RANGER AGAINST WAR: Beggar's Banquet <

Friday, May 30, 2008

Beggar's Banquet

The individual has always had to struggle
to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.

If you try it, you will be lonely often,

and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high

to pay for the privilege of owning yourself

--Friederich Nietzsche


The military's Special Operations Command last week rightly declined a contentious 2004 mandate to conduct "secret counterterrorism missions on its own around the world" per a plan fronted by then-Sectretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

New York Times reported, "Rumsfeld's Unified Command Plan [UCP] proposed that the Special Operations Command 'leads, plans, synchronizes, and as directed, executes global operations against terrorist networks.' He stressed that his reorganization was intended to permit the command to send out its own small teams to capture or kill terrorists."

"The [SOC] decision culminates four years of misgivings within the military that the command, with its expertise in commando missions and unconventional war, would use its broader mandate too aggressively, by carrying out operations that had not been reviewed or approved by the regional commanders ("Wider Antiterror Role for Elie Forces Rejected.")

The MSM suggested the problem lay with a SOC which, due to its UW expertise, would bypass regional commanders like CENTCOM and NATO. However, the key issue is that Rumsfeld/Bush/Cheney were attempting to turn the SOF capabilities of the Department of Defense into assets that could be deployed and hidden from Congressional oversight.

Since Congress demurred from addressing the issue, it devolved to new Special Operations commander Admiral Eric T. Olsen to clarify the situation.

It is not known how [Secretary of Defense and former Central Intelligence director Robert] Gates views the decision by the Special Operations Command to back away from Mr. Rumsfeld’s view of its role. Mr. Gates has not discussed it publicly, and senior aides said they were not privy to his thinking on the matter.

It seems odd for SOCOM Cdr. Olsen to issue a policy statement when senior Gates aides claims they do not know his posture on the matter. Hopefully SOCOM is not wagging the dog.

"[S]enior Pentagon and military officers made clear that the Special Operations Command was not independently carrying out its own secret counterterrorism missions, but was instead coordinating counterterrorism planning across the military, as well as fulfilling its traditional role of training and equipping Special Operations forces for the armed services.

Counterterrorism missions are not strictly a military function. Coordination at the national level is required, especially with the State Department. The world is not the DoD's playground.

Rumsfeld's UCP sounds glam, and would make a great episode for the t.v. show "The Unit," but exactly what were these elite forces to do with any terrorists that they might capture? Again, the adminitsration's confusion with counterterrorism rears its ugly head.

Having U.S. military teams capturing terrorists is not a law enforcement function, and the Special Operators possess neither the legal authority to arrest nor question any captured personnel. Simply stated, the military teams would not be the correct tool for the job.

What happened to the concepts of international cooperation and host nation law enforcement? DoD is not a law enforcement agency. If DoD has co-opted law enforcement purview, then the U.S. has crossed a serious divide unbeknownst to most citizens.

Here is a novel idea: have the DoD fight wars, and the Department of Justice enforce U.S. Code. The two have distinct and clearly quantifiable functions; the plan
may lack bling, but has served our country well for a couple of hundred years.

Besides being efficient it has the added bonus of preserving our Constitution -- no small gain after the past seven years.

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Blogger BadTux said...

The Constitution is just a piece of paper.
-- George W. Bush

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 4:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lady on the Street: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Ben Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it."

Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 7:57:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

badtux, and i'd like to add -so is the bible. jim

Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 9:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one of the scariest things i've been seeing over the last 15 or so years is the "special forces chic" movement. (the SEAL teams are still the smallest special forces unit in a major country - ooorah froggies)

first the army started passing out berets like medals at the special olympics. then, they started allowing active special forces officers to pass through lt. colonel and on to flag rank.

one of the powerful things i noticed during my time was that there was a harsh effectiveness that was brought on by the distrust of the regulars for the snake eaters. it kept the role of special forces in the realm of what they can do, and do best. be the sharp instrument of an overall commander's plans. although our team was used at hue, frankly, it would have been a better choice to beef up the marines. at khe sanh, the marines were already beseiged for over a month when the special forces guys (and their montangards) and our teams arrived. we were allowed to do what we did best, make life very precarious for the entrenched enemies. it was a great feeling to know that we were making the NVA fear the night. that we were making things like nightwatch on artillery pieces very hazardous duty indeed. then, in the au shau, they finally figured out that it was a waste of special forces to merely reinforce regulars making stupid frontal assualts on entrenched positions. when they figured out that small, quiet teams could skulk more effectively and pinpoint positions to the minute for the air wing to do some clobbering the whole concept of "force multipliers" became clear. even some of the pointers grabbed ahold of it.

the idea of special forces as autonomous is a historically bad one. the janiessaries of the turks, the mameluks of saladin, the preatorians of rome, the immortals of the persians, the golden horde of the khans, all turned on the society that made them.

common sense says that special forces are like cayenne pepper, used sparingly they provide a sharp flavor. over use, well, just think about it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 11:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


One of the reasons the regular Army types started distrusting SF was b/c the SF got into bed with the CIA and got covered with their shit. The SF always did the dirty jobs that the CIA didn't have the stones to carry out. AS a result both the CIA and Regular Army threw the SF to the wolves.

There are now 50,000 or more SF types on Army rolls-so what makes them special?

Doctrinally, SF is not autonomous -- they should come under Corp or theatre control. It was only Runsfeld who tried to make them loose canons. As such, they are strategic assets that should implement the overall commander's war plans. As always, you're correct that they are force multipliers.

SOCEUR has SEALS, Rangers, SOF assets and diesel submariners, and they are all subject to the will of the EUCOM or NATO commander upon CHOP. As such, they are not autonomous.

The point of the discussion is that the SOF assets will be responsible to the will of the regional commanders through SOCOM coordination. They do not have license to sidestep Congressional oversight for covert opns., despite anything Mr. Rumsfeld might have desired.

We can add the Foreign Legion in Algeria turning on France as another example of elite forces turning on their masters.


Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 5:06:00 PM GMT-5  

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