Special Operations: Too Much of a Good Thing

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January 24, 2006: While the war on Islamist terrorism has been something of a SOF (Special Operations Forces) Olympics, it has also, apparently, not been popular among all SOF personnel. Reportedly, there has been a small, but noticeable stream of SOF personnel leaving the service.

The motivations of these troops are difficult to evaluate. Some certainly are being lured away by very favorable financial packages being offered by private security firms, who provide protection for foreign companies doing war-related work in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, as well as personal security for high ranking American and foreign corporate and even foreign government personnel. But some personnel choosing to leave the service appear to have other motives.

Prior to 9/11 the demand for SOF operations was relatively low. Now and again SOF personnel would be called upon to undertake some action, often highly secret. Since 9/11 the demand for SOF has soared. According to some analysts, who have followed SOF forces and operations closely for many years, this increased optempo (operations tempo) has made some SOF personnel unhappy. Apparently some men were motivated to join SOF as a kind of high-octane test of manhood and physical fitness, with the promise of an occasional adrenalin high during an operation. But spending so much time overseas, often in primitive living conditions, and dealing with an unhappy wife or girlfriend back home, has caused morale problems. The very high operational tempo for the past few years had led a few SOF personnel to decide it's no longer as much fun as it used to be, and they have been looking elsewhere for employment.

 


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