Small Wars Journal

‘Bob, How Do We Bottle This?’ Making Infantry As Good As Special Ops

‘Bob, How Do We Bottle This?’ Making Infantry As Good As Special Ops by Bob Scales – Breaking Defense

In April 2009 I helped Gen. Jim Mattis host a Conference at the Monaco Hotel in Old Town Alexandria. The event was dedicated to making the Defense Department pay attention to small infantry units, those who were doing virtually all the fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time. We invited all of the ground services with representatives from generals to sergeants. The stars of the show were “Tier I” Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) commandos from Delta, the Rangers and SEALS.

During a morning break as Mattis and I were mixing with these magnificent men, he turned to me and asked prophetically: “Bob, how do we bottle this?” That moment came back to me this week as I watched the grainy videos of men from these same units take Al Baghdadi down. How, indeed, do we bottle them?

But bottle them we must. Today, we face threats far more consequential than a bearded Islamic psychopath. Russia and China now confront us on a global battlefield. Russia in particular has resurrected its army from the ashes of cold war collapse to become a serious competitor in places like central Europe and the Middle East. Their version of “Tier 1” forces — Spetsnaz, airborne, special forces and naval infantry — have shown themselves to be ruthlessly efficient in disparate places like Ukraine and Syria…

Read on.