Special Operations News Update – Friday, December 30, 2022

Exercise Raven Spring 2021

Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.

Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Jeffrey Profitt Jr., a rifleman, and Lance Cpl. Ethan Sheffey, a mortarman, both with 3rd Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment (3/2), 2d Marine Division, patrol through technical terrain during Exercise Raven in Nashville, Tenn., May 29, 2021. Exercise Raven is an integrated training exercise with Marines from 3/2 and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command simulating real-life tactical scenarios to enhance overall unit interoperability, effectiveness and lethality against an adversarial force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick King)

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SOF News

AC-130J Crews Recognized. Two U.S. gunship crews were able to provide situational awareness and armed overwatch to U.S. and other international forces taking part in the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) of August 2021. The AC-130J crews, “Shadow 77” and “Shadow 78”, were based at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates when they were called upon for the NEO. Over 2,000 diplomats from the U.S. Embassy were evacuated. In addition, contractors and other personnel from various U.S. and international organizations were evacuated as well as American citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs with a Green Card), Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, and many others. More than 79,000 people left the country on approximately 330 U.S. military flights from August 11-31, 2021. “AC-130J crews honored for being ‘eyes in the sky’ over Kabul in 2021”, Air Force Times, December 22, 2022.

FARP Support to SOF MQ-9. The 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron set up a Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia to refuel and relaunch a combat MQ-9 Reaper flown by the 65th Special Operations Squadron. “MQ-9 FARP in a Combat Area”, U.S. Central Command, December 28, 2022.

Marine Receives PSYOP Award. The U.S. Army’s Psychological Operations Proponents Office announced the recipients of the Major General Robert A. McClure Medallion Awards on December 19, 2022. The awards are presented for meritorious contributions in support of the U.S. Army Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations Regiments. “MICIOC Marine Receives 2022 Major General Robert A. McClure Medallion Award”, DVIDS, December 28, 2022.

Benghazi SEALs Recognized by Congress. On September 11, 2012, four members of a security detail were killed while defending the United State’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This past year they were recognized by Congress for their sacrifice. “Brian Mast Helps Get Bill Honoring Americans Killed in Benghazi Signed Into Law”, Florida Daily, December 28, 2022.

SOF and Cybersecurity. One cybersecurity expert says that the cyber war is 24 x 7 and the fight is happening on the battlefield, in our workplaces, and in our homes. “Bringing Special Operations Values to Cybersecurity”, Forbes, December 29, 2022.

Navy SEAL Training. Cole Black provides a detailed look at the training that SEAL officer candidates endure to reach ‘the teams’. “Navy SEAL Training Pipeline Pathways”, SOFREP, December 29, 2022.

ARSOF Force Structure Changes? The Army is looking at new ways to integrate technical expertise at the tactical level in some special operations units. SFODA’s may soon go from 12 to 16 men on an operational detachment. “Army special operations rethinking force structure, tech”, Army Times, December 28, 2022.

Medical Center Named for CST KIA. Army Captain Jennifer Moreno died in Afghanistan in 2013 while coming to the aid of fellow soldiers injured in an explosives attack. She was a member of a Cultural Support Team (CST) assigned to a unit of the 75th Ranger Regiment at the time of her death. Moreno was a nurse, so the naming of the VA medical center in her honor is especially fitting. “VA Medical Center in La Jolla is renamed in honor of Army nurse killed in Afghanistan”, La Jolla Light, December 21, 2022.

Norway’s Female SOF. The Jegertroppen, or Hunter Troop, is an first all-female special forces unit. It is part of the Special Operations Commando (FSK) and falls under the Norwegian Special Operations Forces (NORSOF). “Jegertroppen: Norway’s All Female Special Operation Forces”, Grey Dynamics, December 29, 2022.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Ukraine Counteroffensive. The retaking of territory in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions has changed the course of the war. Read more in “Inside the Ukrainian counteroffensive that shocked Putin and reshaped the war”, The Washington Post, December 29, 2022. (subscription)

Ukraine’s Jaeger Brigades. David Axe writes about three ‘hunter’ brigades that specialize as infantry. “The Ukrainian Army’s Jaeger Brigades Are Its Middleweight Forest Troops”, Forbes, December 26, 2022.

