Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Examining The Special Ops 'Tool Kit'

Unfortunately I think we may be losing the ability to provide quiet solutions. Two relatively routine raids for the forces that conduct them and they have become talk of the town.  

But where there are problem areas, they are looked to to provide a quiet solution. 

I know that we are rediscovering our SOF (or more appropriately our SF roots)  and I guess partnership and partnering are the new terms of art but they are not without precedence in SOF and SF.  We really do need to look to our roots for a vision of the future.

ROBINSON: Well, what I think no country wants is a full-bore U.S. occupation or heavy footprint, as we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Special Operations Forces get training in language. They spend a lot of time in these countries. So they're perceived to have the best cultural knowledge and the relationships to go in and work with these countries' forces.

ROBINSON: It is absolutely the future. And the special operations forces can't be everywhere, nor, of course, should they be everywhere. But where there are problem areas, they are looked to to provide a quiet solution. And I think that is not only the direction of U.S. policy, but I think that it has - is a formula that can work as long as they pay close attention to what that local government wants and needs, and not go in as the dominant occupying force.

I think Linda's second paragraph above is a recognition of the importance of Strategic Landpower and the conventional and special operations forces interdependence (especially Army, Marines, and SOF) outlined in the 2012 Army Capstone Concept (some 9 times I think it was mentioned). 

But I am very leery of establishing a formula for this type of work.  Every SOF activity has to be based on thorough and ongoing assessments (area study and area assessments to put them in SF terms) which I think is what Linda is getting at after she mentions formula)  and campaign plans developed and adapted based on those assessment with the recognition that each country, threat, and opportunity is unique and must be addressed accordingly.

As a start point I wish people would re-read the 1962 edition of Special Warfare magazine as well as BG Richard Stilwell's  71 page memo on "Army Activities in Underdeveloped Areas Short of Undeclared War" written in 1961.  https://db.tt/DONF7c8h 

We should also read the 1963 doctrine for US Army Counterinsurgency Forces – and look at the later establishment of the Special Action Force (8th SAF in Panama and SAFASIA in Okinawa).

What is old is new again and we should begin with reviewing our history if we want to conduct these types of missions in the future.
V/R
Dave

Examining The Special Ops 'Tool Kit'
October 08, 2013 4:00 AM

Renee Montagne talks to Linda Robinson about the raids by U.S. Special Operations Forces in Libya and Somalia over the weekend. Robinson is author of "One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare. She says drones and raids are a key part of the game plan by Special Ops.
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Two raids by U.S. Special Operations Forces days ago caught the world's attention. In Libya, U.S. operatives captured a man named Abu Anas al-Libi, thought to be the al-Qaida mastermind behind the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
In Somalia, Navy SEALs stormed the villa of a different man wanted by the United States, a Kenyan-born senior leader of the terrorist group al-Shabab. That raid was not successful. Meeting heavy resistance, the Special Forces were forced to withdraw.
MONTAGNE: The timing of the two raids, almost simultaneous, may suggest they were coordinated. Linda Robinson believes that's just a coincidence. Robinson has spent many years tracking U.S. Special Forces, and she's written about them in her new book, "One Hundred Victories." Linda Robinson says while we may be used to be hearing about drones taking out terrorist targets, raids - like those in Libya and Somalia - are a key part of what you might call the special ops toolkit.
LINDA ROBINSON: I think toolkit's a good word, and the Special Operations Forces use three basic modes of operating: the raid, drones, of course, and partner forces. And Africa has been a venue where all of them have been used. But there's a general transition to start focusing on the partner forces. However, in this case, in Somalia, where they feel they have to grab someone, the intelligence is right. And in the case of Libya, you had Abu al-Anas, who was already indicted in New York for the 1998 bombings.
MONTAGNE: When you say partner forces, in fact, in Somalia, officials there welcome this raid against al-Shabab. Libyans, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction, condemning the raid that netted this al-Qaida leader, calling it a violation of their sovereignty. So, it would seem that here was a situation where at least partner forces aren't anything anyone wants to be public about. So, will we see more of this: operations done in countries that at least say they were not part of it?
ROBINSON: I think it is important to separate the two cases. You do note, of course, that the Libyan government has protested, and I think this is something that the U.S. always tries to justify by saying our national interest - and in this case, our court system - allows us to go in this fashion. In the case of Somalia, that was a raid. There were, reportedly, U.S. SEALs involved, but they were also making use of the partner formula. This is a really interesting story. It's involved the African Union mission in Somalia getting together a number of countries in East Africa. The U.S. Special Operations Forces have played a role in training Kenyan and some of the other members of this coalition. You really have a collection of countries coming together to try to secure Somalia and have diminished the threat from Shabab. So we may be seeing now Shabab may be focused more on trying to launch attacks elsewhere.
(Continued at the link below)

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