Special Operations News – Dec 4, 2023

MH-47G Chinook

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

Photo / Image: 308th Rescue Squadron pararescumen climb into the back of a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment MH-47G Chinook helicopter into Banana River, Florida, Feb. 15, 2023, during combat search and rescue training. The 160th SOAR’s mission is to organize, equip, train, resource and employ Army special operations aviation forces worldwide in support of contingency missions and combatant commanders. (Staff Sgt. Darius Sostre-Miroir)

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SOF News

CV-22B Mishap. The U.S. Air Force has announced that an AFSOC Osprey has crashed in the waters off Japan on Wednesday, November 29th. Eight Air Commandos were on board. The wreckage has been located by dive teams; a few of the remains have been recovered. The others are currently in DUSTWUN status. Search and rescue efforts were conducted for several days. The aircraft and aircrew belonged to the 353rd Special Operations Wing based at Yokota Air Base, Japan. “AFSOC Aircraft Mishap Release”, AFSOC, December 4, 2023.

The Warrior’s Path. “Ramon “CZ” Colón-López’s rise from Puerto Rican poverty to the heights of military leadership embodies resilience, courage, and unwavering dedication. His journey through the elite U.S Air Force Pararescue Community and ascent to Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman (SEAC) position encapsulates vital lessons in humility and leadership. CZ’s story is a powerful blueprint for overcoming adversity and leading with integrity.” (Men’s Journal, Nov 29, 2023)

College Football Quarterback to Join SEALs. A star football player is walking away from his college football career for the chance to serve his country as a Navy SEAL. “Utah State quarterback gives up final year of eligibility, plans to become Navy SEAL”, Washington Examiner, November 29, 2023.

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International SOF

Hezbollah’s Unit 910. Javier Sutil Toledano provides details on the External Security Organization (ESO) – a clandestine black-ops branch and intelligence unit. It is an elite and highly compartmentalized unit responsible for overseas terrorism operations against Israel and Western targets. “Unit 910: Hezbollah’s Covert Action Unit”, Grey Dynamics, November 27, 2023.

IDF Commando Killed. Chief Warrant Officer Ido Rosenthal, was a legendary fighter of the Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit, one of the IDF’s most senior and classified units. “How a legendary IDF commando was killed on October 7”, The Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2023.

Chinese PMCs. Alessandro Arduino writes about how Chinese PMCs are safeguarding China’s Belt and Road Initiative against criminal and militant violence. Chinese private security firms are likely to play an increasingly pivotal role in protecting Chinese interests and enhancing security capabilities in a realm where the line between private and public is seldom clear. “Chinese Private Security Companies: Neither Blackwater nor the Wagner Group”, War on the Rocks, December 1, 2023.

Astute-Class Subs. Read about a nuclear submarine that is capable of supporting Royal Navy Special Boat Service or Royal Marine Commandos with a dry deck shelter. “Astute-Class: The Submarine As Stealth as a Dolphin (Not in the U.S. Navy)”, by Peter Suciau, National Interest, November 29, 2023.

SOF History Banner

Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

Camp X. On December 6, 1941, Camp X (STS 103) opened in Canada.

FSSF. On December 5, 1944, the combined U.S.-Canadian First Special Service Force (FSSF) paraded one final time at their Villeneuve-Loubert camp, near the town of Menton, in southeastern France on December 5, 1944. The 1st Special Forces Regiment and all U.S. Army SF groups trace their “official” lineage to the FSSF. Commemoration of Menton Day is an occasion when U.S. SF honors its lineal connection to the FSSF.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Report – Ukrainian Military Performance and Outlook. The Congressional Research Service has updated this “IN FOCUS” report. CRS IF12150, updated December 1, 2023, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12150

Interactive Map. Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine by the Insitute for the Study of War and Critical Threats.
On storymaps.arcgis.com

Map as of November 2023. By @War_Mapper. https://twitter.com/War_Mapper/status/1591585876987240448/photo/1

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

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Is It Time to Downsize SOF? Jan Kallberg argues that the size of special operations forces in Western nations is too large. The CT and COIN era may not be over; but the need for SOF forces to focus on those missions has diminished. More important is being able to compete with near-peer adversaries. He uses the example of the Ukraine War to support his argument. “Time to Radically Downsize the West’s Special Forces”, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), November 29, 2023.

CT Opns Under Biden. A new paper provides details on the first three years of the Biden administrations’ counterterrorism operations in 78 different countries. Watson Institute of Brown University, November 2023, PDF, 15 pages.

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National Security

Will Venezuela Attack Guyana? There is concern that fighting will break out in South America. Venezuela is claiming that a large part of Guyana belongs to Venezuela. A longstanding border controversy has worsened following a massive discovery of oil. “Guyana Official: Venezuela’s Actions Are an ‘Unprecedented’ Challenge”, Americas Quarterly, November 29, 2023.

Former Ambassador Arrested. A former U.S. ambassador who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations has been arrested. “Former US ambassador arrested in Florida, accused of serving as an agent of Cuba”, AP News, December 3, 2023.

Border Crisis. The porous southern border and absurd policies toward illegal immigration continue to stress the government entities ‘policing’ the border area. ‘Sanctuary cities’ have cried out ‘no mas’ – citing overwhelmed resettlement agencies coping with a housing shortage across the nation.

