Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo: U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) teamed up with special operations personnel from Spain and performed exploratory dives during their joint-training in the Mediterranean Sea. The partnership allowed for cross-training in combat diving tactics, techniques, and procedures. Photo by SSG Breanne Donnell, SOCEUR, 21 July 2022.
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Evolution of ARSOF. A revealing article spells out some of the doctrinal and organizational changes that are currently underway or being considered for the future of Army special operations forces. New developments in aligning the capabilities of space and cyber with that of special operations are underway. In addition, the organizational and supporting relationships of Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations is getting a closer look. Force structure changes and new technology-oriented career fields are being considered. For instance, there is currently one company of Special Forces in each SF group that has six 16-man operational detachment alphas (ODAs). After the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) worked with the Ukrainian military and helped them develop ways to resist further Russian aggression – something very akin to the Resistance Operating Concept. What was surprising was how well the Ukrainians integrated technology and space capabilities into their resistance plans. Read more in “Inside the ongoing ‘evolution’ of Army special operations”, Army Times, November 9, 2022.
Al-Tanf – SF Base in Syria. A tiny outpost just inside the Syria border is home to almost 200 U.S. soldiers and a larger contingent of partner forces. The base has been the target of rocket, drone, and artillery attacks. “The Small Special Forces Base in Al-Tanf, Syria Has Large Implications for Regional Security”, SANDBOXX, November 7, 2022.
Former SOF Win House Seats. Former Navy SEAL and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke won his race to represent a Congressional district in Montana. He had previously served in Congress from 2015 to 2017. Zinke served 23 years in the military. Former Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden took a seat in Wisconsin. Former Navy SEAL Eli Crane won a house seat in Arizona; he served with SEAL Team 3 and has several combat deployments. Morgan Luttrell, another former SEAL will represent a district in Texas. Keith Self, a former SF soldier, will represent a Texas district. Green Beret Mike Waltz was re-elected to his house seat in Florida. Joe Kent, a retired Green Beret, lost his bid for a seat in the U.S. House. As did, Don Bolduc, a retired Green Beret, who lost his bid for a New Hampshire Senate seat. “Republicans Inch Closer to Majority as Navy SEAL Former Trump Official Wins Hotly Contested Seat”, The Western Journal, November 10, 2022.
A Lot Less AC-130J Ghostriders. New gunships were expected to be delivered to AFSOC . . . but now the fleet will likely be smaller. The Pentagon has decided to cut procurement of the special operations gunships – reducing the numbers from 37 to 30. The newest J-model has the ability to carry 30mm and 105mm cannons, Griffin and Hellfire missiles, and GBU-39 bombs. “Special ops airmen get fewer new gunships than promised”, Defense News, November 10, 2022.
1st SFG Soldier Dies in Motorcycle Crash. A member of the 1st Special Forces Group was killed in a motorcycle accident on Okinawa on November 7, 2022. (Stars and Stripes, Nov 7, 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.
Mini-Sub Mishap. An investigation is underway by the U.S. Navy over an incident in the Pacific Ocean when a Mark 8 SEAL Delivery Vehicle suffered an ‘allision’ during a routine training event. The Mark 8 is currently being programmed out with replacement by the Mark 11. “Navy Probing Super-Secret SEAL Mini-Sub Mishap, LCS Glitch”, Coffee or Die Magazine, November 3, 2022.
CoC Ceremony – SBT-22. A change of command ceremony took place at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi – home of the Special Boat Team 22. (Navy.mil, Nov 10, 2022).
SOCPAC, Tech, and Comms. Special Operations Command Pacific is learning to leverage key technologies to enable its operations across the vast expanse of the Indo-Pacific region. A few of these efforts include the use of a cloud-based tactical network, high-frequency communications, and QR codes. “Special Operations Pacific Goes to the Cloud”, SIGNAL, November 2, 2022.
Fusing SOF and Cyber. USSOCOM and Cyber Command share global areas of responsibility with missions that span the gap between peacetime and war. A major part of SOF’s mission is in the information domain. The author of this article proposes a new organizational structure that would help USSOCOM project cyber capabilities forward. Perhaps establishing a Special Operations Command Cyber of SOCCYBER. This would provide Cyber Command with a central cadre of expertise for special operations support to Cyber Command. “Byte, With, and Through: How Special Operations and Cyber Command Can Support Each Other”, War on the Rocks, November 11, 2022.
