Special Ops: Obama's Election-Year Gamble

Obama will rely more on SOF units, a bold election-year gamble.


Despite the temptations and risks, defense analysts say it is likely special ops forces' increased role is here to stay.

"The Obama defense strategy shows that we are going to see SOF forces spread out over a larger area of the globe," said Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, a former National Security Council and National Counterterrorism Center official and the author of the CSIS report.

"The combination of technological advantages and being more efficient means SOF can be more effective than indigenous forces," said Chris Preble of the CATO Institute. "Frankly, I like this strategy more than I like a 100,000 conventional forces trying to build failed states."

Experts acknowledged using the elite forces brings political risk for Obama. They were quick to note it remains unclear whether the president plans to ramp up high-risk raids. His new defense plan suggests SOF units will be asked to do "indirect missions" like training and advising local forces, experts said.

"SOF units can take tactical action to get strategic effects-and that is risky," Nelson said. "But using them for training and civil affairs is far less risky."

"I think we're going to see fewer high-risk direct-action missions by SOF" Nelson added. "Obama wanted to get Osama bin Laden. And he already got him." 

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