Curated news, analysis, and commentary about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world.
Photo / Image: Marines jump from a KC-130J Super Hercules during parachute drills over Okinawa, Japan, May 16, 2023. Photo by Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Taggart.
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MG Bargewell Dedication. On May 20, 2023, a park dedication ceremony was held on Armed Forces Day dedicating Delta Park in Hoquiam, Washington to Major General Eldon Bargewell, a retired Special Forces officer now deceased. https://eldonbargewell.org/
Fallen ARSOF Remembered. The names of 1,242 fallen Army Special Operations warriors are etched on the Memorial Wall at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquaters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. USASOC honored their legacy during a Gold Star Memorial Ceremony held on May 25, 2023. “Fallen warriors of Army Special Operations honored, remembered”, U.S. Army, March 26, 2023.
Former SOF Intel Officer Jailed. A retired lieutenant colonel, Robert Birchum, who worked in various intelligence positions with the Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and other intel organizations has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for removing more than 300 classified files or documents from authorized locations and storing them in his home. “Retired Air Force officer gets 3 years for having classified documents”, Air Force Times, June 2, 2023.
Army to Cut SOF by 10%? Lawmakers and Army officials have discussed cuts through the decade’s end, including cutting force strength of Green Berets and PSYOP. “Army Mulls 10-20% Cut to Special Operations Forces”, Defense One, May 22, 2023.
CA Officer Assignment. Brig. Gen. Andree G. Carter, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will be assigned as the commander, 350th Civil Affairs Command, Pensacola, Florida.
SF Officer Assignment. Brig. Gen. Lawrence G. Ferguson, deputy commanding general (Operations), 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is assigned as commanding general, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
193rd SOW and ACE. Agile Combat Employment or ACE is a concept that the 193rd Special Operations Wing is incorporating into its training program. The wing is exploring expansion of its course offerings at Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania. Read more in “Wing eyes Regional Training Site as location for national Agile Combat Employment instruction”, 193rd SOW, June 2, 2023.
1952 Society. The Green Beret Foundation has established the 1952 Society; a mechanism that provides an opportunity for people to take part in a tiered donation system that provides vital support and assistance to U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers, their families, caregivers, and survivors. https://greenberetfoundation.org/society/
SFA Caribbean Cruise. The Special Forces Association is planning on holding their 2024 SFA Annual Convention aboard a cruise ship for five days in October 2024. The ship sails from Tampa, Florida and will visit a few ports before returning. Events are planned before and after the cruise voyage in Tampa – golf, motorcycle ride, etc. Registration Site – https://sfali.org/cruise-pre-registration-page/
MARSOC and Global Health Engagement. One key mission of the Marine Forces Special Operations Command is Foreign Internal Defense (FID). The basic concept is to place a Marine Special Operations Company (MSOC) in a country, work with local partner forces to exchange ideas and practices, and help increase their ability to working independently to increase national security. A piece of that concept is the improvement of the public health of both the local populous and the partner nation’s military – implementing something called Global Health Engagement or GHE. “MARSOC, SOCOM and the influence of Global Health Engagement”, DVIDS, March 21, 2023.
Emerald Warrior and Video Gaming. All five U.S. Special Operations Command components took part in a video game component of a special operations exercise in May 2023. The USSOCOM initiative allowed the SOF components to exercise a problem set using a distributed mission operation (DMO) network. “AFSOC used video game – – like simulation training, adds realistic, world-wide value”, AFSOC, May 24, 2023.
Sky Warden Delivery Announced. USSOCOM will begin accepting delivery of a modified crop-duster as the platform selected for its Armed Overwatch mission. “Get Ready for Sky Warden: First Delivery Set for October”, Air and Space Forces, May 22, 2023.
AFSOC Air Advisor Conference. Key members from across the Security Force Assistance and Air Advisor enterprise gathered for a summit on 23-25 May, 2023 at Hurlburt Field. “AFSOC hosts Security Forces Assistance Air Advisor Summit”, AFSOC, May 31, 2023.
