Special Operations Veterans Rise in Hierarchy


May 15, 2011
A growing number of veteran commandos in Special Operations are rising to top positions in traditional military units and across the national security bureaucracy, reflecting the importance of their specialized training to fight unconventional wars that defined the past decade.


Opinions? I know SS has a diverse population. I'm interested to hear experiences from both sides of the military: traditional and Special Operations.

The article doesn't seem to offer any downsides or negative aspects of spreading Special Operations officers across the military and commanding traditional forces. For those of you who have experienced this "intermingling of conventional forces and Special Operations personnel", are there substantial negatives or downsides to this intermingling? Is this intermingling more effective--or ineffective-- at various levels in the chain-of-command?
I think the major reason for the rise in the number of SOF leaders taking over key positions in the conventional military is because they're enormously capable individuals. Over the years I have worked with or spoke to a number of the individuals named in the article, and I can't think of any of them that I don't feel are going to do well in their new assignments. SOF leaders also often operate in a culture that rewards risk-taking and innovation at all levels, which tends to put them at the cutting edge of military operations and achievement. They also tend to work at a level that gets them "noticed" (for good or for bad) by the "right" people, which is always a bonus. SOF leaders, although not exclusively, usually have a better grip of the operational and strategic levels of war, and understand things like intelligence and logistics that their conventional peers sometimes do not. Finally, by both personality and necessity, SOF leaders tend to form networks, reaching out to a variety of military and civilian organizations and personnel, which is an important part of strategic-level leadership.

With regard to intermingling, I think it's an absolute good. Best practices need to be crossleveled throughout the services, and if SOF as a whole remains too insular, it'll adopt groupthink and over time will become merely a better-resourced, shinier conventional force. Additionally, there are not always enough SOF leadership positions to accomodate all of the great SOF leaders out there. Sometimes individuals have to leave SOF temporarily for command or other "key developmental" positions.
Conventional military is accepting SOF commanders, but you won't see the flip side happening very soon - conventional commanders taking charge of SOF units. Wouldn't that cause further rift?
There are conventional military commanders that took the shoes of SOF leaders in our military.
Some say its the fact that we still lack a bigger SOF backgroud set of high level officers cadre.
But there is also a flip side.

The Regiments current commander came with a chemical warfare background. He never lead a SOF unit - was never involved with SOF at all as far as I know (but I may be wrong).

A lot of the guys had reservations, but that proved to be unimportant. Why you ask? I know I'm on the outside looking in, but in our case, the CO is in fact a representative of the unit, a representative to his commander which is the head of DWS.

Col. Pietras may be fresh in the SOF world, but allthough he doesn't have the bacground, he allows the guys who've 'been there, done that' to run the Regiment as smoothley as it can be run. He gived the thumbs up for very innovative training, he listenes to the guys that have been there for over a decade or more.

I'm not a leader, but as far as I understand, a leader is a person that has no problems with listening to those who have been there before, to heed wisdom, and to lsiten to good advice.

Hell, GROM was created by a former spy who had aprox 6 months of SOF schooling done by SOCOM and JSOC.