I get asked a lot about the capabilities of various Special Operations units.  People want to understand who does what and how all of these various SOF elements interact with each other.  I’ve also had to explain that since 9/11 the entire SOF community has had to up their game, and the same also goes for the Conventional Army.

The types of tasks that would once have been left to the purview of Delta Force are often conducted by the 75th Ranger Regiment today.  There has been such a high demand for Direct Action operations that Special Forces has also taken a huge role in these missions with their host nation partners.  In fact, the demand has been so great that conventional units have had to step up and conduct Foreign Internal Defense (FID) to help fill the gap.  My point is that everyone has had to adapt and overcome, often undertaking tasks that fall well outside their unit’s mission profile.

Even Dalton Fury, the Delta Force Commander at Tora Bora who led the hunt for Osama Bin Laden early on in the war in Afghanistan, made the comment in his book “Kill Bin Laden” that joining forces with local militias and assaulting the mountain redoubts that Al-Qaeda was holed up in wasn’t exactly part of Delta’s mission profile.  Delta is a counter-terrorist unit that specializes in surgical raids, generally thought of as hostage rescues.  This was more of a Special Forces mission, but Delta was the unit on that ground in that place, at that time, and so the job fell on their shoulders.

Now that you understand a little bit about how SOF has had to evolved in response to the post-9/11 battlefield, I hope that readers will indulge me for a moment as I’m going to speculate on where the community is going over the long term.

Special Forces

Making freinds and influencing people…

There are some big changes coming to the JFK Special Warfare and School at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where the Special Forces Qualification Course is run.  The Special Forces pipeline is already focusing more on teaching future Green Berets foreign language capabilities, but will soon be holding Soldiers to a much higher standard.  Part of the Q-Course will involve students attending accredited college-level courses so that each student graduates with an Associates Degree.  There will also be the potential to walk away with a Bachelors Degree if the student doubles up on classes.

The way this works is that the college involved with the Q-Course will count parts of Special Forces training, such as language school, as college credits, then when combined with actual college classes it will add up to a two-year degree.  Given the duration and intensity of the training that each Soldier receives, I think it is a great idea and well worth the investment.

Special Forces Soldiers are expected to be regional experts who understand the cultures they operate in and are able to build rapport with the indigenous population, often in the native language.  Having future Green Berets take classes to educate them on the parts of the world they will be working in will do wonders to help further professionalize the force.  I don’t think the intent is to make every single soldier as geo-political scientist, but the additional education in history, political science, anthropology, and psychology will certainly benefit Special Forces soldiers operating in austere parts of the world.