Thursday, March 09, 2017

US Army Rangers in Syria...does this mean a change in SOCOM operating philosophy?

via Army Times
A team from the 75th Ranger Regiment is operating in Syria as American forces ramp up the fight against ISIS in its capital city. 
The special operators and a Marine artillery unit are positioned in Syria to provide support to the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve in the effort to liberate Raqqa, according to a U.S. Central Command spokesman. 
"The exact numbers and locations of these forces are sensitive in order to protect our forces, but there will be approximately an additional 400 enabling forces deployed for a temporary period to enable our Syrian partnered forces to defeat ISIS in Raqqah," Air Force Lt. Col. John Dorrian told Marine Corps Times in a statement Wednesday. 
Apparently the Strykers were carrying markings that identified the unit as being Army Rangers.  I missed that part, but the idea that Rangers are on the ground and not Special Forces makes me wonder.

Are we seeing a change in philosophy?

Special Forces adopted the raid and only raids concept when the current fighting in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan should be their solo playground.  This is the kind of fight where "combat multipliers" should RULE the day.

But they switched to raids.

The same could be said of Navy SEALs.  It could be said that historically they've been more focused on recon than direct action, but they've recently embraced that as their primary mission.

They've also gone all raids.

There is a problem though.  Terrorists have formed much larger groups and its common to run across at least company sized group if not bigger.  6-8 man sized actions are no longer appropriate.  This can be seen in the sniper communities in both the Army and Marine Corps.  Two man teams have given way to six and now almost platoon sized groups go out hunting.

Is it possible that small unit (meaning smaller than platoon sized) actions are no longer viable?  Could my preaching that on the modern battlefield company sized elements are too vulnerable, even against terrorists and that conventional units should operate at battalion strength?

If the philosophy is changing then we're about to see Rangers and MARSOC come to the fore as the units of choice for special ops missions.  Special Forces and SEALs will have to re-evaluate and probably start operating in company sized elements.  The culture shock for these units will be extreme but I think it's the future...especially if the raids and only raids attitude persists!

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