Why More Special Forces Are Needed for Low-Intensity War

Report Defense

Why More Special Forces Are Needed for Low-Intensity War

November 12, 1987 20 min read Download Report
Peter J.
Distinguished Fellow
(Archived document, may contain errors)

616 November 12, 1987 WHY MORE SPECIAL FORCES .ARE NEEDED FOR LOW-INTENSITY WAR INTRODUCTION challenge to United States security. Traditional or conventional warfare typically involves aggression acr oss borders by large formations of troops armed with standard weaponry. Low-intensity conflict, by contrast, involves small-scale operations, often clandestine or covert, undertaken by irregular forces. Low-intensity challenges include terrorism, insurgen cy, and narcotics trafficking.

Low-intensity conflict poses a number of challenges to the U.S. For one thing pro-Western governments in developing nations can be destabilized by guerrilla and terrorist organizations, often supported by the Soviet Union and its allies. For another thing the Wests interests in such regions as the Persian Gulf are challenged by radical Islamic forces responses to unconventional warfare. The special forces operations against Iranian mine-laying boats in the Persian Gulf on Sep t ember 21 and again on October 8 demonstrate the value of maintaining special operations capabilities. in a. high. state of readiness. Furthermore, the use in these missions of U.S. Army Special Forces operating from U.S. Navy vessels illustrated the impor t ance of maintaining well trained, integrated forces for a variety of possible contingencies Recent decades have witnessed the powth of low-intensity conflict as a The task for the U.S. and its allies is to develop creative. and effective Falling Short Des p ite these recent successes in the Gulf, however, the U.S consistently has fallen short in the training, equipping, and proper utilization of the elite units required for such operations. The problems that caused such failures as the April 24, 1980, Iran h o stage rescue mission remain essentially uncorrected To address this, Congress has sought to restructure the governmental and military apparatus responsible for special forces readiness. Despite Pentagon footdragging, what needs to be done is clear. The U. S . should: -2 Create a center for low-intensity conflict to coordinate the efforts of the Expand the U.S. capacity to collect the types of information needed to various departments of the federal government involved conduct special operations and respond e f fectively to low-intensity conflict Develop and procure equipment suited to low-intensity warfare Strengthen government-to-government agreements facilitating rapid execution of special operations Relocate the newly established U.S. Special Operations Comm and from Florida to the Washington, D.C. area to facilitate planning and execution ofat operations; and Make special forces a more attractive career option..

On the whole, the number of U.S. special forces needs to be increased to meet myriad peacetime and wartime contingencies. So far, increases in the number of special forces units have been at the expense of manpower from existing special forces units. This makes little sense. Increases in overall strength must accompany organizational restructuring if t he U.S. is to improve its special., operations capabilities US. SPECIAL FORCES Each branch of the Armed Forces includes elite units trained for special operations and. low-intensity warfare. Their abilities are impressive, but until recently they were wea k in numbers and handicapped. by organizational. problems.

The post-Vietnam era witnessed a serious decline in overall special operations capability--for example, the number of active duty Army special .forces groups dropped from a 1969 high of seven to a post-war low.of three in 1974 Army The Army maintains the largest contingents of special forces Currently,,.these include four Special Forces groups, a Ranger regiment, an aviation wing (the 160th Aviation Group a psychological warfare group, and a civil a ffairs batta1ion.l Together these number approximately 22,000 active and reserve troops Known since their creation under the Kennedy Administration as Green Berets Army Special Forces have as their primary mission the development, equipping, and training o f foreign forces for counterinsurgency operations. Lower priority Green 1. John M. Collins, United States and Soviet Special Ope~ti~m, Study by the Congressional Research Service for the House Armed Services Committee (Washington, D.C U.S. Government Prin t ing Office 1983, p. 23. -3 Beret missions include ambushes, raids, and sabotage. Army S ecial Forces usually Forces Groups are being increased to five groups. While all five groups wd be stationed in the U.S subordinate battalions and detachments are depl oyed permanently in foreign countries. Each of the five Groups will be responsible for a separate geographic region. The 1st Special Forces Group, headquartered at Ft.

