Murphy's Law: March 15, 2004


Just because you have a lot money, doesn't mean you can have a lot more elite combat troops. On September 11, 2001, the U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) budget was $3.9 billion a year. It's now about $6 billion a year and is expected to increase by 20 percent a year over the next five years. Most of the new money has gone for equipment and operations, because manpower in SOCOM has only increased from 47,000 to 49,000. There has been a major recruiting effort to increase the number of "operators" (commandoes and Special Forces). But finding suitable candidates and training them takes years. In the next five years, SOCOM strength is not expected to increase by more than 4,000 troops. Most of these will be in support roles. Perhaps a thousand of the new personnel will be "operators." A lot of the new money will go towards buying new helicopters and aircraft, as well as a lot of communications, night vision, navigation and computer equipment. New weapons are always being acquired, as SOCOM troops know they have the money to try out, and buy, anything they think they can use. A lot of the additional money is going into training. Not just the usual expensive combat training setups ("kill houses" and computerized combat ranges) but also intensive language training.  A lot of money is being spent on travel expenses. In 2003, SOCOM operated in 190 different countries. This included combat, civil affairs, anti-terror, anti-drug and intelligence gathering missions. 


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