US Special Ops Commanders Adapt to Limited Resources: Lessons from Ukraine

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U.S. special operations commanders are facing a tough balancing act: they need to incorporate more high-tech experts into their teams while also reducing their overall troop numbers by about 5,000 over the next five years.

This challenge is prompting a reorganization of commando teams, driven partly by lessons learned from Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the experiences of British special operations forces.

The U.S. Army Special Operations Command, which will bear the brunt of these personnel cuts, is considering enlarging its Green Beret teams to include individuals with specialized technical skills, like computer software experts who can reprogram drones on the spot.

This shift towards more technical expertise may extend across all military branches.

The cuts primarily stem from the Army’s decision to downsize its force by around 24,000 troops, reflecting a shift away from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency towards preparing for larger-scale combat operations.

This reduction also responds to recruitment challenges and the need to streamline the force.

To address the need for technical skills, the Army Special Operations Command is exploring ways to integrate individuals with high-tech expertise into its ranks.

However, there’s a recognition that some technical skills may be harder to teach than others, raising questions about the balance between training and recruitment for these roles.

The cuts have faced opposition in Congress, particularly regarding their impact on bases like Fort Liberty. Special Operations Command emphasizes the increasing demand for their services worldwide and the potential limitations posed by reducing troop numbers.

Over the years, special operations forces have grown in response to conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now, Pentagon leaders believe there’s room for some reduction.

Despite the cuts, there’s a recognition of the need to maintain readiness and flexibility, including the ability to quickly augment teams with specialists as needed.

As the force absorbs these changes, training will also need to evolve to incorporate more technology-focused skills. Adaptability is crucial, and efforts are underway to explore and integrate new technologies and tactics into training exercises and real-world missions.