Lewis, Washington, is responsible for East Asia and the Pacific and maintains a battalion at Torii Station, Okinawa. The 10th Special Forces.Group, whose region is Europe is headquartered at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, with a battalion forward deployed at B ad Tolz, Germany. The 7th Special Forces Group is directed toward Central America with a battalion forward deployed in Panama. Headquarteredwat Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, the 5th Special Forces Group is responsible for the Middle East and North Africa. Th e fifth group is still in the planning stages but will be responsible for sub-Saharan Africa Ambushes, sabotage, and Seizing Airhelds The main U.S. Army forces dedicated for operations deep behind enemy lines are its three Ranger battalions with 575 men ea c h. Their main missions are interdicting enemy supply lines conducting raids, ambushes and sabotage, and seizing such key objectives as airfields behind enemy lines. Rangers are employed at all levels of conflict from low intensity to large-scale conventio n al wars operate in 12-man A" teams, with 54 such teams to a Group. 2p As part of the reorganization of U.S. special operations forces, Army S ecial In response to the reportedly the size of a battalion, Delta is responsible for rescuing Americans held hos t age in foreign countries owth of terrorism as a direct threat to U.S interests I abroad, the Army create Cr the Delta Team. Headquartered at Ft. Bragg, and The 160th Aviation Grou meanwhile, provides Army Special Forces with its own air support in the for m:.o P MH-6 helicopters. Armed with machine guns and rockets, these helicopters are much quieter than regular helicopters and carry night vision devices. Such equipment is enabling pilots to spot the Iranian mine-laying activities in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. Navy maintains some of the world's most capable special- forces:.

Known by the acronym SEALS (for Sea, Air, Land), these units exlst primarily to support fleet o erations. They often are sent ashore ahead of the main landing parties to con B uct reconnaissance and to sabotage enemy defense installations.

Navy s ecial forces are divided into two Naval Special Warfare Groups--one for the Paci i 'c, the other for the Atlantic-with a total of 5,265 SEALS (2,085 active and 3,180 reserve Naval Special Warf are Group One (NSWG One headquartered on Coronado Island, California, is subordinate to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Surface Force Commander. In addition to SEAL teams, NSWG One includes 2. hid p. 23 3. hid, p. 35. -4 special boat squadrons, an attack helico te r squadron, and specialized transportation teams for the covert infiltration and e J lltration of SEAL teams.

Naval S ecial Warfare Group Two, similar in composition to NSWG One, is Warfare Units are stationed ,in Puerto Rico, Scotland, and the Philippines .' These units operate as forward headquarters for SEAL teams deployed abroad Air Force based at Litt P e Creek, Virginia. In addition to the two main groups, Naval Special The Air Force is responsible for transporting Army special forces into and out of a reas of operation. Air Force special forces consist mainly of the 2nd Air Division, much of which is headquartered at Hurlburt Field in Florida: This division consists of a special, air s uadron of MC-130 Combat Talons for transport of ground, and an 53 P a ve, Low helicopter squadron for. covert infiltration and extraction of special forces teams Army special forces, a squadron o 1 AC-130 gunships to support.forces ,on the LxIW-I"SlTY CHALLENGES To THE US Terrorism Terrorism has .become a principal instrume n t for attacking U.S; interests abroad. It is used by nations seeking a low-cost, low-risk, means. .of. undermining, the U.S. position in various regions of the world and by groups lacking capabilities for sustained conventional military or political effor ts. The U.S. has been slow to military structure for this purpose.

Much of the inability of the U.S. to contend with terrorism stems directly from the absence of a centralized command structure and a neglect of elite troops respond effectively to the terro rist challenge .and has failed to develop an effective Narcotics Trafhcldng concern about the linkages between terrorist organizations and drug trafficking.

Recognizing this linkage, Ronald Reagan signed an April 1986 nationaLsecutity decision directive d efining drug trafficking as a national security threat warranting increased use of the military.4 responsibility of the Customs Service and the Coast Guard resulted in confusion as to where one's responsibilities ended and the other's began.5 Lack of unde rstanding Drug interdiction is a special operations problem. because of the increasing The introduction of the Armed Forces into an area traditionally the 4. Keith B. Richburg Reagan Order Defmes Drug Trade as Security Threat, Widens Military Role,"

