Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Obama's Secret Army

Daniel Klaidman describes the benefits and risks of President Obama's increased use of Special Forces in dealing with security threats in Newsweek.

Obama has come to rely more and more on “special operators” for many types of missions. In an era of dwindling budgets and dispersed, hidden enemies, when Americans have become fatigued by disastrous military occupations, the value of pinprick operations by elite forces is clear...Now the head of that command, Adm. William H. McRaven, is calling for more resources and more autonomy. The New York Times reported on Feb. 12 that McRaven is “pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy.” He wants to expand Special Operations Forces in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and have the authority to move forces and equipment as needed, assuring greater flexibility and speed.

Who can blame him? This is a Special Ops moment. The Navy SEALs, in particular, have never appeared so heroic and effective. They killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year, and just last month rescued two aid workers held hostage in Somalia. At a time when many Americans think their government is incompetent, the SEALs are public employees who often get the job done.

This strategy makes so much more sense in dealing with the asymmetric threats that we face than the Bush administration's disastrous use of large, budget-busting invasion/occupations.

--Ballard Burgher

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