Special Operations News Update – Jan 30, 2023

Green Beret Ice Diving 10th SFG

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

Photo / Image: A Green Beret diver prepares to dive into a frozen reservoir during ice driving training on Fort Carson, Colorado, February 18, 2021. The training is part of a wide range of training conducted by the Green Berets on Fort Carson to help maintain their proficiency in Arctic warfare. (U.S. Army photo by SSG Eliverto V Larios)

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SOF News

Jon Skinner – Honor Foundation. THF has a new Chairman of the Board of Directors beginning in 2023. The non-profit organization has developed and implemented a transition program for elite members of the Special Operations Forces enterprise – helping navigate the complex career transformation from military to civilian life. “The Honor Foundation Announces New Chairman of the Board of Directors”, PRWEB.com, January 24, 2023.

Death of a Ranger. The author of Back in the Fight and an Army Ranger with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan has died. “RIP Joseph Kapacziewski: US soldier and ‘absolute legend’ dies age 40”, The Focus, January 23, 2023.

SOAA Annual Report. The Special Operations Association of America has published its 2022 Annual Report. January 2023, PDF, 10 pages.

Big Dollars for Navy’s Elite. Fat paydays are heading the way of senior enlisted SEALs and special warfare boat operators to keep them in the service. E-7s or above with more than 20 years of active duty service will qualify for over $80,000. “Navy offering big bucks to retain senior enlisted special operators”, Navy Times, January 23, 2023.

‘MARSOC 3’ Trial. The defense team for the two Marine Raiders has raised questions on the cause of death of the retired Green Beret who died after an altercation with three MARSOC members in Iraq in 2019. “In homicide trial, Marine Raiders’ defense seeks other causes of death”, Marine Corps Times, January 26, 2023. Prosecutors say that the fight outside the bar is the cause of death. “Prosecution experts in ‘MARSOC 3’ trial say fistfight killed Army vet”, Marine Corps Times, January 28, 2023.

New Chairman of House Intel and SOF Committee. Representative Jack Bergman, a Republican from Michigan, will be leading the House Armed Services Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee in his role as chairman. He is a retired Marine Corps Lt. General and has served on the committee since 2019. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over DoD policy, programs, and accounts related to military intelligence, national intelligence, CWD, CP, CT, SOF, and other sensitive military operations.

Famous SEALs. This article profiles a few of the high-profile SEALs that have been in the media over the past few decades. The list includes Chris Kyle, Jesse Ventura, Richard Marcinko, William McRaven, Rudy Boesch, Marcus Luttrell, and others. “Famous Navy SEALs: Who Are They and Where Did They Serve?”, War History Online, January 26, 2023.

Obstacles to Women in SOF. According to this news report U.S. special operations forces still hasn’t overcome barriers that hinder women in elite units even though it has been years since the DoD has ordered complete gender integration. Some of the data and narrative from the article comes from a Government Accountability Officer report entitled Women in Special Operations (Dec, 2022, PDF, 169 pages). “Despite full integration order, women in special ops face many barriers”, The Washington Post, January 27, 2023. (subscription)

Ronald Shurer – MoH Recipient. A Green Beret medic showed immense valor and bravery during a raid in northeastern Afghanistan while deployed with SOTF-33. His actions that day earned him the Medal of Honor and the respect of his comrades. “Ronald J. Shurer: The US Army Medic Who Braved Enemy Fire to Resuce His Fellow Green Berets”, War History Online, January 29, 2023.

Little Known Patriot Passes Away. A retired Special Forces officer who went on to a career in the CIA has died at age 85. He was a decorated soldier who fought in wars but advised members of the government at the highest levels. He lived an amazing life defending the nation he loved. “American lost a little-known patriot named Bob Andrews”, Fox News, January 28, 2023.

EOD NCO Wins SOCOM Award. The senior enlisted leader for the EOD company that supports the 75th Ranger Regiment was recognized for his service and heroic actions in combat. He was awarded the U.S. Special Operatons Command Excalibur Award for NCO Leadership. “Explosive Ordnance Disposal first sergeant earns U.S. Special Operations Command award”, Army.mil, January 26, 2023.

Col. Taylor (USAF) Promoted. Air Force Col. Terence G. Taylor has been nominated for appointment to the grade of brigadier general. He is currently serving as the commander, 27th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command.

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International SOF

Video – French Special Forces in Burkina. The African nation of Burkina Faso is asking France to pull out its ‘Sabre’ troops over the next month. “Burkina Faso confirms demand that French troops leave”, January 23, 2023, France 24.

China’s SOF. There are a number of special operations units in the Chinese armed forces. Read more in “Chinese Special Forces: Dragons of the East”, Grey Dynamics, January 29, 2023.

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SOF History

MACV-SOG. On January 24, 1964, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group was established. It was a highly classified special operations unit that conducted reconnaissance missions, rescued downed pilots, and captured enemy soldiers. Most members of MACV-SOG came from U.S. Army Special Forces; however, some were from the Navy SEALs, Air Force, Marine Corps, and CIA as well.

Ranger Bat. The 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry was established on January 31, 1974. The battalion was to be an elite, light, and very proficient infantry unit.

Nick Rowe – SF Hero. Rowe was a Special Forces officer captured and imprisoned by the Viet Cong for five years. He managed to escape his guards and was recovered by a helicopter. He would later establish the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) course at Fort Bragg, NC. Unfortunately, while stationed in the Philippines he was assassinated by the Communist New Peoples Army in 1989. Read more in “Col. Nick Rowe: Long-Ago Conversations with a Special Forces Legend”, SOF Mag, December 2, 2022.

