Special Operations News Update – June 19, 2023

Marines Diving in Aruba

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

Photo / Image: Marines swim during the Caribbean Coastal Warrior exercise in Savaneta, Aruba, May 18, 2023. The bilateral event with Dutch Marines expands the participants’ knowledge and proficiency when operating in littoral and coastal regions. Photo by Marine Corps Cpl. Cassidy Shepherd.

Do you receive our daily newsletter? If not, you can sign up here and enjoy it five (almost) days a week with your morning coffee (or afternoon tea depending on where in the world you are).

SOF News

Ridge Runner in ‘Vandala’. About 300 special operations troops are taking part in a military exercise in West Virginia during June 2023. The Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare Exercise sees participation from the Texas-based 5/19th Special Forces Group, 92nd Civil Affairs, 6th PSYOP, and US Marines. There are also SOF troops from the UK, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Observers from several other countries are present as well. The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Irregular Warfare Center is supporting the exercise as well as the West Virginia National Guard. “Irregular Warfare infiltrates West Virginia this month”, MetroNews, June 7, 2023.

Marine Force Reconnaissance. The history, organization, structure, training, and equipment of this specialized unit is explained. “Marine Force Reconnaissance: Swift, Silent, Deadly”, Grey Dynamics, June 3, 2023.

NSW RHIB Strikes Jetty – 5 Go to Hospital. Five Naval Special Warfare sailors were injured on Friday, June 16, 2023, in a routine night time training exercise when their inflatable boat struck San Diego’s Zuniga Point jetty. The injuries are non-life threatening. “Five special warfare sailors injured in boat training mishap”, Navy Times, June 16, 2023.

USSOCOM Leaders Visit NSW. The U.S. Special Operations Command commander Gen. Bryan Fenton and senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Shorter, visited Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) and Naval Special Warfare Center (NSWCEN) in early June. During their visit the toured NSW Center and NSW Group One. “USSOCOM Commander Visits Naval Special Warfare Command, Validates Value of Rigours Training”, DVIDS, June 5, 2023.

Prince Joins SOF Mag Advisory Committee. Erik Prince, a former SEAL and founder of Blackwater USA, is now a member of the Soldier of Fortune Magazine Advisory Committee. Prince sold Blackwater in 2010 and established Frontier Resource Group. Read more in “Soldier of Fortune Advisory Committee: Meet Blackwater Founder Erik Prince”, SOFMAG, June 8, 2023.

SEALs Train Up on NEO. East-coast based Naval Special Warfare Operators recently conducted a comprehensive training exercise focused on non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO). In the midst of the recent crisis in Sudan the SEALs conducted a NEO rescuing embassy personnel in Khartoum. “US Navy SEALs Conduct Nightime Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation Training”, NSW, June 7, 2023.

Palantir Contract. The US Special Operations Command has awarded a contract to Palantir Technologies to deliver technology solutions to support enterprise capabilties. The contract is worth up to $463 million. “US Special Operations Command Awards Contract to Palentir”, PR Newswire, June 5, 2023.

Banner International SOF

International SOF

ROK and U.S. SOF Conduct ‘Friendship’ Jump. South Korea’s Special Warfare Command Commander Lieut. Gen. Son Sik and SOCKOR Commander Major Gen. Michael Martin staged a high altitude low opening (HALO) jump. (Yonhap News Agency, June 8, 2023).

Fuerzas Comando 23. The annual special operations forces competition supported by U.S. Southern Command and Special Operations Command South began on June 12, 2023 in the Dominican Republic. Twenty two countries are competing in the SOF skills competition.

New Boats for Greek SOF? Two new SOF craft may soon be available for Greece. One is an interceptor and the other a troop transport. “Greek Shipbuilder Reveals New Special Operations Craft Designs”, Naval News, Jun 15, 2023.

UK ‘Ditching’ C-130 SOF Aircraft. A cost-cutting measure to ditch a special forces aircraft is being criticized as “perverse” and “extrodinary”. Some UK security analysts believe the removal of the aircraft will leave a capability gap at a time of rising security risks. The A400 is to replace the C-130 but there will be ‘niche capabilities’ that will have gaps. (Sky News, Jun 14, 2023).

