The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told Congress today strong partnerships with allies and an understanding of terrorist networks in Afghanistan and North Africa have helped build the command’s capacity to meet mission objectives.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven said his command helped establish a new structure which aligned various NATO and special operations forces under a two-star headquarters.
“This has allowed the special operations forces to have a common view of the enemy and synchronize [the forces] to achieve a common end-state,” he said. “It has made (special operations forces) even more effective than ever before.”
Adapting to a changing strategic and fiscal environment will keep special operations forces relevant now and in the future, he said.
“We understand the complexity of the Al Qaida network,” McRaven said. “You certainly cannot isolate a single organization and expect to be able to solve the problem locally … or by individual entity.”
In addition to Afghanistan, McRaven said, special operations forces are in 78 countries around the world.
“At the request of those nations, we’re helping to build their [special operations forces] capacity and strengthen our partnership and allied networks to deal with the unpredictable and complex threat we face today.”
McRaven assured ongoing collaboration with the joint chiefs and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to ensure SOCOM is postured to meet its objectives as a leaner, more agile and more technologically advanced force.
“Partnered with our Afghan [special operations forces], we have continued to attrit the enemy leadership while at the same time building and training the Afghan security forces so they can stand on their own against this determined threat,” he said.
As Afghan forces mature in confidence and take on greater responsibilities to thwart the Taliban, McRaven said SOCOM will also maintain what he termed its “wonderful relationships” in the Pacific with nations such as Philippines and South Korea.
In light of last year’s strategic guidance that saw a pivot toward the Asia Pacific region, McRaven said SOCOM will work with combatant commanders and mission chiefs to assess where to apply special operations resources that help nations in the region fight militant separatist groups such as Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.
“We always need to maintain our ability to rescue Americans and … eliminate the terrorist effects,” McRaven said. “The current and future aspect of special operations that … is equally if not more important is how we go about building our partners’ capacity and … allow them to deal with their own security problems.”