  • “H.R. 5283 – Protecting our Communities from Failure to Secure the Border Act of 2023”, House of Representatives, reported to House on November 17, 2023. This bill prohibits the federal government from using certain federally administered lands to provide housing to any non-U.S. nationals (aliens under federal law) who have not been admitted into the United States. Specifically, this prohibition shall apply to any land under the administrative jurisdiction of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Forest Service. The bill also revokes a 2023 lease between the National Park Service and the City of New York to use portions of the Gateway National Recreation Area to provide housing to migrant persons. https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/5283
  • Report – Central American Migration: Root Causes and U.S. Policy. The Congressional Research Service has published an “In Focus” brief on the factors that drive migration from Central American to the United States. CRS IF11151, updated November 30, 2023, PDF 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11151

Report – Army’s XM-30 OMFV. The Congressional Research Service has published an “In Focus” pub about the Army’s Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle. CRS IF12094, updated November 29, 2023, PDF, 3 pages.

Chinese Land Ownership in the United States. US policymakers are increasingly suspicious of Chinese land ownership in the United States’ farmland. Since 2011, Chinese investors have increased their agricultural land holdings in the United States by over 384,000 acres. Chinese land ownership poses challenges to national security and the U.S. agriculture industry. While their land holdings are only a fraction of a per cent of total U.S. land, skepticism of Chinese activity has encouraged regulation of foreign-owned American land. Read a report on this topic by George Englehart posted by Grey Dynamics, December 4, 2023.

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.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

CT in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Asfandyar Mir provides his perspective on the choices U.S. counterterrorism policymakers have for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Commentary: No Good Choices: The Counterterrorism Dilemmas in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Oct/Nov 2023.

Report – Pakistan and Terrorists. The Congressional Research Service has updated its “IN FOCUS” report entitled Terrorist and Other Militant Groups in Pakistan. CRS IF11934, updated December 1, 2023, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11934

ISKP and India- What is the Future? The Islamic State of Khorasan Province is still a very real concern for the Taliban. It is also a concern for Pakistan and India. An Indian national security observer provides the details and offers some recommendations for India to consider. “Islamic State in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – will its influence decline in 2024?”, India Narrative, November 29, 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.

Middle East and Africa

Houthi Missile Attacks Against Maritime Targets. Ballistic missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck three commercial ships Sunday in the Red Sea, while a U.S. warship shot down three drones in self-defense during the hours long assault, the U.S. military said. The Iranian-backed Houthis claimed two of the attacks. CENTCOM says the attacks were ‘inspired by Iran’. “3 commercial ships hit by missiles in Houthi attack in Red Sea, US warship downs 3 drones”, AP News, December 4, 2023.

Americans at Risk? Some say that Israel is the canary in the coal mine – a warning to others of dangers ahead. Lela Gilbert details how Christians and Jews live dangerously in most Muslim majority countries and how the threat is growing. “Saturday People, Sunday People and Americans at Risk”, Washington Stand, November 30, 2023.

Syria. U.S. military officials say that multiple rockets were launched against US positions at Rumalyn Landing Zone, Syria. No casualties nor damage to infrastructure was reported.

Report – Iran and Nuclear Weapons Production. The Congressional Research Service has updated an “In Focus” report that provides the background and the estimated nuclear weapons development timelines for Iran’s nuclear weapons program. CRS IF12106, updated November 27, 2023, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12106

Islamic State and Africa. Rachel Chason writes that IS is surging in strength in Africa and now its affiliates control more territory with each passing year. The departure of European security forces from some African countries has presented a vacuum that is being filled by the Islamic State affiliates – especially IS Sahel. A worrisome development is the transitioning of IS Sahel from committing mostly terror acts to establishing a permanent presence through governance in many territories. “Why the Islamic State is surging in Africa”, The Washington Post, December 4, 2023. (subscription)

Fulani Herdsmen. Since the 1990s, Nigeria has endured several complex identity-based conflicts. The one under focus in this article, the Fulani Ethnic Militia (FEM) or Fulani Herdsmen, is characterized as a series of ‘deadly ethnic riots’. These tend to be episodic rather than ubiquitous and involve widespread hostility and brutal killings. “Fulani Herdsmen: A Nomadic Ethnic Militia?”, Grey Dynamics, December 3, 2023.

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Books, Podcasts, Videos, and Movies

Sentinel. The monthly issue is now online. Articles cover several topics to include Operation Tailwind, book review of Hot Mics and TV Lights, SOGCast – stories of MAC-V SOG in Vietnam, Dominican Republic, review of The Guerrilla Trilogy by Jim Morris. https://www.specialforces78.com/chapter-78-newsletter-for-december-2023/

Video – Special Forces to CIA Officer in Afghanistan Fighting the Soviets. Mike Vickers was Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (2011-2015) and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (2007-2011). He also served as a CIA Operations Officer and Special Forces Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer. In his later years he had a central role in developing our strategy and overseeing our campaigns to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and in the operation to kill Usama Bin Ladin. The Team House, YouTube, December 1, 2023, two hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsPxY8fn_k4

Video – Irregular Warfare. Think JSOU introduces LTC Steve Ferenzi – a non-resident fellow of JSOU. Ferenzi discusses how JSOU provides support to irregular warfare and the studies of resilience and resistance. Think JSOU, Joint Special Operations University, YouTube, December 1, 2023, 8 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Sehlahhe4

Video – MACV SOG CCN John Stryker Meyer RT IDAHO. A veteran of the Studies and Observations Group of Military Assistance Command Vietnam talks about his time on recon teams during the Vietnam War. MACV SOG YouTube, November 25, 2023, one hour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEadvK0pnEY&t=199s

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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.