Analysis: Trump has made record use of US Special Forces since becoming president

special forcesWith reports about the activities of the United States Special Forces continuously surfacing in the media lately, it is important to remember that the White House has drastically increased Special Forces deployments since Donald Trump assumed the presidency. In December last year, it was reported that President Trump had ordered the deployment of Special Forces troops more often than any other president in American history. At that time, US Special Forces troops were deployed in 150 nations, a number that represented 75 percent of all nations on the planet, according to government data. The figures were published by TomDispatch, which said it received them directly from the US Special Operations Command. The website said that American Special Forces troops were participating in wars, counter-insurgency operations and covert-action activities across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and saw action every day.

According to the statistics provided by the US Special Operations Command, it appears more than 10 percent (8,000 troops) of the US Special Operations Command’s 70,000 troops are deployed each day. These deployments take place daily in more than 80 countries. This rate of deployment represents a significant increase from the eight years of the administration of US President Barack Obama, which ended in 2016. That year, US Special Forces troops were deployed in 138 countries, according to media reports. The Trump administration’s use of Special Forces troops also represents a jump of approximately 150 percent from the last Republican administration, that of George W. Bush, which ended in early 2008.

Africa represents an area of consistent rise in the rates of deployment of US Special Forces. Currently, US Special Forces troops are active in no fewer than 33 countries across Africa. Most of these countries are witnessing activity by Islamist groups that are described as terrorist by the region’s governments. But the US Special Operations Command has also deployed contingents in Europe, said TomDispatch. Currently, the US maintains Special Forces troops at every country bordering Russia’s western region, with the exception of Belarus.

These numbers echo the record growth of the US Special Forces community since September 11, 2001, when Washington declared its global war on terrorism. Observers estimate the post-9/11 numerical growth of US Special Forces at 75 percent. However, little is known about the nature of campaigns in which US Special Forces are deployed, and whether they are effective in establishing security, or whether they inflame tensions across different battlefronts. There is also limited information about the resulting casualties. The US government has admitted that US Special Forces troops died in 2017 in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Niger, Mali and Somalia.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 22 March 2018 | Permalink

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2 Responses to Analysis: Trump has made record use of US Special Forces since becoming president

  1. Aaron Gaver says:

    Fact/verbiage question. The data is unclear. In the military, only one unit is referred to as “Special Forces”. This unit is Army Special Forces, which is also referred to as “SF” within the Army and by “the Green Berets” by civilians. The term “Special Operations Forces”, however, refers to every special operations unit by every military branch (SEALs, SWCC, AF Pararescue, AF CCTs, MARSOC, Army SF, Rangers, Civil Affairs, Psyops, just to name a few). Does the data found within this article refer to “Special Forces” or “Special Operations Forces”? The devil is in the details.

  2. Pete says:

    Use of the Special Forces has several advantages over using regular military forces. The Special Forces are usually: more highly trained; closer to being a self-reliant “one stop shop” even more than the Marines; more frequently in action (as the above article implies); usually their activities are more covert (this avoiding US government embarrassment); and, they are probably more attuned to using real-time intelligence.

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