Mattis: General Purpose Forces Easing Special Forces Workload

special forces

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.

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Special Operations Command Wants To Create Super Soldiers

Tactical Light Operator Suit

By Debbie Gregory.

U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is researching, developing and testing a next-generation Iron Man-like suit called Tactical Light Operator Suit (TALOS) designed to increase strength and protection to keep valuable operators alive when they kick down doors and engage in combat.

The Command is also looking at using nutritional supplements and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to push the abilities and endurance of its forces, increase operational readiness and relieve the physical burden of demanding mission sets.

Even though special ops forces currently have access to specialized resources such as physical therapists, athletic trainers and dietitians, SOCOM is looking to increase their ability to tolerate pain, recover from injuries, and remain physically able in challenging environments.

Another SOCOM goal is to develop “super soldiers” expanding the troops’ ability to operate in places not well suited for humans, such as high altitudes or underwater.

The technologies currently being developed include body suit-type exoskeletons, strength and power-increasing systems and additional protection.

Special Operations Forces play a significant role in U.S. military operations and, in recent years, have been given greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations.

SOCOM has about 70,000 Active Duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense civilians assigned to its headquarters, its four Service component commands, and eight sub-unified commands.

“Special Operations forces are playing a critical role in gathering intelligence—intelligence that’s supporting operations against ISIL and helping to combat the flow of foreign fighters to and from Syria and Iraq,” said Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, in remarks at the International Special Operations Forces Convention last year.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.