VIRGINIA BEACH, V.A. — Navy Adm. Eric Olson, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, reinforced the theme of “balance” at the Joint Warfighting Conference during a keynote speech this afternoon.
Balanced warfare reflects how many U.S. special operations forces are operating and combating along with other forces, he said.
“We need to be responsive enough to adjust rapidly to what the enemy throws at us,” Olson said, “and we need to have the agility to transcend the spectrum of conflict; the ability to do so proactively requires a holistic approach to warfare.”
He described an approach of working with counterparts which helps them gain better capability and capacity, helping to eliminate the sanctuaries for the enemy.
According to the admiral, these indirect partnerships come as special operations forces work day-to-day on deployments and yield special benefits.
For instance, Olson said, in a typical seven-month deployment in Afghanistan, recent data shows a special operations group conducting well over 5,000 operations. He said operations are defined as a team leaving its remote base for a purpose.
“That purpose is predetermined as kinetic or non-kinetic; it doesn’t always happen the way it is planned,” Olson added.
He said an average of 3,000 out of the 5,000 operations were kinetic in nature where the team makes contact with an adversary force.
“In a typical seven-month deployment, over 3,000 enemy forces may be killed. Over 50,000 local nationals will be treated in medical, dental and various clinics. Their animals will be treated in veterinarian clinics. Over one and a half million pounds of humanitarian aid or supplies will be dropped in places that may not have received any,” Olson said.
Olson said the teams will conduct a large number of construction and engineering projects with interagency partners like USAID, working on projects that will have impact in the local population while employing dozens of Afghan workers so they will have a play in their local economy.
He said teams will have well over 1,000 engagements with local leaders which helps to develop a relationship where those local leaders “provide information which in turn leads to kinetic operations.”
Olson’s speech came on the second day of a three-day event cosponsored by U.S. Joint Forces Command, NDIA, the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.