By Debbie Gregory.
In an effort to ease the strain on the overworked U.S. Special Operations Command (SoCom), Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has devised a plan to shift some mission responsibilities to the conventional forces.
Last year, SoCom forces, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, deployed to 149 countries around the world. This record-setting number of deployments comes as American commandos are battling a plethora of terror groups in wars and conflicts that stretch from Africa to the Middle East to Asia.
The breakneck pace at which the United States deploys its special operations forces to conflict zones has been unsustainable, prompting Mattis to take advantage of the “common capabilities” the conventional forces have developed.
“I mean, there was a time when the only people who ran drones were the Special Forces,” Mattis said, but the use of drones is now widespread in the conventional force.
Mattis said that what he called “general purpose” troops are already taking on roles normally performed by the Special Forces in some geographic areas.
The Army’s new Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) have trained at Fort Benning, Georgia’s Military Training Adviser Academy and will likely deploy to Afghanistan in the spring.
The Academy offers unique instruction to the NCOs and officers, who learn about the social aspects and cultures of their partner nations, how to work with interpreters, and “the art of negotiation.”
To fill the SFABs, the Army is looking for high-performance Soldiers with a “propensity to learn.” Soldiers must score at least 240 on the Army Physical Fitness Test, with 80 in each category.
Eventually, the Army will have five active SFABs and one in the National Guard. Initially, two will focus on the Middle East, with the additional SFABs concentrating on the Pacific, Africa and possibly Europe.