July 20, 2018
التقرير الدوري لمراكز الابحاث الاميركية 

 

 


 
يسمح بإعادة نشر المواد شريطة الإشارة إلى المصدر وعدم إدخال تعديلات على النص وعدم استخدامه للكسب التجاري
 


التقرير الدوري لمراكز الابحاث الأميركية: د. منذر سليمان  
 
نشرة دورية تصدر عن وحدة
"رصد النخب الفكرية
في
مركز الدراسات الأميركية والعربية
Center for American and Arab Studies
                                                        
 

20/ تموز - يوليو/‏ 2018     07/20/2018


    

Introduction  
Trumps missteps at the press conference with Putin were the subject of discussion this week.  However, production of think tank papers is slow as America is in the middle of its summer vacation period.
The Monitor analysis this week looks at the long arm of US Special Forces.  Although a secret part of American foreign policy, US Special Forces implements American foreign policy is about 75% of the nations of the earth.

 

 



المقدمة      

          أثارت قمة هلسنكي بين القوتين العظميين عواصف وردود أفعال حادة وقوية، تكاد لا تنتهي، في الداخل الأميركي، رفضاً أو امتعاضاً من أداء الرئيس ترامب واتهامه بالاصطفاف إلى جانب أجهزة الاستخبارات الروسية ضد "تعليمات وتوجيهات" منظومة الأجهزة الأمنية والاستخباراتية الأميركية. وأضحت مادة تجاذب وتنافر يومية بين مختلف القوى والتوجهات السياسية والنخب الفكرية والإعلامية.


          سيستعرض قسم التحليل مسألة يحجبها الإعلام بشكل شبه تام، تتعلق بالنفوذ العسكري الأميركي، ألا وهي دور القوات الخاصة الأميركية ونشرها في عدة أقاليم تغطي مساحة نحو 75% من الكرة الأرضية، كذراع متمم للسياسة الخارجية الأميركية.

 


ملخص دراسات واصدارات مراكز الأبحاث

 

ترامب وحلف الناتو


          اداء الرئيس ترامب في مؤتمر حلف الناتو الأخير أثار زوبعة انتقادات داخلية. واعتبر معهد كارنيغي أن الاجواء الصاخبة هذه السنة كانت غير مسبوقة في تاريخ الحلف الذي عادة ما تسوده لغة الوفاق والتعاون في اليوم الأول لانعقاده ".. ويجنح القادة إلى الإلتزام بخطاباتهم المعدة سلفا." وأضاف أن الرئيس ترامب "استشاط غضباً في الدقائق الأولى للقاء حضره مندوبو جورجيا واوكرانيا؛ وانفرد بسيل من الانتقادات ضد المانيا واسبانيا والبينيلوكس لتخلفها عن الوفاء بالتزاماتها" بتخصيص 2% من ميزانياتها للإنفاق العسكري "وطُلب من وفدي جورجيا واوكرانيا إخلاء قاعة المؤتمر لفسح المجال للقاء طاريء أعلن عنه السكرتير العام للحلف."

https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/76814

 
          اعتبر معهد هدسون أن "القادة الاوروبيين كانوا قلقين" من الرئيس ترامب قبل انعقاد لقاء القمة مع الرئيس الروسي، وفي الخلفية شن الرئيس الأميركي "حرباً كلامية ضد أقوى حلفاء الولايات المتحدة .. متهماً الإتحاد الاوروبي باستغلال أميركا؛ وبأن الشعوب الاوروبية تدير ظهرها لقياداتها." وخلص بالقول أن محصلة عداء الرئيس ترامب بالتشديد على "اميركا أولاً يعني أن أوروبا تقف وحيدة."

https://www.hudson.org/research/14455-europe-in-the-new-era-of-great-power-competition

اليمن
          تناولت مؤسسة هاريتاج أهمية باب المندب "كممر بحري استراتيجي والأكثر خطورة ومتنازع عليه في السياق الجيو-سياسي .. وتمر به كافة البضائع الآسيوية ومنطقة الخليج متجهة إلى الأسواق الغربية." واشارت إلى تعاظم أهميته لدى كافة القوى العالمية مما دفع عدد منها "انشاء قواعد عسكرية بالقرب منه في جيبوتي .. التي تنطلق منها العمليات الأميركية ولحلف الناتو لمكافحة الإرهاب."

https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/bab-el-mandeb-the-us-ignores-the-most-dangerous-strait-the-world-its-peril

