Special Operations News – March 11, 2024

SRS Snipers

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

Photo / Image: UK Special Reconnaissance Squadron snipers taking part in Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER in Norway. (Photo by AS1 Daniel Smither, UK MOD, Feb 1, 2024)

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SOF News

Women in SOF. The participation of women in elite special operations forces roles has remained a rarity after almost eight years of being open to female servicemembers. Some observers say this is going to take some time. “Why getting more female troops into Special Operations will take time”, by Hope Hodge Seck, Army Times, March 5, 2024.

Osprey in the Air? The military stood down all the V-22s in December 2023 after a fatal crash of an AFSOC CV-22 that killed eight crewmembers. Now it appears they will soon be returning to flight. (DOD News, 8 Mar 2024) This is welcome news to the services; especially AFSOC, because the platform offers a unique capability that goes unfilled if it isn’t flying. As time goes on the role of the Osprey is more vital than ever. “The Osprey, Indispensable for Future War Plans”, by Rebecca Grant, Real Clear Defense, March 7, 2024.

SWCS and Training Foreign Partners. Allied partners send top officers and service members to receive professional training and education through the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School. They attend schools such as the Joint Special Operations Master of Arts Program and Army Special Operations Forces qualification courses. Advanced skills training provides quality training to hone skills, including Military Freefall Jumpmaster Course in Yuma, Arizona. Read more in “Starting from Beginning: Strengthening of Strategic Foreign Partnerships from Initial Acquistion Training, Education”, by Steve Morningstar, SWCS, March 6, 2024.

FL State Guard ‘Special Operations Unit’. The 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), an Army National Guard unit, is located in Florida. So are other active duty Special Operations Forces units and organizations. However, there is a ‘special operations unit’ that is not subject to federal oversight or presidential authority. Read more in “The Truth About Florida State Guard’s Special Operations Unit”, Ammoland, March 6, 2024.

Drones and SF. Members of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) employed drones during an exercise with Greek special operations forces in early March 2024. The First-Person View (FPV) have become increasingly popular for reconnaissance missions. The FPVs have been used extensively and successfully by both Ukraine and Russia in the current conflict in eastern Ukraine. “US Army Green Berets field FPV drones”, Defence-Blog.com, March 9, 2024.

A Rewarding Career in CA. Lt. Col. Sarah Stockton describes her career in the Army. “1st TSC Civil Affairs officer empowers leaders internationally”, U.S. Army, March 8, 2024.

26th MEU(SOC) Heading to Home Port. The ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), along with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) exited the Mediterranean Sea after conducting operations in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, March 6, 2024. “Bataan ARG, 26th MEU(SOC) to Return to Homeport”, U.S. Sixth Fleet, March 6, 2024.

SF Veteran Heading to Congress. Pat Harrigan has won the Republican congressional primary in the 10th Congressional District in North Carolina. The district votes heavily Republican, so it is very likely he wins in November. Harrigan is a veteran of the Afghan War. (Blue Ridge Public Radio, 5 Mar 2024)

Trojan Footprint. Forces from Albania, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in Exercise Trojan Footprint March 4-15 at locations in Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Greece (DOD 8 Mar 2024), North Macedonia and Romania. Approximately 900 U.S. service members will be among the about 2,000 total participants. Trojan Footprint 24 is a U.S. European Command-approved exercise conducted by U.S. Special Operations Command Europe every two years. (SOCEUR, 4 Mar 2024)

Exercise Agile Angel. A team of special warfare Airmen conducted a low-visibility ground infiltration to establish an austere LZ and FARP. The site refueled an MQ-9 Reaper. The team then was re-tasked to launch in support of a combat search and rescue mission. Learn more about Agile Angel in “Special Warfare and Combat Rescue Airmen demonstrate ACE capabilities”, DVIDS, March 6, 2024.

