Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo: MH-53J of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. Photo by Senior Airman Andy M. Kin.
Do you receive our daily newsletter? If not, you can sign up here and enjoy it five (almost) days a week with your morning coffee (or afternoon tea depending on where in the world you are).
SOF’s Future Role. Guy McCardle provides an informative look at the mission and doctrinal role of today’s special operations forces. He presents a brief description of the various official documents that outline the mission and doctrine; and provides links to the publications as well. “The Changing Role of Special Operations Forces”, SOFREP, November 24, 2022.
Sky Wardens with a Tail Wheel. AFSOC will be training up 200 pilots on a new aircraft, part of the Armed Overwatch program, that utilizes a tailwheel. It had been many years since one has been in the inventory. The (Forbes, Nov 25, 2022).
Armed Overwatch -Training the Pilots. As many as 75 AT-802U Sky Warden’s will be purchased in the next several years to provide CAS, precision strike, and armed ISR for COIN and CT missions. “Here’s the Air Force’s plan to train armed overwatch pilots”, Air Force Times, November 21, 2022.
AFSOC Conference. Leaders from several Air Force commands were hosted by the Air Force Special Operations Command for a meeting to better understand the Air Force’s concept of Mission Command and how it applies to AFSOC. “AFSOC Hosts Mission Command Summit”, AFSOC, November 17, 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.
CA in Tanzania. SOCAFRICA recently conducted a Civil Affairs Joint Combined Exchange Training exercise with the Tanzania Marine Special Forces in November 2022. “U.S. Africa Command Special Operations train alongside Tanzanian partners”, United States Africa Command, November 21, 2022. The month-long training gave both the U.S. and Tanzania service members the opportunity to develop and maintain critical military-to-military connections and improve joint and allied readiness and interoperability.
IWU, SOAA, and College Degrees. Indiana Wesleyan University has partnered with the Special Operations Association of America (SOAA) to provide educational and career advancement opportunities for members of the Special Operations community. IWU’s programs are specifically designed to count SOF experience and training toward a degree. (IWU, Nov 15, 2022)
SOCMID FTX. Air Force Pararescuemen executed the Fall 2022 Special Operations Center for Medical Integration and Development field training exercise in Alabama in November 2022. The training provides various scenarios to enhance medical readiness in tactical operations. “Fall 2022 SOCMID FTX”, 24th SOW, November 21, 2022.
Viasat Wins Contract. USSOCOM has awarded Viasat a $325 million contract to provide comms and networking services over the next five years. (Space News, Nov 22, 2022)
2nd POG CoC. The 2nd Psychological Operations Group conducted a change of command ceremony in early November 2022. “2nd Psychological Operations Group welcomes new commander”, DVIDS, November 5, 2022.
JTAC Graduates From Brazil Jungle School. A New York Air National Guardsman recently completed a six-week course in Brazil. He went through the course with two members of the 7th Special Forces Group. “NY Air Guardsman graduates from Brazil’s jungle training school”, DVIDS, November 22, 2022.
Exercise Balkan Shield 2022. Special Operations Forces from across the Balkans took part in an exercise for SOF units during the first two weeks of November. This combined military exercise was hosted by Greece. Participant nations included Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, and the Republic of North Macedonia. “Special Operations Forces Exercise Balkan Shield 22 Concludes in Greece”, NSHQ Public Affairs Office, November 15, 2022.
Philippines FSRR. On the 72nd founding anniversary, the First Scout Ranger Regiment was recognized for its contributions to the security of the nation. (Philippine News Agency, Nov 28, 2022).
Georgia SOF Base. A new, NATO-standard base for the country’s special operations forces has been established. (Agenda.ge, Nov 22, 2022).
Operation Greif and ‘Scarface’. WWII’s most effective Nazi commando was the leader of an operation to capture one or more bridges crossing the River Meuse during the Battle of the Bulge. (History of Yesterday, Nov 28, 2022).
Camp Hiep Hoa Overrun. On November 24, 1963, a CIDG camp was overrun in South Vietnam. About 500 Viet Cong took the Special Forces camp resulting in 4 Americans missing. One of the them, Isaac Camacho, escaped from a Viet Cong POW camp.
Alamo Scouts. On November 28, 1943 the U.S. 6th Army Alamo Scouts were activated in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. This reconnaissance unit took part in the liberation of American prisons of war in the Philippines.
