Infantry: November 25, 2002

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The success of SOCOM (Special Operations Command) in using Special Forces and commandos in the Afghanistan campaign led the Department of Defense to ask SOCOM what they needed to become the primary force for fighting the war on terrorism. A plan was submitted that doubled SOCOM's five billion dollar a year budget and just did more of the same. But the Department of Defense wanted some new ideas, and formed an independent panel of retired Special Forces and commando officers and asked them for some proposals. But this effort revealed another problem with SOCOM. Since Congress gave SOCOM the authority, and money, to go find, or create, its own weapons and equipment, SOCOM headquarters has been filled with lots of procurement and logistics specialists. To counter this, one thing SOCOM wants is the money to create it's own operations headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and staff if with SOCOM officers trained to run world wide operations. Some Department of Defense officials want to take away SOCOM's research and development authority. But even the "operators" (combat troops) at SOCOM are reluctant to lose the ability to get weapons and equipment tailored for their specific needs. One of the most sensitive new chores mentioned for SOCOM is the increasing use of SOCOM operators for espionage and undercover work. The CIA has long used Army Special Forces troops for this, a tradition going back over half a century. Some see SOCOM turning into the "dirty work" force that the CIA used to have, and caused so many scandals until the CIA field operations were scaled way back in the late 1970s. Meanwhile, the CIA is building up its force of field agents, and no one is complaining. Yet. Whatever the case, change is coming to SOCOM, it's just that no one knows yet exactly what kind of change it will be. 


 


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