Showing posts with label SOF-news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SOF-news. Show all posts

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Afghan SOF Conducting Key Operations and Training

ASSF Seize 1,000 lbs of Explosives. According to a NATO Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (NSOCC-A) Afghan Special Security Forces seized over 1,000 pounds of homemade explosives during night raids in Kandahar and Helmand provinces in late November. (DVIDS, November 30, 2017).

ASSF Leads in Fight Against Insurgents. The Afghan special operations forces of the MoI and MoD are the bright spot in the Afghan campaign against the Taliban and other insurgent / terrorist groups. Read "Kabul Pins Its Hopes on Afghan Special Forces in Fight Against Insurgents", Gandhara Blog,  November 27, 2017.

NMU's Graduate New Members. The Afghan National Mission Units (NMU) of the General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU) has increased its membership with the graduation of almost 50 new operators from an 8-week specialized police course recently held in Logar province. (DVIDS, November 27, 2017).

ASSF to Double. The Afghan government plans to increase the size of the Afghan special operations units of the MoI and MoD over the next few years. According to President Ghani Afghan Commandos conduct operations throughout Afghanistan and have never lost a battle. (Khaama Press, Dec 1, 2017).

Afghan SMW Graduates More Crew Members. The Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW) has more qualified crew members for its PC-12 and Mi-17 helicopters. (DVIDS, Nov 25, 2017).

Sunday, October 22, 2017

SOF News Update

Photo by USSOCOM, 2016

Podcast - SOF in Afghanistan in Fall 2001. Listen to a one-hour long podcast about the first Special Forces teams that infiltrated into Afghanistan weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Jason Amerine and Mark Nutsch were Special Forces ODA team leaders tasked with linking up with the Afghan resistance movements in an effort to topple the Taliban and kill or capture al Qaeda operatives and fighters. Podast: The Spear - First Into Afghanistan, Modern War Institute, October 18, 2017.

SF Raid in Kunduz Goes Bad. Read the story of how a 10th Special Forces Group ODA got into the fight of their life during a raid in Kunduz, Afghanistan. "How a US Raid on an Afghan Village Went Wrong" BuzzFeed News, October 17, 2017. In a related story (same raid) see "Air Force combat controller, AC-130 crew honored for valor in Afghanistan", Air Force Times, October 18, 2017.

Paper on SOF. RAND Corporation has published an interesting paper entitled Supporting Persistent and Networked Special Operations Forces (SOF) Operations. It provides insights from forward-deployed SOF personnel. Some of the research questions it addresses include "What are the operational challenges that deployed personnel have encountered?" and "Can persistent, networked, and distributed operations resolve the operational challenges?" The 48-page paper dated October 2017 can be read online or downloaded here:

Navy IW. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a report entitled Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress. The report, dated October 2017, explores the IW and CT missions of the Navy and how they are funded. Read more in an article by SOF News, Oct 20, 2017.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

SOF News

Afghanistan's Commandos. There are about 11,000 Afghan soldiers assigned to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC). To many observers these are the men that will ensure Afghanistan does not fall to the Taliban and they are the crack troops that respond to dire situations (such as the fall of Kunduz city in late 2015). The commando and special forces units have a very low attrition rate - especially when compared to the remainder of the Afghan army and police forces. However, there are some problems. The commando units are not always used in the proper role and are usually over-employed by Corps commanders of the Afghan army. There is a shortage of training ammunition and uniforms . . . and the training facilities at Camp Moorehead (just outside of Kabul) are not sufficient for the number of soldiers training at that location. Read more in a news story by Tim Craig - "These are the 11,000 soldiers who might save Afghanistan", The Washington Post, March 8, 2016.

Hybrid Warfare Skeptic. The hybrid warfare concept has been around for at least a decade if not more. There are other terms and phases that have been introduced that are very close to the hybrid warfare definition to include, Ambiguous Warfare, Gray Zone, Political Warfare, etc. One commentator, Christopher Paul, provides his thoughts on the various concepts that describe the space between peace and war. A long intellectual read . . . if you are an SF dude then it is in your lane. Dr. Paul is a senior social scientist working for RAND Corporation. Read "Confessions of a Hybrid Warfare Skeptic", Small Wars Journal, March 3, 2016.

A New Unconventional Warfare Strategy & Human Domain. Carole N. House writes an extensive article that defines " . . . critical restructuring needs of the U.S. government . . . " and proposes " . . . strategic lines of effort to facilitate a comprehensive national approach to the conduct of unconventional warfare and countering its use against the United States". Read "Proposal of an Unconventional Warfare Strategy to Dominate the Human Domain", Small Wars Journal, March 7, 2016.

CANSOF and Africa. Canadian special forces have recently completed their participation in the U.S. military exercise called "Flintlock" that was held in Africa. (Ottawa Citizen, Mar 7, 2016).

Australian Special Forces Chief Making Amends. It's tough for a special operations soldier nowadays. In the current atmosphere of political correctness it is like walking on thin ice. Then again, the military is not a place where sexual harassment should take place. Those irascible folks from down under! Read someone finding out how difficult navigating this new terrain is in "Cleared special forces chief apologises to complainants", The West Australian, March 9, 2016.

US SOF in Libya. General Tony Thomas, currently the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been nominated by President Obama to head up the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He recently testified before (Wed, 9 Mar) the Senate Armed Services Committee where he stated that he supports the deployment of SOF to Libya to oppose the growth of the Islamic State. Read more in "Obama nominee supports sending special operators to Libya", The Hill Blog, March 9, 2015.

Italian SOF in Libya. The Italians made it in the news as well; although under unfavorable conditions. They have been accused of beating up (verbally and physically) news reporters in Libya. Probably a small incident but . . . (Eurasia Review, Mar 12, 2016).

SOF Mission in Somalia? It would seem that U.S. special operations are just about everywhere. A recent news report indicates that U.S. SOF conducted a helicopter assault on the al-Shabab terror group in Somalia. Read more in "U.S. Special Operations Forces Involved in Somalia Raid: Defense Officials", NBC News, March 9, 2016.

SOF, Corruption, and Somalia. One of the difficulties in working with foreign military forces that are engaged in internal conflicts is that the governments are usually corrupt. In underdeveloped nations this is usually the case. Thus special operations forces find themselves engaged in counterinsurgency efforts that prop up a corrupt government. This is true of Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other places. It is also true of Somalia. A good friend of mine who worked as a counterinsurgency advisor for several years in Afghanistan recently completed a two-year stretch in Somalia. His contract ended when he confronted a high-ranking Somali officer who was pocketing an excessive amount of money and supplies for his personal enrichment; robbing the lower ranking soldiers of ammunition, food, money, and other supplies. Want to know more? Read "Somalia: A Sober Assessment", Strategy Page, March 11, 2016.

SOF and the 'Small Footprint". Max Boot, a commentator on terrorism and national security, shares his thoughts on the over-reliance on special operations forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world in "The Perils of a Small Footprint", Commentary Magazine, March 10, 2016.

