The Biden Administration continued its shakeup this week, from foreign policy to the DoD. POTUS announced that his cabinet will review the withdrawal of troops from Germany that had been put in motion by President Trump. Biden also announced that he will pull U.S. support from kinetic operations in Yemen. All signs point to him overturning the Trump-era decision to label the country’s Houthi rebels as terrorists, despite a proven track record of violence and ties with Iran. 

We at SOFREP believe changes in Yemen reflect the administration’s desire to get Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table. But Israel, our oldest ally in the region, is adamantly against any Iranian nuclear enrichment and has moved one step closer to striking Iran’s facilities directly. Israeli Defense Forces continue to rebuff Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria and the Golan Heights. 

This Week on SOFREP
Myanmar’s military stand guard at a checkpoint manned with armored vehicles blocking a road leading to the parliament building Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Hundreds of members of Myanmar’s parliament remained confined inside their government housing in the country’s capital on Tuesday, a day after the military staged a coup and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (AP Photo)

A coup in Myanmar shifted SOFREP’s attention to Southeast Asia this week. On Monday, a military force took control of the country, ousting populist leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other senior members of the National League for Democracy party. The U.S. immediately threatened to impose sanctions unless the military junta relinquished power. Military officials blocked Facebook and other social media platforms to attempt to retain control while internal unrest spread quickly.

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s neighbor, China, continues to rumble. Last week, China issued a series of threats toward Taiwan, a tactic aimed at drawing the U.S. out. Now, with U.S. assets — including the USS Nimitz Strike Carrier Group — in the region, China is reverting to a litany of cold war games. 

While Biden’s foreign policy team got to work, so did Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The new SecDef ordered this week a full stand-down of U.S. forces in order to screen the military for extremism. The order quickly rolled downhill and led to a fresh bout of concern over symbols and imagery associated with military units and organizations. Many see the measures as draconian and shortsighted. 

This Week on SOFREP
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks with U.S. Army Col. Chris McKinney, Michigan Army National Guard, the deputy commander for Task Force Capitol Response, near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, Jan. 29, 2021. The National Guard has been requested to continue supporting federal law enforcement agencies with security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support to district, state, and federal agencies through mid-March. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Ashley Goodwin)

This came as the SecDef issued new mandatory mask orders for all servicemembers and civilian employees while on federal property. The mask order mirrors the clampdown on COVID-19 emanating from the White House where Biden has initiated a massive wave of federal guidelines and executive orders. But the strict approach isn’t without its own set of problems: Americans were outraged this week when news that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay had received COVID-19 vaccinations despite millions of Americans still queueing up for the shot. 

What’s more, new information has surfaced about the main COVID-19 test — the Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR test — which suggests that the instruments used to detect the virus were incorrectly calibrated leading to inflated case counts in many U.S. states.

SOFREP remembered several fallen heroes this week. 

Flaherty the Giant Killer Green Beret
Richard Flaherty during the Vietnam War. Flaherty was known as the “Giant Killer” and served with the U.S. Army Green Berets. He was the smallest person to serve in the Army.

We honored Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL Sniper whose life was immortalized in the film American Sniper and whose untimely killing at a Texas shooting range robbed his family of their husband and father. SOFREP Staff Writer John Black remembered his friend Warrant Officer 1 Shawn Thomas in a touching tribute. Elsewhere, new light was shed on the hit-and-run killing of Green Beret Richard Flaherty. The driver responsible, Leslie Socolov, was brought back into the media spotlight when her anti-Semetic rant went viral on social media. On Tuesday, the FBI suffered its deadliest day in over a decade when officers serving a search warrant in Miami were met with gunfire; two were killed and three others critically wounded

On SOFREP Radio this week we dusted off our tiger stripe fatigues, grabbed our CAR-15s, and flew into the combat zones of Vietnam with veteran FAC and U.S. Air Force Bird Dog Pilot Colonel Mike Leonard (ret.). We talk about Leonard’s new book, An American Combat Bird Dog Pilot, and hear all the details of his wildest stories. 

SOFREP Gear guru Travis Pike put down his sidearm this week to look at last-ditch slashers and stabbers; the handy small tools and blades which represent the last line of defense in a self-defense situation.

We also welcomed the first installment of The Reservation, a novel penned by SOFREP CEO and former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb. In its debut shot, The Reservation HALO dropped us into a deadly firefight in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan. Tune in every Saturday afternoon to get the latest installment. 

What’s in store for next week? None of us knows. But, as always, we’ll be here to bring you the stories you won’t find anywhere else with insights and analysis from people who have actually been there. 

In the meantime,

Stay frosty

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