Special Operations News Update – July 10, 2023

USAF Parachute Operation CJTF-HOA

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

Photo / Image: U.S. Air Force personnel jump out the back of an HC-130J Combat King II assigned to the 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (ERQS) over Djibouti, May 9, 2023. The 81st ERQS is a rapidly deployable combat search and rescue force that can conduct tactical air refueling, airdrop and airland of personnel and/or equipment during day or night operations in support of combat personnel recovery within Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Irvin)

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SOF News

New Cdr and CSM for CSOJTF-L. Brig. Gen. Philip Ryan assumed command of the Combined Special Operations Joint Task Force – Levant from U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Claude Tudor during a Transfer of Authority ceremony held June 14, 2023. Command Sgt. Maj. Fields is replacing Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Wilson. CSOJTF-L, located in Jordan, is a Joint Task Force composed of special operations forces from the United States and multiple partner nations. It is responsible for conducting special operations in the Levant region in support of U.S. Central Command’s mission. “Brig. Gen. Ryan Assumes Command of CSOJTF-L“, DVIDS, July 5, 2023.

Info on AF Pararesecue. Learn about the origins of the the Air Force’s pararescue units, current training, and missions sets. “‘That Others May Live’: What it Takes to be an Air Force Pararescueman”, Coffee or Die Magazine, July 6, 2023.

SOF and SF? Marty Skovlund explains the difference between special operations forces and Special Forces. He provides a primer for those in the news media that have difficulty with journalistic accuracy. “The Difference Between ‘Special Operations’ and ‘Special Forces’“, Havok Journal, July 6, 2023.

Characteristics of Spec Ops Candidates. There are a number of characteristics that successful candidates for special operations training have in common. Showing up, work harder and smarter, good recovery practices, managing workouts and timelines, maturity, and lack of a Plan B. “6 Characteristics Shared by Successful Special Ops Candidates”, Military.com, July 2023.

MARSOC 3 Update. The Marines are not setting asise the charges for drinking on duty for two Marine Raiders involved in the death of a retired Green Beret, Richard Rodriguez, in Iraq in 2019. “Corps won’t dismiss drinking convictions of 2 ‘MARSOC 3’ Raiders”, Marine Corps Times, July 7, 2023.

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International SOF

Special Reconnaissance Course of Belgian Military. Learn all about the training that candidates go through to complete the Basic Reconnaissance Course to become elite Special Recondos of the Belgian military. In the course they master the art of Special Reconnaissance and preparing themselves for the challenges of operating behind enemy lines. “Basic Reconnaissance Course 2023: Building the Future of Special Reconnaissance”, Spec Ops Magazine, July 10, 2023.

Norway Rotary Wing Upgrade. The acquistion of new helicopters to support the nation’s special forces will be delayed for at least 15 years. The country has decided instead to upgrade its elderly Bell 412 helicopters and postpone a recapitalization of its rotorcraft fleet around a single aircraft family. Nine of the 18 Royal Norwegian Air Force’s Bell 412s will be upgraded for the special forces mission. “Norway to partially upgrade Bell 412 fleet as it postpones special forces acquisition”, FlightGlobal, July 6, 2023.

Canadian SOF Need Better Helicopters. Canadian Forces will continue to operate the Griffon helicopters for the next decade . . . but . . . “Canadian special forces pilots warn they are being held back by inferior equipment and the obsolete Giffon helicopter”, Ottawa Citizen, July 5, 2023. (subscription)

UK SF Investigation. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense has confirmed that UK special forces are at the center of the Afghanistan war crimes inquiry. (Jurist, Jul 6, 2023). See also “UK Special Forces under investigation in Afghan war crimes inquiry”, AOAV, July 5, 2023.

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SOF History

On July 8, 1961, the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated in Birmingham, Alabama.

On July 9, 1941, the First Special Service Force was officially activated.

On July 9, 1961, teams of Green Berets began organizing and training tribesmen in the Central Highlands of Vietnam into the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG). The CIDG program was devised by the CIA in early 1961 to counter expanding Viet Cong influence in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Beginning in the village of Buon Enao, small A Teams from the U.S. Army Special Forces moved into villages and set up Area Development Centers. Focusing on local defense and civic action, the Special Forces teams did the majority of the training.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Resistance Lessons from Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine has shown how important it is that the general population be included in the defense of a country by a larger invading adversary. The nature and tasks of the Ukrainian resistance movement is different than those of a traditional resistance movement of past conflicts. The study of the Ukrainian resistance movement deserves special attention – as it can help in adapting existing doctrines and training programs for resistance movement specialists to the realities that they may face in future conflicts. Read Oleksandr V. Danylyuk’s thoughts on this topic in “Against the Odds: Lessons from the Ukrainian Resistance Movement”, RUSI, July 4, 2023.

IO and the ‘Strategic Corporal’. A tour of the Ukrainian front lines by media folks reveal that the Ukrainians are very adept at information warfare and leveraging social media platforms. Read more on this topic in an article by Austin Gray entitled “What’s Special About Ukraine’s Frontline Information Warfare?”, Real Clear Defense, July 6, 2023.

More U.S. Assistance for Ukraine. The Department of Defense has announced another security assistance package for Ukraine that will support that country’s counteroffensive operations over the next few months. The package includes additional munitions for the U.S.-provided Patriot air defense systems and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. The U.S. has been pushing weapons and munitions to that country on a continous and periodic basis. “DOD Announces $800M Security Assistance Package for Ukraine”, DOD News, July 7, 2023.