USASOAC Tests ‘Air-Launched Effects”. The US Army Special Operations Aviation Command took part in a the third iteration of the Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise (EDGE 23) in Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona testing ways it could best deploy ‘launched effects’. Essentially . . . small drones shot out of something else . . . mid-flight from a Gray Eagle UAW or MH-60M Black Hawk. “Army special ops put “launched effects” prototype through its paces at EDGE 23″, Breaking Defense, May 25, 2023.
Death of SEAL Candidate. A 198-page report dated March 24, 2023, by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Education and Training Command points to systemic failures in the medical staff at BUD/S as contributing to the death of a SEAL candidate in February 2022. “Report Finds Inadequate Medical Oversight Led to 2022 SEAL Candidate’s Death”, SANDBOXX, May 30, 2023. See also “Navy SEAL training plagued by problems, investigation finds after death of sailor”, Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2023. See also “Navy SEAL training commander speaks out after scathing report on ‘shattering’ candidate death”, New York Post, June 4, 2023. And there is this “New Navy report reveals rare SEAL training attrition data”, SANDBOXX, June 1, 2023.
Sgt. Maj. Jon R. Cavaiani. A Green Beret serving in Vietnam was captured and held as a prisoner of war for two years. His actions in combat would earn him the Medal of Honor. Read more in “Medal of Honor Monday: Army Sgt. Maj. Jon R. Cavaiani”, DoD, June 5, 2023.
137th SOW CoC Ceremony. On June 3, 2023, Col. Jason Davis took command of the 137th Special Opeartions Wing at the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma. Davis attended the Air Force Academy, went on to pilot training flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II and did two tours in Afghanistan. Later in his career he flew in the MC-12W aircraft. “137th SOW Airmen unite for wing change of command”, 137th SOW, June 4, 2023.
Fallen Warriors Remembered by Project 33. Members of the armed services are honored by a foundation established to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in America’s wars. “Project 33 leads effort to teach Americans about lives of the fallen”, Military Families Magazine, May 21, 2023.
GB Foundation VP / COO Announcement. Francis Arias has been promoted to the role of Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Green Beret Foundation. She recently served as Director of Operations for the Foundation. The Foundation provides U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers and their families with emergency, immediate and ongoing support. (PR Newswire, May 24, 2023).
26th MEU and NSW Conduct Exercise TRIDENT 23-4. The Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) of the 26tyh Marine Expeditionary Unit integrated with East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare operators to exercise direct-action SOF raid training and advanced training focused on Military Assisted Departure (MAD) and Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) during May 2023. (DVIDS, May 31, 2023)
SLIC Lectures at NAVSCIATTS. The Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, a security cooperation schoolhouse operating under the U.S. Special Operations Command, is holding a 4-week long Stratetic Leaders International Course (SLIC) at its headquarters in at Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. “NAVSCIATTS holds opening SLIC lectures for Semester 23-4 iteration”, DVIDS, June 1, 2023.
FBNC Now Fort Liberty. A big chunk of Airborne and Special Forces heritage has gone away as the long-time name of Fort Bragg has now been struck from the history books. (Military.com, June 2, 2023).
Turkish SF to Kosovo. Turkish SOF will be part of a peacekeeping mission. A commando battalion from the 65th Mechanized Infantry Brigade will deploy to be part of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) to help address the ongoing unrest in the northern region of the Balkan country. “Turkish Defense Ministry sending special forces to Kosovo at NATO’s request”, Turkish Minute, June 3, 2023.
Italian SOF Mini-Sub Revealed. A previously unreported Italian special operations mini-submarine has been seen for the first time. The remarkable thing about the AE-90 Submarine, believed to have been designed and employed as early as the 1990s, is that it has been retired from use. “Previously Unreported Italian Special Forces AE-90 Submarine Seen For First Time”, Covert Shores, June 2, 2023.
UK SF Busy Around the World. According to a report by a research group called the Action On Armed Violence (AVAO) UK special forces have conducted secret operations in 19 countries over the past twelve years. These operations include hostage rescues, exfiltration, training, and protection. The AOAV has historically highlighted the need for more public oversight on UK special forces operations. (AOAV, May 22, 2023).
