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Building Allied Capability, Capacity Best Approach, McRaven Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – The best approach to assisting allies in creating peace and stability is teaching them to strengthen their own abilities to defend themselves, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told Congress today.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee to provide his insight on special operations forces’ efforts in counterterrorism.

“Globally, [special operations forces are] in approximately 78 countries from around the world, helping to build partner capacity so that the host nations can deal with their own security problems,” he said.

McRaven said he recently returned from Colombia and the Philippines, where long-term U.S. investment with their special operations forces has dramatically helped to change the security situation in those countries.

“I believe that these efforts -- that is, building allied [special operations] capacity and capability, represent the best approach to dealing with some of the world’s most complex security problems,” he said.

In support of the U.S. defense strategic guidance, McRaven said, Socom is working to strengthen international ties with allied forces. U.S. special operations forces are working to strengthen international partnerships and to build lasting formal and informal networks so the United States and its allies can create a secure environment in unstable areas, and, if necessary, react to an emerging crisis rapidly and effectively, the admiral said.

“In all cases, those special operations forces deployed to foreign lands are working for the geographic combatant commander, with the approval of the chief of mission, and always in support of U.S. policy goals,” McRaven said.

The admiral said while Socom continues the “great work” initiated by his predecessor, Navy Adm. Eric Olson, the command has continued to adapt to the changing strategic and fiscal environment to keep special operations forces relevant now and in the future. He cited changes made to the special operations forces structure operating throughout Afghanistan as an example.

“In Afghanistan, we established a new SOF command structure, which brought the various NATO and U.S. SOF elements into alignment in a two-star headquarters,” he explained. “This has allowed us to have a common view of the enemy and synchronize our SOF to achieve a common end state.”

McRaven said this change has made special operations troops “even more effective than ever before.”

“Partnered with our Afghan [special operations forces], we have continued to attrit the enemy leadership while, at the same time, building and training Afghan security forces so that they can stand on their own against this determined threat,” he said.

McRaven said he has made taking care of his fighting force and their families his top priority.

“In the past year, my command sergeant major and I have met with soldiers and their families from around the Socom enterprise,” he said. “We have listened to their concerns, and with the support of the services, we are aggressively implementing programs and plans to help with the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the force.”

The admiral expressed his gratitude to the senators for their support of his troops and their families.

“We have a professional and moral obligation to take care of our warriors and their families,” he said. “We greatly appreciate the support of your committee and other members on [Capitol] Hill in our efforts to take care of these men and women.”


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Navy Adm. William H. McRaven

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U.S. Special Operations Command

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