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

SOF People in the News

Maj. Gen. (Promotable) John W. Brennan Jr. will be assigned as deputy commander, U.S. Africa Command, Germany. He most recently served as director of operations, J-3, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Brig. Gen. Constantin E. Nicolet, director of Intelligence, J-2, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to director, J-2, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Brig. Gen. Jason C. Slider, deputy commanding general (Operations), 3rd Division (France), France, to commanding general, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

Brig. Gen. Joseph W. Wortham II, deputy commanding general (Operations), 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Liberty, North Carolina, to assistant commander-Support, Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

Brig. Gen. Philip J. Ryan, commander, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Levant, Operation Inherent Resolve, Jordan, to commanding general, U.S. Army South, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

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International SOF

Ukraine’s Group 13. Russian warships keep sinking to the bottom of the Black Sea (NSI, map). One reason is because of the effectiveness of a secretive unit that uses maritime drone operators to destroy Russian watercraft. Group 13 belongs to the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate. “What is Group 13, the Shadowy Ukrainian Unit That Keeps Sinking Russian Ships?”, by Susan Katz Keating, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, March 4, 2024.

Qatar SOF Training Site. The Gulf nation is improving its training facilities for special operations forces. The expansion of Project 401’s Special Operations Training Centre is for both land and sea-based SOF units. The facility will train special operators and counterterrorism units from around the world. “Qatar Positions Itself as Special Operations Training Hub”, National Defense Magazine, March 4, 2024. See also, “Qatar shows new naval special forces training centre”, Janes.com, October 12, 2022.

Jaeger Corps. Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group and special operators from Denmark trained together during a recent exercise. “Arctic security put on full display during Arctic Edge 2024”, EUCOM, March 5, 2024.

SAS Soldiers Arrested. Five members of the Special Air Service have been arrested by British military police on suspicion of allegedly committing war crimes while on operations in Syria. The case against the five revolves around the alleged murder of a suspected jihadist in Syria who was killed in operations two years ago. The SAS has been actively deployed in Syria for the past decade – engaged in the fight against the Islamic State and supporting Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “Five SAS soldiers arrested in UK on suspicion of alleged war crimes in Syria”, The Guardian, March 5, 2024.

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SOF History

Norm Hooten Interview. A Special Forces NCO talks about his life in Special Forces, in a SMU, the Battle of Mogadishu, the aftermath, and transitioning to civilian life (whiskey and cigars). In the movie Black Hawk Down, Hooten is played by Eric Bana. “Norm Hooten: From Somalia to Cigars with a Special Forces Operator & Black Hawk Down Veteran”, Recoil Web, March 6, 2024.

UDT Training in the Early 1960s. Ned Pugh writes about joining the Navy, going through UDT training, almost dying from a sub lockout, and his time in Vietnam. “No One Makes It Through Underwater Demolition Team Training, They Said. They Were Wrong”, The Warhorse, March 6, 2024.

MoH Bennie Adkins. During March 9-12, 1966, the A Sahu Valley Special Forces camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese force. One Green Beret, Bennie Adkins, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the four-day fight.

Operation Bright Light – RVN. On March 16, 1967, Operation Bright Light was initiated. During the Vietnam War when a down pilot, Hatchet Force, or Recon Team was in trouble a MACV-SOG Brightlight team was formed and inserted into the fight to find, locate, assist, and exfiltrate the entity in trouble.

MACV-SOG. Abbi Clark writes about the operational structure, command control, equipment, weapons, uniforms, TTPs, and more about the Studies and Observations Group of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam. “MACV-SOG: Secret Operations in Vietnam”, Grey Dynamics, March 5, 2024.

Ukraine Russia Conflict

Ukraine Conflict

Deploy U.S. Special Forces into Ukraine. Brian Petit, a retired Special Forces officer, argues that the time is ripe for the United States to deploy U.S. Army Special Forces advisor and training teams into Ukraine. “Send in the A-Team: A graduated response for Ukraine”, War on the Rocks, March 7, 2024.

Report – Russian Military Performance and Outlook, Congressional Research Service, CRS IF12606, March 8, 2024, PDF, 3 pages. Covering topics of the Ukraine conflict to include command and control, personnel, equipment and ammunition, military performance, and outlook. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12606

Fight for the Black Sea. The patrol ship Sergei was sunk in the Black Sea (NSI, map) on March 4, 2024, by five Ukrainian sea drones. A Ka-29 helicopter was also sunk with the ship.

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Sudan Conflict and Evac of Foreign Nationals

Ukrainian SOF in Sudan? The Wall Street Journal reported that last summer President Zelensky sent Ukrainian special forces, including intelligence officers, to the African country at the request of its leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The Sudanese rebels, the Rapid Response Force, were being supported by the Wagner PMC. The Russian mercenaries were involved in the gold market, sending millions home to Russia to finance the war. “Khartoum Gave Weapons to Kyiv so Zelensky Sent Ukrainian Special Forces to Sudan”, Kyiv Post, March 6, 2024. See also, “Ukraine Is Now Fighting Russia in Sudan”, The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2024. (subscription)

Update on the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), ceasefire, humanitarian crisis, and evacuation of foreign nationals.

