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American Forces Press Service

Socom Commander: Success Depends on Total Force Readiness

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2015 – The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told Congress today that he is "profoundly concerned" about sequestration's impact on the military as a whole.

Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel said that while Socom has been well-supported in recent years, it is "absolutely dependent" on the military services as a whole for mission support.

In addition to the fiscal challenges facing his command, Votel told the committee, the variety of physical threats to national security is on the rise.

"The spread of technology and the diffusion of power are not only being used by responsible leaders to better societies, but unfortunately, by wicked actors to orchestrate terror and violence, regionally and globally," he said.

Special Operations Provides 'Comparative Advantage'

State and nonstate actors alike exert significant influence over the strategic environment in which special operations forces operate, the general said.

"And we are equally affected by the growing use of cyber capabilities and social media, which make it easy for our adversaries to coordinate, execute and inspire their actions," Votel said.

Socom delivers options to the nation's leaders and to geographic combatant commanders, he said.

"Through small-footprint operations and by relying on a network of purposeful partnerships, [special operations forces provide] a comparative advantage through persistent engagement, partner enablement, network focus and discreet rapid response to crisis situations," the general said.

Special operations forces are uniquely suited "to operate and succeed in the gray zone between normal international competition and open conflict," Votel said. "And it is in this area that we see our very best opportunities to help shape the future environment."

Five Priorities

The general told the committee that he has established five command priorities designed to support Socom's singular abilities.

"First, we must ensure [special operations forces'] readiness by developing the right people, skills and capabilities to meet current and future requirements," he said.

"… Second, we must help our nation win by addressing today's security challenges," Votel said.

"… Third, we must build purposeful relationships to improve global understanding and awareness to create options for our leaders," the general said. "We don't own the network, but we are an important part of it, and working with our partners will always produce the best options for our nation."

Fourth, he added, "we have to prepare for the future security environment to ensure that [special operations] is ready to win in an increasingly complex world."

And, "we must preserve our force and families to ensure their long-term well-being," the general said.

Socom leaders "are specifically focused on a holistic approach to address the invisible challenges of stress and suicide that are affecting our service members, civilians and their family members," Votel said.

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