U.S. Special Operations Forces continue to experience rapid post-9/11 growth, with swelling ranks, rising budgets and a new set of missions. Special operations forces were reportedly involved along with CIA personnel in the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 1.
Meanwhile, the SOCOM budget has increased sharply since 9/11 from $2.1 billion in 2001 to $9.8 billion in FY2011. The FY2012 request is $10.5 billion, the Congressional Research Service noted (pdf).
New doctrine (pdf) published last month for Special Operations lists 11 “core activities” versus 9 in the previous edition (2003), reflecting the addition of “security force assistance” — aiding the development of foreign security forces — and counterinsurgency. See “Special Operations,” Joint Publication 3-05, April 18, 2011.
Traditionally all male, Special Operations Forces are recognizing new roles for women, Adm. Olson said. “Our attached female Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) allow us to reach key elements of the population in some environments which was not previously possible. This concept of attaching females to SOF units is effective and long overdue; we are urging the Services to recognize the capabilities of CSTs as essential military skills.”
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