Tags: mcrave | special | ops | expansion

Commander Looks to Expand Role of Special Ops

Image: Commander Looks to Expand Role of Special Ops U.S. Admiral William Harry "Bill" McRaven, Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command since August 8, 2011.

Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:14 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The man in charge of U.S. Special Operations forces wants to revamp the role of the entire contingent and expand its capabilities to include a range of non-combat missions.

Admiral William McRaven, who was in charge of the mission that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, wants special ops to be involved in training foreign militaries in counter terrorism, gathering intelligence, and advising U.S. embassies on security risks, reports The New York Times.

McRaven reportedly has the backing of the White House and the Pentagon, both of which want to avoid more large-scale military operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, although critics have accused the admiral of overreaching.

Shortly before leaving office, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave McRaven the authority to make decisions about staffing in all of the regional Special Operations units, assigning the 11,000 forces currently deployed to areas where he believes they are most needed, according to the Times.

But Congress has temporarily blocked McCraven’s plan to consolidate the command’s several hundred Washington-based staffers into a new $10 million-a-year “National Capital Region” office, which in April he reportedly told lawmakers would better support coordination with other federal agencies.

Congress, however, ordered that no money be allocated to the effort until Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s office provides a waiver describing the purpose of the new office and its impact on existing operations.

Kenneth McGraw, a command spokesman, told the Times the waiver is being prepared but has not yet been submitted to the Pentagon.

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