Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo / Image: 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Berets conduct RAPIDS operations from a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter during Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center rotation 23-2 in Alaska, Mar. 29, 2023. RAPIDS is a tactic utilized for quickly inserting and removing personnel in and out of an area. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven E. Lopez)
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‘The Bolduc Brief’. Retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc has provided his perspective on toxic leadership in the U.S. military. “A Special Forces General Discusses Today’s Toxic Leadership Crisis”, SOFREP, Apr 18, 2023.
Rep. Gaetz Visits AFSOC Unit. Congressman Matt Gaetz, from Florida’s First District, visited the 919th Special Operations Wing to see firsthand the wide range of mission sets and capabilities Airmen provide to the nation. “Congressman Gaetz visits Duke Field”, 919th SOW, April 18, 2023.
Polymer Ammo – Not Just for SOF Anymore. The Special Operations Command uses a variety of ammunition that comes in with a polymer design – reducing the weight of the ammo and increases accuracy. Now that ‘special’ ammo will be making its way to the other military services. “Special Ops Ammo Spreads to Other Services”, National Defense Magazine, April 18, 2023.
Refueling the 352nd SOW. There is a close working relationship between the 352nd Special Operations Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing that are based at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, UK. One area of coordination is the setting up of FARPs. “Refueling the flight in the air, on land, on demand”, DVIDS, April 19, 2023.
SEAL Training and Change. How does completing arduous NSW training change a person? A study published in Physiology and Behavior explores the psychological and physiological changes associated with training to become a Navy SEAL. (PsyPost, Apr 21, 2023).
‘MARSOC 3’ Trials. The legal situation of one of the defendants in the case of the retired Green Beret and defense contractor who was killed in Iraq in 2019 is still unresolved. The saga of three current members of the Marine Corps’ elite special operations community has been in the limelight and has attracted the attention of some members of Congress. “3rd ‘MARSOC 3’ defendant’s case goes before top military appeals court”, Marine Corps Times, April 19, 2023.
Colonel Nick Rowe. On April 21, 1989, Col James N. “Nick” Rowe was assassinated in the Manila, Philippines. He was an American prisoner of war that escaped captivity during the Vietnam War after being held for five years. He helped establish the US Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training program at Fort Bragg. He was killed by a unit of the New People’s Army in the Philippines.
Operation Eagle Claw. On the night of April 24-25, 1980 a Navy carrier was at sea carrying eight Navy helicopters that had Marine crews. Something was going on but the vast majority of the ship’s crew were unaware that history was in the making. “Night of Nights”, by Colonel Keith Nightingale, U.S. Army (Retired), Small Wars Journal, April 23, 2023.
SF UW Tactics in Vietnam. An article delves into the history of Special Forces in Vietnam and how they utilized their unique skills to fight a guerrilla war. “Unconventional Green Beret tactics in Vietnam”, by Jessica Evans, We Are the Mighty, April 20, 2023.
ANZAC Day is observed on April 25, 2023. This day recognizes the Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations around the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day
Sudan Conflict and Evacuation
Sudan in Chaos. The current Sudan conflict began on more than a week ago on Saturday, April 15th when two opposing factions began fighting. The country is in chaos with hundreds dead, thousands wounded, shortages of food, water, electricity, and medical services. Read more in “Crisis in Sudan”, SOF News, April 21, 2023.
U.S. Embassy Evacuation. On early Sunday morning (Sudan time) U.S. special operations forces conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) for U.S. personnel who worked in the U.S. Embassy. Read about the evac opn in “U.S. Embassy Staff Evacuated from Khartoum”, SOF News, April 22, 2023.
War Powers Act. On Sunday President Biden sent a letter to Congress in accordance declaring his intention to use U.S. military forces to protect U.S. personnel and interests in Sudan. (White House, Apr 23, 2023).
Sudan Conflict Update. For news about the Sudan conflict and evacuation efforts of foreigners check out the Sudan Daily Updates – a running log of events that is provided each day and updated as major events or news occurs throughout the day. Not sure where Sudan is? Check out Maps of Sudan.
Sudan Task Force. The U.S. Department of State has established a Sudan Military Conflict Task Force to oversee the Department’s planning, management, and logistics related to events in Sudan. “US State Department Sets Up Special Task Force for Crisis in Sudan”, Voice of America, April 19, 2023.
Wagner Group – Picking Sides. The Russian paramilitary organization has offered weapons to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – including surface-to-air missiles. “United States Says Wagner Has Quietly Picked Sides in Sudan”, The New York Times, April 23, 2023. (subscription)
Finland’s Military Service. According to the Finnish Constitution every Finnish citizen is obligated to participate or assist in national defense. The Conscription Act states that every male Finnish citizen is liable for military service beginning at the age of 18. Finland’s long border with Russia and its small population (5.5 million) forces it to require widespread military training. The military training and experience provides the Finnish population with a mindset that enables the country to feel confident of its ability to defend itself against aggressor nations. Antti Ruokonen describes his training and experience in the Finnish Army and the effect it has had on his life – and on the people of his nation. “The Mentality That Finland’s Mandatory Military Service Brings to NATO”, Lawfare Blog, April 19, 2023.
