While our special operators continue to perform with remarkable resilience and success, the effects of nearly ten years of sustained operations and repeated deployments appear to be straining this elite force. Admiral Olson: I am concerned by your recent comment that our special operations forces are showing signs of, quote, “fraying around the edges.” It is important that you lay out today what steps are being taken to mitigate this strain. We are also interested in SOCOM’s progress in meeting growth targets mandated by the Quadrennial Defense Review, as well as any associated issues such as training or facility constraints that you are facing.
We continue to see al Qaeda and affiliated movements attempting to expand their reach through the Maghreb, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, and beyond. And we are all eager for the assessments of both our distinguished witnesses about the capabilities of these groups to threaten America’s friends, allies, interests, and homeland.
What is critical to note, however, is that the historic changes now reshaping the broader Middle East are a direct repudiation of al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies. The people of this dynamic and crucial region are rising up to change the character of their governments, but the revolutions they are making are largely defined not by violence, but by peaceful protests. They are inspired not by intolerant and extremist ideologies, but rather by demands for greater freedom, democracy, opportunity, and justice. More than any weapon of war with which this committee must concern itself, it is these principles, and the changes they are inspiring, that will ultimately defeat our terrorist enemies, and if only for that reason alone, these universal values and those now struggling for them deserve our full support.