Saturday, January 07, 2012

Rationalizing Special Ops. A look at roles.

The SecDef and the President have all called for expanding the number of Special Operations Units that we have.  Question that no one wants to face is this.

Why and how will you employ those units?

Looking at the lineup of Special Operations Units you will see nothing but overlap in roles and mission sets.

*US Army Rangers-  Raid specialist.  Provide backup to other Special Ops Units.
*US Army Special Forces- They used to be trainers of indigenous forces and would lead those forces in actions against the enemy.  Thats changed.  Training indigenous forces is now a conventional skill set and Special Forces is a raid unit.
*US Navy SEALs- Raid specialist that operate from the sea.  I don't know if they've given up the mission of recon, but its painfully apparent that its raiding thats a primary focus.
*USAF Combat Controllers- Provide terminal guidance for air forces.  Act as pathfinders for air assaults.
*USAF Combat Weathermen- Provide weather information at the site of a raid, air assault or bombing mission.
*USAF Para-rescue- Recovery of downed personnel or Special Ops and provide medical treatment.
*USMC Special Ops- Raid specialist that operate from the sea.  All indications are that recon is a distant second mission set.
*US Navy SWCC- Provide transport to Navy SEAL teams or other Special Ops units.
*160th Night Stalkers- Provide transport to Special Ops units.
*USAF Special Ops Air Wing- Provide transport to Special Ops units.

Do you get the drift?

Every one of our special ops trigger pulling units is now focused on raiding.  Everyone.  Even US Army Special Forces that once had language requirements and areas of specialization have given that up to focus on raids.  All of them train for ship boarding ops.  All train for hostage rescue.

But the main focus is raids.

Ideally, we would rationalize Special Ops into fewer units.

Raids- US Army Rangers

Maritime Ops- US Navy SEALs/Force Recon

Special Ops full spectrum missions- US Army Special Forces

That would stream line Special Ops, remove it from being a separate service and would push these units back underneath the custody of their parent service.

Or more precisely under the command of the secretary of each service.

I still don't see a need for USAF Combat Controllers, Weathermen or Para-rescue.  Each one of these units have Pathfinder qualified personnel and SEAL/Force Recon/Ranger/Special Forces trained Corpsmen/Medics.

I see a need to keep the 160th as currently composed but will need to learn more about the "Best Kept Secret" in the Navy (SWCC).  Not sure about the USAF Special Ops Air Wing either but need to learn more.

As a sidenote, I would think that if the USMC is forced to go below 175,000 boatspaces then any idea of expanding USMC Special Ops is probably a non-starter.

Additionally, the USMC still needs deep recon and since Force is gone, I highly recommend that our SNIPER platoons be tasked with the mission.  No raiding, just recon and shooting.