Special Operations News Update – July 26, 2023

NSW IBS in Thailand

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

Photo / Image: U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy Special Warfare operators conduct maritime interdiction operations during FLASH TORCH 2023-1. (Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Smedgard, Feb 16, 2023, Sattahip, Thailand)

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SOF News

New Cdr for SOCAFRICA. U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Ronald A. Foy assumed command of the U.S. Special Operations Command Africa during a ceremony held on July 21, 2023. The event took place at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. Foy has experience in senior roles with Naval Special Warfare Group, Joint Reconnaissance Task Force, and the Joint Special Operations Command. His predecessor, Rear. Adm. Milton Sands, will now be serving as the Special Operations Command chief of staff at U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). “SOCAFRICA holds Change of Command Ceremony”, DVIDS, July 21, 2023.

AFSOC Move from Hurlburt to Davis-Monthan? Elected officials from Florida are sounding the alarm about rumors that elements of Air Force Special Operations Command may be moving off of Hurlburt Field, Florida to a new location. (Pensacola News Journal, July 26, 2023).

NSW’s New Mini-Sub. For decades the Navy has been trying to realize a small submarine to transport SEALs inside a pressurized cabin, and now its operational. “Navy SEAL’s Long-Awaited ‘Dry’ Mini-Submarine Capabilty Has Finally Arrived”, The Drive War Zone, July 24, 2023.

Dad Was His Hero. Tom Lane grew up knowing very little about his father – a Green Beret who served a combat tour in Korea and three combat tours in Vietnam. It was only later in life that he learned about his father’s military service. “Dad Always Seemed Bigger Than Life. But I Had No Idea There Was a Hero in the Next Room”, The War Horse, July 26, 2023.

SOF and the Korean War. At the conclusion of World War II many of the Army’s special operations forces were disbanded. The Korean War saw a rebirth of special operations forces – many of which are the foundation of SOF units still in existance. Read more in “Army Special Operations in the Forgotten War”, U.S. Army, 2023.

AFSOC and Performance Nutrition. Tactical Air Control Party students going through training at the Special Warfare Training Wing are learning about nutrition and hydration practices that will keep them healthy and at peak performance during their rigorous training events. “Performance Nutrition in the Special Warfare Training Wing”, DVIDS, July 24, 2023.

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International SOF

South Korean Parachute Team Wins Contest. A team of five female special warfare troops finished first overall in an international military parachuting competition in Europe. “Female S. Korean special warfare team wins int’l parachuting contest in Spain”, Yonhap News Agency, July 17, 2023.

Latin American SOF and Navy SEALs Partner Up. Naval Special Warfare units teamed up with special operations units from across the Western hemisphere during a multinational exercise called UNITAS 64. The events included submarine operations, VBSS, and CQC. “Navy SEALs Enhance Maritime Dominance with Partner Forces in Columbia”, DVIDS, July 20, 2023.

Belarus SF Train Near Polish Border. Russia’s Wagner Group is training with Belarusian special forces near the Polish border. (Reuters, July 25, 2023.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Russian Resilience in Conflicts. Russia has suffered many defeats when invaded by foreign powers but has shown that it can rebound over time with vast armies that it will be used to eventually defeat its invaders. Its record of winning battles and wars on foreign soil is less remarkable. Many observers of the war in Ukraine are predicting a defeat of the Russian forces and expulsion of the occupyers from eastern Ukraine and Crimea. However, Russia’s economy, land mass, and population far exceeds that of Ukraine. It is said that Russia has to lose a war first before it can win. “Have We Forgotten the Russian Way of War?”, by Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, July 16, 2023.

More U.S. Assistance. The Department of Defense announced additional security assistance to Ukraine. The capabilties in this package include munitions for Patriot air defense systems and NASAMS, Stingers, Black Hornet micro drones ammo for HIMARS, and more. “Biden Administration Announces Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine”, DOD News, July 25, 2023. View a fact sheet on U.S. Security Assistance for Ukraine. (DoD, 25 Jul, 2023).

Ex-Marine Injured in Ukraine. Trevor Reed was detained in Russia for nearly three years before being released in a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia last year. The State Department confirmed that Reed was injured while fighting in Ukraine. He has been transported to Germany for medical treatment.

Care for Wounded Soldiers. Since the Ukrainian counteroffensive began hospitals have experienced a surge of wounded from the front lines. Ukrainian military personnel are fighting along a 932 mile front. (Associated Press, July 26, 2023).