Ukraine’s Quest for High Tech Weapons. Thus far the provision of advanced weapons to Ukraine by other nations has helped to change the course of the war. Javelins, 155-mm howitzers, and HIMARS have been essential to the recent Ukrainian counteroffensives and the blunting of Russia attacks. But Ukraine wants more – weapons like longer-range missiles, advanced aircraft, and modern battle tanks. “First Javelins. Then HIMARS. Now Patriot. What’s next?”, Politico, December 29, 2022.

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National Security

Biometrics For Sale on eBay. German security researchers studying biometric capture devices popular with the U.S. military got more than they expected for $68 on eBay. The metadata on the Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit (SEEK II) was last used in the summer of 2012 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It contained a couple of thousand files on insurgents and ordinary Afghans. “For Sale on eBay: A Military Database of Fingerprints and Iris Scans”, The New York Times, December 27, 2022.

CENTCOM’s War Against ISIS. A total of 313 operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were conducted in 2022. These operations resulted in the death or detention of more than one thousand ISIS operatives. “CENTCOM killed more than 650 ISIS operatives in 2022, but their ideology lives on”, Washington Examiner, December 29, 2022.

Germany and the VJTF. NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) was created in 2014 following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and a series of crisis in the Middle East. Several NATO countries have taken turns at leading the force. In January 2023 Germany will be in charge of the over 11,000 troops. Germany’s Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 will form the core of the force in 2023. Germany will also lead the VJTF’s designated Special Forces command. “Germany takes the lead for NATO’s high readiness force”, NATO, December 28, 2022.

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Video – Ahmad Massoud Interview. The head of the National Resistance Front (NRF) is hosted on this podcast (video) by Scott Mann. Also in the discussion ‘Legend’ and Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL). Waltz did two tours with Army Special Forces in Afghanistan. Rooftop Leadership, YouTube, December 29, 2022, 90 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u0oXQCiWD0

How Congress Failed Our Afghan Allies. The Senate has not been able to create a path to residency for Afghan who worked alongside the U.S. during the 20-year U.S. involvement in the Afghan conflict. “Afghan refugees in US face uncertainty as legislation stalls”, Associated Press, December 30, 2022.

Immigration Paths and Afghan Evacuees. Many thousands of Afghans have resettled in the U.S. since August 2021. They have found their way here through different immigration methods. “Tens of Thousands of Afghans Work Their Way Through US Immigration System”, Voice of America, December 25, 2022.


Somali Clans in the Fight. Somalia’s al-Shabab problem has been enduring through three U.S. presidential administrations. The group continues to be a terrorist threat within Somalia and in regional countries as well. One strategy the Somali government is pursuing is a government-led alliance with clans. President Biden has reversed a previous administration to withdraw military personnel in December 2020. Once again, the U.S. has a small special operations footprint in Somalia. With the renewed U.S. commitment and the prospect of clans assisting the Somalia government there may be hope that the terrorist / insurgent group can be degraded, if not defeated. Christopher P. Costa provides his perspective on the current security situation in Somalia. “Somali clans battling al Qaeda-linked terrorists represent the future of the fight”, The Hill, December 28, 2022.

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Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

Podcast – Advising in El Salvador. A Special Forces officer discusses his time advising an El Salvadorian army unit during the conflict against a communist insurgency. Although not there to participate in combat operations he soon found himself under enemy fire. The Spear, Modern Warfare Institute at West Point, December 20, 2022, 35 minutes.

Video – From MARSOC to the Mozart Group. Andrew Milburn is hosted by The Team House and discusses his groups activities in Ukraine. Candid conversation assisted with some spirited beverages. Milburn spent decades in special operations and is the author of When the Tempest Gathers. YouTube, November 2022, 2 hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkhCZmo_z8U


SOFCAST. United States Special Operations Command

The Pinelander. Blacksmith Publishing

The Indigenous Approach. 1st Special Forces Command

Irregular Warfare Podcast. Modern War Institute at West Point

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SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.