ايران
          استعرضت مؤسسة هاريتاج الاحتجاجات الأخيرة التي شهدتها ايران لا سيما بعد انضمام "شريحة تجار البازار والتي تصنف ضمن مؤيدي نظام الملالي؛ والذين لعبوا دوراً هاماً في تمويل المتشددين الاسلاميين بقيادة أية الله الخميني." وأوضحت انه بخلاف توجهات الخميني الذي لم يعر بالاً للجانب الاقتصادي فإن خلفاءه لا يتمتعون بترف تجاهل تردي الأوضاع الاقتصادية."

https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/iranian-protests-underscore-regimes-vulnerability

تركيا
          اعتبر مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية الانتخابات التركية الأخيرة بأنها شكلت "مفصلاً متمماً لنوايا الرئيس رجب طيب اردوغان بتحويل تركيا إلى نظام رئاسي؛ وبالمقابل قلصت سلطات الجمعية الوطنية العامة .. وتشريع اسلوب حكم رئاسي كان ينادي به (اردوغان) لوجه تركيا الجديد."

https://www.csis.org/analysis/erdogan-takes-total-control-new-turkey


 

التحليل

     
القوات الخاصة الأميركية
سلاح رديف وذراع للسياسة الخارجية

 

          تعاظم اهتمام المؤسسة العسكرية الأميركية بفرق نخب القوات الخاصة مع تبلور سياسة الهيمنة والسيطرة والغزو الأميركية مطلع الألفية الثانية بولاية الرئيس الأسبق جورج بوش الإبن، وتبنيها لشعار "الحرب الكونية على الإرهاب." كما لعبت دوراً هاماً في العدوان الأميركي على فييتنام عرفت "بالقبعات الخضر،" آنذاك.

          ذاع صيتها مع دخول سلاح الطائرات المسيّرة لأغراض "الاستطلاع والتجسس والبحث" وتسخيرها لأهداف منتقاة، والتحليق في الليل باستخدام تقنية متطورة للإضاءة والاستشعار، ومن ضمنها القيام بعمليات اغتيال. وأضحى مزيج من القوات الخاصة والطائرات المسيّرة السلاح المفضل لدى الرؤساء الأميركيين لشن حروب واعتداءات بعيداً عن المساءلة الداخلية، من ناحية، وتضمين كلفتها وميزانياتها المتصاعدة في موازنة وزارة الدفاع ووكالة الاستخبارات المركزية.

          باستثناء هوية قائد القوات الخاصة المعلنة فإن طواقمها من الأسلحة المختلفة، البرية والبحرية والجوية، لا يعرف عنها الكثير لتحديد هوية اعضائها.


          للقوات الخاصة قيادة مركزية استحدثتها البنتاغون في 16 نيسان/ابريل 1987 مقرها في قاعدة ماكديل الجوية بولاية فلوريدا؛ وتوسعت مهامها وقواها البشرية والمادية في عام 2004 وفق قرار رئاسي يخولها ".. مسؤولية الإشراف على تناغم خطط وزارة الدفاع لمكافحة شبكات الإرهاب العالمية والقيام بعمليات على الصعيد الدولي، حسب التعليمات الصادرة." بعبارة أخرى كلفت القوات الخاصة بتنسيق وتحديد اولويات العمليات العسكرية وإطلاع هيئة الأركان المشتركة عليها قبل تنفيذها. (موقع قيادة عمليات القوات الخاصة الالكتروني).
تضم القوات الخاصة نحو 60،000 عسكري (لعام 2017)، ارتفعت لـ 70،000 منتسب من مختلف الأفرع العسكرية: القوات البرية ومجموعة القبعات الخضر؛ سلاح مشاة البحرية والضفادع البشرية؛ قوات النخبة في سلاح المارينز؛ سلاح الجو وطواقمه التكتيكية.
زيادة الأعداد البشرية للقوات رافقها توسيع رقعة انتشارها تشن حروباً "سرية" في نحو 149 دولة (لعام 2017) مما يعادل 75% من مجموع الكتلة البشرية في العالم قاطبة. بيانات قيادة القوات الرسمية تدل على تزايد مضطرد في انتشارها عبر العالم منذ عام 2006. ".. 54% من القوات ذهبت لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط الكبير في عام 2017؛ نحو17% الى دول إفريقية و 16% لمناطق متعددة في اوروبا" أغلبها لدول تقع بمحاذاة الحدود مع روسيا.
للمقارنة، بلغ عدد أفراد القوات الخاصة المنتشرة عام 2001 نحو 2،900 عنصر. بالمقابل، تشير البيانات الرسمية الحالية إلى نحو 8،300 عنصر. ميزانية القوات لعام 2001 ما ينوف عن 3 مليارات دولار؛ وحاليا تتعدى 12 مليار دولار. بالمعدل، وفق البيانات عينها، يحصى انتشار نحو 8،000 عنصر يومياً في 90 دولة تقريباً؛ يتحمل سلاح الجيش وقواته الخاصة وزر نحو 60% من مجموع العمليات الخارجية والذين ينتشرون على أراضي 70 دولة. أما وحدات الضفادع البشرية التابعة لسلاح البحرية فلديها ما يقرب من 1،000 عنصر ينتشرون على نحو 35  دولة.


