Special Operations News – September 11, 2023

Special Forces Parachutist

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

Photo / Image: An Army Special Forces soldier parachutes during Exercise Super Garuda Shield in Banyuwangi, Indonesia, Aug. 30, 2023. The annual exercise is a joint, multinational event focused on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Austin Berner.

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9/11 Anniversary. The terrorist attack against the United States on September 11, 2001, thrust the U.S. into a 20-year Global War on Terror (GWOT). The terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 in the worst terrorist attack against the homeland in our nation’s history.

SOF News

New SOJTF-C Cdr. Rear Adm. (lower half) Mark A. Schafer, is assigned as commanding general, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Central, U.S. Central Command, Doha, Qatar.  Schafer recently served as commander, Navy Region Korea; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea; commander, Naval Component, United Nations Commander, Korea, Pusan, Korea.

SOF and Psychedelic Treatment. A prior study demonstrated that psychedelic-assisted therapy was related to reductions in mental health symptoms and associated consequences among U.S. Special Operations Forces Veterans seeking treatment in Mexico. A new study extends this analysis to explore the prospective associations of baseline predictors on treatment outcomes and whether changes in psychological flexibility mediate the relationship between acute changes in consciousness and clinical outcomes. “Predictors of psychedelic treatment outcomes among special operations veterans”, American Psychological Association, September 2023.

MC-12W Aircrew Honored. An aircraft with the callsign Independence 08 was lost on April 27, 2013, in a crash near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, killing four. “MC-12W Liberty aircrew honors fellow Airmen who died in 2013 crash”, DVIDS, September 6, 2023.

NAVSCIATTS SLIC. The Strategic Leaders International Course offered by the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (part of USSOCOM) is a four week in-resident professional development curriculum held at Stennis Space Center, MS. The course is designed for partner nation senior military leaders, diplomats, and senior government officials, introduces the participants to leading-edge methodologies actively used in both the public and private sectors to address the complexities of today’s “gray and green” zone challenges. Read more in “Bridging the Gaps Between Partner Nations”, DVIDS, September 5, 2023.

MoH Recipient – Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz. Celiz was selected to join the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013, and by 2018, he’d deployed several times to both Iraq and Afghanistan. During those deployments, he was always inclusive of others and known to encourage camaraderie. His selflessness was put to the ultimate test on July 12, 2018, when Celiz was leading a special purpose unit that included 1st Battalion Rangers and partner forces in Afghanistan. “Medal of Honor Monday: Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz”, U.S DoD, September 11, 2023.

SOF Medics and Their Egos. Medicine is an environment where egotistical behavior often reigns supreme; SOF medicine is far from exempt from this phenomenon. “Healthy Humility in Special Operations Forces (SOF) Medicine . . . and Beyond”, by Sam Patrick, LinkedIn Pulse, November 22, 2019.

SEALs Face Charges. An investigation into the death of a SEAL candidate in February 2022 has revealed that medical teams at BUD/S were “poorly organized, poorly integrated and poorly led.” “Three Navy SEAL commanders face charges in Hell Week death”, Task & Purpose, September 8, 2023. Read more about this incident in “The Navy SEALs Hell Week Turns Deadly”, by Seeth Hettena, Rolling Stone, September 7, 2023.

MoH Recipient – Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee. The heroic actions of MSG Plumlee, a member of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), on 28 August 2013 in Afghanistan earned him the award of the Medal of Honor. He was based at Forward Operating Base Ghazni when Afghan insurgents attacked the FOB with a massive explosion against the FOB perimeter wall. Insurgents wearing suicide vests poured through the hole in the wall. Plumlee’s actions that day was key to saving the lives of many. Read more in “Medal of Honor: Master Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee”, Military Review, September – October 2023.

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International SOF

Russian SOF – Lessons Not Learned. A recent article about Russian special operations forces provides some interesting perspectives on the historical use of Russian SOF over the past century. “The Fall from Grace of Russian SOF: The Danger of Forgetting Lessons Learned“, Irregular Warfare Center, September 5, 2023.

Estonia SOF. Analysis suggests that Estonia has the most developed total defense and unconventional warfare processes and capabilities of any Baltic state [RAND source]. Much of this is due to the Estonian Special Operation Forces; a highly specialized unit responsible for all manner of special operations. “ESTSOF: Estonian Special Operations Forces”, by Ahmad Hassan, Grey Dynamics, September 4, 2023.

