SOF News Update 20190701 – Current news, analysis, and commentary on special operations, national security, and conflicts from around the world.
Marine Raider Works on Capitol Hill. A Marine who earned the Silver Star for his actions in Bamako, Mali in 2015 was selected for the Congressional Fellowship Program and works with a Congressman who is chairman of a House intelligence subcommittee. (Marine Corps Times, June 26, 2019).
New AF SOF Cdr. LTG Jim Slife took command of the Air Force Special Operations Command on June 28, 2019. See “Slife takes command of AFSOC”, DVIDS, June 28, 2019.
IG Report on USSOCOM. The Inspector General U.S. Department of Defense has released a ten-page report on the system of quality control for USSOCOM Office of the Inspector General. The report (a boring read to be honest) concludes with “The USSOCOM OIG Audit Division has received a rating of pass”. (IGDoD, June 26, 2019).
Raiders to Consolidate on East Coast? The 1st Raider Battalion may be moving to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to be closer to the other Marine Raider units. Consolidating the Raiders was one of the focus points of the MARSOC 2030 publication. Read more in an article posted by Marine Corps Times on June 28, 2019.
Report on Stryker Accident that Killed an Army Ranger. Read a detailed account of an accident the claimed the life of a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment in September 2018. See “Rolled Over Stryker Crushed Army Ranger in Fatal Training Accident Last Year”, The Drive Warzone, June 27, 2019.
SEAL Puts Navy in Awkward Situation. A Navy SEAL stated during the trail of Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher that he, not Gallagher, killed a wounded Islamic State prisoner of war in 2017. Now military authorities need to decide their course of action for Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Corey Scott. Read “Is the Navy investigating a SEAL for telling the truth?”, Navy Times, June 27, 2019.
Marine Testifies in Gallagher Case. A Marine who was attached to the SEAL platoon testified that Eddie Gallagher didn’t stab the wounded ISIS fighter in Iraq. (Task & Purpose, June 28, 2019). See also an article by Military.com, June 28, 2019 on the same topic.
Golsteyn Pleas ‘Not Guilty’. Army Major Matthew Golsteyn (former SF) pleaded not guilty on Thursday, June 27th to allegations that he wrongfully killed an unarmed Afghan bombmaker almost ten years ago. (Stars and Stripes, June 28, 2019.
DSC for Pilot Protecting GBs. A CW3 flying a UH-60 in Afghanistan used his aircraft to protect a Special Forces team on the ground during a fierce combat action. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions. (USASOC DVIDS, June 27, 2019).
SOF Doc Now Heads Vicenza Health Clinic. LTC Joseph Matthews, a doctor with a SOF background (7th SFGA and CJSOTF-A) is now the head of the Vicenza medical clinic. (DVIDS, June 26, 2019).
Bolduc For Senate. Retired BG Don Bolduc, a well-known officer in the Special Forces community, has thrown his hat in the race to represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate. A former 3rd SFGA and SOCAfrica commander, he brings a wealth of knowledge in the foreign affairs department. (Military Times, June 27, 2019).
A New Meaning for “Dual Tabbed”. Read more in “W. Va engineer officer earns dual tab recognition”, army.mil, June 28, 2019.
Saudi SOF Capture Yemen’s Daesh Chief. Read how Saudi special forces captured the leader of the Islamic State in Yemen in a daring 10-minute long raid on June 3, 2019. (Arab News, June 27, 2019).
Memorial for UK’s Royal Navy Divers. A Military Diver Memorial is being established to recognize the military divers of the past. Read “Royal Navy heroes who do most dangerous job have no memorial”, Corwall Live, June 24, 2019.
Spain’s Naval Commandos. Read about the Special Naval Warfare Force – the green berets of the Spanish Navy. (Maritime Herald, June 25, 2019).
UK’s Special Purpose Task Group (SPTG). The future of the Royal Marines could include being considered part of the UK special operations force. Read “A SOF Role for UK’s Royal Marines?”, Overt Defense, June 28, 2019.
