Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Sun Never Sets on Our U.S. Commandos

An American Green Beret leads Chadian antiterrorist 
commandos in a round of 20 push-ups after a disappointing
 performance on the rifle range in Mao, Chad, in 
February. Michael M. Phillips/WSJ
Over the past year, special-operations forces have landed in 81 countries, mostly to train local troops to fight so Americans don’t have to
“Is this good?” yelled the U.S. Special Forces sergeant. “No!”
He waved a paper target showing the dismal marksmanship of the Chadian commandos he was here to teach. Dozens of bullet holes intended for the silhouette’s vital organs were instead scattered in an array of flesh wounds and outright misses.
An American Green Beret supervises a Chadian commando 
during multicountry military exercises. Michael M. Phillips/WSJ
The Chadians, with a reputation as fierce desert fighters, were contrite. They dropped to the fine Saharan sand and pounded out 20 push-ups. “Next time, we’re going to shoot all of the bullets here,” one Chadian soldier said, gesturing toward the target’s solar plexus.
Such scenes play out around the world, evidence of how the U.S. has come to rely on elite military units to maintain its global dominance.
These days, the sun never sets on America’s special-operations forces. Over the past year, they have landed in 81 countries, most of them training local commandos to fight so American troops don’t have to. From Honduras to Mongolia, Estonia to Djibouti, U.S. special operators teach local soldiers diplomatic skills to shield their countries against extremist ideologies, as well as combat skills to fight militants who break through.
President Barack Obama, as part of his plan to shrink U.S. reliance on traditional warfare, has promised to piece together a web of such alliances from South Asia to the Sahel. Faced with mobile enemies working independently of foreign governments, the U.S. military has scattered small, nimble teams in many places, rather than just maintaining large forces in a few.
The budget for Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., which dispatches elite troops around the world, jumped to $10 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, from $2.2 billion in 2001. Congress has doubled the command to nearly 70,000 people this year, from 33,000 in fiscal 2001. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force provide further funding.
Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, for example, are stationed in the Baltics, training elite troops from Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia for the type of proxy warfare Russia has conducted in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
U.S. forces are also winding down what they consider a successful campaign, begun soon after the Sept. 11 hijackings, to help Filipino forces stymie the al Qaeda-aligned Abu Sayyaf Group. And commanders believe U.S. training of Colombian troops helped turn the tide against rebels and drug traffickers.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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