Deployment of U.S. Special forces drastically growing

Photo credit: U.S. Army

The Nation wrote an extensive article on a recent investigation by TomDispatch. Calling itself a “regular antidote to the mainstream media”, the publication used open source government documents, news releases and press reports to find evidence that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in or involved with the militaries of 106 nations around the world in 2012–13. Hours before the report on the investigation was released, it was discovered that SOF were actually deployed to 134 countries during fiscal year 2013.

TomDispatch shared that the extent of the Obama’s administration secret war has never been fully revealed until now.  Since September 11, 2001, the tragic day the twin towers fell, U.S. Special Operations has grown in both troops and funds.  Before that date, the forces were only deployed in about 60 countries worldwide.

According to Major Matthew Robert Bockholt of SOCOM Public Affairs, in 2013, the elite forces are present in 134 countries.  That is a 123 percent increase during the Obama administration, providing evidence that the U.S. is conducting missions far from “prying eyes, media scrutiny or any type of outside oversight.”

According to The Nation article, the Special Operations Command has grown up from 33,000 to 72,000 personnel in 2014.  Funding for the command has also jumped dramatically as its budget, $2.3 billion in 2001, hit $6.9 billion in 2013.  Personnel deployments abroad have hit the roof, too, from 4,900 “man-years” in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013.

Last year, Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven explained his vision for special ops globalization. In a statement to the House Armed Services Committee, he said, “USSOCOM is enhancing its global network of SOF to support our interagency and international partners in order to gain expanded situational awareness of emerging threats and opportunities. The network enables small, persistent presence in critical locations, and facilitates engagement where necessary or appropriate.”

According to TomDispatch, the presence may be small, but the reach and influence of those Special Operations forces are another matter. The 12 percent jump in national deployments, from 120 to 134, during McRaven’s tenure echoes his desire to put troops just about everywhere on Earth. SOCOM will not identify the nations involved, citing host nation sensitivities and the safety of American personnel.   Though the deployments known of shed some light on the full range of missions being carried out by America’s secret military.

The Nation reported that Obama, considered the antiwar candidate in 2008, has proved to be a commander-in-chief whose policies have already produced notable instances of what in CIA trade-speak has long been called blowback. While the Obama administration oversaw a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which was negotiated by the previous president, as well as a reduction in forces in Afghanistan, the president has presided over a ramping up of the U.S. military presence in Africa and Latin America and there is talk about an increased presence in Asia.  And deep in the shadows, Special Operations Forces are now annually deployed to more than double the number of nations as at the end of Bush’s tenure.

TomDispatch warns that without a clear picture of where the military’s covert forces are operating and what they are doing, Americans may not even recognize the consequences of and blowback from our expanding secret wars as they wash over the world.

In his blueprint for the future, “SOCOM 2020”, Admiral McRaven has touted the globalization of U.S. Special Operations as a means to “project power, promote stability, and prevent conflict.” Last year, SOCOM may have done just the opposite in 134 places.


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