North Korea’s Special Forces. Harrison Kass describes how the Korean People’s Army (KPA) has built a special forces capability that can conduct asymmetrical warfare against its opponents. The Korean SF has five primary missions: reconnaissance, supporting CF, deep penetration, internal security, and countering US and ROK SOF activities in North Korea’s rear areas. The special forces units can be found in a variety of places within the North Korean military; to include the Army, Navy, Air Force. “What Makes North Korea’s Special Forces So Dangerous”, 1945, November 8, 2022.
UK Ranger Regiment Trains in U.S. Troops from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States took part in an exercise that demonstrated the integration of cutting-edge technology. Project Convergence 2022 took place at Fort Irwin in California. Elements of the 7th Special Forces Group trained with the UK and Aussie troops. (UK Ministry of Defence, Nov 10, 2022).
New Slovak SOF Cdr. Colonel Jaroslav Kram has been appointed as the new commander of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic (SSO OS SR). The unit was engaged in the evacuation of civilians during the Kabul NEO of August 2021 and is playing a role in the Ukraine Russia conflict.
SO/LIC and Lithuania. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Christopher Maier, recently met with a high official in the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense. (DoD News, Nov 10, 2022).
Special Department RENEA. U.S. Special Forces elements recently trained with the elite RENEA unit of Albania during a JCET that lasted five weeks. The counterterrorism exercise by the Green Berets and elite police unit encompassed C2 processes, surveillance methods, targeting, and events in urban and rural areas. Read more in “RENEA Forces Conduct Joint Exercise with US Green Berets”, Albanian Daily News, November 8, 2022.
Podast – Interview of Ukraine’s SOF Commander. The roles and missions of Ukraine’s special operators are discussed in a meeting between Brig. Gen. Viktor Khorenko and Ryan Evans. War on the Rocks, November 14, 2022, 12 minutes.
Retreat from Kherson. The Russians have withdrawn from Kherson (Google maps) across the Dnieper River and are now fortifying the eastern banks of the river. Advanced elements of the Ukrainian military – said to be special operations forces – are already in parts of the city. This is a disastrous defeat for the Russian military. Ukraine’s president made a visit to the newly liberated city that was occupied by the Russians for the last eight months.
SOF and Drones From Above. One concerning development that has the attention of United States Special Operations Command is the use of drones on the battlefield by Russia and Ukraine. The unmanned aircraft have been used for ISR, dropping munitions, guiding artillery fire, and destroying tanks and armored vehicles. Over the past two decades, U.S. SOF have not been threatened by the use of drones by adversaries on a large scale; but the Ukraine conflict has opened some eyes. Drones, large and small, can now be deployed in great numbers. “After 40 years of safe skies, US special operators have to worry about threats from above, SOCOM commander says”, Business Insider, November 10, 2022.
U.S. Troops in Ukraine? There are, it seems, small teams of U.S. military personnel in Ukraine working to provide security assistance to the Ukrainian military. “US Troops in Ukraine is an Open Secret”, SOFREP, November 6, 2022.
Teaching IW. Elena Pokalova, a professor at the National Defense University, argues that expertise in Irregular Warfare is grounded in six basic competencies . . . and that they should be part of the curriculum of professional military education institutions. “Teaching Irregular Warfare in the Era of Strategic Competition”, Modern War Institute, November 7, 2022.
The Leader Who Stepped in Front of the Parade. A retired Special Forces officer who currently serves as a strategist at United States Special Operations Command has penned an opinion piece on how the nature of instability has changed. Governments now lack the ‘control’ they used to be able to exert over populations. With the advent of new technologies in an ‘information age’, the population has more control over events. Grievances that are not addressed lead to the formation of movements – many in search of a leader. Thus, the emergence of Donald Trump. This article isn’t really about Trump; it is about the nature of instability and the new era we find our nation in. Read “The Problematic Symptom of Donald J. Trump”, by Robert Jones, Small Wars Journal, November 7, 2022.
Sahel and U.S. Policy. A long essay argues that the United States lacks a coherent policy for one of the most troubled regions of Africa. Starvation, drought, terrorists, jihadist groups, military coups, and rebellions are a constant fact of life in the Sahel. The author believes that the U.S. puts too much emphasis on ‘security solutions’ and less on development and diplomacy approaches. He thinks that the counterterrorist programs and covert deployments should be scaled back. Humanitarian and development aid should be increased. The author thinks the training and support of special forces units in the militaries of West African countries have a negative impact – creating intra-military rivalries and elevating coup risks. “An Alternative Approach to U.S. Sahel Policy”, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, November 27, 2022.
