Review of SOF Structure and Culture

Arf

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A few bad eggs ruined it for the rest of us.
I may be naive in my perspective. I’ll say I’m probably naive. However I joined up hoping for the high Operational tempo and in hopes that I would see combat and often. Most of this scandal within the SEAL teams happened while I was in my pipeline and when I graduated the command had just begun a drastic overhaul of the community.

From what I have heard, life in the teams was great and now we don’t have the freedom we used to because of people taking it too far.
 

Viper1

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Grapevine

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This article references "Professional development" and holds it in quite high regard. How would you all define Professional Development? It seems to me (a lowly civilian) that a higher degree of operational involvement and participation would better promote boost in effectiveness in training and the field, as opposed to simply more training (not to say that training is ineffective, but that field experience will allow the solider to gain more from said training, because it better applies to a more thorough knowledge base) In all, it seems the most effective way to gain professional development, is in fact to deploy as much as possible. Thoughts?
 

ATC87

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I can only speak to my experience as an air traffic controller but leadership overlooked alot of discipline issues if the controller was a star performer. As long as planes where moving and not scraping paint they didn't care about good order and discipline. It drove me crazy as NCO knowing that when myself or others brought up issues that leadership would say "but SrA Whatever is one of our best controllers." I can only imagine the pressures of being in a SOF careerfield that's overworked and what may have been overlooked because they were getting the mission done.
 

Ooh-Rah

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Different article on the topic:

Special operations has an entitlement problem. Here’s how they intend to fix it.

This (from the article) stood out to me:

The problem with SOCOM has been, according to the report, that tactical prowess and combat experience are so valued that leaders have seen fit to pluck their most prized hitters from their regular units, or from their key rotations as instructors.

As a result, tightly-knit units in the beginning or middle of their training cycles are seeing their leaders take off for months at a time, leaving them to train themselves and maintain their own good order. And in the case of instructors, who are selected for those jobs because of their leadership ability, trainees are not getting the best guidance they could be.

“Due to the aforementioned absent and misapplied leaders and senior noncommissioned officers, many junior officers and developing enlisted leaders struggle to grasp the fundamentals of officer-enlisted relationships, mentorship practices, accountability and discipline,” according to the report.


As did this.

At the same time, the review found that some members of the force are letting the “special” label go to their heads, starting with their first days in the military.

When a service member starts out a career with certain privileges, then grows up in an environment where operators are entitled to special health and fitness programs, special training facilities and even special grooming standards, the report found that separation from the conventional military experience can accompany a gap in leadership and accountability to match.

__________

I get that manpower requirements might dictate taking someone directly from high school or college and giving them a shot of joining an SOF unit, but I have always believed it is a disservice to not only themselves, but the ‘regular’ folks they will work with. It just seems like you should do at least a couple of years as a Marine/Sailor/Soldier and learn how fucked up everything is before you get to be ‘somebody’. You can’t help but feel you are just a little better than the ones who had to do their time first.
 

Marauder06

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I'm not sure I agree with the first part, as it pre-supposes that all of the military's good leaders are exclusively in SOF. That is unequivocally not the case.

There are also not a whole lot of SOF units, at least on the Army side, that you can walk straight into off the street, at least not in widespread numbers. And those units that do take first-termers, they have lengthy vetting and training programs to get their people up to speed.

As far as the "I'm special" thing... yeah that's an issue. But it's also a strength. It just has to be effectively managed by unit leaders, especially NCOs.
 

Kaldak

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I get that manpower requirements might dictate taking someone directly from high school or college and giving them a shot of joining an SOF unit, but I have always believed it is a disservice to not only themselves, but the ‘regular’ folks they will work with. It just seems like you should do at least a couple of years as a Marine/Sailor/Soldier and learn how fucked up everything is before you get to be ‘somebody’.
Is the reason that The Corps doesn't offer a direct enlistment option? Maybe it changed, but I remember you had to be a LCpl or Cpl before applying to MARSOC.

Learn the Corps before you become special.
 
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Ooh-Rah

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Is the reason that The Corps doesn't offer a direct enlistment option? Maybe it changed, but I remember you had to be a LCpl or Cpl before applying to MARSOC.
Did not want to ignore your question, but I’ll leave it to the Recon/MARSOC guys on the site to explain any “why-behind-the-what” when it comes to stuff like that.
 

Devildoc

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Once upon a time you had to be a junior NCO before you could even entertain going into Army Special Forces; or, have a special skill (so the old-timers tell me). There is an expectation of maturity.
 

lindy

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GEN Clarke is trying to change a lot of things for the better.
Good to change command climate and culture but which problems have been successfully resolved by the intervention of GOFOs and SES civilians?

I don't think GOFOs in Tampa should make decisions that were once made by O-3s in the field. Oversight sure but CONOP approval seems to convey lack of trust in my opinion.
 

Viper1

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Good to change command climate and culture but which problems have been successfully resolved by the intervention of GOFOs and SES civilians?

I don't think GOFOs in Tampa should make decisions that were once made by O-3s in the field. Oversight sure but CONOP approval seems to convey lack of trust in my opinion.
One of the talking points was him trying to change the culture at the HQ, not at tactical level. As far as CONOPs go, we’ve been “making it up as we go” or “policy but CONOP” for over a decade now. We’ve gotten ourselves into our own mess with that. Thankfully, he’s not concerned about that, but more concerned about support from his staff to the operational units.
 

lindy

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Thankfully, he’s not concerned about that, but more concerned about support from his staff to the operational units.
I cannot wait for that to trickle down to the combat support agencies, which support his staff. So far, anything I push to Tampa comes back with big red “no”.
 

lindy

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Lack of trust or risk aversion?
There some folks that pull off some amazing shit in areas we don’t normally go.

Command staff in the front and intel dudes in the back of this low-viz SIGINT vehicle:

 
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Teufel

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Good to change command climate and culture but which problems have been successfully resolved by the intervention of GOFOs and SES civilians?

I don't think GOFOs in Tampa should make decisions that were once made by O-3s in the field. Oversight sure but CONOP approval seems to convey lack of trust in my opinion.
I think the problem here is some ‘special operators’ are making decisions to murder or sexually assault teammates, steal operational funds, smuggle and abuse narcotics, murder civilians and murder detainees. SOCOM convinced congress, and the American people, that SOF could achieve impossible tasks in highly sensitive environments because of their maturity, training, and discipline. This string of misconduct is an existential threat to that reputation.
 

lindy

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I think the problem here is some ‘special operators’ are making decisions to murder or sexually assault teammates, steal operational funds, smuggle and abuse narcotics, murder civilians and murder detainees. SOCOM convinced congress, and the American people, that SOF could achieve impossible tasks in highly sensitive environments because of their maturity, training, and discipline. This string of misconduct is an existential threat to that reputation.
You spelled ‘intelligence officers‘ wrong.
I agree and want to highlight mistrust by Americans isn’t isolated to SOF (we’ve experienced ALL that same shit but you guys captured the headlines).
 

Marauder06

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I think the problem here is some ‘special operators’ are making decisions to murder or sexually assault teammates, steal operational funds, smuggle and abuse narcotics, murder civilians and murder detainees. SOCOM convinced congress, and the American people, that SOF could achieve impossible tasks in highly sensitive environments because of their maturity, training, and discipline. This string of misconduct is an existential threat to that reputation.
It's going to take a major unit getting deactivated, and its personnel re-distributed throughout SOF and the general purpose forces, for meaningful change to happen.

I know which unit I'm nominating...
 
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