SF Training on Okinawa. The Green Berets of the 1st Special Forces Group train for many different types of missions in the Pacific region. Read more in "Special Forces get ready",, March 10, 2016.

SF LTC in Anti-Trump Ad. Mike Waltz, a two-time Afghan veteran, occasional commentator on Fox News, and author of one or two books about Afghanistan has been seen nation-wide in a widely distributed anti-Trump ad. Read more in "Former Special Forces Commander Featured in New Anti-Trump Ad", Task & Purpose, March 7, 2016.

SOF is Evolving and Adapting. The United States Special Operations Command's operators are adapting to an ever changing security situation around the world. On any given day U.S. SOF are deployed to over 80 countries. Read a DoD News release on this topic. (DoD News, Mar 8, 2016).

SOF in Pacific. General Votel, commander of USSOCOM, says that special operations continue to work in the Asia-Pacific region. Read "Commander: SOCOM Never Left the Pacific", Seapower Magazine,  March 8, 2016.

First Female SEALs in 2017? The Navy is pushing ahead to integrate women into the SEAL teams. New Navy documentation lays out the training, recruiting, and assignment plan to place women into previously closed special ops jobs. (Task & Purpose, Mar 11, 2016).

SOF & Maneuver Career Courses. The students of the Maneuver Captains Career Course and the SOF Captains Career Course are working together to enhance interoperability. (Bayonent & Saber, March 8, 2016).

NG SF General "H.B." Profiled. A Special Forces general gets himself into the news in "Olive Hill Childhood Was Foundation for Brigadier General",  Journal-Times, March 9, 2016.

CIA Director at SEAL Event. John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency recently spoke at the Navy SEAL Foundation 8th New York City Benefit Dinner in early March 2016. Your can read his prepared remarks in a transcript provided on the CIA's webpage.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

SOF News

SOF and Social Media. USSOCOM says it must be able to integrate the use of social media into all of its operations. Read more in "America's silent warriors look to up their game on social media"Military Times, March 2, 2016.

SOF and Fight for Mosul. United States special operations forces are preparing the ground for Iraq's campaign to retake the key city of Mosul from the Islamic State. Read more in "U.S. Snags Key ISIS Leader as Fight for Mosul Gets Underway"Foreign Policy, March 2, 2016.

"Mother of all Battles" - Mosul. The British SAS and US special forces are gearing up to help out the Iraqi forces (and Kurds) to retake the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. Read more in "SAS and US special forces plotting mother of all battles to smash ISIS in Mosul", UK Express, March 4, 2016.

Delta Captures High-Ranking ISIS Militant. News reports say that Delta Force has captured a high-ranking Islamic State militant in northern Iraq. Presumably he will undergo some interrogation before being handed off to the Kurds or Iraqi officials. Very little chance he goes to Guantanamo, Cuba. Read more in "U.S. Delta Force Commandos Capture Suspected ISIS Militant in Northern Iraq"NBC News, March 2, 2016.

SEALs Not Getting Weapons They Need? According to one U.S. Congressman, Duncan Hunter - a former Marine- the U.S. Navy SEALs are not getting the modern weapons in the sufficient quantities that they need. General Votel - commander of USSOCOM recently endured some questioning on this matter while testifying before Congress. Read more in "Lawmakers Question Special Ops Leaders over Small Arms Shortages",, March 1, 2016.

SOF - Testimony Before Congress. General Votel (USSOCOM) and Theresa Whelan (SOLIC) recently testified before the House Armed Services Committee about special operations forces. Read more in "Special Operators' Challenges Call for New Priorities, Officials Say",, March 3, 2016.

BG Bolduc Honored. BG Donald Bolduc, a former commander of the CJSOTF-A (2011) was recently given honors by some African nations. Bolduc is now the commander of Special Operations Command Africa (based in Germany). Read more in "African nation honors Laconia soldier", The Citizen, March 5, 2016.

CNN Reports Spilling SOF Secrets? It appears that if your name is Barbara Starr you get to report juicy tidbits of info on special operations mission that others would get into trouble for. Read more in a news report by Popular Military, March 4, 2016.

Combat Patches Okay . . . After All. One of the brigades of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell recently directed that personnel remove their combat patches during training. Seems that the younger troops who had not deployed were feeling inadequate. However, the acting division commander, Scott Brower (former 5th SFGA cdr) quickly changed that stupidity. The combat patches are now back on! Read more in "Directive to remove combat patches on soldiers rescinded", The Leaf-Chronicle, March 4, 2016.

New NSW Commander. Rear Admiral Timothy Szymanski - currently serving as assistant commander for operations at JSOC - will take command of the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, California. he will replace Rear Admiral Brian Losey (who is running into difficulties getting promoted). He served at one point with the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A). Read more in a news report by USNI News, March 1, 2016.

Degree in SOF. Norwich University is offering an online Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis for current active duty, National Guard, reserve, and retired special operators. Read more at the following link.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

SOF News & A Little Intel

MARSOC - Ten Years. MARSOC is celebrating its ten year anniversary. Read an article about the Marine Special Operations Command in "10 years of MARSOC: How the Marine Corps developed its spec ops command"Marine Corps Times, February 24, 2016.

Video - Marine Raiders. Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) has posted a 5-minute long video on about the history of the Marine Raiders (published Feb 24, 2016). This video is released on the 10th anniversary of the formation of MARSOC.

MARSOC Training. Jeremy Bender provides us photos and a description of the type of training that the Marine Corps puts its top operators through for the Marine Special Operations Command. Read "Come along to MARSOC training, where the Marine Corps grooms its top operators", Business Insider, February 24, 2016.

Romanian SOF to Afghanistan. The Romanian Special Operations Group ROU SOAG-3 of the Targu Mures-based 6th Special Operations Brigade Mihai Viteazul will be heading to Afghanistan soon.

Paper - Operational Art in Special Warfare. A host of writers (Fred Krawchuk, John Peters, Linda Robinson, and others) have penned a 186-page report entitled Toward Operational Art in Special Warfare as part of a RAND Corporation project. It was published in February 2016. The jist of the paper is that the U.S. DoD should strengthen its special warfare planning capacity and culture, implement institutional reforms to facilitate unified action among relevant U.S government agenicies, and develop enhanced influence capabilities.

Delta Force - The Truth! The hit show The Unit is going to soon air on the UK's Forces TV. To celebrate this event Forces TV takes a closer look at its inspiration - the U.S. Army's Delta Force. Read "Delta Force: The Truth Behind 'The Unit'", Forces TV (UK),  February 23, 2016.

SOF Operators Buying Their Own Equipment? A recent news report says that there is a disconnect between vendors who supply equipment for SOF units, the money allocated for the equipment, and the operators that use the equipment. Read more in "Lacking basic gear, special operators stuck buying their own equipment", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.

