Special Operations News Update 20181219

Iraqi CTS CQB training in live-fire shoot house. Photo by SSG Sara Zaler, CJTF OIR, Nov 6, 2018

SOF News Update – unrest in Mali continues, catch and release of detainees, MND-NE is ready – says NATO, CTF in Africa, focusing on SOF ‘core values’, more airstrikes in Somalia, Bolduc on Niger mission, Saudi Arabia and militarization, helping Poland deter Russia, land warfare doctrine, Russia in Africa, NAVSCIATTS, and more.

SOF News

Catch and Release of Detainees. Any one who served in Iraq or Afghanistan over the past 17 years is familiar with the detainee ‘catch and release’ program. Basically, this is when U.S. forces apprehend or take prisoner a suspect or combatant, turn the detainee over to local security authorities within a specified time frame, and then see the detainee walking the streets once again. Corrupt, inept, or non-existent judicial systems were responsible for this returning of enemy combatants to the battlefield. Some U.S. service members (not many) took things into their own hands . . . but unfortunately this was not always legal. The case of a Green Beret officer – Major Golsteyn – charged with the murder of an alleged Taliban bomb-maker is one such example. This complicated and ethical case will be interesting to follow over the next several months (years).

USSOCOM Focus on ‘Core Values’. The SOF community has suffered some damage in the public relations arena in recent months. Numerous incidents of tragic events coupled with unprincipled and illegal actions have called some to question the ‘SOF culture’. General Tony Thomas, the United States Special Operations Command leader, has issued some guidance directing subordinate commands to conduct a 90-day focus on ‘core values’. (Tampa Bay Times, Dec 18, 2018).

NAVSCIATTS. About 600 foreign troops get training at a USSOCOM school near the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Read “Hidden in Mississippi: A school that trains foreign military to fight terrorism”, Clarion Ledger, December 17, 2018.

New SOF Ghillie Suit. A testing of the Improved Ghillie System (IGS) took place in November during a 3-day period by conventional, Ranger, and Special Forces snipers. It seems the current ghillie suit adopted in 2012 doesn’t quite measure up. There are approximately 3,300 snipers across the Army – within conventional, Guard, and SOF units. Read “Army and special operations snipers put new ghillie suit to the test”, Military Times, December 18, 2018.

SOCOM – Good Place to Work. The United States Special Operations Command is ranked number 33 out of 415 agencies when it comes to working for the federal government. CENTCOM, the companion hqs at MacDill AFB in Tampa ranked in at number 277. Hmmmm. (Tampa Bay Business Journal, December 17, 2018.

GB Arrested for Child Sex Offenses. A U.S. Army SFC assigned to USASOC has been charged with child sex counts involving a girl under 15. His bail is set at $1 million. He has been in the Army for 16 years, has deployed overseas 11 times, and is married with four children. See article in Army Times (Dec 18, 2018) and article in The Fayetteville Observer, (Dec 18, 2018).

Dave Eubank – American Hero. A former Special Forces officer travels around the world providing humanitarian aid in conflict zones. Col. (Ret) Oliver North recently did a TV documentary special on Eubank. (CBN News, Dec 17, 2018.

Zinke Leaving Post. Former Navy SEAL and current U.S. Interior Secretary will be leaving his post at the end of the year. The former Montana congressman has been under the spotlight for the past two years for alleged ethics violations. (BBC News, Dec 15, 2018).

Gen Bolduc on Niger Mission Aftermath. BG (Ret) Don Bolduc, former command of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) and the 3rd Special Forces Group, provides his perspective on accountability for the Niger mission where four members of the 3rd Special Forces Group were killed in 2017. He takes a hard look at senior leadership in his essay. Read “The Niger Ambush and Leadership Accountability”Small Wars Journal, December 17, 2018.

Wife of Robin Moore has Died. The wife of Robin Moore, author of The Green Berets, has passed away. Robin and Helen had moved to the Fort Campbell area to be near the 5th Special Forces Group. Helen stayed in the area until her husband passed away in 2008 at the age of 82. Helen then left after 2008 to live near her son in England. She died at the Royal Trinity Hospice in London, UK on December 17, 2018. Robin Moore’s book was the basis for the movie The Green Berets.

