Penny Wise and Pound Foolish?
Tensions are brewing in the U.S. Army’s ranks as whispers of a potential reduction in personnel within the special forces community grow louder. Central figures in this unfolding narrative are Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Gen. Randy George, the top nominee set to take on the role of the next Army Chief of Staff. The potential cutback, ranging from 10 to 20 percent, is reportedly being weighed for incorporation into the Army’s 2025 fiscal year budget, aiming to redirect these resources toward modernizing the military as a whole.
The defense community, recognizing the potential implications of such a move, has not remained silent. A proactive step from the House Armed Services Committee, captured under Section 597 of their fiscal 2024 defense bill, proposes a thorough review by two esteemed figures: Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, and Army Gen. Bryan Fenton, who is at the helm of the U.S. Special Operations Command. The essence of this section is straightforward—any move to reduce the strength of the special operations forces (SOF) is to be paused until the comprehensive report stemming from this review is officially submitted.
In a parallel move, the Senate Armed Services Committee introduced Section 1059, setting forth another mandate. This section requires Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to present a definitive report by March 1 of the upcoming year, elaborating on the optimal structure that SOF should adopt.
The wider sentiment within the defense community is of caution. While there is recognition that overall reductions in the Army may be an unfortunate necessity, given the challenges in recruitment for the regular Army, many argue against the trimming of specialized units. A prime example of units that should be shielded, according to these voices, are the Green Beret Operational Detachment Alphas, colloquially known as the “A-teams or ODAs.”
One influential voice in this debate is Stu Bradin, president of the Global SOF Foundation. Bradin doesn’t mince his words when he says, “The European Deterrence Initiative is a testament to effective strategy, paralleled by the Pacific Deterrence Initiative we rolled out. But, it’s baffling that less than one percent of these dedicated funds are channeling into irregular warfare activities.” Bradin points towards Ukraine, highlighting the pervasive presence of hybrid warfare and expressing concern over the lack of dedicated resources in such critical arenas.
Please Take 90 Seconds of your Time to Understand “The Why”
As in, “Why do they do it?”. The path less traveled.