The Wa shington Post, June 8, 1986, p. A28 5. Mary Thornton Coast Guard, Customs Battle Smugglers--and Each Other The Washington Post May 4, 1987, p. Al; and Thornton Meese Ends Turf Struggle in Drug War The Washington Post May 31, 1987, p. Al. -5 or appreciatio n for the unique talents or capabilities of diverse organizations continues to hinder efforts not just in drug interdiction, but in all areas of low intensity warfare u On occasion, a government friendly to the U.S. and important to its security is threate n ed by guerrilla forces. In such cases as in El Salvador, the U.S. may provide counterinsurgency assistance to the beleaguered government In contrast to brief, decisive actions such as hostage rescues or the Grenada operation, counterinsurgency operations c an be waged for years or even decades supplies. It requires attacking from a number of angles while doing as much as possible to resolve the problems, often economic, that gave-rise to popular dissatisfaction Counterinsurgency requires much more than the s upplying of weapons- and Generally out-numbered and out-gunned, a guerrilla army must bring about the collapse of the armed forces and of the government from within. In countries such as the Philippines and El Salvador, guemlla strategy is to exacerbate s o cietal ills while communicating to the target audience--the "masses"--the idea that guerrilla attacks are the fault of the government and that social and economic ills that gave birth to the insurgency will disappear when the revolution is complete? The o b jective is to attain control of the population, not of the territory. This strategy understood well by communists, is not understood as welbin the West A POOR U.S. RECORD IN IAIW-INTENSlTY CONFIJCX Israel, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and West G ermany have responded successfully to unconventional conflict in a manner that the U.S. has been unable to emulate U.S. failures range from the April 1980 hostage rescue mission in Iran, to the December 1983 air strike against Beirut, to a general inabili ty to deal with Third World insurgencies. Such U.S successes as Grenada have been few and usually poorly planned and executed.

The U.S. is unable to wage low-intensity warfare or conduct, special..operations effectively because its national securi for conv entional warfare. For example, a centralized command structure is needed to ensure that traditional interservice rivalries and tendencies toward ri d standard operations.

Failure to centralize command can result in catastrophe. Example: in the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran in April 1980, the Army, Navy, Air Force apparatus is not suitably structured.

Successful special operations require P orces and planning. different from those needed operating procedures do not interfere with the planning and conduct o P special 6. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Joint Low-Intensity Conflict Project, Anulyticul Review of Low-Intensity Conflict (Ft. Monioe, Vughgia, 1986 vol. 1, chapter 4. -6 and Marines all vyed for a role in the operation, thus viola t ing the basic rule against the mixing of diverse forces for such ~nissions Each branch of the military historically has been opposed to the institutionalization of a centralized special forces command structure. Jealous of turf and reluctant to permit res ources to be drawn away from conventional forces, the Services have proved formidable opponents of the centralization essential for the conduct of special operations.

In the early 198Os, in response to the increasing demands for greater anti terrorism capa bilities, the Pentagon established the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at Ft. Bragg North Carolina. JSOC brought together the Army's Delta Team and 160th Aviation Group, the Navy's SEAL' Team 6, and the Air Force's 2nd Air Division. The Command's mandate, though, was confined to anti terrorist operations and it represented little more than a way of alleviating pressure from Congress to do something.

Similarly, in 1982 the Army established its Special Operations Command, and in 1983 the 23rd Air Force was formed to handle special operations contingencies.

Finally, in 1984, in an effort to address the nagging problem of centralizing authority by a designated commander in the execution of a special operations mission, the Pentagon formed the Joint Special Operations Agency (JSOA) within the offices of the Jo i nt Chiefs of Staff So far, JSOA has accomplished little; rather, it perpetuates a status quo built around parochial or bureaucratic interests much as does the Joint Chiefs of Staff system itself. Headed by a major general and assigned little more than an a dvisory role--hence, lying outside the operational chain of command--the JSOA has minimal input into the actual organization and employment of special forces Intelligence: The Weakest Element A serious weakness in the U.S. ability to conduct special opera t ions and low intensity warfare is a lack 'of adequate intelligence. Even in Grenada success. was marred by poor planning stemming in part from inadequate information. The intelligence community, especially the Central Intelligence Agency,. is oriented tow a rd collecting information on high priority targets like the Soviet Union. As a result there are insufficient resources left for adequate coverage of Third World countries 7. Edward N. Luttwak, The Pentagvn and the Att of War (New York Simon and Schuster, 1 985 p 44 8. Jim Wooten, Special Operations Forces: Issues for Congress Washington, D.C Congressional Research Service, 1984 p. 13. -7 where low-intensity conflict exists or could emerge.9 This is a principal reason why the U.S. continues to .be surprised b y developments around the world Timely Intelligence. These failures can also be traced back to the decision in the 1960s to channel funds in the direction of electronic intelligence (ELINT) and satellite reconnaissance at the expense of human intelligence (HUMINT).lo Human intelligence is essential in planning special operations and low-intensity warfare.

