Obama expands special ops mission, but not its budget
The Obama administration’s increasing reliance on special operations forces with a stagnant budget has sparked concern among the elite units that they will be asked to do too much with too little.The forces will be conducting missions in 120 countries by year’s end, up from about 75 currently. This activity is increasing as the U.S. Special Operations Command’s budget is set to remain flat.The command’s fiscal 2013 budget request is $10.4 billion - essentially the same as its current budget. In 2011, its budget was $12.1 billion.Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said last month that as U.S. troops gradually withdraw from the war in Afghanistan, there will be “more opportunities for special operations forces to assist and advise our partners in other regions.”“There is some concern that the SOF community is not going to be robust enough to maintain these high-demand operations indefinitely,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, a former Army Ranger and former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.In a Feb. 14 Foreign Policy article titled “SOF Power,” Gen. Barno said the Obama administration has not adequately addressed important questions about the impact on the culture of special operations forces.For instance, high demand for special operations over the past decade has contributed to a shortage of adequate support, such as helicopters dedicated to special operations forces, he said.
...These guys are likely going to be used without adequate force protection in coming Afghan operations. Their operational tempo has been very high which can cause burnout and with a shrinking number of troops in mainline units there will be fewer qualified people they can draw on for expansion.