Somali SF Complete Uganda Training. A group of Special Forces attached to the Somali National Army (SNA) has completed special training at Uganda’s 206 Commando Brigade Training Centre. “Somali Special Forces Complete Commando Training in Uganda”, All Africa, May 22, 2023.
Australia SOF and War Crimes. Three Australian newspapers were sued by Australia’s most-decorated living soldier over a series of articles in 2018 which he says defamed him. At the center of the trial was the personal life of Ben Roberts-Smith, a former member of the Special Air Service (SAS), and allegations of war crimes committed by Australian forces. “Ben Roberts-Smith: How decorated soldier’s defamation case has rocked Australia”, BBC News, June 1, 2023. See also “US warned it might suspend ties with Australian special forces oveer war crime allegations”, The Guardian, May 31, 2023.
USAJFKSWCS. On June 1, 1983, the US Army Institute for Military Assistance (USAIMA) was renamed the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
Jedburghs. On June 4, 1944, Jedburgh teams parachuted into France to link up with French resistance. One member of these teams was Lucien Stervinou, a French man who joined up with the French resistance forces based in England while France was occupied by the Germans.
June 6, 1944. D-day; the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France to establish beachheads and then drive into the interior of France during World War II.
Sudan Conflict and Evac of Foreign Nationals
Irish Evac Effort. Operation Piccolo was a rescue mission to evacuate Irish citizens from Sudan as hostilities broke out between warring factions in April 2023. An Emergency Civil Assistance Team (ECAT) was formed up that would remove more than 250 Irish people from Sudan. Some members of the ECAT were from the Army Ranger Wing; a SOF organization that also assisted in the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation of August 2021. Read more on this topic in “Inside the military and diplomatic mission to evacuate Irish citizens from Sudan”, The Journal, May 28, 2023.
Update on the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), ceasefire, humanitarian crisis, and evacuation of foreign nationals. (archived)
NSW and Fleet Tactics. Lieutenent Commander Kenneth Walls, an active-duty naval officer, argues that naval special warfare can contribute much to the fight at sea. However, he believes that the tactical integration of NSW into the functions and counterfunctions of scouting, command and control, and firepower is underdeveloped. He believes that the NSW community and the Navy need to improve their understanding of each other to ensure that NSW can effectively contribute to fleet-level operations against peer threats in the maritime environment. “Fleet Tactics & Special Warfare”, Proceedings, June 2023.
Europe and Irregular Warfare. The term irregular warfare means many things to different people. It is an elusive concept across the United States government as well as among US allies and partners. This is especially true of our European partners. The Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) recently completed a study of how European institutions conceptionalize irregular warfare. Read more on this in “Divided by a Common Language: How Europe Views Irregular Warfare”, IW Initiative, May 31, 2023.
Border Crisis. Several states are sending troops to the southern border to assist in providing security due to the massive amounts of migrants attempting to cross into the United States. Arkansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Florida, and West Virginia are among those states sending troops.
Congressional Testimony on GPC. Dr. Jonathan Schroden of CNA testitied before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 17, 2023 on how special operations forces can contribute to strategic competion with Russia and China. His testimony highlighted a variety of areas where SOF can contribute – to include intelligence operations, information sharing, foreign internal defense, and information operations.
Preparing for War in the Arctic. Climate change and geopolitics are reshaping the High North’s strategic landscape – from the military balance of power to the quest for oil, gas, and mineral resources. SOF and the 11th Airborne Division are ramping up their cold weather training. “Hiding an Army at the Top of the World”, Bloomberg, June 4, 2023.