El Sal SF Participate in Fort Devens Shooting Competition. FORT DEVENS, Massachusetts – Team El Salvador won the Remington “Vulcan” Trophy as Team Grand Aggregate Champion in the New Hampshire National Guard Adjutant General (NHNG TAG)’s 2023 Combat Marksmanship Match on Sept. 8, Ft. Devens, Mass. (DVIDS, Sep 10, 2023)

New Rifle for UK SOF. Special operations elements of the British Army and Royal Marines are getting a new rifle – the KS-1. An order for 1,640 Knight’s Stoner 1 (KS-1) rifles, designated the L403A1 in UK service, has been placed, with an option to acquire a further 10,000 falling under a new £90m contract over the next decade. “KS-1: All the gen on the British Army and Royal Marines’ new rifle”, Forces.net, September 7, 2023. See also “New advanced rifle for Ranger Regiment”, army.mod.uk, September 7, 2023.

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SOF History

Bin Laden Raid. In May 2011 members of SEAL Team Six infiltrated into Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden. The al-Qaeda founder was the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people. “Operations Neptune Spear: 7 Sizzling Secrets About the Bin Laden Mission”, Spyscape, September 9, 2023.

Operation BARRAS. On 10 September 2000, 1 PARA, the RAF, and the SAS conducted Operation BARRAS to free five British soldiers held captive in the war-torn West African country of Sierra Leone. They were held by the West Side Boys. Lynx, Chinook, and Hind helicopters took part in the successful operation. https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/operation-barras

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Guarded Optimism. Many observers of the Ukraine conflict have noticed that the Ukrainians have yet to score a significant breakthrough of the Russian defensive lines that would lead to a severing of the Russian logistical lines of communication. However, some assessments are now moving from pessimistic to a more promising outcome – with a possible penetration of Russia’s third line of defense taking place before the harsh winter weather sets in. A senior official of the Defense Intelligence Agency provides more in an interview. “How the Pentagon assesses Ukraine’s progress”, The Economist, September 6, 2023. (subscription).

Cluster Munitions. Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched weapons that release a number of smaller submunitions intended to kill enemy personnel or destroy vehicles. Cluster munitions were developed in World War II and are part of many governments’ weapons stockpiles. Cluster munitions have been used frequently in combat, including the early phases of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cluster munitions have been criticized for causing a significant number of civilian deaths. The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which bans the use of cluster munitions, entered into force in 2010; the United States is not a party to this convention. A number of governments, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations have accused Russia of using cluster munitions during its 2022 invasion. Cluster Munitions: Backgrounds and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, CRS RS22907, updated September 6, 2023, PDF, 17 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RS/RS22907

SFA and Ukraine. The United States can learn from what has worked in its effort to support the Ukrainian military. Why did security force assistance work in Ukraine but fail in Afghanistan? Alexandra Chinchilla of Texas A&M’s Bush School unpacks this question, examining the factors that led assistance to work—at least somewhat—in Ukraine and explaining the lessons we should learn about when and how to use this tool in the future. “Lessons From Ukraine for Security Force Assistance”, Lawfare Blog, September 10, 2023.

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SOF and South America. Cole Herring, a Special Forces officer in the US Army with time in the 7th Special Forces Group and Special Operations Command South, writes on countering China in South America. He says that special operations forces are uniquely suited to build partnerships that will help counter the malign influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in America’s backyard. “SOF Can Help Win the Competition for Influence in South America”, Irregular Warfare Initiative, September 1, 2023.

Paper – Urban Resistance to Occupation. This paper illustrates the feasibility of overt, guerrilla-based activity in urban environments during the final phase of a conflict and offers insight into an understudied Landpower activity that modern at-risk countries should develop and hone. “Urban Resistance to Occupation: An Underestimated Element of Land Warfare”, Parameters, August 2023, by Kevin D. Stringer and Jell J.H. Hooiveld, 19 pages.

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National Security

Tanks in the 21st Century. A nine-page essay details the persistent value of armored combined arms teams in the modern era. “The Tank is Dead . . . Long Live the Tank”, Military Review, August 2023, PDF.

11th Airborne Division – With a Mission in the “High North”. During World War II the 11th Airborne Division saw extensive duty in the Pacific theater. It would later deploy to Vietnam as the 11th Air Assault Division. In 2022, the 11th Airborne Division was reactivated. Today, the “Arctic Angels” of the 11th build capability to operate in the Arctic, mountain terrain, and other extreme cold weather (ECW) areas while maintaining readiness for global deployments. “The 11th Airborne Division Reborn”, Military Review, September – October 2023.

