SOF News Update 20181210 – Afghan SOF are busy, SEAL / Raider hearing in GB death postponed, learning from our enemies, 919th SOMSG CoC, Hollywood and military movies, UDT-SEAL museum, SOF ethics review, SOCEUR’s ‘Jackal Stone’ exercise, AFSOC’s bobsledders, G5 Sahel, EU Army (?), HB on Russia IO, and more.
“Recent incidents in our formation have called our ethics and professionalism into question, and threaten to undermine the trust bestowed on us by the American people and our senior leadership.”LTG Fran Beaudette, Commander, USASOC, November 2018 (internal USASOC memo).
Afghan SOF Rescue Prisoners. Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) rescued 11 civilians on December 8 who were held prisoner in a compound by the Taliban in Helmand province. Three Taliban militants were killed during the operation.
919th SOLR Squadron Cdr Gets Award. Major Chris Mazzey, the commander of the 919th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron was named as a recipient of the 2018 Gen. Lew Allen Jr. Trophy. The award recongizes officers and senior NCOs who have made outstanding contributions to mission execution in the maintenance and logistic readiness career fields. (919th SOW PA DVIDS, Dec 2, 2018).
New Cdr for 919th SOMSG. On December 2, 2018 a ceremony was held to recognize the change of command for the 919th Special Operations Mission Support Group. Lt. Col. Kat Donovan is now in charge. (919th SOW PA DVIDS, Dec 2, 2018).
National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum. An article about the UDT-SEAL museum located in Fort Pierce, Florida can be read in Preserving Their Legacy, Defense Media Activity, July 19, 2018.
Hearings Postponed in GB’s Death. Two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders are alleged to have killed Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar in Mali in 2017. Article 32 hearings were originally set for December 10th but now are being postponed until March 2019. Read “Hearings Postponed for SEALs, Marines charged in Green Beret’s Death”, Military.com, December 7, 2018.
Two AFSOC Members Have Bobsleds in Their Future. Two members of the Air Force Special Operations Command are vying to garner a spot on the U.S. bobsled team. (1st Special Operations Wing PA DVIDS, Dec 7, 2018.
7th SFGA and Ethics Review. Congress has mandated that USSOCOM provide a report on ethics within SOF. This includes the 7th Special Forces Group which seems to be having its fair share of bad news lately. Read “Local units covered by Special Ops professionalism, ethics review”, NWF Daily News, December 7, 2018.
Philippine’s SFR(A) Gets new Cdr. The Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) has a new commander following a ceremony that took place this past Wednesday. (Manila Bulletin, Dec 7, 2018).
SOCEUR’s ‘Jackal Stone’. U.S. and Greek SOF recently conducted an exercise in early December that involved a response to the hijacking of a cruise ship. (Cruise Law News, Dec 7, 2018).
Military and National Security
ICYMI. Army beats Navy 17-10
Learning from Enemies. The nature of warfare is constantly changing. Our military (U.S.) has had significant innovations such as ISR, targeting of VIPs, and drone warfare to name. Our enemies have adapted as well – as in the use of IEDs. Even the ways of using IEDs by insurgent and terrorist groups have changed in the past decade.
“Strategic and operational decision makers need to pay close attention to the ever-changing character of war against different enemies – conventional or irregular – in distinctly different environments. This often means learning from our enemies.”
Read more in “Changing Calculus and Learning from our Enemies”, The Strategy Bridge, December 8, 2018.
Hollywood and the Average GI Joe. The movie industry seems to have two types of military movies – and the focus usually is on the Navy SEAL hero or the broken vet. And when the film crowd does produce a movie it is good story telling vs. telling a good story. In other words, don’t let the facts ruin the drama. Read more in “Making Room for the Average GI Joe in Hollywood’s Military”, ClearanceJobs.com, December 6, 2018.
AF’s JFEX. Every year the U.S. Air Force conducts an exercise to practice their capability and capacity to execute a joint forcible entry into enemy territory. The exercise – Joint Forcible Entry Exercise – involves aircraft of all types – fighters, surveillance, EW, cargo, and lots of equipment and cargo that is air dropped or air landed. The Warzone has provided us with a neat intro to JFEX along with some cool graphics depicting the flight routes. (The Drive, Dec 9, 2018).
