How Effective Has USSOCOM Been in Fighting the Long War?
The establishment of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in 1987 with the passage of the Nunn-Cohen Amendment to the Defense Reorganization Act of 1987 was designed to fix the problems with Special Operations that were brought to light after the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt at Desert One in 1980. Congress did what the military establishment would not. This legislation provided unity of command and control for Special Operations Forces and elevated Special Operations to a near peer with the Services giving it "service-like" responsibilities as well as a little used Combatant Command authority.
However, in 2009, perhaps it is time for Congress to review their handiwork. Of course many outside the military establishment are enamored with the myth and romanticism of Special Operations. There are so many "groupies" among staffers and in academia that it is hard to see Special Operations for what it really is and what it has become. And within the military, Special Operations has been "hijacked" by a group of hyper-conventional Ranger types and other supporting elements that Special Operations and most important, its heart and soul -- Special Forces - has lost its way. There are so many in and out of the military who claim ties to Special Operations that it is unlikely that there will ever be a critical look at USSOCOM and what it has become.
There is no doubt that Special Operations Forces, including from across the spectrum: the hyper-conventional Special Mission Units including the Rangers and Special Operations Aviation, as well the SEALs, the Air Commandos, the MARSOC Marines and the intellectual, indirect approach experts in Special Forces such as Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations, have made tremendous contributions to the United States' fight against terrorists and insurgents. However, it is important to note that they have done this working for the Combatant Commanders (formerly regional Commander in Chiefs) and Ambassadors and not under USSOCOM.
So let's take a broad look at USSOCOM and specifically focus on its headquarters and what it has done for our nation since 9-11 and what it has become. Congress might want to delve into some of these issues and ask some hard questions.
Yasotay was a Mongol Warlord and fierce fighter who marauded all over Asia aggressively vanquishing any foe by any means. The author is a patriotic American who has been associated with Special Operations in Tampa for more than 20 years. The views he expresses are as a frequent observer of SOF and they are a distillation as a result of numerous conversations with SOF operators at all levels.
Abolish SOCOM - Herschel Smith, The Captain's Journal
Does The United States Still Need a USSOCOM? - Professional Soldiers discussion forum