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SOF and CF Relationships. Anna M. Gielas PhD. writes about how the relationship between U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Conventional Forces (CF) has been historically challenging, leading to mission failures and the loss of lives. Her 20-page article investigates whether the intimate collaboration in Afghanistan and Iraq improved relations between SOF and SF. “Quarrelsome Siblings – The Relationship Between Special Operations and Conventional Forces.” Journal of Strategic Security 17, no. 1 (2024): 58-75.

TCCC LL by 75th Ranger Regiment. Knight, Col. Ryan M., Col. Russ Kotwal, and Lt. Col. Charles Moore, “Lessons Learned by the 75th Ranger Regiment during Twenty Years of Tactical Combat Casualty Care”, Military Review, March-April 2024.

Challenges to UW Efforts of SF During OEF. Anna M. Gielas PhD has published a paper entitled “Prima Donnas in Kevlar zones”, Taylor & Francis Online, March 9, 2024, PDF, 23 pages. The paper is about the challenges to unconventional warfare efforts of the U.S. Special Forces during Operation Enduring Freedom.

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National Security

SOTU Address. On Thursday, March 7, 2024, President Biden delivered the State of the Union address at the United States Capitol. The transcript is provided by the White House. As expected, little mention of Afghanistan. Ukraine, Putin, and NATO get a big mention at the beginning of the speech. After the national security issues are quickly addressed, most of the middle part of the speech revolved around politics, social issues, taxes, social security, immigration reform, climate, gun control, and the economy. Towards the end of the speech, he mentions the Israel-Gaza conflict, Houthis interfering in the Red Sea, and threats from China.

Beware the Honeypots. A civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), at Offutt Air Force Base, was arrested Saturday, March 2, for allegedly conspiring to transmit and transmitting classified information relating to the national defense on a foreign online dating platform. David Slater, age 63, is a retired U.S. Army LTC and is accused of transmitting information classified as SECRET that was related to the Russia – Ukraine War. He is accused of sending the info to someone who claimed to be a female living in Ukraine. ‘She’ referred to Slater as her “secret informant love” and her “secret agent”. “Air Force Employee Indicted for Unlawful Disclosure of Classified National Defense Information”, Department of Justice, March 4, 2024.

OPSEC Tina and Jeff, Cyber Security

42K For Secrets? A soldier from the 101st Airborne Division, Korbein Schultz – an intelligence analyst, has been charged with selling high tech secrets to ‘someone in China’. The payoff was a mere $42 grand . . . not even enough to buy a pickup truck. He sent classified information on HIMARS missiles, hypersonic equipment, and the F-22 Raptor. (Department of Justice, March 7, 2024)

Border Crisis. Before President Biden became president, the Panama-Colombia border saw only 10,000 migrants a year. Under Biden, more than 500,000 migrants have crossed that border in each of the past two years. Central American and South American countries are benefiting from the ‘catch and release’ program of the Biden administration. The visa requirements of these countries have loosened in an effort to attract more ‘tourists’ who ultimately pay big money to get to the U.S. southern border. “The Biden-Harris ‘root cause’ border failure”, Washington Examiner, March 10, 2024.

Report – IC OSINT Strategy. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released the Intelligence Community (IC) Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Strategy for 2024-2026. OSINT, or intelligence derived exclusively from publicly or commercially available information that addresses specific intelligence priorities, requirements, or gaps, is vital to the IC’s mission, providing unique intelligence value and enabling all other intelligence collection disciplines. (DNI, 8 Mar 2024)

Great Power Competition GPC

Strategic Competition

SOF and Limited Conflicts. A team of writers have provided their perspective on the use of special operations forces in limited and unwinnable conflicts. They use Afghanistan as a vehicle to argue their point. “Optimizing the Statement: Limited Conflicts and the Use of Special Operations Forces in the Context of Global Competition”, InterPopulum, March 11, 2024.