عمليات القوات الخاصة المنتشرة عالمياً تحاط بجدار من السرية إلا في بعض الحالات النادرة التي تمنى فيها بمقتل بعض افرادها أو تسريب معلومات يقوم به أفراد من قوات الدول المشاركة في العمليات، كما شهدنا في ليبيا والصومال وتشاد ومالي.


مأزق القوات الخاصة


نظراً لطبيعة المهام الحساسة المنوطة بتلك القوات فإن برامج تدريبها وتأهيلها تعد أطول من نظرائها في الأسلحة الأخرى وأكثر كلفة، فضلاً عن خروج إرادي بمعدلات أكبر لأعضائها لعدم القدرة على تحمل المزيد من الضغوط النفسية والشخصية عليهم.


كما أن اتساع رقعة انتشارها عبر العالم، بقوات محدودة العدد نسبياً، فالمتوفر منها لتنفيذ عمليات ذات طبيعة حساسة، سواء في الشرق الأوسط أو ساحات أخرى ملتهبة، ليس كافيا، مما يستدعي تخفيض عدد القوات المخصصة للقتال في ساحات "غير ساخنة."


وقد أوضح وزير الدفاع جيمس ماتيس حجم المعاناة داخل تلك القوات بقوله للكونغرس ".. سنمضي قدماً في تنفيذ الحملة ضد الإرهاب؛ لكن أولوية الاهتمام بالنسبة للأمن القومي للولايات المتحدة هي لمسرح تنافس القوى العظمى، وليس الإرهاب" في إشارة إلى روسيا والصين.
أمام هذه اللوحة من رقعة الانتشار الواسعة ومأزق التدريب وصون المنتسبين للقوات الخاصة لخدمة أطول، تتداول البنتاغون بعض الخيارات "القاسية،" كتخفيض عدد القوات بنسبة 25% على امتداد 18 شهراً، على أن يبلغ نسبة 50% بعد ثلاثة أعوام، وما ستتركه من تداعيات على عمليات مكافحة الإرهاب.


وشخصت يومية نيويورك تايمز حالة التقليص في المسرح الإفريقي والتي ستطال نحو 700 عنصر وهو رقم مماثل لما كان عليه عددها في عام 2014. واضافت نقلاً عن مصدر رفيع في البنتاغون أن قيادة القوات الخاصة الأميركية في إفريقيا عممت على عناصرها "عند التخطيط لتنفيذ مهام قتالية يفضل عدم الانخراط المباشر في القتال أو عدم الذهاب من الأساس."
بيانات ميزانيات وزارة الدفاع لعام 2019 لا تشير إلى نية تقليص عدد القوات الخاصة، بل على العكس تطالب بزيادة أفرادها بنحو 1،000 عنصر جديد؛ ويتهيأ الكونغرس للمصادقة على مضاعفة العدد المطلوب إلى 2،000 عنصر.


التطورات الدولية الراهنة حفزت بعض قيادات الكونغرس النافذة إلى حصر مسرح عمليات القوات الخاصة بالمهام السرية، واعفائها من مهام تدريب القوات الأخرى. ونقل عن مكتب السيناتور الجمهورية جوني ايرنست قولها أنه "ينبغي علينا إشراك القوات العسكرية التقليدية لتنفيذ مهام تناسبها أينما كان ملائماً لها، ونقل مسؤولية تنفيذ العمليات للقوات المحلية."
رئيس قيادة القوات الخاصة، ريموند توماس الثالث، اوضح للكونغرس مأزق المهام المنوطة بالقوات الخاصة قائلاً ".. لماذا ينبغي على وحدات القبعات الخضر وسلاح الضفادع البشرية إيجاد حل لقضايا تتعلق بالأمن القومي – المسائل الإستراتيجية تنبغي معالجتها من قبل صناع القرار السياسي .."


