Simply because conventional forces (CF) and Special Operation Forces (SOF) successfully operated in unison on some levels throughout the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT,) it does not make the two effectively capable of sustaining future similar operation capability; nor does it prepare CF or SOF for future and unknown conflicts. Both CF and SOF are organizations capable of their own brand of exclusive combat multiplies with effectiveness and efficiency in global theatres on a wide variety missions. The ongoing development of a force sustainment and warfighting joint force must continue to be developed before a shotgun wedding style plan is implemented by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).  A richly detailed and clear plan must first be developed; in which the joint force enablers of CF in respect to a detailed grasp of SOF operational procedures, with a streamlined capabilities and resources interdependence playbook; and a real mission first attitude emblazoned on the front page.

A recent report released by the GAO suggests that the Department of Defense (DOD) should investigate the possibility that SOF roles should incorporate the regulars for joint-force deployments. The primary motivation behind this report and its findings is budget based. This action is geared off a provision in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, for Fiscal Year 2014 which called for a trend-based budgetary review from 2001 to 2014 focusing on SOF operational composition, personnel management, budget and deployments.

Image courtesy of U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Image courtesy of U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The GAO report focuses on the costs of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM,) with a special emphasis on troop strength. The GAO found, at no great surprise that as GWOT escalated and so did the need and number of SOCOM personnel. In the thirteen years covered in the report, SOCOM grew by 20,000 personnel to a 2014 high of 62.800 in operational and support roles. Not surprisingly, the increased number of personnel and mission tempo resulted in higher spending. Despite the lemonade stand mathematics involved in this issue, the GAO seems literally flabbergasted judging by the phrasing used throughout the report.

The issue scurrying behind the fact of this matter is that the DOD, who is the essential oversight of SOCOM, has not implemented rigid controls over SOCOM spending and budgetary accountability. In response the GAO is pushing for IRS style; accountant-to-accountant reporting, forecasted financial planning and the assessment of SOCOM resources. This demand results from a budgetary increase to SOCOM of $6.7 billion dollars from 2001 to 2014. The report also knocks inter-branch funding to SOCOM which the GOA places at a 2014 estimate of $8 billion.