Thursday, April 16, 2020

LtCol steps into the breach. Says Special Operations Forces are "special" not "elite" (the wording is important!)

via Business Insider.
The word "elite" should never be used to describe SOF, because SOF are special, not elite.

While "special" and "elite" may be conflated in casual conversation, they do not mean the same thing. Elite implies better, whereas special is different. To say that SOF is better raises the question, for what purpose?


Not only is the "elite" description of SOF incorrect, it is potentially dangerous. Over investment in SOF at the expense of conventional military forces would cause degradation in priority mission areas, including those normally assigned to SOF. USSOCOM is guided by the "SOF Truths," the fifth of which states "most special operations require non-SOF assistance."

The mission that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria in 2019 and hundreds more like it could not have been possible without robust support from conventional ground, air, maritime, space, cyber, and logistics capabilities. Conceiving of SOF as elite could also lead to assigning SOF missions that would be better suited for conventional forces, which could lead to mission failure.

Furthermore, the term "elite" is dangerous because self-perceptions of elite-ness can lead to unhealthy hubris among SOF personnel. Those who feel elite may believe they are entitled to act outside the law, or that they are exempt from military standards of discipline.


This dude just fast tracked himself to his first star or he's effectively ended his career.

Either way this is a great read and touches on many issues that JSOC should take under advisement.

For better or worse, America has tired of these small wars.  SOCOM hasn't delivered the win and we appear to engaging in military operations just to engage in military operations.

Either our Special Ops Forces adapt to the changing environment or they'll find themselves cut back dramatically (probably not a bad idea...have thought for a long time that we have excess capacity).

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