Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dr. Farley goes to Washington

Maybe the good ole boys at the Department of Defense need to review their Dip 750 notes. A recent Washington Post article sights some of the failures of the US Special Operations as poor defense planning (check out the quote at the bottom of the article especially) as well as lack of coordination with other government organizations (think Goldwater-Nichols).

The article states that the after September 11, Rumsfeld gave the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) the heavy responsibility of being in charge of US counter-terrorism efforts. This is a huge change from the supporting role that they were set up as in 1987 to a leading role. A recent meeting in which the participants were trying to show the downfalls of SOCOM in order to acquire more funding, prompted Rumsfeld to basically asked the question: “What have you all been doing the past few years?” This move to increase funding seemed to backfire as Rumsfeld began to question what happened to the money already spent and set up a panel to asses SOCOM’s performance.

I was more than a little confused as to why Rumsfeld is attacking SOCOM. Rumsfeld’s primary focus since 9/11 has been the war on terror and if he was assigning SOCOM to be the major player to combat terrorism, shouldn’t he have been involved constantly since 9/11 into making sure SOCOM was developing its new mission properly, instead of three years later asking- hey what have you been up to?

In my naiveté, I also assumed that since SOCOM was to have this new increased mission, it would have the budget to match. But I was surprised to see that its budget is only 8 billion dollars (which in terms of 87 billion plus for a war doesn't seem like a lot if special ops is the most important), a 2. 4 billion increase from pre 9/11 and that its forces have only increased by 5,700 to a mere 54,000 total.

If the United States is pouring billions of dollars and tens of thousands of troops into the war and post-war effort in Iraq, why wouldn’t they put these efforts where it would be most effective- which is in Special Ops? We have already learned that conventional armies can’t really fight asymmetrical warfare, but isn’t that exactly what the Special Ops are for? They were used effectively in Afghanistan, but where are they in Iraq? One military officer said: "You have some of our real elite units doing some lesser-type missions, and then you have some units that should be doing more training doing direct-action.” Maybe I am missing something, but it seems like the DOD just needs to revisit the basics of defense statecraft.

No comments: