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USASOC: Enduring Commitment

 

Because leaders of any military organization love years of stability and very little news about them personally, 2014 was a good year for U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). For starters, 2014 was the first year since 2009 when USASOC and the rest of the Department of Defense (DOD) did not need to operate under the fiscal strictures of a budgetary continuing resolution. Even better, the Congress was able to finally pass a completed budget bill for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, ending the continuing specter of the Budget Control Act and sequestration. This fiscal stability had rapid and positive effects on every part of DOD, including USASOC.

Another important occurrence took place within USASOC on Oct. 18, with the activation of a North Carolina National Guard Special Operations Detachment (SOD). The SOD will support and augment Special Operations Command (SOCOM) elements and operations worldwide as required.

Within weeks, training and exercises were back on schedule, and acquisition teams around the command began to receive badly needed supplies and materials, including ammunition, fuel, and replacement parts. The sudden certainty of having almost two years of funding clearly and completely approved by Congress and the administration was a “new normal” for many at USASOC and the rest of the U.S. special warfare community. One can only hope that elected officials will keep that in mind as they prepare the budget for fiscal year 2016.

Another positive aspect at USASOC came from its command team over nearly three years: Commanding General Lt. Gen. Charles T. “Charlie” Cleveland and senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. George A. Bequer.

Once again in 2014, Cleveland demonstrated his reputation as one of America’s quietest, “quiet professionals,” by rarely speaking publically. One notable exception came on May 22 at the Memorial Square adjacent to USASOC headquarters. There, he addressed families and friends of the USASOC soldiers lost in 2013, as their names were added to the memorial wall.

Col.-Stuart-P.-Goldsmith

Col. Stuart P. Goldsmith addresses the audience during the Military Information Support Operations Command change-of-command ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Goldsmith assumed command of the unit from the departing commander, Col. Robert A. Warburg. Photo by Lewis Perkins/Paraglide

“They were brave, they were tough, they were strong, they were noble, and they were honorable. They were teammates and they fought without hesitation, for each other. They are our heroes, and it is fitting and proper that we never forget them. On this noble wall, we add the names of 18 great Americans who represent the strength of our country; the country’s recognition that to adequately defend ourselves in today’s dangerous world, we must be willing to put at risk the best of our young by asking them to take up arms. These soldiers are remarkable examples of who we are as a nation, as an Army. Together they represent the strength of our way of life and they are heroes in which we believe in the underlying and enduring commitment that all Americans share to our country’s defense. In our losses, we see ourselves and our children. It doesn’t matter what brought you to the fight, simply if you and your loved one fought underneath a set of Army Special Operations Colors, you are family. And today we mourn with you and our hearts ache for you. These are all warriors, soldiers of whom much was asked and from whom all was taken because they chose this calling,” said Cleveland. “They will never be forgotten and forever those who follow will see their names here, and know they gave all for all Americans. They stepped forward and demonstrated to the world that our liberty will never be conceded. May their memories live on forever and our country forever be inspired by their sacrifice.”

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John D. Gresham lives in Fairfax, Va. He is an author, researcher, game designer, photographer,...