Special Operators are going to keep being special. That was the theme on Tuesday when General Richard D. Clarke, the commanding officer of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), virtually addressed the audience during the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOIFC).

During this time of relative peace for the U.S.’s conventional military, Clarke stated that Special Operators will be fighting against extremists for the “long haul.” He pointed out that “countering violent extremist groups was a generational issue and would remain the number one priority for U.S. Special Operators.”

To many of us, conventional warfare seems to be a thing of the past. At this point, the idea of two uniformed militaries fighting against each other feels almost historic. After nearly 20 years of fighting insurgents and terrorist groups, the military’s techniques and procedures have undoubtedly changed. The lethality and effectiveness of Special Operations units has not gone unnoticed and has been a major focal point in America’s fight against terrorism.

With the surge in strength of China, Russia, and North Korea, the Department of Defense has re-evaluated its tactics and combat planning to be prepared for conventional warfare against powerful countries. For some, this shift has brought into question the necessity of Special Operations.