Special Operations

2012 - 2013

Materials arranged chronologically.

DeYoung, Karen, and Greg Jaffe. "Navy SEALs Rescue Kidnapped Aid Workers in Somalia." Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2012. []

On 25 January 2012, U.S. Navy SEALs rescued kidnapped American aid worker Jessica Buchanan and her Danish colleague, Poul Hagen Thisted, in Somalia. Officials said the raid was carried out by members of the Navy SEAL Team 6. "About a dozen SEALs parachuted from an Air Force Special Operations plane to a spot two miles from the compound where the hostages were being held, Pentagon officials said. The commandos walked through the darkness and surprised the captors, killing at least eight of them before Buchanan and Thisted were taken away in helicopters, officials said." See also, Jeffrey Gettleman, Eric Schmitt, and Thom Shanker, "U.S. Swoops In to Free 2 From Pirates in Somali Raid," New York Times, 25 Jan. 2012.

Dozier, Kimberly. "Wraps Come Off Special Operations Afghan War Plan." Associated Press, 12 Apr. 2012. []

The head of U.S. special operations, Adm. Bill McRaven, "is mapping out a potential Afghanistan war plan that would replace thousands of U.S. troops with small special operations teams paired with Afghans to help an inexperienced Afghan force withstand a Taliban onslaught as U.S. troops withdraw. While the overall campaign would still be led by conventional military, the handfuls of special operators would become the leading force to help Afghans secure the large tracts of territory won in more than a decade of U.S. combat."

Gettleman, Jeffrey. "In Vast Jungle, U.S. Troops Aid in Search for Kony." New York Times, 29 Apr. 2012. []

"One hundred of America's elite Special Operations troops, aided by night vision scopes and satellite imagery," are in the Central African Republic assisting in the hunt for rebel commander Joseph Kony. "Ken Wright, a Navy SEAL captain and the commander of the joint American detachment," emphasizes that the Americans "have no interest in participating in actual combat -- 'This is strictly an advise and assist role,' Captain Wright said." For some years now, the American government has been "running a semicovert logistics and intelligence operation to extend the Ugandan army's reach so it could chase Mr. Kony across the region."

Cloud, David S. "U.S. Special Forces Commander Seeks to Expand Operations." Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2012. []

According to a draft paper circulating at the Pentagon, U.S. Special Forces Commander Adm. William H. McRaven "has developed plans that would provide far-reaching new powers to make special operations units 'the force of choice' against 'emerging threats' over the next decade." Several officers suggested that the plan faces a number of hurdles within the miltary itself. "Not only the geographic commanders but the Pentagon's powerful Joint Staff, which plays a central role in recommending where and when special forces units will be deployed, are likely to have reservations."

Schmitt, Eric. "Elite Military Forces Are Denied in Bid for Expansion." New York Times, 4 Jun. 2012. []

In late April, the Special Operations Command "presented the State Department and Congress with an urgent request for new authority to train and equip security forces in places like Yemen and Kenya. The request ... was the latest effort by the command's top officer, Adm. William H. McRaven, to make it easier for his elite forces to respond faster to emerging threats and better enable allies to counter the same dangers.... But in a rare rebuke to the admiral and his command, powerful House and Senate officials as well as the State Department, and ultimately the deputy cabinet-level aides who met at the White House on the issue on May 7, rejected the changes."

Watson, Julie. "Marine Special Operations Team Members Honored." Associated Press, 3 Dec. 2012. []

In a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, CA, on 3 December 2012, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus "honored four members of a Marine special operations team in a rare public ceremony for those who have served in the covert forces." Marine Sgt. William Soutra Jr. was awarded "the Navy Cross, the Navy's highest honor and the military's second highest honor, for tending to the wounded while guiding the platoon to safety during an attack in Afghanistan's Helmand Province in July 2010.... Three others on his team, including a Navy corpsman, were given Silver Stars."

CNN Staff. "Navy Identifies SEAL Killed in Afghanistan Rescue." CNN, 10 Dec. 2012. []

"Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, died" on 8 December 2012 during the successful raid to free Dr. Dilip Joseph, of the international aid group Morning Star, kidnapped by armed men on 5 December 2012. "[A] U.S. official said the man was a member of the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, more commonly known as SEAL Team Six."

Feickert, Andrew. U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 6 Feb. 2013. Available at:

From "Summary": "On January 5, 2012, the Administration unveiled its new strategic guidance refocusing U.S. strategic efforts to the Pacific and the Middle East and, at the same time, proposing significant cuts to ground forces. This new strategic direction has the potential to significantly affect U.S. SOF. USSOCOM leadership continues to pursue additional authorities that would enable it to control the movement of SOF units deployed to a theater of operations as well as give additional authorities to Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs).... Another possible issue for congressional consideration is the balance between direct and indirect special operations activities in world-wide counterterrorism operations."

Bergen, Peter. "Good Thing U.S. Terrorist Hunters Weren't Furloughed." CNN, 7 Oct. 2013. []

CNN's national security analyst comments on the Delta Force raid in Tripoli to capture Abu Anas al-Libi and the Seal Team 6 (Naval Special Warfare Development Group or DevGru) aborted raid in Barawe, Somalia.

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