Fighting an enemy that has no rules, no borders and a radical point of view is a tough thing to do these days. It reminds me of how we fought and won our independence from the British. We were significantly outnumbered, out funded, and somehow made it happen. This lesson on warfare without rules should not be lost in the US.
In my opinion, if we expect to have an impact on radical ideology in the world, we need to start winning some hearts and minds (Three Cups of Tea anyone?). This isn’t accomplished by killing people (sometimes a necessary thing). And you can’t unlearn centuries of culture and tradition overnight. However, you can bridge the cultural gap with genuine human interaction and investment for the long haul. I’m not sure we had this in mind with Afghanistan, and I fear once we pull out it’s Afghanistan as normal. Time will tell.
Killing bad guys deals with the symptoms, not prevention or the root cause. We need to win more hearts and minds in this fight. No group better knows how to do this than SOCOM’s very own Green Berets. They’ve been doing it for decades and are damn good at it.
The ugly truth is that there are bad people in this world who object to our free way of life. And they’ll kill innocent people to spread terror in this world and drive further restrictions on many freedoms we’ve come to enjoy and lose.
Meanwhile, radicals roam the globe with a closed play book, and no rules. To be effective against this kind of threat, you need to build some more agility into SOCOM. I’ll acknowledge that US SOCOM will always have a handicap when it comes to being forced to play by the rules, and having checks and balances in place are good things.
We need to work smarter, not harder, and nobody knows this saying better than my former teammate, McRaven.
“The military’s regional combatant commanders have feared a decrease of their authority”-NY Times
Modern warfare has changed, and it’s a Special Operations Centric DoD these days. Some in DoD may not be happy with that, but either we get with the times or the times will get with us.
I’m skeptical of the New York Times quote above; It amazes me how a respectable publication like The NY times (I like most of what they do) does a great job of representing speculation as fact in their morning write up on McRaven. The quote above cites no source. So I ask the authors this question: Which regional commanders are you talking about? Because I’d like to know, and where I come from, when you represent speculation as fact, it’s called bullshitting.
We are dealing with a distributed enemy that has no problem killing innocent people to drive their radical agenda. There are some big sponsor states in the mix and they are a huge source of funding, and often provide safe haven for Radical Ideologists. Pakistan or Iran anyone? At least Iran only talks out of one side of the mouth.
To deal with an Asymmetric threat requires agility to remain effective. So we think McRaven and SOCOM should get what they’re asking for. I just hope we can build a few schools along the way.
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