SOF News Update 20180514 – SOCOM and biotechnology, align CSAR under AFSOC, MoH controversy, al Qaeda – still a threat, Iran’s strategy, hope in Somalia, death of terrorist groups, Marine Raiders ‘getting some’, more troubled news about SEALs, UAE in Yemen and Somalia, SFQC student dies in barracks, COMPASS for the Gray Zone, new cdr for 1st SFC, SASR gets new HQs, and more.
SOCOM and Biotechnology. The United States Special Operations Command is researching biotechnological solutions to attain and maintain peak performance for their special operators. It is hoped that new tools will give the SOF personnel the edge on the battlefield. Read more in “SOCOM Tapping into Biotechology”, National Defense, May 10, 2018.
Should AF Align CSAR under AFSOC? Lt Gen Brad Webb provides his perspective on whether the Air Force’s Combat Search and Rescue mission should be realigned under the Air Force Special Operations Command. Read “SpecOps, CSAR Alignment Right if it Makes Force More Lethal: General”, by Oriana Pawlyk, Military.com, May 11, 2018.
Medal of Honor Controversy. A retired U.S. Navy SEAL will be recognized for his heroic actions during a 2002 battle on an Afghanistan mountain top. Some Air Force special operations folks are dismayed – citing evidence that the SEAL made a decision to leave an Air Force combat controller behind – while he was still alive. The airman has been nominated to receive the MoH as well. Read more in “Stop Infighting Around SEAL’s Medal of Honor, Awards Expert Says”, Military.com, May 10, 2018.
SASR Gets New HQs. A new operations center and headquarters has been opened up in Perth, Australia for the Australian Army’s Special Air Service Regiment. (Janes, May 11, 2018).
Two SEALs Kicked Out of Africa. The commander of Special Operations Command – Africa (SOCAfrica), Major General Mark Hicks, has sent two senior SEALs home to the states. The commander and senior enlisted advisor for Special Operations Command Forward – East Africa were suspended of their duties on May 10 due to allegations of sexual misconduct involving multiple fellow US military female service members. Read “Senior US Navy SEAL leaders in Africa suspended over alleged sexual misconduct”, CNN Politics, May 11, 2018.
SFQC Student Found Dead at FBNC. A student in the Special Forces Medical Course at Fort Bragg was found dead in his room on Monday, May 7th in the barracks on Fort Bragg. Read more in “Greenville soldier dies on North Carolina military base”, Greenville News, May 11, 2018
Marine Raiders Under Scrutiny in Green Beret Death. Almost a year ago, in June 2017, Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar was found dead from strangulation in Mali where he was on assignment with U.S. Army Special Forces. Two Navy SEALs are responsible for his death . . . it seems. Now it appears that two Marine special operators are also being questioned in the tragic incident. Read “Report: Special ops Marines under scrutiny, along with Navy SEALs, in Green Berets death”, Army Times, May 11, 2018.
Marine Raiders ‘Getting Some’ Against ISIS. According to a reporter – Paul Szoldra of Task & Purpose – U.S. Marine Special Operators on the ground in Syria and Iraq have been seeing plenty of direct combat over the past few years. Read more in “The Untold Stories of Marine Special Ops ‘Getting Some’ Against ISIS”, Task & Purpose, May 11, 2018.
Al Qaeda – Still a Threat. Kevin Ivey, a counterterrorism researcher, warns us that al Qaeda and its affiliates represent a long-term security threat to the United States and its allies. Read his article “Almost Forgotten: The Danger of Al-Qaeda and its Global Affiliates“, Small Wars Journal, May 11, 2018.
Death of Terrorist Groups. The defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and degrading of the terrorist group in Syria has the world breathing a sigh of relief. However, the foot on the gas pedal should not be relaxed just yet. Antonia Ward, a RAND Corporation analyst, provides us food for thought in her article entitled “Do Terrorist Groups Really Die? A Warning”, RAND, April 9, 2018.
Mission Not Yet Accomplished. The war on terrorists will continue long into the future. Victory against ISIS may appear near – but it is an illusion. Katherine Zimmerman, author and national security ‘expert’, explains in “The Never-Ending War on Terror: Why the U.S. Keeps Fighting the Wrong Battle”, Foreign Affairs, May 11, 2018.
Iran’s Strategy. Reuel Gerecht, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains in this 60 second video how Iran uses the split between Sunnis and Shiites to expand its influence. Sunni v. Shia: Iran’s Strategy, YouTube.com, May 11, 2018.
UAE in Yemen and Somalia. The United Arab Emirates is an oil-rich yet small country in the Middle East. But it is fighting above its weight. A long-time player in Afghanistan it has provided troops over a long span of time supporting first the ISAF and now the Resolute Support Mission. It is currently deeply engaged in Yemen and Somalia as well. That involvement is expanding – read more in “UAE extends military reach in Yemen and Somalia”, Reuters, May 11, 2018.
US SOF Raid in Somalia. U.S. and Somali commandos captured three members (possibly commanders) of the al-Shabab extremist group during a raid on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. (Military Times, May 10, 2018).
Signs of Hope in Somalia? Ian Livingston, a researcher with the Brookings Institute, writes on prospects for Somalia. This African country has been embroiled in “chaos and civil war” since 1991. However, amidst the turmoil there has been some stability in regions of Somalia – Puntland and Somaliland for example. See “Somalia, facing severe challenges, also shows signs of hope”, Brookings, May 3, 2018.
Miscellaneous Stuff That Could Be SOF Related
COMPASS for the ‘Gray Zone’. The space between peace and conflict is sometimes referred to as the gray zone. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working with a project called Collection and Monitoring via Planning for Active Situational Scenarios (COMPASS). The project goals are to increase a commander’s awareness of a situation and reduce the ambiguity of actors and objectives in gray zone environments. This could be something the special operations community will see in their toolbox at some point in the future. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 10, 2018).
Top Photo: U.S. Army Major General James B. Jarrard is the commanding general of Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR). U.S. Army photo by SSG Timothy Koster, April 22, 2018).