علاقة عضوية مع الإعلام


يشار إلى أن التعاون الوثيق بين صناعة هوليوود والمؤسسة العسكرية الأميركية ليس حديث العهد؛ وانضمت هوليوود لمساعي المؤسسة العسكرية لترويج دور تلك القوات وانتاج مادة فيلمية تمجّد "الجانب الإنساني في مكافحتها مفاصل الإرهاب."  شرعت وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية عام 1996 بالإعلان عن إنشائها مكتباً للتنسيق بينها وبين "صناعة الترفيه، وتقديم خبرة المستشارين من ضباط الوكالة" للمنتجين.


          في منتصف عام 2012، شهدت الأسواق التجارية طرح فيلم يحكي قصة زائفة لفريق من القوات الخاصة الأميركية "بالتنسيق مع نظرائهم في النرويج واستراليا،" لإنقاذ عمدة مدينة تامبا بولاية فلوريدا بعد أن أصبح رهينة. وبطريق "المصادفة،" شهدت تلك الفترة ترشيح ميت رومني للانتخابات الرئاسية نيابة عن الحزب الجمهوري، وما تحمله من دلالات لصوغ الوعي الجمعي وتوجيهه بالتفاعل الإيجابي مع التشكيلات العسكرية – القوات الخاصة.


ماذا بعد


منذ انشاء وحدات القوات الخاصة، برع الرؤساء الأميركيين المتعاقبين في تسخيرها لتنفيذ مهام خارج الحدود الأميركية "في أي وقت،" مستغلين صلاحيات المنصب الرئاسي وميزاته بعدم الحصول على إذن مسبق لشن عمليات عسكرية، أو تبريرها في أغلب الأحيان. فييتنام والعراق وما بينهما تشهدان على ذلك بشل صارخ.


انطلاقاً من هذا الفهم فمن المرجح توسيع صلاحيات الرؤساء لاستخدام القوات الخاصة، وما يرافقها من معدات متطورة أبرزها الطائرات المسيّرة، في أي مكان في العالم وفق ضابية مفهوم ما "تقتضيه المصالح العليا للولايات المتحدة."

 

 

ANALYSIS, PUBLICATIONS, AND ARTICLES
 
Think Tanks Activity Summary

(For further details, scroll down to the PUBLICATIONS section)

The CSIS looks at Erdogan’s complete take over of Turkey’s government.  They note, “July 9, 2018 will go down in Turkish political history as the day on which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan completed the transformation of Turkey to a presidential system he personally designed and shepherded to realization…Having emerged with a new mandate after Turkey’s first simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, Erdogan thus transitioned from the de facto control he had been exercising in the previous parliamentary system of government, since his election to the presidency in August 2014, to de jure management of what he has been calling “New Turkey.”
 
The Carnegie Endowment says the latest NATO meeting shows that this is now Trump’s NATO.  They note, “A pattern has clearly emerged: the U.S. president uses these events to speak to home audiences. He’s permanently campaigning, and the low defense spending by Europeans does play well with the American public, which is understandably upset that the United States has come to carry such disproportionate share of the alliance’s defense burden. What’s agreed to in meeting rooms makes little difference to voter intentions; the drama that Trump creates does, because it shows him as resolute. He’s causing crises for the sake of crises. Sometimes they change others’ behavior, sometimes they backfire. What matters is whether he is seen as getting things done.  The alliance remains a strange little oasis amidst the wreckage of what used to be transatlantic cooperation on Iran or global warming. What hangs over it is the question of whether Donald Trump would risk American lives if Europe were at risk. We do not know for sure, but he could. That boils down to deterrence—and that might continue to discourage Russia from doing anything foolish.
 
The Hudson Institute asks if Europe must go it alone in this new era.  They note, “In an extraordinarily short time, Trump has begun to pivot the United States away from 70 years of U.S. foreign policy, which promoted European integration as a bedrock of U.S. security. Now that Washington aims to compete in Europe rather than alongside Europe, it will try to pick off European countries by dangling bilateral trade deals in front of them, such as the one Trump offered Macron. As the international relations expert Thomas Wright has argued, this could include using the United Kingdom’s weakened post-Brexit position to pressure it into signing a free trade agreement with the United States over one with the EU. The United States, in a predatory stance, will also exploit its greatest leverage, its defense and security commitments, to get short-term deals on trade. It will dole out defense dollars to the most loyal while punishing those who stand up to it. For 2019, Congress committed $6.3 billion toward the European Deterrence Initiative, an increase of $1.8 billion from 2018. Those funds, which are aimed at deterring Russia, disproportionately go to U.S. military forward presence and readiness in eastern Europe. But at the same time, the Pentagon is assessing the costs of U.S. military presence in Germany and the potential impact of withdrawing the 35,000 U.S. troops currently positioned there. These seemingly contradictory impulses—significant spending increases on European defense coupled with concerns over costs associated with keeping U.S. troops in Germany—make sense from the perspective of a United States interested in breaking up Europe rather than preserving it.”
 
