Rumsfeld Orders Special Operations Command Review

Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld has ordered a thorough review of the Special Operations Command to determine how it might better fight terrorism.

Review Is Set for U.S. Forces in Terror Fight (NYT )

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has assigned a retired four-star general to review the Special Operations Command, the military headquarters with the lead role in counterterrorism, and assess how it can perform more effectively.

The decision to have the officer, Gen. Wayne A. Downing, a former head of the command, conduct the review reflects Mr. Rumsfeld’s impatience with the progress in the fight against global terrorism, and his periodic desire to summon outside experts to bring a fresh eye to daunting problems. Earlier this year, for instance, Mr. Rumsfeld dispatched another retired senior officer to Iraq to assess the training of Iraqi security forces.


In a brief visit last week to MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, the command’s headquarters, Mr. Rumsfeld told troops and officers that “the Special Forces Command clearly has a capability that is needed in this circumstance that we’re in.” But Mr. Rumsfeld, a staunch advocate of special operations forces, also told senior officers privately that the command had “to adjust rapidly to stay ahead of the threat,” said Kenneth McGraw, a command spokesman.


General Downing, who led the inquiry into the bombing at the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996, is known for his blunt, independent style.

All large organizations need tweaking, and I’m sure USSOCOM is no exception. Further, Downing’s reputation is sterling. Still, given the plaudits our special operators have received since 911, notably for their ingenious operations in Afghanistan, they would seem to be low on the priority list for close examination.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.