From the commandant
By Maj. Gen. Bennet S. Sacolick
Originally published in the January-March 2012 edition of Special Warfare
On March 17, 2003, President George W. Bush announced a 48-hour deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq. On March 19, Soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group headed over the berm into Iraq.
It came as no surprise to the members of our regiments that United States Army special-operations forces, or ARSOF, would be at the tip of the spear in the invasion. Eight years later, as the war wound down, ARSOF were still in the fight, training Iraqi special-operations forces.
Iraqi SOF, U.S. Special Forces’ main partners throughout the war, are some of the most balanced and most capable organizations within the Iraq army. With the end of the war in sight, it is these forces that will be critical in preventing the insurgency from gaining ground. The training ARSOF have provided them over the past eight years should stand them in good stead.
More importantly, the relationships that we have built over the past eight years should ensure that we will remain persistently engaged with ISOF, in the normal “military to military” relationships that the current administration has vowed to carry on with Iraq. Iraqi SOF leaders have been quite vocal about the fact that while they can stand on their own, they do not want to lose the partnership with ARSOF that has been forged during the eight years of war.
It is this kind of relationship and bond that makes our force so unique. We don’t just talk about building relationships and working through and with. We do it, time after time, and in locations all over the world.
In Special Warfare, we seek to create a forum for you to share not only ways of building those relationships but also ways to make them endure.
As the U.S. presence in Iraq wound down last year, Special Warfare was there. A team from the schoolhouse went to Iraq to document the last days of the war. While there, we saw the strides that have been made in the training of the Iraqi force. We saw how our doctrine has been tested and has improved from the lessons learned throughout eight years of combat.
In this issue, our team members will chronicle what they saw, and learned, and they suggest ways that ARSOF can improve its operational capabilities and ways that we can improve our training here at the schoolhouse to prepare our Soldiers for the next uncertain environment they will face.
Over the course of the next year, Special Warfare teams — writers, photographers and doctrine subject-matter experts — will make visits throughout ARSOF’s areas of operation. Upcoming issues of Special Warfare will take a look at operations in Africa, the Pacific and South America. If you are serving in those areas, we ask that you share the knowledge you have gained from operations in those areas with the members of the ARSOF regiments. If you have ideas for article or something that you think our team should see and cover, send your ideas to our team at Specialwarfare@ahqb.soc.mil