Special Operations News – October 16, 2023

NSW Combatant Craft

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

Photo / Image: Naval Special Warfare Combatant Craft (image from DVIDS video, 3 Oct 2023).

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SOF News

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ken Tovo. A former commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) is assuming the position of Strategic Advisor (Instagram) with Oak Grove Technologies. Tovo had a 35-year Army career with much of it spent in Special Forces.

Army SOF Cuts Coming. Defense Department officials and the Army undersecretary briefed congressional staff members on Thursday, October 12th, on the 3,000 cuts in personnel that will take place in the USASOC force structure. “Pentagon briefs Hill on Army special ops cuts, vacant slots targeted”, Army Times, October 12, 2023.

U.S. SOF Hostage Rescue in Gaza Strip? A Navy SEAL who is now a GOP lawmaker says that a U.S. special operations hostage rescue in Israel would take considerable effort. (Fox News, October 15, 2023)

‘Space Ranger’. An MIT graduate who works on satellites has completed U.S. Army Ranger School. His primary job in the Air Force is to develop satellite communications tools. He has attended other ‘infantry’ type schools to include the Sapper Leader’s Course and Air Assault School. (The Messenger, October 15, 2023).

SOF and Multidomain Operations. Lt. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, commanding general, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, spoke during the Association of U.S. Army’s Warriors Corner event – “Special Operations, Space, and Cyber Operations: A Modern-Day Triad” – in Washington D.C. on Oct. 11. Braga said he foresees the Triad being leveraged for irregular warfare options, flexible deterrents and flexible response options for the joint warfighter. He said the Triad has to work together, experiment together and learn together. “TRIAD leaders update AUSA at Warriors Center”, DVIDS, October 13, 2023.

12th Annual Special Operations Forces and Irregular Warfare Symposium

Green Beret (the hat) History. Sarah Sicard has penned an article that provides details on how the green beret became the official headgear for Special Forces soldiers. “How the green beret became the symbol of US Army Special Forces”, Military Times, October 10, 2023.

A Dad Remembers His Fallen Son. On October 4, 2017, four U.S. soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Group died in an ambush in Niger. While this event captured the attention of the nation for several months, for most Americans, it is a faint and distinct memory. But not for the families of those lost soldiers. “A father reflects on the death of his son during the 2017 Niger ambush”, by Henry Black, Military Times, October 6, 2023.

‘Hell Week’. Joshua Skovlund provides some historical perspective on SEAL training and the early days of frogmen. “Why Navy SEALs wear a trident and other facts about life as a frogman”, Task and Purpose, October 12, 2023.

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SOF History

3rd SFG(A). On October 16, 1991, 2nd Battalion, 3rd SFGA was activated with HQs company, 2 SF companies, and a forward support company.

Martha Raye. On October 19, 1994, the Honorary Special Forces LTC “Maggie” Raye died.

Afghanistan. On October 19, 2001, two SF detachments infiltrate into northern Afghanistan to link up with the Northern Alliance. They were the first two U.S. Army SF teams inserted into Afghanistan to work with Northern Alliance Forces. On the same day, Operation Rhino took place in southern Afghanistan. The 3rd Ranger Battalion conducted an airborne operation to seize Objective Rhino. This was part of a highly publicized U.S. effort to show that the United States could put boots on the ground anywhere in the world whenever it wanted.

PSYOP. On October 16, 2006, the Psychological Operations branch was established.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Russian Offensive. The Russians have begun offensive operations in the Avdiivka (Google Maps) region close to Russian-occupied Donetsk. Thus far it has gained minimal ground. The Russians have stepped up attacks on military and civilian targets with drones over the past few days. F-16 fighter training will begin in the coming days for Ukrainian pilots and crews in the United States.

