SSG Kevin Torres
Joint Special Operations University
Improvement of SOF Intel Effective and Efficiency
When people think of special operations, they think of camaraderie, professionalism, teamwork – traits that, while observed in every other aspect of the military, are pronounced tenfold in a community that prides itself on the maturity and experience of each of its members, regardless of rank. Any one person in a special operations unit could be asked to accomplish any combination of difficult tasks, and the expectation is that 1, they would be able to “figure it out on their own” and 2, they would be given the latitude to do whatever was necessary to get the job done. This also allowed everyone to operate in a manner unusual for the military: rank does not equate to expertise. Enlisted members, those who are able to continue doing their job longer than a commissioned officer, are truly the experts, while those commissioned officers were essentially managers of the breadth of experience and skill. Unfortunately, over the last ten years of war, the increase in our military (and the reliance on special operations forces) has caused an influx of commissioned officers who were asked to not only manage but know everything about what their subordinates were doing
A "top heavy" operational structure has developed, which has decreased the effectiveness of the organization. This issue has caused processes that previously were simple and painless to become long and tedious. This structure has also reduced the capabilities of the experts in the various disciplines because no longer can people take their own initiative to get things done, they must wait for multiple levels of approval or oversight before doing anything. This has also caused issues with timeliness of responses. Whereas previously, as soon as an issue or problem was posed, people would get to work on solving it, now discussions about the issue must be had to "identify" what the problem is and how we can solve it.
This problem has developed due to an increase in commissioned officers, and the belief that the organization needed more people to accomplish more taskings. If a project or mission was assigned to our organization, having more human resources to apply to the problem set was seen as the best option, rather than applying the right people to the problem set. Another reason was the mentality towards officers, warrants and enlisted. Previously, officers were known as managers, while enlisted and warrants were the experts. Over the last ten years, however, the belief has changed to reflect a reversal of that stance. It