Special Ops to Ramp Up Training; More Personnel Will Teach Foreign Armies Techniques of Counterinsurgency

Article excerpt

Byline: Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. special operations, the top command in fighting the global war on terrorism, is reorganizing itself to show more of its softer side.

Realizing brute force must be tempered by outreach and diplomacy, Special Operations Command (SoCom) is shifting some personnel away from the battlefield and toward the training of foreign armies, who in theory would then be able to hold al Qaeda in check without U.S. military intervention.

SoCom's main mission of attacking terrorists abroad in hours, not days, and for killing or capturing the enemy remains. But it hopes small teams of trainers sent today to North Africa, the Middle East or the Pacific will mean the U.S. would not have to send thousands of troops later to fight terrorists.

"U.S. SoCom is expanding its capacity to perform FID across the components," said a SoCom statement in response to questions from The Washington Times. FID stands for the Foreign Internal Defense mission - a task performed by special operations for decades, but now getting new emphasis.

Until now, Army Special Forces, better known as Green Berets, did virtually all such missions. Now, the Marine Corps have gotten involved, as well as Navy SEALs.

"We have done some internal reorganization," said Maj. Cliff Gilmore, spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). "Certainly, the foreign international defense mission is a set of missions that is becoming more common, and there is a great demand for them."

Adm. Eric Olson, who became chief of U.S. Special Operations Command last year, signaled a change last summer when he told Congress, "We know that we cannot kill or talk our way to victory .. Our actions must demonstrate our values and be convincing locally, regionally and - ultimately - globally"

A few months later, Marine Maj. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, who heads the year-old MARSOC, convened an off-site conference with unit commanders. The result: Gen. Hejlik decided to reduce "direct action" personnel and shift them to the training mission. …