SEALs - "The Quiet Professional?" - Not So Much! One of the catch phrases for the U.S. Army Special Forces has been "The Quiet Professional". The same cannot be said of the U.S. Navy SEALs based on the numerous autobiographies and movies that feature the U.S. Navy's special operators- some of it for fame and personal profit. Read a 85-page research paper on the topic entitled Navy SEALs Gone Wild: Publicity, Fame, and the Loss of the Quiet Professional, Naval Post Graduate School, December 2015.

1st SFGA and Its Whiskey. A craft bourbon has raised thousands of dollars to help special ops veterans and their families. Learn "How the 1st Special Forces Group Got Its Own Whiskey", War is Boring, February 23, 2016.

Evading Danger? One SF veteran provides advise on how to "Escape and evade danger like a Special Forces veteran", Business Insider, February 26, 2016.

AFSOC Wants More V-22s. The Air Force Special Operations Command would like to acquire three additional multi-mission V-22 Ospreys before the product line ceases. This would bring the total to 54 airframes. Read more in a news report by National Defense Magazine, February 26, 2016.

French SOF in Libya. The country of Libya has been in a constant state of turmoil since the fall of its long-time dictator. There are now two governments - one in Tobruck and one in Tripoli. In addition, sandwiched between the two cities along the Mediterranean Coast is a small enclave of about 6,000 Islamic State fighters. There are indications that some European powers may intervene - the Brits and Italians possibly. In addition, the United States and other nations are said to have small SOF teams in Libya. News now comes that the French SOF are there as well. Drone strikes have taken place and there are rumors about the occasional CIA agent being in the vicinity of the better hotels. Read "French special forces waging "secret war" in Libya: report", Reuters, February 24, 2016.

British SAS as Well? One news report says that the UK SOF are in Libya as well. Read "Special Forces spearheading 'secret war' against ISIS in Libya", Mirror (UK), February 25, 2016.

And Finally . . . U.S. SOF Heading to Fight Boko Haram. It appears that a small team of U.S. special operations troops may be heading to Nigeria to help the local army there to fight Boko Haram. This will be another "advise and assist" mission that SOF is well-trained to conduct. Sure . . . except that Nigeria is just one more corrupt dictatorship that is inept and clueless in how to fight a counterinsurgency. I think this is just pissing in the wind on trying to assist a regime that steals money from it's public and puts foreign aid funds into Swiss bank accounts. Read "U.S. troops likely headed to Nigeria for Boko Harma advisory mission", Military Times, February 26, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

SOF News

USSOCOM and Drones. A news report provides information about how the U.S. Special Operations Command utilizes drones to do ISR and targeting. Read "US Special Operations Command lifts the lid on special mission MQ-9 Reaper", IHS Jane's 360, February 14, 2016.

Decision Time on SF NCO. "A decorated Army sergeant and Green Beret who protected an Afghan boy from a child molester in the Afghan police could find out any day whether his actions will end his career in the military". read "Decision looms for Army sergeant who protected Afghan boy", Fox News, February 19, 2016.

Russians told Location of US SOF. "The Pentagon told the Russian military where U.S. Special Forces are located in Syria with the hopes that Russian aircraft will steer clear of that area and not risk bombing American service members . . . " Let's hope the Russians don't share that information with the Hezbollah, Syrian military, and Iranian militants fighting the U.S. proxy military groups in Syria. Read more in "U.S. quietly tells Russia where American troops are located inside Syria", Military Times, February 18, 2016.

AC-130s and Lasers. Energy-directed weapons could soon be mounted on the special opns AC-130 by 2020. Read more in "Special Operations Aircraft to be Outfitted with Laser Weapon", National Defense Magazine, March 2016.

Masters of SOF. "Applications are being accepted for a 10-month master's degree program offered by the National Defense University for special operations officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers. The fully accredited degree program will be conducted at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina offered in August 2017. Read more in Army Times, February 19, 2016.

"Gray Zone" and "Occupied". A new term being bantered about by the SOF folks is the "Gray Zone". While a non-SOF guy (girl) might have trouble visualizing what type of conflict this is, an experienced SF dude would (should) have no trouble with the concept. For those impaired in this respect there is a television series on NetFlix that could be helpful. I am half-way through the ten-episode series. It is a Norwegian product (yes, English subtitles) about a Norway that is slowly being occupied by the Russians. A form of hybrid warfare that took place in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and could take place in the Baltic states (the former republics of the Soviet Union known as Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia). Read more in "Run, Freeze, Or Fight? "Occupied" and the Future of Warfare", by August Cole, War on the Rocks, February 18, 2016.

Highway to be Named for Fallen USSF Soldier. Three Rhode Island State Representatives have introduced a bill to name a stretch of highway in memory of SFC Peter McKenna - a member of 7th SFGA who was killed in Afghanistan in 2015. (News 10, Feb 17, 2016).

Canada SOF - More to Iraq. The new plan of Canada is to pull back some of its air support (six CF-18 fighter jets) but provide more SOF trainers. The Canadian special forces contingent will go from 69 to 207 personnel; a sizable increase. It appears that some help will be going to the Kurds (better than squandering it on the Iraqi government forces). In addition, more than $700 million in humanitarian aid will be provided. There will also be some equipment provided to include small arms, ammunition, and medical support for the Kurds. Read more in "Canada to Boost Spec Ops, Arms in Iraq While Withdrawing CF-18s", Defense News, February 15, 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

SOF News

SOF Shopping for Weapons. Last month the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) sent out a shopping list to arms dealers that included AK-47 rifles, heavy mortars, and anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades. The Soviet-bloc weapons will likely be used in an anti-ISIS effort (probably Syria). Read more in "The Pentagon's Shopping List of Weapons to Fight ISIS"BuzzFeedNews, February 11, 2016.

UAE SF to Syria. The United Arab Emirates have been strong coalition partners in Afghanistan for quite a number of years - including the deployment of its Special Forces units. Now we have news that the UAE will also be sending its Special Forces to take part in the battle in Syria. They will be part of an effort to train and enable local Arab fighters who are motivated to recapture Raqqa, Syria - an Islamic State stronghold. Read "Carter Says UAW Will Put Special Forces in Syria", ABC News, February 12, 2016.

SF Soldiers Return from Afghanistan. Soldiers from the Utah Army National Guard landed at Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday night (Feb 12th) after a six-month long deployment to Afghanistan. (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb 12, 2016.).

SOF Construction on Fort Bragg. USSOCOM is funding some building projects on Fort Bragg, North Carolina in support of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). The projects include a combat medic training facility, parachute rigging facility, and a tactical equipment maintenance facility. Read more in "Fort Bragg Bolstered by Continued Growth in Special Operations",, February 10, 2016.

New Resource for Special Operations Forces (SOF) News. Here is a webpage that lists government, military, and private sector webpages with news about Special Operations Forces (SOF).

