US special forces go global

(ASIA TIMES)   United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) chief Admiral Bill McRaven and deputy director of Operations, Brigadier General Sean Mulholland, want to establish a worldwide network linking special operations forces of allied and partner nations to combat terrorism, it was recently reported.

If created, the network would comprise regional security coordination centers, organized and structured similarly to North Atlantic Treaty Organization special operations forces (SOF) headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

According to Mulholland, these centers would not be command-and-control nodes but rather centers for education, networking and coordination to gain regional solutions for regional problems.

Mulholland estimated it would cost less than US$30 million a year to operate and maintain each regional node, although that is a figure that some observers consider laughably small.

SOCOM plans to stand up the first one in Miami-based US Southern Command later in 2013, with Mulholland tapped to command integrated SOF in Central and South America.

This plan may seem ultra-ambitious but given the demand on and pace of US SOF activities in recent years it hardly comes as a surprise. The forces will be conducting missions in 120 countries by year’s end, up from about 75 currently. And while they account for only 3% of the military as a whole, they make up more than 7% of the forces assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan.

This activity is increasing as the US Special Operations Command’s budget is set to remain flat. The command’s fiscal 2013 budget request is $10.4 billion – essentially the same as its current budget. But the budget for the Special Operations Command has more than quadrupled since 2001, as has the number of deployments.


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