US special forces to the frontline against China, Russia – Asia Times

US special forces to the frontline against China, Russia - Asia Times

The focus of the US Special Operations Forces ( SOF ) is shifting from fighting insurgencies to a potential great power conflict with China and Russia.

According to a report released this month, the US Special Operations Command ( SOCOM) is seeing an increase in demand for SOF support from all branches of the armed forces, with demand for strategic competition rising by over 30 % and for crisis response events rising by over 15 %.

Special military activities are currently experiencing a “renaissance” as the nature of war changes and there is a” convergence of adversaries,” especially the growing cohesion between China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, according to SOCOM Chief General Bryan Fenton’s recent headline address.

Representative Jack Bergman made the switch from competing with major power like China and Russia during a US Congress hearing in February 2023. In light of the current political climate, he questioned the value of SOFs in combating asymmetrical warfare and assisting allies.

Rep. Ruben Gallego has questioned the readiness of SOFs to transition from terrorism to asymmetrical warfare capabilities like foreign domestic defense and information operations while stressing the importance of a complete government strategy to combat great power rivalry.

In response to Gallego, Seth Jones, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has argued that SOFs are essential in a world of interfering with state stars like China and Russia.

In addition to conventional weapons and nuclear weapons, key global players like China, Russia, and Iran are actively engaged in unusual warfare through army, intelligence, and non-state operations, according to Jones.

He encourages US SOFs to use their wide, non-kinetic capabilities to shift their focus away from direct action to roles like unusual internal defense and unorthodox warfare. He has urged the US Congress to increase revenue and review joint responsibilities to improve US success in irrational war.

National Defense University College of International Security Affairs professor and chair of the section has emphasized that SOFs must strengthen their capacity for countering international proxies and bolster resistance in states that are threatened by international attacks.

The US has deployed SOFs on Taiwan’s frontline islands and is re-equipped for a potential major great power conflict in the Pacific, according to words to deeds.

US SOFs were reportedly stationed on Taiwan’s frontline islands, just ten kilometers from mainland China, permanently in March 2024, according to Asia Times. According to reports, US military advisers will spend the long term at Kinmen and Penghu’s amphibious command posts.

Similar to the US Navy SEALs, the US Green Berets will frequently take part in training exercises with Taiwan’s 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion and Airborne Special Service Company.

For Taiwan’s defense, Kinmen and Penghu are essential, and SOFs are essential for putting together a long-range defense plan for these islands. In a cross-strait Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Kinmen and Penghu’s capture would be crucial.

Taiwanese SOFs can use delaying maneuvers to gain access to American and allies ‘ military training while also providing crucial intelligence and targeting for strike platforms. If China occupies Taiwan, Taiwan’s SOFs may form irregular resistance units that operate behind enemy lines, inflict casualties, cause delays and sow confusion.

Additionally, The Warzone reported that the US Navy is upgrading its special operations boat fleet, ordering a fourth Combatant Craft Heavy (CCH), and testing a new loitering launcher on the Medium (CCM).

The CCH fleet is currently being upgraded to improve its capabilities and survivability. These vessels are semi- submersible, climate- controlled and specifically designed for covert and sensitive maritime missions.

They can achieve a speed of 40 knots, carry up to 7 crew members along with 12 passengers or a payload of 1, 500 kilos, and have a range of 400 nautical miles.

The hulls have different window configurations, and the CCHs have a low profile and a stealth upper structure to reduce radar and visual signatures.

The Maritime Precision Engagement ( MPE ) program aims to integrate man-in-the- loop guidance systems on CCMs with stand-off, loitering munitions. By the end of 2024 or 2025, testing should be finished, with decisions on further integration expected.

These advancements reflect a shift in the US SOF’s focus away from preventing major conflicts, particularly in the Pacific.

The US SOF community may have to deal with budget and staff cuts as well as budget issues as a result of the re-focusing on SOFs in the context of rising great power tensions.

The Washington Post reported this month that US SOCOM is adapting to budgetary constraints by adding high-tech experts to their teams while reducing its forces by about 5,000 over the next five years.

The restructuring efforts are being influenced by the lessons from the ongoing Ukraine war, particularly the experiences of UK SOFs.

It notes that the US Army is facing the most significant reduction, with plans to cut about 4, 000 positions. Due to the need to shift from focusing on small-scale combat operations to achieving recruitment goals, this reduction is impacted.

Despite those reductions, The Washington Post claims that there is talk of expanding Green Beret teams ‘ size to accommodate experts like drone software engineers and expanding the scope of technical roles across all armed forces.

Erik Prince, a critic of US military downsizing, claims for Asia Times that US credibility and power projections are declining, drawing a contrast to the US military juggernaut of World War II.

Prince cites US embassy evacuations in Sudan, Afghanistan, Belarus, Ukraine and Niger, US citizens taken hostage in Gaza and the Houthi blockade of commercial shipping in the Red Sea, where US ground and naval forces are shot at with impunity, as symptomatic of US military decline.

He attributes this apparent decline to the post-Cold War peace dividend, debt, and excessive spending on the Global War on Terror, a lack of strategic discipline, and a focus on large defense contractors ‘ revenue rather than winning wars and forming strategic partnerships.

According to Price, the US wage “forever wars of convenience” because it believes that the military-industrial complex and precise drone strikes can shield the country’s elites from the dreadful realities of war.

He urges US policymakers to draw lessons from previous failures to stop apocalyptic conflict with China. He advocates utilizing the US private sector to accomplish military goals, contrasting the efficiency of the private sector with bureaucratic government practices and large defense contractors. &nbsp,