Some SOF History
Flying for Air America. A veteran pilot of the CIA’s secret airline in Southeast Asia provides a glimpse of his days flying covert aircraft. Read “Life as an Air America CIA Pilot in Vietnam”, HistoryNet.com, June 2019.
Veterans Burial Rights for Laotian & Hmong Allies. A statewide policy has granted burial rights for the Hmong and Laotian Special Guerrilla Unit (SGU) who live Connecticut. This step comes after Congress enacted the Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act in 2018. Read “Connecticut becomes first state to give Hmong, Laotian veterans burial rights”, Stars and Stripes, June 28, 2019.
Jedburghs. A short article about the 3-man special operations teams deployed to Europe in World War II. “The Jeburghs were the best anti-Nazi commandos of WWII”, We are the Mighty, June 28, 2019.
Retired SF 90-Year-Old in the News. Tom Gaffney celebrated a milestone birthday with former Army comrades. He had a diverse and long Army career spanning three wars – and six years with Special Forces. (Aiken Standard, June 29, 2019).
Medal of Honor Ceremony. Former Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia became the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor in June 2019. He was also inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. He is recognized for his valor in the Second Battle of Fallujah in November 2004 while serving with the 1st Infantry Division.
“Iraq War Vet, Medal of Honor Recipient Hopes to Inspire Others to Serve”, DoD, June 26, 2019.
“President awards Medal of Honor to first living Iraq War recipient”, army.mil, June 25, 2019.
Video – MoH Recipient Joins Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, DVIDS, June 26, 2019.
History of the Military Helmet. The U.S. Army’s steel pot has changed over the past several decades. Read “The Century-Long Evolution of the U.S. Army Helmet”, Popular Mechanics, June 27, 2019.
Black Hornet Mini-Mini Drone. The Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System will soon deploy to Afghanistan with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division. (Stars and Stripes, June 28, 2019).
JLTV to be Fielded. The U.S. Army is moving ahead with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program – replacing many of the HMMWVs in the inventory. See “Army approves JLTV Full-Rate Production”, army.mil, June 21, 2019.
NATO and the Russian Bear
Defending the Baltic States. Steven Pifer, a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, writes about how Lithuania is stepping up its defenses to defend against possible Russian aggression. (The National Interest, June 25, 2019.
Defending Against Hybrid Threats. The aggressive posture of Russia towards northern and eastern Europe takes many forms – utilizing a variety of irregular activities to achieve national objectives. This requires an unusual defensive approach by European nations. Read “EU to stage war games to prepare for hybrid threats”, C4ISRNET, June 28, 2019.
Iran Update. Apparently the prospect of war with Iran has diminished over the past several days. However the danger of a conflict persists. Read a synopsis of why a congested Mideast waterway is the site of escalating U.S.-Iran tensions in “The Strait of Hormuz: A U.S.-Iran Maritime Flash Point“, Council on Foreign Affairs, June 18, 2019.
Metz on Iran’s Risky Behavior. Is the national strategy currently being employed by Iran designed to provoke an over-reaction by the United States? Steven Metz seems to think so. Read “Iran Is Using a Strategy of Insurgency, Goading the U.S. Into Overreacting”, World Politics Review, June 28, 2019.
Iraq’s Militias. Vanda Felbab-Brown informs us on the challenges presented to the Iraq state of the many different militias currently in existence in Iraq. (Brookings Institute, June 2019).
Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan. The Trump administration unveiled its peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a major component being $50 billion in socioeconomic development. While this is a bold move, it is a non-starter – development doesn’t buy peace in ethnic and religious wars. Read “The fatal flaw in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan”, The Hill, by Jeff Goodson, June 27, 2019.
Geography and the Middle East. Using history as a guide, Tony Badran describes to us the “Strategic Geography of the Middle East”, The Caravan, Hoover Institution, June 27, 2019.
Joint Statement by Global Anti-Daesh Coalition. The roadmap for defeating Daesh / ISIS has been revealed in a statement by the Coalition. (DoS, June 25, 2019).