‘By, With, and Through’ – Campaign Against ISIS. Defeating ISIS in its strongholds in the Euphrates valley in Iraq required a broad global coalition to assist the Iraqi forces. The concept known as ‘by, with, and through’ was employed; providing Iraqi forces with ‘enablers’ and ‘accelerants’. But this also meant some U.S. forces were ‘on the ground’ very close to the front lines. “American Ground Force Contributions to the Campaign Against ISIS”, Modern War Institute at West Point, January 24, 2023.

OSS Women. About 35% of those serving in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II were women, and yet their stories have only begun to be told. “The Women of the OSS: On the Pioneering American Spies of WWII”, CrimeReads, April 9, 2021.

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National Security

CT Opn in Somalia. The U.S. military conducted a successful counterterrorism operation in Somalia. A high-level member of the Islamic State was killed by U.S. special operations forces in the Cal Miskaad mountains in a remote part of northern Somalia on Wednesday night (Jan 25, 2023). Ten other terrorists were also killed in the operation. The principal target, Bilal al-Sudani, was an important financier for ISIS. “Somalia Welcomes Killing of IS Leader”, Voice of America, January 27, 2023. Read about how the SOF units rehearsed for the strike on the ISIS mountain cave complex. (Business Insider, Jan 27, 2023).

Russia and the Arctic. There is increasing concern about Russia’s threat to the Arctic region. The strategic submarine fleet in Russia’s Northern Fleet gives Moscow a credible second-strike capability. Strategic bombers can launch their cruise missiles from the region and hit targets in the United States. However, the war in Ukraine has had a short-term effect on Russia’s capabilities according to a report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) (Jan 2023). The entrance of Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would go a long way to mitigating that threat. Read a synopsis of the report in “Despite Losses in Ukraine, Russia Remains a Threat in the Arctic”, Air and Space Forces, January 27, 2023.

ISIS Members Captured. Over a week ago U.S. forces conducted a raid in Syria that captured two facilitators of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in a helicopter and ground assault raid. The event took place after three suicide drones struck a U.S. base in Syria just days prior to the raid. Last year the United States conducted 313 operations in Iraq and Syria with nearly 700 ISIS fighters killed and 374 detained. “US forces capture two ISIS members in Syria”, The Hill, January 23, 2023.

Drones in the Iranian Skies. Recent news reports indicate that bomb-carrying quadcopter drones have attacked at least one if not more military targets in Isfahan, Iran on Saturday, January 28, 2023. Some national security observers speculate that Israel or Iranian Kurds are behind the attacks. Apparently one of the targets was a munitions facility possibly tied to Iran’s missile program. The drones appeared to be commercially available mini-drones that operate from short ranges by remote control. “Iran says drone attack targets defense facility in Isfahan”, AP News, January 29, 2023.

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Afghan Commandos – Fighting in Ukraine . . . For Russia. A Green Beret comments on the unfortunate circumstances of America’s allies now forced to fight on Russia’s behalf in the Ukraine conflict. “The Afghans I Trained Are Fighting for Putin in Ukraine”, The New York Times, January 24, 2023.

Charges Dropped Against Afghan Commando. Abdul Wasi Safi was an Afghan soldier of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC). His brother, now living in Texas, is a former interpreter for U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. After the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, Abdul fled to Iran, got a humanitarian visa to Brazil, made the perilous journey through South and Central America, and crossed the U.S. border to join his brother in Texas. Unfortunately, he was arrested by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and detained for months. He was threatened with deportation or a prison sentence. After months of publicity and a bipartisan congressional effort to request a pardon from the president, Abdul Wasi Safi could be set free. “Feds drop charges against Afghan soldier trying to claim asylum in Texas”, Texas Tribune, January 24, 2023.

1208 Foundation. An organization of current and retired Special Forces and EOD soldiers have joined together to help with the relocation and resettlement of Afghan members of the National Mine Reduction Group (NMRG). The 1208 Foundation is assisting these Afghan allies to safety and a new life free from the Taliban. The NMRG worked for and assisted U.S. Army Special Forces units in Afghanistan. “Green Berets lead the 1208 Foundation in its mission to save lives”, by Joel Searls, We Are the Mighty, January 27, 2023.

Afghan Report. Catch up on the news about Afghanistan, relocation efforts for at-risk Afghans, immigration, resettlement, Taliban, humanitarian crisis, and more. Afghan Report, Jan 17, 2023.

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June 21-22, 2023
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Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

Podcast – The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab. Two guests on this podcast describe the complex security landscape of Somalia, analyze the methods the insurgent / terrorist organization uses to maintain its foothold in East Africa, and discuss the international and indigenous efforts to eradicate al-Shabaab. Mary Harper is the Africa editor of BBC World Service News and specializes on Somalia. Sam Wilkins is an Army Special Forces officer with deployments to Somalia and other conflict regions. Irregular Warfare Podcast, Modern War Institute at West Point, January 27, 2023, one hour.

Podcast – Guerrilla Communications. A discussion about current topics to include the situation in Brazil, Ukraine, CCP’s infiltration of the Western Hemisphere, and a new book entitled The Guerrilla’s Guide to the Baofeng Radio. The Pinelander Podcast, January 20, 2023, one hour.

Podcast – The Theory and Practice of Resistance. Host John Amble speaks with Sandor Fabian, a former officer in the Hugarian military’s special operations forces, on the concept of resistance as an approach to national defense. Fabian argues that resistance is the most viable means of defense for small states – like the Baltic states facing aggression from Russia. Modern War Institute at West Point, January 25, 2023, one hour.


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.