17 February 2016

U.S. Special Forces Not Ready For Women

U.S. Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs face some limits on training due to cutbacks in fleet and training range operations, according to a budget overview document sent to Congress a few days ago.

As this happens, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is looking at a spring deadline to begin tryouts for integrating women into teams where 85 percent of men oppose the move, according to a Pentagon-sponsored survey by the Rand Corp.

Nearly 90 percent say that blending the sexes will lead to lowered physical standards for missions in which high endurance and brute strength are vital. Some male warriors are so opposed that Rand scholars labeled them "extreme."

Special operations forces are deploying at one of the most frequent rotations in history during the war on terror, begun 11 September 2001. After conducting hundreds of manhunts in Iraq against Al Qaeda, they are back in that country preparing for raids on the Islamic State terrorist army.

Special Operations Forces (SOF), who kicked off the invasion of Afghanistan a month after the 9/11 attacks, remain in that theater. They also are deploying to North Africa and other regions to conduct counter-terrorism training and occasional raids.

"We are a force who has been heavily deployed over the last 14 years, and our military members, civilians and their families have paid a significant price, physically and emotionally, serving our country," Army Gen. Joseph Votel, SOCOM commander, told Congress last year.

Training for these precise covert missions is critical.

SOCOM's budget is remaining steady at about US$ 10 billion. But the money crunch comes from the four services that contribute funding for special operations personnel and training time.

The Pentagon's budget next fiscal year is US$ 523 billion, not counting overseas war costs. That is about the same spending level as fiscal 2016 and less than the US$ 528 billion of five years ago.

"One of USSOCOM's greatest concerns is the potential impact of fiscal reductions in military departments' readiness, which directly affects SOF," the Obama budget says. "The USSOCOM has already witnessed reductions to the military departments that negatively affect SOF in a variety of ways."

In other words, if the Army and Navy cut training time or operations, it means less access for commandos.

SOCOM spokesmen did not immediately have cost figures for the looming women integration.