SOF News Update – Curated news, commentary, and analysis about special operations, national security, and conflicts around the world. Russia’s private army in Africa, Shannon Kent, EPIC Ready, NSW’s jet skis, EPIC Ready, SEALs and culture, GWOT movies, and more.
Shannon Kent Remembered. Senior Chief Petty Officer Kent was recognized at the Presidio of Monterey, California when the several buildings were renamed as “Kent Navy Yard”. Kent was one of four Americans killed in a Jauary 16, 2019 suicide bombing in the city of Manbij, Syria. (Task & Purpose, Aug 22, 2019).
EPIC Ready. Visual Awareness Technologies and Consulting (VATC), a firm based in Florida that specializes in supporting SOF exercises, has rolled out a suite of online collaborative applications that support planning and training for exercise scenarios. The apps, called EPIC Ready, helps the exercise planner design, track, and assess your training programs in a secure environment.
NSW’s Jet Skis. H.I. Sutton, a correspondent that covers the world of underwater warfare, writes about commercial off-the-shelf water scooters used by special operations forces. The jet skis are quick and agile and can operate in extremely shallow water including through the surf zone to a beach. Read “Naval Special Warfare operating Jet Skis”, Forbes.com, August 22, 2019.
Toad Jumper. A cartoonist and former Delta operator – George Hand – describes a ‘Towed Jumper’ event. (We are the Mighty, August 23, 2019).
SEALs and Culture Realignment. A series of embarrassing events have prompted Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Admiral Collin Green to issue a four-page directive that will improve the conduct of Navy SEALs, restore moral accountability, and create better SEAL leaders. Read “For SEALs, it’s back to regulation haircuts and uniform inspections”, Navy Times, August 23, 2019.
AC-130J – Don’t Be on the Wrong End of This! Described as the ultimate battle plane, the Ghostrider comes with the standard 105mm cannon and a 30mm GAU-23/A cannon. In addition, it can carry wing pylons designed for both GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. Read “The Air Force’s AC-130J “Ultimate Battle Plane” Is Ready to Rock”, The National Interest, August 25, 2019.
Eager Lion – Jordan Exercise. The 2019 Eager Lion exercise started on August 25th with over 8,000 personnel from 29 countries. The event helps to develop the capability to align the armed forces of the participating countries in a common purpose. The exercise will last until September 5th and includes a number of special operations forces from many countries. Read “9th edition of Eager Lion drill kicks off”, The Jordan Times, August 25, 2019.
Bulgarian Special Forces Jump from U.S. Black Hawks. Bulgarian paratroopers made several jumps from UH-60s during the 3rd week of August. The four-day bilaterial training event included static line and HALO jumps. The aircrews were from the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment (U.S.). See “U.S. Army Soldiers conduct paradrop training with Bulgarian Special Forces”, DVIDS, August 22, 2019.
SAS’s Operation Gaff. An attempt to capture or kill one of Germany’s best generals during WWII was unsuccessful. However, the commandos wreaked havoc while exfiltrating from the operational area. Read “This was the British plan to kill Erwin Rommel before D-Day”, We are the Mighty, August 22, 2019.
Photo Essay – Australian SOF. View photos that showcase the talents and capabilities of one of Australia’s special forces units. “Photo Essay: Australia’s 2nd Commando Regiment”, Defense connect, August 13, 2019.
Irish Army Ranger Wing Heading to Mali. The special forces arm of the Irish Defence forces will be taking part in a United Nations mission in Africa. Read “Army Rangers to Begin Deployment to Mali in coming days”, Irish Times, August 25, 2019.
Military and National Security
Coffee – How Much Should You Drink? Researchers from the US Army have come up with an online tool that helps you determine how much coffee you need to drink to stay awake. (Business Insider, Aug 8, 2019).
Palantir – Used by SOCOM and Others. Read about a software application that is immensely secretive but that is as powerful as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. It is a favorite application for SOF in the Global War on Terror. (The Guardian, July 30, 2017).
Paper – Congress and Intelligence Oversight. Carrie Cordero and Robert Gates have authored a 15-page paper entitled Working Paper: Enhancing Congressional Intelligence Committee Effectiveness, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), August 2019.
GWOT’s Signature Injury. According to Kevin Lacz, a Physician Assistant in functional medicine, PTSD may not be the ‘signature injury’ of the Global War on Terror. He believes that low testosterone is more prevalent. (The Havok Journal, Aug 6, 2019).
