‘good news’ stories. “China is using ethic-minority influences to spread its Xinjiang narrative on social media”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), October 12, 2022.
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Reports and Videos
Report – Operation Inherent Resolve – U.S. Ground Force Contributions, RAND Corporation, October 2022, PDF, 268 pages. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA719-1.html
This publication provides a narrative account of four battles within OIR and a review of U.S. ground force contributions to those battles. The report is intended to serve as an operational history and review of warfighting functions as applied to OIR. The report focuses on the concept of by, with, and through – referring U.S. military’s reliance on local partners. The authors detail four battles: the counterattacks on Ramadi and on Fallujah, setting the conditions for Mosul, and the urban fight for Mosul. The report also provides some recommendations.
Video – Indian Army Special Forces Carry Out Combat Free Fall, The Indian Express YouTube, October 21, 2022, 2 minutes. Nice video of a HALO jump.