SOF News Update 20181109 – book reviews, CIA’s Vietnam-era quiet helicopter, Saudi policy to Iraq, SUAS suppression, stationing more US tanks in Europe, Afghan update, reprimands for Niger mission gone bad, IS in Jordan, the future of ISIS, the warrior spouse and PTS, Hunter Killer review, and more.
Bolduc Comments on Reprimands for Niger Mission. Retired General Don Bolduc, a former commander of Special Operations Command Africa, provides his thoughts on the reprimands given to military personnel for the failure of the October 2017 Niger mission where four members of the 3rd Special Forces Group were killed. He also provides his perspective on how SOF generals are selected for command at the TSOC’s. Read “One Major General Was The Fall Guy for the Niger Ambush. The Real Fault Lies Elsewhere”, Task & Purpose, November 8, 2018.
Former SF Interpreter Now in 1st SFAB. A former Afghan interpreter for U.S. Army Special Forces in Afghanistan has emigrated to the United States, joined the U.S. Army, and is now a member of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) in Afghanistan. Read “Afghan-born Soldier returns home to be advisor for new Army unit”, Army News Service, November 7, 2018.
Differences in US SOF. Confused about who and what special operations forces are? Read “Here’s how to tell the US military’s most elite special operators apart”, Business Insider, November 8, 2018.
SF Officer Assignment. Major General Robert A. Karmazin (SF) has been assigned as director, J-7/9, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
Navy Investigation in Killing of Green Beret in Mali. An investigation in the killing of a Green Beret in Mali has been completed – after many long months. Two SEALs may likely face charges in the strangling death of SSG Logan Melgar of the 3rd Special Forces Group. (Army Times, Nov 7, 2018).
Afghan NMU for Herat. An elite police unit has formed up in Herat, Afghanistan. It is a new National Mission Unit that conducts high-risk missions such as arresting terrorists and responding to attacks. (Stars and Stripes, Nov 8, 2018).
7th SFGA Soldier Dies in Training Accident. On November 06, 2018, Specialist Nicholas C. Jividen died in a training accident at the National Training Center, in Fort Irwin, California. Specialist Jividen was a member of 3rd Battalion, Headquarters and Support Company.
CIA’s Secret and Quiet Helicopter. During the Vietnam war the Central Intelligence Agency had to land a helicopter in North Vietnam to tap into the phone lines of high-level North Vietnamese officials. So a secret program was established to develop and field a very quiet helicopter. (War is Boring, May 1, 2015)
Military and Defense News
SUAS Suppression. DoD’s official dictionary defines “suppression” as the “temporary or transient degradation” of the performance of a weapons system below the level needed to fulfill its mission objectives. Most users of the term “suppression” understand it to be the result of either direct or indirect fire on the enemy. But can a small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) be suited to suppressing enemy targets or weapons systems? Read more in an article by Walker Mills in “On Drones and Tactics: How Unmanned Platforms Will Change the Way the Infantry Fights”, Modern War Institute at West Point, November 6, 2018.
US Info Warfare Capability. Benjamin Carsman thinks the U.S. should establish and adequately resource a 21st century equivalent to the United States Information Agency (USIA). Read “The War of Ideas: Advocating for a Stronger US Information Warfare Capability”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, November 7, 2018.
The Warrior Spouse and PTS. Service members returning from a war zone may very well be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress but not be aware of the PTS. The service members spouse can play an important role in mitigating the PTS. Read “The Warrior Spouse: America’s Unsung Heroes”, Warriors Magazine, November 2018.
Mid-Term Elections. The Republicans get stronger in the Senate but lose leadership of the House. What does this mean for the military. Probably more constraints on spending and a demand for more accountability of overseas operations (Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, etc.). Despite a large number of Veterans running for office – and some getting elected, like Green Beret Mike Waltz – there are now less Veterans in Congress.
Status of US Military. A recent panel discussion discussed the state of U.S. military readiness. Read “Is the U.S. military ready for the threats it faces? Experts discuss”, Brookings Institute, November 7, 2018.
Europe and NATO
US Armored Brigade? Ryan Van Wie, a U.S. Army officer, believes the time is right to station a U.S. Army armored brigade in Europe. He thinks the best place for the brigade is Germany. The permanent locating of the brigade will relieve Atlantic Resolves rotational burden, improve interoperability, and enhance the US Army’s ability to credibly respond to future threats. Read “Bring the Tanks Back: It is time to put a U.S. Armored Brigade in Germany”, War on the Rocks, November 6, 2018.
Trident Juncture 18 Ends. The huge NATO military exercise held in Norway and the surrounding region – Trident Juncture 2018 – has concluded. Over 50,000 troops, thousands of vehicles, hundreds of aircraft, numerous ships, and 30 plus nations participated.
New Contingency Operations. A new report by the DoD IG office is provides an update on US military activities in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism in Africa. Read “Report reveals previously secret operations in Africa”, Military Times, November 7, 2018.
