Wednesday, January 22, 2014

US expands reach of clandestine Special Ops

From Die Welt.  This is of course based on Turse's recent article on USSOCOM. However, although it repeats some of Turse's sensationalism (or alarmism as the author puts it) it has a little better balance.  Note the British military analyst Rogers' discussion of remote control warfare. We should note that I believe USSOCOM is no longer using the phrase "Global SOF Network."  I thought James Woolsey's dragon and snake analogy is interesting (and somewhat ironic give the historical moniker of snake eaters).  Although the phrase it takes a network to defeat a network has entered the world of buzz phrase bingo I think Pavel makes an important statement about what the majority of SOF is doing in the world:

That much is confirmed by Barry Pavel, vice president of the Atlantic Council think tank who served on the National Security Council (NSC) for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "It takes a network to fight a network," he told DW, adding that most of what SOCCOM does involves cooperating with foreign governments, rather than direct military action. "The largest proportion of USSOCOM is the engagement function - either training, or helping them to get a better sense of how to deal with their own internal threats."

But they do not get to the heart of a key issue until the conclusion where Pavel says:

Pavel agrees that there is a case to be had for a legitimate debate, but also warns about the possible repercussions. "To the extent you make it transparent you actually reduce their effectiveness to a degree. It depends on what you're talking about in terms of transparency."
V/R
Dave 

MILITARY

US expands reach of clandestine Special Ops

The US military is expanding secretive Special Forces at an ever faster rate. Few know the exact reach of these Special Ops, but there are thought to be 11,000 officers on active missions in 80 countries at any one time.
Filmszene Zero Dark Thirty
The US is taking over the world - but not with mass armies and awe-inspiring firepower, but by stealth, with undercover teams of highly-trained, heavily-armed soldiers in night-vision goggles. Sometimes these Special Operations, like the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 or last year's abduction of a suspected al Qaeda chief in Libya, become major news events, or the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, but few people realize the actual extent of "Special Ops" around the world. Reporter Nick Turse of the website TomDispatch.com has written several articles trying to establish how extensive the use of Special Forces is - his guess is that around 11,000 officers are active in 80 countries at any one time.
Occasionally, Turse's pronouncements sound a little alarmist. "The ambitiousness of the creeping decision to bring every inch of the planet under the watchful eyes of US military commanders should take anyone's breath away," he writes. "It's the sort of thing that once might only have been imaginable in movies where some truly malign and evil force planned to 'conquer the world' and dominate Planet Earth for an eternity."
William H. McRaven, head of Special Operations Command
McRaven has presided over a massive expansion of Special Forces
But the massive recent expansion of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) - the integrated military command established in 1987 in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis - is undisputed. Since 2001, USSOCOM's personnel count has grown from 33,000 to well over 63,000 in 2012, and is set to increase further to above 70,000 by 2015. "To put that in perspective, by that time the entire British army will be under 90,000," said Paul Rogers, military analyst at the UK-based Oxford Research Group.
Special Ops - the future of the military
This is part of the vision of USSOCOM chief Admiral William McRaven, who last year presented his new plan: "Special Operations Forces 2020: The Global SOF Network." Not only does USSOCOM include components in all four branches of the US military - it is also embedded in the intelligence community. According to McRaven himself, speaking at a panel discussion at Washington's Wilson Center in 2013: "I have folks in every agency here in Washington, DC - from the CIA, to the FBI, to the National Security Agency, to the National Geospatial Agency, to the Defense Intelligence Agency."
As a result, writes Turse, "SOCOM is weaving a complex web of alliances with government agencies at home and militaries abroad to ensure that it's at the center of every conceivable global hotspot and power center. In fact, Special Operations Command has turned the planet into a giant battlefield, divided into many discrete fronts."
No dragons but snakes
This proliferation of Special Forces is often seen as a direct reaction to the failure and subsequent unpopularity of large-scale occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the trend goes back much further - at least to the end of the Cold War, a time when incoming CIA chief James Woolsey famously said, "Yes, we have slain a large dragon [the Soviet Union], but we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes."
Gesuchter Al-Kaida-Anführer in Tripolis gefasst Nazih Abdul-Hamed al Raghie
Suspected al Qaeda leader al-Liby was seized in Libya last year
That much is confirmed by Barry Pavel, vice president of the Atlantic Council think tank who served on the National Security Council (NSC) for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "It takes a network to fight a network," he told DW, adding that most of what SOCCOM does involves cooperating with foreign governments, rather than direct military action. "The largest proportion of USSOCOM is the engagement function - either training, or helping them to get a better sense of how to deal with their own internal threats."
(Continued at the link below)

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