SOF in Strategic Competition. Clementine Starling and Alyxandra Marine collaborated on Stealth, speed, and adaptability: The Role of special operations in strategic competition, Atlantic Council, March 7, 2024. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/report/starling-marine-special-operations-forces-in-strategic-competition/

SOF and Shaping Conflicts . . . Before They Start. Much is being written about SOF in an era of Great Power Competition or Strategic Competition. Mark Pomerleau writes on comments by ASD SO/LIC Christopher Maier at an Atlantic Council conference held on Thursday, March 7, 2024. “Special Ops expected to play key role in shaping future battlespaces in ‘non-physical domains'”, DefenseScoop, March 8, 2024.

Sweden Joins NATO. One of the unforeseen results of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a stronger and more united North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Now add to that . . . a larger NATO. Since the invasion, Finland and Sweden are now part of NATO. The Baltic Sea (NSI, map) is now being referred to as the “NATO Sea”. “Sweden officially joins NATO”, NATO, March 7, 2024.

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.

Around the World

CRS Report – U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The Congressional Research Service has published a report providing a description of the mission, posture, organization, and more about INDOPACOM. March 5, 2024, PDF, 3 pages. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12604

UN Quarterly Report. The United Nations Secretary-General quarterly report on Afghanistan was published on February 28, 2024. It describes the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security. Topics covered include political developments, security, regional cooperation, human rights, economic development, aid effectiveness, humanitarian assistance, counter-narcotics, mission support, and other observations. This report covers the period of December 2023 through February 2024. PDF, 16 pages.

Longtab Brewing Jedburgh Beer

Red Sea Cables Cut. Three underwater cables that provide internet and telecommunications between continents have been cut – likely by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. There are 14 submarine cables running through the Red Sea that provide over 90% of communications between Europe and Asia. “Red Sea underwater data cables cut as Houthi attacks continue”, C4ISRNET, March 4, 2024.

More Ship Attacks. Multiple news sources reported that a Houthi missile struck the MV True Confidence, a Liberian-owned vessel, in the Red Sea on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Three crewmembers were killed and six injured, Coalition warships responded to the event. On Saturday, March 9, 2024, at least 28 Houthi drones were shot down by U.S. and allied nation naval vessels. (CENTCOM Twitter)

ISIS in Africa. Aaron Y. Zelin writes on how local branches of IS now control territory in Mali, Somalia, and Mozambique. “The Islamic State on the March in Africa”, Washington Institute, March 1, 2024.

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Books, Podcasts, and Videos

Book Review – Bubbleheads, SEALs and Wizards: America’s Scottish Bastion in the Cold War. Doug Wise, a former Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency reviews a new book out that opens the door to a fascinating and little-known chronicle of Scotland’s critical military and intelligence roles in allied efforts during the Cold War. The book author, David Mackay, is a former special forces officer and veteran of the British Parachute Regiment. “Bubbleheads, SEALs and Wizards”, The CIPHER Brief, March 5, 2024.

Podcast – Secret Wars: Cover Action and Irregular Warfare, Irregular Warfare Initiative, March 7, 2024, 55 minutes. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Nagata and Austin Carson are interviewed in this episode. The guests discuss covert and clandestine operations, complexities and difficulties associated with IW policies. https://irregularwarfare.org/podcasts/secret-wars-covert-action-and-irregular-warfare/

Podcast – Heavy Water Plant Sabotage. Mitch Utterback, a retired Special Forces officer, is in the “G Base” to discuss the race for the atomic bomb between the opposing sides during World War II. In addition, the discussion covers the heroic efforts of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Norwegian Commandos who conducted daring operations to sabotage the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant and deny the Nazis the atomic bomb. Episode 094, February 29, 2024, one hour.

Video – Regional Power: North Korea. This film examines the current political and military situation in North Korea. Subject matter experts discuss Korean history, DPRK current affairs, and KPA military doctrine. Topics include the rise of the Kim family to political leadership of the DPRK, its influence in the region, and how the U.S. works in partnership with the Republic of Korea. Army University Press, February 13, 2024, 53 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUi44d3YPoc

Video – Abrams Charter, The 75th Ranger Regiment, March 9, 2024, YouTube, 4 minutes. In the early 1970 a document wrote by General Creighton Abrams was the foundation for the organization, doctrine, and capabilities of the 1st Ranger Battalion.

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About John Friberg 201 Articles
John Friberg is the Editor and Publisher of SOF News. He is a retired Command Chief Warrant Officer (CW5 180A) with 40 years service in the U.S. Army Special Forces with active duty and reserve components.