Defense Media Network

Interview With Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, USN

NSW commander reviews the state of Naval Special Warfare


We have expanded facilities and ranges to support our growth and increased training requirements on both coasts and in Stennis, Mississippi. We’re training closer to home or in locations where training venues are co-located, which creates force generation efficiencies and reduces the amount of time our sailors spend “deployed” for training. In fact, a great deal of progress has been made following the Navy’s Record of Decision to support the building of our Coastal Campus in San Diego. This initiative involves 25 planned military construction projects, to be built over the next several years, including Navy infrastructure, design, and equipment contracts, all totaling nearly $1 billion. Once it’s completed, the Coastal Campus will have the greatest impact on the current and future readiness of our forces and the way we operate on the battlefield for decades to come.

Just a decade ago, special operations forces (SOF) were challenged with meeting the congressional mandate to grow their forces. NSW has successfully grown its force, but the threats also continue to grow in number and complexity, and there are no new authorizations for personnel on the horizon. What are you doing to mitigate impacts to the force and what more do you think you need to do?

Our flagship weapon system and capital resource is our people. We are committed to making sure they are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for the demanding tasks that we ask them to execute. Our selection and training regimens have evolved and are designed to instill the will, skill, and character to attain desired effects in the most complex and demanding environments. Beyond that, rehabilitation, recovery, and maintaining peak performance throughout their careers are essential to force readiness. We are also dedicated to advancing superior assessment selection, training, education, and talent management programs for our personnel.

NSW small boat

West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare personnel participate in a small boat training evolution. Naval Special Warfare Group ONE photo

NSW is actively working with partners in SOF, the Navy, DOD [the Department of Defense], academia, and our local communities to ensure necessary resources and authorities are available to support the readiness and resilience of our force and our families. Through our partnering efforts, we have developed an integrated, embedded care model to maximize access to services and support and minimize the stigma of seeking help.

Commanders at the lowest level are monitoring the use of assigned forces and are better able to make informed risk decisions that help protect operators with a sustainable operations tempo.

Given that predictability is a key component to building resilience, a 2014 USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] policy memo was issued to improve operational readiness and retention. Commanders at the lowest level are monitoring the use of assigned forces and are better able to make informed risk decisions that help protect operators with a sustainable operations tempo. Evaluating and balancing mission requirements with the needs of our service members contributes to mission success.

Another aspect of readiness and taking care of our people is ensuring our personnel are supported by timely development, fielding, and sustainment of the right kinds of service- common and special operations-peculiar equipment.

Increased demand for SOF and the current fiscal environment require unprecedented agility and greater efficiency, but shifting priorities to meet emerging requirements is not new to NSW. Our readiness and our ability to support the Geographic Combatant Commanders depend on a continuous reassessment of our priorities and resourcing in a responsive and responsible way.

CENTCOM [Central Command], AFRICOM [U.S. Africa Command], EUCOM [U.S. European Command], PACOM [U.S. Pacific Command], NORTHCOM [U.S. Northern Command] and SOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] – on any given day, NSW is deployed to more than 40+ countries around the world in a wide variety of operational environments and situations. While we have focused our efforts in recent years on enhancing our interoperability with Navy, it is also important that we prioritize and synchronize our activities globally. U.S. Special Operations Command has led a SOF-wide effort to develop a network of partners to do that. Taking a regional approach to identifying instability and situations that threaten international security, we are providing Geographic Combatant Commanders with tailored solutions, unique capabilities, and strategic options for our national and military leaders to mitigate both traditional and asymmetric threats. We are committed to helping our partners build their own capacity and protect their own interests as well as to help maintain security and stability in their regions. Our persistent engagement and the work we’re doing to establish interoperability and long-term working relationships is essential to our future success.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...