Special Operations News Update – 20180416

The Nigerien and American flags are raised at the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2018 at Agadez, Niger. (photo Capt Eric Smith, AFRICOM, April 11, 2018).
The Nigerien and American flags are raised at the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2018 at Agadez, Niger. Flintlock is AFRICOM's largest annual SOF exercise. (photo Capt Eric Smith, AFRICOM, April 11, 2018).

SOF News Update 20180416 – Flintlock 2018, Green Beret director of GWOTMF, Best Ranger Competition, political warfare, shifting approach for SOF in Africa, SEALs and legal cases, video Recon Marine jump, morale after two decades of fighting, Missouri governor (ex-SEAL) in turmoil, France in MENA, M80 Stiletto “Batmobile”, SOF Colonel to be director of spy museum, six problems to fix for infantry, 3rd Recon Marines place in MARSOC Raider Games, Gary Gordon memorial, MACV-SOF vet talks of career, CIA in the movies, and more.

Flintlock 2018 Opening Ceremony. U.S. Africa Command’s largest annual special operations exercise has commenced with the usual opening ceremony held in Niger on April 11th. The exercise is hosted by Niger with training taking place in Burkina Faso and Senegal. The multinational exercise is designed to reinforce the military capabilities of the participating nations and provide a unique opportunity to enhance regional coordination and address common security challenges. Read more in “Flintlock 2018 starts in Tahoua, Niger”U.S. Africa Command (DVIDS), April 11, 2018.

Shifting Approach for SOF in Africa. The commander of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAfrica) was recently interviewed about U.S. special operations forces missions in Africa. He indicated that there will be a shift from the train, advise, and assist mission – with SOF teams moving away from embedding with smaller units and instead having a focus on battalion level units and above. Read more in “In Africa, US special forces shifting approach on extremism”The Washington Post, April 13, 2018.

France in MENA. A detailed paper by Manuel Lafont Rapnouil of the European Council on Foreign Relations examines France’s policy and interaction with the Middle East and North Africa. The paper provides some recommendations for a revised approach that would allow France to step up to the challenges that it aims to tackle in MENA. Read “Alone in the desert? How France can lead Europe in the Middle East”ECFR, April 10, 2018.

Green Beret Heads GWOTMF. Michael “Rod” Rodriguez has been named as the new director of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation (GWOTMF). The organization is a congressionally designated non-profit foundation tasked with organizing, fundraising, and coordinating efforts to build a new memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (GWOTMF, April 9, 2018).

Best Ranger Competition. This event was held at Fort Benning, Georgia on April 13-14, 2018. Learn more at www.bestrangercompetition.com .

Marine Recon Jump Video. Watch a 2-min long video of Reconnaissance Marines from the 3rd Marine Division practice Military Free Fall parachute jumps at the IDIS Corp Military Free Fall drop zone in Temple, Texas during Exercise Desert Hawk. (DVIDS, Apr 6, 2018).

3rd Recon Marines Place in MARSOC Raider Games. Marines with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division placed second in the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command Raider Games on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina during March 18-27, 2018. Read “3rd Reconnaissance Battalion places in 2018 MARSOC Raider Games” DVIDS, April 13, 2018.

SEALs and Legal Cases. The U.S. Navy SEALs have been getting some headlines recently that their command probably would rather not see. There is an ongoing investigation of the 2017 murder of a Green Beret in Mali by two SEALs. In addition, there are other investigations or pending trials for Navy SEALs for alleged incidents that happened in Afghanistan. On top of all this there are allegations that Admiral Crawford – the Navy’s Judge Advocate General – has been using improper influence to sway the decisions made in several Navy SEAL trials and investigations. Read more in “Mystery meeting in Coronado brings ex-SEAL boss into court-martial probe”The San Diego Union-Tribune, April 10, 2018.

Eric Greitens (ex-SEAL) Under Fire. Missouri governor Eric Greitens is trying to defuse a scandal he is involved in that has top state Republicans calling for his resignation. Read “How Long Can Eric Greitens Hold On?”The Atlantic, April 13, 2018.

M80 Stiletto ‘Batmobile’. The U.S. Navy SEALs have a new infil and exfil watercraft. It costs about $10 million and can be used for a wide range of missions – to include counter-narcotics, clearing mines, carrying SEALs, launch and recovery of drones and RHIBs, and more. It has a three-man crew and ist about 90 feet long. Read more in “Futuristic Navy SEAL boat dubbed ‘Batmobile'”Fox News, April 13, 2018.

Political Warfare is Back. Raphael Cohen and Linda Robinson have provided an article about political warfare – the preferred form of warfare by both state and nonstate actors today. New tools and techniques have enhanced the ability of competitors to the United States to challenge us across the political, economic, and informational realms. Russian hybrid warfare practiced in eastern Europe is a good example of this political warfare used by a competitor. Some members of the Special Forces community have suggested that we drop the UW mission and adopt the term political warfare. Cohen and Robinson (et al) recently published a detailed report for RAND entitled Modern Political Warfare. This essay has been partially adapted from that report. Read “Political Warfare is Back With a Vengeance”The National Interest, April 13, 2018.

Morale After Two Decades of Fighting. One writer provides his perspective on the morale of the U.S. military after almost 17 years of being at war. Read Phil Klay’s piece in “Two Decades of War Have Eroded the Morale of America’s Troops”The Atlantic, April 13, 2018.

Retired SOF Col now Director Spy Museum. Colonel (Ret) Chris Costa is now the Executive Director of the International Spy Museum located in Washington, D.C. Read “Welcome to the World of HUMINT, This is Not a Rehearsal: A Special Look at Colonel Chris Costa”Homeland Security, April 13, 2018.

MACV-SOG Veteran Talks of Career. James “Jim” Savell is interviewed about his long career in Special Forces to include time with the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observation Group and time with 10th SFG in Europe. (Waco Tribune-Herald, April 15, 2018).

Event – MSG Gary Gordon Memorial. On June 30th the Special Forces Charitable Trust (SFCT) and the Master Sgt. Gary Gordon Medal of Honor Memorial Fund will run a memorial 5k run/walk aimed at raising money for a new memorial. The event will take place in Gordon’s home town of Lincoln, Maine. Read “Hometown of ‘Black Hawk Down’ hero to host planned memorial”Fayetteville Observer, April 14, 2018.

CIA in the Movies. The Central Intelligence Agency is great material for book writers and movie makers. It is quite common to cast the CIA as ‘the villain’ and it makes for great entertainment. These media ventures also paint an inaccurate picture of the CIA. Did you know that the agency writes up movie reviews? Read “The CIA’s Official Movie Reviews are Super Salty”Motherboard, April 13, 2018.

Six Problems to Fix for the Infantry. The Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilke addressed the Association of the US Army on Wednesday, April 11th. He identified six issues that need to be addressed in order to make the US infantry more lethal. End death by PowerPoint, stop peeling potatoes, train like the pros, add virtual training, report real readiness, and keep troops together. Read “Stop Wasting Infantry’s Time: Mattis Task Force”Breaking Defense, April 13, 2018.

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Photo Credit: The Nigerien and American flags are raised at the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2018 at Agadez, Niger. Flintlock is AFRICOM’s largest annual SOF exercise. (photo Capt Eric Smith, AFRICOM, April 11, 2018).


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