« IS/Coalition War Game - Move 1b - Forecast of events until 5 November 2014 | Main | IS/Coalition War Game - Move 2 (Forecast to 1 March 2015) »

09 October 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

c webb

It's interesting to consider that IS operate with a similar the surprise @ dawn tactic used by SOF/SWAT.



Not really. IS' tactics are a combination of typical insurgent guerrilla methods with conventional tactics as well. they have nothing like the wealth of air abd other technology assets that Western SOF requires. pl


I have to agree with Col. Lang and I'm glad the subject has been raised. The mystique of "special forces" is very attractive to politicians, the general public and impressionable young soldiers.

While no one questions their professionalism, criticism in the past has focussed on the amount of resources special forces can consume compared to regular units and that includes potential junior leadership candidates in regular line infantry who are "lost" to special forces.


I dearly hope the current civilian authority has the same understanding on the proper use of SOF. With the political penchant for 'quick results', I get concerned with the 'low hanging fruit mentality' Captain McCain and the Old Lady from South Carolina seem to see everywhere.

Chuck Hagel seems a practical minded individual. His change of the Navy's over reliance on the Littoral Combat Ship and the upgrade of the LCS weapons suite showed a balanced vision. There seem to be some adults involved.


Col Lang:

Have you ever crossed paths with
Cmdr. Richard Marcinko?Read a few of
his novels. Have not seen him on
any of the cable news shows since
the loss of USS Stark. I believe he
organized Seal Team 6. His no BS
speaking truth to power
no doubt contributed to that.



You are right to point out that the leadership potential of those who move to SF are no longer available in the line units. After a certain point creating too large an SF organization is going to affect line unit effectiveness. I recall reading a criticism of Napoleon for having to the Imperial Guard large enough that the loss of junior leaders became an issue in line infantry regiments.



I was recruited out of the line infantry for SF in 1964. I never went back. That may or may not have been a loss. The old Iraqi Republican Guard solved this problem by rotating officers back into the line with a promotion for Guard service and extra time credit for retirement. pl

The Twisted Genius

Part of the problem is self-inflicted. A Green Beret will tackle any mission assigned, prepare himself for it and execute it to the absolute best of his abilities and ingenuity. You will not hear him say "not my job" to an outsider. That's something senior leadership has to say and it is their duty to do so. I don't know if this is the case among other special operations and special mission units. The only time I worked with SEAL Team 6 (ST6), I was not impressed by their fieldcraft. They could raid with the best of them and I wouldn't challenge them in the water, but I ended up yelling at them for things that my drop out dope heads in 1/35th Infantry might do. BTW, I dearly loved those drop out dope heads.

When the Ranger Battalions were reformed, they trained as infantry using the same ARTEP missions as other infantry battalions. They just trained more intensely to higher standards and with a lot more resources. I think they are doing themselves a disfavor by being lumped in with the special operators like Delta and whatever ST6 is called now.

Peter C

Glad to see you bring this misconception forward about special forces being the model in vogue in the public eye. Glad to see the COIN deal giving way to Decisive Maneuver. There is a reason the Army is called the Big Green Machine. Its big, mechanized, spends time to train and season the troops, I'm not sure how this will hold up with the draw down and budget shortfalls. I'm waiting for the training and updated re-equipping to get short shrift for the budget needed on the current pipe dreams of Phony Coalitions grinding the current batch of ISIS into dust.


It is sad that with so much recent history (even during the 90's), something which appears pretty obvious needs to be said. The role of an army, presumably to take, hold and secure territory, is inherently different than SOF missions.


