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Articles by: Nick Turse

Castle Black, the Syrian Withdrawal, and the Battle of the Bases

Castle Black, the Syrian Withdrawal, and the Battle of the Bases

They called it Castle Black, an obvious homage to the famed frozen citadel from the HBO series Game of Thrones. In the fantasy world of GoT, it’s the stronghold of the Night’s Watch, the French Foreign Legion-esque guardians of the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. This Castle Black, however, was all too real and occupied by U.S. Special Operations forces, America’s most elite troops.[Read More…]

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 As the World Looks Away, Death Stalks the Democratic Republic of Congo

 As the World Looks Away, Death Stalks the Democratic Republic of Congo

GOMA, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo — The boy was sitting next to his father, as he so often did. He mimicked his dad in every way. He wanted to be just like him, but Muhindo Maronga Godfroid, then a 31-year-old primary school teacher and farmer, had bigger plans for his two-and-a-half-year-old son. He would go to university[Read More…]

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“The Pain Remains”- The Living Literature of War

“The Pain Remains”- The Living Literature of War

Do you remember July 8, 2011? Where you were? What you did? Whom you talked to? Anything at all? I couldn’t pin down one single thing for that day. I couldn’t even locate an email I had sent or a photo I might have taken. It’s all evidently lost in the ether, known only to tech and telecom firms. But maybe, unlike[Read More…]

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 “What Does War Have to Do With Me?” – Combat Viewed from the Rooftops and Beyond

 “What Does War Have to Do With Me?” – Combat Viewed from the Rooftops and Beyond

TRIPOLI, Libya — Sometimes war sounds like the harsh crack of gunfire and sometimes like the whisper of the wind. This early morning — in al-Yarmouk on the southern edge of Libya’s capital, Tripoli — it was a mix of both. All around, shops were shuttered and homes emptied, except for those in the hands of the militiamen who make[Read More…]

No Need to Whisper, AFRICOM Isn’t Listening In

No Need to Whisper, AFRICOM Isn’t Listening In

 If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or to bring this thought experiment into the modern age — if it happens in the forest, does it stay in the forest? I ask this question because it has a bearing on the article to come. Specifically, what if[Read More…]

Bases, Bases, Everywhere…  Except in the Pentagon’s Report 

Bases, Bases, Everywhere…  Except in the Pentagon’s Report 

The U.S. military is finally withdrawing (or not) from its base at al-Tanf. You know, the place that the Syrian government long claimed was a training ground for Islamic State (ISIS) fighters; the land corridor just inside Syria, near both the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, that Russia has called a terrorist hotbed (while floating the idea of jointly administering it with the United States); the location of a camp where hundreds of U.S. Marines joined Special[Read More…]

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The Legacy of Infinite War 

The Legacy of Infinite War 

Raids by U.S. commandos in Afghanistan. (I could be talking about 2001 or 2018.) A U.S. drone strike in Yemen. (I could be talking about 2002 or 2018.) Missions by Green Berets in Iraq. (I could be talking about 2003 or 2018.) While so much about the War on Terror turned Global War on Terrorismturned World War IV turned the Long War turned “generational struggle” turned “infinite war” seems repetitious, the troops most associated with this[Read More…]

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The Global Growth of U.S. Special Operations Forces

The Global Growth of U.S. Special Operations Forces

Early last month, at a tiny military post near the tumbledown town of Jamaame in Somalia, small arms fire began to ring out as mortar shells crashed down. When the attack was over, one Somali soldier had been wounded — and had that been the extent of the casualties, you undoubtedly would never have heard about it. As it happened, however, American commandos were[Read More…]

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A Wider World of War: Under Donald Trump, U.S. Special Forces Deployed to 149 Countries in 2017

A Wider World of War: Under Donald Trump, U.S. Special 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,” saidSenator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in October. That was in the wake of the combat deaths of four members of the Special Operations forces in the West African nation of Niger. Graham and other senators expressed shock about the deployment,[Read More…]

American Commandos in Baltics to Help NATO Allies against Russia

 U.S. Commandos Are A “Persistent Presence” On Russia’s Doorstep 

“They are very concerned about their adversary next door,” said General Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), at a national security conference in Aspen, Colorado, in July.  “They make no bones about it.” The “they” in question were various Eastern European and Baltic nations.  “Their adversary”?  Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Thomas, the commander of America’s most elite troops —[Read More…]

 Globe-Trotting U.S. Special Ops Forces Already Deployed To 137 Nations In 2017 

 Globe-Trotting U.S. Special Ops Forces Already Deployed To 137 Nations In 2017 

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 sixteen years of a permanent fight against drugs in a ceremony where all Colombians can recognize the special[Read More…]

U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy To 138 Nations, 70% Of The World’s Countries

U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy To 138 Nations, 70% Of The World’s Countries

They could be found on the outskirts of Sirte, Libya, supporting local militia fighters, and in Mukalla, Yemen, backing troops from the United Arab Emirates.  At Saakow, a remote outpost in southern Somalia, they assisted local commandos in killing several members of the terror group al-Shabab.  Around the cities of Jarabulus and Al-Rai in northern Syria, they partnered with both Turkish soldiers and Syrian[Read More…]

 Keeping Track Of U.S. Special Ops In Africa

 Keeping Track Of U.S. Special Ops In Africa

Sometimes the real news is in the details — or even in the discrepancies. Take, for instance, missions by America’s most elite troops in Africa. It was September 2014. The sky was bright and clear and ice blue as the camouflage-clad men walked to the open door and tumbled out into nothing. One moment members of the U.S. 19th Special[Read More…]

 When AFRICOM Evaluates Itself, The News Is Grim

 When AFRICOM Evaluates Itself, The News Is Grim

It’s rare to hear one top military commander publicly badmouth another, call attention to his faults, or simply point out his shortcomings. Despite a seemingly endless supply of debacles from strategic setbacks to quagmire conflicts since 9/11, the top brass rarely criticize each other or, even in retirement, utter a word about the failings of their predecessors or successors.  Think[Read More…]

AFRICOM Clams Up After Commander Peddles Contradictory Statements To Congress

AFRICOM Clams Up After Commander Peddles Contradictory Statements To Congress

General David Rodriguez might be a modern military celebrity — if he hadn’t spent his career ducking the spotlight. After graduating from West Point in 1976, he began his long march up the chain of command, serving in Operation Just Cause (the U.S. invasion of Panama) and Operation Desert Storm (Iraq War 1.0) before becoming deputy commander of United States[Read More…]

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