Special Operator: Tom's wrong to worry about SOF as the heart of military culture -- but the Vietnam parallels are killing me
Here's an informed response to my mulling the other day about the central place that SOF has taken in U.S. military culture over the last decade:
I think you and a lot of others are off, the SOF community has been actually made to become more interwoven with conventional than I think a lot of people understand and it has actually hampered us in many ways from our traditional missions. We are going on Conventional Missions, because we are better trained than conventional forces I think it makes some think we can do anything. All of our ROEs are very restrictive, for instance we are not even allowed to do ambushes technically, can't make that shit up. It is that old adage from Murphy about the better you do the more you are used and of course the other historical "SOF Truth", you will be misused in conventional operations.
Combine that with the lack of strategy at the GO level and the real problems are mostly in our leadership, not the small amount of trigger pullers. VSO was the only strategy that had any chance, but they waited too long on it and much like the CAP in Vietnam they are ending it early. It is a decades-long effort followed by decades more of facilitation and support for the units you train.
As much as I hate to admit this, the parallels between the Vietnam conflict and this war are killing me:
- Leadership micromanagement from the TOC vs. the same in Vietnam, just better tech now. UAVs vs. Helos and Blue Force Trackers vs. Radio Check in or in addition to Check ins, etc...
- Lack of sharing of burden by that same leadership.
- Lack of a consistent long-term strategy.
- Lack of holding officers accountable at the senior level.
- Rotations in and out of theater instead of consistent presence.
- Restrictive ROEs (not just CAS).
- Misuse of SOF.
- Media driven.
- Lack of will by any administration to be honest with the public on how long and why how long a commitment would be.
- And of course, blatant fibbing by the brass to the guys on the ground, apparently VSO and our efforts have already worked, despite it being a 10-year program, must have missed the memo on that. I think the Afghans missed it too.