SOF's Flintlock Explained. Flintlock (in the days that I remember participating) was about 10th Special Forces Group (with some participation from the USAR and NG SF groups) setting up a base in England, isolating teams for mission preparation, getting on a Combat Talon, and parachuting into a potato field in Germany at 0300 with weapons, food, blank ammo, radios, and other equipment to perform a Direct Action (DA), Strategic Reconnaissance (SR), or Unconventional Warfare (UW) mission behind supposed enemy lines against the Soviet-bloc nations occupying Western and Central Europe. Other variants included play in Norway, Italy, Belguim, etc. Nowadays (probably since 2005) the Flintlock exercise involves special operations training exercises in Africa. Read more in "5 Facts of Flintlock", United States Africa Command, February 3, 2016.

Norway's Female SOF Unit. Many of the European nations have been years ahead of integrating women into combat roles in their military. Read more in "Norway's 'Hunter Troop' - The World's First All-Female Special Forces", Foreign Affairs, February 8, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

SOF News

JSOC and "Relentless Strike". Sean Taylor, the author of Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command, is hosted by The Heritage Foundation for about an hour in this video where he talks about JSOC and special operations forces. You can view the video of the event which took place on September 11, 2015 at the following link.

"Age of the Commando". Matt Gallagher writes about the last decade or more where special operations forces have captured the imagination of the U.S. public at large. While he concentrates on the 'surgical strike' dudes he barely mentions the aspects of special warfare in a UW environment. Read his article entitled "Welcome to the Age of the Commando"The New York Times, January 30, 2016.

Movie - "War Machine". Brad Pitt will be portraying General Dan McMahon (inspired by General Stan McChrystal) in a political comedy movie soon to be aired on Netflix.

Navy SEAL to Receive Medal of Honor. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers - a member of SEAL Team Six - will receive the nation's highest honor for his actions during a hostage rescue mission in Afghanistan in December 2012. (The Washington Post, Feb 2, 2016).

Surviving BUD/S. A Navy SEAL describes how to make it through the Navy's Basic Underwater Demolition and SEAL training. Read "A Navy SEAL's Guide to Surviving BUD/S", Task & Purpose, February 1, 2016.

SOF Command Moves. Almost everyone is aware that Gen Votel is going to CENTCOM, LTG Thomas (likely) to take USSOCOM, and MG "Scottie" Miller (likely) to head JSOC. Some other SOF commands are changing up. BG Kurt Sonnetag heads to CJTF-HOA in Dijibouti (leaving SOCSouth), Rear Admiral Collin P. Green will take SOCSouth. In addition, USAF BG Albert Elton will getting a second star (currently Dep Cdr of JSOC). BG Scott Howell has been selected for the grade of major general and is moving from director of operations at AFSOC and heading to Afghanistan to command the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A).

Green Beret Foundation Receives Trump Money. The Green Beret Foundation was selected by Donald Trump (presidential candidate), one of 22 veteran organizations, to receive part of the $6 million raised in an event in early February. See a press release on the topic.

SOF Sustainment in Denied Areas. For those who think about logistics in a unconventional environment (I am sure at least one reader does!) the Joint Special Operations University has published an 86-page report for your reading pleasure. Read Improving the Sustainment of SOF Distributed Operations in Access-Denied Environments, JSOU Report 16-2, January 2016.

More "Gray Zone" Stuff. One of the new buzz words within the SOF community and the military community at large is the "Gray Zone". As it is in vogue there are lots of writers providing their thoughts on the topic. One recent article is entitled "Paradoxes of the Gray Zone", by Hal Brands, posted by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in February 2016. The author presents eight paradoxes, complexities, and nuances at the heart of the gray zone idea - and at the heart of efforts to respond to gray zone challenges.

Brit SAS Injured in Iraq. News reports say that three British Special Air Service members were injured during a combat operation in Iraq by ISIL fighters. (The Telegraph, Feb 6, 2016).

SOF Guys in the Shadows. A recent news article provides us an insight look at four special operations groups that work in the shadows to protect Americans - Shadow Wolves, Global Response Staff, Special Collection Service, and Task Force Orange. (Independent Journal Review, Feb 5, 2016).

Book on Irregular Warfare. The place where SOF operates is sometimes called "The Gray Zone" - an area between war and peace. Other terms that come to mind are low intensity conflict, guerrilla warfare, and irregular warfare. The U.S. experience in special operations started with its participation in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and subsequent formation of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) - the organization from which U.S. Army Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency draws its history. A new book has been published that looks at this early history - Rediscovering Irregular Warfare: Colin Gubbins and the Origins of Britain's Special Operations Executive by A.R.B. Linderman. Should be an interesting read for SOF types.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

SOF News

Special Forces More Active in Afg? A recent news report says the U.S. Special Forces could be playing a larger role in Afghanistan. The recent death of an SF NCO in Marjah district, Helmand province highlighted the tactical deployment of SF teams advising the Afghan National Army (ANA) Special Operations Kandaks (SOKs). Read more in "US Special Forces in Afghanistan Poised to Assume More Active Role", Voice of America, January 19, 2016.

A SEAL Casualty of War. In December 2012 the commander of a SEAL Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) in Afghanistan was found dead in his room of a gunshot wound. He had experienced a rough deployment with several members of his command killed in combat. The stress of command was certainly having an effect on him Read more in "A Deadly Deployment, a Navy SEAL's Despair", The New York Times, January 19, 2016.

Wife of Fallen Green Beret Shares Her Story. SSG Matthew McClintock was killed in early January 2016 in Marjah district, Helmand province. He leaves behind a wife and three-month old son. His wife, Alexandra, shares her story of her fallen Green Beret in "Wife of fallen Green Beret shares their love story", Army Times, January 20, 2016.

SF Officer Remembers Bergdahl Recovery Effort. Former Special Forces commander Mike Waltz commanded seven Special Forces operational detachments in the operational area where Bowe Bergdahl went missing. He redirected his ODAs from their primary mission to join the intensive and dangerous search for Bergdahl. Listen to a podcast as he remembers the events of that frustrating period of time posted by Task & Purpose (Jan 19, 2016).

JSOC Connections. Howard Altman writes on the ascendancy of JSOC general officers to key positions in the fight against ISIS. Read "Likely leaders in the battle against Islamic State will have JSOC connections", The Tampa Tribune, January 18, 2016.

Video on Robin Sage. The culminating event of U.S. Army's Special Forces Training is Robin Sage. Watch a 13-min long video of Robin Sage by Alex Quade published on in Nov 2015.

SOF in Libya? "The next battleground in the war on ISIS is forming in the sands of Tripoli. The U.S. Special Operations Command is spending more time and attention on Libya, trying to keep the Islamic State from growing more powerful there . . ." Read "Here's What Special Operators Want to Do in Libya", Defense One, January 20, 2016.