Satellites and electronic eavesdropping are ill-suited to collecting information on the intentions of insurgents. Dense jungles, moreover, limit the effe ctiveness of the satellites and .electronic eavesdropping can be avoided through non-electronic communications.

Similarly, anti-terrorist actions, narcotics interdiction, and counterinsurgency depend heavily on the constant flow of timely intelligence. La ck of information on those responsible. results in an inability on the part of the President to retaliate for terrorist incidents.

Timely intelligence is also essential in assisting foreign governments threatened by insurgency. Such intelligence can provi de to that government information on important social, economic, and political developments and on the movements weaknesses, and strengths of the guerrillas.

RJXXNT IMPROVE- IN SPECIAL OPERATIONS CAPABILlTIEs Special Forces Reorganization Special forces a re elite units developed for specific missions requiring skills not possessed by general-purpose or conventional forces. These missions include hostage rescue, counterinsurgency, and behind-the-lines operations. during war The fast breaking nature of such missions places a premium on readiness been reluctant to relinquish control over those forces. This has prevented the President from having a unified command in a high state of readiness able to respond to crises. To remedy this, Congress last year ordere d the Pentagon to establish a U.S. Special Operations Command and create a new Assistant,Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.

Such a command should prevent the problems which plagued the Iran hostage rescue mission and th e Grenada operation when forces were brought together on a contingency basis, often with incompatible force structures and equipment. Allowing all four branches of the Armed Services to participate in the Iran rescue mission vastly complicated its plannin g and execution. In addition, planning was performed on an ad hoc basis and more often than not supporting intelligence was insufficient and obsolete Each branch of the military maintains itsown elite units and traditionally has 9. U.S. Army, Joint Low-Int e nsity Conflict Project, op. cit., p. 21-1 10. Frank Greve, CIA Lacking the Means to Spy on Terror, The Philadelphia Inpim, August 18 1985, p. 1. -8 Making matters worse is the tendency of the military to rely on conventional means in the execution of oper a tions. This has deprived the U.S. of the special operations option. The Navy's SEAL teams, for example, are among the finest in the world. Yet the SEALS are primarily-used to support fleet operations and consequently, are tightly controlled by theater com manders-in-chief. They are not adequately integrated into the unified command structure essential for rapid deployment in crises.

In the Grenada operation, the Navy's mission should have been' limited to transporting troops and deploying SEAL teams for rec onnaissance. Instead, carrier based aircraft conducted air ,strikes against targets on the island that could have been attacked better by airborne or special forces A SEAL team, meanwhile, spent much of the operation pinned down by Grenadian soldiers in t h e-residencee'of the British Governor-General, whom they had been sent to rescue. Similarly, the use of the U.S. Marine Corps to conduct amphibious assaults against .Grenada's beaches ignored the fact that crucial military and political objectives were loc a ted in central areas of the island on of the Special Operations Command The creation of the new U.S. Special Operations Command in October 1986 is a positive step toward correcting the deficiencies in U.S. special operations capabilities. It will bring to gether under a unified command, headed by a four-star general, the elite units of each branch of the Armed Forces for the purpose of force integration, training, and development of doctrine 'to guide their use.

Military opposition to the establishment of USSOC, however, was formidable.

Indeed, it took pressure on the Pentagon from Congress to ensure that a very high ranking officer was placed in command. Defense Department opposition to USSOC is apparent also in the location of its headquarters at MacDill Air. Force Base Tampa, Florida. The Pentagon has argued that MacDill, home of the now-dissolved Readiness Command, is the best choice for USSOC because the facilities already exist and because Congress did not allocate funds for new'facilities.

Basing the command in Florida, however, removes it too far geographically and politically--from the chain of command emanating from the White House, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, of Staff Observes an Army colonel with a background in special forces: MacDill puts the problem child out of the way Creating 811 Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Even more controversial than the development of USSOC is the congressional requirement that the Pentagon estab l ish a position 'of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. The new assistant secretary is to prepare special operations budgets, supervise special operations forces programs, and represent special operations force s' interests wthin the Defense Department.ll 11. Caspar W. Weinber er, Annual Report to the Congress, Fiscal Year 1988 (Washington, D.C U.S.

