SOCOM Five-Year Plan: Ideas Needed

Marauder06

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For a paper due at the end of the month, I have to submit a five-year plan written as if I were an adviser to the commander of SOCOM. The professor to whom I am submitting the paper is ex-military and has a great deal of experience in SOF, so I'll be able to write this paper with a great deal more specificity than I would normally have to. As part of my research for this paper, I am soliciting ideas for things that you would think the commander of SOCOM should consider *at the strategic level* when planning for the next five years. Yes, I know the commander of SOCOM doesn't need me to plan a way a head for SOCOM for him; this is an academic exercise only.

Nothing related to SOF is "off the table" as a potential item for discussion, BUT... everything has to be completely UNCLASS. Here is what I've come up with so far as potential items of discussion:

1) The pluses and minuses of SOF becoming its own branch of service
2) Establishing a centralized assessment, selection, and training program for all SOF enablers
3) Updating SOF doctrine to reflect F3EAD as the SOF targeting methodology
4) A push for continued emphasis on the SOF intel effort, possibly formally establishing EXINT as an intel discipline
5) More intra-SOF cooperation in training; consider consolidating training programs into "centers of excellence," more emphasis on crossleveling best practices between national and theater SOF
6) Greater emphasis on SOF/GPF cooperation, training, integration
7) An evaluation of whether the constant media attention on SOF forces (particularly the SEALs) is good or bad for the community
8) Expanding the civilian education program for SOF officers and NCOs

I have been out of the SOF community for almost two years now, so I'm not even sure where the community is on some of these issues. If you have ideas for possible topics or thoughts about the ideas I posted above, I'd love to hear them. I'm also willing to provide my .mil email address for individuals who would prefer not to make their ideas public. Thanks in advance for any and all assistance.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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Just spitballing:
- FID/ UW: Who does it, what core skills should be considered and/ or what training standard should be applied across the different services?
- Does SF really need 4 battalions per Group? Would it be better to add an extra company per battalion or ODA per company or just return to 3 line companies across 3 BNs for a Group?
- Communications: They should operate across SOF units as well as conventional units. I can think of one aspect which DOES NOT and I'm sure there are others.
- Thinking back to the Hitler CONOP video, is there any CJSOTF doctrine out there and if so how does it integrate the various components? Additonally, how bad is the CONOP process? Guys aren't making that video because they are bored.
- Long term effects of the GWOT and prosecuting OEF-A at a minimum for the next 5 years on top of other commitments like JCETs or core taskings.
- I know that units are taking on a great number of attachments on the enabler side and back in 2004 ODAs were taking conventional guys as ad hoc SOT-As. Does the MTOE need to change to reflect a new technolgy-centric form of warfare? UAV operators, more SOT-As, comm, logistics, etc.

Those are my random thoughts.
 

goon175

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In light of the "draw down" happening, and the pressure of budget cuts that go along with that, a constant effort needs to be in place to continue retaining the best guys to stay in SOF. It is ever enticing for a guy with a bit of experience and training under his belt to say thanks, but no thanks when it comes time to re-enlist. Now, I don't think anyone specifically does it for the money, but keeping SDP in place and re-enlistment bonus's at an attractive level are two important things that can be done to help keep a really quality SOF capability. This should all be taken into consideration with the fact that SOF will continue to deploy regularly, whereas the conventional forces will see a dramatic drop in who and how often units deploy.
 

Scotth

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Granted I have no credibility on this issue but I will still spout off anyways.:p

The argument for an SOF branch has been suggested previously and there was obviously short comings in that idea. Maybe change coarse a little and suggest an SOF only budgeting model. Making the argument that the budgeting decision are best left in the hands of the people that have the real world experience to make those decisions. Make the model include all branches of SOF including active and reserve components. With the long term commitment to the GWOT and the need and dependence on SOF going forward it would make sense to have the budgeting dollars designed by and justified by the people most affected.
 

dknob

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I can only comment for 75th.