Australian SAS War Crimes Case. The “trial of the century’ concluded earlier this month in Sydney where a man commonly described as Australia’s most decorated living soldier had brought a libel case against Australian newspapers. Ben Roberts-Smith, a former member of the Special Air Service Regiment, lost his case in court. Douglas Guilfoyle, a Professor of Law and International Security at the University of New South Wales Canberra, explains the context in which the case arose, what the Court found, and what comes next. “The Libel Case Confirming Australian War Crimes in Afghanistan”, Articles of War, Lieber Institute West Point, June 14, 2023.

SOF History Banner

SOF History

OSS. On June 13, 1942, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) replaced the COI. It was placed under the Joint Chiefs of staff (JCS). The Office of the Coordinator of Information was an intelligence and propaganda agency of the United States government founded on July 11, 1941 by President Roosevelt.

Army’s Birthday. The Army’s birthday was celebrated on June 14th. The U.S. Army was founded on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized enlistment of expert riflemen to serve the United Colonies for one year.

10th SFG(A) Established. On June 19, 1952, 71 years ago, the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was established on Fort Bragg, North Carolina. https://www.specialforceshistory.info/groups/10sfga.html

Combat Divers and Their ‘Skimpy’ Swim Trunks. The very brief swim gear worn by today’s combat divers came into fashion in World War II when Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) swimmers used them as they reconned landing beaches on Pacific islands. The UDT shorts are still used today – by combat divers of all of the services. But the use of tiny briefs goes beyond the UDT shorts – the Rangers and the Marines have their version for physical training. Read more in “UDT Shorts, Silkies, and Ranger Panties: A Risque Military Fashion Trend”, Coffee or Die Magazine, June 14, 2023.

SF Greenlight Teams. During the Cold War Green Berets practiced infiltration behind enemy lines by high altitude low opening (HALO) parachute jumps with Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADMs). Read more in “Special Forces Parachuted With Nukes Strapped to Them During the Cold War”, The WarZone, June 9, 2023.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Ukraine Offensive. The long-awaited spring offensive by the Ukraine military has begun. It apparently is currently concentrated in the southeastern region along the front lines with some modest gains. It isn’t the explosive punch deep into Russian-held territory that some had anticipated. Social media reports indicate that much of the offensive power of Ukraine has still not been committed. Many analysts believe the Ukrainians are conducting feints and reconnaissance in force operations in a prelude to a deep strike with some of its newly-formed and NATO trained brigades. CNN World provides a brief on the attacks with a map depicting where the current offensive is underway. (June 17, 2023).

CRS Report – Central Asia: Implications of Russia’s War in Ukraine. The Congressional Research Service has published a report that decribes the difficult position – economically and diplomatically – that five Central Asian states now find themselves since the Russian’s have renewed their offensive in Ukraine. The five countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – share historical, economic, and military ties with Russia. However, since their indepence from the Soviet Union in 1991, they have generaly sought to balance relations between Russia, China, and other powers. Central Asian states are now seeking to diversify their trade relationships and establish transit routes that bypass Russia. They are also seeking to engage with other partners in the security sphere. CRS R47591, June 9, 2023, PDF 35 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R47591

Banner Commentary


Role of SOF in IW and GPC. Sal Artigia has penned an essay on SOF’s role in IW in an era of strategic competition. He says that SOF’s distinct capabilities offer several advantages in IW. He advocates a balanced approach that includes a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy that leverages all elements of national power – and that SOF should be a key component of this strategy. “The Role of Special Operations Forces in Irregular Warfare within the Framework of Great Power Competition”, LinkedIn Pulse, June 10, 2023.

Changing Role of SOF. The Department of Defense is focused on the Indo-Pacific region and competition with China. It is placing less emphasis on CT and COIN. It didn’t take long for the ‘knives’ to come out and see proposals for the reduction of SOF forces. There is the possiblity that ARSOF will see a 10% budget reduction in the coming years. These proposed reductions would mainly affect logistical and intelligence enablers. Read more in “From Counterinsurgency to Conventional Warfare: The Changing Role of U.S. Special Operations Forces”, SOFREP, June 10, 2023.

