Congress Wants to Know SOCOM’s Plan to Counter New Threats, Reform Command Culture

Congress wants the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command to provide a plan on how to counter emerging threats from foreign countries while continuing to fight terrorism and fix ethics and professionalism concerns in the Command. 

The 2018 National Defense Strategy identified competition from foreign states as the “primary concern” of U.S. national security, chiefly China and Russia. However, the document also acknowledged terrorism is still a threat. 

Additionally, the U.S. Special Operations Command Comprehensive Review published in January found ethics and professionalism concerns among special operations forces.

While USSOCOM has grown to face new threats, Congress is concerned the command is spread too thin and unable to maintain an advantage across all theaters. 

In the House Armed Services intelligence and emerging threats subcommittee’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill, Congress asked for USSOCOM to assess how many forces should shift from historical efforts against terrorism to new operations regarding great power competition.

The Comptroller General will provide a preliminary briefing on how to allocate USSOCOM resources to Congress by late November. 

In addition to foreign threats, Congress is also concerned about issues in command culture. Multiple incidents of drug use, sexual assault, and violent misconduct have eroded trust in special operations forces, said USSOCOM’s comprehensive review

Congress noted that lasting change is often a more significant challenge than identifying problems, and changing strategic priorities makes the job even harder. To help achieve improvement, Congress asked for the establishment of a Comprehensive Review Implementation Team to put recommendations from the review into effect.  

The commander of USSOCOM will brief Congress on efforts to solve professionalism concerns in the force at the end of October.