Special Operations News Update – 20160812

Map Middle East North Africa

SOF News Update. The fracturing of the Arab world, US asks India for military assistance in Afghanistan, the grinding fight against ISIS in Libya, and more.

How the Arab World Came Apart. Scott Anderson has provided us with a very comprehensive report on how the Arab world has fractured since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The invasion led to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and a global refugee crisis. The article explores the countries of Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the region of Kurdistan. Read “Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart”The New York Times Magazine, August 11, 2016.

U.S. Asks India for Help. The commander of Resolute Support Headquarters in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has asked India for military assistance in the Afghan conflict. Much of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) use Russian-made weaponry. However, Western sanctions against Russia has lead to a shortage of these weapons and spare parts for the weapons systems (Mi-17 helicopters for example). Read more in “US General Asks India for Military Assistance in Afghanistan”Defense News, August 11, 2016.

Libya Update. In late 2014 members of the Islamic State began to arrive in Sirte, Libya (on the coast) – many of them arriving from Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and some North African countries as well. ISIS was able to fill a void caused by strife between two government factions. Read an account of the fighting from the standpoint of one of the many militias opposing ISIS in “The Grinding Fight to Root Out ISIS in a Battered Libya”The New Yorker, August 10, 2016.

SOF Advising Do’s and Don’ts. Retired Green Beret and counterinsurgency expert Roger Carstens points out some very valid points about special operations forces providing advice and training to proxy forces in Syria. Read an article by Eli Lake entitled “Orders for U.S. Forces in Syria: ‘Don’t Get Shot'”Bloomberg View, August 11, 2016.

Italian SOF in Libya. A very short article about “Italian Special Forces in Libya training mission”Aen Politics, August 10, 2016. See a longer article entitled “Italy Reportedly Sends Special Forces to Libya”Defense News,  August 11, 2016.

1st SFG Combatives Team Wins. The 1st Group fighters were the overall winner of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Combatives Tournament held August 2-4,2016. Read more in a news report by the JBLM Northwest Guardian, August 11, 2016.

Green Beret Provides Advice to NE Patriots. An NFL team has been seeking the advice of a retired LTC who served with Special Forces. Read more in a news report dated August 11, 2016.

Ukraine Special Forces Providing Intel. The Special Forces units of the Ukraine are spilling the secrets of Vladimir Putin’s military machine to intelligence services of western nations. Read more in a news report by The Mirror, August 11, 2016.

AFSOC Looking at High-Tech Weaponry for Gunship. The Ghostrider Gunship may be getting a high-energy laser as a weapons system. Read more in “Special Ops Eyes Hi-Tech Weaponry for Ghostrider Gunship”Aviation Week Network, August 12, 2016/

Marines New Look at Warfare. The days of counterinsurgency are in the past – or at least some in the Marine Corps thinks so. For my part, I am not so sure. At the end of every conflict the U.S. military says “COIN is dead” – our future wars will be different. And, without fail, we soon find ourselves embroiled in another counterinsurgency. The Marine Corps top uniformed official, General Robert Neller, wants the Corps to shift away from COIN and prepare for events that mirror recent conflicts in Eastern Europe and Syria. Hmmmm. Read more in “Marine Corps Shifts Tactics for Future Wars”, by Dave Majumdar, Warrior,  August 10, 2016.

What Motivates People to Join ISIS? Not only does the Islamic State have success in recruiting fighters to Syria and Iraq to join its forces but the group has had success in recruiting in Afghanistan, Libya and other locations. In addition, it has managed to sway citizens of European nations (the U.S. as well) to conduct terrorist attacks in the name of ISIS. One article posted recently looks “. . . at the factors that motivate people to leave home and join faraway wars.” Read “Why So Many Foreign Fighters Flock to ISIS” Defense One, August 10, 2016.

U.S. Military Readiness Better than Some Think. David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon have penned an opinion piece that says sequestration cuts have presented challenges but that America’s fighting forces remain second to none. Read “The Myth of a U.S. Military ‘Readiness’ Crisis”The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2016.

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