Top Commando says special forces in demand
Source: Getty
September 22nd, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Top Commando says special forces in demand

By CNN Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

America's top commando said Thursday that special operations forces had conducted some 2,000 raids in Afghanistan over just the past year but that talking - not shooting - is the way forward.

"We are not going to be able to kill our way to victory in Afghanistan," Adm. William McRaven told a House Armed Services subcommittee. "We've always understood that."

McRaven said everyone involved understands the U.S. counter-insuregency goals.

"The village stability operations, developing the Afghan local police, this is the most promising effort we have in Afghansitan right now," McRaven said.

He was the architect of the Osama bin Laden raid by his fellow Navy SEALs and took over the top job at U.S. Special Operations Command five weeks ago.

U.S. Special Operations Forces have doubled in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, their budget has tripled and deployments have quadrupled.

McRaven said 13,000 special operators are deployed globally, with 10,000 focused on Iraq and Afghanistan and 3,000 in noncombat missions in 75 other countries.

Special Operations Forces - which include elite warriors from each of the services such as Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Army Rangers - handle many of the riskiest missions for the U.S. military, such as the raid in May in which bin Laden was killed.

"I think our greatest challenge in SOF (Special Operations Forces) right now is that we are in great demand," McRaven told the subcommittee. "That's a good place to be, but obviously that demand is in fact taxing our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and civilians that support SOCOM (Special Operations Command)."

He echoed sentiments of others in the Pentagon: that 10 years of war risk fraying the force.

"The pressure on our service members and their families demands careful attention," he said.

But he assured the committee members that special operators will go on fulfilling their role.

"We will continue to fight as long and as hard as you need us," McRaven said.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Military • Navy SEALs • Osama bin Laden • Pentagon • Special Operations Forces • Terrorism
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  83. Fred

    Several things need to be done, among them reducing the skill gap between US SOF (the world's finest along with UK's SAS) and conventional US troops (the world's best as well), having them train together more often and serve alongside each other more often. That way, you would get the best of BOTH worlds, quantity AND quality. This is long overdue and I have been telling people this for over 14 years. The sooner its done the better.

    October 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Reply
  84. MAKO 10

    As a former SOF operator that has been deployed to the Stan 4 times and having served with the best of the best, I must laugh at this story. We have the talent pool, we have the resources and we have plenty money to throw at this "concern." What we don't have is the right structuring and cross communication of and between conventional forces and SF. This to me would be the equivalence of the NFL commissioner saying we need more players. If that were the case there's College DIV 1 players and HS players good enough to make it. Obviously the NFL isn't fighting wars, but same as our Armed Forces, the talent is in there its a matter of investing in that talent. Oh yeah and trusting thousands more with Top Secret/SCI clearances is scary to Washington. Do something, don't complain!

    October 1, 2011 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • DB5

      Richard Marcinko?

      January 4, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply

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