Never content to learn from mistakes in the past when they can simply repeat them, word comes that the U.S. Army is not just telling Special Forces to re-structure and re-imagine their role in the new future of conflict between Great Powers (Russia and China being the focus... as if this is suddenly new), and that the future isn't small unit conflicts and unconventional warfare; but is also busy decommissioning the Asymmetric Warfare Group and similar forward-thinking units which were intended to bring SOF-type lessons learned and abilities to the regular army. The focus is going to be back on large units, open warfare, and technology over people.
Now, I'm not going to say SF or SOF is perfect by any stretch. But, if the past twenty years have shown anything it is the importance of those highly trained, small units with these capabilities can achieve results far in excess of their size. Furthermore, they build a rapport and credibility with other nations which the big Army (and military as a whole) has struggled to match. This was reflected in (and jealously observed) the increased budgets, responsibilities and mission creep which SOF units saw during the GWOT years.
Unfortunately, the powers that be have long memories, and a deep-seated distrust for the unconventional. And, just as in years past, now that the opportunity presents itself, the machine is returning to the West Point model of grand armies and mechanized forces which fit their nice little playbooks. Presuming that our possible foes are going to follow the same rules - despite the overwhelming evidence otherwise, the use of proxy forces, unconventional techniques and 4th generation warfare.
Let's hope someone figures this out before the system entrenches such thoughts once more. Let's also hope the other services stay their own path and look at reality on the ground, instead of magical pipe dreams.
Unfortunately, I'm not holding my breath. Instead, in a few years, they'll be learning the truths again (as preached by SOCOM and based on lessons from the 1980s):
- Humans are more important than hardware
- Quality is better than quantity
- Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced
- Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur
- Most special operations require non-SOF assistance