WASHINGTON: You didn’t hear much about them during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but DARPA, small businesses, and universities were the people who most impressed retired Gen. Hoss Cartwright when he was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he and the services scrambled to find weapons to give American troops a… Keep reading →
U.S. special operations forces face decisions of profound consequence in 2014 after having been empowered by a series of policy directives taken over the past year. One of these directives has been, contrary to the caricature of unilateral commando forces popularized by video games such as Call of Duty, an unequivocal message from… Keep reading →
AUSA: The word “cyber” is everywhere these days. It’s an all-purpose adjective slapped onto any concept to attract money and make it sound sexier, from cyberwar to cyberschoolbus to, well, cybersex. (We are not making that last term a link). Cyber and SOF – the Special Operations Forces – are the only parts of the… Keep reading →
US special operators are notoriously low-profile “silent professionals.” But lately the Internet’s been abuzz over Special Operations Command’s effort to build a high-tech suit of bulletproof armor – TALOS, the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – that the normally understated chief of SOCOM, Adm. William McRaven, actually compared to the metal-clad superhero Iron Man. Make… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Friday’s Navy SEAL raid aimed at capturing the Somali terrorist known as Ikrimah is a glimpse at the future of American warfare, one where a small US combat presence is boosted by widescale support to local forces who bear the brunt of the fighting. The raid itself came like a blitzkrieg from the blue… Keep reading →
[UPDATED with Gen. Hayden's comments] Frantic diplomacy seems to have forestalled US military action in Syria – for now. But we stumbled into negotiations at the last minute, only after President Obama had threatened strikes and asked for a vote authorizing the use of force, when Secretary of State John Kerry made an off-the-cuff, off-message… Keep reading →
FORT BELVOIR: The intellectual ice is beginning to break. You could see it at the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club on Tuesday afternoon, where the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) hosted a three-day, tri-service conference on “Strategic Landpower.” The US Army is wrestling with how to stay relevant once large-scale counterinsurgency in Afghanistan comes to… Keep reading →
FORT BELVOIR: Under the shadow of sequestration and a Navy/Air Force-dominated “Pacific Pivot,” representatives of the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command met to discuss the future of what they’re calling “strategic landpower.” Before I sat in on the first session of the conference, I’d thought “strategic landpower” boiled down to the conventional “Big Army”… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: When Linda Robinson speaks, special operators listen.
The “silent professionals” are — for good reason — traditionally tight-lipped. The chief of Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven, proved that again today during a panel at the Wilson Center, giving eloquent non-answers to questions about what might transpire in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. But McRaven made it clear that if you want to know what he’s really thinking about the future of SOCOM, you’d better pay attention to the panelist who sat two chairs down: former Central Command advisor and bestselling David Petraeus biographer Linda Robinson. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: America’s commandos have been darlings of the Congress, Pentagon, and the media since 9/11. Now, as Special Operations Forces reorient from Iraq and Afghanistan to lower-profile missions worldwide in places like Mali, they will need new sources of funding and new legal authorities — changes that may rub both Congress and the four armed services the wrong way.
That’s the conclusion of a recent report by Wilson Center scholar and sometime US Central Command advisor Linda Robinson, who interviewed more that 60 senior officers and civilian officials, released last week by the Council on Foreign Relations. Keep reading →