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Subject: Unconventional warfare v. direct action.
longrifle    7/4/2006 6:11:34 PM
I found this article on another board and thought it looked like something that would interest a lot of readers here. I remember reading that Colonel Aaran Bank warned about this when SF was first formed. He was concerned that SF would be used as a commando force when so much more could be accompolished by using them as a force mulitplier. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- By Sean D. Naylor Army Times staff writer U.S. Special Operations Command must not allow a focus on ?direct action? missions to kill or capture enemies to overwhelm its responsibility for the more ?indirect? methods associated with unconventional warfare, a panel of experts warned Congress on June 29. ?This struggle is more than the global manhunt, it?s more than the direct action piece, it?s more than combat,? retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, a former SOCom chief, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities. ?These are necessary activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they are not enough,? Downing said. Downing was speaking at a hearing on SOCom?s missions and responsibilities. In their opening statements, Reps. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., the subcommittee chairman, and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., the panel?s ranking Democrat, both raised the issue of whether the command is focused too much on direct action at the expense of unconventional capabilities that could prove more decisive in achieving strategic success in the war on terrorism. In the U.S. special operations community, direct action has been the preserve of Joint Special Operations Command, a SOCom subordinate element based at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. JSOC comprises the military?s most secretive ?special mission units,? such as the Army?s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, the Navy?s SEAL Team 6, the Army?s 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the Air Force?s 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Other Navy SEAL units also specialize in direct action. But unconventional warfare, which includes working with foreign guerrilla forces, is often used to describe a wider range of ?nonkinetic? missions, such as training foreign militaries, that traditionally have belonged to Special Forces. There have long been rumblings of discontent in the Special Forces community that their skills are not as highly prized within SOCom as those of units specializing in direct action. ?We?ve got to get after developing friends and allies and proxies, because when you fight an insurgency, the best people to do this are the host countries, not American forces,? said Downing, a former Ranger. Max Boot, a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was more critical, saying SOCom ?falls far short of what we need? by being overly focused on direct action ? ?rappelling out of helicopters, kicking down doors, and capturing or killing bad guys.? While such strategy sometimes pays off with the elimination of individual enemy leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ?making real progress, whether in Iraq or other locales, will require accomplishing much more difficult, less glamorous tasks such as establishing security, furthering economic and political development, and spreading the right information to win over the populace,? he said. Bias toward direct action Boot quoted two unnamed Special Forces officers ? one a colonel, the other a general officer ? who wrote him complaining of what they saw as SOCom?s bias toward direct action. That bias is so heavy, Boot said, that ?it is doubtful any amount of outside pressure, even from this committee, will change the dominant mind-set very much, especially when the Office of the Secretary of Defense remains so fixated on such missions.? As a result, he said, there is ?growing interest? in the Special Forces community in possibly creating a Joint Unconventional Warfare Command within SOCom, which would gather Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations units in an unconventional warfare equivalent to the existing Joint Special Operations Command. ?This strikes me as a good idea,? Boot said. ?But I would also urge the committee to consider going further and removing the unconventional warfare mission from SOCom altogether.? Former Special Forces officer and CIA operative Michael Vickers, now director of strategic studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank, said he thinks an unconventional warfare command within SOCom is a good idea. However, he warned, this could ?tie up scarce [special operations forces] human capital in additional headquarters? and duplicate functions of SOCom?s newly established Center for Special Operations, which has the mission to plan, support and execute special operations.
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/4/2006 6:27:31 PM
Some valid points, I think, though I'm really not wowed by the idea that the solution to a problem is the creation of another echelon of bureaucrats . . . but then that's how politicians and bureaucrats demonstrate themselves to be serious on a problem, I guess . . .
 
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USN-MID    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/4/2006 11:32:07 PM
It seems odd that JSOC is focusing on direct action, when OEF in Afghanistan seems to have been an absolute textbook case of the Special Forces force multiplier concept in action.
 
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EW3    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action. USN-MID   7/4/2006 11:58:29 PM
A response I have used on other threads. It's all about: marketing marketing marketing SOF does not get press from winning the hearts of the locals, they only get press when: 1. They fail to catch someone important. 2. They kill someone important. Sad but true. I wish they had not integrated SOFs. Each has their own skillset. Integrated ops should be the exception and not the rule.
 
