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Mon Jun 8, 2015, 03:17 AM

US Special Forces Are Operating in More Countries Than You Can Imagine

US Special Forces Are Operating in More Countries Than You Can Imagine
The Nation Magazine

What do you know about the special forces carrying out a secret war in more than half the nations on the planet?

Nick Turse

A US Special Forces trainer supervises a military assault drill in Sudan in 2013. (Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)


Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans. Unlike the December debacle in Yemen, the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny. In fact, aside from modest amounts of information disclosed through highly-selective coverage by military media, official White House leaks, SEALs with something to sell and a few cherry-picked journalists reporting on cherry-picked opportunities, much of what America’s special operators do is never subjected to meaningful examination, which only increases the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.

The Golden Age

“The command is at its absolute zenith. And it is indeed a golden age for special operations.” Those were the words of Army General Joseph Votel III, a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, as he assumed command of SOCOM last August.

His rhetoric may have been high-flown, but it wasn’t hyperbole. Since September 11, 2001, US Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, including their numbers, their budget, their clout in Washington and their place in the country’s popular imagination. The command has, for example, more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 today, including a jump of roughly 8,000 during the three-year tenure of recently retired SOCOM chief Admiral William McRaven.

Those numbers, impressive as they are, don’t give a full sense of the nature of the expansion and growing global reach of America’s most elite forces in these years. For that, a rundown of the acronym-ridden structure of the ever-expanding Special Operations Command is in order. The list may be mind-numbing, but there is no other way to fully grasp its scope.

The lion’s share of SOCOM’s troops are Rangers, Green Berets and other soldiers from the Army, followed by Air Force air commandos, SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen and support personnel from the Navy, as well as a smaller contingent of Marines. But you only get a sense of the expansiveness of the command when you consider the full range of “sub-unified commands” that these special ops troops are divided among: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America and the Caribbean; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of US Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the globe-trotting Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC—a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by McRaven and then Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen and the Army’s Delta Force, that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.

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Reply US Special Forces Are Operating in More Countries Than You Can Imagine (Original post)
newthinking Jun 2015 OP
Gumboot Jun 2015 #1
newthinking Jun 2015 #3
malthaussen Jun 2015 #2

Response to newthinking (Original post)

Mon Jun 8, 2015, 08:34 AM

1. And there's never a word about any of this...

... in the 'Liberal media'. Massive kudos to The Nation for being the only US media source running these reports.

You'd think FOX would be crowing endlessly about 'Murka's glorious conquest of the world, but even there, complete silence.

War is a global multi-$trillion racket, and the corporate media does its job in keeping the people distracted.

Welcome to the machine....

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Response to Gumboot (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 8, 2015, 08:21 PM

3. Amazing isn't it? If this is not evidence that real reporting is rare I don't know what is.

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Mon Jun 8, 2015, 11:45 AM

2. Not to mention Texas! n/t

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