Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette assumed command, June 8, 2018, of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Prior to commanding USASOC, Beaudette was commanding general of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Beaudette was commissioned in 1989 as a military intelligence officer. In his first assignment, he served as a battalion assistant S-2, M1A1 crewmember, and armor platoon leader in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. He went on to complete Special Forces training in 1995. His first assignment was to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), where he commanded two Special Forces detachments, commanded the group headquarters company, and served as the group assistant S-3. He then served as the aide-de-camp to the commanding general of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and went on to serve as aide-de-camp to the deputy commanding general of Kosovo Forces. He commanded a Special Forces company at Fort Carson, Colorado, and in Kosovo, as well as served as a battalion executive officer and group operations officer for the 10th SFG (A), both at Fort Carson and in Iraq. Following a tour on the Joint Staff in the J3 Deputy Directorate for Special Operations, Beaudette commanded 1st Battalion, 10th SFG (A) in Germany and Special Operations Task Force 10 in Afghanistan. He then served as the G3 and chief of staff for the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) prior to commanding the 1st SFG (A) and the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines. Beaudette then served as the executive officer to the commander, United States Special Operations Command. Beaudette served as the deputy commanding general, 1st Armored Division and director of CENTCOM Forward (Jordan). He then served with Joint Special Operations Command as the assistant commanding general. Beaudette’s previous assignment was with 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), where he served as the commanding general. Beaudette is a graduate of the Citadel, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
Special Operations Outlook: How is U.S. Army Special Operations Command looking at the future of conflict?
Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette: The National Defense Strategy warns “we face an ever more lethal and disruptive battlefield, combined across domains, and conducted at increasing speed and reach.” In tomorrow’s fight, our men and women will operate in a complex, multi-dimensional world, where information and technology are weaponized at speed against us. Our adversaries will jam our communications and spoof our signals. To stay ahead of the enemy, we must increase our advantage by providing the latest technology to our teams, unencumbered by expensive legacy systems and slow processes. We cannot expect success fighting tomorrow’s wars with yesterday’s technology. Every single day the men and women of Army Special Operations demonstrate the power of innovation. Bottom-up problem-solving is what we do, and what we principally assess and select our soldiers for. Our people have always been, and will remain, our competitive advantage.
What has U.S. Army Special Operations Command done to modernize for tomorrow’s battlefield?
The Department of Defense and the Army have aggressively leaned forward in preparing the force for tomorrow’s battlefield. We’re closely partnered with the U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) to evaluate and test emerging technologies and gear that AFC can efficiently scale up for the larger Army formations. U.S. Special Operations Command Acquisition Technology & Logistics, J6, and Data Office continue to assist and empower our efforts. Together, we’re driving the development of a modern cloud network in support of multi-domain operations to enhance our ability to collect data, rapidly pass it to the appropriate decision-makers, and apply those resources to the tactical edge. Made possible by advances in artificial intelligence applications, we’re using data to sharpen our effectiveness and get those tools where we need them – in the hands of our soldiers on the objective.
Ultimately, our charge is to ensure Army special operations forces are ready to answer the nation’s call. To meet our mission, we completed a significant restructuring of the command. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Force Modernization Center incorporated the USASOC G8, G9, and Force Modernization directorates to optimize our modernization efforts. At the same time, our tactical innovation hubs remain our ranges, classrooms, training centers, and in the live laboratories of the 80 countries where Army special operations forces are deployed every day. This is how we drive innovation – dream it, test it, break it, refine it, and apply it on the battlefield.
In November each year, we bring the finest military practitioners, interagency teammates, academic scholars, and industry partners to Fort Bragg for the Modern Warfare Symposium. The importance of continuous education to our special operations forces cannot be overstated. We endeavor to challenge our assumptions and advance our craft, whether it is in policy, strategy, or technology. Success on future battlefields demands seamless integration with the Army and the joint force – we will be the force’s eyes and ears in the deep fight during large-scale combat operations, and we’re shaping that victory now with our allies and partners in competition. We hope to see you at this year’s Modern Warfare Symposium to further explore the “SOF Operator of Tomorrow” on Fort Bragg from Nov. 18-20, 2020.
How will you focus your efforts over the next year?
Our nation’s enemies have not relented. With that in mind, we owe our men and women every possible advantage on the modern battlefield. We want every fight to be unfair, and we will relentlessly pursue this objective, no matter how far it is or how long it will take us. It’s clear that our near-peer competitors are making significant investments in technology, and are aggressively employing it right now to erode America’s military superiority.
As a force heavily engaged in combat and competition, Army special operations forces (ARSOF) are ready, agile, and lethal. We will, as we always have, continue to deliver under conditions of ambiguity with precision, because that’s what the nation demands of us – but we must be prepared to do more than survive: We must continue to thrive in contested and denied areas. Our competitive advantage has been, and will remain, our people. Congress generously supports our efforts to keep our soldiers in the fight. USASOC Human Performance & Wellness integrates and leverages SOCOM’s Preservation of the Force and Families and the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness programs to empower our command teams to understand, resource, and enable the holistic performance and wellness of soldiers and families, tailored to the specific requirements unique to their ARSOF roles. Teams of highly qualified professionals within our units are connected to our ARSOF soldiers and their families. We will continue to evaluate and optimize human performance and sustain holistic wellness to ensure our soldiers and their loved ones are prepared and empowered for a more sustainable and satisfying life in Army special operations. This level of care, provided throughout the career of an Army special operator, is critical to sustaining our readiness, our combat effectiveness, and the resilience of our soldiers and their families.
This interview originally appears in the following edition of Special Operations Outlook: