Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo / Image: East Coast-based U.S. Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) transport a simulated patient as part of a medical training scenario during Exercise Trident 23-2 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 13, 2022. Trident is a joint-maritime certification and validation mission readiness exercise directed to meet joint staff high-interest training issues for special operations and conventional force integration, interoperability and interdependence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katie Cox, November 13, 2022)
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SEALs – Photo Essay. The Department of Defense recently published some interesting photos of Naval Special Warfare operators training in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. “Training Showcases SEALs’ Skills”, DoD News, March 30, 2023.
NSW and Women’s History Month. Over the years women have contributed to the NSW mission in a variety of ways. Learn more in “Naval Special Warfare commemorates Women’s History Month, honors women’s contributions to maritime special operations”, DVIDS, March 29, 2023.
Officer Assignment. Brig. Gen. Steven M. Marks, director of materiel, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C., to director, J8, Force Structure, Requirements, Resources and Strategic Assessments, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
Afghan Interpreter Now in Fayetteville. An Afghan interpreter who worked with Special Forces in Afghanistan has made it to Fayetteville. He fled his country in 2016 after being threatened by the Taliban. He spent many years in Greece as a refugee before coming to the United States at the beginning of the year. “Afghan interpreter for Special Forces, Marines faces new challenges in Fayetteville”, The Fayetteville Observer, March 29, 2023.
Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare Exercise. The West Virginia National Guard’s Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare program hosted European Allies and partners from the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland at Camp Dawson for a mid-planning conference for the upcoming exercise. The exercise is scheduled for May 2023 and will have participants from U.S. SOF units and foreign SOF units as well. Read more in “European partners, allies converge in West Virginia for Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare Exercise planning”, DVIDS, March 28, 2023.
Lithuanian AF Cdr Visits AFSOC. The commander of the Lithuanian Air Force spent time with the 193 SOW in March. The Pennsylvania National Guard and Lithuania are part of the DoD National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program – a 30-year relationship. “Lithuanian Air Force Commander Visits 193rd Special Ops Wing”, National Guard, March 27, 2023.
AFSOC Hosts President of Paraguay. In late March Hurlburt Field hosted President Mario Abdo Benitez. “Paraguayan President visits Air Force SOF hub”, AFSOC, March 31, 2023.
Best Ranger Competition. In April Ranger-qualified teams will compete in a series of grueling challenges to win the coveted title of Best Ranger. The two-man teams come from a variety of Army units. Teams can enter even if from other services; but they have to be Ranger-qualified. (Business Insider, Mar 31, 2023).
New Leadership at GB Foundation. Charles “Charlie” Iacono is the new president and chief executive officer for the Green Beret Foundation. The Green Beret Foundation provides all generations of U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers and their families with emergency, immediate, and ongoing support. “Green Beret Foundation Announces New President & CEO”, CISION PR Newswire, March 27, 2023.
SOF’s X-Plane. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has established a program to develop a runway-independent X-plane for Special Operations Command.
- “DARPA Developing X-Plane for Special Operations”, National Defense Magazine, March 27, 2023.
- “DARPA Wants a Spec Ops Plane With Insane Characteristics”, Real Clear Defense, March 31, 2023.
Parachuting Deaths. Over the past decade there have been several parachuting accidents. However, despite the danger, parachuting remains a valuable method to put forces on the ground for important missions. “Another SEAL parachuting death highlights the inherent danger of US special operators’ go-to infiltration method”, Business Insider, March 29, 2023.
French SF on Display. Elite French operators and a Belgian SF contingent presented their skills during a training and exhibition event at the Camp de Souge SF base in Bordeaux, France. The Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS 2023) took place during 28-30 March. Read more in “French Special Forces at SOFINS 2023”, Joint-Forces.com, March 30, 2023. Watch a YouTube video about the event (in French) by DefenseWebTV (Mar 30, 2023).
Mexico’s Special Reaction Force. The Mexican Army’s special mission unit is the Fuerza Especial de Reaccion (FER) – one of four specialized elite groups. Javier Sutil Toledano reviews the history, mission, organization, equipment, training, and more. “La Fuerza Especial de Reaccion (FER): Mexico’s Special Reaction Force”, Grey Dynamics, March 29, 2023.
USASOAC. On 25 March 2011, the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne) was provisionally activated as a new HQs under USASOC to provide the Commanding General with an element that serves both as a command and staff entity to advocate aviation issues for USASOC. It was created out of the need to separate the combat role of Army Special Operations Aviation (ARSOA) from the resourcing responsibilities.
