The NY Times among others have been touting that Special Forces will play the lead role in Afghanistan after conventional forces are pulled out. (See for example “Afghan Commandos Step Their Combat Role” at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/world/asia/us-special-operations-step-up-in-afghanistan.html?_r=0; which is also the photo source.) The Times pegs the Special Operations force to be about one third of the total in February 2014 which means it will be a greater percentage of the force as the pull out progresses.
This particular article talks about the extensive training facilities built to train Afghan Special Operations and the training they are given. Like other media, the Times notes that “advising local military units on the front lines and hunting down top insurgent or terrorist leaders – will become the major focus of the alliance’s effort here either until American troops are withdrawn by the target date of December 2014 or the Afghan government asks them to stay past then.”
MISO provides support to US SOF and given the close relationship of the active duty MISO Forces and their SF kin on Fort Bragg, there is more than likely cross fertilization from one community to the other.
MISO support to SOF operations clearly goes beyond Afghanistan and is a crucial element in the overall mission mix and arguably US Foreign Policy. But where does this concentration on SOF leave the rest of the force?
At one point the reigning philosophy was that RC MISO would support the “Big Army” while active MISO would support Special Operations. If the conventional force needed immediate MISO support, the active force could be applied there until the Reserve force could cover down – at least that’s the theory.
I’m wondering where we stand today. Have we (including SWC) learned the lesson of transitioning our doctrine and training from today to tomorrow? Are we growing a MISO force that is equally at home in a media dense urban environment and in a developing nation still struggling to give its population adequate drinking water?
MISO is a growth industry. Events in Syria, Africa and elsewhere are simmering indications that influence operations are ongoing by our adversaries and enemies. It’s only a matter of time before US forces, SOF and Conventional are engaged in new AOs, perhaps areas where we haven’t been before. Will we be ready or will we be experts on Afghanistan?