Ellsberg, the Papers, Phoenix Program, and Green Berets. Jeff Stein, the founding editor of SpyTalk.co, writes how the release of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg (who just passed away) prompted him to write a book about Green Berets accused of the homicide of a suspected Vietnamese double agent in 1969. “Flipped: How Dan Ellsberg changed my life”, SpyTalk, June 17, 2023.

National Ranger Memorial Monument Defaced. The names of four Confederate soldiers are no longer visible on a monument to U.S. Army Rangers at Fort Moore (formerly known as old Fort Benning). Historic figures who are a part of the U.S. special operations history had their names erased on the memorial – John Mosby, William Quantrill, George Bowman, and Jackson Bowman. A letter was sent to Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House, expressing concern of the move by the U.S. Army to remove the names by the National Ranger Memorial Foundation in May 2023. “Confederate names no longer visible on Ranger monument”, GPB News, June 16, 2023.

IW Education and SOF. As the contours of global power dynamics evolve, U.S. SOF find themselves increasing deployed in contexts characterized by irregular warfare. The era of strategic competition has presented new challenges. A key component of SOF being able to contribute in this environment is a sound education in irregular warfare. “The Imperiative for Irregular Warfare Education in Special Operations Forces”, by Sal Artiaga, LinkedIn Pulse, June 17, 2023.

JSOU, Wargaming, and Social Science Experiments. The Joint Special Operations University recently embedded aspects of the DoD’s ‘Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Strategic Plan and Implementation framework into the JSOU’s Special Operations Planning Course (SOPC). “Wargaming as a Social Science Experiment”, by Andrew Crabb, Small Wars Journal, June 16, 2023.

Fixing the Sahel Region. Jihadist terrorist groups continue to expand their influence and this region of Africa remains a terrorist hot zone, spilling into other regions like Coastal West Africa. This past year has been one of the most active yet for some of the jihadist organizations. Compounding the situation is the meddling of China and Russia. Tammy Palacios provides her perspective on the security situation and shares some recommendations on the way forward for the United States. “Integrating U.S. Military Assistance With Conflict Prevention and Stabilization in the Sahel”, Newlines Institute, June 15, 2023.

Banner National Security

National Security

USMC Force Design 2030. The annual update to the Marine Corps Force Design document has been released. Force Design 2030 Annual Update, USMC, June 2023, PDF, 30 pages. Watch a video that explains the update. DVIDS, June 3, 2023, 2 mins. The vision of the Marines is to become lighter, faster, and more tech savy. Incorporating robotics and artificial intelligence is a big focus.

CRS Report – Securing the Border. The Congressional Research Office has updated a ‘Legal Sidebar’ entitled The President’s Authority to Use the National Guard or the Armed Forces to Secure the Border. PDF, June 15, 2023, 4 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10121

2024 Defense Budget in House. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has passed an $826 billion Pentagon budget for fiscal 2024. There are a lot of good things in the budget – raising the pay of junior enlisted troops, more funds for combating the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., and other measures. There are some items that set up the Congress for a fight over the next several months – Democrats are likely to oppose the ban on things like drag queen story hours for children or a ban on the use of drag queens as military recruiters. So there will be negotiations and compromise over the next several months on a bill that both the Republican controlled House and Democratic controlled Senate can agree on.

Blacksmith Publishing

New Fast Attack Sub. The Navy christianed its newest Virginia-class fast-attack submarine on June 17, 2023 in Groton, CT. The Virginia-class subs are built to conduct a a variety of missions. Among these tasks are special operations support, ISR, and irregular warfare. “Navy to Christian Submarine Iowa”, U.S. Department of Defense, June 16, 2023.

SOCCENT, Central Asia, and Influence Campaigns. The National Security Fellowship (NSF) at Seton Hall University partnered with a deep technology firm that specializes in advanced network analytics and simulations to work on a project fro Special Operations Command Central. The team focused on how SOCCENT could counter Russia and China’s influence with the Central Asian states. They studied on how to quantify the strategic messaging and determine the positive or negative sentiment of Russian and Chinese influence in each of the Central Asian states. “NSF Project Enhanced with Data Analytics”, Diplomacy News, June 14, 2023.

