Special Operations


Materials arranged chronologically.

Goldman, Adam, and Julie Tate. "Inside the FBI's Secret Relationship with the Military's Special Operations." Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2014. []

"The FBI's transformation from a crime-fighting agency to a counterterrorism organization in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been well-documented. Less widely known has been the bureau's role in secret operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other locations around the world.... [A] little-known alliance between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) [has] allowed agents to participate in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan." The focus here is on the bureau's Hostage and Rescue Team (HRT).

Baker, Peter, Eric Schmitt, and Michael S. Schmidt. "U.S. Seizes Suspect in Deadly Assault in Benghazi in '12." New York Times, 18 Jun. 2014, A1. []

"[A]ccording to officials briefed on the operation," just after midnight local time on 16 June 2014 "about two dozen Delta Force commandos and two or three F.B.I. agents descended on the outskirts of Benghazi...; grabbed ... Ahmed Abu Khattala; stuffed him into a vehicle and raced away.... No shots were fired, and the suspect was spirited out of Libya to a United States Navy warship in the Mediterranean." See also, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, "Meet the Elite FBI Unit Likely Involved in the Benghazi Capture," Washington Post, 17 Jun. 2014, on the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team.

Whaley, Floyd, and Eric Schmitt. "U.S. Phasing Out Its Counterterrorism Unit in Philippines." New York Times, 27 Jun. 2014, A3. []

The Pentagon's Pacific Command said on 26 June 2014 that the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, the U.S. "military counterterrorism unit that has been operating in the southern Philippines for more than a decade[,] is being phased out.... American Special Forces will continue to help Philippine security forces counter a smaller, lingering Islamist threat, but the size of the mission will drop in the coming months to a dozen or so advisers from its current 320 service members, based in Mindanao in the south, American officials said."

Stewart, Phil. "Exclusive: U.S. Discloses Secret Somalia Military Presence, up to 120 Troops." Reuters, 2 Jul. 2014. []

In "the first detailed public acknowledgement of a U.S. military presence in Somalia" dating back to the administration of George W. Bush, an Obama administration official said "there were currently up to 120 U.S. military personnel on the ground throughout Somalia and described them as trainers and advisors." In a speech given early in June, Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs, "publicly acknowledged that a 'small contingent of U.S. military personnel' including special operations forces had been present in parts of Somalia for several years.... U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officials [also] have been known to operate in the country."

Goldman, Adam, and Karen DeYoung. "U.S. Staged Secret Operation into Syria in Failed Bid to Rescue Americans." Washington Post, 20 Aug. 2014. []

According to two senior officials authorized by the White House to speak anonymously, "U.S. Special Operations forces staged an unsuccessful operation this summer [other reporting places the time as on or around 4 July 2014] to rescue photojournalist James Foley and other Americans being held in Syria by Islamic State militants." The hostages were not present at the targeted location.

One of the officials said the operation "was conducted by a joint force with virtually every service represented," including "special operators and aircraft both rotary and fixed-wing," with surveillance aircraft overhead. The official "said that there were a 'good number' of militant casualties at the site but that one U.S. service member received a 'minor injury when one aircraft did take some fire.'"

"Other current and former U.S. officials, who were not part of the briefing, said ... that U.S. forces landed modified, heavily armed Black Hawk helicopters flown by the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment" (SOAR), known as the "Night Stalkers."

See also, Karen DeYoung, "The Anatomy of a Failed Hostage Rescue Deep into Islamic State Territory," Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2015.

Bergen, Peter. "The Man Who Hunted bin Laden, Saddam and the Pirates." CNN, 30 Aug. 2014. []

On 28 August 2014, "Adm. William 'Bill' McRaven handed over the reins of Special Operations Command to his successor, Gen. Joseph Votel." McRaven "pointed out that U.S. Special Operations Forces are helping to fight the fast-growing Islamic State in Iraq; the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines; the militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria, and al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region."

Clines, Francis X. "Navy SEALs Trade Secrecy for Swagger." New York Times, 6 Nov. 2014. []

"A furious Navy command is asking whatever happened to the professionalism and tight secrecy of SEAL Team Six.... One of the former SEALs has been working as a paid motivational speaker and routinely discusses the raid during his gigs. Now that SEAL, Robert O’Neill, is reportedly ready to out himself in a forthcoming Fox News interview as the actual triggerman who slew the terrorist mastermind of 9/11. Another veteran of the SEAL team, Matt Bissonette, is publishing a second tell-all book even as the Pentagon and Justice Department investigate whether he disclosed classified information in his first best seller."

Schmitt. Eric. "U.S.-Led Raid Rescues Eight Held in Yemen." New York Times, 26 Nov. 2014, A1. []

According to U.S. and Yemeni officials, about two dozen U.S. Special Operations commandos and "a small number of American-trained Yemeni counterterrorism troops" on 25 November 2014 "rescued eight hostages being held in a cave" in Hadhramaut Province near the Saudi border. The forces flew by helicopter to a location from which they "hiked some distance in the dark to a mountainside cave, where they surprised the militants holding the captives."

Ryan, Missy, and Adam Goldman. "Hagel: U.S. Hostage 'Murdered' in Yemen." Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2014. []

A statement by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen killed American journalist Luke Somers after U.S. special operations forces staged an operation in central Yemen on 5 December 2014 to free him after his AQAP captors had threatened to execute him. A U.S. official confirmed that a second person killed by AQAP during the rescue attempt was South African.

A report by Jim Sciutto, Joshua Berlinger, and Ben Brumfield, "Al Qaeda Kills Hostages during SEALs Raid on Yemen, Hagel Says," CNN, 6 Dec. 2014, adds that "[t]wo Osprey aircraft transported a team of about three dozen U.S. Navy SEALs, mainly from SEAL Team Six, and a combat medical team near the captives' location. There were no Yemeni forces with the U.S. commandos." However, Kareem Fahim and Eric Schmitt, "2 Hostages Killed in Yemen as U.S. Rescue Effort Fails," New York Times, 7 Dec. 2014, A1, reports that "[th]he SEAL Team 6 commandos [were] joined by a small number of Yemeni counterterrorism troops."

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