Special Operations News Update – August 21, 2023

CSM Paul Langley SOCKOR

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

Photo / Image: CSM Paul Langley during a ceremony where he assumed the position of Senior Enlisted Leader (SEL) for Special Operations Command Korea (SOCKOR) in August 2023.

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

New SEL for SOCKOR. CSM Paul Langley is the new Senior Enlisted Leader for Special Operations Command Korea. He steps into this role after serving as the Commandant at the Army Special Operations NCO Academy at Fort Liberty (FBNC), North Carolina.

AFSOC Changes Up Training. On the chopping block is dive training for three special warfare fields. The Air Force Special Operations Command is looking at cutting the five-week combat dive qualification course from the initial training pipeline for special tactics officers and enlisted combat control and special reconnaissance airmen. “Air Force considers training changes across all special ops jobs”, Air Force Times, August 14, 2023.

NSW WOs Eligible for Bonus. The Navy’s Critical Skills Accession Bonus is offering those with a 7151 or 7171 special warfare designator a hefty bonus. Some CWOs are eligible for a lump sum payment in phases once signing a contract extension. “Special warfare chief warrant officers eligible for $90,000 bonus”, Navy Times, August 18, 2023.

CA and SEALs Conduct MEDCAP in Philippines. Members of a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) unit and the U.S. Army Civil Affairs hosted a medical civic action program (MEDCAP) with the local government of El Nido in Palawan, Philippines, from July 29-30, 2023. The team worked with medical professionals from local hospitals, the provincial health unit, the Palawan dental chapter, and local volunteers to serve hundreds of patients in various medical and dental services. “U.S. Civil Affairs, Navy SEALs Host Medical Civic Action Program in the Philippines”, PACOM.mil, August 16, 2023.

SF SGM Now Army’s Senior Enlisted. A former member of Delta Force and former SEL for USASOC is now the Sergeant Major of the Army. “A Delta Force Operator is Now Sergeant Major of the Army: Meet Mike Weimer”, SOFREP, August 5, 2023.

AFSOC Conference. The Air Force Special Operations Command held the 2023 Weapons and Tactics Conference at Hurlburt Field on August 2-11, 2023. Weapons and tactics experts from across the AFSOC enterprise gathered to participate in mission focused working groups to produce warfighter driven solutions to tactical problems. Working groups during the conference included focus areas such as precision strike, irregular warfare, specialized mobility, information warfare, and small unmanned aerial systems tactics. “AFSOC hosts 2023 Weapons and Tactics Conference”, AFSOC, August 14, 2023.

Banner International SOF

International SOF

‘Dnipro Devils’ of Ukraine. The Ukrainian special forces troops that are now launching daring raids across the Dnipro River and are wreaking havoc on Russian positions were trained by UK Royal Marines. “Dnipro Devils Drilled by British Special Forces”, Kyiv Post, August 14, 2023.

Russian PMCs. Independent Russian news outlets reported that the State Duma was pushing through an amendment to allow Russian regions to form their own private military companies (PMCs) on June 25, 2023. These PMCs are employable during mobilization, military emergencies or wartime to aid security forces against internal security threats. “Russian Regional Private Military Companies: Key Implications”, Grey Dynamics, August 21, 2023. (subscription)

SOF History Banner

SOF History

The Carlos Ghosn Affair. In 2019 a former Special Forces soldier, Mike Taylor, and his acquaintances helped a high-level executive with Lebanese origins facing imprisonment escape Japan – in a custom-made music box. He was put into a box, loaded onto a private plane, and flown to Turkey. Lebanon has no extradition policy. Unfortunately, Mike Taylor and his son (who assisted in the escape) were extradited to Japan and spent a few years imprisoned. “We smuggled an incarcerated US business tycoon out of Japan in a 3-foot box – then he stiffed us $1m”, New York Post, August 18, 2023.

Marine Recon Battalions. There are three active-duty Recon Battalions and one reserve battalion. Read about the history, organization, training, and more in “Marine Recon Battalion 101”, SOFREP, August 5, 2019.

