Thought for the Day

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." - Confucius

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How Joint Special Operations Command Became America’s ‘Perfect Hammer’

I wonder if Sean has public sources for all the people named in the book.  I received the book last night and though I have not read it all yet there is a tremendous amount of information that I do not think has been publicly acknowledged and I suspect a large number of the personnel named in the book probably to did not give permission to be named but were likely named by the apparently many anonymous sources who provided such information.  I am of course not surprised that all the senior officers were named who have been in the public domain but there are a lot of lower ranking personnel whose names I was very surprised to see.  I think some of the "sources" might become obvious because some of them are now television news commentator personalities and their "stories" are treated well.  Also there are quit a few interesting insights about the senior leadership that might come from disgruntled junior members (though there are many lessons that can be learned especially how operations in Afghanistan unfolded from a JSOC/CIA perspective (and Sean does acknowledge that there are differing view points regarding Karzai between JSOC, the CIA and Special Forces.

I wonder where Sean got the definition of Unconventional Warfare: "The use of proxy forces to foment rebellion against an enemy state.  In the U.S. Military it is the primary mission of Special Forces."  Needless to say I am not named in the book and Sean did not ask for my opinion on UW.

But my favorite excerpt (so far) is this on page 162:

But despite - or perhaps because of - his repeated exposure to briefings on the high-end counterterrorism that was JSOC's forte, Rumsfeld's understanding of special operations remained superficial and unbalanced.  He did not recognize the value of unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense (helping an ally defeat an insurgency), which were the specialties of Special Forces as well as SOCOM's psychological operations and civil affairs units.  To Rumsfeld, the value of special operations lay only in the spooky and lethal activities JSOC exemplified, not in training foreign militaries or standing up local militias.  "There were some things that Rumsfeld said and did that indicated that we, his staff, had not fully and well explained to him the nature of special operations forces," said Andrews, a former Special Forces Officer. "He didn't understand and we didn't beat into him an appreciation of counterinsurgency as foreign internal defense, UW [unconventional warfare], the 'white' stuff.

"Rumsfeld ... didn't care about setting up networks, he didn't care about establishing forward operating bases, he didn't want to hear all that shit."  said a Special Forces officer who briefed the secretary frequently.  "He just wanted a way for bodies to show up."  The result was Rumsfeld's almost blind faith in JSOC.  "He didn't truly understand us, but he trusted us," Hall said.   (yes, that is CSM(R) Mike Hall)

I will be using that quote in my next class on Unconventional Warfare for Policy Makers and Strategists. Thank you Sean.

How Joint Special Operations Command Became America’s ‘Perfect Hammer’

  • by Christian Beekman 
  •  Sept. 2, 2015 
  •  3 min read 
  •  original
America’s most elite special operations units have increasingly found themselves in the spotlight. After the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates and Operation Neptune Spear, the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, colloquially known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team 6, became the subject of immense public interest. But many outside the military have never heard about the shadowy command that SEAL Team Six, Delta Force, and other special missions units answer to: the Joint Special Operations Command.
JSOC oversees planning for joint unconventional operations, and conducts much of the “black” side of special operations. A new book, “Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command,” from author and former Army Times journalist Sean Naylor aims to highlight JSOC’s history over the past 30 years. It also illustrates how JSOC moved to the forefront of combating insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Relentless Strike” isn’t the first time Naylor has covered the units under JSOC. His previous book, “Not a Good Day To Die:The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda” is a quintessential account of the March 2002 battle in Afghanistan’s Shahikot Valley, an operation that Naylor was present for as an embedded reporter. Operators from Delta Force, SEAL Team 6, and other JSOC units played a pivotal role in Anaconda, so Naylor is covering some familiar ground. Much like his previous book, Naylor explores the full breadth of the units and personnel involved. From the high-level politicking surrounding JSOC’s formation to the individual operators kicking doors in Iraq, “Relentless Strike” isn’t daunted by the scale of JSOC’s operations.
At the center of the book is the narrative of how JSOC evolved from a small organization with a highly specific counterterrorism mission to the the direct-action juggernaut it is today. The first part of “Relentless Strike” deals with JSOC’s genesis in the wake of the failed Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrous attempt to rescue American hostages held in revolutionary Iran in April 1980. Then, JSOC was mainly focused on a limited set of counterterrorism missions, like the rash of the airplane hijackings and hostage takings during the 1980s. While Delta and the rest of JSOC came close to actually getting the green light on various rescues during their two decades of operational status, their first operations successes came in support of more conventional operations in Grenada and Panama.
The book’s other narrative thrust starts here: the tendency of JSOC being handed difficult mission sets, regardless of whether JSOC was really suited for the problem; highlighting the missions given to SEAL Team 6 in Grenada in 1983, and a regular SEAL team’s airfield assault in Panama in 1989. The book also delves into some of the inauspicious details of JSOC’s birth; such as the fly-by-night antics of SEAL Team 6 founder Richard Marcinko, whose hard-drinking training regimen and unauthorized unit expenditures tainted the unit’s reputation to the point that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell considered disbanding the unit all together in the early 1990s.
(Continued at the link below)

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