Special Operations Truths- Rough Men, Ready
By Dominic Oto
“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do them harm.”
– George Orwell
Special Operations Forces (SOF) are certified jumpers, divers and survival experts. They can go anywhere on any mission. SOF are dropped behind enemy lines to train foreign fighters and to carry out dangerous raids. SOF soldiers carry out covert missions that prevent future conflicts. SOF troops live for a challenge. They are highly trained and highly intelligent.
They pass a grueling and rigorous selection process that makes sure they are the “best of the best.”
In the Special Forces Qualification Course, they hone their core soldiering skills like rifle marksmanship, first-aid and outdoor survival skills. All of it to earn the right to join a Special Missions Unit. Their history is a storied one.
Even before the American Revolution those in charge of the British Army wanted to employ a special kind of soldier. In the middle of the French and Indian War (1754-63), Robert Rogers is tasked with assembling a Special Purpose Force.
The British Army had several setbacks fighting the French and their Indian allies. They realize they need help. Rogers is looking for any and all volunteers willing to operate under terrain and conditions very different from the British regulars.
Roger’s Rangers” becomes the British Army’s ace in the hole. The Rangers’ mission is scouting and collecting intelligence. Their contribution to the war effort allowed the British to extract a victory in the French and Indian War.
The tenacity, cunning, and fearlessness exhibited by Rogers’ Rangers will become an inspiration for the U.S. Army Rangers in later wars. Rogers’ “28 Rules of Ranging” are still used in the training of Army Rangers today. Rogers’ Rangers heroic combat record is the foundation that the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is built.
Today, SOCOM is focused on counter-terrorism efforts to combat dangerous radical organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda and terrorist masterminds like Osama Bin Laden. These enemies operate overseas and at home.
SOF commandos operating with SOCOM are tasked with using unconventional tactics like Rogers’ Rangers. These tactics protect the safety and well-being of American citizens and our allies in combat and emergency situations. The United States Special Operations Forces carry out this mission by operating under a set of guidelines known as the “Five Truths”.
Truth One- Humans are more important than hardware. Soldiers are not equipment meant to make the critical difference. The right soldiers, highly trained and working as a team, can do any mission with the right equipment. The best equipment doesn’t take the place of the right soldiers.
Truth Two- Quality is better than quantity. A small number of soldiers, carefully selected, well-trained and well-led are preferable to large numbers of troops. A select number of SOF troops specially trained for special tasks can do almost anything.
Truth Three- SOF cannot be mass-produced. It takes years to train a SOF operator to the exacting level of proficiency needed to accomplish difficult missions. Intense training, both in SOF schools and units is needed to make motivated soldiers qualified for capable units. This process takes time and there are no shortcuts.
Truth Four- Competent SOF cannot be created after emergencies occur. Creation of competent, mission-ready units doesn’t happen overnight. Employment of SOF on short notice requires available and mission-ready SOF units must be ready at all times.
Truth Five- Most Special Operations require non-SOF assistance. The operational readiness of SOF units needs joint service partners and support personnel. The support of all five services, technicians, engineers, and intelligence analysts all enhance the capabilities of SOF units.
Exceptional soldiers are needed to serve in SOF. These talented soldiers are “quiet professionals.” They respond to our nation’s most complex, demanding and high-risk challenges. To build a “special operations” soldier is a demanding and time-intensive process.
This is not a job for the faint of heart. It requires an extraordinary level of effort and personal sacrifice. The SOF soldier will endure physical and mental demands in training and on dangerous missions. They are rough men and women who stand ready to protect our great nation.
About the author:
Oto holds a BS in History from Oregon State University and a MMA in Military History from American Public University. He served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Company Commander and Staff Trainer to the Afghan National Army. He was wounded once and decorated three times. Oto is an Infantry Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.