Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Globalization of U.S. Special Operations Forces


David Isenberg
IPS
May 24, 2012
It was recently reported that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) commander Adm. Bill McRaven and Deputy Director of Operations Brig. Gen. Sean Mulholland want to establish a worldwide network linking special operations forces (SOF) of allied and partner nations to combat terrorism.
If created, the network would comprise regional security coordination centres, organised and structured similarly to NATO SOF headquarters in Mons, Belgium.
According to Mulholland, these centres would not be command-and- control nodes but rather centres for education, networking and coordination to gain regional solutions for regional problems.
Mulholland estimated it would cost less than 30 million dollars a year to operate and maintain each regional node, although that is a figure that some observers consider laughably small.
SOCOM plans to stand up the first one in Miami-based U.S. Southern Command later in 2013, with Mulholland tapped to command integrated SOF in Central and South America.
This plan may seem ultra-ambitious but given the demand on and pace of U.S. SOF activities in recent years it hardly comes as a surprise. The forces will be conducting missions in 120 countries by year’s end, up from about 75 currently. And while they account for only three percent of the military as a whole, they make up more than seven percent of the forces assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan.
This activity is increasing as the U.S. Special Operations Command’s budget is set to remain flat. The command’s fiscal 2013 budget request is 10.4 billion dollars – essentially the same as its current budget. But the budget for the Special Operations Command has more than quadrupled since 2001, as has the number of deployments.

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