Moral Outrage
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US Special Operations Command fighting global warfare

The head of the US military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is asking for greater autonomy in dispatching elite killer squads to every corner of the globe. According to the New York Times, Adm. William McRaven is seeking “more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed.” The admiral’s proposal, the Times notes, “would also allow the Special Operations forces to expand their presence in regions where they have not operated in large numbers for the past decade, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

SOCOM includes as its key sub unit the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, which is made up of such outfits as the Navy Seals and the Army’s Green Berets, which carry out armed missions abroad. It is also one area of the US military that is being spared even the minimal cuts that are being imposed on the Pentagon budget.

SOCOM’s personnel has doubled since 2001 to its current headcount and Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, SOCOM’s vice commander, told an audience of war profiteers that the Pentagon plans are to increase the command to “70,000 SOF [special operations forces] warriors.” JSOC’s growth has been even more meteoric, going from just 1,800 troops in 1980 to over 25,000 today.

Special operations forces have already been deployed in over 75 countries, ranging from the Dominican Republic and Peru to the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia and central Asia. In Iraq, special forces will be kept in the country covertly, operating out of uniform, while others will be just across the border in Kuwait. In Afghanistan, a force of some 9,000 special ops troops will remain even after the 2014 formal deadline for a NATO troop withdrawal.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, JSOC units have been involved in some of the worst atrocities. They carried out wholesale assassinations of opponents of the Iraqi occupation during the 2007 “surge” ordered by the Bush administration, and were implicated in systematic torture of detainees. In Afghanistan, these units were responsible for the infamous 2002 wedding massacre, when they called in an AC-130 gunship to rake a wedding party and other civilian targets, leaving hundreds dead and wounded.

Unlike the CIA, JSOC is not required to secure a “presidential finding” authorizing lethal covert operations, or submit to congressional oversight.

[Excerpts of article by Bill Van Auken]

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