National Security

ADF Land Warfare Doctrine. The Australian Defense Forces have published Land Warfare Doctrine 3-0-4 : Stability Actions, December 2018. It provides guidance on stability actions across the range of military land activities and operations. (The Cove, Dec 18, 2018).

Political Warfare. According to the authors of this article Russia and China are kicking our butt in the space between peace and conflict and the U.S. is on the defensive and losing. Read all about it in “How to Wage Political Warfare”, The National Interest, December 16, 2018.

NATO and Europe

MND-NE is Ready. A combat readiness evaluation was conducted in late November and early December of NATO’s Multinational Division – Northeast (MND-NE) by NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM). The 37-member CREVAL team has deemed MND-NE based in Poland as ready to assume their role as a division-level, C2 node reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank in the collective defence of Europe. Read “NATO Declares MND-NE Combat Ready“, UK Defence Journal, December 17, 2018.

Helping Poland Deter Russia. A 16-page paper (PDF) outlines steps that could be taken to enhance Poland’s defenses against possible future aggression by Russia. Read “Permanent Deterrence: Enhancements to the US Military Presence in North Central Europe”, Atlantic Council, December 2018.


Report on Armed Groups in Libya. Jerome Tubiana and Claudio Gramizzi have collaborated on a 140-page report entitled Lost in Trans-Nation: Tubu and Other Armed Groups and Smugglers Along Libya’s Southern Border, December 2018. This is a co-publication by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

CTF in Africa Explained. Countering Terrorist Financing is a weapon the western nations have tried to use to diminish the operations and expansion of terrorist groups. However, despite over a decade (or more) of CTF operations groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and al-Qaeda continue to make, raise, and spend millions of dollars. Dr. Benjamin Nickels and Mr. Samuel Cleaves examine ‘the meaning of money‘ and the role it plays in terrorism in Africa. Read What Money Means for Terrorism in Africa, Wilson Center Africa Program, December 14, 2018.

Airstrikes in Somalia. The U.S. military conducted six airstrikes in Somalia over the period of December 15-16, 2018 that is reported to have killed 62 members of al-Shabaab. (AP, Dec 17, 2018).

Mali Border Guards. Mali has announced that it is beefing up security in the northern Timbuktu region and is creating a new border guard corps. The deployment of 350 new security personnel will take place at the beginning of 2019. Security has diminished due to the actions of bandits and terrorists. The unrest in Mali began in 2012 with a Tuareg separatist uprising in the north of the country which was exploited by Islamist extremists linked to al-Qaeda. (The Defense Post, Dec 16, 2018).

Russia in Africa. There is a new European nation making a power play in a former French colony. Read about Russia’s activities in the Central African Republic. (MSN News, Dec 17, 2018).

Middle East

Saudi Arabia and Militarization. Peiter D. Wezeman, a senior researcher with the Stockholm International Peace Research  Institute (SIPRI) writes on how Saudi Arabia uses military force as a central tool for pursuing its political agendas and foreign policy aims. Read Saudi Arabia armaments and conflict in the Middle East, SIPRI, December 14, 2018.


5th Annual Global SOF Symposium
March 5-7, 2019, Tampa Bay, Florida
Global SOF Foundation


Soldier’s Medal Awarded to Green Beret. On December 13, 2018 SFC Erik Kingsley was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroically rescuing a man from a vehicle engulfed in flames. (USAJFKSWCS DVIDS, Dec 13, 2018).

Polish Teenagers Learn Military Skills. With the threat of the Russian bear just next door Poland is stepping up their military preparedness. This includes providing military training to teenagers. (BBC News, Dec 17, 2018).


Photo: Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) conduct Close Quarter Battle (CQB) training in live-fire shoot house. Photo by SSG Sara Zaler, CJTF OIR, Nov 6, 2018.

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