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Recently I’ve been reading some articles about the United States Special Operations Forces and their lack of strategic successes as the authors spin their own yarns in trying to tell the story. While certainly entertaining, and no doubt bolstered by countless FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, the results are myopic and in many cases, just not true.

But first, to get the cat out of the bag, Special Operations Forces are not a panacea for every security issue facing the country. Yes, it is true. The USSOCOM Commander said so himself at the recent SOFIC (Special Operations Forces Industry Conference) about six weeks ago in Tampa.

The use of Special Operations Forces (SOF) itself, “by, with, and through” indigenous allies are always limited by the need to manage the interests of all parties involved. That takes a total effort by the US. Military, political and economic elements all have to be working in concert for strategic success of any kind to be realized.

SOF success, strategic success, relies on a total commitment to US policy, not just the deployment of Navy SEALs or Green Berets to advise the local military or police units in the country. And no one understands this more than SOF. SOF Truths were published when the command was in its infancy and one those reads. “Most Special Operations will require non-SOF Support.”

But to say that there have been no strategic successes ignores the truth. El Salvador was a country on the brink in the early 1980s. The FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) controlled vast areas of the Morazán and Chalatenango Departments of the country during the civil war.

The US, fresh off of the Vietnam experience, limited the SOF to just 55 permanent advisors for the military although other SOF units could enter the country on very short TDY (Temporary Duty) deployments. After the FMLN’s failed attempt at overthrowing the government during a 1989 offensive designed to take the capital of San Salvador, the US’ initiative at finding a peaceful solution worked. The FMLN was forced to negotiate a peace treaty and a deal was struck just three years later.

The US helped rebuild a shattered US economy and the US Ambassadors to the country deserve a tremendous amount of credit in negotiating a very tricky situation there.