Pretty powerful BLUF here. While I am a little bit partial to SOF I do have to say that there is no one force or one capability or one instrument of national power that is a war winner (or war preventer) by itself. I do worry that there are some (not this author of course) who view SOF as a silver bullet or a substitute for using other tools when they may be more appropriate to include large scale employment of conventional forces. To me the solution to the "problem" of employment of SOF lies with strategists and campaign planners and the requirement to employ the right forces for the right missions.
The future of global security—from both non-state and state actors—will depend on preventing slow-burning and asymmetric threats from sowing instability abroad. Fully supporting the roles and resources of special operations is the best, most effective way to ensure America retains its strength and security.
...Recommended Changes:Equalize funding, resourcing, and personnel between direct and indirect SOF missions.Decrease deployment rates to support the long-term readiness of the force.Leverage the Army and U.S. Marine Corps to serve greater roles in indirect GCC operations.SOF operational planning and synchronization should be pushed down to the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs).Strengthen SOF personnel and operational oversight.
Some important recommendations but I have a few quick comments:
I disagree with the use of the word equalize in terms of funding. I think that the special warfare and surgical strike missions should be correctly resourced. That does not necessarily mean they should be equal.
Decreasing deployment rates is necessary but I worry too much that the pendulum will swing too far. Soldiers join SOF to deploy overseas. What we need is the correct priority placed on deployments - they must support campaign objectives and strategies and not simply a deployment because someone wants to io They want to do this and if they are deprived because they have to be "rested" based on some arbitrary time criteria morale will suffer. Effective Special Warfare (which includes UW and counter-UW and supports Political Warfare) is counter-intuitively characterized by slow and deliberate employment – long duration actions and activities, relationship establishment, development, and sustainment. These are long term activities and required investment in people and commitment of time.
I chuckle (respectfully) at the comment about Marine history and small wars. I remember the pull between small wars and amphibious operations and Major Ellis' work in the interwar years. I think a similar tug of war exists in the Corps today and one also in the Army between large scale military operations versus engagement, building partner capacity stability operations and counterinsurgency.
Yes, TSOCs should be the focal point for SOF campaigning in theater. If they cannot be properly resourced(with personnel and forces) for campaigning then they will require long term and continuous augmentation from the SOF CONUS base.
The 2017 NDAA is going to codify the oversight function with the establishment by law of the Special Operations Policy Oversight Council and the insertion of the ASD SO/LIC into the ADCON chain of command giving ASD SO/LIC a service like responsibility and authority. This may be a major inflection point for SOF.
Lastly I wonder if this is not a Freudian slip: :-)
The future of global security and the fight against counterterrorism—from both non-state and state actors—will depend on preventing slow-burning and asymmetric threats from sowing instability abroad. Fully supporting the roles and resources of special operations is the best, most effective way to ensure America retains its strength and security.
Are we fighting against terrorists or are we fighting against the overemphasis on the counterterrorism mission?