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Weekend Havoc

9:15 AM, Sep 23, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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While Germany was engaging in peaceful elections and the United States was watching football – civilized societies being big on democratic rituals and sports – people in other parts of the world were relieving their frustrations in violence.

In Nairobi, a shopping mall was attacked and dozens of civilians slaughtered by al Qaeda-backed Somali terrorists.  In northwest Pakistan, suicide bombers killed 78 people in an attack during a Christian church.  In Baghdad, a car bomb killed sixty mourners at a funeral. In Afghanistan, where Americans are (still) fighting both their friends and their enemies, one of the former officers “wearing a security forces uniform turned his weapon against U.S. troops Saturday, killing three.”

Bin Laden may be dead but the world has not been made gentle by his passing.  The U.S. has interests (self-defense not least among them) that are threatened by a recrudescence of terrorism.  If, indeed, it ever went away. Given the mood of the country, the state of the economy, and the campaign for frugality at the Pentagon, we are not likely to send big units of conventional troops abroad to defend those interests.  Not in the near term, anyway.

The good news, as Whitney Grespin writes at Diplomatic Courier, is that the military "has been carefully cultivating Special Operations Forces (SOF) for decades that are perfectly suited to counter the challenges that lay ahead."  

These SOF troops are many things, which is a good thing:

Given refined expectations for mission essential capabilities and reoriented priorities for the years ahead…


the future of SOF is likely to look less like Act of Valor and more like Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. Building on the last ten years of advisory missions and precise kinetic interventions, SOF will look to draw upon the contributions of highly skilled individual or small team operators in less permissive environments as well as enhanced technical reconnaissance and intervention capabilities.

On the evidence of this past weekend, they will be both needed and busy.

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