Phase 3 and Phase 4 are tangled together in Iraq. U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan. Resources are spread thin, and troop rotation is a problem. Winning the peace remains to be accomplished.
Much of the hard military work that must be done in Afghanistan and Iraq
should now pass from conventional soldiers to counterinsurgency units and Special Forces—numbering, let us hope, in the thousands rather than the hundreds. These, by means of intelligence-gathering and the creation of friendly cadres, are far better-equipped to perform the unenviable task of hunting down Taliban and Ba’athists, and to accomplish that task to the satisfaction rather than the chagrin of the local population.78
The need for partnership and support continues unabated. It is important to remember that SOF is a provider of intelligence, as well as a user. Their ability to partner with indigenous assets as well as with the intelligence community helped rout the Taliban in Afghanistan, find Ba’athists in Iraq, and ultimately, Sadam. The way we use SOF in the future will determine success or failure of military operations at all levels. We must keep in mind the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of SOF. Over reliance on a single source of intelligence is more likely to put them at immediate risk. The pace of the global war on terrorism and the emergence of asymmetrical and non-linear warfare as the norm make good intelligence, from every source, even more important than ever before. The intelligence community must continue to break down barriers to sharing information among its own members, law enforcement and the military. More importantly, each of these constituencies must understand the operations of the other.
Clearly there are not enough people in the intelligence community who understand who SOF are and how they work. Truth be told, there are not enough people in the conventional force who understand SOF, but that’s another paper. OEF and OIF have shown us that we can get spectacular results by integrating the knowledge and skills of specialists in both the DoD and Intelligence Community. We’ve done it for a relatively short period of time with good result. The question is, can we keep it up? Can we develop a “joint” intelligence service that gets beyond “need to know” and compartmentation restrictions to get the intelligence to the shooter on the ground as quickly as it is needed? Can we merge intelligence professionals—military and civilian—into an effective fighting force in the global war on terrorism? It’s been a tough row to hoe for the military—joint service is still not a viable career path. Military Intelligence officers still have careers capped because they are not considered to be war fighters. In addition, special operators take years to develop, and are a scarce commodity that is currently being stretched thin between Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflicts around the world.79 The recent change that makes SOCOM a supported command responsible for prosecuting the global war on terrorism, with the commensurate increase in budget, will help, but the time it takes to