Special Operations Today: FSR Interviews LTG Cleveland (Ret.), Formerly Commanding General, USASOC by the Fletcher Security Review
Lieutenant General Charles T. Cleveland, an Army Special Forces Officer, relinquished command of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and retired after 37 years of military service on 01 July 2015. He previously commanded the Special Operations Command Central and Special Operations Command South as well as the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-North during Operation Iraqi Freedom. LTG Cleveland is a native of Arizona and a 1978 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit Medal.
FSR: On a related note, highly kinetic SOF operations tend to get more press than other operations – when prominent terrorists are killed, etc. Can you give examples that you believe to be successes and models for the future for SOF on the lower end of the conflict scale?
LTG Cleveland: I think it’s natural that those types of operations gain a lot of press. Long term we’ve had good success in the Philippines. Working with the Filipino military has gained us a little bit of notoriety. There are some good cases in Africa, including the efforts to counter Koney [Joseph Kony, leader of the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group] and the influence of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the region. There are lots of successes coming from our ability to message to his fighters that there is an alternative. You don’t get a lot of press on that, but those are all good successes from an influence ops standpoint. There are also a lot of places where we have had capability building success. In Colombia, for example, we have shown considerable progress in their development and we’ve done so, by and large, under the radar. It took a long-term, disciplined approach to the campaign…