Navy SEAL Ignored Lawyers. The author of "No Easy Day" about the Osama bin Laden mission in Pakistan is suing his legal representatives for bad advice. (Military Times, Jan 20, 2016).

Former SEAL to Lead Counter-ISIS Messaging Center. A current Defense Department official, Michael Lumpkin, will be the lead to revamp the federal government's effort to counter ISIS and other group's recruitment propaganda. (National Defense Magazine, Jan 20, 2016).

SOF in Syria. The Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently alluded to activities of special operators in Syria. Read more in "Special Ops forces in Syria doing more than raids, Ash Carter says", CNN Politics, January 20, 2016.

SOCOM Seeking High Technology. General Votel spoke at the National Defense Industrial Association's special operations conference in Washington, D.C. on January 20th. His message was that key capabilities provided by advanced technology helps special operators maintain an edge over potential adversaries in challenging environmental conditions. See "U.S. SOCOM Officials Lay OUt Technology Challenges", National Defense Magazine, January 20, 2016.

10th SFGA and SIGINT Training w/ 173rd. Members of the 10th Special Force Group and the 173rd Bde recently conducted signal intercept training in Germany. Read more in "Special operations intelligence specialists refine skills in combined training",, January 22, 2016.

Indian SF Command. A ". . . lack of agreement on who would control a separate Indian Special Forces Command (SFC) has stymied creation of the unit despite the military's urgent desire for one." There appears to be rivalry among the Army, Navy, and Air Force over which would take command. In addition, the civilians in the military bureaucracy are weighing in with their vision of who commands the SFC. Read more in "Control Issue Stymies Creation of Indian Spec Ops Command", Defense News, January 17, 2016.

Spanish SOF Grows. The Spanish Army is increasing the size of its Special Operations Force  - Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (MOE). The MOE has been deployed in multinational training missions in Mali, CAR, and Iraq in the past few years. Currently the MOE is deployed in Taji and Baghdad, Iraq. Read more in "Spanish Army Bolsters Special Forces Against Jihadism", Defense News, January 17, 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

SOF News

JSOC Officers Moving Up. It appears that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) crowd is doing well in the U.S. Army. General Votel, the current commander of the United States Special Operations Command  (USSOCOM) is likely to be nominated to head up Central Command - he formally commanded JSOC. LTG Tony Thomas will probably head to command USSOCOM - he commands JSOC and is also a former commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan. MG Scottie Miller, currently at Fort Benning and instrumental in overseeing the successful integration of women in Ranger School during 2015 has been mentioned for command of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Miller is a long-time Ranger Regiment and JSOC officer. He was a former commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A) and of the SOJTF-A.

New SOCKOR Cdr. The current deputy commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan - BG Tony D. Bauernfeind - is heading to Special Operations Command Korea. See "General Officer Assignments", DoD News Release, January 12, 2016.

SEALs Under Investigation. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is - once again - investigating allegations that Navy SEALs beat detainees in Afghanistan in 2012. Read more in "Investigation of SEAL conduct in Afghanistan is Reopened", The New York Times, January 14, 2016.

Webcast Event - "Acquisition for SOF". USSOCOM performs a variety of functions - one of those is the acquisition of services, products, and equipment for the SOF units and organizations of the four services. Mr. James F. Geurts, Acquisition Executive at USSOCOM, will be discussing the challenge of planning and executing acquisitions to equip our forces' most elite warriors. The event (webcast) is hosted by the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, January 19th at 4:30 pm EST.

SOF and the "Gray Zone". Terminology is constantly evolving in the military. New buzzwords make their debut, stick around for a while, and then fade away. One of the newest terms to enter the special operations community vocabulary is the "Gray Zone". This, according to some reports, is the space or area between peace and war. Read more in "Special Operations and the Challenge of Working in the Gray Zone"SOFREP, January 14, 2016.

Wanted: Foreign SOF to fight ISIS. "Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Thursday that the United States has asked more countries to send Special Operations troops to join the fight against the Islamic State, and not just typical partners like Britain and Australia." These countries probably include Jordan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Jordanian and UAE SOF units have long worked with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and the relationships between the SOF units are strong. Read more in "Wanted: Foreign Special Operations troops to join the U.S. in targeting the Islamic State", The Washington Post, January 15, 2016.

US SOF Deploys to Iraq. Additional Special Operations Forces have arrived in Iraq to assist Iraqi troops with better coordinating and targeting for coalition airstrikes. While the President contends there are no 'boots on the ground'; what is certainly clear is a bunch of guys wearing sneakers or hikers are running around Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and a lot of other places around the world. In addition to the deployment of special operators key leaders with a SOF background being put into important positions with the military,  state and elsewhere. Read "U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy to Iraq", Foreign Policy Report, January 14, 2016.

Obama and SOF. Kim Dozier writes on how President Obama is turning to special operations forces to help manage hot spots in the world. Read "Obama Turns to Special Ops to Salvage His Legacy", The Daily Beast, January 15, 2016.

SOCEUR Cdr Visits Slovak SOF. The commander of Special Operations Command Europe visited the Slovak 5th Special Forces Regiment in Zilina on January 12th. The Slovak SOF have worked alongside U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan for a number of years. (The Slovak Spectator, Jan 15, 2016).

"Generation Kill vs Generation Cupcake". Dan O'Shea, a former Navy SEAL, writes on 'safe spaces' on college campuses and lack of 'safe spaces' in combat zones. (The Tampa Tribune, January 16, 2016.

ISIS Threatens UFC Fighter. Tim Kennedy, a UFC fighter who is also a Green Beret with time in 7th and 19th Special Forces Group, is on the receiving end of threats from the Islamic State. (Army Times, Jan 13, 2016).

Multi-Intel Drones for SOF. "Army aviation special operators want new unmanned aircraft systems that can carry multiple sensors to collect vital intelligence from the battlefield . . . " Currently special operations forces have a variety of small and mid-sized drones that can do many different things. SOF wants and 'all in one' platform. Read more in "Army Special Operations Want Multi-Intelligence UAVs.", Defense News, January 14, 2016.

SO/LIC Director Lumpkin to State. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operation and Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC), Mike Lumpkin, is in the mix for running the State Department's new Center for Global Engagement. He is a former U.S. Navy SEAL.

Women in Combat

Photo by Micaiah Anthony USAF
Selective Service for Women? With the new policy of opening up all combat arms jobs (to include special operations and aviation) to women some commentators are broaching the topic of mandating selective service registration for women. After all, the argument goes, along with opportunity and equal rights comes equal responsibility! However, there are some (Carl Forsling is one) that feel the Selective Service system is an antiquated relic of a bygone era and should be eliminated for all Americans. Read more in "Including Women Is Not the Right Next Step for Selective Service"Task & Purpose, January 5, 2016.

Women and Special Operations Forces. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced in December 2015 that women are now eligible to enter combat units, training, and occupations - including special operations forces. The success of three females in graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School helped (in part) to pave the way for leadership decisions to allow women into the special operations community. Read more in "Integration of Women in SOF Units", SOFREP, January 14, 2016.