First Combat HALO Jump. On the night of November 28, 1970, Green Berets assigned to MACV SOG RT Florida stepped out of a C-130 Blackbird over the skies of Laos at 17,000. (SOFREP, 2014)
MH-53 Pave Low. A helicopter that AFSOC used to provide support to Special Forces, SEALs, Recon Marines, PJs, and others served for many years until 2008. The Pave Low could operate at night and during inclement weather with its advanced sensor, radar, and navigation systems. These features made it an ideal transport for clandestine, low-level missions for SOF units. “MH-53 Pave Low: A Military Helicopter Designed to Save Lives”, 1945, November 26, 2022.
Video – Codename Snake Eyes. A documentary featuring the British Navy, SBS, and 42 Commando was filmed in 1960. An interesting look at a UK commando exercise. YouTube, 27 minutes.
A Ukrainian Winter and More Missiles. People in cities across Ukraine are suffering from lack of heat, water, and electricity. Russian missiles have taken their toll on the civilian infrastructure causing extreme hardship for many Ukrainians. It Russia’s intent is to demoralize the Ukrainian people . . . then they have failed. “Hardship and hope: Winter, missiles storms show Kyiv’s mettle”, AP News, November 27, 2022.
Turkey Attacks. On November 13, 2022 a terrorist attack took place in Istanbul. Since then, Turkey has been attacking Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq. It is also threatening to launch a ground operation in Syria – most likely to widen the buffer zone along the Syrian border.
CIA Takes Care of Their Afghan Allies. More and more news reports are coming out on how the Central Intelligence Agency went above and beyond to evacuate their Afghan proxy forces from Afghanistan in August 2021. The botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and the chaotic non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) in August 2021 saw failures by most of the organizations of the U.S. government (State, DoD, IC, etc.). However, it is becoming more apparent that the CIA correctly anticipated the collapse of the Afghan military and the fall of the Afghan government. The intel agency facilitated the movement of their National Directorate of Security (NDS) Zero units (01, 02, 03, and 04) through Taliban-held territory to the Kabul international airport. Those forces then assisted in the security of the airport perimeter and some of the entry gates, keeping the swarming masses of Afghans attempting to board U.S. military evacuation planes at bay. The Zero unit personnel and their families were airlifted out on the last flights leaving Kabul towards the end of the NEO. Read more in “CIA, Spec Ops roles in Kabul’s collapse belie official versions”, SpyTalk, November 21, 2022.
China in the Gray Zone. Dr. James Holmes argues that the United States needs to develop strategic and operational habits fit for the murky landscape found in the gray zone. “How Do We Beat China in the Gray Zone?”, 1945, November 26, 2022.
Video – Near Peer: Russia. This video is a timely discussion of Russia and its military. A discussion of Russian history, current affairs, and military doctrine. Army University Press, DVIDS, November 25, 2022, one hour. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/865497/near-peer-russia
US Military and Online Propaganda. A major covert pro-US propaganda operation was taken down by Meta – a big-tech company. The operation was focused on a number of countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Somalia, and others. The campaigns ran across multiple platforms (Twitter, YouTube, etc.) using fake personas and artificially generated images. “Meta claims US military link to online propaganda campaign”, BBC News, November 24, 2022.
Tulsi Gabbard Lectures PSYOP Students at Bragg. A out-spoken former Democratic congresswoman and conservative-media pundit gave a guest lecture to students at the Army’s psychological warfare school on several topics – including disinformation. She has been criticized by members of both major political parties for peddling pro-Russian talking points. “After Pushing Conspiracies, Tulsi Gabbard Lectures Special Ops Students on Avoiding Disinformation”, Military.com, November 22, 2022.
December 7-8, 2022
SOF & Worldwide Operations
Defense Strategies Institute (DSI)
Books, Pubs, and Podcasts
Book – Delete the Adjective. The first female Ranger School graduate has a book out about her career and her experience with her attendance at the U.S. Army Ranger school. The book’s title refers to the fact that she focuses on her ability to hold her own weight, do land navigation, and meet the high standards of Ranger School; not that she was the first female graduate. “Lisa Jaster’s Trailblazing Journey Through War and Ranger School”, by Mac Caltrider, Coffee or Die Magazine, November 23, 2022.
Pub – Counterterrorism Yearbook 2022. A new publication published in November 2022 provides information about trends in terrorism, precrime policing and extremism, radicalization of teenagers, strategic competition and CT, bioterrorism, and resilience. This CT yearbook was published by the Counter-Terrorism Policy Centre of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). The report is 139-page PDF. https://www.aspi.org.au/report/counterterrorism-yearbook-2022
Podcast – Urban Warfare Project. John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare at the Modern War Institute at West Point, discusses the future of warfare and the impact an increasingly urban environment has on military training. Pinelander Podcast, November 25, 2022, one hour.