Disastrous Day for Green Berets. On August 23, 1968, a large North Vietnamese Army force attacked MAC-V SOG FOB 4 and mission launch site on Marble Mountain in Da Nang. Most of the attacking NVA died in the three-hour attack, but they killed over two dozen Americans and over 40 Montagnards who manned the Recon Teams or the Hatchet Force alongside Americans. Seventeen Green Berets were killed in the battle. Read an account of the attack by John S. Meyer (former SOG member).

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Long, Slow Campaign. The hopes that Ukraine would make a rapid strike deep into Russian held territory and possibly take the logistics node of Melitopol (Google Maps) have been dashed. The Russians have extensive dug-in positions and the probing attacks on multiple fronts by Ukrainian troops have yielded only slow progress. The Ukrainians strategy of advancing cautiously has succeeded in degrading Russian forces – the result which could create opportunities for a strategic breakthrough to the Sea of Azov. This would cut the land route between Russian and Crimea.

F-16s for Ukraine. President Biden has given the go-ahead for the Netherlands and Denmark to transfer advanced aircraft to Ukraine. But first the pilot training has to be completed . . . so it is still several months away from happening. Kyiv has been asking for the warplanes since early 2022 but the U.S. has stalled on the request. The F-16s are not likely to be used in 2023.

CRS Report – DoS funding for Ukraine. The Congressional Research Service has published a 13-page document entitled Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Supplemental Funding for Ukraine: In Brief. The United States Congress has, in total, appropriated about $113 billion for supplemental funding for Ukraine in FY2022 and FY2023. This funds a wide range of activities for the Department of State, Department of Defense, foreign assistance programs, weapons transfers, and more. On August 10, 2023, the Biden Administration submitted a request for almost $24 billion in FY2024 emergency supplemental funding for Ukraine and other international needs related to the conflict. This report details, if approved, where some of the money would go. (PDF, August 2023). https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R47275

U.S Security Assistance. The Defense Department has updated its Fact Sheet on security assistance to Ukraine. It describes the several categories of material, weapons, and equipment provided. These include ground maneuver, aircraft, UASs, small arms, anti-armor, maritime, and other capabilities. (DoD, August 14, 2023, PDF, 3 pages).

Legal Status for Ukrainians in the U.S. The Biden administration has announced an extension and expansion of temporary legal status for Ukrainians who are in the United States.

CRS Report – Moldova: An Overview. The post-Soviet state lies on the western border of Ukraine. While it seeks greater integration with the West it also is constrained by Russian territorial occupation in the Transnistria region (located along the Ukraine border). CRS IF10894, updated August 14, 2023, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10894

Banner National Security

National Security

IW Strategy. Paul Burton presents his perspective that the role of policy makers have in implementing irregular warfare campaigns over the long term. “Irregular Warfare Strategy Policy Friction: Perpetual Disruption Is Not Victory, or Is It?”, Small Wars Journal, August 16, 2023.

NATO Increases Advisory Mission in Iraq. Following a request from the Iraqi authorities and a decision by the North Atlantic Council, the scope of NATO Mission Iraq will now include support of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Federal Police Command. The NATO Mission Iraq was established in 2018. “NATO Mission Iraq takes on additional advisory and capacity-building tasks”, NATO, August 17, 2023.

Proxy Wars. Vladimir Rauta reflects on the thinking behind the thinking about proxy wars while discussing a recently published publication on the topic. “How to Think about Proxy Wars in the Twenty-first Century”, Irregular Warfare Initiative, August 15, 2023.

MAVNI Recruitment Program. Hope Hodge Seck provides details about the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. She presents the argument that the program should be reinstituted to bring back cultural and language fluency to the U.S. military forces. “For More Effective Irregular Warfare, Bring Back the MAVNI Recruitment Program”, Irregular Warfare Initiative, August 4, 2023.

Border Crisis. The number of immigrants encountered by U.S. authorities while attempting to enter from Mexico illegally soared in July. “Biden dealt massive border blow as illegal crossings spike 33%”, Washington Examiner, August 19, 2023.

Afghanistan: More Docs to Congress. Congressional leaders have received a batch of 300 documents related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan from the Department of State. House Republicans are continuing their probe of the chaotic military retreat from the country in the summer of 2021. The documents are situational reports and memos from the Afghanistan Task Force, which was created to coordinate efforts on evacuations and bring Afghans with special immigrant visas (SIVs) to the United States. “State Department Sends More Afghanistan Documents to Congress”, The Hill, August 17, 2023.

