Special Ops to Increase Force Strength to Meet Terror War Demands
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 25, 2005 With the war on terror putting ever-increasing demands on special operations forces, U.S. Special Operations Command is boosting its manpower and increasing its support to theater commands and geographic commanders, according to the general who oversees this elite force.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the command has become the Defense Department's lead in fighting terror, Army Gen. Bryan Brown, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee's emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee April 22.
Special operations forces have applied their direct-action capability to capture or kill terrorists far forward, specifically in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brown said.
At the same time, the command is carrying out a wide range of other missions: helping other countries' militaries become more capable, eliminating the root causes of terrorism through civil affairs activities, and discouraging participation in terrorist groups through psychological operations efforts.
To help meet these challenges, U.S. Special Operations Command plans to increase its force strength by more than 2,300 troops in the next four years, Brown said.
This increase will affect Special Forces, civil affairs, psychological operations, aviation, and Navy special warfare forces, and will include the equivalent of two SEAL teams and about 500 Special Forces troops, he explained.
While boosting force levels, the command is also counting on retention initiatives to help decrease attrition from the ranks, Brown said. These incentives include targeted bonuses for specific specialties and educational benefits.
Thomas O'Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told the subcommittee these initiatives underscore a basic tenet within the special operations community: that humans are more important than hardware. This mindset is particularly evident in the command's efforts "to equip the man rather than man the equipment," O'Connell said.
The specialized capabilities special operations forces bring to the fight are proving invaluable as they take the lead in almost every aspect of the war on terror, he said.
"We are emphasizing training, education and equipment systems that will ensure our (special operations forces) warriors have the technical and tactical skill, regional expertise, language proficiency and specialized equipment necessary to win this war," Brown told the subcommittee.
The war on terror is a long-term conflict that's worldwide in scope and won't end with al Qaeda, he said. "The enemy is patient, tenacious and dedicated in this fight, and we must be the same," Brown said. "U.S. SOCOM is preparing for the long term.