NATO Membership for Ukraine? Unlikely. The meeting of NATO in Lithuania this week see a lot of discussion about giving Ukraine membership; but that is not going to happen soon. At least not while the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is going on. “NATO to offer Ukraine continuing support but not immediate membership”, Military Times, July 7, 2023.

Cluster Bombs for Ukraine. The White House has approved providing Ukraine with cluster munitions that can be delivered on the battlefield by aircraft or artillery. This has caused a flurry of media attention over the past several days with supporters of the decision as well as critics weighing in on the issue. The decision by President Biden comes after months of internal debate within the administration. Humanitarian rights groups are deeply opposed – citing the danger to civilians long after the conflict ends. Over 120 nations have signed on to the Convention on Cluster Munitions – which bans the weapons. The U.S., Russia, and Ukraine are not signatories. (CNN Politics, July 7, 2023).

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Sudan Conflict and Evac of Foreign Nationals

War to Widen? The United Nations says that Sudan is on the brink of a full-scale civil war after nearly three months of fighting. The strife began almost 18 months ago between two generals who had led a military coup in October 2021. (Associated Press, Jul 9, 2023).

Update on the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), ceasefire, humanitarian crisis, and evacuation of foreign nationals.

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SOF Institution Building. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) proved instrumental in assisting some NATO countries and Ukraine developing institutions to increase the capability of sustainin SOF units in an advisory effort known as Special Operations Forces Institution Building (SOFIB). This is a framework for developing and sustaining SOF institutional capabilities at the national level. Read more in a long essay on this topic in “Special Operations Forces Institution- Building: From Strategic Approach to Security Force Assistance”, Joint Force Quarterly, National Defense University Press, July 7, 2023.

Exporting IW Doctrine. The promoting of irregular warfare by the United States as a method to confront Russia, China, and other adversaries is recommended in this article. The authors argue that the U.S. has largely abandoned the kind of information, special operations, intelligence, economic, and diplomatic action that helped win the Cold War. “US Irregular Warfare Capability Building Capability Assistance as Competitive Edge in Great Power Competition”, The Cove, July 5, 2023.

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National Security

NATO Meeting. Representatives of the nations belonging to the North Atlantic Treat Organization will meet in the Vilnius, Lithuania this week. The top agenda item will be Ukraine – one of the issues will be future membership of that country. Another important issue is the blocking of Swedish membership in NATO by Turkey. Read more on what will be disucssed in “Explainer: What’s on the table for NATO at Vilnius summit?”, Reuters, July 10, 2023. See also a brief by the Congressional Research Service entitled “Previewing NATO’s 2023 Vilnius Summit”, CRS IN12192, July 5, 2023, PDF, 4 pages.

Baltic States and NATO. Three of the countries taking part in the NATO conference were once occupied for decades by the Soviet Union. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 they were among the first to send assistance to Ukraine. Read about the history, vulnerabilities, and defense posture of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “Why are the Baltic states strategically important for NATO?”, Reuters, July 10, 2023.

Drone Strike on ISIS Leader. U.S. Central Command has published a press release saying that it conducted a strike in Syria that resulted in the death of an ISIS leader in eastern Syria. There were no reported civilian casualties. The strike was conducted by a MQ-9 Reaper. “U.S. Airstrike Targets ISIS Leader in Eastern Syria”, CENTCOM, July 9, 2023.

Blacksmith Publishing

Blacksmith Publishing is a media partner of SOF News. They are a book publishing firm, sell ‘Pinelander Swag’, have a weekly podcast called The Pinelander.


Afghan Terp for SF shot in D.C. A former interpreter who worked for U.S. Army Special Forces in Afghanistan was shot and killed in Washington, D.C. a week ago Monday. He was a driver for Lyft – working long hours to provide for his family and sending money home to relatives in Afghanistan. He managed to escape Afghanistan in August 2021 during the Kabul NEO and moved to D.C. with his family. “He served the Army in Afghanistan. He was killed driving for Lyft in D.C.”, The Washington Post, July 8, 2023. (subscription)

Hotbed of Terrorism. According to security experts of the United Nations Afghanistan has once again become a sanctuary for terrorist groups – a place where they can train, organize, and potentially launch attacks against the United States and other countries around the world. Efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency to work with the Taliban in an attempt to contain these terrorist groups are being criticized by some observers who see these efforts as ‘legitimizing’ the Taliban regime. “Thanks to the Taliban, Afghanistan is once again a hotbed of terrorism”, The Hill, July 6, 2023.

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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

The Mini-Manual for the Urban Defender: A Guide to the Strategies and Tactics of Defending a City, by John Spencer. This publication was first published in English shortly after the Russian invasion (2022) of Ukraine. Within months it was published again in Ukrainian. The mini-manual is now available in Finnish.

History of FM 3-24. The Global War on Terror saw the Army needing to update its doctrine on conducting counterinsurgency. The Army published FM 3-24 in 2006. “TRADOC and the Release of FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency”, U.S. Army, July 7, 2023.

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Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

Video – SOCKOR Mission. Special Operations Command Korea plans and conducts Special Operations in support of the Commander of United States Forces/United Nations Commander/Combined Forces Commander in armistice, crisis and war. SOCKOR is a functional component command of United States Forces Korea, tasked to plan and conduct Special Operations in the Korean theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force video by Senior Airman Jack LeGrand). July 6, 2023, DVIDS, 1 minute. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/889344/sockor-mission


SOFCAST. United States Special Operations Command

The Pinelander. Blacksmith Publishing

The Indigenous Approach. 1st Special Forces Command

Irregular Warfare Initiative

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.