Article - "Truth about Women in Combat". One veteran, Daniel L. Davis, of both Iraq and Afghanistan says there are good reasons not to fully integrate women into combat units. Read "The Truth About Women in Ground Combat Roles", National Interest, January 14, 2016.

Panel Discussion - "Women Soldiers on the Battlefield". The Hoover Institution's National Security, Technology, and Law Working Group will be holding a discussion on the growing role of women soldiers in special operations and beyond in America's post-9/11 wars. The author of Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, will be present during the event. Event takes place in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 19th.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

U.S. Special Forces Soldier KIA in Marjar, Helmand

Matthew McClintock
U.S. Army Photo
A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier was killed during fighting in Marja district of Helmand province on January 5, 2016. SSG Matthew Q. McClintock, age 30, of 1st Battalion 19th Special Forces Group was killed by small arms fire. His SFODA was accompanying an Afghan SOF unit in an advisory capacity when it encountered insurgents. Two other SF Soldiers were wounded in the engagement. One rescue helicopter was waved off due to enemy fire and another rescue helicopter was grounded with its crew in the vicinity of the attack due to fire received or a mechanical issue. Four Afghan Special Ops personnel were also wounded. News reports indicate it took several hours to evacuate the wounded special operators due to the intense fighting. McClintock was on his third combat tour. He had previously served with the 1st Cavalry Division and the 1st Special Forces Group. He leaves behind a wife and infant son.

News Reports on the incident:

"Casualty Report", USFOR-A News Release, January 5, 2016.

"Afghanistan conflict: US casualties on special forces mission"BBC News, January 5, 2016.

"DoD Identifies Army Casualty", DoD News Release, January 6, 2016.

"DoD identifies Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan", Army Times, January 6, 2016.

"Pentagon identifies Army Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan", The Washington Post, January 6, 2015.

Helmand Province at Risk

Map WikipediA - Creative Commons
The Taliban have passed on their usual winter break in Helmand province. Usually the TB fighters head to their homes or cross the border to their sanctuaries in Pakistan - returning in the spring for the start of the new fighting season in the April or May time frame. This year has been different. Many of the districts of Helmand province are under the control of the Taliban. Although the Afghan government claims to control some of the districts - this control is usually just the district center . . . a group of government buildings within a walled compound with 30 to 60 Afghan National Police (ANP) protecting it. The roads and countryside outside of the district center is a no-go area for government troops and police unless in large convoys. Helmand province is sometimes referred to as the birthplace of the Taliban. There are many observers who see the fight in Helmand as one between tribes over control of the drug trade and not so much as one between insurgents and government forces. Listed below are a number of recent news stories about the current security situation in Helmand province.

"Utah soldiers under fire in latest Afghanistan fighting"The Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2016. Teams from the Army National Guard's Special Forces are in Afghanistan. The death of an SF Soldier prompts questions on the U.S. role in Afghanistan. Are they doing "Train, Advise, and Assist" or conducting combat. The Pentagon says that the troops are in a 'combat situation' but not 'a combat role'. Read more in "Pentagon: US troops in 'combat situation' in Afghanistan", The Hill Blog, January 7, 2016.

"Washington Policy Leaves Special Forces Soldiers Flapping in the Breeze in Marjah, Afghanistan"SOFREP, January 7, 2016. Questions surface about the air support and quick reaction forces timeliness to relieve the surrounded SF team in Marjah district. See also "Congressman questions if Army Special Forces denied rescue force, fire support"The Washington Post, January 7, 2016. And, of course, the official party line is provided in "CENTCOM: AC-130 'absolutely did fire' in Marjah battle against Taliban", Stars and Stripes, January 8, 2016.

"Bagram F-16s Support Helmand Province Operations"DVIDS Video (2 mins), January 6, 2016. Aircraft based at Bagram Air Field provide CAS across the country.

Losing Marjah District to the Taliban. In 2010, the U.S. Marines, supported by other services and Coalition members mounted a huge offensive - called Operation Moshtarak - to take Marjah district, Helmand province from the Taliban. The Taliban fought but were defeated and moved on to other sanctuaries to continue the fight. The attempt to establish governance by the Afghan government in Marjah district - which the U.S. was calling 'governance in a box' - failed miserably. A misunderstanding of Afghan ideology is key to the coalition's failure to maintain control of the district. After the pullout of the U.S. Marines a few years back the Taliban returned. Read more in "A look at how the US-led coalition lost Afghanistan's Marjah district to the Taliban", by Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes, January 16, 2016.

"A critical Afghan town, once secure, is now a Taliban hotbed again", by Max Boot, Business Insider, January 6, 2016. Max reports on a place that was hard-fought for by the Marines and others. See also "Much Sacrifice, Little Progress", by Max Boot, Commentary, January 6, 2016.

"Taliban Tactics Hinder Special Operations Forces", by Mark Moyer, Military History in the News,  Hoover Institution of Stanford University, January 7, 2016. Moyer explains how the irregular tactics of the Taliban have confounded U.S. security forces.

SOF News

Joe Votel to CENTCOM. News reports indicate that General Votel, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), is being nominated for commander of Central Command (CENTCOM). No word on who will take USSOCOM (another SEAL, another JSOC dude, or just maybe - a Green Beret!).

Tony Thomas to USSOCOM? Some news reports say that the current commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), LTG "Tony" Thomas, will take the helm at USSOCOM. Thomas commanded the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) a few years ago. If selected "Thomas would be the third former JSOC commander in a row to head up SOCOM; the last time a career Green Beret held the post was more than 15 years ago, before the war on terror began, even though Green Berets account for by far the plurality of SOCOM's special operators and are seeing increased use from Africa to Afghanistan as the military tries to shape the war efforts of allied militaries and irregular forces". Read more in "This shadowy JSOC general is expected to be the next leader of America's special operations forces", The Washington Post, January 7, 2016.

Other Contenders for USSOCOM? LTG John Mulholland, currently assigned to the CIA, is being considered. A long-shot might be LTG Ken Tovo - currently commanding USASOC.

BG Brower Returns to Campbell. General Scott Brower, former commander of the 5th Special Forces as well as a former commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - AP (Iraq), has taken up a position with the 101st Airborne Division. He previously was CoS at USASOC and had been deployed to Islamabad, Pakistan. Read more in a news report by The Leaf-Chronicle, January 5, 2016.

Does the UK Need "Tier 2" Units? One commentator says the UK should develop a force similar to the U.S. Army Special Forces Green Berets. The Telegraph, January 4, 2016.

Live to Tell - New Documentary Series. Film 45 is rolling out a 8-part series on elite forces that have been fighting the war on terror since 2001. The program, Live to Tell, airs on the History channel on Sunday nights. First show was on January 10th.

