At the beginning of this month, Raymond Thomas, chief of the special forces of the Ministry of defense, during his speech in the Senate Committee on the armed forces said that the forces today are not able to maintain the current intensity of operations. Soldiers mentally exhausted after 15.5 years of continuous wars, which is expressed by including in a large percentage of suicides among the soldiers of the special forces.
High rate and its implications
The General stressed that 8,000 fighters U.S. special forces today are serving in more than 80 countries and are at the forefront of the fighting. While 55,3% of soldiers are in the middle East, 17.3 per cent in Africa and 12.7% in Europe. About 500 commandos is in Syria.
April has already killed four soldiers of the special forces: one in Somalia, three in Afghanistan. For the year, killed 20 soldiers of elite units. In 2016, according to media reports, U.S. special forces were present in 138 countries around the world.
Special forces fighting against the terrorist gangs of ISIS* and al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab, as well as preparing for possible operations in North Korea, and missions in Eastern Europe — «in case of Russian aggression.»
Such activity causes more stress. In Congress, the head of the special forces said the following: «We are not a panacea and is not a final solution to all problems, and you’ll never hear such words from us.» Today, in addition to fighting terrorists and militants, as well as raids behind enemy lines commandos assigned the mission of monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. While the overburdening of the special forces warned in 2015, former chief General Joseph Votel.
Senators share the concern of the General. They also believe that the US army cultivated the myth that only special forces will solve everything, and army commanders increasingly rely heavily on the involvement of special forces for any reason, essentially shifting their objectives and using the forces beyond his usual functions.
The head of the armed services Committee John McCain also said that the army has «an insatiable appetite» for using special forces. The army and politicians think that spetsnaz is cheap and easy.
However, Raymond Thomas refused to give specific figures as proof that the military work wear. On the McCain question, he replied evasively that time on time is not necessary, and someone rests a month after the same time in business trip, someone- six months after six months in other countries, and someone is resting and three months after the month of the missions outside the United States. But stressed again that people are «exhausted».
Raymond Thomas, also refused to give to Congress and data on the number of suicides among special forces soldiers: «I don’t want to go into the terrible statistics, but we are suffering.»
He stressed that the command has doubled and even tripled their efforts to prevent psychological problems and provide psychological support in recent years.
The General may not want to give statistics, but it is trying to track in the media. The peak of suicides among soldiers of the special units of the U.S. occurred in 2012. Then took his own life 24. In 2014 (last year, when the Pentagon gave the data for that matter) committed suicide 18 soldiers. In 2016, according to an unnamed representative, the numbers were even less. For comparison, the total in the Armed forces of the United States in 2012 was recorded 321 cases of suicide, in 2016 — 275 cases.
In the special forces concluded two years ago, the contract with the American Association of suicide-studying, so she developed a program for special forces to prevent suicides and identify early signals of potential tragedies. There are a number of other programs — including an emphasis on family support, as 66% of special forces in the US are married.
Budgets and uncertainty
Raymond Thomas, among other things, indicated to Congress that although the condition of special forces and meets the current threats to national security, but «unpredictable and inadequate budget» undermines the readiness and speed the modernization of the units.
On special forces stands today 2% of the total budget of the Pentagon. While the budget is reduced and the application of special forces is only growing. All this, in his opinion (which was agreed to and senators), will lead to more problems in the future.
Due to budget cuts, according to Raymond Thomas, there are problems with the equipment staff, there is a shortage of recruits.
In addition, the General laments the fact that «unpredictable geography and timing of long-term missions.» From Afghanistan, the Americans in theory were supposed to leave in 2014, and special operations forces expected to use the released soldiers, but now it may be that the opposite would have to sacrifice in other theaters of military operations and to increase its presence in Afghanistan. Disconcerting and the technical side of the changes. For example, it is still unclear whether the special forces used the basic C-130 aircraft and then for their operations — or the troops will be transferred to other equipment.
The representative of the Ministry of defense of the United States on specil Theresa Whelan told the Congress that in this situation, the special forces all the time necessary to find the internal resources (figuratively, «eat their young») to maintain the pace of operations today at the expense of the future.
* The terrorist group «Islamic state» (IG) and «al-Qaeda» is prohibited in Russia.