The conflict in the Middle East is winding down, US forces are withdrawing, and wars are being handed over to various proxy forces to fight in the context of the so-called Arab Spring from Egypt, to Libya, to Syria. Once Syria falls, more than likely after the US Presidential elections are complete, the Arab Spring with US covert assistance will almost certainly shift its focus to the gem of Eurasia, Iran. But that is another story.

Meanwhile, the policy makers and official white papers are talking about a strategic pivot, a realignment of US forces to confront a real or perceived growing of Chinese spheres of influence in the Pacific Rim. This has already begun in earnest, with China feuding with the Philippines and several South East Asian nations regarding territory disputes, mostly related to islands in the South China Sea. Another realignment of US military and intelligence assets is to the Southern Cone, Central and South America.

The third realignment is to turn the surveillance and intelligence gathering techniques and tactics developed for the War on Terror inward for domestic use, mostly under the banner of cyber-security. The defense establishment will not simply let contracts expire and shrink their margins; rather, they will seek out new venues to apply the same methods of operation.

5th Special Forces Group Commanders In-Extremis Force (CIF) Team training for maritime interdictions
SOF realignment? 5th Special Forces Group Commanders In-Extremis Force (CIF) Team training for maritime interdictions.

The second realignment involves various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles being reoriented into the Southern Hemisphere, but there are also a number of rumors that just don’t want to die. Has the Asymmetrical Warfare Group been south of the border to study cartel tactics, techniques, and procedures? Are Spanish-speaking SEAL Team Six operators working with FES, Mexico’s Maritime Commando equivalent?  Many attribute the Mexican Marines, and other military forces recent successes in capturing high value targets to close cooperation and assistance from American military and intelligence sources, much of which was hashed out as a part of the Mérida Initiative.