M1911 .45. On March 29, 1911, the United States Army adopted the M1911. This is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States military for over 75 years, from 1911 to 1986.
UK WWII Intelligence Organization. April 1938 – SIS (MI6) creates Section D.
OIF. The fight for Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom began in the beginning of April 2003 twenty years ago. An Army University Press film describes the battle for the capital city. “Objective: Baghdad”, August 14, 2020, YouTube, 50 minutes. https://sof.news/video/fight-for-baghdad/
A Grunt with an SF Team in Iraq. An infantryman’s squad is tasked with providing security for a Special Forces team in Iraq. It wasn’t a bad assignment . . . for the short time it lasted. Read “Never Leave Karbala”, Carry the Gun, March 2023.
McRaven on Ukraine and Other Topics. The former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is asked about Ukraine, the U.S. defense budget, and China. “Fast Five With Retired U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven”, Aviation Week, March 27, 2023.
Limiting IW Authority. Katherine Yon Ebright has a different take on the use of irregular warfare methods by U.S. special operations forces. She argues that the IW authorities should be limited – which would diminish the options and effectiveness of SOF organizations. “Congress Should Limit, Not Expand, Irregular Warfare Authority”, Just Security, March 30, 2023.
Maximizing IW. Four contributors to an article argue the United States lacks the concepts and associated doctrine for its IW capabilties to achieve their potential in strategic competition. The Pentagon has ignored the “human domain”. Our adversaries – China, Russia, and others – recognize the human domain as a critical area of competition. “Maximizing the potential of American irregular warfare in strategic competition”, The Hill, March 31, 2023.
IW in Strategic Competition. Read about key insights from the Irregular Warfare Initiative and Joint Staff J7 Office of Irregular Warfare Essay Contest. “Innovative Thinking on the Role of Irregular Warfare in Strategic Competition”, Irregular Warfare Intitiative, Marcy 27, 2023.
IW and Medial Care. An interesting article states that the Department of Defense should establish new policies and institute organizational changes to increase the US medical sphere of influence within the context of irregular warfare. “Strenghtening the Medical Sphere of Influence Through Guerilla Trauma Systems and Covert Medical Intelligence Networks”, by Mason H. Remondelli, Irregular Warfare Initiative, March 30, 2023.
April 5-6, 2023. San Diego, California
April 14-16, 2023. Fort Benning, Georgia
Best Ranger Competition
May 8-11, 2023. Tampa, Florida
May 16-18, 2023. Fort Bragg, NC and via Zoom
Geostrategic Symposium 2023
May 22-26, 2023. Indianapolis, Indiana
Special Forces Association Convention
May 31, 2023. Ijamsville, MD
6th Annual Golf Tournament
Three Rangers Foundation
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
GAO Report – DoD Active-Duty Recruitment and Retention Challenges, U.S Government Accountability Office, GAO-23-106551, March 28, 2023. According to the DoD, only a quarter of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 can meet military service requirement – such as education and physcial fitness. PDF, 2 pages. https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-23-106551.pdf
Armor. The Winter 2023 issue of the mounted maneuver journal for tankers is now out and available online. Some interesting articles in this issue on security force assistance, NATO allies, the future of land battlefield and armor, and more. PDF, 40 pages, DVIDS. https://www.dvidshub.net/publication/issues/66502
Sentinel. The April 2023 issue is now available online. This publication by Chapter 78 of the Special Forces Association has some great articles about past and current Special Forces. These include the award of the Medal of Honor to Col. Paris Davis, 18D training, an SF hangout called Charlie Mike’s Pub (Fayetteville), a book review, helping the Montagnards of Vietnam, a visit to Hanoi, and the upcoming Special Forces Association Convention.
Paper – Preliminary Lessons from Russia’s Unconventional Operations During the Russo-Ukrainian War. Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), March 2023, PDF, 39 pages. View or download here.
Podcasts, Videos, and Movies
Podcast – Chuck Ritter on The Pinelander. Podcaster and Green Beret Chuck Ritter visits the G Base to discuss past, current, and future issues Topics include Afghanistan, the Q course, leadership, and future of the Regiment. Ritter was formerly the co-host of the Pineland Underground and a former member of the 3rd Special Forces Group. March 24, 2023, one hour.
Podcast – TE Lawarence: Understanding Irregular Warfare’s Cultural and Human Terrain, March 21, 2023, 33 minutes. Talking Strategy Podcast. RUSI. Listen here.
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