SOF News Update 20171013 – Kurdistan flash point, SF in Syria, Niger attack, Chad travel ban, SOF suicide drones, more advisors for Afghanistan, AFRICOM at 10 years, SFABs and advising, JFK and the Green Beret, and more.
Chad Travel Ban Ramifications? The Trump administration, much to the amazement of many Africa observers, imposed a U.S. travel ban on its citizens. This perplexing move by the White House has upset a very strong counterterrorism partner of the U.S. in the region. Some suspect the White House wanted to put a non-Middle East country on the travel ban. The religious makeup of Chad is about 50% Muslim, 40% Christian, and then some others. So there seems to be some consequences. Chad has pulled out hundreds of its troops from Niger that were helping local forces fight Boko Haram Islamist militants operating in the Lake Chad Basin area. U.S. Special Forces teams have been in the area working with the military forces of Chad, Mali, Niger, and Nigerian to defeat Boko Haram. Read more in “Chad Pulls Troops From Fight Against Boko Haram in Niger”, Voice of America, October 12, 2017.
U.S. Volunteers with SDF. Two Americans who joined U.S.-backed Syrian fighters are seeking a return home. One is a former U.S. Marine and the other is a veteran of the French Foreign Legion. They first fought with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and then later with the Syriac Military Council (MFS). They now wish to return to the United States but don’t have a way out of the country (money, means to travel, etc.). It appears they showed up at a U.S. base to chat with a U.S. SF element but were turned away. Sounds like a poorly planned exfil plan. See “American volunteers trying to leave Syria turned away by US Special Forces”, Marine Corps Times, October 12, 2017.
SFABs and Advising. The Army is pushing the implementation of the Security Force Assistance Brigades or SFABs as a primary way forward to training with partner nations. So there is lots of buzz on the pros and cons and questions as well. One Army officer at West Point is weighing in with some recommendations on how to do advising the ‘right way’. Read “Fourth Time a Charm? The Army’s Chance to Get Advisory Operations Right”, Modern War Institute, October 13, 2017.
10 Years of AFRICOM. United States Africa Command was established by President Bush in 2007 as a combatant command focused more on partnership than fighting. The command has been busy dealing with Islamic militant groups in Libya, Somalia, and other countries of Africa. Read more in “AFRICOM at 10: Training partners is still the focus, but the fight has grown”, Stars and Stripes, October 12, 2017.
Video – JFK Visits SF at FBNC in 1961. In October 1961 President John F. Kennedy visited FBNC. Among the units he visited was the FB SF unit. A result of the visit was the declaration by JFK that the Green Beret would be the official headgear of U.S. Army Special Forces. Watch a 15-minute long video of his visit. In the first part of he video he spends time with the 82nd Airborne Division. At the 7:30 minute mark of the video he visits the Special Warfare Center where he learns more about Psychological Operations, Counterinsurgency, and Special Warfare. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy Visits Fort Bragg, North Carolina, October 12, 1961, posted on YouTube.com.
Update on Niger Attack on SF Soldiers. News reports indicate that some of the local residents of Tongo Tongo, Niger may have colluded with a militant group known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) in the recent attack on 3rd SFGA members.
SOF Suicide Drones. The U.S. Army is testing a small drone that carries an anti-personnel warhead and weighs less than 20 pounds. It has some possible use for SOF teams. Read more in “Suicide drone provides lethal punch for special operations forces”, Defense News, October 12, 2017.
More Advisors for Afghanistan. General Votel, CENTCOM commander, says that more U.S. and NATO advisors at the tactical level will make a difference. “US advisors will help break Afghan stalemate, top US commander says”, Military Times, October 12, 2017.