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Every single active-duty Special Forces group has lost at least one soldier this year
It has been a deadly year for Green Berets, with every active-duty Special Forces Group losing a valued soldier in Afghanistan or Syria.
A total of 13 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat.
In Afghanistan, Army special operators account for 11 of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Of the other three soldiers, two worked with the 10th Special Forces Group and the other was a Ranger.
"It is extremely painful anytime we lose a member of our Army Special Operations family," said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command. "Providing support to their loved ones and honoring their service and sacrifice is a continued priority."
The fact that Army special operators are taking the brunt of the casualties in Afghanistan reflects the U.S. military's strategy of having Special Forces fight alongside Afghan troops and police while conventional forces provide "enablers," such as training and air support, said retired Marine Col. Mark Cancian, a security expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, D.C.
"Of course, enablers aren't out there on the front lines the way used to be," Cancian told Task & Purpose. "Now it's really only the Special Forces that are out there and that's by design. That's way we have structured our force."
The U.S. military decided to rely mostly on special operations forces to fight the Taliban and terrorist groups as part of the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan from about 100,000 U.S. troops during the Obama administration to roughly 14,000 troops today, said Cancian, who spent years working in the Pentagon on manpower and force structure issues.
In addition to being highly trained troops, Special Forces' core mission is to work alongside foreign militaries, he said. Lately, Special Forces have been working particularly with Iraqi and Afghan special operations forces, which are used quite often because both countries' conventional militaries are "mediocre at best."
Rep. Michael Waltz, a retired Special Forces officer, has taken note of the enormous sacrifice that Army special operators are making. Waltz (R-Fla.) told Task & Purpose that "Special Forces are leading the fight in Afghanistan."
"Green Beret teams are embedded with the Afghan commandos, which is doing the lion's share of the fighting on the ground – that's why they're taking the lion's share of the casualties," Waltz said.
Here are the soldiers with, attached to, or in support of special operations forces who have been killed in 2019:
- Sgt. First Class Jeremy W. Griffin, September 16, 2019, 1st SFG(A)-Combat
- Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard , Aug 29, 2019, 1st SFG(A)- Combat
- Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, Aug 21, 2019, 7th SFG(A) – Combat
- Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, Aug 21, 2019, 7th SFG(A) – Combat
- Sgt. Maj. James G. "Ryan" Sartor, July 13, 2019, 10 SFG (A) – Combat
- Sgt. 1st Class Elliott J. Robbins, June 30, 2019, 10th SFG (A) - Non-Combat
- Master Sgt. Michael B. Riley, June 25, 2019, 10th SFG (A) – Combat
- Sgt. James G. Johnston, June 25, 2019, 79th Ordnance BAT (Attached to 10th SFG (A)) – Combat
- Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, March 22, 2019, 10th SFG (A) – Combat
- Sgt. Joseph P. Collette, March 22, 2019, 242nd Ordnance BAT (In support of 10th SFG (A)) – Combat
- Sgt. 1st Class Joshua 'Zach' Beale, January 22, 2019, 3rd SFG (A) – Combat
- Sgt. Cameron Meddock, January 17, 2019, 75th RR 2nd BN- Combat
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Farmer, January 16, 2019, 5th SFG (A) – Combat
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.