“Nevertheless, Daesh/ISIS’s territorial defeat does not represent the terrorists group’s eradication or the end of the terrorist threat it poses. While it continues to inspire terrorist attacks through active propaganda efforts, Daesh/ISIS has also proved its resilience and adaptability, continuing to conduct lethal attacks. It has used its active cells in the region to attack our partners and the civilian populations both in Iraq and in Syria where we have recently seen an increase of Daesh/ISIS attacks in the Levant. This is a major concern for the entire Coalition, as it puts at risk key military gains and the stability necessary for recovery. The territorial defeat is achieved, but the job to ensure a lasting defeat of Daesh/ISIS is still to be done.”
Airbase 201 – Now Complete. After years of construction the American airbase in Niger has been completed. It cost $110 million and is being used to improve surveillance and intelligence collection of Islamic terrorists in the region. Read “Intelligence: Airbase 201 in Africa”, Strategy Page, June 29, 2019.
Libya’s Proxy War. The long-running conflict in Libya continues with various factions fighting each other for control of the oil assets and major cities along the Mediterranean coast. The western powers were at once involved in Libya since the fall of Gaddafi but now Mideast powers (Turkey and UAE) are at odds – each supporting their faction of choice. Seth J. Frantzman puts it all in perspective for us in “Libya’s Proxy War Comes Out in the Open”, The Jerusalem Post, June 29, 2019.
The Afghan Farmer. Keith Lembke, an American with extensive experience in Afghanistan, provides his perspective on the Afghan conflict. The resilience of the insurgency suggests that the vast majority of Afghans don’t want to cashier tribal and Islamic values for a western-oriented progressive society. Read “Afghanistan Peace and Economic Growth – It’s About the Farmer”, LinkedIn, June 26, 2019.
Upcoming Event – Panel on Afghanistan. The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) will conduct a webcast featuring Jonathan Schroden, LTG (Ret) David Barno, and Linda Robinson on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Watch Military Advise and the “Forever War” in Afghanistan.
Military Linguist and Machine Language Translation. The development of increasingly accurate automated translation tools is going to change the career field of military linguists. Read “Death of a Trade”, Wavell Room, June 27, 2019.
Assessing SSA. A group of scholars share their thoughts on the U.S. security sector assistance to allies and partners.
” The United States has long been a leader in SSA. It now needs to focus on assessing, monitoring, and evaluating those efforts to showcase this leadership, to have more evidence for critical decision-making, and to demonstrate that SSA can provide real return on investment given constraints at home and challenges abroad.”Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation in Action for Security Sector Assistance, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), June 27, 2019.
Papers and Reports
Paper – Gray Zone. In 2015 the United States Special Operations Command published a paper entitled The Gray Zone that described that area of competition that took place in the space between peace and full-scale conflict. Since then a number of publications, papers, and reports have been published about the Gray Zone. A bevy of authors have recently completed a 237-page report – Gaining Competitive Advantage in the Gray Zone: Response Options for Coercive Aggression Below the Threshold of Major War, RAND Corporation, June 2019.
Infantry Magazine. The Spring 2019 issue of Infantry Magazine is now posted online. It includes a number of interesting articles (none really SOF related but still . . .)
UK and STRATCOM. The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has published Joint Doctrine Note 2/19 – Defence Strategic Communication: an Approach to Formulating and Executing Strategy, April 2019.
U.S. Hostage Policy. A 86-page report explores the twists and turns of how the United States attempted to rescue hostages held by terrorist organizations and how it interacted with the families of hostages. Read Bringing Americans Home, New America, June 2019.
IS and Black Ops. A recently published paper studies the non-state militant group emulation and development of a special operation capability. See Black Ops: Islamic State and Innovation in Irregular Warfare, Taylor & Francis Online, June 2019. (cost involved to access).
FY2020 NDAA. On June 26, 2019 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a 3-page summary of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11258
Shooting While Moving. A one-minute long video shows members of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service practice advanced marksmanship techniques. (CJTF-OIR, April 7, 2019).
Photo: Ukrainian SOF. Photo by SOCEUR July 2017.