What Can be Done About SOCOM?

What Can be Done About SOCOM?

It is anyone's guess as to what the incoming administration will ultimately do in the areas of foreign policy and military affairs. One thing, however, that seems to be an initial theme is cutting waste and redundancy. Businessmen and DC outsiders are coming in with an anti-establishment mandate and a distaste for conventional wisdom. If they are really sincere about changing things, then perhaps the entire DoD structure will be one thing they look at. For starters, someone might want to look at how much the establishment of SOCOM as a headquarters has really helped the United States. When talking to old-timers, they all recall the days when SOF were ignored, ill-used, ill-equipped, and almost done away with. It is true that SOF teams are very well-equipped these days. And one can make a career out of SOF instead of hurting one's future by going to a SOF unit for a little while.

These benefits, however, have arguably come with a lot of costs. Careerist officers and senior NCOs make life above the team level hell for many. Many SOF have been corrupted in the fight for resources game as they turn to trying to kill terrorists and other short-term activities that potentially sow instability and make our nation less safe in the long-term. Lastly, the bureaucracy has taken the “special” out of much of special operations above the team level: there are huge risks to being innovative and telling things like one sees them. “Go along and get along,” the joke goes, “is the only real SOF principle these days.” It might seem paradoxical, but there is much conventionalization within the special operations community, and a large part of that conventionalization is the way in which SOF personnel (above the team/squad level) think.

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