Why Russia, China, India, Iran, would be foolish to trust the United States
US Special Operations 2
    Each day, according to SOCOM commanderGeneral Joseph Votel,
approximately 11,000 special operators are deployed or stationed outside the
United States with many more on standby, ready to respond in the event of an
overseas crisis. “I think a lot of our resources are focused in Iraq and in the
Middle East, in Syria for right now. That’s really where our head has been,” Votel
told the Aspen Security Forum in July.  Still, he insisted his troops were not
“doing anything on the ground in Syria” — even if they had carried out a night
raid there a couple of months before and it was later revealed that they are
involved in a covert campaign of drone strikes in that country.

I think we are increasing our focus on Eastern Europe at this time,” he
added. “At the same time we continue to provide some level of support on
South America for Colombia and the other interests that we have down there.
And then of course we’re engaged out in the Pacific with a lot of our partners,
reassuring them and working those relationships and maintaining our presence
out there.”

In reality, the average percentage of Special Operations forces deployed to the
Greater Middle East has decreased in recent years.  Back in 2006, 85% of special
operators were deployed in support of Central Command or CENTCOM, the
geographic combatant command (GCC) that oversees operations in the region.  
By last year, that number had dropped to 69%, according to GAO figures.  Over
that same span, Northern Command — devoted to homeland defense — held
steady at 1%, European Command (EUCOM) doubled its percentage, from 3% to
6%, Pacific Command (PACOM) increased from 7% to 10%, and Southern
Command, which overseas Central and South America as well as the Caribbean,
inched up from 3% to 4%. The largest increase, however, was in a region
conspicuously absent from Votel’s rundown of special ops deployments.  In
2006, just 1% of the special operators deployed abroad were sent to Africa
Command’s area of operations.  Last year, it was 10%.

    Globetrotting is SOCOM’s stock in trade and, not coincidentally, it’s divided
into a collection of planet-girding “sub-unified commands”: the self-explanatory
SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCCENT, the sub-unified
command of CENTCOM; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC,
which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts
missions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; SOCNORTH,
which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the ever-itinerant Joint Special

Operations Command or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by
Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air
Force special tactics airmen, and the Army’s Delta Force that specializes in
tracking and killing suspected terrorists.

The elite of the elite in the special ops community, JSOC takes on covert,
clandestine, and low-visibility operations in the hottest of hot spots.  Some
covert ops that have come to light in recent years include a host of Delta Force
missions: among them

n operation in May in which members of the elite force killed an Islamic State
commander known as Abu Sayyaf during a night raid in Syria;

he 2014 release of long-time Taliban prisoner Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl;

he capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in 2012 terror attacks in
Benghazi, Libya;

he 2013 abduction of Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda militant, off a street in that same

Similarly, Navy SEALs have, among other operations, carried out successful
hostage rescue missions in Afghanistan and Somalia in 2012;

disastrous one in Yemen in 2014;

2013 kidnap raid in Somalia that went awry; and — that same year — a failed
evacuation mission in South Sudan in which three SEALs were wounded when
their aircraft was hit by small arms fire.