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mough    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/5/2006 11:08:02 AM
It seems odd that JSOC is focusing on direct action, when OEF in Afghanistan seems to have been an absolute textbook case of the Special Forces force multiplier concept in action.<< because DA mission's are sexy, and they get instant result's, you kill an enemy leader, you gather vital intell, ect, FID/UW is a long painfull step by step process, you have guy's working for month's soetimes year's on getting something done, that's just not cool, it does not make it onto the news, for instance, what's the biggest stories you remember from the earlier stages of the Afghan war...the raid on Mullah Omar's compund,, the SAS/SBS tunnel fight's, ect you don't hear about all the SF/SOF's team, leading the NA, or lasing for airstrike's too much, beacause that's not so cool
 
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mough    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/5/2006 11:09:45 AM
it's all about the action....which is sad, people have no attention span's anymore, if soemthing is not accomplished in a Day, then it's not worth the effort
 
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USN-MID    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/8/2006 8:24:23 PM
"it's all about the action....which is sad, people have no attention span's anymore, if soemthing is not accomplished in a Day, then it's not worth the effort" -This baby can deep fry a buffalo in 30 seconds! -30 seconds!? But I'm hungry NOW! :P
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/9/2006 9:24:28 AM
>>It seems odd that JSOC is focusing on direct action, when OEF in Afghanistan seems to have been an absolute textbook case of the Special Forces force multiplier concept in action. << JSOC does not control any Special Forces units, unless they are opconned to them for some specific operation. JSOC has all the national-level DA assets and supporting infrastructure -- CAG, DEVGRU, 24th STS, etc. It does not control anyone within US Army Special Forces Command, Civil Affairs & Psyops Command, AFSOC's flying units or special tactics units besides 24th STS (including 6th SOS, who specialize in the aviation side of FID), Naval Special Warfare units outside of DEVGRU, etc. It does not have the tools or the mission to do Unconventional Warfare of Foreign Internal Defense missions (I lump them together because they are very similar in particulars). The point of the article was not that JSOC is messing up but rather that the powers that be are complaining that guys outside of JSOC are overly focused on DA (you'll note that the SEALs managed to squeeze in a note about how they all do DA, for instance). I'm not entirely sure how timely the article is -- it does capture a sentiment within SOCOM about everyone wanting to kick doors and such. However, SOCOM assets have adapted (or been adapted) to requirements of current situations. The SEALs have had their leash yanked pretty hard by higher ups after their latest round(s) of problems and non-performance. SF may do lots of raids, but if you have indigs with you is it DA or FID/UW? Even the Rangers have done a lot of missions that look a lot more like FID than DA in the last couple years. And the Big Army/USMC/etc have stepped into a lot of FID roles that SOCOM is not really ideally cut out to perform (i.e. training indigenous forces equipped with gear like tanks, artillery, etc., that your average operator is not especially acquainted with).
 
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stratbert    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/12/2006 11:03:29 PM
"""The SEALs have had their leash yanked pretty hard by higher ups after their latest round(s) of problems and non-performance. """ The SEALs overseas right now have an outstanding reputation for taking the fight to the enemy. Period. What this office clown says on a message board can't change that. Everyone here needs to understand Horsesoldier has a bias against the SEALs for some reason.(read his past posts) Maybe they are too loud. Maybe because they don't have Army regulation haircuts. Maybe they are a little y. Maybe one of them stole his girlfriend...who knows. They are getting the job done and then some. "Non-performance" ? You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. For at least one of those 8 hours a day you sit at keyboard, try reading some AARs. They are kicking ass. God Bless our deployed Team guys. I hope you all come home safe.
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/13/2006 9:34:51 AM
>>The SEALs overseas right now have an outstanding reputation for taking the fight to the enemy. Period. << That's funny, being within SOCOM versus where ever it is you call home, I'd say they have a reputation for getting themselves killed, in a best case scenario, and taking non-SEAL US military personnel down with them, in a worst case scenario. I'm sorry if that troubles you, but it is what it is -- even when someone within the SOF community but outside the SEALs does have something good to say about SEALs, it tends to be backed up with phrases like, "Well, these particular SEALs were pretty good guys, unlike the rest," etc. If you have to tell yourself that Army and Air Force SOF operators are just jealous of the mighty SEALs . . . hey, whatever lets you sleep at night. I don't see a lot of SF, Rangers, PJs or CCTs lining up to try and get into BUD/S though . . . End of the day, if their reputation is so stellar, then why are they losing missions to other SOF units and even conventional units? Why are SEALs in theater known for doing very little beyond "Sleep, Eat and Lift," while other folks actually get on with the business of winning the war (and do so without killing their own guys in droves)? As for your allegation of a personal grudge -- nope. If pointing out the holes in the hype constitutes a "personal grudge" in your world, I think you should attend to your own insecurities and willingness to believe in myths. As for riding a desk -- I'm amused to hear someone apparently affiliated with the Navy tell me *I* spend too much time at a desk. Can you even spell "field training"? Ever even been on a flat range or out in the woods?
 
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longrifle    RE:Unconventional warfare v. direct action.   7/13/2006 12:46:34 PM
>>The SEALs overseas right now have an outstanding reputation for taking the fight to the enemy. Period.<< Whether they do or don't, to me the point of the whole article is this: In spite of all the super duper commando raiding forces out there, including Delta, Aaron Bank's original model and ideas are still often the most usefull. Americans, the public and the military, don't seen to have the patience for unconventional warfare and counterinsurgency though. We didn't have ranger battalions in Vietnam, but we did have things like Mobile Strike Forces and Mobile Guerrilla Forces that sure enough did some tough "ranging." And each one tied up 12 Americans to advise it, instead of 500 Americans to staff it.
 
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