Small Wars Journal

U.S. SOF: America's Avengers Deserve an Advocate

U.S. SOF: America's Avengers Deserve an Advocate by Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, James R. Locher III and Thomas Trask – The Hill

With the successful raid of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound, we are reminded yet again of the critical importance of special operations forces (SOF) to U.S. national security. And although al-Baghdadi’s demise is not a death knell for the Islamic State, it is still a huge blow to the organization and exemplifies how SOF is uniquely capable of achieving strategic effects with tactical efforts. America’s special operators – on the ground, in the air, on or under the sea, and their supporting enablers – are true American superheroes. 

Also striking in the last week was the release of a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper from the so-called “Big Four:” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). In the letter, the leaders of both Armed Services Committees detailed their concern that SOF does not have sufficient civilian oversight and advocacy in the Department of Defense (DoD). They are not satisfied with the department’s implementation of mandatory reforms of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC) as first laid out in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Amazingly, the SO/LIC office responsible for implementing the key NDAA reforms was just recently moved out of the Pentagon to the remote Mark Center in Alexandria. Adding insult to injury, the acting ASD SO/LIC resigned the same day as the release of the congressional letter…

Read on.