Report – GPC. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a report entitled Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense – Issues for Congress, November 8, 2022, PDF, 86 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R43838
Arctic Force Posture. The successful defense of United States interests in the Arctic requires upgraded air defense capabilities and the military ability to rapidly deploy forces to that remote region. The U.S. should upgrade its military infrastructure in the Arctic. The establishment of ports and airfields will provide the capability of maintaining a persistent presence. “Combating the Gray Zone: Enhancing America’s Arctic Force Posture”, by Matthew Revels, Georgetown Security Studies Review, November 11, 2022.
US Brigades to Europe. Units from Fort Carson, Fort Campbell, and Hunter Army Airfield will be heading to take part in the Atlantic Resolve deterrence mission. “Army announces next three brigades deploying to Europe”, Army Times, November 10, 2022.
France Ends COIN Mission in Sahel. Operation Barkhane in West Africa has ended. However, the French will continue to offer equipment, training, intelligence, and operational partnership with countries in the region. At one time France was the lead for Task Force Takuba – a special operations task force comprised of several European SOF units. “France Ends Counterinsurgency Mission in the Sahel”, National Interest, November 10, 2022.
November 14, 2022
A Salute to SOF Gala – Washington, D.C.
The Honor Foundation (THF)
November 17, 2022
JSOU Webinar – Degrade and Destroy (War against ISIS)
Joint Special Operations University
November 17-18, 2022
33rd Annual NDIA SO/LIC Symposium
December 7-8, 2022
SOF & Worldwide Operations
Defense Strategies Institute (DSI)
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, Pubs, and Reports
Book – The Secret History of the Five Eyes: The Untold Story of the International Spy Network. Dougla Wise reviews this book about the about a little-know institution that was established in the aftermath of World War II and in the early days of the Cold War. The ‘network’ has had its successes and failures. The author of the book, Richard Kerbaj, provides a strategic perspective on the shadowy world of clandestine operations and intelligence. “Reviewing The Secret History of the Five Eyes”, The Cipher Brief, November 7, 2022.
Book – Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior. Enrique “Ric” Prado as been a life-log veteran of America’s clandestine fight to suppress oppression. The book author is interviewed about his early life, time in the Air Force’s pararescue unit, and then subsequent career with the Central Intelligence Agency. “Shadow Warrior: CIA Paramilitary Officer and Bestselling Author Ric Prado Lifts the Curtain on America’s Secret Wars”, Recoilweb.com, November 11, 2022.
Sentinel. The November 2022 issue of the Sentinel by Chapter 78 of the Special Forces Association is now online. Articles cover the Special Forces Association convention recently held in Colorado, sacrifices of Green Beret families, a SF dentist in Thailand on a dental civic action project, a Green Beret with the Sandinistas, and a tribute to SGM (Ret.) Bruce Long. (PDF, 32 pages).
GAO Report – Weapon System Sustainment. Aircraft mission capable goals were generally not me and sustainment costs varied by aircraft. GAO-23-106217, November 2022, PDF, 352.
Podcasts and Videos
Podcast – American Legionaire. Veteran’s Day sees the ‘G Base’ host an American veteran, Jack Herra, who volunteered to serve in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion and shares his story and unique perspective with listeners. Pinelander Podcast, November 11, 2022, one hour.
Podcast – Mozart’s Mission in Ukraine. A group of former special operations soldiers from eleven different countries are providing assistance, advice, equipment, and training to the Ukrainian military. Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), November 4, 2022, one hour.
Video – The Ethics of Special Operations. Dr. Roger Herbert discusses the unique ethical challenges that special operators face. In a lecture to Midshipmen, Herbert presents some of the takeaways from his forthcoming book – The Ethics of Special Operations: Raids, Reconnaissance, Recovery, and Rebels. the event is hosted by the Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership. CAPT (Ret.) Herbert is a former commander of SEAL Delivery Team 2, Naval Special Warfare Unit 3, and the Naval Special Warfare Center. The Stockdale Center, YouTube, November 9, 2022, 40 minutes.
Video – What’s in a Norwegian arctic field ration? A French soldier and Norwegian arctic trooper swap meals in the field. Military Times, November 7, 2022, YouTube, 3 minutes.