Infantry. The Fall 2023 edition of Infantry is online. Lots of articles to include several on jungle warfare. Published on DVIDS by the U.S. Army Infantry School, PDF, 52 pages. https://www.dvidshub.net/publication/issues/67501

DoD Going ‘Woke’. Change 5 to the Manual of Military Decorations and Awards took effect on August 7, 2023. Because of this change citations for prestigious joint awards must now use gender-neutral language. So instead of a fellow getting an award saying ” . . . distinguished himself by superior meritorious service . . .”; it will now say ” . . . distinguished themself by superior meritorious service . . .” Things that make you go “Hmmm”. “New Department of Defense Rule Neuters the Brave Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces”, The Daily Signal, September 1, 2023.

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


Kabul Airlift. A Congressional aide recounts the ups and downs of assisting U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders onto Hamid Karzai International Airport during the frantic days of August 2021. He also writes on the despair and disappointment he felt in the aftermath. “The Education of a Soldier”, Special Operations Association of America, August 31, 2023.

Afghan SIVs Lost in Red Tape. Processing rates by the U.S. Department of State of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants is very slow. Critics claim this is threatening the lives of more than 152,000 SIV applicants remaining in Afghanistan. “Afghan allies who risked lives to help US lost in red tape”, Fox News, September 3, 2023.

Failure of August 2021. The U.S. military did a phenomenal job in conducting the Kabul Airlift two years ago. Over 120,000 people were airlifted out of Kabul in a two-week period by the U.S. and other nations. Many of these people were foreign nationals. Some were at-risk Afghans who had assisted the U.S., NATO, and other partner nations during the 2001 to 2021 timeframe. However, many of the evacuated Afghans were simply people who swarmed the airport during the initial days of the chaotic non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) and managed to get on a flight out of the country. Most of the at-risk Afghans who qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) due to their working relationship with the U.S. military have been left behind in Afghanistan. “Helping the Afghan Allies America Left Behind”, by Luke Coffey, Hudson Institute, September 8, 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.


The Coups Keep Coming. There have been several countries in Africa that have had coups in the past few years. This graphic depicts the African countries that have had coups between 2020 and 2023. (Wikimedia.org, Creative Commons, 31 July 2023)

DoD Leaving Niger? Just prior to the coup in Niger the U.S. had about 1,100 troops at two main bases in the country. There now may less than that as the DoD has stated it is ‘repositioning’ troops. The DoD says (DoD News) that some contractors and non-essential personnel have left Niger while others have left the capital region’s Air Base 101 in Niamey for Air Base 201 in the Agadez area of Niger. “US repositioning forces in Niger in ‘precautionary’ move”, The Hill, September 7, 2023. See also “US Drone Flights Limited Since Niger Coup”, Voice of America, September 8, 2023.

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Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

CIA Recruitment Video. The CIA released a new recruiting video targeting employees of the Russian security services and the military. (CIA, YouTube, Sep 8, 2023, 2 mins).

Video – Spy Ops Official Trailer – Netflix. In this intense true crime series, intelligence operatives from MI6 to the CIA share insider stories of spy craft, Cold War campaigns, and coups carried out by covert agents. Featuring interviews with real officials, officers, and spies. Netflix, YouTube, August 11, 2023, 2 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N0R50cu-P0

The first episode aired a few days ago – Operation Jawbreaker – about the first Central Intelligence Teams to enter Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in September 2001. Read a recap of the episode by Film Fugitives, September 9, 2023.

Video – Hon. Christopher Maier, ASD SO/LIC. Chris Maier, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict – ASD SO/LIC, is interviewed on the SOFcast Podcast. USSOCOM, YouTube, September 1, 2023, 52 minutes. The interview took place during SOF Week in Tampa, Florida in May 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAmmqC–A_Q

Video – Interview with AC-130 Gunship Crew Member. The Reconnaissance Cast, August 30, 2023, YouTube, 2 hours. The Vietnam War years of the AC-47 and AC-130 Gunship programs – from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQKNrURBdcU

Video – AFSOC Mission Video 2023. Air Force Special Operations Command is defined by its Air Commandos: highly trained Airmen who are made up by character and adaptability. Airmen who are ready to take on any challenge and find a way for mission success, any place, anytime, anywhere. Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs, DVIDS, September 6, 2023. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/896110/afsoc-mission-video-2023


SOFCAST. United States Special Operations Command

Prep for Impact by Matt Parrish (Green Beret Foundation)

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