A couple o' items from the Usual USAF Source...
Demand for SOF Outpacing Growth: US Special Operations Command has grown from about 45,000 people in 2001 to about 68,000 today, and it has plans to continue that growth to 71,000 through Fiscal 2018, said Garry Reid, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. Speaking at AFA's Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 18, Reid said SOF capacity also has increased about 25 percent during that time. However, even such steady growth has not been able to mitigate the incredibly high operational tempo endured by special operators over the last 11 years. In fact, USSOCOM operational tempo is nine times greater than it was prior to that growth, with many operators racking up 20 to 30 deployments just to Iraq and Afghanistan. "From a command and leadership perspective, we have to start thinking about sustainment and how that goes in the long-term," said Reid. Although the US has pulled out of Iraq and plans are in place for a 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, that op tempo is not expected to change any time soon, he said. US special operators operate from about 200 different countries throughout the course of a year and are in 70 to 80 countries on any given day.
It's All About Adaptability, Agility: More than 80 percent of all of US special operations missions are conducted in the US Central Command area of responsibility, so the majority of SOF assets have been optimized for the hot, mountainous, desert region, said Garry Reid, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, during AFA's Air & Space Conference Sept. 18. But, as the US prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan senior military leaders now must figure out how to rework those same systems so they will remain fully capable in other contingencies around the globe. "We have to think about that on a global level and make sure we have everything in place," said Reid. USAF Brig. Gen. Marshall Webb, assistant commanding general at Joint Special Operations Command headquarters, said Air Force Special Operations Command is paying particular attention to that as it looks to upgrade most of its airframes. "It's about adaptability and agility," said Webb during an air commando forum Sept. 18. He added, "We are working closely with our partners to discuss the right types of sensors, mobility platforms, and weapons we will need and then to adopt them to the right airframes so we can sustain that in different environments other than the desert."
The first thing that struck me is the OpTempo for our special operators, the second thing was the number of different countries they operate in. Your average American would be hard-pressed to even NAME 70 to 80 countries, let alone deploy to one of 'em. As far as OpTempo goes... that's a LOT o' deployments, but all deployments are not equal; you can deploy for as little as a week or two, or for more than a year. That said, I'm thinkin' ANY SpecOps deployment ain't a piece o' cake. My hat is off to those guys.
And then there's the bit about SOF assets being "optimized for hot, mountainous, desert regions." Now you know why the 27th Special Operations Wing is at Cannon. In part.