How Not to Do Unconventional Warfare. There are certain steps that need to be taken to successfully form up a resistance group or guerrilla band. These phases of Unconventional Warfare (UW) are learned during Special Forces training for future Green Berets. The recent debacle in forming a resistance fighter group in Syria should certainly be integrated into a 'lessons learned' portion of the the instruction at the Special Warfare school at Fort Bragg. Call it "What Not to Do in UW." Read "What really happened to the U.S. train-and-equip program in Syria?", McClatchy DC, December 21, 2015.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

SOF News

ANASF Trains ALP Recruit
SOF and Helmand Province. The fight for Helmand province is still ongoing despite the end of the fighting season. The Taliban control a number of the provincial districts (see what constitutes 'control of district') and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are barely holding on to some district centers. The United States has supported the ANDSF with air strikes and with SOF teams on the ground working with Afghan SOF units. Read more in "Afghan Province, Teetering to the Taliban, Draws In Extra U.S. Forces", The New York Times, December 13, 2015.

Book Review - Relentless Strike. Dr. J. Paul De B. Taillon reviews a book about the secret history of the Joint Special Operations Command. (Mackenzie Institute, Dec 1, 2015).

Tip of the Spear - Dec 15. The latest issue of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Tip of the Spear magazine has been posted online.

Homeless Man Lives in 3rd SFGA Barracks. According to one news report - "Almost Valor: Homeless Man Gets Away Living in the 3rd Special Forces Group Barracks as Fake Soldier",, December 22, 2015 - a civilian got a free ride for a few months living rent free (no doubt he had a meal card for the dining facility as well). Not so hard to do. Just square away your uniform, buzz cut your hair, be on time for morning formations, and the SGMs will leave you alone. Kind of reminds me of my four-month long backpacking trip through Europe in the 70s - I ran out of money at the end of the trip and spent some time in the transient barracks at Vicenza, Italy. Nice place.

UW Fills Gap b/t Peace and War. David Maxwell, a retired SF colonel explains Unconventional Warfare to us and says we need to develop a strategy to counter UW being conducted by our adversaries. Read his article "Congress Has Embraced Unconventional Warfare: Will the US Military and the Rest of the US Government?", Small Wars Journal, December 29, 2015. Learn more about unconventional warfare.

SOF and Global Deployments. Special Operations forces have been deployed to many countries over the past several decades. This has not changed under the Obama administration - especially given that the Global War on Terrorism (yes, some folks still use the term GWOT) has expanded in the last decade. Read more in "Obama's 'Boots on the Ground': U.S. Special Forces Are Sent to Tackle Global Threats", The New York Times, December 27, 2015.

Origins of Women in SOF History. A profile of a women who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. The OSS was the fore-runner to the CIA and U.S. Army Special Forces. An 8-min video posted on on December 9, 2015.

SOF and the Push for Women in Combat. A RAND study conducted on behalf of USSOCOM found that 85% of SOF operators were not in favor of fully integrating women onto the SOF teams. Many advocates of the push to have women fully integrated into special operations combat units are discounting the views of these SOF operators saying they lack experience with working with women and that they are only interested in preserving their "male-only domain". This viewpoint sells these very experienced SOF operators short. In fact, the SOF community was way ahead of most of the military with its use of female Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) as enablers with Special Force ODAs, SEAL platoons, and MARSOC units in Afghanistan. Read more on this issue in "Pentagon's women-in-combat push faces chilly headwinds", The Hill Blog, December 30, 2015.

More on Women and Combat Arms. It appears that the move to fully integrate women into the combat arms will see lots of attention put on SOF units. Read "How Not to Integrate Females into Combat Arms", Small Wars Journal, December 30, 2015. And what about the 'draft thing'? Is it time for women to register for the draft - I mean equal rights and equal opportunity should equate to equal responsibility.

JSOC Secrets. The Joint Special Operations Command, commonly called JSOC, is busy around the world. The personnel of the secret and lethal organization work in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other conflict-ridden areas. Read more in "The not-so-secret history of JSOC", The Washington Post, December 15, 2015.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

SOF News

Gen Votel to CENTCOM?. The Internet continues to spread the word that the current USSOCOM commander is on the short list to succeed General Austin at Central Command. The move would be unusual as Votel only recently assumed command at USSOCOM in mid-2014. He would be an excellent choice, however. The U.S. is not engaged in a conventional fight in the region - Iran is busy with Iraq and Syria; so it is less inclined to confront the U.S. in naval disputes (let's hope), and SOF seems to be the flavor of the day for the Obama administration in resolving disputes and conflicts in the Middle East. Read more in "Socom's Votel would be good choice to lead Centcom", Tampa Bay Online, December 7, 2015.

Special Forces for Iraq/Syria - PR Ploy or Meaningful Deployment? A defense analyst, Anthony Cordesman, comments on the deployment of SOF to the Middle East in light of the lack of a credible U.S. strategy and plans to create effective Iraqi and Syrian forces. He worries the SF Soldiers will be a political tool rather than an effective force in a political game on the part of the Obama administration. Read "More Special Forces for Iraq and Syria: Tactical Asset or Strategic Tokenism", by Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), December 3, 2015.

DoD "Quiet" on Commando Force for Iraq. The 'specialized expeditionary targeting force' that will take the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria will be positioned to gather intelligence, conduct raids, free hostages in Iraq when partnered with Iraqi forces. In addition, it will conduct unilateral hit-and-run raids into Syria. Beyond that, the Defense Department is not saying much more. Some observers believe the small force of 100-200 commandos can make a difference while others say it smacks of the usual Obama strategic incrementalism. The special operations force, although small in number, will probably enjoy significant close air support, drone coverage, and intelligence reach-back to CENTCOM, USSOCOM and JSOC. (think of the operations profiled in the book Relentless Strike). Read more in "US keeps wraps on new commando force for Iraq", The Sacramento Bee, December 10, 2015.

DoDIG Fails to Protect War Hero. LTC Amerine, a war hero and Green Beret, was unjustly victimized by the FBI and the U.S. Army. He was denied his retirement and threatened with a court martial for relaying to a member of Congress how badly the U.S. hostage recovery effort is managed. One aspect of the criticism that LTC Amerine offers is that the Bergdahl prisoner swap undercut ongoing efforts that would have released Bergdahl and other American hostages. The Good News? The DoD IG is resigning!  Read more in "How the System Went After a War Hero: Jason Amerine Goes to Washington"War on the Rocks, December 10, 2015.

AC-130 Air Attack on Hospital - Conflicting Accounts. A recent news report says that the U.S. Special Forces who called in the air strike on the hospital in Kunduz city believed the Taliban were using it as a command center. To some observers there continues to be a gap in what is being reported and what really happened. Perhaps we will really never know. (Military Times, Dec 8, 2015).

