Anti-Terror War Requires 'Robust' Special Operations Role
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2004 Prosecuting the war against terrorism necessitates taking the fight to the enemy rather than waiting for another 9-11-style assault, a senior DoD civilian leader said here today.
"The stakes are so high that we must take action before the threats ripen and destruction is again brought to our shores," Thomas W. O'Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, said to attendees at a downtown defense industry symposium.
Accordingly, O'Connell said he supports President Bush's policy of taking pre- emptive military action against global terrorists.
Such a policy, he pointed out, "necessitates a new, more robust, and increasingly critical role" for U.S. special operations forces.
The special operations community is now undergoing transformation, O'Connell explained, to be employed proactively and globally to better confront terrorism threats. However, special operations will maintain its capability to respond to other contingencies and to assist allies, he emphasized, such as the training of Colombian military to fight narcotics traffickers.
"SOLIC must be ready to act at any time in all environments," he pointed out. O'Connell said SOLIC has achieved considerable success as "the primary DoD tool for fighting the war on terror." Still, he acknowledged, "Much remains to be done."