The Heritage Foundation looks at the demonstrations in Iran.  They conclude, “The United States should publicize, promote, and support the legitimate political, civil, and economic grievances of Iranians and foster their efforts to recover freedom from the totalitarian Islamist dictatorship. Washington cannot orchestrate regime change in Iran, but it can help create an environment where change is possible. Ultimately, it is the Iranian people who will hold the regime accountable for its crimes. The United States can assist by undermining the power of the ayatollahs through sanctions and by driving up the long-term costs of the regime’s malign policies. The regime must be convinced that if it continues on its present course, then it risks not only a domestic backlash against the skyrocketing price of melons, but also its own survival.”
 
The Heritage Foundation looks at the threat posed in the Bab el-Mandeb strait.  They conclude, “The threat posed to shipping through the Bab el-Mandeb from Yemen is real. In 2016,  missiles were fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels at a U.S. Navy warship near the Bab el-Mandeb. Houthi forces also have deployed mines along Yemen’s coast and used a remote-controlled boat packed with explosives in an unsuccessful attack on the Yemeni port of Mokha in July 2017. Finally, the Houthi have also launched several unsuccessful naval attacks against ships in the Red Sea, including gunboats damaging a Saudi oil tanker near the port of Hodeidah last April. When you combine Djibouti’s economic and political problems with Yemen’s security challenges, you get a deadly geopolitical cocktail directly threatening international shipping and U.S. interests. Considering oil tankers transport approximately 4.7 million barrels of oil per day through the Bab el-Mandeb, the stakes are even higher. With growing Chinese involvement, a never-ending civil war in Yemen that has become a breeding ground for terrorism. Thanks to this, and Iran’s increasing role in the region, the United States cannot afford to ignore the Bab el-Mandeb.”

