|Why Russia, China, India, Iran, would be foolish to trust the United States
This summer, when Votel commented that more special ops troops are
deployed to more locations and are conducting more operations than at the
height of the Afghan and Iraq wars, he drew attention to two conflicts in which
those forces played major roles that have not turned out well for the United
States. Consider that symbolic of what the bulking up of his command has
meant in these years.
“Ultimately, the best indicator of our success will be the success of the
[geographic combatant commands],” says the special ops chief, but with U.S.
setbacks in Africa Command’s area of operations from Mali and Nigeria to
Burkina Faso and Cameroon; in Central Command’s bailiwick from Iraq
andAfghanistan to Yemen and Syria; in the PACOM region vis-à-vis China; and
perhaps even in the EUCOM area of operations due to Russia, it’s far from
clear what successes can be attributed to the ever-expanding secret
operations of America’s secret military.
The special ops commander seems resigned to the very real limitations of what
his secretive but much-ballyhooed, highly-trained, well-funded, heavily-armed
operators can do.
“We can buy space, we can buy time,” says Votel, stressing that SOCOM can
“play a very, very key role” in countering “violent extremism,” but only up to a
point — and that point seems to fall strikingly short of anything resembling
victory or even significant foreign policy success. “Ultimately, you know,
problems like we see in Iraq and Syria,” he says, “aren’t going to be resolved