‘Hiding in Plain Sight’. CIA officers stationed overseas have to try and shake their ‘watchers’. There are a few tricks that can be employed to do this. Read “How the CIA Trains Spies to Hide in Plain Sight”, Wired.com, December 7, 2018.
New Boss of CIA’s DO. The Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations will be headed up by Elizabeth Kimber. She is an agency veteran and close ally of CIA Director Gina Haspel. The DO recruits spies overseas, gathers intelligence, and engages in covert operations.
G5 Sahel. The European Union and France are increasing their financial support in the five Sahel states which sit on the southern rim of Africa’s Sahara desert. The region has had problems with lawlessness and terrorism for years. Read more in “EU, France step up security, development aid for Africa’s G5 Sahel”, Deutsche Welle, December 6, 2018.
U.S. – Thailand Alliance. Both countries can leverage opportunities to reinforce an important relationship amid broader strategic trends. There has been some quiet progress in cooperation in the areas of cybersecurity and maritime security. Read “Strengthening the US-Thailand Alliance for an Indo-Pacific Future”, The Diplomat, December 7, 2018.
EU Standing Army? There are some in Europe advocating the establishment of an EU Army. They are worried about a U.S. commitment to defend Europe against possible aggressors (that would be Russia). The French president is a lead proponent for an EU Army. The German chancellor has endorsed the idea. Richard Reinsch II, the editor of the Law and Liberty website, examines this topic with a focus on nationalism, patriotism, and the political consequences of such an army. Read “A Standing Army for the EU?”, National Review, December 6, 2018.
HB on Russian IO. Read up on Russia’s capabilities and intentions in the information domain. Russia is combining cyber offensives with traditional subversion and active measures. The Handbook of Russian Information Warfare is a guide to Russia’s doctrine and activities in IO. Published by the NATO Defense College Research Division, November 2018.
Is the U.S. at War with Russia? The low-intensity conflicts we have experienced over the past few decades have diminished the distinction between war and peace. The use of hybrid warfare tactics by Russia (as witnessed in Ukraine) is redefining what warfare is. A recent conference hosted by Modern War Institute looked deeply into this question. Read “Are We at War?”, MWI, December 5, 2018.
Iraq. The U.S. military is continuing its mission of advising and training Iraqi forces. Support provided includes equipment, communications support, and ISR. In addition the Iraqi Kurdish Security forces are also receiving assistance.
Syria – Three Purple Hearts Awarded to Marines. Three members of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in Syria during October 2018. (DVIDS, Dec 8, 2018).
Fixing Gaza. I am not sure there is a fix for this long-running and difficult to solve situation. But the folks at the Brookings Institution and Center for a New American Security put together a task force to study the problem and came up with some recommendations. The result is a 57-page report entitled Ending Gaza’s Perpectual Crisis: A New U.S. Approach, December 2018.
Egypt’s Christian Community Suffers. Christians in Egypt face dangers that most other Egyptians needn’t fear. Church services are threatened, innocent pilgrims and their children are attacked, and kidnappings take place. Christian ” . . . women in Egypt face an epidemic of kidnapping, rape, beatings and torture.” Lela Gilbert of the Hudson Institute provides more details in this report entitled Egypt’s Silent Epidemic of Kidnapped Christian Girls, Hudson Institute, December 6, 2018.
Fixing Yemen. The U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is slowly diminishing. But should world opinion prevail and the Saudi’s pull out of the conflict – ending the bombing of the rebel groups that are supported by Iran – what happens next? The conflict won’t end but it might be less horrific. Daniel Byman, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, provides perspective in “Yemen after a Saudi withdrawal: How much would change?”, Brookings, December 5, 2018.
Toughest Man Alive, Defense.gov, December 7, 2018. A Navy SEAL who completed Army Ranger School and Air Force tactical air controller training tells his story in a two-minute video.
Latest Army Recruiting Video. The Call We Answer, U.S. Army, December 6, 2018.
Photo: Small Boat Team 22 performs a simulated hot extraction utilizing Special Operations Craft Riverine. Photo by Angela Fry, NSCITTS, Sep 7, 2018.