The U.S. military’s most elite forces have been increasing their deployments across the globe, and Latin America and the Caribbean are no exception. But as Special Operations Forces activity grows, the already low amount of transparency and available information about their actions is shrinking.
Special Operations Forces—Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other highly trained units—are lethal, nimble, and seek to build quasi-diplomatic relationships in other countries while keeping a low profile. They carry out missions from manhunts in the Middle East to intelligence-gathering in Mali, to support for raids on gang members in El Salvador. With civil affairs and psychological operations among their chief missions, their purpose is as political as it is military.
Many of those missions take place through a training program called Joint Combined Exchange Training, or JCET, which was formalized by a 1991 addition to U.S. law governing the Defense Department. During JCET trainings—which often resemble joint exercises, with some coursework—Special Operations Forces practice new combat and technical skills like pistol and rifle marksmanship, urban combat, intelligence gathering, or riot control. These trainings’ stated purpose is for the U.S. forces to maintain their own skills. More importantly, though, they are also familiarizing themselves with the host countries’ terrain, culture, language, and military.
Read More: WOLA