During a Senate hearing in April, SOF leaders explained how US Special operations is preparing for future challenges after spending two decades of counter terrorism focus. The future threat of near-peer adversaries is on the forefront of the mind for military leaders. SOF Leaders are looking to pivot forces in order to greater support their parent branch in conventional warfare. Gen. James Slife, head of US Air Force Special Operations Command stated that SOF are most effective when in close contact with their parent branch. As the Air Force looks to integrated their SOF into broader service, specifically to strengthen air defense and counter space missions, the Navy is looking to transfer their SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant crews back to a supporting role of the Navy. US Navy Rear Adm. Hugh Howard III, commander of NSW, stated that over the past 20 years Naval Special Warfare has lost some of their abilities in reference to the Maritime Domain.
The new threats of Near peer conflict means SOF will need to reprioritize its missions, and will require US Special Operations forces to rely on coordination with conventional forces rather than operating in “separate, small scale unilateral operations.”