U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress [January 16, 2009]   [open pdf - 161KB]

"Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations and the Administration has given U.S. SOF greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. The progress of mandated SOF growth, possible equipment and logistical shortfalls, and SOF's role in irregular warfare (IW) are potential policy issues for congressional consideration. This report will be updated as events warrant. […] While SOF non-permissive raids into Pakistan and other countries are well within its capabilities, such operations may not be in its best self-interest. These raids may in fact kill insurgents and their leaders, disrupt their operations, and send the message that there is no sanctuary for them but such raids might also make it more difficult for SOF to conduct 'indirect operations.' SOF indirect operations, such as training foreign militaries--like Pakistan's Frontier Corps--have proven successful in the Philippines and in Colombia, but are very dependent on 'strong, longterm ties to foreign militaries' and the host nation's government. Given Pakistan's reaction to the September 2008 unsanctioned raid into South Waziristan, U.S. leaders may wish to consider that further efforts could imperil long-term indirect SOF efforts to train Pakistani forces to assist in defeating insurgents in the tribal and border regions--a key operational requirement for stability in Afghanistan."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS21048
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