Why Russia, China, India, Iran, would be foolish to trust the United States
US Special Operations 5
    What’s clear is that SOCOM prefers to operate in the shadows while its
personnel and missions expand globally to little notice or attention.  “The key
thing that SOCOM brings to the table is that we are — we think of ourselves —
as a global force. We support the geographic combatant commanders, but we
are not bound by the artificial boundaries that normally define the regional areas
in which they operate. So what we try to do is we try to operate across those
boundaries,” SOCOM’s Votel told the Aspen Security Forum.


    In one particular blurring of boundaries, Special Operations liaison officers
(SOLOs) are embedded in at least 14 key U.S. embassies to assist in advising the
special forces of various allied nations.  Already operating in Australia, Brazil,
Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Poland, Peru,
Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the SOLO program is poised, according to
Votel, to expand to 40 countries by 2019.  
The command, and especially JSOC,
has also forged close ties with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency
, agencies sworn to
protect US citizens now spying on US citizens
, through the use of liaison officers
and Special Operations Support Teams (SOSTs).


    “In today’s environment, our effectiveness is directly tied to our ability to
operate with domestic and international partners. We, as a joint force, must
continue to institutionalize interoperability, integration, and interdependence
between conventional forces and special operations forces through doctrine,
training, and operational deployments,” Votel told the Senate Armed Services
Committee this spring.  “From working with indigenous forces and local
governments to improve local security, to high-risk counterterrorism operations
— SOF are in vital roles performing essential tasks.”


    SOCOM will not name the 135 countries in which America’s most elite forces
were deployed this year, let alone disclose the nature of those operations.  Most
were, undoubtedly, training efforts.  Documents obtained from the Pentagon via
the Freedom of Information Act outlining Joint Combined Exchange Training in
2013 offer an indication of what Special Operations forces do on a daily basis
and also what skills are deemed necessary for their real-world missions: combat
marksmanship, patrolling, weapons training, small unit tactics, special
operations in urban terrain, close quarters combat, advanced marksmanship,
sniper employment, long-range shooting, deliberate attack, and heavy weapons
employment, in addition to combat casualty care, human rights awareness, land
navigation, and mission planning, among others.


    From Joint Special Operations Task Force-Juniper Shield, which operates in
Africa’s Trans-Sahara region, and Special Operations Command and Control
Element-Horn of Africa, to Army Special Operations Forces Liaison Element-
Korea and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, the
global growth of SOF missions has been breathtaking.  SEALs or Green Berets,
Delta Force operators or Air Commandos, they are constantly taking on what
Votel likes to call the “nation’s most complex, demanding, and high-risk
challenges.”


    These forces carry out operations almost entirely unknown to the American
taxpayers who fund them, operations conducted far from the scrutiny of the media
or meaningful outside oversight of any kind
.  Everyday, in around 80 or more
countries that Special Operations Command will not name, they undertake
missions the command refuses to talk about.  
They exist in a secret world of
obtuse acronyms and shadowy efforts, of mystery missions kept secret from the
American public, not to mention most of the citizens of the 135 nations where they’
ve been deployed this year.