Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Special Operators Face Terrorist Evolution

Special Operators Face Terrorist Evolution: For years, Afghanistan dominated the talk at the US Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) here, but this year there was nary a mention of the Taliban, now eclipsed by the Islamic State group and threats that are many, varied and globally networked.

The chief of US Special Operations Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, speaking at a National Defense Industrial Association conference, said his forces are "operating in possibly the most complex strategic environment in recent history." Defense budgets are being squeezed even as demand for special ops forces grows.

Recent months have seen an "incredible eruption" in foreign fighters flowing into the Middle East from all over the world in support of the Islamic State group and its affiliates, increasing connections between transnational criminal organizations and violent extremist groups, and ISIS-inspired flare-ups in Africa and Asia. A resurgent Russia is using special operations forces and information operations, Votel said.

He lamented the budget cuts hitting the services and rippling into the special ops forces they support.

"Even small changes to their budgets will have an impact on [special operations forces'] ability to meet mission requirements around the globe," Votel said of the services.