The Military Is Relying Too Heavily On Special Ops Forces. Mattis Must End That.

The comments below are by/from Col. (Ret.) David Maxwell; and, his contact info is at the bottom of this page.  RCP,
David Maxwell Comment:  “Let’s use the right force for the right mission.  We could probably do with a review of the late LTG Sam Wilson’s writing on special operations their principles, characteristics, and planning suggestions.”
David Maxwell:  “Excerpts from LTG Wilson (but they are worth reading at the link above):”
6.  There must be an upper limit on Special Operations mission force size.
Increasing the size of the forces involved in a Special Operations compromises many aspects of support and OPSEC capabilities.  Almost always a small vs. large force structure must be decided upon.  One must be careful not to see bogeymen behind every bush and go for largest of all available forces to stifle every contingency.  The smallest force to do the job makes possible many more operational alternatives.
11.  Special Operations Forces have a limited number of DIRECT roles:
Special Operations Forces are trained for specific missions.  They are the most highly trained and proficient forces that the US possess but they are not the answer for every small contingency mission that comes along.  Many conventional forces are more proficient at conventional type missions than the SOF.  Even more specialized units exist and they should not be used outside their primary mission.  Just because a select force is in being, does not automatically mean that it is the BEST to use.  Politics will play in this decision, the HIGH RISK/HIGH GAIN nature of the specific operation may cause the political leaders to make this choice, even if better alternatives are available, i.e., such as have SEAL TEAM SIX do a routine beach recon.

The Military Is Relying Too Heavily on Special Ops Forces. Mattis Must End That.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, who served in the Marine Corps for 44 years, is well-equipped to reassess which types of forces are best suited to different missions.Photo by: Photo: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom

At a recent special operations symposium in Tampa, Florida—home of the U.S. Special Operations Command—a senior Marine commander said he was concerned that America was too often going to the special operations “well” to address its military challenges.

Unfortunately, he is correct.

Lt. Gen. William Beydler, the commander of Marine forces for all of the U.S. Central Command, America’s busiest war-fighting command, rightly noted that while the American people and leaders now have an enormous respect and fascination for units like the Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and Army Rangers, it might be leading the nation to neglect other capabilities.

In recent years, missions that are best carried out by well-trained conventional units have gone to special operators because everyone considers them the “best,” and it sounds better to have them on the case. And at the opposite end, missions that were better carried out by special operations forces have been handed off to less capable units because special operations forces were too busy hunting down terrorists.

America has multiple types of forces for a reason. Time and experience have shown that we need the “right” tool for each task.

A 12-man Special Forces A-Team (Green Berets) cannot stop an enemy tank formation alone. The best weapon for that is one of our own tank units. We can “make do” with special operations forces in extreme situations if supported by air power (think the recently released movie “12 Strong”), but that should not be the default setting. That needs correction.

The Department of Defense needs to re-evaluate its forces and get things realigned so that the best unit capabilities—not the most popular ones—address the threat being faced.

America needs to return to the concept of a full toolbox. Use the right tool in each case. Now is the perfect time to do this.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is a proven combat leader. He has led Marines in combat and has commanded joint forces with every service and capability in the arsenal represented.

He should publicly acknowledge the problem identified by Beydler and set to work fixing it. Mattis has little time or concern for “popular” ideas. He cares even less for making constituencies happy.

Fighting the nation’s wars is not a popularity contest. You do not choose forces for a mission by what is in style today.

Mattis should lead the charge to rebalance missions and capabilities so that the absolutely best forces to prosecute any given mission are the ones sent to do the job.

You don’t send a screwdriver to do the job of a hammer. Mattis is the right guy to fix the imbalance, and he needs to move on it now.

De Oppresso Liber
David S. Maxwell


  1. My husband and i were really satisfied that Chris could finish up his analysis while using the ideas he gained using your site. It’s not at all simplistic to simply always be offering things some other people have been trying to sell. And we acknowledge we’ve got you to appreciate for that. These illustrations you have made, the easy website navigation, the relationships you can make it possible to engender – it’s got many superb, and it is helping our son in addition to our family recognize that this subject matter is awesome, which is rather mandatory. Thanks for all!

  2. The relationship you can create – it has a lot of great, it helps our son besides our family realize that this theme is great, it is quite mandatory. thank you all!

  3. We should publicly acknowledge the problem identified by Beydler and set to work fixing it. Mattis has little time or concern for “popular” ideas. He cares even less for making constituencies happy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *