Transformation, War on Terror Top Special Ops Command's 2004 Request
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 28, 2003 Fighting global terrorism and transforming were atop the message list from a top combatant command official to a Senate subcommittee recently.
"We have seen great change in our nation as America takes action against terrorism," said Army Lt. Gen. Bryan D. Brown, deputy head of U.S. Special Operations Command in early April before the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. "As you know, USSOCOM has been a key player in that response."
Brown said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks "clearly demonstrated" that determined terrorists will go to any lengths to inflict catastrophic losses on Americans, whether civilian or military personnel.
"Of greater importance is the fact that these terrorists have chemical, biological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive weapons and the desire to kill as many Americans as possible and undermine our nation's interests and influence around the world," he continued. Brown pointed out special operations command's vital role is bringing terrorists to justice or by "taking justice directly to them."
The command includes Army special operations aviation, Special Forces, Rangers, civil affairs and psychological operations forces; Air Force special operations aviators and special tactics squadrons; and Navy sea, air, and land (SEAL), SEAL delivery vehicle teams, and special boat teams.
"Daily civil affairs teams and other (special operations forces) continue to play an active role in Afghanistan to ensure we win the peace," Brown pointed out. "Our activities in Operation Enduring Freedom have given the world a much clearer insight into the skills, dedication, and power across the spectrum of America's (special operations forces), specifically as part of a larger joint and interagency team each bringing their specific skills and capabilities to the team." His testimony did not include the then-emerging special operators' more recent publicized actions with coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Along with pursuing the war on terror, Brown pointed to the command's transformation "journey." "The hallmark of (special operations forces) is that they are always open to change and 'out-of-the-box' thinking," he said.
One well-documented result of such thinking was special operators' use of horses in the Operation Enduring Freedom campaign, what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the "first U.S. cavalry attack of the 21st century."
"USSOCOM is transforming intelligence and interagency capabilities not to locate and destroy large enemy combat elements," the general remarked, "but to locate and track individual terrorists across the globe and conduct small surgical operations with minimal risk to the employed force."
He pinpointed support to other combatant commanders, such as special ops' presence in European Command's Bosnia and Kosovo efforts, and part of Pacific Command's support to combating terrorism in the Philippines and taking part in exercises with South Korea. He also detailed efforts with Southern, Central and Joint Forces and Northern commands.
Brown said his command contributes solidly to the National Security Strategy by going after the terrorists wherever they lurk. "Our ubiquitous presence as 'global scouts' serves to assure our allies and friends of the United States' resolve," he said. The intent, Brown added, is to "seize and maintain the initiative" through constant pressure against known or suspected terrorist organizations and infrastructure.
The command's expanded role "will generate changes in our manpower, organizational structure, facilities, equipment and special programs relating to the expanded responsibilities," he noted.
Global access remains vital to preserving U.S. national security, Brown stated, so special ops forces "must have the ability to access and operate anywhere in the world, in any mission environment from benign to hostile."
Brown also detailed risks facing his command in operations, force management and future challenges. Keeping operational risk low, for example, includes having the right force size to conduct effective operations and to improve strike and mobility capabilities.
He said in many ways force-management risk is the most critical problem. He pointed out that the special operations community must retain seasoned personnel to get a good return on investment in areas such as training and education.
"For example, today's Green Beret is the only operational specialty that requires a foreign language for qualification a critical skill that must be retained as we posture for future operations," Brown said. He included "retention of mid- and senior-grade personnel and growing the force to meet current as well as emerging operational requirements" as important issues.
In the area of future challenges, he discussed improving information capabilities to support global operations across regions, such as in urban areas and for long periods in "anti-access" environments.
To meet these and other challenges to come, Brown testified that the command embraces transformation "to tap into diverse areas, such as commercial information technologies, utilization of space, biomedicine, environmental science, organizational design and commercial research and development."
His snapshot of the 21st century special operator combines "a warrior ethos with language proficiency, cultural awareness, political sensitivity, and the ability to maximize information-age technology."
The general said that his forces must be smart, fast and able to come up with creative solutions and coherent choices. He talked about other transformation actions, such as the Army's agreement to activate two more active duty and four reserve PSYOP companies. He said the command was planning a technology demonstration to increase the range of putting PSYOP products into denied areas. He also anticipated getting a model upgrade to the Commando Solo television and radio broadcast aircraft that has proven so useful in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The deputy commander also pointed to the fusing of a Marine Corps USSOCOM detachment into a naval special warfare squadron. His command and the Marine Corps have signed an agreement where a Marine force "will jointly train and deploy with naval special warfare in the spring of 2004."
To carry out the command's plans, Brown offered details on the 2004 request of nearly $7 billion. Part of the funding calls for about $2.2 million toward better pay, allowances and special pays for the command's nearly 50,000 military personnel, about one-third of them in the reserve component.
Brown also mentioned that, thanks to DoD's recognizing the need for more special ops personnel, SOCOM would increase by more than 3,800 during the next five years mainly to support manning requirements for the war on terror.
He said the budget request would also provide money for operations and maintenance, for procuring new equipment, and for investing in future technologies.
Upgrades are planned for the MH-53, MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters. The AC-130 gunship will also undergo thorough "survivability and capability" modifications, while the Air Force is providing the command with 10 more C-130s for conversion to MC-130s.
Improvements to both the helicopter and plane fleets will augment special operators' ability to penetrate into sensitive areas. These programs would keep, for example, the rotary-wing fleet "relevant well past 2020," Brown said.
In addition, he said the command is committed to the Air Force CV-22 model of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for special operations' use. He noted that the aircraft's long range, high speed and vertical lift "fills a long- standing mission requirement not met by any other existing fixed or rotary-wing platform."
Other plans include procuring the advanced SEAL delivery system, a specially designed combat submarine for special operators' undersea mobility. Also in the mix is converting four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines into dual-role platforms to give special ops forces "unprecedented worldwide access for both the SEAL delivery system and vehicles.
Brown said the command's research and development activities included design completion of the advanced tactical laser, a directed-energy weapon best described as a man-made bolt of lightning. The high-energy laser beam will deliver intense thermal energy on targets such as sophisticated computer and electronic components in weapons, and damage or destroy enemy equipment.
Brown said the command research initiatives also include improving body armor and chemical protection. He mentioned that special operators were the first to use a new life- saving hemostatic bandage, which Brown said offers proof that "humans are more important hardware."
When applied to a wound, the dressing stops bleeding as effectively as surgical closure by causing the blood to clot quickly. "We aim to put this technology into the hands of every soldier, hoping to end preventable hemorrhage on the battlefield," he said.
Brown concluded his testimony by acknowledging the sacrifices of the men and women killed in direct support of the war on terrorism since October 2001 and those lost or wounded in combat.
"Let us never forget those who have paid the last full measure," he said. "We face adversaries who would destroy our way of life. In response, (special operations forces) will not rest until we have achieved victory in the war on terrorism."