Report on Foreign Military Training. The Department of State has published two pubs that detail the training provided to foreign militaries around the world. It is in two volumes – totaling in excess of 800 pages. It is sort of interesting hitting “Ctrl-F” and searching for “special operations”. Read “Foreign Military Training Report: Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 – Joint Report to Congress”. (August 15, 2018).
Report on Classified Missions. The Department of Defense Inspector General has published a report on three classified overseas contingency operations. They are the East Africa Counterterrorism, the North and West Africa Counterterrorism, and the Operation Yukon Journey operations. These operations are conducted to degrade al Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated terrorists in specific regions of Africa and the Middle East. (DOD IG, Aug 21, 2019).
Trump Calls for Europe to Repatriate IS Fighters. The U.S. wants European nations to repatriate IS fighters captured in Syria. Read “Trump Threatens to Release ISIS Fighters into France, Germany”, Defense One, August 21, 2019.
Syrian Kurds – Left Out of Process. The United States and Turkey have been hammering away in negotiations to create a ‘safe buffer zone’ along the Syrian and Turkish border. This, of course, will be placed within northeast Syria – an area currently controlled by the YPG/SDF. The negotiation process is likely to produce an agreement unfavorable to the Syrian Kurds who inhabit the region. Read “Syria’s Kurds left out of Turkish border plan”, Asia Times, August 23, 2019.
Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi campaign to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power in Yemen is suffering some setbacks. The United Arab Emirates is significantly scaling down its support for the Saudi-led multi-year operation. The Hadi government’s legitimacy is questionable. Saudi Arabia appears to have a long history of backing losers in recent Yemen conflicts. Read “Saudi Arabia and the civil war within Yemen’s civil war”, Brookings Institute, August 15, 2019.
Russia’s Private Army in Africa. The Russians are expanding their influence and presence on the African continent. One country in particular is receiving a lot of attention with investments and military trainers aplenty in the Central African Republic. Read “Putin’s Private Army”, CNN.com Special Report, August 2019.
Corruption and Terrorism – Kenya Case Study. A recent article provides examples of how corruption within a state government can thwart counterterrorism efforts. Kenya is offered as an example. “Widespread corruption has rendered U.S-funded Keynan counterterrorism efforts ineffective, and efforts to combat corruption repeatedly fail.” Read “Corruption and terrorism: the case of Kenya”, Brookings Institute, August 22, 2019.
DRC and Mozambique Insurgencies – Ties to IS? Salem Solomon writes about the insurgencies that are more ‘local’ than transnational. Read “Are DRC, Mozambique Insurgencies a Real IS Threat?”, Voice of America, August 22, 2019.
Security Leader Shakeup in Somalia. In the wake of continued violence the president of Somalia has replaced several key officials. Read “Somali president replaces security chiefs and Mogadishu major”, The East African (KE), August 23, 2019.
Peace Negotiations. U.S. and Taliban negotiators continue to engage in talks held in Qatar. The U.S. is hoping for an agreement that will allow it to draw down on forces currently in Afghanistan. Currently there are about 14,000 U.S. troops as well as a few thousand NATO and partner nation forces in Afghanistan. Some critics say any peace agreement will likely result in a ‘victory’ for the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State.
Videos, Movies, and Podcasts
GWOT Movies. The Global War on Terror has prompted the production of a number of movies the depict life in the conflicts overseas. Two contributors collaborate in an article that briefly explains each of the films as well as providing trailers for the movies. Read “A History of the Global War on Terror Through Must–See Film“, Coffee or Die Magazine, August 23, 2019.
Podcast – SF on Patrol. Ryan Hendrikson stepped on an IED in 2010 and almost lost his leg. After years of recovery he returned to combat and was awarded the Silver Star for an event that took place in 2016. Listen to his story in The Spear – Special Forces on Patrol, Modern War Institute, August 16, 2019.
Video – Arab Military Effectiveness. Ken Pollack, the author of Armies of Sand, provides explanations for the ineffectiveness of Arab armies. Watch Arab Military Effectiveness | Rethink Tank, American Enterprise Institute, August 7, 2019, 5 minutes.
Photo: 3rd Special Forces Group Training. USASOC Twitter July 9, 2019.