SOF News Update 20180601 – NATO’s 2018 summit, AFRICOM connectivity, permanent base in Poland, Christians targeted in Indonesia, Trident Juncture 2018, political warfare, SOCOM’s digital forensics techniques, Iran in Syria – UW and TAA, MQ-9 squadron for Hurlburt Field, goggles fogging up, LTG Miller, passing BUD/S, Afghan SOF rescue prisoners, Rhodesian HUMINT operations, and more.
SOCOM’s Digital Forensics Techniques. The use of ‘counter digital forensics’ by terrorist and insurgent groups is becoming more common and sophisticated. This makes it harder for the SOF community to develop intelligence and targeting packages on terrorists and insurgents. Read up on how SOCOM is adapting in “Special Operations Command Takes Aim at Enemies Hiding Files Inside Seized Electronics”, Defense One, May 30, 2018.
Goggles Fogging Up? The Special Operations Command is looking for ideas on how to keep goggles from fogging up. Read more in “This tech might fix a deadly problem troops face when strapping on goggles”, Military Times, May 30, 2018.
MQ-9 Squadron for Hurlburt Field. AFSOC will be stationing a drone squadron in Florida. Read “Drone squadron coming to Hurlburt”, NWF Daily News, May 30, 2018.
SEAL Team’s MWD. The popular show SEAL Team features an explosives detection dog. Read the story about the dog and her trainer. (Variety, May 31, 2018).
Passing BUD/S. Read ten tips for surviving and passing SEAL training by a former SEAL. Read “10 tips for getting through Navy SEAL training from someone who’s done it”, Business Insider, May 31, 2018.
Russian Commando Arctic M-3. The Russians have come out with a new vehicle suitable for winter and arctic operations. See “Russian Commandos Debut Arctic Combat Buggy That Looks Right Out of Fast and Furious”, The WarZone, May 30, 2018.
AFSOC’s CV-22s and ITVs. The CV-22 is a great SOF aircraft . . . except . . . it isn’t quite big enough to carry an internally transportable vehicle for SOF operators. Unless, of course, if you count motorcycles, ATVs, and other smaller modes of transportation. Read “US Special Operators Need a Battle Ready Buggy They Can Cram Into a V-22 Osprey”, The Warzone, May 31, 2018.
5th SFG Logistics Day. The Special Forces personnel at Fort Campbell staged “SOFLOG” – an event that showcases some of the capabilities of Special Forces soldiers and various support elements within the SF group. The intent was to introduce other Fort Campbell soldiers to the group and do a little recruiting. (Fort Campbell Courier, May 31, 2018).
Political Warfare. Russia and China are waging political warfare against the United States and other democracies and the targeted nations are ill-equipped to deal with the strategy – at least according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). Read a synopsis of the report in “US Needs New Strategy Vs. Russian, Chinese ‘Political Warfare’: CSBA”, Breaking Defense, May 31, 2018. Read an abstract on the 72-page report (and download or read online) at Countering Comprehensive Coercion: Competitive Strategies Against Authoritarian Political Warfare, CSBA, May 30, 2018.
GAO Report on Security Assistance. The Government Accountability Office has published a 48-page report dated May 2018 on the Department of Defense’s Global Train and Equip program. The program provides training and equipment to the nation’s foreign partners and is key to the fight against terrorism. The GAO found numerous problems with oversight and implementation across the board. www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-449
NATO (and Russia, of course)
NATO’s 2018 Summit. The July NATO conference to be held in Brussels will concentrate on five top issues – deterrence and defense, projecting stability, NATO-EU cooperation, modernization, and defense spending. See “Here are the top 5 issues on the docket for NATO’s 2018 summit”, Defense News, CV-22s and ITVs, May 30, 2018.
U.S. Base in Poland. The Polish government recently offered up $2 billion to help defray the cost of stationing a U.S. combat unit in Poland on a permanent basis. The two billion may pay for the initial costs but who pays down the road? And if a brigade were to be transferred from the U.S. to Poland then Congressional leaders would put up quite a fight – especially if the move affects their home state or district. In addition, it would revive the question on which is more beneficial – permanently forward based units or rotational units? Read more in “Does a permanent base in Poland make sense?”, Defense News, May 30, 2018.
Trident Juncture 2018. An upcoming NATO exercise is expected to be quite large with over 40,000 personnel participating. Hosted by Norway there will be about 120 aircraft and 70 ships involved. All 29 NATO nations as well as Finland and Sweden will take part in the exercise. (NavalToday.com, May 28, 2018).
Maskirovka – Russia’s Doctrine of Deception. Moscow’s increasingly assertive political and military actions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere is indicative of the nation’s desire to project the power of a resurgent Russia. Maskirovka is a foundational component of Russia’s strategic mindset. Read more in “Threat Report 2018: Russia’s Military Doctrine of Deception and Deniability”, The Cipher Brief, May 31, 2018.
Iran in Syria – UW and TAA. Iran has sought to weaken Western, Israeli, and Saudi influence in the Middle East and improve Iranian influence across the globe. One method of attaining these goals is the use of unconventional warfare. Read how Iran’s use of UW and ‘train, advise, and assist’ has been utilized in Syria and elsewhere in this detailed article by Nicholas Hargreaves-Heald. “Proving Ground: Iran’s Operational Strategy in Syria”, Small Wars Journal, May 2018.
LTG Miller – More Aggressive Operations? LTG Austin Miller has been nominated for a fourth star and to command the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. But does tapping a SOF general lead to a more aggressive strategy? Read “Pick of Special Forces chief to lead Afghanistan signals more aggressive stance”, The Washington Times, May 30, 2018.
Afghan SOF Free Prisoners. More than 100 prisoners held by the Taliban were freed by Afghan Special Forces in Helmand province on Thursday, May 31st. Most of the detainees were civilians including five women. The Taliban issued a statement saying the rescue operation released “93 criminals accused of murder, robbery, drug use and other crimes . . . “. Afghan officials stated the detainees were civilians who had supported the Afghan government. Read “Afghan Special Forces Free Scores From Taliban Prisons”, Voice of America, May 31, 2018.
AFRICOM Connectivity. Africa is a huge continent and communications is important for small units in remote locations. Read how Africa Command is upgrading its connectivity in “The US Military Has a New Tool to Connect its Far-Flung African Bases”, Defense One, May 30, 2018.
Somalia and Piracy. The maritime security community had made some impressive gains in countering piracy activity off the coast of Somalia in recent years – however it seems that 2017 has seen a resurgence in pirates seizing ships in that region. Read more in “Piracy made a strong comeback in Somalia in 2017”, Quartz Africa, May 24, 2018.
Rhodesian HUMINT Operations. During the 1970s the Rhodesian Selous Scouts conducted pseudo-unit and HUMINT operations against the insurgent groups operating out of Zambia and Mozambique. The famed paramilitary unit was known for its raids into the sanctuary areas of Rhodesia’s neighboring countries; but less well-known is its HUMINT operations that penetrated ZAPU and ZANU – the two insurgent groups. Read “The Logic of Pseudo-Operations: Lessons from the Rhodesian Bush War”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, May 31, 2018.
Indonesia’s Christians Targeted. The situation in the world’s largest Muslim country has observers on edge. The country has experienced a troublesome trend towards violence against Christians over the past few years. Lela Gilbert explains in a recent news story. (Newsmax, May 29, 2018).
Top Photo: CV-22s and HH-60s flying over southern England in August 2017. (Photo by AFSOC).