The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is shifting its focus from countering terrorism and violent extremism to integrated deterrence, which demands new technology and a return to pre-Global War on Terrorism force roles. This was highlighted by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Francis Donovan at the Fed Supernova conference in Austin.
- The mission of countering violent extremist groups for the Special Operations Forces (SOF) has decreased from 80% to 20%. Integrated deterrence now comprises 60% of SOF’s focus.
- SOF needs advancements in technology areas such as collaborative autonomy, contested communications, maneuver in contested environments, and next-generation intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance.
- Restructuring is necessary, with specialized force units like SEALs, Green Berets, and MARSOC returning to their traditional specialties rather than similar roles.
- Modern technology must support and facilitate operations in synchronization, enabling the seamless transfer of data and intelligence between forces and commanders.
- Budget constraints have affected SOCOM, with a flat budget for three years leading to reduced buying power. Lt. Gen. Donovan stresses the need for technology to genuinely benefit operations, rather than complicating them.