What the American Special Operations and Intelligence community needs is a program which establishes these networks long before a crisis emerges. Positive steps have been made in this direction, but all fall short of maintaining long-term, consistent, and reliable intelligence gathering on a tactical level. This paper proposes a program which recruits willing Special Forces veterans and re-locates them to countries all over the world. They would not be going there on a mission, but rather they would be going there to live and work for the US government, perhaps for the rest of their lives.

These Americans would become part of what we will call the Jedburghs for 21st Century program or Jed-21. Jed-21 would recruit primarily from retired members of US Special Forces. Special Forces soldiers are the most qualified for this type of job due to their training in unconventional warfare, language proficiency, and experience in working by, with, and through indigenous peoples in austere environments. Jed-21 would have to be incentivized with an additional stipend. Pensions would have to continue to be paid and seed money would have to be provided so that the members could start business endeavors in their target countries. Once integrated into the local economy and culture, they would begin to build their networks.

Selection and training for Jed-21 operatives would be a fairly straight forward affair, as the individuals have already been selected and trained throughout their twenty or more years in Special Forces. Recruitment would be done through word of mouth in the Special Forces retiree community and retiring Special Forces members would be encouraged to look into Jed-21 as a retirement option.

Jed-21 would not be for every Special Forces soldier, of course. After years deployed abroad, many would be looking forward to a comfortable retirement and to spending more time with their families. However, single retirees would be more willing to move abroad and many would want to keep their hand in the Special Forces community and the type of work that they do, continuing to serve their country if in another capacity.

Once recruited, potential Jeds would be put through a 4-week training and familiarization course. Some old skill sets may need to be dusted off, technical and health matters may need to be attended to before overseas travel, and recruits would need to be read on and familiarized with the program concept. Program managers would attempt to tailor each member to their target country as best as possible. Some recruits may need more or specialized training depending on the country they are to insert into. Obviously, different approaches would be required for a Jed inserting into Iran as opposed to another inserting into Panama.

Some countries will be in high demand for Special Forces retirees looking to live abroad. Places like Thailand, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Poland are likely to be fought over. Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan may be less desirable by those looking for a comfortable lifestyle. That said, among the thousands of Special Forces veterans, there are plenty of adventurers who would accept the challenge of living and working in these countries.

To be clear, in most cases Jeds will not operate under official or non-official cover, but will insert on their own passports under their real names to establish legitimate businesses and conduct strictly legal activities. Unless the target country is one with which the United States is at war, their goal upon insertion is not to begin targeting. They will not be participating in anti-government activities in the countries that they are to live in.

Once selected and trained, Jed-21 members will be inserted into their target countries. Jed-21 should start with a pilot program of a half-dozen operatives, sending each man to a different country around the world. The pilot program will iron out any difficulties prior to Jed-21 going fully active. Delta Force, ISA, and virtually every other Special Operations unit experienced problems and failures, such as Desert One, prior to becoming the units that they are today. Once fully activated, the Jed-21 program would have the goal of inserting one operative into each of the world’s approximately 180 (depending on who is counting) countries. The United States government may decide that some countries need more attention than others, and over the long-term it may be seen as preferable to infiltrate multiple Jeds into problem areas of the world, like Somalia, Iran, or Pakistan.