Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Special Operators Depend on Good Partners, Commander Says

A pretty detailed overview from ADM McRaven.  I am going to start counting how many times people now invoke the Philippines as an example.  But it is good to hear broader discussion about Special Operations in Asia.  However,  I have to take some exception to this statement from ADM McRaven and offer a counterpoint.

Socom also has to consider, he said, how to move Special Forces "A" teams, Marine special operations teams, Navy SEAL platoons and the platforms that support them in and out of theater quickly. That requires working closely with each of the services, he noted.

I would submit that we should not be figuring out how to move Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha (SFODAs) "in and out of theater quickly."  What we need to be doing is figuring out how to have them remain in theater for long duration.  While we definitely want to be abel to get Surgical Strike forces in and out of theater quickly, we need those forces conducting Special Warfare to remain in theater.  We really should be exploring the potential for stationing Special Forces in theater (more than just 1-10 SFG in Germany and 1-1 SFG in Okinawa).  We have some good historical examples as models that have worked (and continue to work as in the case of Special Forces Detachment Korea (Det 39) - which as an aside is the longest continuously serving US Special Forces organization in Asia). Potential examples include the 46th SF Company in Thailand, DET-A in Berlin, and DET-T in Taiwan, all with different force structure and missions based on the regional conditions and strategy.  Although it is counterintuitive to most, effective Special Warfare is characterized by more deliberate planning for the long term while Surgical Strike requires the rapid deployment capability.  Sure CONUS based Special Forces will still have to deploy and redeploy but if there are forward stationed forces in key areas in theater SF can provide a range of options to the Theater Commander as well as assist in providing situational understanding.  

01/29/2013 03:33 PM CST

Special Operators Depend on Good Partners, Commander Says
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2013 - Close partnership with U.S. geographic combatant commanders will be crucial to keeping the nation's special operations forces effective as budgets and formations dwindle, U.S. Special Operations Command's leader said here today.
Navy Adm. William H. McRaven talked about special operations support to national strategy during a speech at the National Defense Industrial Association's 24th Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium.

Socom troops around the world, McRaven said, are "doing exceedingly well, operating as an integral part of the geographic combatant commanders' strategy."

The admiral said while his forces operate in more than 70 countries around the world, Afghanistan remains a key focus. U.S. Central Command is the geographic combatant command responsible for Afghanistan, with NATO's International Security Assistance Force in charge of operations there.

McRaven noted all coalition special operations forces in Afghanistan now are united under one special operations joint task force, commanded by Army Maj. Gen. Tony Thomas.
"His headquarters, which reached its full operational capability on 1 January, has done a phenomenal job," the admiral said. "During my most recent visit there, I was impressed to see [the headquarters] integrating, coordinating and fully synchronizing all [special operations activities] -- not only with each other, but with ISAF."

Village stability operations and support to Afghan local police –- both programs aimed at growing security and extending governance in rural areas -- are among the "most compelling success stories" special operations forces are logging in Afghanistan, McRaven said.
"These programs have been game-changers to our efforts," he noted.

McRaven said he recently visited some of the places where Afghan local police groups have established outposts. "I was amazed at the relationships forged with our Afghan counterparts," he told the symposium audience. "These relationships, built on trust, have clearly paved the way for greater security in the remote areas of the country. They have also helped bridge the gap between the local, district and provincial governments."
The thinning of U.S. conventional forces in Afghanistan this year and in 2014, McRaven said, will give special operations troops "more opportunity to do more in places that we have neglected."

While he doesn't yet know the number of special operations forces that will be needed in Afghanistan beyond 2014, he said, one approach now under way to bridge the anticipated gap is a "surge" in Afghan local police.

The local police program across Afghanistan now numbers close to 19,000 "guardians," he said, which Afghan leaders want to build to 45,000. Around 60 Special Forces or SEAL units, working with Afghan counterparts, support the program as trainers, he added.

McRaven said Thomas has a plan to sustain the program, with coalition special operations forces shifting to a "train the trainer focus," helping the Afghan uniformed police and Afghan special operations forces to take over training local forces.

"I think [the program is] on a good glide path right now," he said. The post-2014 special operations contribution in Afghanistan isn't yet known, he added, but officials are making plans to enable helping the Afghans continue to build the local police program even if special operations forces draw down to a small number.

Special operators also are achieving "similar positive results" around the world, their commander said. He noted that in the Philippines, "our Green Berets and [Navy] SEALs are doing a terrific job with our Filipino partners."

McRaven said on a recent visit to the Philippines, he stopped in two places that "10 years ago ... were safe havens for Abu Sayyaf and other extremist organizations." A decade ago, security for the people in such places depended on "how well they knew the enemy," McRaven said.
"Beheadings, bombings, and families fleeing their homes were a constant part of life," he said. "Today, largely through the magnificent efforts of our [special operations forces] advisory teams and their Filipino counterparts, the threat is contained. Security has greatly improved."
McRaven said improvement in the Philippines, where economic progress and stable local government have followed security gains, rivals similar success in Colombia, where U.S. special operators have worked for decades. Such special efforts are also taking place now in Africa, he added, where U.S. special operations troops are "working with our African counterparts to end the [Lord's Resistance Army] tyranny in Central Africa."
(Continued at the link below)

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