Retention is paramount. OIF is over, OEF is over for many guys.
- Right now, all those pre 9/11 Rangers NCOs are now CSM and SGMs in the 75th. They want things to go back the way it was before OEF/OIF. These dudes are driving out the 9/11 Batt boys - an entire different breed of Rangers. If we lose these guys, the Regiment and everything it's done in the past decade will leave with them.

- The 75th as a whole, realistically will not have a job here in the near future. Guys are going to jump ship because garrison life is fucking retarded. Do something to keep these guys in the military! Provide a special retention bonus for guys who make the successful transition from the 75th into SF or something. At the very least if we can't keep them in the 75th, lets at least keep them somewhere in SOCOM. Maybe give them a ton of promotion points for re-enlisting into SF and successfully completing the training (not counting the points you get for finishing SFQC and everything that goes with it.)
 

Hitman2/3

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I'd say retention is the biggest one across the board. With the war drawing to a close a lot of the guys who pretty much came up in a war time military are not going to want to stick around the peace time military. Like goon said I don't think anybody does this particular line of work for the money, but with the type of skills one obtains over the years with a SOF unit there are other lucrative opportunities on the outside. Some might say if I'm going to be board then I might as well be board not dealing with bull crap and getting paid. It's really simple math you can give a guy a $100k bonus for four years of service, which is only $25k a year, and retain all the knowledge schooling and money you've already invested. Or you can try to low ball him he gets out and now you spend a few million to start from scratch getting a basically trained and qualified soldier that has no SOF experience. Its pretty simple, as said above keep the bonuses and SDA's attractive, and make a guy feel like he's needed and not just another number.
 

DA SWO

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I'd say retention is the biggest one across the board. With the war drawing to a close a lot of the guys who pretty much came up in a war time military are not going to want to stick around the peace time military. Like goon said I don't think anybody does this particular line of work for the money, but with the type of skills one obtains over the years with a SOF unit there are other lucrative opportunities on the outside. Some might say if I'm going to be board then I might as well be board not dealing with bull crap and getting paid. It's really simple math you can give a guy a $100k bonus for four years of service, which is only $25k a year, and retain all the knowledge schooling and money you've already invested. Or you can try to low ball him he gets out and now you spend a few million to start from scratch getting a basically trained and qualified soldier that has no SOF experience. Its pretty simple, as said above keep the bonuses and SDA's attractive, and make a guy feel like he's needed and not just another number.
Protect those same guys from Garrison Details, an ODA should not be picking/raking pine cones. Rangers and others should get a pass on most Post Support Details as they will be the (for the most part)only folks still deploying.
 

104TN

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The importance of cultivating a formal knowledge transfer process through deployment/redeployment and methods for the proliferation of lessons learned at various unit levels.
 

Hitman2/3

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I'd also say streamlining the procurement process. Maybe this is just MARSOC specific, probably not, but it should not take years to acquire a needed piece of gear once a need has been identified, especially when the equipment already exist.

For example we've been in Afghanistan for over 10 years. It was identified early on that with the ranges we were dealing with .308 and even .300 sniper rifles were not ideal and in some cases almost useless. Shooters identified that we needed to go to at least a .338 to reach out and touch someone. Here we are 10 years later and they're just now in the process of maybe getting a .338. The Royal Marines came to the same conclusion and it took them about a year to acquire and field a .338. Just an example, I'm sure you all have experienced something similar.

If a need exist and has been identified, especially in war time and especially in SOCOM, all the bureaucratic red tape needs to go away.
 

JBS

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Coming from a non-SOF background, just re-iterating the ideas others have brought up, some possible titles might be: "Retaining Superior SOF Personnel, Tactics & Techniques in A Post-War Environment", something to that effect.

Or maybe, "Sustaining a State of High Readiness Among SOF Personnel in Peacetime."
 

reed11b

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Any thought about addressing the "core" SOF missions? They are very Army-centric and may benefit from an evaluation. DA is extremely broad and could likely be split into several better defined missions. CA and MISO are both missions that are currently half conventional, half SOF. They should probably be placed in one realm or the other. Personel recovery as possible SOF mission?
Reed
 

104TN

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Could also be interesting to look at growth trends across USASOC vs Big Green and what that may mean holistically for the Army moving forward.

Do conventional forces become more specialized?
Does SOF units start being utilized as overqualified generalists...more?
Who is deployed as an expeditionary force?
Who is deployed for sustained occupation?
Where do those two roles overlap?
Should they?
How does the utilization of SOF units differ in reality (the above) from doctrine?
Should doctrine be updated or should the use of SOF units?

Just a couple more ideas.
 

Etype

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Maybe give them a ton of promotion points for re-enlisting into SF and successfully completing the training (not counting the points you get for finishing SFQC and everything that goes with it.)
Promotion points are more or less pointless once you are 18 series. We had an E5 on my team get promoted last month, the cutoff for points was 15. 15 points.

We're having our own draw down problems-
Now, we have this language BS. After October, you pretty much have to have a 1/1 to wipe your ass, and there's no special allowances for different languages- so Spanish and French need a 1/1 just like Arabic and Chinese. A 1/1 speaker in a language like Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, etc is more or less worthless. I've never met a 1/1 speaker who could communicate effectively outside of BS'ing with someone who already liked him- you aren't going to TQ an illiterate Asian who speaks an ass-backwards country (or desert) dialect with a 1/1. Hell, even the cat 2 terps who are supposedly expert linguists have trouble with them. Since the cat 2s have been living in the US for a while and are usually well educated, they have trouble with "locals". It's like taking an English professor from Oxford and having him talk to a Cajun about catching gators.
 

Crusader74

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Promotion points are more or less pointless once you are 18 series. We had an E5 on my team get promoted last month, the cutoff for points was 15. 15 points.

We're having our own draw down problems-
Now, we have this language BS. After October, you pretty much have to have a 1/1 to wipe your ass, and there's no special allowances for different languages- so Spanish and French need a 1/1 just like Arabic and Chinese. A 1/1 speaker in a language like Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, etc is more or less worthless. I've never met a 1/1 speaker who could communicate effectively outside of BS'ing with someone who already liked him- you aren't going to TQ an illiterate Asian who speaks an ass-backwards country (or desert) dialect with a 1/1. Hell, even the cat 2 terps who are supposedly expert linguists have trouble with them. Since the cat 2s have been living in the US for a while and are usually well educated, they have trouble with "locals". It's like taking an English professor from Oxford and having him talk to a Cajun about catching gators.

I thought you Guys had a dedicated language training program?
 

Etype

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We do, but NO ONE is able to maintain a 1/1 in their target language, unless they are French or Spanish speakers. I had a 1/1 in Arabic after school (only 3 other people in my class did, most of the other guys were 0+/0+ or 0+/1) and a year later I was down to a 0/0+. I'd say 90% of the group is a 0/0 or 0/0+ in their language.
 

Hitman2/3

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We do, but NO ONE is able to maintain a 1/1 in their target language, unless they are French or Spanish speakers. I had a 1/1 in Arabic after school (only 3 other people in my class did, most of the other guys were 0+/0+ or 0+/1) and a year later I was down to a 0/0+. I'd say 90% of the group is a 0/0 or 0/0+ in their language.

Yeah unless you use the language on the regular or its a romantic language like spanish or french you just can't maintain it. I could speak and understand a fair amount of Japanese when I left the island. Between studying it on my own and talking to the local chicks at the bars I got pretty good. Now I only remember a few phrases and and can understand a word here and there.

Language is one of those things that sounds great in theory but unless your emerged in the culture and language your communication skills will be spotty at best. Maybe if they just stick to the big ones like stop, get down, where are the bad guys. At least that way everybody has a basic working knowledge and the school isn't damn near a year long.
 

Etype

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And it's general officers who get masters degrees on government time who are making the policies.

We'll use my last 3 years as an example. between 4 PMTs (one being 6 weeks long, the rest 2 or 3), gryphon group, emerald warrior, individual schools, 2 months in Germany at JRTC, block leave, and an 8 month deployment- there's really not much time for me to sit down with an Arabic professor and obtain a college level understanding of the language.
 
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