From Afghanistan to Somalia, Special Operations Achieve Less With More
At around 11:00 that night, four Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talons, turboprop special operations aircraft, were flying through a moonless sky from Pakistani into Afghan air space. On board were 199 U.S. Army Rangers with orders to seize an airstrip. One hundred miles to the northeast, Chinook and Black Hawk... Read more
U.S. Special Operations Forces Deployed to 149 Countries in 2017
“We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in October 2017. That was in the wake of the combat deaths of four members of the Special Operations forces in the West... Read more
U.S. Commandos Are a ‘Persistent Presence’ on Russia’s Doorstep
“They are very concerned about their adversary next door,” Gen. Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said at a national security conference in Aspen, Colorado in July 2017.  “They make no bones about it.” The “they” in question were various Eastern European and Baltic nations.  “Their... Read more
War Reporters Are Nothing Without Their Fixers
We were already roaring down the road when the young man called to me over his shoulder. There was a woman seated between us on the motorbike and with the distance, his accent, the rushing air and the engine noise, it took a moment for me to decipher what... Read more
America Is Still Training Coup Leaders and Anti-Democratic Strongmen
Winning! It’s the White House watchword when it comes to the U.S. armed forces. “We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war and, if required, to fight war and only do one thing — you know what that is? Win! Win!” Pres. Donald Trump exclaimed... Read more
In 2017, U.S. Special Operators Have Deployed to 137 Countries
The tabs on their shoulders read “Special Forces,” “Ranger,” “Airborne.” And soon their guidon—the “colors” of Company B, 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group—would be adorned with the “Bandera de Guerra,” a Colombian combat decoration. “Today we commemorate 16 years of a permanent fight against drugs... Read more
The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa
Gen. Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy. “I would just say, they are on the ground. They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa. “We watch... Read more
The U.S. Military’s Poor Record Training the Iraqi Army
There’s good news coming out of Iraq … again. The efforts of a 65-nation coalition and punishing U.S. airstrikes have helped local ground forces roll back gains by the Islamic State. Government forces and Shiite militias, for example, recaptured the city of Tikrit, while Kurdish troops ousted I.S. fighters... Read more
America’s Secret African Drone War Targets the Islamic State
On Oct. 7 at an “undisclosed location” somewhere in “Southwest Asia,” men wearing different types of camouflage and dun-colored boots gathered before a black backdrop adorned with Arabic script. They were attending a ceremony that mixed solemnity with celebration, the commemoration of a year of combat that left scores... Read more
Iraq, Afghanistan and Other Special Ops ‘Successes’
They’re some of the best soldiers in the world — highly trained, well equipped, and experts in weapons, intelligence gathering and battlefield medicine. They study foreign cultures and learn local languages. They’re smart, skillful, wear some very iconic headgear, and their 12-member teams are “capable of conducting the full... Read more

Nick Turse

Managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Nation Institute.

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