President Barack Obama’s Department of Defense (DOD) is expected to intensify its already heavy reliance on U.S. special operations forces as part of an effort to overhaul the modus operandi of America’s war against Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists and other terrorists, reports The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Dubbed the “Campaign Plan for Countering Trans-Regional Terrorist Organizations,” the plan has been in the making for several months and is awaiting an upcoming approval by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
In recent years, the Obama administration has increasingly relied on the Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to carry out some of the most important American military missions.
The WSJ learned from unnamed U.S. defense officials that the Pentagon’s move “to restructure the way it fights Islamic State and other terror threats … is designed to modernize the U.S. fighting effort and to better coordinate limited resources, including drones, intelligence, troops and funding.”
The officials also noted that “the new approach also reflects a recognition that the long-term challenge posed by Islamic State and other networks are global and not well-suited to the geographical boundaries defined by the Pentagon and its regional combatant commands.”
“There was this recognition that we have this integrated network and we can’t deal with it in geographic stovepipes,” a senior defense official told the Journal. “It was this realization that everyone began to have, ‘Uh-oh, we have a problem here.’”
The Obama administration has implemented sweeping changes in America’s national security policy that critics argue have weakened the country.
In the name of cutting defense spending, the Obama team, with bipartisan support in Congress, has gutted the United States military, downsizing the Army to pre-World War II sizes, which now requires the increased use of special operations forces in addition to a heavy reliance on new technology, such as drones and the need to strengthen partnerships with other nations.
Near the end of 2015, The New York Times (NYT) acknowledged:
Even as Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he opposes American “boots on the ground” in far-flung parts of the world, his administration continues to carve out exceptions for Special Operations forces — with American officials often resorting to linguistic contortions to mask the forces’ combat role.
The Obama administration long ago showed its inclination to rely on Special Operations troops and clandestine missions as an alternative to large wars of occupation.
However, the newspaper noted that the expansion of ISIS to areas outside its strongholds in Iraq and Syria has led to the increased deployment of elite troops to various locations, a move that has “upended the Obama administration’s goal of withdrawing from countries that for more than a decade have been crucibles of combat for the American military.”
“Unlike the geographic commands, [SOCOM] functions in regions around the world, making it a natural choice to coordinate a global fight against Islamic State and others,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
Nevertheless, a defense official reportedly said the plan “doesn’t really give SOCOM any additional power. It’s getting additional work.”
According to the WSJ, the U.S. military’s geographical commands — U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Middle East; Africa Command; Northern Command; Southern Command; European Command; and Pacific Command — are out of date.