Tag Archives: Special Forces

Why America Can’t End Its ‘Forever Wars’, by William M. Arkin

It’s hard to believe this excellent article was in Newsweek, it’s so non-mainstream media. From William M. Arkin at newsweek.com:

FE_Forever War_Banner
The American way of war actually makes it harder to end our “endless wars.”
Stocktrek Images/Getty
A peace agreement with the Taliban and a May 1 deadline for American withdrawal of troops. A new pledge by President Biden to end the war. A Congressional step toward revoking the 20-year-old consent to use military force in Iraq. Talk, even, of rescinding the post-9/11 authorization to pursue Al-Qaeda. You might think America’s forever wars are finally coming to an end. They’re not—because everything we’ve learned from the past two decades at war has made it more difficult to actually end the wars.
Though the new administration seems intent on ending America’s oldest war and there is growing fatigue over endless wars in the Middle East, and though the Pentagon is scrambling to refocus resources and attention away from counterterrorism to big war pursuits against the likes of Russia and China, war isn’t going to actually end. That’s because there is something about the way the United States fights—about how it has learned to fight in Afghanistan and on other 21st-century battlefields—that facilitates endless war.
This transformation of the American military happened gradually as the armed forces shifted the preponderance of tasks away from boots on the ground, away even from dependence on regular soldiers. The new American way of war moved even the means of bombing and killing—mostly through aircraft and drones, but also virtually in cyberspace—out of the actual war zones.

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Why the U.S. Military is Woefully Unprepared for a Major Conventional Conflict, by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson

This is a long but worthwhile article that’s essentially the last word on military boondoggles. It makes the important point that foreign policy should be geared to what the nation can afford on military spending. From Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss,  and Edwin Watson at southfront.org:

Introduction

In the Department of Defense authored summary of the National Defense Strategy of the United States for 2018, Secretary James Mattis quite succinctly sets out the challenges and goals of the U.S. military in the immediate future. Importantly, he acknowledges that the U.S. had become far too focused on counter-insurgency over the past two decades, but he seems to miss the causation of this mission in the first place. U.S. foreign policy, and its reliance on military intervention to solve all perceived problems, regime change and imperialist adventurism, resulted in the need to occupy nations, or destroy them. This leads to the growth of insurgencies, and the strengthening of long simmering religious radicalism and anti-western sentiment in the Middle East and Central Asia. The U.S. military willfully threw itself headlong into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The United States engaged in unnecessary wars, and when these wars were easily won on the immediate battlefield, the unplanned for occupations lead to guerilla insurgencies that were not so easy for a conventional military to confront. The U.S. Army was not prepared for guerilla warfare in urban areas, nor for the brutal and immoral tactics that their new enemies were willing to engage in. They obviously had not reflected upon the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, nor the nature of their new enemies. As casualties mounted due to roadside IEDs, snipers, and suicide bombers hidden amongst civilians, the U.S. military and the defense industry were forced to find ways to protect soldiers and make vehicle less vulnerable to these types of attacks. This resulted in vehicles of every description being armored and new IED resistant vehicles being designed and fielded in large numbers. This in turn, equated to a vast amount of time, effort and money. It also focused both the U.S. military services and the defense industry away from fighting conventional wars against peer adversaries.

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Commandos Sans Frontières, by Nick Turse

US Special Forces are everywhere, safeguarding the American way of life. From Nick Turse at tomdispatch.com:

Early last month, at a tiny military post near the tumbledown town of Jamaame in Somalia, small arms fire began to ring out as mortar shells crashed down. When the attack was over, one Somali soldier had been wounded — and had that been the extent of the casualties, you undoubtedly would never have heard about it.

As it happened, however, American commandos were also operating from that outpost and four of them were wounded, three badly enough to be evacuated for further medical care. Another special operator, Staff Sergeant Alexander Conrad, assigned to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces (also known as the Green Berets), was killed.

If the story sounds vaguely familiar — combat by U.S. commandos in African wars that America is technically not fighting — it should. Last December, Green Berets operating alongside local forces in Niger killed 11 Islamic State militants in a firefight. Two months earlier, in October, an ambush by an Islamic State terror group in that same country, where few Americans (including members of Congress) even knew U.S. special operators were stationed, left four U.S. soldiers dead — Green Berets among them. (The military first described that mission as providing “advice and assistance” to local forces, then as a “reconnaissance patrol” as part of a broader “train, advise, and assist” mission, before it was finally exposed as a kill or capture operation.) Last May, a Navy SEAL was killed and two other U.S. personnel were wounded in a raid in Somalia that the Pentagon described as an “advise, assist, and accompany” mission. And a month earlier, a U.S. commando reportedly killed a member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal militia that has terrorized parts of Central Africa for decades.