IO Front. Ukrainian information operations activities are credited with the defection of over 17,000 Russian soldiers according to US Army Special Operations Command’s Lt. Gen. Jon Braga (Breaking Defense). A recent RAND corporation study examines the respective characteristics and persuasiveness of the Russian and Ukrainian information operations campaigns. See “The Nightingale Versus the Bear”, RAND, October 2023, PDF, 59 pages. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA2032-1.html

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

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National Security

Bolduc on our Generals. In modern military operations, the role of Generals and Admirals is critical in shaping the direction and outcomes of defense strategies. However, there has been an increasing concern over the failure of these top-ranking officers to fulfill their duties effectively. Retired Brig. General Don Bolduc, a career Special Forces officer, examines the reasons behind this perceived failure and the implications for our military today. “Evaluating the Leadership Failure of Generals and Admirals in Today’s Military”, SOFREP, October 9, 2023.

Crossing into Egypt from Gaza. Negotiations with Egypt for the use of the Rafah Border Crossing as an evacuation corridor from Gaza Strip is ongoing. It was reported that a few citizens of the U.S. and Canada got across a few days ago; but it has now been closed by Egypt. There is the possibility that the crossing will be open on Monday, October 16, 2023, at 9 am (local time) according to the U.S. State Department, but only for a limited amount of time and probably only for foreign nationals.

CRS Reports. The Congressional Research Service has published two reports about the Hamas – Israel conflict. https://www.national-security.info/country/israel/hamas-attack-2023.html

Are China and North Korea Allies? Beijing is keeping a careful eye on its neighboring nation – it has concerns that the growing threats from Pyongyang will destabilize Northeast Asia. “North Korea and China Aren’t the Allies You Think They Are”, The RAND Blog, September 27, 2023.

Russian Military Ground Forces. The Institute for the Study of War has published Russian Regular Ground Forces Order of Battle: Russian Military 101. The PDF (60 pages) was published on October 12, 2023. It has two sections: an introductory essay on the regular Russian ground forces and a fully sourced order of battle (OB). https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-regular-ground-forces-order-battle-russian-military-101

Sahel CT Effort. If the US is forced to end operations at the air base it modernized at Agadez, Niger and to withdraw US troops from Niger, they may be able to relocate to another country.  But it’s hard to see how the US can continue to pursue its counterterrorism strategy in the Sahel without a base in the immediate area. “West Africa: Collapse of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy in the Sahel”, All Africa, October 15, 2023.

Another Earthquake. A third earthquake, measuring 6.3 magnitude, struck an area close to Herat on Sunday, October 14, 2023. Over 100 have been injured with some deaths reported as well. The last two earthquakes flattened thousands of homes, killed over 3,000 people, injured more than 7,000, and displaced thousands. The United States is providing over $12 million in aid for Afghan earthquake relief. The Hindu Kush Mountain range lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. “Afghanistan hit by third earthquake in a week”, BBC News, October 15, 2023.

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Books about Special Forces Training

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Book – The Fourth Age: The Future of Special Operations. This anthology of fictional stories helps us visualize a future era of special operations. Through their creative talents and subject matter knowledge, the authors realistically portray what is within the realm of possible. They draw upon lessons of the past while imagining the future. Joint Special Operations Press (JSOU), October 2, 2023, PDF, 192 pages. https://www.jsou.edu/Press/PublicationDashboard/239

Podcast – SEALs in Iraq. The commander of a SEAL team in Iraq, Rick Witt, talks about the deployment. The Spear Podcast, October 11, 2023, 50 minutes. https://mwi.westpoint.edu/podcast-the-spear-seals-in-iraq/

Video – NSW Overview. Naval Special Warfare Command, located on Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, leads the Navy’s maritime special operations force and is the Navy component to U.S. Special Operations Command. NSW is the nation’s elite maritime special operations force, uniquely positioned to extend the Fleet’s reach and gain and maintain access for the Joint Force in competition and conflict. DVIDS, October 3, 2023, 6 minutes. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/900276/nsw-overview-video

Video – AFSOC Mission Overview. A look at the history, heritage, and missions of Air Force Special Operations Command. DVIDS, October 12, 2023, 5 minutes. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/900214/afsoc-mission-overview

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