Afghan Peace Process. The head of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, has stated that the war cannot end with a military victory. So the big push is to get the Taliban to engage in an Afghan peace process. But the U.S. and NATO face a Taliban that is stronger than any time since 2001 when the Taliban regime was toppled by a small contingent of US SF / CIA teams and the Northern Alliance. At least 85 Afghan troops were killed in insider attacks this year. Probably one of the few positives taking place is the continued Commando successes against Taliban/DAESH, and increased sustainable capacities of the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF).
Taliban Gains. A number of small outposts and bases of the government security forces have fallen to the Taliban over the past few days. One Afghan Border Force battalion suffered a devastating defeat in western Afghanistan.
NATO Visit. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Curtis Scaparrotti met with Coalition and Afghan leaders in Kabul recently. There has been few signs of progress on the part of government security forces and attempts at peace talks with the Taliban are not yielding results.
“This is a difficult situation. We see violence and instability, and we don’t underestimate the challenges.” (Stoltenberg)
Presidential Elections Scheduled. The Independent Electoral Commission says the presidential election is scheduled for April 20, 2019. President Ghani has stated he will be running for re-election. There is a big push to require biometric verification of voters in the next election.
Saudi Arabia’s Policy Towards Iraq. The Saudis appear to be pursuing a policy of pragmatic diplomacy with Iraq – most likely to build greater influence in the region and to counter the presence of Iran in Iraq. Read more in a paper by Renad Mansour entitled Saudi Arabia’s New Approach in Iraq, Center for Strategic & International Studies, November 6, 2018.
Yemen Update. Houthi rebel positions in Yemen were hit with air strikes and a ground offensive appears to be underway for the port city of Hodeida.
Syria. The Syrian Kurds have temporarily suspended their fight against the Islamic State due to threats of military operations against the Kurdish enclave by Turkish military forces. The U.S. (and others) continue to hit IS positions with air strikes.
Iraq Military Still Not Ready to Defeat Insurgency. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) still have a long way to go before they can defeat the IS insurgency. The ability to collect and analyze intelligence and operation of drones are one limitation as well as the ability to conduct complex operations in a timely manner. Read “Why a self-reliant Iraqi military may take ‘years, if not decades’ and could require a ‘generation’ to reform”, Military Times, November 6, 2018.
IS in Jordan? Emily Przyborowski, a researcher at the American Foreign Policy Council, says that Jordan is a prime candidate for subversion and is vulnerable to efforts by the Islamic State to recruit and mobilize followers. Read “Why Jordan is Next for ISIS”, The National Interest, October 31, 2018.
UAE in Somalia. The United Arab Emirates are establishing a military base in Somaliland – with a June 2019 scheduled opening. The facility will help monitor the strategic trade route to the Suez Canal – long an area where Somali pirates have operated. The UAE will train up a Somaliland coastal maritime force. Read more in “U.A.E. Military Base in Breakaway Somaliland to Open by June”, Bloomberg, November 6, 2018.
Down but not Out. The U.S. State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism has released its annual report on terrorism. It concludes that although the Islamic State (IS) has been dismantled in Iraq and Syria it has regrouped to fuel insurgencies in other ‘fragile’ states like Libya and in the Sinai Peninsula. Al Qaeda has capitalized on the degrading of IS by expanding membership and operations. It operates through local affiliates in Syria, Somalia, Maghreb, and the Arabian Peninsula. The report says that a sustainable approach is needed to address the root causes of terrorism. Read “Down But Not Out: Extremist’s Evolving Strategy”, The Olive Branch, United States Institute of Peace, October 30, 2018.
Books & Reports
Rise and Kill First. Ronen Bergman has wrote a book about the secret history of Israel’s targeted assassinations of terrorists. The assassinations began at the birth of the nation in the 1940s and continue to the present time. The author is a contributor to the New York Times Magazine and a senior correspondent for an Israel newspaper. Read a review of Bergman’s book. (The Stategist, Nov 5, 2018).
CTC Sentinel. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has posted its November issue of the CTC Sentinel. 38 pages about . . . well, . . . terrorism.
IS and the Future. The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Haque has published a report about the future of the Islamic State. The paper says that IS is playing the long game and calls on policymakers to keep up the counter-terrorism pressure. It also presents five key conclusions for policymakers. Read The Cost of Crying Victory: Policy Implications of the Islamic State’s Territorial Collapse, ICCT, November 6, 2018.
Videos and Movies
Documentary on Assassination of Gen Raziq. The chief of police for Kandahar province, General Abdul Raziq, was killed in an insider attack recently. Tolo News has published a 25 minute long video about his assassination. (English subtitles).
Trident Juncture Wrap Up. Watch a 30 sec video with scenes of Trident Juncture 2018 in this video clip by DoD (Nov 7, 2018).
Review – Hunter Killer. I haven’t seen this movie yet but it is on my “TTD” list. Alex Hollings reviews the movie about sub warfare and Navy SEALs in “What ‘Hunter Killer’ Gets Right About Submarine Warfare”, Popular Mechanics, November 7, 2018.
SOF Job Opportunities
Photo: French troops of Task Force Wagram conduct a fire mission from Firebase Saham, Iraq (near the Syrian border) in support of Operation Roundup. Photo by Specialist Gyasi Thomasson, CJTF-OIR, October 21, 2018.