Pentagon’s ‘Perception Management Office’. Kit Klippenstein, an investigative journalist at The Intercept, provides an interesting (and alternative) perspective on the Influence and Perception Management Office (IPMO) launched in March 2023. The office is described as providing advice on strategic and operational influence and perception management matters to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security. “Exposed: Disturbing details of the Pentagon Perception Management Office”, Monthly Review, June 14, 2023.

Conflict in Burma. Since the army’s 2021 takeover of government rule almost 4,000 civilians have been killed in the unrest in Myanmar. A lot of the fighting takes place in the ethnic regions along the countries borders. Newly formed militia groups have been attacking government troop outposts and convoys. In the past week almost 30 civlians have been killed in the violence.

U.S. Service Members Injured in Syria. Twenty-two members of the military were injured on Sunday, June 11th. The injuries happened during a helicopter mishap in northeastern Syria. Ten of the injured were evacuated to higher care facilities outside of the CENTCOM AOR. (@CENTCOM Twitter, June 12, 2023).

Old Salt Coffee is a corporate sponsor of SOF News. The company offers a wide range of coffee flavors to include Green Eyes Coffee, a tribute to those Navy special operations personnel who operate in the night.

Upcoming Events

June 21-22, 2023
Warrior East

August 5, 2023. Perdido Key, Florida
Deep Dive 2023 Combat Diver Reunion

August 12, 2023
11th Special Forces Group Reunion
Fort Meade, MD

October 16-20, 2023
Special Operations Association

December 8, 2023
Winter Cruise
Combat Diver Association

Guest Writers for SOF News

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 about Special Forces Training

Books, Pubs, and Reports

CRS Report – Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2023. The Congressional Research Service has updated a report on the hundreds of instances in which the U.S. has used military force abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict. The report provides a general survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad. CRS R42738, June 7, 2023, PDF, 58 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42738

CRS Report – U.S. Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) System. The Congressional Research Service has published a report on the IFPC system. This system protects high-value military sites against enemy cruise missile (CM), unmanned aerial system (UAS), and rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) attacks. It is a mobile, ground-based weapon system and bridges the gap between short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12421

Book Review – By All Means Available. Veteran strategist, CIA operative, and Green Beret Michael G. Vickers tallies achievements and missteps across the Cold War and the war on terror. “Where Did We Go Wrong in Afghanistan?”, New York Times, June 18, 2023. (subscription)

Banner YouTube Microphone Film

Videos, Podcasts, and Movies

Video – Lessons in U.S. Intelligence and Special Operations. Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), YouTube, June 16, 2023, one hour. “In 1984, Michael Vickers took charge of the CIA’s secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. After inheriting a strategy aimed at imposing costs on the Soviets for their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Vickers transformed the covert campaign into an all-out effort to help the Afghan resistance win their war. In By All Means Available, Vickers recounts his remarkable career, from his days as a Green Beret to his vision for victory in Afghanistan to his role in waging America’s war with al-Qa’ida at the highest levels of government.”

Video – Facing the Khmer Rouge. Major General (Ret) Kenneth Bowra shares his experience in opposing the Khmer Rouge with the Cambodian Army (FANK). Savage Game Design, YouTube, June 10, 2023, one hour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdRFKNXctDA

Podcast – Communications Networking. Advances in technology have almost entirely eliminated the fundamental Right of Privacy. A communications expert weighs in on how to reduce or eliminate evesdropping by setting up a secure network so you can communicate with family and friends. The Pinelander, June 15, 2023, one hour.


SOFCAST. United States Special Operations Command

The Pinelander. Blacksmith Publishing

Irregular Warfare Initiative

The Indigenous Approach. 1st Special Forces Command

Irregular Warfare Podcast. Modern War Institute at West Point

SOF News Sponsors

SOF News is not a ‘money making’ enterprise; but we do have administrative, operating, and publishing expenses. Individuals and businesses provide the funds to defray these expenses. Their contributions are deeply appreciated. Learn how you can support SOF News.

About SOF News 1143 Articles
SOF News provides news, analysis, commentary, and information about special operations forces (SOF) from around the world.