Speaking at the 2012 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Winter Symposium and Exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno pointed to strengthening ties between the Army and United States Special Operations Command. As evidence, he pointed to a meeting between himself, USSOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven, and their respective staffs, which was held in Tampa on Feb. 23.
“I just spent yesterday up at Special Operations Command, where we had the first Army/Special Operations Command talks,” he said. “Why did we do this? Adm. McRaven and I have worked for several years together in the Middle East and realize how important it is to sustain a long-term relationship between conventional and special operations forces. They cannot operate without the support of the Army. And there are many missions that they know they must go forward with that will require support from the Army. It’s important for us to understand that.”
Elaborating on the meeting, he added, “I brought down the whole Army staff to Tampa, where we met with the USSOCOM staff and talked about issues; about how we are going to continue to work together on some key aspects. They realize and we realize that we are linked – we are not inextricably linked. And I believe as we go through the Army Force Generation process there will be forces that are aligned with Special Operations Command as they conduct their worldwide counter-terrorism mission, and as they do some other functions that they are given.”
In terms of near term concrete actions, Odierno pointed to an agreement “to do a couple of CTC [Combat Training Center] rotations together; to work out some concepts that we have never looked at before; where we believe it will be important for us to work together, especially in a time of emergency.”
“So I think that relationship is strong,” he said. “And one of the things we kept talking about is how proud we should be of our Army SOF. They are fundamentally the base of Special Operations Command. The sacrifices they have made have been great. And the relationships that they have developed over these last 10 years cannot be lost. We all recognize that.”
The continuing criticality of Army Special Operations Forces was further emphasized when Odierno cited a planned “growth” of Army SOF within a declining overall service force structure, with a targeted growth end state of 35,000 personnel.