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

US Special Forces – The Long Arm of American Foreign Policy

Forget President Trump’s steps and missteps while travelling overseas.  They have little to do with the execution of American foreign policy.  The fact is that a nation is much more likely to have US Special Forces operate in their country than have a visit by Trump – or a senior American official like the Secretary of State.
Despite campaign promises to bring American troops home and Americans’ growing distaste for foreign military involvement, the US military is everywhere.  In fact about 75% of the world’s countries have had US Special Forces operations carried out on their territory this year alone.
In fact, if American Special Forces deploy to just 17 more countries by the end of the fiscal year, they will exceed last year’s record-breaking total.
Ironically, although they are paying for it, Americans are woefully unaware of what is happening.
Early last month, a tiny military post near the town of Jamaame in Somalia, was attacked with small arms fire. When the attack was over, one Somali soldier had been wounded.  However, American Special Forces were also operating from that outpost and four of them were wounded, three badly enough to be evacuated for further medical care. Another American, Staff Sergeant Alexander Conrad, a member of the U.S. Army’s Green Berets was killed.
This story isn’t that unusual.  Last December, Green Berets operating alongside local forces in Niger killed 11 ISIS militants in a firefight. Two months earlier, in October, an ambush by an ISIS group in that same country left four U.S. soldiers dead.  The Pentagon first described that mission as providing “advice and assistance” to local forces, then as a “reconnaissance patrol” as part of a broader “train, advise, and assist” mission, before it was finally exposed as a kill or capture operation. 
Last May, a Navy SEAL was killed and two other U.S. personnel were wounded in a raid in Somalia that the Pentagon described as an “advise, assist, and accompany” mission. And a month earlier, a U.S. commando reportedly killed a member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal militia that has terrorized parts of Central Africa for decades.
And there had been, as the New York Times noted in March, at least 10 other previously unreported attacks on American troops in West Africa between 2015 and 2017. 
For at least five years, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other members of the US Special Forces community have been operating under a little-understood legal authority known as Section 127e.   As a result, American Special Forces have been involved in reconnaissance and “direct action” combat raids with African special operators in Somalia, Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia.
For decades, America’s Special Operations forces (SOF) have been regularly engaged in a wide-ranging set of missions including special reconnaissance and small-scale offensive actions, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and security force assistance (that is, organizing, training, equipping, and advising foreign troops). And every day, almost everywhere, U.S. commandos are involved in various kinds of training.
Unless they end in disaster, most missions remain in the shadows.  Yet in 2017 alone, U.S. SOFs deployed to 149 countries -- about 75% of the nations on the planet.  At the halfway mark of this year, according to figures provided to reporters by U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM), America’s most elite troops have already carried out missions in 133 countries. That’s nearly as many deployments as occurred during the last year of the Obama administration and more than double those of the final days of George W. Bush’s White House.
 “USSOCOM plays an integral role in opposing today’s threats to our nation, to protecting the American people, to securing our homeland, and in maintaining favorable regional balances of power,” General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command, told members of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year. “However, as we focus on today’s operations we must be equally focused on required future transformation. SOF must adapt, develop, procure, and field new capabilities in the interest of continuing to be a unique, lethal, and agile part of the Joint Force of tomorrow.”
Special Operations forces have actually been in a state of transformation ever since September 11, 2001. In the years since, they have grown in every possible way -- from their budget to their size, to their pace of operations, to the geographic sweep of their missions. In 2001, for example, an average of 2,900 SF soldiers was deployed overseas in any given week. That number has now soared to 8,300, according to SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw. At the same time, the number of “authorized military positions” -- the active-duty troops, reservists, and National Guardsmen that are part of SOCOM -- has jumped from 42,800 in 2001 to 63,500 today. While each of the military service branches -- the so-called parent services -- provides funding, including pay, benefits, and some equipment to their elite forces, “Special Operations-specific funding,” at $3.1 billion in 2001, is now at $12.3 billion. (The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps also provide their special operations units with about $8 billion annually.)
This means that, on any given day, more than 8,000 Special Forces soldiers are deployed in approximately 90 countries. Most of those troops are Green Berets, Rangers, or other Army Special Operations personnel. According to Lieutenant General Kenneth Tovo, head of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command until his retirement last month, that branch provides more than 51% of all Special Operations forces and accounts for more than 60% of their overseas deployments. On any given day, just the Army’s elite soldiers are operating in around 70 countries.
These deployments aren’t just in trouble spots.  They also deploy in neutral countries and even in countries where the relationship between President Trump and the national leadership is less than cordial.  In February, for instance, Army Rangers carried out several weeks of winter warfare training in Germany, while Green Berets practiced missions involving snowmobiles in Sweden.
They also train with special forces of other nations.  In April, Green Berets took part in the annual Flintlock multinational Special Operations forces training exercise conducted in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Senegal that involved Nigerien, Burkinabe, Malian, Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese troops, among others.
While most missions involve training, instruction, or war games, Special Forces soldiers are also regularly involved in combat operations across America’s expansive global war on terror. A month after Flintlock, for example, Green Berets accompanied local commandos on a nighttime air assault raid in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.
Although Army Special Forces are carrying the majority of the load, the Navy, according to Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, chief of Naval Special Warfare Command, has about 1,000 SEALs or other personnel deployed to more than 35 countries each day. In February, Naval Special Warfare forces and soldiers from Army Special Operations Aviation Command conducted training aboard a French amphibious assault ship in the Arabian Gulf. That same month, Navy SEALs joined elite U.S. Air Force personnel in training alongside Royal Thai Naval Special Warfare operators during Cobra Gold, an annual exercise in Thailand.
