Jumping Off the Page

One of the US military’s most glaring needs is for each service to become “much more SOF-like,” Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday. Speaking to defense writers in Washington, D.C. (see above), Mullen said the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have highlighted the advantages of units that possess attributes most commonly associated with special operations forces: In his view, “to be netted, much more flexible, adaptive, faster, lethal, [and] precise,” and to have the ability to deliver kinetic and non-kinetic effects “very rapidly.” The admiral said, “I believe all of us have to adapt in that way,” including having more streamlined or “flatter” organizations. Robust intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability—“the enabling pieces of SOF forces”—and human intelligence also need to continue growing, Mullen said. Avoiding collateral damage, or at least mitigating it to the best extent possible is also crucial looking forward. “Collateral damage has hurt us very badly, typically whenever it occurs,” he said, adding, “It almost sets us back.”