The Pentagon’s new focus where the training of special-operations units is concerned is preparation for potential armed conflicts with Russia and China (instead of dealing with insurgents such as the Taliban or Daesh also known as ISIL or ISIS), the Business Insider reported.
Some of the US Army Special-Operations Forces (ARSOF), including the Green Berets and 75th Ranger Regiment, have already started to prepare for this shift during the Lightning Forge 21 drills on Oahu Island, Hawaii, according to the report.
Washington currently considers Russia and China as its two most likely near-peer adversaries in possible future conflicts. The Pentagon, in turn, is working on keeping up with the two nations technologically and in terms of the military might.
The Green Berets trained in a role that had been customary for them before the launch of US anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan and other countries – the support of conventional armed forces. They have filled this role in many conflicts in which the US has taken part, such as the Second World War and Vietnam.
The US Army confirmed that a Green Berets’ unit from the 1st Special Forces Group worked with the 25th Infantry Division during the drills in Hawaii focusing on the area in which they excel – small-unit tactics. The latter is used to carry out ambushes, raids and even reconnaissance deep inside the enemy territory in support of the conventional forces’ missions.
“[The small-unit tactics can be used] to disrupt enemy defences, eliminate key targets, gather intelligence and provide increased manoeuvrability, improving the brigade’s ability to destroy the enemy,” the US Army announced in a statement.
The Lightning Forge exercise suggests that earlier recommendations by the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) on repurposing the Army’ special operations units for confrontation with near-peer or peer adversaries, had been listened to in Pentagon. USASOC identified several roles that these elite units can play, namely infiltrating deeply into the enemy’s denied areas, cooperation with – or leadership of – local guerrillas in the enemy’s backyard, support for conventional forces and the destruction of the anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) systems.
The latter is one of the main headaches for the US military when it comes to China and especially Russia. Both countries have formidable anti-air defences, which can render US aircraft carriers and strategic bombers useless in open conflict. Russian anti-air defence systems have long been recognised by the Pentagon itself as some of the best in the world because they have in effect made parts of Russia inaccessible to American jets.