Government Printing 0 fH ice, 1987 p. 2 9 Congress's purpose in creating the new position is to ensure that special forces receive priority attention In the past, special forces were often ignored or their importance downplayed by the eneral purpose forces and so have had to compete consistently come up short and equipment requirements have never been met for resource s from a position o P low-priority.12 Consequently, special forces have Special Operations Forces Equipment Special operations forces lack sufficient airlift and communications equipment The An Force bears responsibility for moving special forces into and o ut of crises and this requires special aircraft, specifically modified C-130 transports (known as MC-130 Combat Talons) and "-53 Pave Law helicopters. These specially designed aircraft enable the Air Force to transport special forces clandestinely into an d"out of hostile environments and to conduct reconnaissance of target regions.

This fleet, though has been permitted virtually to atro hy. Currently, it consists of only fourteen aging MC-130s and eight HH-53sQ The &r Force at last at least is planning to address these aircraft shortages and'is procurin4 24 new MC 130s and modifying eleven "-53 helicopters for special operations mssions. These improvements in airlift capability are due to be complete.by 1992.14 Poor Grades for Cooperation. Similarly, while . the Navy consistently gets good grades for the quality of its Naval Special Warfare Groups, its willingness to shift resources from general purpose forces to its SEAL teams and to improve cooperation with its sister services is in doubt. For example the. . Navy. has spent over $10 million on the design of a transport boat (designated SWCMl for Special Warfare Craft, Medium) for use in infiltrating special forces teams into hostile territory. According to the Department of Defense's deputy inspector general h owever, Navy surface warfare personnel "reduced the patrol boat's mission seaworthiness, weapons, speed and ran e 'without input or concurrence..by the I special operations forces community s 12. Debra Meyer and Benjamin Schemmer, Interview with.Noe1 C:Ko c h, Principal Deputy Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Amed Forces Journal International: March ,1985, p. SO; and Congressman Dan Daniel The Case for a Sixth Service Amed Forces Journal InternationaI,,,August 1985 13. Numbers taken f rom Collins, op cit pp. 28-29 5 14. Interview with Noel C. Koch, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, May 28, 19

87. Secretary of the Army John

0. Marsh testified before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appro riations Committee on May 12, 1987, that there -continued 15. George C. Wilson Navy Forged Signature for Boat Project The Wmhingcon Post, June 12, 1987 to be a lack of suffcient airlif t for special P orces missions. i v I p. 1. i I i I 10 IMPROVING US IXIW-INTENSlTY CONFLICI' CAPABILWIES cod e Wasbingoo, D.C Mow the headquarters ofthe United States Special h Florida to Ft Belvoir or Andrews Air Force Base in area The need for immediate communications and decision-making during contingencies in which special forces are used makes it imperative that the President have instantaneous access to'the officer in charge of special operations forces.

While there will be a liaison office in Washing ton D.C the placement of the command headquarters in Florida both removes it from the operational chain of command and complicates interaction with civilian agencies of the government often involved in low-intensity conflict.l6 Procure the proper types an d rmmbers of equipment Airlift for special operations continues to lag behind requirements. The Air Force should accelerate the procurement of MC-130 Combat Talons and HH-53 Pave Low helicopters. Similarly, the Navy should be prodded to correct the relucta n ce of its Special Warfare Groups to cooperate with special units from the other services. It could start with improving plans and equipment for the transport of special operations units not limited to SEAL teams Make Forces a more attractive career option within the military Special operations require abilities not possessed by general purpose forces.

These special skills deteriorate once soldiers are away from elite units for any period of time. Special forces, more than any other units,.need a sense of c ohesion and continuity that can only emerge from the retention of personnel for multiple 1 For the U.S. to maintain special operations capabilities at the needed high level, the Pentagon must provide incentive for personnel to make a career out of special forces. This requires greater upward mobility and possibility of achieving ranks commensurate with the rest of the military. This"incentive has been lacking and accounts in part for the low level of readiness of U.S. special operations capabilities tours m prwe intelligence capabfities 'for ~ow-intensity cofict Fulfilling intelligence requirements to support special operations is neither easy nor cheap. It is, however, necessary. The U.S. must place greater em hasis on field providing information on adversa r ies' intentions requires a sustained effort at training recruits and infiltrating them into target regions. Absent improvements in intelligence, however, the U.S. will simply remain unable to act when the President developing human intelligence capabiliti e s. The need to have covert P orces in the a 16. See "Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense: by the Secretary's Special Operations Advisory Group, reprinted in Armed Foxes; Journal International, April 1987, p. 13 11 and Congress feel it should, and will often fail in those instances in which it does act.

