Special Operation Forces Truths
The continued evolution and development of modern SOF is a result of 50 years of experience, including a world war, three large regional wars, many similar conflicts and operations other than war. SOF have witnessed periods of improvisation, rapid build-ups and subsequent rapid drawdowns, some magnificent successes and some equally spectacular failures. The following SOF Truths capture the essence of lessons learned over the past decades, and provide a foundation for thinking about SOF today and in the future.
1. Humans are more important than hardware
People – not equipment – make the critical difference. The right people, highly trained and working as a team, will accomplish the mission with the equipment available. On the other hand, the best equipment in the world cannot compensate for a lack of the right people.
2. Quality is better than quantity
A small number of people, carefully selected, well trained, and well led, are preferable to larger numbers of troops, some of whom may not be up to the task.
3. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced
It takes years to train operational units to the level of proficiency needed to accomplish difficult and specialized SOF missions. Intense training – both in SOF schools and units – is required to integrate competent individuals into fully capable units. This process cannot be hastened without degrading ultimate capability.
4. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.
Creation of competent, fully mission capable units takes time. Employment of fully capable special operations capability on short notice requires highly trained and constantly available SOF units in peacetime.
5. Most special operations require non-SOF assistance.
The operational effectiveness of our deployed forces cannot be, and never has been, achieved without being enabled by our joint service partners. The support Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy engineers, technicians, intelligence analysts, and the numerous other professions that contribute to SOF, have substantially increased our capabilities and effectiveness throughout the world.