The troops from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, or MARSOC, deploy primarily to the Middle East, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific regions on six-month rotations. At any time, on average, about 400 “Raiders” are engaged in missions across 18 countries.
Air Force Special Operations Command, which fields a force of 19,500 active, reserve, and civilian personnel, conducted 78 joint-training exercises and events with other nations in 2017, according to Lieutenant General Marshall Webb, chief of Air Force Special Operations Command. In February, for example, Air Force commandos conducted Arctic training -- ski maneuvers and free-fall air operations -- in Sweden, but such training missions are only part of the story. Air Force special operators were, for instance, recently deployed to aid the attempt to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped deep inside a cave in Thailand. The Air Force also has three active duty special operations wings assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command, including the 24th Special Operations Wing, a “special tactics” unit that integrates air and ground forces for “precision-strike” and personnel-recovery missions. At a change of command ceremony in March, it was noted that its personnel had conducted almost 2,900 combat missions over the last two years.
One area of dramatic SF operational growth has been in Africa. In 2006, just 1% of all American commandos deployed overseas were operating in Africa. By 2016, that number had jumped above 17%. By then, there were more special operations personnel devoted to Africa -- 1,700 special operators spread out across 20 countries -- than anywhere else except the Middle East.
Cutting Back on SF Operations
Although Special Forces are effective, they are expensive to train and take time to bring online.  In addition, the pace of operations has led to “burnout” as SF soldiers leave after their enlistment time is up either to spend more time with family, take a normal job, or take advantage of education opportunities.
The other problem is that they are deployed too widely, which means there aren’t enough for “critical” SF missions in the Middle East.  This means paring down the number of SF forces in “non-critical” regions.
For years, members of SOCOM, as well as supporters in Congress, have been complaining about the soaring operations tempo for America’s elite troops and the resulting strains on them. “Most SOF units are employed to their sustainable limit,” General Thomas, the SOCOM chief, told members of Congress last spring. “Despite growing demand for SOF, we must prioritize the sourcing of these demands as we face a rapidly changing security environment.”
There is also the potential future threat from Russia and China, which may impact future deployments.  “We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists,” said Secretary of Defense James Mattis in January, “but great power competition -- not terrorism -- is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”
As a result the New York Times reported that a “sweeping Pentagon review” of special ops missions – especially in Africa. U.S. Africa Command has apparently been asked to consider what effect cutting Special Forces there by 25% over 18 months and 50% over three years would have on its counterterrorism missions. In the end, only about 700 elite troops -- roughly the same number as were stationed in Africa in 2014 -- would be left there.
In addition, the United States Special Operations Forces in Africa has ordered its forces to, “plan missions to stay out of direct combat or do not go.”
The US may also start placing regular forces in Africa.  Last year, in fact, Secretary of Defense Mattis noted that the lines between U.S. Special Operations forces and conventional troops were blurring and that the latter would likely be taking on missions previously carried out by Special Forces, particularly in Africa. “So the general purpose forces can do a lot of the kind of work that you see going on and, in fact, are now,” he said. “By and large, for example in Trans-Sahara, many of those forces down there supporting the French-led effort are not Special Forces. So we'll continue to expand the general purpose forces where it's appropriate. I would… anticipate more use of them.”
But that doesn’t mean that the Special Forces are due for a cut back.  If anything, U.S. Special Operations forces are likely to expand, not contract, next year. SOCOM’s 2019 budget request calls for adding about 1,000 personnel to what would then be a force of 71,000. In April, at a meeting of the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities chaired by Ernst, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich noted that SOCOM was on track to “grow by approximately 2,000 personnel” in the coming years.
But, the Congress may do more than fund the SF.  They may turn its mission upside down, which can only hurt American strategies. 
When the US Special Forces were created at the height of the Cold War by President Kennedy, they were designed to teach local guerillas, how to fight occupying forces like the Soviets or North Vietnamese.  As a result, much of their training was on local customs and language.
But some politicians want to use the Special Forces for secret missions, while leaving the task of training to regular soldiers – troops that have been trained to fight, not teach. 
This is what Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, an Iraq War veteran and member of the Armed Services Committee, has also been advocating. Late last year, her press secretary, Leigh Claffey, told reporters that the senator believed “instead of such heavy reliance on Special Forces, we should also be engaging our conventional forces to take over missions when appropriate, as well as turning over operations to capable indigenous forces.”
Chances are that U.S. Special Forces will continue carrying out their shadowy raids alongside local forces across the African continent while leaving more conventional training and advising tasks to rank-and-file troops.
In other words, the number of Special Forces in low priority regions like Africa may be cut, but the total number of American troops may not - with covert combat operations possibly continuing at the present pace.
This again highlights what the future of American Special Forces is to be.  Are they a training force for fighting insurgencies?  Are they “super soldiers” for risky, secret missions?  Are they to be used when politicians want to keep American military involvement around the world a secret?
SOCOM commander General Thomas told the House Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities earlier this year, “Why Green Berets and Navy SEALs need to solve national security problems - strategic issues that ought to be addressed by policymakers - is a question that has long gone unanswered.”
Since the Green Berets “liberated” Afghanistan in 2001, the United States has sent its Special Forces into several combat situations that have no end in sight.  These include Cameroon, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
These endless wars and deployments will only end when American politicians are willing to tackle the issue of the scope of American military involvement around the world.

 

 
PUBLICATIONS

Iranian Protests Underscore Regime’s Vulnerability
By James Phillips 
Heritage Foundation
June 29, 2018 
 
On Sunday, protests spontaneously erupted in Tehran, Iran’s capital, as cellphone shop owners shut down their shops and demonstrated against the plummeting value of Iran’s currency, the rial, which has devastated their businesses. The next day they were joined by merchants in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, a key constituency for Iran’s clerical regime. The bazaar merchants played an important role in funding the Islamist extremists led by Ayatollah Khomeini, who hijacked Iran’s broad-based 1979 revolution. Khomeini famously downplayed the importance of economics for the revolution, which he maintained was “not about the price of watermelons.” But Khomeini’s successors do not have the luxury of ignoring Iran’s deteriorating economic situation. They know that most Iranians of rioting age are too young to remember the 1979 revolution, but are all too familiar with the economic mismanagement, corruption, and repression that the regime imposed after the revolution.
Read more at:
https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/iranian-protests-underscore-regimes-vulnerability
 
 
Bab el-Mandeb: The U.S. Ignores the Most Dangerous Strait in the World
By Luke Coffey 
Heritage Foundation
July 2, 2018
 
Relatively few Americans are aware that there’s a civil war raging in Yemen. And even fewer can tell you where the Bab el-Mandeb strait is located—or why its fate affects them.  The Bab el-Mandeb strait is a strategic waterway located between Djibouti and Yemen that links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. At its narrowest, it is only eighteen miles across. Exports from the Persian Gulf and Asia destined for Western markets must pass through the strait before passing through the Suez Canal. It is also perhaps the most dangerous and geo-politically contested strait in the world. The civil war in Yemen and the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti means that constant conflict surrounds the strait. In recent years the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the European Union have all conducted counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations in the region. Furthermore, the Americans, Chinese, Germans, French, Qataris, Emiratis, Saudi Arabians, Japanese, and Italians all have some form of military presence near the Bab el-Mandeb.
Read more at:
https://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/bab-el-mandeb-the-us-ignores-the-most-dangerous-strait-the-world-its-peril
 
 
Erdogan Takes Total Control of “New Turkey”
By Bulent Alizara
Center for Strategic and International Studies
July 18, 2018
 
July 9, 2018 will go down in Turkish political history as the day on which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan completed the transformation of Turkey to a presidential system he personally designed and shepherded to realization, following a formal swearing-in ceremony in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA), whose powers have been reduced significantly. Having emerged with a new mandate after Turkey’s first simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, Erdogan thus transitioned from the de facto control he had been exercising in the previous parliamentary system of government, since his election to the presidency in August 2014, to de jure management of what he has been calling “New Turkey.”
Read more at:
https://www.csis.org/analysis/erdogan-takes-total-control-new-turkey
 
 
Trump’s NATO
By JUDY DEMPSEY and TOMÁŠ VALÁŠEK
Carnegie Endowment
July 12, 2018
 
What drama! The second day of a NATO summit—at least over the past decade—is usually devoted to partner countries and Afghanistan. They tend to be calm, attract little attention, and allow leaders to stick to their scheduled scripts and departure timetables.
Not this time around. After the international press and most leaders (probably excluding German Chancellor Angela Merkel) concluded that day one of the summit could have turned out much worse, they assumed that day two would be a shoo-in. Forget it. As soon as the meeting with Georgian and Ukrainian leaders began, Trump let rip. He singled out Germany, Spain, and the Benelux countries for falling way behind in meeting the NATO pledge to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. The Georgian and Ukrainian delegations were asked to leave the conference room. An emergency meeting of leaders was called by NATO’s secretary general. There, Trump didn’t mince his words, as he told a packed press conference at the end of the summit.
Read more at:
 https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/76814
 
 
Europe in the New Era of Great Power Competition
By Benjamin Haddad and Alina Polyakova
Hudson Institute
July 17, 2018
 
In the run-up to last week’s NATO summit and the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, European leaders could hardly hide their anxiety. In recent weeks, Trump has gone on a rhetorical warpath against the United States’ greatest allies. In a rally in June, he claimed that the EU “was set up to take advantage of the United States.” Earlier that month, Trump attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she was facing a rebellion in her own coalition over immigration. “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership,” he tweeted. Trump also reportedly asked French President Emmanuel Macron to leave the EU in order to get a better bilateral trade deal with the United States. These latest attacks came on the heels of Trump’s refusal to join the G-7 joint statement, his imposition of new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum from U.S. allies, and his proposal to readmit Russia to the G-7. On the eve of the meeting with Putin, the U.S. president called the European Union a “foe.” The message seems clear: “America first” means Europe alone. 
Read more at:
https://www.hudson.org/research/14455-europe-in-the-new-era-of-great-power-competition


 

Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor