Special Operations forces risk being overused, misused, former chief says
July 27th, 2012
01:33 PM ET

Special Operations forces risk being overused, misused, former chief says

By Pam Benson, reporting from Aspen, Colorado

The use of military Special Operations Forces has been a proven success in Iraq, Afghanistan and - with last year's raid on Osama bin Laden's compound - in Pakistan, but that success has some people concerned. Will the forces become the tool of choice for a president?

The former head of the U.S. Special Operations Command told the Aspen Security Forum Thursday he fears there could be a misuse of the highly trained specialists.

"It's a real danger," retired Adm. Eric Olson said. "They come to be thought of as a utility infielder, sometimes a utility infielder with guns, and they may be asked to solve problems that are not necessarily special operations problems."

Olson cited cases of Special Operations Forces being asked to provide security for individuals overseas.

The high demand has strained the elite forces. Last year, Olson warned the units were "beginning to show some fraying around the edges."

With the opposition gaining some ground in Syria in its battle to overthrow the Assad regime, some members of Congress are pressing the Obama administration to do more to help the insurgents, who are still not united or well-organized.

In a quick interview with CNN's Security Clearance on the sidelines of the security forum, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the potential use of Special Operations Forces in Syria is not a focus of his right now.

Sheehan also said there are no U.S. Special Operations Forces in Mali, where internal strife has left the northern part of the country ungoverned and where al Qaeda sympathizers have moved in, a development Sheehan called very troubling.

He said the United States is considering options, but no decisions have been made.

Special Operations Forces are at work around the world, Olson's successor, Adm. William McRaven, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.

Also from Aspen: U.S. must ‘accelerate’ efforts to help Mali

McRaven said Special Operations Forces are in 79 countries, with the largest contingent in Afghanistan. Sixty-six thousand people are part of Special Operations Command, half of them active forces. Approximately 10,000 to 12,000 are deployed at any given time, with 7,000 currently in Afghanistan and more than 3,000 elsewhere, he said.

Sheehan said the forces can operate anywhere and the numbers can range from just one or two in a country to dozens or several hundreds. The goal is to help the host nations handle their own security operations.

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    July 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
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    July 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  9. Jeffsbay00

    iDO BELIEVE gEORGE pATTON DID FIGHT IN vIETNAM. aND WHY DO YOU USE HIS NAME? lIKE ALOT OF OTHER SUPPOSSED WAR HERO'ES , veterans don't like name droppers or frauds! So if I was you Man you don't know what your talking about! Quit using an Icon in any sense of the word, as a medic with the Army in Vietnam, I lost 17 men in a 1 year period, so your disrespecting them and the Patton family. Please stop it cause real vets don't dig it! Jeffsbay

    July 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  10. George Patton

    What makes me angry here is that the Seal Team 6 could just as easily have taken the purported Ussama bin Laden alive and flown him to the Bagram AFB in neighboring Afghanistan instead of shooting him down like a dog on May 2 of last year! Murder is not always necessary to reach an objective and besides, what can a 56 year old unarmed man with severe nephritis do anyway?

    July 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Thank you, George. That was very well said.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:20 am | Reply
    • Sam

      You were there right ? So you know exactly what happened.

      July 28, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Seal Team 6 did what was absolutely necessary! Take Bin Laden alive, then what? Put him on trial with a jury of his piers? A jury of terrorists? What I object to is that Seal Team 6 was named as the people who accomplished ridding this world of such a person! This should never have been revealed! Pakistan obviously knew he was there, it is the Pakistanis who should be brought to justice and put on trial!

      July 28, 2012 at 10:43 am | Reply
      • Killer O'Bama

        Thank you Stan, for taking up for those guys. Now Osama is dead, dead, and dead! Hopefully, we'll get those towelheads over there to start chanting "Allah Akbar, but Capitalism akber-er" one fine day!

        July 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Bangash

      George believe me Osama was always considered a CIA developed character during Russian invasion in Afghanistan and he had played deciding role in disintegration of what the then US president Reagon called the evil empire. Osama was a manufactured reason for occupation of Afghanistan and with the blessings of Osama today Afghanistan has been occupied. There is no proof that Osama has been killed as reportedly he was safely shifted to safer location as after all his role was finished. Taliban leader Mullah Umar had agreed to hand over Osama provided USA stop missile firing on Afghanistan but the then Foreign secretary Donalds Rumsfield had rejected the deal made with Karzai as he knew that 500 Alqaida activists with out Taliban support would have never survived even for months and then America would have lost reason for long stay and construction of military bases. So for us here in this region Osama and Obama are two faces of same coin and a part US new world order.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:16 am | Reply
  11. OffTheWorldPolitics

    Military industrial complex keeps the cars moving... Even Obamania prefers the olive branch, but wont let go of the arrows.

    July 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  12. saeed

    a joke there was marines and commandos in the cinema massacre in colorado none of these rambos dared to do anything when they faced the barrel of ak 47 it leveled the entire place and broke the will of the veterans easy bullet after bullet of power crused there will.

    July 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Reply
    • YoungMarine

      your stupid the guy was wearing full on body armor if anyone rushed him they would have been mowed down.

      July 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • YoungMarine

      Oh and it wasn't an AK-47 iw was an AR-15

      July 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • saeedTheTowelHead

      Baaaaaaaaaaaah, Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, Baaaaaaaaaaaaaah, Daaaaaaaaaaaaddy?

      July 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Jeffsbay00

      First of all Saeed he didn't use an AK-47 he used a Tech-9 2 glocks and a shtgun, plus a german sub machine gun with a 100 round drum barrel. I fought in Vietnam Aug67-68 and if he would of used an AK-47 HE WOULD OF KILLED MANY MORE THAN 12! eSPECIALLY WITH A BANNANA CLIP. Sorry bout the caps.Thanks, Jeff B. 196TH LT INF BDE i cORPS vIETNAM wAR

      July 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Reply
      • Jeffsbay00

        Meaning George Patton Jr did fight in Vietnam, I believe he commanded a Armor Outfit if not mistaken. Jeffsbay

        July 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Moses

      Fake Saeed. Most of Saeed's posts on several articles has a saeedTheTowelHead poster on there. Saeed's posts are a "false flag" operation.

      August 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  13. Bangash

    In 1961 during last address to the nation US President Eisenhower had said "if the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) ever gains control of the U.S. government..we will never again see peace in our lifetime. If you manufacture weapons of war...you have to manufacture reasons to use them. They are slowly killing our government and country as well"
    Although I have not been to America but I have learnt through media and some friends that every American citizen can have a licensed gun in the name of self protection. Three decades back when USA or in other words MIC had not yet started war against USSR from our soil we were the most peaceful and safe people in surroundings, on border with Afghanistan as 90% of our population had no weapon at all and the major weapon was British made semi automatic rifle 303 which only high class and rich had to afford. We being a tribal had own customs and traditions due to which we had an ideal peace and quick system of justice and despite being a buffer zone between the two states none had proper Administrative setup, like police stations, or military garrisons in entire tribal belt and being a part of Pakistan under the Law of FCR tribal were responsible for the safety of the GOVT officials in their respective areas. So all this peace and prosperity those days had been due to one single reason that there were no guns, so commonly available.
    Today US greed for global domination and MIC's hunger for more and more money has not only put American soil on fire but also the fate of the whole world is in danger. This is not the first incident but a continuity of such unfortunate incidents on American soil and one American Governor has even called for action on emergency level. So with this background and prophetic words of US President in 1961, it is a time to stop before it reach a point of no return.

    July 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Unfortunately Bangash, I'm afraid that we have already reached to point of no return as far as your post is concerned. Given the ignorance of the average voter, the M.I.C. dictatorship appears to be here to stay!!! The people will not learn!

      July 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Reply
      • Bangash

        Sorry to hear that George Patton but again on same land you are also there and many more like you now have bugn to understand where the problem is. American public opinion has already asked for CHANGE and Obama had won on his promise for CHANGE. So general consensus is there. I hope MIC will realize and stop this death merchaandise all over the world and you we all can convince them that it is not even in their interest any more.

        July 28, 2012 at 6:24 am |

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