Tuesday, October 17, 2006
a specialist, not a ventriloquist, don't hang out with suckas worth less than piss:
Sean Naylor is a fantastic defense reporter, and his new piece in Armed Forces Journal should be required reading to anyone interested in the future of the U.S. military. This is going to get very wonky, but Naylor has gotten deep into the latest military controversy to bubble up from the Pentagon: Poorly-thought out mandates in the Quadrennial Defense Review to expand Special Operations Forces far beyond reason, without strategic consideration and without a sense of either a realistic timetable for expansion or its effects on mission-capability. I told you we were going to get wonky!

The 10,000 soldiers in the Army's five active and two National Guard Special Forces groups make up the largest component of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCom) and are the U.S.' pre-eminent exponents of unconventional warfare (working with guerrilla groups to overthrow an enemy regime) and foreign internal defense (training friendly governments to defend themselves against insurgencies). But many SF officers feel that U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) has left them in the dark about how it plans to deliver on the QDR's promise to expand the number of SF battalions by a third over the next several years. They are deeply concerned that, despite the generals' protestations to the contrary, a rushed expansion of Army special operations forces will result in an SF contingent that, while bigger on paper, will contain half-filled units manned by troops who are less mature, less experienced and less skilled in languages and foreign cultures than SF soldiers traditionally have been.

Ultimately, active and retired Special Forces officers said, any attempt to expand Army special operations without a corresponding increase in the size of the regular Army from which the special ops units recruit is doomed to failure and risks pushing Special Forces away from its unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense missions toward the direct-action role that is already the specialty of the Rangers, Delta Force and Navy SEALs.

--Spencer Ackerman