Foreign Policy

In the Last Fiscal Year, Washington Sent Special Operations Forces to About 70% of the World's Nations

And there's a good chance they'll go to even more in 2014-15.

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How active is the U.S. military around the world? More than you probably think, Nick Turse reports at TomDispatch:

Join the SOF; see the world.

During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries—roughly 70% of the nations on the planet—according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This capped a three-year span in which the country's most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises. And this year could be a record-breaker….[J]ust 66 days into fiscal 2015—America's most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014's total.

Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans. Unlike the December debacle in Yemen, the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny.

While these numbers have increased considerably over the last decade—it's more than double the figure for Bush's last year in office—133 isn't the all-time record. The year before last, the number of nations hosting American Special Ops forces was a hair higher, at 134.

[Via Mother Jones.]

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  1. 70% is like a D-. We can do better than that.

  2. This is how you troll the feminazis.

    http://m.nationalreview.com/ar…..rine-timpf

    5. Sleep Manpnea

    Men snore because they have to keep imposing their existence on us even while they are asleep. It is of course different from women’s snoring. When a woman snores, it’s because she has been manterrupted all day and needs some way for her voice to be heard. By the way, if a man ever tells you that your snoring bothers him, what he really means is that he is uncomfortable with the idea of women being heard.

    1. That was excellent Restoras.
      Thanks.

  3. Hey?! I got sent all over, and I got neither pith helmet nor kilt. Bah!

    I don’t mind, too much, when the SF go to train local forces in counter insurgency (that is their primary function) – that should help keep us out of direct involvement/kinetic military operations/Overseas Contingency Operations/Leading From Behind or such.

    But SWAT Team to the planet…..eh, not so much.

    1. Hey?! I got sent all over, and I got neither pith helmet nor kilt. Bah!

      Clearly, you joined the wrong military!

      1. 1) I got sent to FT Irwin, and got a pith helmet there.

        I was in the OPFOR, though. And we never actually wore them.

        or

        2) If you wanth a pith helmet, you jutht need to athk nithely.

    2. “should”

      NEEDZ MOAR SFC JOHNNY APPLESEED!!

    3. Well sure but I bet you got that jaunty spring in your step, pearly whites, and a fancy pipe to boot!

      1. At the end of deployments, it was customary for people to indulge in a few cigars. There was even a Baghdad Cigar Club at Camp Liberty…or Victory(?).

        To be contrarian, I got a pipe and some Captain Black tobacco and tried to look professorial.

        1. You need tweed BDUs with suede elbow patches to really make it work.

          1. Just wear the brown shawl collar wool sweater.

    4. I had to buy my own kilt and pith helmet. I think I was robbed.

  4. Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans.

    The former part of this phrase should be emphasized, the latter is just scaremongering.

    At least, if we’re counting training exercises in Germany, France, Japan, S. Korea, etc. the issue is more about “Nothing left to cut.”, IMO.

    1. I also have a quibble with the ‘global war’ bit. If they are training I don’t think that counts as ‘war’. It also isn’t much of a secret if Colonel Bockholt is advertising it – as part of his official function and title – and it is being reported in Mother Jones…

      1. Agreed, everything after the comma is just ‘ZOMG! Americans outside America means war!’ scaremongering.

      2. I also have a quibble with the ‘global war’ bit. If they are training I don’t think that counts as ‘war’. It also isn’t much of a secret if Colonel Bockholt is advertising it – as part of his official function and title – and it is being reported in Mother Jones…

        I think he means secret as in secret-by-default-because-it-isn’t-being-examined.

        I do agree that “global war” isn’t the best term, but not for the same reason you do. Though the growth has been largely driven by the War on Terror, all these deployments do not add up to one vast conflict against one big foe; so the singular “war” isn’t really right.

  5. No problem with this. Training exercises are fine and entirely libertarian-kosher and in all honesty concern about them really is the sort of mindless isolationism non-interventionists should be avoiding. Far more useful would be pointing out what countries have had more controversial operations ongoing.

    1. Oversees training exercises are fine with me too. That’s a lot more countries than I would have guessed though.

  6. If this is training, how ’bout all those countries send the trainees here? They can pay their way here and spend money with the local suppliers!

    1. They can pay their way here and spend money with the local suppliers!

      NIMBY! If you’re hosting/offering civilians the chance to train with/against the SAS or GSG-9, fine. But if you’re consuming my tax dollars to train government soldiers to fight and kill, do it somewhere else.

    2. Best to train where you might/will have to fight. I do not think the Chadian Army has much of a budget to send people to Fort Riley, KS or Fort Polk, LA – but we can send a team of Crazy Green Hat Dudes to Chad to show ’em how to scoot around the Sahel and get the job done.
      Of course, that does transfer some of the cost to us, which is nae so cool.

      1. Best to train where you might/will have to fight.

        And, from a “well regulated militia” perspective, better to fight a force that was trained across the globe rather than down the road.

    3. Or an online course.

    4. Mother Jones is a Leftist rag. Count on them to try and make something sinister out of it.

      Sevo, we gain, directly and indirectly by sending our guys there. First, even in friendly countries, we collect intel. If our SOF forces go onto someone else’s military base, when they get back, they will spend some time with our intel guys getting debriefed. Never know when we have to invade them… 🙂

      They also get to practice language skills that may come in handy down the road in that country or another one that speaks that language. Ditto history & culture of the target country.

      Finally, U.S. military always seeks to influence other countries to adopt our military respect for civilian control of the military, respect for the law of land warfare, & other similar values.

  7. the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny

    What. A. Surprise.

    1. At least until about a month before retirement/separation when their book comes out…

  8. There is really no story here. The SOF includes things like FAO (Foriegn Area Officers) and numerous training and liaison relationships.

    The snake eaters and spooks spend 3/4s of their life away from home, specializing in the part of the world under their unit’s purview.

    I suspect if you read the PAO’s end of year statement going back in history, these numbers are completely normal.

  9. What a great return on investment we’re getting…

  10. How is that not a form of terrorism? If we found out there were Russians or Syrian military doing missions here we be freaking out

    1. There’s Russians and lots of other military doing missions here all the time, usually with our own military, but also for that county’s version of the State Department and/or Intelligence agency.

      If we catch them doing something they shouldn’t, they usually get a nice quiet invitation to leave.

      1. Exactly.

        Just like most of those “133 countries” were … training.

        Either training locals, or training with locals for practice.

        This is just the inverse of the occasional “Lunatic Right” freakout about “RUSSIAN TROOPS IN AMERICA!!!!!”.

    2. Don’t be silly, every Good American knows it’s not terrorism when their government does it.

      Don’t you watch the mainstream news?

  11. Non-story. SOF do plenty of non-kinetic COIN/FID/EIEIO all over the world every day because that’s their job. Most of what our QP’s do isn’t door-kicking Rambo shit. Training indigenous troops to handle the problems in their own back yard is a damn sight more preferable than sending regular troops over there to do it for them. And we’ve been doing this for a long time.

    1. Training indigenous troops to handle the problems in their own back yard is a damn sight more preferable than sending regular troops over there to do it for them.

      Those are not the only options.

      And we’ve been doing this for a long time.

      Not in this many countries.

  12. conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises

    Mostly training exercises.

    What TMLK said; this is a non-story.

    Well, unless you’re an isolationist, and I’m assured the Reason editorial line is non-isolationist, as far as one exists.

    1. Why should I pay for that?

      And don’t give me the “otherwise it’s boots on the ground” crap.

      (BTW, “isolationists” don’t want trade. To equate the term with people who don’t want military in other countries is poor usage of the English language.)

      Signed, former Marine, 2004-2008

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