AMU Homeland Security Original

The SITREP – Episode 1

Note: This video first appeared at In Military.


Hi, my name is Wes O’Donnell, veteran of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force and welcome to the Sitrep. Send it.

A routine anti-ISIS patrol by U.S. troops and Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria came under attack Monday by small-arms fire amid rising tensions in the region, according to U.S. military officials.

U.S. troops and the mostly-Kurdish SDF returned fire in self-defense, and the patrol suffered no casualties, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve officials said in a statement.

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At about 9:20 a.m. local time Monday, the patrol was on a mission to check on possible Islamic State activity when it encountered a checkpoint manned by pro-Syrian regime forces near the village of Tal al-Zahab in northeastern Syria.

After receiving approval to pass, the patrol continued but began receiving small-arms fire from individuals in the vicinity of the checkpoint. The coalition troops returned fire and returned safely to base.

The exchange of fire was the latest incident in a contested region of overlapping forces with different agendas, including Russian troops, Syrian regime forces, Turkish troops, various militias with shifting alliances, and the U.S. coalition.

In other news, Texas-based soldiers were training in Poland last year when leaders at U.S. Army Europe spotted some alarming social media posts.

A member of 1st Armored Division had allegedly killed a Polish soldier, stolen a car and was on the run. The posts referenced the soldier’s unit, which actually was in the country at the time, and used his real photos.

The only problem? It was fake news. The soldier was tracked down and found to be with his unit doing what he was supposed to be doing.

Russia is an extremely proficient and active player in the realm of disinformation and maskirovka, also known as Russian military deception.

Each of the services has created new positions or units to deal with renewed information warfare threats. The Navy has added shipboard information warfare commanders to aircraft carrier strike groups. A new information warfare-focused Air Force unit was activated earlier this year. The Army is in the process of standing up a new cyberwarfare battalion that will have a dozen teams capable of being dispatched to support operational forces.

In Navy news, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its strike group returned to the South China Sea Friday for a series of maritime air defense operations.

Reagan’s entry into the South China Sea comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing and follows an announcement last month that the Trump administration would reject nearly all of China’s maritime claims in the sea.

In spouse news, Starts and Stripes is reporting that American military families based in Germany and traveling around Europe are being bumped from flights because they’re American. Budget airline Ryanair said in a statement that as a result of COVID-19, Greece has a ban on non-essential travel from the U.S. The low-cost airline did not reply to an email pointing out that the Americans’ travel originated in Germany.

And finally, for some news that’s out of this world, the Navy will lead a new task force charged with detecting, analyzing and cataloging encounters with what used to be called UFOs that could threaten the United States.

The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, approved Aug. 4 by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, was established so the Department of Defense can improve its “understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins” of mysterious flying objects.

The Department of the Navy will head up the task force and report to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security.

Wes O'Donnell

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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