Special Operations Command chief U.S. Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson revised a strategic doctrine outlined by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld in 2004 said he wanted the elite force, based in Tampa, Fla., to operate unilaterally to track down terror suspects.
Former Special Operations officer Roger Carstens with the policy institute Center for a New American Security said the division "came to the conclusion that its role is not to be that of a global Lone Ranger who shows up at the last second to dispatch the bad guys," The New York Times said.
Anonymous officials close to Olson told the Times the move is more a reinterpretation of the Rumsfeld policy than a reversal. The Special Operations Command maintains its authority to carry out autonomous missions but only with the approval of the U.S. president or defense secretary, sources told the Times.
The Special Operations Command is one of the most secretive units in the U.S. military. The unit was involved in the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in December 2003.