Never before has a war so big been fought by so few: a global conflict waged by a relative handful of elite US troops, even while the scale of the fighting is incredible.”>
On May 8, the Pentagon announced that Abu Wahib was killed by a coalition airstrike in Rutba, Anbar Province, Iraqthe latest of several top-level ISIS officials to meet his objective over the past two months, as the Obama administration has steadily ratcheted up its war on the Islamic State not only in Iraq and Syria, but elsewhere in the Countries of the middle east, in Afghanistan, and Africa. Omar-al-Shishani, believed to be the chief ISIS minister of war, was killed in an airstrike in early March, while Haji Iman, the leading ISIS minister of finance and reputed first lieutenant of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, lost his life in a Special Forces-out commando raid intended to bring about his capture sometime around March 20.
To a degree unprecedented in American military history, the war against ISIS is a conflict spearheaded and orchestrated by the commandos, trainers, and consultants of the elite U.S. Special Operations Command( SOCOM ). And existing conflicts against ISIS is merely the headline-grabber in a much broader, underneath-the-radar fight being waged by Americas shadow warriors to combat instability and looming crisis wherever American vital interests are at stake.
The Special Forces-out communitys increasingly robust presence around the globe is scarcely restricted to deployments in active combat zone. Propelled by sharp spikes in demand worldwide for its unique expertise in irregular warfare and counter-terrorism, SOCOM appears to be well on its way to establishing what former SOCOM commander Admiral William McRaven calls its own global network of likeminded interagency friends and partners.
As of early 2016, almost half of the 7,500 Special Forces-out warriors overseas were posted outside the Middle East and Afghanistan, operating as both liaison and training teams inside more than 80 nations. Some of these teams are assigned to U.S. embassies, where they help to identify security risks, and provide advice to both the U.S. and foreign governments as to how these risks might be addressed before they reach crisis proportions. Others are attached immediately to armies, militias, and police forces as trainers and consultants to buttress local security abilities, and reduce the likelihood of interventions by conventional U.S. forces-out in the event of trouble.
Never before in American foreign policy has so much been entrusted to an elite cadre of unconventional war specialists.
In August 2014, McRaven, chief architect of the dramatic SEAL Team 6 raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, proclaimed, We are in the golden age of special operations. Today, signs abound that the secretive community of upper-class centurions from all four of the military forces that SOCOM oversees has grown considerably more important than it was two years ago in the execution of the Obama administrations national security policy as a whole.
In March, McRavens successor at SOCOM, Army General Joseph L. Votel, assumed the leading role of Central Command, by far and away the most strategically vital of the six regional commands in the American military. CENTCOM, of course, is responsible for overseeing operations throughout the Countries of the middle east, Southwest Asia, and North Africa, the epicenter of the Global War on Terror.