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  • U.S. Special Forces Will Be Weakened by Defense Budget Cuts

    Since the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, President Obama has lauded the mission’s success and championed U.S. Special Forces as a major component of future military operations. Both Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have stressed that, as conventional forces draw down in Iraq and Afghanistan, special operations units will become an increasingly significant component of America’s national security strategy.

    However, the relationship between conventional and nonconventional forces is not so simple. The President makes the assumption that lowering the number of active-duty troops will leave more resources for elite forces. An article in the Washington Examiner exposes a number of weaknesses in this assumption. “Special operations forces are a scalpel, not a Swiss Army knife,” said Heritage’s James Carafano. “They are not a substitute for all the instruments of military power needed to protect the nation’s interests.” Another military official stated: “I have a spare tire in my car, doesn’t mean I’m going to get a flat every day, but I know one day I will.”

    Many proponents of this “leaner” force argue it is unlikely that the U.S. will engage in a large-scale conventional conflict such as Iraq or Afghanistan in the future. Unfortunately, that was the argument made before Korea, Vietnam, and even the two conflicts from which troops are currently withdrawing. The U.S. has consistently failed to predict where or when its next large-scale operation would be. It is irresponsible to hollow out America’s conventional forces based on an assumption that has been incorrect several times in the past.

    Special Forces capabilities will not be left unaffected by reductions to conventional forces. “One consequence of a smaller military will be fewer troops from which to select the men who eventually become Army Delta Force soldiers and Navy SEALs,” the article states. Moreover, as the overall defense budget erodes, so does the support infrastructure for special ops to perform their missions. This was regrettably evident during the failed attempt to rescue 50 American hostages from Iran in 1980. The Obama Administration cannot forget what caused this tragic failure: systematic budget reductions in the aftermath of Vietnam. The special forces unit in Iran was operating helicopters they knew were old and ill-equipped, yet they were the best the military could provide. It may be unfair to assert that the mission would have been a success if newer equipment were available. Nevertheless, it is irresponsible to put America’s forces in harm’s way without the support and funding they require.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to U.S. Special Forces Will Be Weakened by Defense Budget Cuts

    1. David Reed says:

      The public should be educated to the fact that while spectacular raids by units such as DEVGROUP (Navy SEAL Team 6) and CAG ("Delta Force") are critical at dismanteling enemy leadership, it is, in fact, the long term work of units such as the US Army Special Forces ("Green Berets"), Marine Special Operations (MARSOC) and regular "blue water" Navy SEALs (while very capable in their own right, the majority of Navy SEAL personnel are neither trained, nor equipped to conduct the special missions conducted by DEV GROUP). These "regular" special operations personnel don't get to conduct high visibility raids and return to a well-constructed and well-funded base of operations to take a hot shower and high-five.their success while being lauded by the media. These "regular" special operations personnel live among the local Afghan population, eat their food, have no air conditioning and heat, and they engage, or are engaged by the enemy, nearly every day. These are the guys that need the real special attention when it comes to funding.

    2. Rod says:

      “One consequence of a smaller military will be fewer troops from which to select the men who eventually become Army Delta Force soldiers and Navy SEALs,” the article states<<<<

      A bit of a stretch. If that constitutes an insurmountable problem in selection then some folks need to hang it up.

    3. David Reed says:

      Rod, it's not a stretch. Anyone who has worked as cadre, or staff, at either the Navy Spec War Center, or the Army's JFK Special Warfare Center and School, will tell you that selection is a real issue, especially when the amount of potential candidates is dwindling. Plus, today's young men are not what showed up for training ten, or 15 years ago; lots of sedentary lifestyles, video games and internet. If we are trying to grow our SOF, this can be a real problem, unless we just chose to lower the standards (not a good idea). Reduce the manpower, and it just adds to the problem.

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