Surging into Afghanistan

Special ops ‘surge’ sparks debate

the proposal sparked a fierce high-level debate, with special operations officers charging that [War Czar Lt Gen. Doug] Lute and his colleagues were trying to micromanage the movement of individual Special Forces A-teams from inside the Beltway, and countercharges that Special Forces has strayed from its traditional mission of raising and training indigenous forces and become too focused on direct-action missions to kill or capture enemies.

You really should go read the whole thing. On the surface, it really appears that the Special Forces (across the spectrum) should have started “ramping up” on the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

One of the big complaints is that there isn’t enough airlift and other “enabling” elements to allow the SF guys to do what they need to do already, let alone if more are “surged” into the country.

Maybe this is related: 82nd CAB heading to Afghanistan

The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade has received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in the spring, just slightly more than 12 months after its 2,800 soldiers redeployed from their last rotation in Afghanistan.


  1. I think folks might tend to see this as a pretty simple equation, something along the lines of: x/100 = y, where x=number of enemy fighters in the field and y= number of SOF operators needed to destroy them.

    But as the article explains, it takes alot of support to make those direct action missions work. It would be nice if A teams could just jump out of bowls of rice and kill everyone in sight, but we all know it doesn’t work that way.

    It also bears reinforcing that it takes a long time to make proficient operators. With every ODA committed to something somewhere, committing more to the Stan means other missions are going unfulfilled. Are there plans to create more SOF units? And are we ready to wait for years for them to be as effective as they can be?

    And what about the attrition rate of those units? There was at least one SF element (eh, not necessarily an ODA if you catch my drift) in Iraq that was running 50% casualties at the war’s height.

    Are we even replacing what we’ve already lost in the SOF community?

  2. In my mind, the fighting in Afghanistan is what Rangers, Recon Marines, and British Commandoes were designed for – backed up by paratroopers, light infantry and leg Marine units. Meanwhile, the SF guys should be training and maybe leading the indigenous forces.

    Occasionally a SEAL or A-Team would be used on difficult high-value targets and Force Recon would do their usual snooping.

  3. I recently processed through Fort _______ on my way to the Sandbox. I was sitting in the messhall (giving my age group away with that term) stuffing my face at lunch one day, when another “processee” sat down with me. Turned out to be a retired SF command level officer. Anyway, after a little info exchange on our backgrounds (don’t mind admitting I was embarassed to talk about mine after listening to his) I mentioned the DA vs FID debate I’d heard about, and asked him what he thought? He was quite passionate about sticking with FID, and leaving most of the DA stuff to units who were more traditionally configured to tackle those ops. Pretty much what Bram said.

    I’m still curious if there is a age dmographic breakdown on this topic within SF. My source was mid to late 40s, and well into the “big picture” phase of his career when he retired. Be interesting to see how the younger SF guys felt (as a group) about FID vs DA, compared to the more senior “command types”. I can remember how much I was into the door kickin’, flashbang throwing part of the ERT when I first joined it (my old State Agency job), and how my attitudes morphed over time, as I became more aware of political and tactical developmental trends within my department, as well as organizational direction for the ERT itself.

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