April 16, 2020

US special operations forces are special — but they're not 'elite'

By Lt Col Stewart J. Parker

America's special operations forces (SOF) are in high demand and their global presence is growing. In 2019, SOF operated in 141 countries, up from only 60 just over a decade ago. Rightfully, SOF have earned a reputation for their tremendous successes, like killing Osama bin Laden in 2011.

As the pace increases, so have concerns over their behavior. But the nation's reverence for its SOF may itself be part of the problem — for too long, media has labeled SOF as more "elite" than the rest of the military. But the term "elite" implies better, and this raises the question, better for what?

Throughout history, SOF have evolved in myriad ways, most memorably with the creation of US Army Special Forces, whose Green Berets were officially recognized by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

Today, all military personnel assigned under United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), are known by the umbrella term "special operations forces" (SOF). But America's response to the 9/11 attacks pushed SOF into the limelight like never before, leading the way in global counter-terror (CT) and counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, and earning the media's label as the "elite" echelon of the US military.

Read the full article in Business Insider.

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