SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Shrinking World, Growing Problems
Numbers to Meet the Challenges
Emerging from more than a decade of unconventional warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military now confronts looming budget cuts in Washington, but leaders of the nation’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) say they don’t expect any slowdown in their operational tempo around the globe.
“We will likely remain engaged against violent extremist networks for the foreseeable future,” Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) told a Senate committee hearing earlier this year.
But that engagement won’t be limited to night raids, hostage rescues and covert insertions into hostile territory. McRaven and other U.S. officials say special operators also will be partnering with the State Department and other federal agencies, as well as friendly foreign militaries, on non-kinetic programs like working with civil authorities and training indigenous troops. The aim of both types of operation is to prevent extremists from capitalizing on political discontent, ethnic rivalries and economic frustration to fuel their strategy of terror and violence in places like Yemen, the Horn of Africa and countries bordering the Sahara Desert.
The Defense Department plans to trim $478 billion in spending over the next 10 years, leading to force reductions among all the services – particularly the Army and Marine Corps. But USSCOM — a joint command that includes the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations commands as well as the Navy Special Warfare Command — expects its numbers rise from just over 66,000 personnel now, to 71,000 by Fiscal Year 2015.
Even as the number of conventional U.S. troops drops in Afghanistan between now and 2014, when U.S. and coalition forces turn national security responsibilities over to the Afghans, USSOCOM officials expect SOF troop levels there to remain stable, raising their size proportionally as the other troops depart.
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Entry filed under: Counter Insurgency, International Relief, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Skills and Training, Special Operations, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Air Force, Army, Counter Insurgency, Defense, International Crime, Marine Corps, Navy, soft power, Special Operations, Unconventional Warfare.