Help Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel with spine injuries receive the healthcare options, education, and care they need.

Coup in Niger – Is a NEO About to Happen?

Another NEO – now Niger? The United States has, in the past few years, received quite a bit of experience in conducting non-combatant evacuation operations (NEOs). Recent NEOs include Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Sudan. The U.S. military is drawing up plans for a potential withdrawal of its 1,100 troops from Niger, a counterterrorism ally in West Africa that is in the throes of a coup, the commander of U.S. air forces in Europe and Africa said Friday. There are no immediate plans for military personnel to evacuate the country and abandon the two drone bases operated by U.S. forces in Niger’s northern desert, said Air Force Gen. James Hecker. But he said preparations are underway in case troops are ordered to leave. “US military in Niger drawing up evacuation plans amid coup, air force general says”, Stars and Stripes, August 18, 2023.

Niger – Is it a Coup or Not a Coup? The Pentagon and State Department refuse to call the overthrow of the government of Niger a coup. If it did, then it would force decisions about military assistance, a U.S. drone base in Niger, and the presence of about 1,100 U.S. troops. There are legal prohibitions (Section 7008 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act) on providing security assistance to juntas; however, Niger has been a key ally in the fight against jihadism in the Sahel and western Africa. A large $110 million U.S. airbase hosts special operations forces, MQ-9 Reapers, and SOF aviation. “When is a coup not a coup? When the U.S. says so.”, The Intercept, August 19, 2023. The U.S. Department of State is actively pursuing efforts to resolve the political crisis in Niamey. A senior diplomat, Ambassador Kathleen FitzGibbon, has been dispatched to Niger (arriving Saturday, August 19, 2023) for discussions with the coup leaders and other stakeholders. She was nominated to be ambassador to Niger in the later part of August.

SOF Training Coup Leaders. Senior SOF leaders are disappointed that the leader junta leaders of Niger are former trainees of U.S. special operations forces. “It’s like a bad monster movie: U.S. officials who helped train Nigerien troops reel from coup“, Politico Defense, August 15, 2023.

“It is hard to not be disappointed. Backsliding on democratic values is never a good thing”.

Retired Gen. Joseph Votel, former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

“He’s the kind of guy that gives you hope for the future of the country, so that makes this doubly disappointing”.

Retired Maj. Gen. J. Marcus Hicks, former commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces Africa.

West Africa – Region in Crisis. A series of coups have replaced governments in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger in recent years – eroding a trend towards democratic rule. In addition, violent extremism has escalated across the Sahel and West Africa. European nations are being asked to reduce their military forces that are fighting jihadism and Russia is making advances in the region (Wagner Group is instrumental in this effort). Much of this instability is exacerbated by ethnic, religious, and economic pressures. The deteriorating situation deserves another look by the international community for a new approach for a broad regional strategy. “West Africa’s Grim Trajectory”, Just Security, August 11, 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.

Upcoming Events

September 18-23, 2023
5th Special Forces Group Reunion

September 24-28, 2023
Combat Diver Competition
Special Forces Underwater Operations School

October 3, 2023
2023 Virtual MOG Mile
Three Rangers Foundation

October 16-20, 2023
Special Operations Association

Books about Special Forces Training

Books, Pubs, and Reports

CRS ReportNavy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program. CRS R41129, Congressional Research Service, updated August 16, 2023, PDF, 55 pages. The Navy has three types of submarines – the SSBN is the only one that carries submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) that are large, long-range missiles armed with multiple nuclear warheads. The SSBNs provide the United States with an assured second-strike capability to carry out a retaliatory nuclear attack.

IWC Spotlight. The August 2023 newsletter of the Irregular Warfare Center is now posted online.

Banner YouTube Microphone Film

Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

Video – New SEAL Mini-Sub. Watch a short video about the Navy SEALs new mini-sub that allows them to stay dry while moving underwater. (at the 2:15 minute mark). Military Times, YouTube, Aug 13, 2023.


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

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.