Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lawmakers Skeptical of Global Spec Ops Plan

Paul McLeary has performed an important service with this article. We have known about the friction with Congress for some time but I do not think that we have heard specific criticisms on the record from this range of Congressmen.  And with all due respect to the Congressman, I think many of the views illustrate how little many really understand the nature of Special Operations beyond capturing and killing high value targets and the raid on Bin Laden. Of course we have a responsibility to educate politicians, policy makers and strategists so that they understand special operations (and in particular the offensive strategic option of unconventional warfare to be conducted by US military and interagency forces as well as the full range of missions and activities to counter unconventional warfare that is being conducted against us and our friends, partners, and allies).  We do need to pay attention to the criticisms on transparency because what it really means is that we need to help educate them and this takes a lot more than a Capabilities Exercise demonstration or an Ambassadors Orientation brief. 

However, if we do not get Congress back in support of USSOCOM (and as I have mentioned there is some irony in that USSOCOM would not exist if it were not for Congress and now Congress appears to be very suspicious and critical of USSOCOM), my real fear is that Congress and others will cause us to throw the baby out with the bathwater because of the friction over the Global SOF Network.  Traditional Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations missions and activities among others need to be conducted and and for the foreseeable future more than ever.  We do not need a Global SOF Network necessarily to conduct those activities though a comprehensive national strategy for conducting those activities integrated with and in support of the Geographic Combatant Commands and the Chiefs of Mission would be a good start.  There is a lot more to be discussed, debated, and written on this topic and I hope a lot of people weigh in and help shape this in the proper way.

Lawmakers Skeptical of Global Spec Ops Plan

Aug. 10, 2013 - 09:35AM   |  
 By PAUL McLEARY   |   Comments
Night Strike: A US Army Ranger squad keeps watch during a nighttime raid in Iraq. A plan to link operators, interagency personnel and allies into a global network is encountering resistance from lawmakers and at least one combatant commander.
Night Strike: A US Army Ranger squad keeps watch during a nighttime raid in Iraq. A plan to link operators, interagency personnel and allies into a global network is encountering resistance from lawmakers and at least one combatant commander. (US Army Special Operations Command)
WASHINGTON — Sometime next month, the heads of the US military’s global combatant commands will convene at the Tampa, Fla., headquarters of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to be briefed on an ambitious and controversial plan to revamp the way special operators deploy around the globe.
The concept is the brainchild of Adm. William McRaven, who has been working toward fully unveiling the plan since taking command of SOCOM in 2011. The idea is to establish a formal framework in which US special operations forces (SOF), interagency partners and foreign allies join an alliance that promotes the sharing of intelligence, partner engagement, training and, if necessary, direct action.
McRaven has been on the stump actively promoting the idea for well over a year now while taking great pains to assure skeptical military officials that he isn’t trying to usurp their power by setting up a new global command structure. Despite his efforts, however, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and at least one combatant commander have expressed concern over the proposal, called the “Global SOF Network.”
The move comes at a heady time for a defense bureaucracy stressed by simultaneously wrapping up a war and planning for a new era with smaller budgets. These stressors are particularly acute at SOCOM headquarters, where the moment also represents a rapidly closing window of opportunity to solidify gains in manpower, budget and prestige it has won since 2001.
In explaining the need for more SOF-led coordination across the US military’s regional commands, McRaven told an audience at an SOF convention in May that “there is no such thing as a local problem any more. If you have a problem in Mali, it will manifest itself in Europe. And that problem in Europe will manifest itself in the Far East. Then the problem in the Far East will manifest itself in the Middle East.
“The world is linked, and therefore we need to be linked,” he said. “We have to build a network to defeat the enemy network.”
But what that network would look like, who it would report to, how it would interact with established command structures, how it would be funded and how the 66,000 — soon to be 72,000 — members of SOCOM would fit into it are all questions that have yet to be fully answered.
Officials at SOCOM did not reply to multiple phone and email requests for comment.
According to multiple sources, these issues came to a head this summer, when the chief of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Kelly, rejected a key part of the plan after he was briefed on the idea of building a “regional SOF coordination center” in Colombia.
The center is a cornerstone of McRaven’s plan, as it would serve as a place where military and civilian agencies can coordinate efforts while advising host nation forces.
The problem with the site in Colombia was that representatives from SOCOM began discussions with Colombian officials about building the $15 million facility without working through SOUTHCOM first, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.
“SOUTHCOM is saying no way, and SOUTHCOM has the trump card on that,” one former SOF officer said.
In a statement, Kelly took issue with reports of his opposition, saying that “I am absolutely for this concept and I talk with Bill McRaven all the time. There are things we need to work out with the State Department, but the more for this area of the world, the better.”
“I think there are concerns about redundancy in an era of fiscal austerity and perhaps a lingering sense of SOF going off on its own,” said Linda Robinson, whose book, “One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare,” comes out this fall.
(Continued at this link)

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