Sunday, May 19, 2013

Socom's goal: Pre-empt wars

Great title (written with sarcasm).  I am sure the editor and author probably meant prevent wars as I think there is some baggage with a doctrine of pre-emption.  For more back to the future we should recall this excerpt from the 2002 NSS which also has been termed as the "Bush Doctrine"  While the second paragraph below seems completely logical the use of the word preemption connotes in particular the Iraq War and that of course has baggage.
The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD. 
To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.
Coming soon to a country a near you  - the Afghan Village Stability Operations.  Wonder how chiefs of mission feel about that?
Given his vision, McRaven might consider clips from another movie: “Back to the Future.” 
A program special operators run in Afghanistan, for instance, where they work in villages training locals as police, is a modern version of what Green Berets did in Vietnam. 
This program can work around the globe, Bradin said.

I absolutely agree that the traditional Special Operations (and in particular Special Warfare – embodied most within Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations) missions and activities have the most continued relevance today and in the future for addressing the complex security threats we face now and will in the future (ones that are not existential to the US, but may very well be existential to our friends partners and allies).  But I do not think the journalist did any favors to USSOCOM in describing the narrative in terms of the Bush Doctrine as well as the vision of conducting VSO around the world.  The missions conducted as part of VSO are absolutely relevant and timeless but each will be applied uniquely based on the situation as it really exists and the VSO model may not be appropriate around the world and in fact may receive push back from countries or our own civilian government agency personnel.

Socom's goal: Pre-empt wars

Tampa is headquarters for the commandos who are gaining a bigger role in military operations around the globe. Military writer Howard Altman travels with them this month in Afghanistan.
Published: May 19, 2013
They make small footprints at the edges of the Earth.

Sometimes they hunt and kill. Sometimes they teach rural tribes how to govern and farm.

But after more than 12 years of war, special operations forces are frayed — and in more demand than ever. With the military facing big spending cuts and a new emphasis on places around the globe, U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, is working to adapt to new realities.

Where will they make footprints next?

“There has been a shift in strategy away from war to defensive tactics,” said Stuart Bradin, an Army colonel helping bring a new global special operations network to life.

“The primary pieces are a pivot to Asia while keeping a very strong eye and focus on the Middle East, as well. We are going to go out in small footprints and work with key partners to ensure that small regional issues don't become major theater operations. We can't afford that in blood or treasure.”

The new network has a name, “Global SOF Network,” and a theme, “you can't surge trust,” and it's the vision of Socom commander Adm. William McRaven.

His first military priority remains winning the fight in Afghanistan. For commandos, that likely will extend well past 2014, when President Barack Obama has ordered that combat troops leave that nation.

At the same time, though, commanders in other parts of the world have a “pent up demand” for special operations forces, according to the Pentagon.

They'll be working with the new network of operators in the field partnered with members of agencies like the CIA, FBI and DEA and State Department personnel, as well as their as counterparts from other nations.

The goal is to prevent conflicts before they start and to keep U.S. troops off the battlefield by teaching others how to provide for their own defense, McRaven said.

With less money to spend, and a nation weary of war, the Pentagon wants the military of the future to be “agile, flexible, ready,” according to its planning documents. It will be leaner and rapidly deployable, the documents say, as well as persistent and possessed of operational reach.

These are precisely the qualities of special operations forces, which can fan out quickly across the globe, usually in small numbers, usually working with other militaries and governments to provide training and guidance, McRaven said.

But when it's necessary, no one delivers a lethal response like special operators — Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combat Crews, Army Green Berets, Rangers and aviators, Air Force pilots, pararescue jumpers and combat controllers and Marine commandos.

As Socom commander, McRaven has no direct authority over where these forces are sent or what they do in the field. But he does control the doctrine by which they operate.

Col. Bradin, in his last year of service after a career that began in 1984, is leading a team of more than 100 men and women as chief of the Operational Planning Team with the new Global SOF, for special operations forces.

His mission is to meld McRaven's vision with a framework established by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that calls for increased use of special operations skills.

Bradin's team has been working since April 2012 and has until August to present its plan to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The end result, Bradin said, is a plan that allocates special operations resources in a synchronized way to the six U.S. commands that control troops around the world.
(Continued at the link below)

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