Special Ops Command sees change in Mission as a Return to Roots

WASHINGTON — U.S. Special Operations Command leaders see the current move to integrate the command into great power competition as a return to its roots.

Army Gen. Bryan Fenton and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Shorter, the commander and senior enlisted leader of Socom, spoke with the Defense Writers Group recently and discussed the changes happening in the world and Special Operations Command’s place in it.

U.S. Special Operations Command

The command has come off more than 20 years as America’s preeminent counterterrorism organization. Even before the attacks on the United States in September 2001, the command was tracking and pursuing violent extremist organizations around the world. The command operated against narco-trafficking gangs in Central and South America, as well as transnational criminal organizations in the Balkans. Socom came into its own in counterterrorism in operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, fundamentalist groups in Iraq and against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Special operators also worked with and formed relationships with national and indigenous forces from the Indo-Pacific to Europe to Africa and South America.

U.S. Special Operations Command

But before that, the special operations community was an integral part of great power competition working to “fill in the gaps” of conventional power structures when the Soviet Union controlled Eastern Europe, Fenton said. “We still have to maintain and stay on the [violent extremist organization] threat because it has not gone away. What I will tell you is … the special operations command team frankly is born for the integrated deterrence, great power competition era.”

But while the mission set might be changing, the values behind the force are not. “The most important line of effort that we have in our headquarters is still our people,” said Shorter. “We’re not a platform-centric organization, we’re a people-centric organization.”

The first rule of the command is “Humans are more important than equipment,” and Fenton and Shorter are sticking with that.

Full Report at SSD >> www.soldiersystems.net

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