August 30, 2015:
While U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has greatly expanded since 2001, there appears to have been even more spending on American special operations not part of the SOCOM budget. This non-SOCOM spending on SOCOM operations is believed to have increased to $8 billion. The reason for this is that other services were always obliged to provide SOCOM with things like supplies, transportation, artillery and air support when SOCOM is carrying out a mission that aids the regular forces, or simply because SOCOM needs the extra help to get the job done.
Since 2001 SOCOM personnel strength has increased from 42,000 to 62,000. Budget has gone from $3.1 billion to nearly ten billion dollars a year. SOCOM personnel were 1.9 percent of Department of Defense personnel in 2001 and are now nearly three percent. But when you factor in the additional support (and personnel involved) SOCOM is getting the use of over five percent of Department of Defense personnel.
One of the more telling statistics is the average number of SOCOM deployed on operations. In 2001 (before September 11, 2001) is was 2,900. By 2014 it was 7,200. So while overall SOCOM personnel have increased 48 percent the number of operators overseas has gone up 148 percent, or three times as much. This has made it more difficult to keep the fighters (“operators”) in uniform since the more frequent trips to combat zones makes married life difficult and increases the likelihood of stress related problems. At the same time the greater number of SOCOM operators out there in combat means SOCOM more frequently must call on non-SOCOM units for support. While SOCOM does have its own support troops, SOCOM cannot afford to maintain such support forces for the high intensity of operations in wartime. Since 2001 the fighting has been the sort that SOCOM does best at and that is why SOCOM is so much in demand and non-SOCOM army, air force, navy and marine units are willing to help out. This is often because the supporting organization called on SOCOM to provide specialized troops to deal with a local situation.