U.S. considers new special-ops flexibility

May 5, 2012 at 12:10 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- The Pentagon's top special-operations chief is proposing changes that would give his command more authority to deploy commando units around the world.

A plan developed by Adm. William McRaven would give his Special Operations Command more responsibility for deciding where his troops should be sent for both training missions and actual operations without having to wait for requests from the commanders of conventional forces in a particular region.

"Who better to say where special operations forces should be than the commander of Special Operations Command, with years of experience behind him?" one of McRaven's aides told the Los Angeles Times.

The proposal would establish regional special-ops teams that would work with diplomats, intelligence agencies and foreign governments to determine where U.S. units would be sent and what their missions would be.

McRaven's report stresses that "non-state actors" such as al-Qaida will remain a threat for the coming years despite their setbacks. The Times said the strategy of relying more heavily on unconventional forces also jibes with the Obama administration's reliance on special operations and its proposed cuts to the overall defense budget.

The proposal is still being developed; however, some critics were wary of weakening the checks and balances in the current command system. One retired general told the Times it was a "terrible idea."

The general added special operations "are wonderful, but they are focused on grabbing a terrorist or some other mission of the moment, and they don't want to be slowed down by anything."

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