By the end of this decade or probably early in the next decade, special operations forces will essentially be twice as large as they were at the beginning of the decade. The numbers of special forces troops will increase from the current levels of about 15,000 to somewhere around 64,000. The budget for the Special Operations Command will more than double in the next year.
Special forces include Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, Army Rangers and Navy Seals as well as a number of classified units. More recently there has been a new Marine Corps Special Operations Command unit.
This is the largest growth in special operations force history. What the United States is building is the special operations component of the global war on terrorism for the future, according to Mr. Vickers.
At the moment, the United States maintains special operations forces in some 60 countries. The vast majority - 80 percent - of those right now are concentrated in the greater Middle East or the United States Central Command area of responsibility; the bulk of those of course in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is one of the reasons why the United States is expanding its force significantly.
Mr. Vickers said that the terrorists’ sanctuary in Afghanistan was not the only pre-9/11 problem, although he qualified it as a “very, very severe problem.”
What preoccupied him were terrorist groups with global reach; i.e. the European cells, those in East Africa, in the Arabian Peninsula, in Southeast Asia. Mr. Vickers described it as “a global problem that exploited globalization.”
But new efforts combined with new tactics began to show positive results, particularly in Saudi Arabia against a group known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that initially was doing rather well until the tides turned on them. And more recently there have been some great successes against al Qaeda in Iraq.
“Al Qaeda in Iraq is now a whisper of what it used to be,” Mr. Vickers said.
However, he warned that it doesn’t mean that the threat is completely dissipated. “But its capabilities are a lot less on many metrics than it was a couple of years ago.”
Al Qaeda also has demonstrated a capability to regenerate, regroup and resurge.
“When they get set back, they’re able to replace some losses, not necessarily to the previous level, not necessarily to the same skill in some individuals, but they do have a regeneration capability,” Mr. Vickers said.
The hundreds of special forces members trying to track down Osama bin Laden have not prevented the most wanted man on the planet from writing a book.
Indeed, according to a report from the U.S. State Department’s counterterrorist unit, bin Laden is writing a book called “Nidal,” or “Struggle.”
This, according to Pakistani sources, is to respond to “negative propaganda and insufficient information” about al Qaeda. The book will be written in Arabic and translated into English.
The report states that bin Laden will play up on “atrocities” committed by the West against Muslims and how the “crusaders” have harmed world development.View Entire Story
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