I cannot help but seeing this Grand Coalition Of Self Interests cause such a cluster with all this "No Boots On The Ground" policy. This is akin to tying on arm behind your back when engaging ISIS, which has taken full advantages of force dispersal and embedding within collateral areas and nullifying coalition airstrike.
Here is where the insertion of SOF would make all the difference by acting as precision JTAC/ FAC forces without the need of direct infantry engagements. That is where their elite sniper teams with .50cal sniper rifles could keep ISIS at bay. Without spotters calling in precision CAS strikes this will only expend dropped ordanance and cause collateral damage in Kobane. At best we are looking at pin-pricks with million dollar JDAMS to kill a 20k truck.
The only other way I could see airstrikes being more effective is the utilize drones as spotter/laser target designators, like the Israelis often do or even have attack helos, like the Apache Longbow perform the function, which is a more vulnerable option.



You continue to exaggerate the impact of SOF on a serious battle. they are useful but will not win the war for anyone. Even in the Philippines, the US/Filipino guerrilla army was only a nuisance to the Japanese until MacArthur started bringing Sixth Army ashore. pl

c webb

"their real expertise is in training and in some cases leading foreign irregular or counter-guerrilla forces."

A murky area. Seems to be often unsuccessful. In many instances it stokes hatred and sectarianism.


 Ishmael Zechariah


God loves the infantry.

Ishmael Zechariah (TSK 40th infantry)


c webb

Governments that have that attitude generally do not like the arming of minority religious or ethnic groups because the said governments are the expression of other religious or ethnic groups who do not want to be interfered with in the exercise of their oppression. Maliki was a perfect example as was Karzai. pl

James Doleman

Interesting perspective on anti-isis ops by Syrian army/ Hez



"The Rumsfeld regime in DoD contributed mightily to the formation of this image through its negative attitude toward conventional ground forces."

Upon becoming secretary of defense, Rumsfeld decided as part of his plan to make the army easier to deploy was to eliminate two divisions. Back in 2001 like today the army only had ten divisions. One wonders what may have happened if those two divisions had been stood down prior to 9/11 and the idiotic OIF.

The big expansion of SOC as part of Rumsfeld's "reforms" is an example of quantity coming at the expense of quality. The bigger they become, the more standards have to be reduced to adjust for the larger size.

Joel H

Oversold? Just the SEALS, just the SEALS.

Every one of the SOF units has a certain area of expertise. The other units of the SOF community, namely Delta and Six, are not officially confirmed or denied, but they do what they do best.

About 14 years ago the commander of the Special Operations unit for CENTCOM was a Navy SEAL, later a Navy SEAL was commander of SOCOM. This was all in the selection process, which is supposed to be fair and fairly distributed between the Services. It was not. SEALS are supposed to be used in littoral areas of combat, namely the area near the ocean and on the ocean. Delta is supposed to be used inland. Neither unit seeks glory or fame, they do their job quietly, but SEALS became very well known for doing a job they are not supposed to do. "Very well known" is the key phrase.

Special Forces, or the "Green Berets" (the author uses GB which I have never seen, and I am also a Special Forces veteran), are historically known as "the quiet professionals", meaning you do not hear about what they do. Yes, SF is designed first and foremost to teach unconventional warfare and advise, as they did in the initial invasion of Afghanistan. SF has missions way beyond that, to include "Direct Action", but that should be considered secondary in most cases. A company of Special Forces usually comprises a CINC's in-extremis force, a combatant commander's personal strike force in their theater of operations.

The Rangers are a massive strike force, meant to put a very violent action against an enemy target. Lately, however, they've provided security for delta and others. While appropriate it's almost a waste of their amazing skills.

SEALS are a surgical strike force in the littoral areas and at sea.

Delta strikes targets on land, and they did that, but please notice they did not get the attention, and they should not.

Bottom line, our Commander in Chief declassified and advertised a surgical strike against Usama bin Laden and should not have. He, personally, abrogated his responsibility to maintain secrecy for these proud warriors - only for political gain. Please, let us recognize him selling out and breaking 'our rules' by which we must live.



Yes. Massively oversold. A sideshow. Killing Bin Laden was an unnecessary vanity fed by the kind of adulation that you feel for these tiny units. Commandos do not win wars. pl

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad