|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||May 04, 2017 11:26 AM EDT|
(Photo : US Army) U.S. Special Forces operators in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Special Operations Command is undermanned, overextended and close to exhaustion because of the extraordinary demands being made of them by the unrelenting War on Terror dating back to 2001.
Highly trained Special Forces troops are currently leading America's fight against ISIS, the Taliban and other Islamic terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Africa. And in other parts of the globe, as well.
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"We operate and fight in every corner of the world as an integrated joint, combined and interagency force," said Gen. Raymond Thomas III, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
And that's the main problem.
The "we" consists of only 8,000 USSOCOM troops stationed in over 80 countries on any given day. This force has been operating at such a very high operational tempo for the last decade that its readiness is being compromised.
And over the last several years, SOCOM operators have seen deployment rotations with an increased sharing of responsibility with conventional forces and intelligence agencies, which further adds to the strains besetting the force.
"I think the concerns that we have mostly are in readiness across the force," said Theresa Whelan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations.
Gen. Thomas noted USSOCOM operates and fights "in every corner of the world as an integrated joint, combined and interagency force."
The increased mission demands are straining the force.
"We've mortgaged the future in order to facilitate current operations that have impacted readiness, and it's also impacted development of force for the future," said Whelan. "And as the threats grow, this is only going to get worse."
Whelan noted that in Afghanistan, the expectation was that USSOCOM's mission would end in 2014, but it's now 2017 and the men are still there.
"So that unexpected aspect of continued deployment where we would otherwise recapitalize people and capabilities elsewhere ... is something."
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