At least once a week, perhaps more frequently, I plan on providing an update on news about special operations. This will be a listing of news events relating to SOF that could be of interest to the reader with links to the source of that news. The content could be a news story, information on book releases, documentaries, recent government publications, or other media about special operations and related topics. A significant amount of SOFREPs articles are on SOF but not all stories can be covered in detail – so this “SOF News Update” will round out SOF news coverage.
Canadian Special Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). My first exposure to CANSOF was in 2002 in Afghanistan. Prior to that time I had no idea they existed. At that time CANSOF, attached to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A), was operating in southern Afghanistan. CANSOFCOM, located in Petawawa, Canada, consists of five different units – Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU), Commandos of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR), 427 Special Operations Aviation Unit (427 SOAS), and the Canadian Special Operations Training Centre. Learn more about CANSOF in an article entitled Canada’s Commandos, by CTVW5, June 24, 2016.
Special Warfare Magazine. The latest issue has been published online by the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (January – June 2016, Volume 29, Issue 1, Fort Bragg, NC). This 88-page issue is primarily focused on special operations forces stationed or deployed to Europe. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) is featured in most of the articles. Topics include 10th SFGA, special operations in Georgia, Estonia, Romania, Kosovo and other areas of Europe. Other subjects covered are countering the Russians, the “Gray Zone” (defined as the space between war and peace), Civil Military Support Element (CMSE) activities, and Military Information Support Operations (MISO).
SOCEUR Change of Command. Major General Mark Schawarz has taken command of Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany. SOCEUR is responsible for special operations forces (SOF) in Europe, a small part of the Middle East, and some countries in northern Africa. Read more in a news report by European Command (EUCOM) posted on June 8, 2016.
Bureaucracy, Red Tape, and Special Forces. Noah Smith, writing for the Tom Ricks column in Foreign Policy – The Best Defense blog, has penned an article (June 23, 2016) that relates his experience as a member of a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFODA) member on his first deployment to Afghanistan. He tells us how bureaucratic actions relating to personnel assignments within a Special Forces group interfered with the mission in a combat zone. Read “We used to have methods to destroy foreign governments through red tape. Now we use those against ourselves”.
Paper on Fighting Insurgencies. A former Special Forces NCO, John Maier, has wrote a lengthy paper entitled “The Sociologists, The Spider and The Fighter Pilot; The Influence of Bureaucracy on Irregular War”, Small Wars Journal, June 24, 2016. Another good article about the bureaucracy of special operations.
1st SFGA Dedicates Boat to Martha Raye. During the Vietnam War comedian and actress Martha Raye visited remote Special Forces camps throughout South Vietnam providing entertainment and a morale boost to SF Soldiers. Although she passed away in 1994 she is still revered by past and present members of the Special Forces community. The 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group recently dedicated a new boat to Martha Raye in Okinawa. Read “First in Asia’ Battalion Dedicates Boat to Honorary Green Beret”, Army.mil, June 23, 2016.
3rd SFGA Change of Command (CoC). One of the Army’s Special Forces groups has a new commander. Colonel Robert Wilson passed the reins to Colonel Bradley Moses during a CoC at Fort Bragg, N.C. on Wednesday, June 24th. Both officers have had multiple combat tours in Afghanistan. The 3rd Special Forces Group has been rotating its SF teams and staff into Afghanistan since 2002 (alternating with other SF groups). 3rd SFGA is now concentrating on missions in Africa. Moses has served at SFODA, company, battalion and now group command with 3rd Group. Wilson is heading to the National Security Council. See also a news article (June 22) by The Fayetteville Observer on the new commander of 3rd Group.
Iraqi Special Forces – What they carry into battle. The Iraq Special Forces are carrying the brunt of the fighting for the Iraqi Army. Many carry motivational pictures and good luck charms when they go into battle. Read more in “Treasured possessions of Iraq Special Forces, in photos”, Military Times, June 26, 2016.
U.S. SOF Advisors – Staying a Little Longer in Yemen. A team of about a dozen SOF advisors (SF A-team?) are going to be working with some troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help track down militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). See U.S. Special Operations force extends Yemen mission against al-Qaeda, The Washington Post, June 17, 2016.
“Live Tissue Training” Threatened. An editorial run by The New York Times on June 25, 2016 has come out against using animals in military medical training. Special Forces medics (and other SOF students) have long benefited from the medical expertise of caring for injured animals during the medical phase of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). The animals are treated humanely during the training and the experience goes a long way to ensuring the SF Medics can care for their fellow teammates during combat. Unfortunately, this NYT editorial does not recognize the value of this medical training. Read the article in “Ban Animal Use in Military Medical Training”.
National Geographic & Mogadishu. In the fall of 1993 a contingent of Delta Force and U.S. Army Rangers conducted a raid to capture a Somali warlord in the city of Mogadishu, Somalia. In the fierce fight 18 Americans were killed and hundreds (some sources say thousands) of Somalis lost their lives. One American helicopter pilot was captured. Read an article (and watch a few short videos) on this historic battle by National Geographic entitled No Man Left Behind: The Real Black Hawk Down, June 16, 2016.
K9s Honored at Navy UDT-SEAL Museum. Canines have played an important role in wars over the past few decades and this is especially true of those that served with the Navy special warfare folks. Read more in “Navy SEALS 1st Warfare K9 & handler Mitch Myers at Navy UDT-SEAL Museum”, CBS12.com, June 25, 2016.
Female New Commander of 919th SOG. The 919th Special Operations Group (U.S. Air Force) located at Duke Field, Florida has its first-ever female commander. The 919th, a reserve AF unit, flies the C-145A, U28-A, MQ-9 Reaper (drone), and C-146A Wolfhound. Read a news article (and watch a video about Colonel Gina Sabric by a local Florida TV station and read up more about the 919th SOG.
Austria’s SOF to Mali. According to recent news reports Austria will be sending a small number of its “Jagdkommando” troops to fight resurgent terrorist groups in northern Mali. They will be in support of the French Army’s Operation Barkhane in Mali. Read more in Austrian special forces prepare for deployment in Mali, DefenceWeb.co.za, June 24, 2016.
Dates for SFA National Convention. The Special Forces Association (SFA) has picked the dates for its annual National Convention for 2017. It will be held in Fayetteville, North Carolina (think Fort Bragg) in the June 12-17, 2017 time frame. The convention will be held at the Doubletree Hotel just off I-95.
Navy SEALs Death Prompts Lawsuit. The family of a Navy SEAL who died in a 2014 parachute accident is suing the parachute manufacturer. Read more in a news report by Stars and Stripes, June 25, 2016.
(The image at top of article from the website of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment website of Canadian Armed Forces)