Today, Russia has played a critical role. They appear now, to the West, to be re-emerging as a player in the world. But, what if, it’s not new. Russia is better at keeping a low profile; it would seem. They use different techniques and approach problems differently. We’ve set out to change the world riding our military’s pre-eminence in the Middle East.
The military-centric approach has even had an effect on military units. For example, in Special Forces, there were a lot of opportunities and a focus on close quarters battle, such as raids, in Iraq and it transformed the force. As a result, everyone is an “operator.” The universal desire to be a gunslinger has overshadowed other aspects of Special Forces.
The movement from shadow warriors to gunslingers has culminated in the formation of a new unit within Special Forces. “Operation Jedburgh was a clandestine operation during World War II, in which personnel of the British Special Operations Executive, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, the Free French Bureau Central de Renseignements et d’Action (“Intelligence and operations central bureau”) and the Dutch and Belgian Armies were dropped by parachute into Nazi-occupied France, the Netherlands and Belgium to conduct sabotage and guerrilla warfare, and to lead the local resistance forces in actions against the Germans,” (Operation Jedburgh). They want to form and bring back Jedburgh teams. In fact, they’ve done so. This is partially a requirement in response to Russia’s use of hybrid warfare. Where they lead native troops in embattled countries.
But, training native troops and leading them in battle is exactly what I practiced in Robin Sage, the final Green Beret test exercise. It’s called unconditional warfare, but the name isn’t as important. This is a role that A-teams are supposed to be able to execute, now. It’s not a new capability that’s never existed before. Instead, it just fell out of favor in preference for direct action. This effort will take SF back to its roots. So, why do they need a separate unit to do so?
Russia, has been fighting secret insurgencies with success for some time. We rarely thought of other countries as practitioners of “UW” or Unconventional Warfare. But, after taking a step back – maybe it should be the other way around. Russia has raged a secret insurgency in Ukraine for some time, they annexed Crimea and are thought to have their tentacles in a thousand other places. Part of it was carried out in the shadow. That’s what we were supposed to do.
It’s hard to decipher between reality and our popular culture’s propaganda of ability to overthrow countries and work in the shadows. Many separate the abilities of our military with that of the CIA, as though they’re not intertwined, because the CIA’s counter-terror efforts and JSOC are co-existent. The CIA is a civilian organization; there is no selection or physical feats to get in. Those who fill the paramilitary ranks are not hailing from the agency’s ranks however, but come in after a career in the military. These agencies and departments are made of people. Imperfect people, like all humans, who are not necessarily any smarter than you are. They did, however, pass their poly.
With all this in mind, I can understand why there’s desire to stand up a new unit dedicated to hybrid warfare. But, I think it’s more doing something new and cool, or that’s a concern. Because the underlying problem is that SF has gotten away from its roots and leaned toward direct action. There’s a unit in the army that does the direct action; it’s Delta. That isn’t supposed to be the base of special forces operations.
Since these Jedburgh teams are going to go back to SF’s roots but still fall under USSF Command, will they be funded over other A-teams? Will they be taking work from A-teams? The Jedburgh’s have a separate selection process as any special mission unit does. However, they’re still a part of SF, so, in a way, it’s more like a treehouse club. That could create confirmation bias in the group. There could also be unfair prejudice against some soldiers who might be good additions. I guess, I don’t completely get it. Part of me is excited at the idea of a team that does pure unconventional warfare – but it’s discouraging it’ll be taken away from OD-A’s.
Featured image courtesy of www.rferl.org.