Although a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and former Congressman, this essay is illustrative of those who do not have a deep appreciation for or understanding of special operations. He would perpetuate the myth that special operations merely consists of direct actions raids and counterterrorism.
Then again, it could be all politics and it is easy to cherry pick from ADM McRaven's speeches and the operation concept to be able to support a political agenda. Although he says that he understands special "operating" forces he should know that SOF that conducts special warfare possesses very lethal capabilities. And I explained this to him when I testified before the subcommittee that he was a member of in 2012:
Special warfare is the execution of activities that involve a combination oflethal and nonlethal actions taken by a specially trained and educated forcethat has a deep understanding of cultures and foreign language, proficiencyin small-unit tactics, and the ability to build and fight alongside indigenouscombat formations in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment.
Special Operations forces now to focus on “trust”
Written by Allen West on March 24, 2014
Thanks to movies like “Lone Survivor” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” America has a greater and fuller appreciation of our elite warriors of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). We know they are lethal shadow warriors who carry out dangerous and deadly missions.
But that may be changing.
According to a report from the National Review, there is a new mission statement for the unified Special Operations Forces: to achieve strategic outcomes by working with and through interagency and foreign partners to understand and influence relevant populations.
The National Review reports that at a special Council on Foreign Relations group presentation at the United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, famed Admiral William H. McRaven started the briefing with the new command motto, “You can’t surge trust.”
I wish I could decipher what all this means but it sure sounds like some political gobbledygook to me. So there you have it — operations to find, capture, and kill our enemies will have lesser value to our nation in the future. And I beg to differ that they are not decisive — killing bad guys is certainly decisive for that designated bad guy.
But now, rather than focusing solely on capturing or killing the bad guys, the new mission is also to shape public opinion.
The SOF Operating Concept includes a goal of “Elevating SOF non-lethal skills to the same level of expertise as lethal skills.” I understand the full compliment of mission sets that our Special Operating Forces train for and deploy to achieve. What I don’t want to see is a paradigm shift that elevates a certain “political” mentality over reality. I’m quite certain I’m not alone in preferring our elite warriors maintain a higher level of lethal capacity and capability than anyone else on the globe.
What’s next? We trade out that venerable 1966 song, “The Ballad of the Green Berets” sung by Army SSG Barry Sadler, for Katy Perry singing “Roar?”