SOFREP recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of a friend who was just returned from Ukraine. As I’ve written before, it is very difficult to discern what is actually happening amongst the chaos and confusion of the battlefield. Throw some war-time propaganda into the mix and it can become almost impossible to discern reality. Thankfully, we were able to interview a neutral third party who actually met with Ukrainians to find out what is going on.
ISIS and American hostages
The recent propaganda film featuring the murder of journalist James Foley by a British ISIS fighter, also carried the follow on threat to murder another freelance journalist named Steven Sotloff
. Today video has emerged that Sotloff has now been beheaded, and the third captive threatened is a former British soldier who does security work for aid organizations, David Cawthorne Haines
. The pattern seems to be that every two weeks another hostage is executed.
PKK vs. ISIS in Northern Iraq
Crossing back across friendly lines can be a tricky proposition in the middle ISIS-made warzone.
“Can you have your commander write you a letter to help you get through the check points?”
“He’s dead, Jack.”
“What about your Squad Leader?”
“He’s dead too.”
“Are you kidding me? There must be some officer around there somewhere.”
“Not really. They died or ran away.”
“Dude, are you in charge now?”
This was the conversation I had today with a friend fighting alongside the PKK in their war against ISIS in North West Iraq. The last time we spoke was several days ago. He filled me in on what had happened since then. About three hours after our conversation his position was hit by ISIS. Once again they were outnumbered and outgunned. ISIS had fifty jihadist and three or four DShK 14.5 machine guns assembled around their redoubt in a L-shaped formation that rained fire down on them all night. The PKK position was occupied by ten fighters, including my contact, who were armed with one DShK, one PKM, their Kalashnakovs.
My appearance on Sun News:
Yesterday I did a segment on Sun News about Al-Baghdadi, westerners going to fight for ISIS, and how to build a coalition that can defeat them. Check it out on Sun News
Record Setting South African Special Forces Sniper Shot:
Last year a South African Special Forces operator chalked up the 6th longest range kill in history against M23 rebels in the Congo, but with the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) remaining quiet, the story has not been told until now.
Horse Soldier Horror in NYC:
Commemorated by General Muholland and Vice President Joe Biden on Veteran’s Day in 2011, the horse soldier memorial is a larger than life bronze representation of an iconic image from the early days of the War on Terror. The actual name of the statue is “America’s Response” in reference to the US Special Forces soldiers who were the first in to fight in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Some of these soldiers even rode into combat against the Taliban on horseback. Although I never rode horseback in Afghanistan and missed the initial invasion, I later served in the same unit as these men and was fortunate to meet and work with some of them.
Al-Baghdadi Does Not Exist
The media is currently in a frenzy
about the leadership of ISIS, hailing Al-Baghdadi
as the new Bin Laden, the next Public Enemy #1 for them to write about and report on as the next 21st Century boogyman. The problem is, there is no Al-Baghdadi. As most media reports confirm themselves, the details of this guy are iffy at best. This article advances the alternative thesis that Al-Baghdadi is not an actual biological individual but rather an immortal idea.
Back when Special Operations forces were conducting nightly raids in Iraq, a number of individuals were fingered as being a terrorist leader named “Al-Baghdadi” but they turned out to be bogus claims, little more than whispers in the desert night. Commanders wrote off the mistakes and figured they had the wrong guy so they kept looking, rather than concluding that this person was more of a myth than a man. While HUMINT sources blabbed about Al-Baghdadi there was never any SIGINT or other technical sources which confirmed his existence.
Yezidi Protest the UN for Inaction
Today at 10AM a group of about forty Iraqi immigrants belonging to the Yezidi religious minority protested in front of the United Nations building in Manhattan. Among them was my friend Dakheel who I worked with when he was my interpreter in Iraq back in 2009. At the time, I remember hanging around the camp fire at night with Dakheel talking about the future of Iraq. We both agreed that after the United States pulled out of the country that things would get pretty bad. We were already dealing with what was then called ISI, the Islamic State of Iraq, which was a group of hard core terrorists. Dakheel told me at the time that there was no future for Iraq and that he was starting the process to immigrate to America with his wife and children. He got his visa and I’m glad he did.
Non-Violent Unconventional Warfare
US Special Forces has some fairly good Unconventional Warfare doctrine to work from as a base. The concept of using a small 12-man team to infiltrate deep behind enemy lines, train guerrilla forces, and launch of unconventional campaign is a sound one, but one that is only now beginning to be updated, an endeavor which took far too long. Special Forces is making some positive steps in the direction of modernizing their approach to Unconventional Warfare but they still have a long way to go. Until Title 10/50 disputes are resolved, Special Forces will never truly conduct covert operations unless they are done so under the auspices of the CIA. With new UW capabilities left in legal limbo, it may only be a matter of time before some bean counter in the Pentagon, or even within SOCOM, realizes they are spending money on a shiny new toy whose only purpose is to gather dust in garrison and suck up training resources at the Special Warfare Center.
Counter-Insurgency in Ferguson
A few years ago I had a New Jersey cop who was deployed as a Civil Affairs soldier tell me about how police officers approach counter-insurgency differently than guys who are career soldiers. While soldiers have a propensity towards going straight towards an escalation of force, police officers are used to walking around bad neighborhoods and engaging with the locals. While this is not a rule, there is some truth to it. A soldier who has been doing nothing but Infantry training his entire career will be missing a vital piece of the Counter-Insurgency puzzle by comparison to someone else with experience as a beat cop.