Unsustainable Op Tempo

Some special operations forces are currently experiencing a one-to-one deployment-to-dwell ratio, US Special Operations Command chief Army Gen. Raymond Thomas told Congress Thursday. That means some special operators spend “six months or so deployed, six months back,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It is unsustainable.” He emphasized that a one-to-one ratio is “the worst case” and does not apply to all SOCOM personnel. In other areas of the command, “We are adequately staffed to maintain the current tempo,” Thomas said. Those worst case scenarios, however, are “less than the DOD’s desired rate and we’re endeavoring to get that back in balance.” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) noted that US Africa Command is an area of dramatic increase in tempo. SOCOM “deployments to Africa have increased by more than 1,600 percent,” he said, noting that AFRICOM deployments currently make up 17 percent of the SOCOM total and are second only to deployments to the US Central Command area of responsibility. Thomas said the increase could be attributed to “the migration of ISIS and al Qaeda to Africa, to ungoverned spaces.”