And there had been, as the New York Times noted in March, at least 10 other previously unreported attacks on American troops in West Africa between 2015 and 2017. Little wonder since, for at least five years, as Politico recently reported, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other commandos, operating under a little-understood legal authority known as Section 127e, have been involved in reconnaissance and “direct action” combat raids with African special operators in Somalia, Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia.

To continue reading: Commandos Sans Frontières

US Military Presence Overseas Mushrooming: Here, There and Everywhere, by Alex Gorka

It’s not hyperbole, the US military really is almost everywhere on the planet. From Alex Gorka at strategic-culture.org:

Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. The forces use several hundred bases, more than 1,000 if the figure includes overseas warehouse and installations. The US may need more soon, with its presence and involvement in armed conflicts on the rise.

It was reported on August 7 that the Pentagon plans to conduct airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) in the Philippines. This move will be part of the effort to rout IS militants who occupied Marawi, a city in the south of the Philippines, in May, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire southern region of Mindanao and ask the US for help. In June, the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident joined the battle.

Just three days before that (on August 4), it was reported by the Pentagon that a Special Operations Forces (SOF) team was deployed to Yemen to support the ongoing United Arab Emirates (UAE) operation against the Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terror group. The amphibious assault ship Bataan with several hundred Marines aboard is also operating in the region. Close-air support missions in the current offensive against AQAP are not ruled out.

On August 7, the US was also reported to be sending dozens more Marines to Helmand Province in southwestern Afghanistan. Army Gen. John Nicholson as the US commander in that country has been lobbying for 3,000 to 5,000 troops in addition to the 8,400 US service members already on the ground.

In June, the US increased the size of its special operations advisory force embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces as the group prepared its invasion of Raqqa, Syria. Around 1,000 US service members are believed to be operating there.

The SOF play a special role to implement the «here, there and everywhere» policy. In 2016, the US SOF teams conducted missions in 138 countries – roughly 70 percent of the nations on the planet. The Special Operations Command is tasked with carrying out 12 core missions. Last year, US SOF were deployed to 32 African nations, about 60 percent of the countries on the continent. Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special operators are now conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries at any given time. They are deployed in Libya – the country, which has its future uncertain after the 2011 US-led NATO involvement.

To continue reading: US Military Presence Overseas Mushrooming: Here, There and Everywhere

U.S. Special Forces Deployed To 70% Of The World In 2016, by Niall McCarthy

Why the US needs special forces in 70 percent of the world is a question that if asked, and answered honestly, might lead to much smaller defense budgets. From Miall McCarthy at statista.com:

U.S. Special Operations Command launched a raid in Yemen’s Baida Province on Jan 29, targeting Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The first high-profile special forces operation of Trump’s presidency, the raid resulted in the deaths of at least 14 Al Qaeda fighters, 20 civilians and Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens. Three other Americans were reportedly wounded and an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft was destroyed by U.S. forces after it was heavily damaged in a forced landing. Over the past few days, it has emerged that al-Rimi survived the raid and he has subsequently released an audio message taunting President Trump.

Special forces operations like the one in Yemen are nothing new. America’s elite troops have found themselves on the frontlines constantly since 9/11, conducting operations everywhere from the dusty back alleys of North Africa to the snow-capped mountains of Afghanistan. Even though they have made headlines for high-profile operations like the prison break near Hawija in Iraq or the raid on Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in Afghanistan, the vast majority of special forces missions across the world involve training friendly soldiers to fight, mainly so Americans don’t have to.

American special operations troops deployed to 138 nations last year or 70 percent of the world’s countries according to official Special Operations Command data published by TomDispatch. 55.29 percent of deployments were in the Middle East, a 35 percent decease since 2006. In Africa, deployments of elite U.S. forces skyrocketed 1,600 percent during the same timeframe.

This chart shows countries where U.S. special operations forces conducted operations in 2016.

https://www.statista.com/chart/7984/us-special-forces-deployed-to-70-of-the-world-in-2016/

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars, by Nick Turse

You might not have known that the US has special operations forces in any African nation, but it does. Thirty-three of them, to be exact. From Nick Turse at theintercept.com:

AFRICA HAS SEEN the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

“In Africa, we are not the kinetic solution,” Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, told African Defense, a U.S. trade publication, early this fall. “We are not at war in Africa — but our African partners certainly are.”

That statement stands in stark contrast to this year’s missions in Somalia where, for example, U.S. Special Operations forces assisted local commandos in killing several members of the militant group, al-Shabab and Libya, where they supported local fighters battling members of the Islamic State. These missions also speak to the exponential growth of special operations on the continent.

As recently as 2014, there were reportedly only about 700 U.S. commandos deployed in Africa on any given day. Today, according to Bolduc, “there are approximately 1,700 [Special Operations forces] and enablers deployed… at any given time. This team is active in 20 nations in support of seven major named operations.”

To continue reading: U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars