The Right Coast

February 18, 2006
Special Operations and the future of war
By Tom Smith

Interesting WSJ article here.

Our recent visitor, courtesy of the Right Coast and the USD Federalist Society, Lt. James Golladay, touched on this topic. Thanks again, Jim! Jim is a former Navy SEAL and USD law grad who worked as chief of operational law at the USSOCOM in Tampa, and on prosecuting terrorist suspects at DOD. Jim's fascinating talk gave me a much better idea of the enormity and complexity of the task of fighting terrorism, and observing legal limits at the same time. In Peru, I was told the army just gathered up some 50,000 suspects connected with the Shining Path, and shot them. That's not an alternative for a country like ours.

A point Jim made afterwards also struck me -- just how astonishingly lethal spec ops forces have become, with the combination of their traditional skills and technology. Teams can go on a mission, develop intelligence from that, go on another mission the same night, and with new information from that, carry out even a third attack, one after the other. They can combine information they gather with information in the larger network. It's a new world for these kinds of operations.

Whether Rumsfeld's enthusiasm is justified, I certainly cannot say. As I say to my teenage son on occassion, I am not entitled to an opinion on this question. It does seem plausible to me that we are more likely to be facing threats from small terrorist cells in the future than traditional nation-state enemies, but who knows.