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National Security

IW Education. Paul Burton, a retired Special Forces Colonel, argues that irregular warfare education is a holistic iterative lifelong process for a member of the special operations community. He says the goal of IW education should be to produce practitioners that can think at the master’s degree level and apply that thinking in the trade school of IW practicum. “Irregular Warfare Education a Lifelong Process”, Small Wars Journal, July 17, 2023.

CRS Report – DoS Country Reports on Terrorism: 2001-2021. Every year the Secretary of State is required to provide Congress with an annual country report on terroirsm. This report contains a detailed assessment of international terrorism of major significance. This CRS report provides and overview of the country reports as well as tracking the trends of terrorist attacks over the past twenty years. Congressional Research Service, CRS IF10710, Updated July 21, 2023, PDF, 3 pages.

Ponytails Okay for Now. Female soldiers may wear ponytails for at least another year according to a recent message from the Army’s personnel office. The service loosened its hairstyle regulations in 2021 for women. No word yet on when ‘manbuns’ will be acceptable. (Stars and Stripes, July 26, 2023).

Russia and Hybrid Warfare. Larry Goodson and Marzena Zakowska have collaborated on an essay that details Russia’s use of hybrid warfare and how it has modified its use of hybrid warfare over time to incorporate more conventional means of conflict. “How Russia’s Hybrid Warfare is Changing”, Small Wars Journal, July 17, 2023.

Resistance Strategy and Australia. A geographic reality for Australia is that any phyical threats it may experience will likely be preceded with a security threat to one of its northern neighbors. Andrew Maher argues that Australia needs a ‘Plan B’ with the aim to deter agression in the region by adding ‘support to resistance’ to its portfolio of strategic options. He calls on the resistance operating concept as a basis for this porcupine defense that should be integrated into Australia’s national strategy. “A ‘Plan B’ for the ADF: supporting resistance as a strategy”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, July 21, 2023.

Wagner Group in Africa. Several hundred fighters of the Russian paramilitary group have arrived in the Central African Republic to ensure security ahead of the elections to be held at the end of July. The group has had a presence in the country for the past five years. “Hundreds of Wagner fighters arrive in Central Africa: Russian security group”, AfricaNews, July 17, 2023.

Mogolia and the Korean Peninsular. David Maxwell, a retired Special Forces officer, recently returned from a trip to Asia. He provides his perspective on Mongolia and how that country can influence the peace process between the two Koreas. “Mongolia and Korean Unification: a Bridge Between North and South”, Global Strat View, July 20, 2023.

Living Under the Taliban. Afghanistan has been governed by the Taliban for nearly two years. Most news reports project the image of a population living under a terror regime. Some say that the people of Afghanistan are living in a more secure environment. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. “Life under the Taliban”, by Franz Marty, Swiss Institute for Global Affairs, July 25, 2023.

Christians at-Risk in Nigeria. Lela Gilbert details the persecution against Christians in Africa and the onging jihadi attacks in Nigeria … and beyond. “Why is the Biden Administration Overlooking Nigeria’s Jihadi Attacks on Christians?”, The Washington Stand, July 25, 2023.

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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.

Upcoming Events

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August 12, 2023
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Fort Meade, MD

October 16-20, 2023
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Books about Special Forces Training

Books, Pubs, and Reports

Report – Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program, Congressional Research Service, CRS RL34391, updated July 20, 2023, PDF, 72 pages.

CRS Report – Strategic Competion in the Arctic, Congressional Research Service, CRS TE10084, July 18, 2023, PDF, 11 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/TE/TE10084

CRS Report – North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Programs. A recent Congressional Research Service publication provides an overview of nuclear testing and missile programs of North Korean. CRS IF10472, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10472

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Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

Video – Arctic Edge 2023. Watch U.S. Special Forces train in the Arctic during #AE23, a USNORTHCOM homeland defense exercise demonstrating U.S. military’s capabilities in extreme cold weather. Arctic EDGE 2023 (AE23) is a U.S. Northern Command-led homeland defense exercise demonstrating the U.S. military’s capabilities in extreme cold weather, joint force readiness, and U.S. military commitment to mutual strategic security interests in the Arctic region. (U.S. Army video by Spc. Jarrad Kearney) https://www.dvidshub.net/video/885080/arctic-edge-2023

Video – Diversity in SOF. Watch an episode of Beyond the Beret where a host of topics are covered by some SF NCOs. YouTube, July 16, 2023, one hour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPLdSxnH384

Podcast – The Future of Casevac. Learn how the excellent casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) system developed and refined over 20 years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq will need to adapt to large-scale combat operations. Manuel Menendez is a U.S. Army physician assistant and is the incoming Command Surgeon for Special Operations Command North. War Room Podcast, Army War Collge, July 25, 2023. https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/podcasts/casevac/


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