View Full Version : SOCOM Future

04-07-2006, 11:15 PM
7 April Washington Times - Inside the Ring (http://www.washtimes.com/national/inring.htm).

One of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's key priorities for transforming the U.S. military remains turning the U.S. Special Operations Command (Socom) into an aggressive strategic warfighting component...

Pentagon officials tell us the command has resisted the change. A study produced last fall for Mr. Rumsfeld by retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, a former Socom commander, was critical of the command under its current leader, Army Gen. Doug Brown.

"Socom was criticized as little more than a planning staff that lacks operational focus," said one Pentagon source familiar with the report. Many in Socom are frustrated. One officer described duty there as a daily series of meetings...

04-08-2006, 08:30 AM
8 April Washington Post commentary - Special Operations: Need to Know (http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/earlywarning/2006/04/special_operati.html) by William Arkin.

If ever there were a bloody bureaucratic war entailing a high number of paper-cuts, it has been the fight between U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the other Defense Department regional commands, between SOCOM and the Joint Chiefs, between SOCOM and the CIA, and between SOCOM and the State Department.

The fight is over the powers that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to grant special operators to conduct not only their own "covert" operations -- called "special activities" in military parlance.

Traditionally, all special operations take place under the authority of a regional commander. For instance, in Iraq, special operations are controlled by U.S. Central Command. The issue here is independent operations, -- special operations outside of the purview or control of other commands, or even other agencies of the U.S. government (the State Department)...

Bill Moore
04-09-2006, 04:50 PM
Part of SOCOM's reluctance to take the lead may be that it simply doesn't make sense in most cases. The Geographic Combatant Commands are much better suited for addressing the threats in their areas of responsibility, and have been doing so for numerous years. 9/11 was not a failure of the GCCs, but of policy and intelligence. The GCCs system enabled us to defeat a global communist insurgency by coordinating with all the relevant interagency players and DoD services to bring the right mix of forces to bear on the problem. There is simply no way that a single Hqs like SOCOM can C2 the war around the world, nor in my opinion should they. SOCOM leadership probably understands this, while frustrated junior staff officers may not.

The real problem isn't C2 arrangements, it is lack of imagination and designing appropriate strategies to address the threats we're dealing with today. SOCOM has done a lot to empower SOF, but still there is a reluctance to employ them in ways where they could be "much" more effective in enabling the GCC commander to achieve his objectives. That doesn't mean the C2 system is wrong, but rather that we might have the wrong people in those C2 positions. If a particular GCC commander isn't using all his forces to their max capability to address the threat, especially SOF, then fire them.

We rarely see SOF general officers raise above the two star level, because our system isn't designed to produce the number of senior generals that the services do. Perhaps it would be more effective to put Special Forces (note it is important we bring in the right skill sets, and SF officers understand the full spectrum of SOF more so than other SOF officers) generals in those command positions at the GCCs.

It has been my observation that you can't fix a system by establishing a new one, but still leaving the old one in place, which is what the attempt to make SOCOM the lead appears to be. The GCCs "can" be very capable, they just need the right leadership. In the cold war the Navy, Air Force, and Big Army were main effort, and rightfully so they provided the four stars that sat the helm. In the long war, SOF will be the main effort for most actions associated with this war, and they should be empowered by placing SOF personnel in appropriate command positions.

SOCOM can continue its important title X responsibilities, but also serve as a planning assitance headquarters, providing subject matter experts to the GCCs and other agencies on irregular type warfare.

I'm interested in hearing the counter arguments to this one.