Whether or not the American public still has the taste for war is up for debate, but war hawks are focusing on making war quieter and with less impact so the public will not even notice. Speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 24th Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict Michael Sheehan made the case for waging shadow wars with a small footprint:
Special operations forces play a major role in security force assistance as well as in direct action, Sheehan noted. Security force assistance takes two approaches, he explained: training local forces to control border areas and deny space and sanctuary to terrorists, and training specialized counterterror forces.
U.S. special operations forces have, throughout their history, focused largely on training host-nation militaries, Sheehan said.
In Somalia, he noted, “the African Union and a multinational force led by the Ugandans … did a darn good job, and we helped them. Their job was to control space … and push al-Shabaab off.” Meanwhile, he added, other units focused on high-value targets and other leaders of the organization.
“Coupled together, we had a strategy that worked,” Sheehan said.
Photo: A Soldier exits a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in the village of Darrah-I-Bum, Badghis Province, Afghanistan; photo by U.S. Marine Sgt. Brian Kester.