Security Assistance – Not Always a Win. Rachel Tecott Metz, an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College, examines the track record of U.S. security assistance to allies. She finds that when actual war breaks out, many long-time recipients of SA fight poorly or otherwise have not heeded the lessons that U.S. trainers try to impart. She argues that the U.S. relies too much on teaching and persuasion and should instead emphasize conditionality more. “Why Security Assistance Often Fails”, Lawfare, April 23, 2023.
Security Cooperation in Lower Priority Theaters. The current U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) identifies China and Russia as the primary threats and North Korea and Iran as persistent threats. Other areas of the world have a lower priority for U.S. military resources. However, building partner capacity in these less resourced areas is still possible and necessary. “Campaigning Through (Security) Cooperation: A Roadmap for Implementing the National Defense Strategy in Lower Priority Theaters”, Irregular Warfare Initiative, April 18, 2023.
Sweden and NATO. Now that Finland has become a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization the eyes of Europe are on Sweden. The admission of Sweden to NATO, possibly as soon as mid-summer, will greatly enhance the NATO alliance. It has a highly professional military and has invested a lot in modernization over the past several years. It has also been participating in numerous NATO exercises as well; to include Exercise Defender 23, which takes place across much of Europe.
Russia Expands in Arctic. The Rogachevo Air Base will become the latest military installation in the Russian high north to receive an extended runway and new facilities for personnel and equipment. The site is around 800 km from Kirkenes in North Norway. “Russia to Expand Rogachevo Air Base to Accomodate Long-range Aircraft”, High North News, April 2023.
Another Helicopter Raid in Syria. U.S. Central Command announced on April 17, 2023, that another raid took place that targeted a senior ISIS Syria leader. He was responsible for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe. The target was killed during the attack along with two other ISIS operatives. It seems the raids are taking place about once a week, if not more.
RAF Drones Busy in Middle East. The Royal Air Force currently has about 10 Reaper drones flying missions over Iraq and Syria. The crew controlling the UAVs are thousands of miles away at the RAF Waddington Ground Control Station. “The Reaper drone and the analyst behind the RAF’s lethal unmanned aerial weapon”, Forces.net, April 21, 2023.
Wagner Group. A ‘confederation’ of anti-Western states in Africa is being established by a Russian paramilitary organization. This is expanding the influence of Russia in Africa while it diminishes American influence. Over a six-year stretch the mercenary outfit has gained strategic footholds in at least eight African countries. After the Cold War the U.S. seemed to have disengaged from Africa – other than to promote democracy and provide humanitarian assistance. This vacuum was filled by Russia – through its paramilitary organization. “Wagner Group surges in Africa as U.S. influence fades, leak reveals”, The Washington Post, April 23, 2023. (subscription)
Afghanistan – A Terrorist Haven. Less than two years after President Biden withdrew U.S. personnel the country has become a significant coordination site for the Islamic State. ISIS is planning attacks across Europe and Asia, and conducts “aspirational plotting” against the United States, according to a classified Pentagon assessment that portrays the threat as a growing security concern. “Afghanistan has become a terrorism staging ground again, leak reveals”, The Washington Post, April 22, 2023. (subscription)
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
June 21-22, 2023
August 5, 2023. Perdido Key, Florida
Deep Dive 2023 Combat Diver Reunion
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, Videos, and Podcasts
Book Review – At Sea. A new novel set on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off Cape Cod, is about a woman who falls in love with a Special Forces soldier. She is a newly graduate of college (art degree) and he is charismatic, handsome, funny, mercurial, and he has a special skill. He can breathe underwater . . . for a long time. And he disappears for extended periods of time on ‘deployments’. However, everything is not quite as it seems and the romance turns sour and dark. “First Love, then Loss”, Martha’s Vineyard Times, April 19, 2023.
Video – Interview with SOF Leaders at Balikatan 23. Sam Colon with the Indo-Pacific Defense Forum Magazine interviews Philippine Army Col. Rannie Sevilla PA (MNSA), the deputy commander of the Special Operations Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Vince Enriquez, battalion commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), about their experiences with Balikatan throughout the years and how it strengthens their partnership going forward. DVIDS, April 11, 2023, 19 minutes. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/879432/interview-with-sof-leaders-balikatan-23
Video – The Homeland Security Cost of the Biden Administration’s Catastrophic Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Homeland Security Committee, House of Representatives, YouTube, April 18, 2023. link
Video – What’s in the Kit of a Nigerien Special Forces Soldier? Video by SHAPE Public Affairs Office, April 18, 2023, one minute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SFKW_3zHOQ
Podcast – Warrior Health. Kevin Mains, a clinical psychotherapist, enters the G Base to discuss the challenges facing the military today. The mission of the warrior has not changed, but the leadership challenges have never been greater. If America’s warriors are going to be successful meeting our enemies, foreign and domestic, we’re going to have to be able to bring our A Game, physically, mentally, and socially. The Pinelander, April 21, 2023, one hour.
Podcast – A Conversation With Lieutenant General Sami Sadat. H. R. McMaster chats with a former high-ranking Afghan general about the events that contributed to the fall of Afghanistan, the flawed assumptions that led to US withdrawal, and how the US government and Afghan resistance can jointly support both the Afghan state and, in turn, global security. Battlegrounds, Hoover Institution, April 19, 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