Shephard Media has suddenly become a lot more acquainted with the world of military special forces following our acquisition of Special Operations Forces (SOF) magazine.
As if the critical role that SOF operators play in current campaigns was not obvious enough, opening the recent AFCEA West exhibition, a former Supreme Allied Commander Europe was clear about the need for ‘peerless special forces’.
ADM James G. Stavridis, US Navy (retired), placed an unrivalled SOF capability alongside advances in cyber and unmanned systems as essential for US forces to meet current and emerging threats.
‘You are going to see some changes to that traditional force, which I would argue for the navy, for example, ought to be around 340 ships. But you are going to need better cyber capability; we are going to need better unmanned platforms, including those operating in the maritime space and the overhead; and we are going to need peerless Special Forces,’ ADM Stavridis told the gathered delegates.
‘Today he is memorialised in the destroyer USS Michael Murphy. We need peerless special forces like Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL, but also he represents in my mind all of the wonderful volunteers in the services who stand on the wall at night and protect us.’
One crucial element in the Pentagon’s security strategy is the role SOF units are playing in building partner nations SF capacity, which is a central theme to our second issue of 2017.
In a comprehensive commentary, Lt Gen Ken Tovo and Lt Col Duane Mosier outline the ways in which members of US SOF continue to develop effective partner forces in countries around the world, helping them to win against determined enemies.
Providing examples from Afghanistan, Colombia and Iraq, the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) leadership outlines how US SOF has ‘built, trained and developed effective partner forces through persistent and deliberate engagement’.
Elsewhere in the issue, we speak to the head of Special Operations Command in Spain about the new command’s success in coordinating the country’s Army, Air Force and Navy SOF.
Brig Gen Jaime Íñiguez Andrade explains that, in line with the creation of joint commands in other Western countries, the development of the new command and increased resources Madrid has allocated to SOF activities is a recognition of the importance of SF in light of current threats.
We also look at the development of SOF units across Latin America, frequently in partnership with the US, as well as the introduction of new technologies to make working within an international coalition easier and more effective.
Current operations are demanding more and more from the SOF community, forcing operators to seek new force-multiplying technologies across a widening spectrum of mission sets.
This is most prevalent across the Middle East – particularly the partnering missions with Iraqi and Kurdish forces against Daesh – and Eastern Europe, where coalitions of SOF units are central to ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns.
From Russia’s electronic warfare capability to the (increasingly armed) airborne ISR assets developed by Daesh, emerging new threats will require SOF units to work ever harder to remain ‘peerless’ on the battlefield.