Host governments do not need F-16 fighters to combat insurgencies. They do need such simple, reliable aircraft as the C-47 propeller transport or even the DC 10 widebody jet to transport troops into and out of regions where a guerrilla presence is detected. Though C-47~ have been out of roduction for nearly four decades a variant of this aircraft should be developed fE or export most Third World armies. Providing 1 ost governments with simple, durable ra d ios ta Combating insurgencies also re uires communications capabilties lacking in facilitate communications between military units would assist counterinsurgency operations greatly. Similarly, providing friendly troops with. night-vision devices would ena b le them to confront the guerrillas when they are most active and, hence most "visible" and vulnerable. The e uipment used by U.S. forces, however generally is too sophisticated for use 8 y less well trained. Third World armies operating under primitive co nditions. For this reason, emphasis must be on simplicity of design psychological Operations. Successful counterinsurgency efforts require that the central government be represented and highly visible at the village or local level.

Government troops must a lso be well trained and highly disciplined to minimize human rights violations and to give the appearance of professionalism and self control. The U.S. should train special teams to assist in development programs at the village level. Such teams should be instructed in relevant languages psychological operations, engineering, medical assistance, and logistics. Projects undertaken with the assistance of special teams could include road construction educational programs, medical immunization, and irrigation. 1 7 Additionally, the International Military Education and Training (IMET Program, a useful adjunct to U.S. foreign assistance projects, offers grants to finance military trainin$. In countries such as Honduras and Panama, for example, the U.S has succeeded in strengthenin ties with those governments while improving their counterinsurgency capabilities. ps A successful counterinsurgency effort also must include a sustained program. of economic development. Central to such a program should be encouragement of private sector imtiatives to spur economic growth. The U.S. and other Western nations for years have provided substantial economic assistance to many Third World countries. Despite this aid--often because of &-these countries consistently resist self-help measures intended to draw disaffected groups into the economy. Steps that can be taken include privatizing government-owned industries, establishing a climate 17. US. Army Command and General Staff College, Field Circular, Low-Intensi

Cbnflict, FC-100-u Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, 1986 pp. 4-7 to 4-8 18. Capt. Gary L. Arnold, USAF, "IMET in Latin America Military Review, February 1987, pp. 30-41 12 hospitable to foreign investment, and ending governmental control of banking systems Improve axpxatiion with f o reign governments National pride and concern about appearing subsenient to the U.S. limit cooperation often needed for counterinsurgency, counterterroiism planning, and narcotics interdiction. Much progress, however, has been made in the forging of multil a teral efforts in the areas of combating terrorism and drug trafficking The State Department has won foreign government cooperation. in attempts to interdict the flow of drugs to the U.S. These changes need to be formalized through bilateral and multilater a l agreements to ensure a degree of automatic responsiveness Establish a coordination Center for bw-htensity conflict to coordinate The contributions of the Departments of State and Defense, the U.S counterinsurgency e Information Agency, the Central Intel l igence Agency, and the Agency for International Development can only be coordinated through the creation of such a center. Preferably, it should be under National Security Council control with oversight by Congress This, would ensure that efforts are prop erly channeled toward the attainment of anl objective.

The U.S. has proved unable to contend with the myriad of. low-level contingencies with which it has been confronted because neither the U.S government nor the military is structured to do so. The chang es mandated by Congress--establishing the Special Operations Command and the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict--are a key step toward rectifying this deficiency. More needs to be done As a start, the new Assistant Secretary of Defense must. be appointed. So far the post remains vacant. Without it being filled, little else can be accomplished.

Airlift is another problem as is the concern that special forces equipment requirements will be met resolve d by a center to coordinate the efforts of the agencies. Additionally, the U.S. needs to assure that equipment supplied to friendly governments fighting insurgencies is suited to the task Unwilling to Prepare. Most important, the U.S. must plan better for likely contingencies in the Third World. Iranian mines in the Persian Gulf were an obvious threat, yet the U.S. was not prepared for them In the area of counterinsurgency, continued divisions between agencies can be It is impossible, of course, to plan fo r every conceivable contingency. The U.S however, has demonstrated a marked unwillingness or inability to prepare for any 13 contingency. There is no acceptable reason for the absence of proper intelligence during the planning of the rescue mission on Gren ada.

If needed reforms are made, the President should have at his disposal the very capabilities that have led many other governments to success in respondbg to low intensity conflicts an integrated, well-equipped special operations force repared for the t ypes of situations in which the U.S. and its allies continue to find tK emselves Walter Fischer Policy Analyst


Peter J.

Distinguished Fellow