Chinese PSYOP. A report by RAND Corporation provides information on the psychological warfare capabilities of the Chinese military and some of its emerging operational concepts. China views the manipulation of information to influence adversary decisionmaking and behavior as a key component of modern warfare. Chinese Next–Generation Psychological Warfare, RAND, June 2023, PDF, 224 pages. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA853-1.html
Arrow Security & Training, LLC is a corporate sponsor of SOF News. AST offers a wide range of training and instruction courses and programs to include language and cultural services, training, role playing, and software and simulation. https://arrowsecuritytraining.com/
Controlling the Skies Over Kabul – August 2021. On August 13, 2021, four Marines from the Marine Air Control Group -28 Detachment of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) flew to Kabul to help manage the chaotic situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA). With little sleep, the Marines were handling more numerous flights per day – and providing updated information to several U.S. agencies as well as many foreign militaries. “How Marines brought order to the skies during the Kabul airlift”, Military Times, May 30, 2023.
Movie Review – Kandahar. Gerard Butler is cast in an action-thriller set in Afghanistan at the time of the U.S. withdrawal from that country in August 2021. Butler plays an undercover special ops CIA operative stationed in Afghanistan when his identity is leaked by a Pentagon informant. Journal & Topics, June 2, 2023. https://www.journal-topics.com/articles/movie-review-kandahar/
EU in Niger. The European Union has established a diplomatic and military presence in Niger to assist that country and other regional countries in the containment of violent jihadism. In February 2022 the European Union Military Partnership Mission or EUMPM was established with the ami to strengthen the military capacities of the Nigerien Armed Forces. Read more in “EU operations in Niger”, Grey Dynamics, June 1, 2023.
June 21-22, 2023
August 5, 2023. Perdido Key, Florida
Deep Dive 2023 Combat Diver Reunion
August 12, 2023
11th Special Forces Group Reunion
Fort Meade, MD
December 8, 2023
Combat Diver Association
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
Proceedings. The June 2023 issue by the U.S. Naval Institute has been posted online. This issue is focused on Information Warfare (IW) and artificial intelligence (AI). https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2023/june
Sentinel. The June 2023 issue is now available online. Some great articles about Special Forces in Indochina. https://www.specialforces78.com/chapter-78-newsletter-for-june-2023/
CRS Report – Defense Primer: Naval Forces. The Congressional Research Service has updated its brief on U.S. Naval Forces; providing a description of the strategy, ship types, size of Navy, force-level goals, and more. Updated May 25, 2023, CRS IF10486, PDF, 3 pages.
CRS Report – Defense Primer: Strategic Nuclear Forces. The Congressional Research Service has updated its brief on U.S. nuclear forces; describing the triad: ICBMs, heavy bombers, and SLBMs. Updated May 19, 2023, CRS IF10519, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10519
Podcasts, Videos, and Movies
Video – Counterintelligence and SOF in the Gray Zone. Colonel (Ret) Christopher Costa is interviewed about how the new eara of counterintelligence must shift focus from the counterrorism era to strategic competion and for greater SOF participation in developing aggressive, innovative, and proactive counterintelligence responses to China, Russia, Iran and other foreign intelligence entities. Think JSOU, Joint Special Operations University, April 28, 2023, YouTube, 1 1/2 hour.
Video – Emerald Warrior. This exercise is the largest joint special operations event involving U.S. Special Operations Command forces training to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. DVIDS, May 31, 2023, 2 minutes. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/885051/emerald-warrior-final-video
Podcast – The Team Sergeant. The wealth of knowledge and experience of the Special Forces NCOs seemed to have declined as the Vietnam era veterans retired. Tom Kelly discusses his new book about leadership and how to be a team sergeant (18Z) in today’s Special Forces Regiment. https://pinelander.podbean.com/e/episode-073-team-sergeant-handbook-may-19-2023/
Movie Trailer – Mission Impossible 7 Dead Reakoning. Another American action spy film starring Tom Cruise will soon be in the theaters. Looks to be a good one, check out the trailer. (YouTube, May 2023)
Movie Trailer – Hidden Strike. Two ex-special forces soldiers, John Cena and Jackie Chan, must escort a group of civilians along Baghdad’s “highway of death” to the safety of the Green Zone. (YouTube, May 30, 2023). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_jEicE6KyQ
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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