France Sending 300 SF to Congo. France (a country that seems to have a far more active and robust counterterrorism policy than the United States) is sending 300 of its Special Forces to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to provide training to the Congolese Army to hunt down and neutralize the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces in the eastern part of the DRC.

Women in Combat

Member of a Coalition Support Team
(CST)  interacts with Afghan child
Women in Service Studies. The U.S. Department of Defense wants you to 'feel good' about the integration of women into special operations forces and infantry units. Read up on a bunch of studies about the integration of women into combat units and infantry / special forces training. The documents are posted on the DoD website - "Women in Service Studies". One study posted on this site conducted by RAND Corporation found that 85% of the special operators assigned to tactical SOF units did not want women integrated into their units. The general belief was that women don't have the physical strength or mental toughness to do the grueling jobs (Military Times, Dec 10, 2015). But hey, what do those combat vets with multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Panama, and a few other places that can't be mentioned know about . . . well, combat, anyway? After all, if the D.C. folks say its okay . . .

Report on Women in Combat. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared a paper for Congress entitled Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, December 3, 2015. Posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

Female Ranger Grad Comments on WIC. Lisa Jaster, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and a recent graduate of the U.S. Army's Ranger School has some comments about not letting our standards fall or forcing quotas on our combat units. Read "Women in combat units will prove the naysayers wrong", The Washington Post, December 11, 2015.

Women and the Draft. Now that women are free to enter any occupation, job or profession in any of the military services to include infantry and special operations it is probably time to require females to register for the draft. I mean . . . why not? What is fair is fair! ". . . rights and responsibilities go hand in hand". Read more in "Now Women Should Register for the Draft", December 7, 2015.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

SOF News

VSO, Gant, Water, Crops, and COIN. One writer, Doyle Quiggle, manages to combine a variety of topics (although related) into an essay on how to win a small war! He tells us of the failures of the Village Stability Operations (VSO) program of U.S. special operations in Afghanistan, of how Jim Gant was doing VSO right, and the importance of water in counterinsurgency at the village level. Read "Small Farms and Small Wars: Planting The Garden in Village Stability Operations", Small Wars Journal, November 29, 2015.

Event - "Lessons from VSO and ALP". Dr. Corey Lofdahl is presenting a lecture on the topic of Implementing  Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Lessons from Village Stability Operations and Afghan Local Police (VSO/ALP). He is a senior scientist with Charles River Analytics who worked in 2011 and 2012 at the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A). The presentation is on Thursday, December 10th in Washington, D.C. and is hosted by The Institute of World Politics. (Note: CFSOCC-A is now known as the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan or SOJTF-A).

DoDIG Investigation on ANASOF TAA. The Inspector General for the Department of Defense intends on conducting an assessment on U.S. and Coalition efforts to Train, Advise, Assist, and Equip the Afghan National Army Special Operations Forces (ANASOF). The objective is to determine whether U.S. government and coalition goals, objectives, plans and resources to train the ANASOF are sufficient, operative, and relevant. Read the memo from DoDIG, November 25, 2015.

Joint U.S. - Afghan SOF Raid Frees 40 from Prison. A prison rescue mission successfully liberated at least 40 Afghan security personnel from a Taliban prison in Nawzad district of southern Helmand province in an operation that began on Thursday night. (Tolo News, Dec 4, 2015). See also an NBC News report dated December 4, 2015.

"Project Gray" - Fighting in the Gray Zone. Warfare has changed over the past few decades. The advent of Hybrid Warfare, Irregular Warfare (IW), and the use of Unconventional Warfare (UW) by our adversaries (Iran, ISIS, al Qaeda, Russia, and others) has forced the U.S. military to take a long look on how to operate in this new environment. The UW experts at Fort Bragg (that would be the Green Berets) are learning to fight in what is now being referred to as the "Gray Zone".  The initial Special Forces training that Green Berets undergo goes a long way to prepare its members for this kind of fight; yet the learning never stops. As part of this never-ending learning process the U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence has started "Project Gray" and published a website that reflects the work in this area.

Advocating a "Human Warfighting Domain". One writer is strongly proposing that a Human Warfighting be established and that the proponent should be those in the U.S. Army who are the most proficient in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare - that would be the 1st Special Forces Command. Read "Should There Be a Human Warfighting Domain?", by Thomas Doherty, Small Wars Journal, December 3, 2015.

5th Group Reviving Vietnam Era Flash. The solid black flash worn on the berets of members of the 5th Special Forces Group will be giving way to a bit of history. The new (or old) flash will be the one worn by 5th Group Soldiers while serving in Vietnam (and also stateside). Read more on the perplexing move by 5th SFGA and Special Forces Command in "Army's 5th Special Forces Group to Resurrect Vietnam-Era Beret Flash",, December 1, 2015.

'Targeting Force' to Iraq / Syria. In testimony before Congress SECDEF Carter stated that more U.S. military forces will be headed to the Middle East to fight against ISIS. The number of airstrikes will increase as well as on-the-ground intelligence gathering and special operations raids. Carter also said that a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" will assist Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State. Sounds very JSOC-like! Read more in "DoD to deploy 'targeting force' to hunt down ISIS leaders"Military Times, December 1, 2015. See also Kim Dozier's article - "Obama Unleashes Hunter-Killers on ISIS", The Daily Beast, December 1, 2015.

USSF Fighting with Kurds for Months. Kurdish fights say that US Special Forces have been fighting ISIS for months in northern Iraq. The Obama administration continues to maintain that there are 'No Boots on the Ground"; however, perhaps that is because the SF dudes (in another era they were referred to as "Sneaky Petes") are all wearing sneakers. (The Guardian, Nov 30, 2015).

SOCOM Cdr Likely Choice for CENTCOM. General Votel is a top candidate to succeed General Austin for command of Central Command. Given the importance of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria he is a good choice. Read more in "SOCOM's Votel is Top Choice to Take Over CENTCOM", Defense One, December 3, 2015.

How Does SOCOM Feel about the Gender Integration Order? - He is all for it! The commander, General Votel, seems to think it is a good idea. (The feedback I hear from those on the SF teams is quite different.) Listen to a 8-minute long video of the leader of SOCOM justifying his decision to support the SECDEF in the full integration of women into all special operations organizations. (USSOCOM, December 3, 2015).

How Do SOF Operators Feel about Women in SOF Units? Not So Much! The RAND Corporation conducted a study that special operations leadership commissioned on the integration of women into SOF units. 85% of the rank and file said "NO!, Don't Do IT". But with the proper 'career guidance', 'gender integration seminars', 'focus groups', 'safe space discussions', and more I am sure the steely-eyed combat veterans with multiple deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere will come around. Read "Special Ops Survey Showed 85% Opposed Serving With Women", Defense One, December 4, 2015.

Book - Relentless Strike. I just finished reading Sean Naylor's recent book about the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Very informative read with perhaps more information than USSOCOM would have wanted published. I am sure there was more than one former 'operator' talking out of school. The book is available on