Special Forces Overhaul: Balancing High-Tech Skills with Troop Cuts


Adapting to Future War: US Special Operations Forces Reimagine Their Role

Forced to Do More with Less

Amidst global challenges and lessons learned from the conflict in Ukraine, US special operations commanders are grappling with a complex task: how to enhance their teams with cutting-edge expertise while simultaneously reducing their overall force by 5,000 troops over the next five years.

Adding Tech Savvy to Elite Teams

The US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which bears the brunt of the personnel cuts, is considering expanding the size of its renowned Green Beret teams to incorporate individuals with specialized technical abilities. This could include software experts capable of reprogramming drones and other advanced equipment on the fly.

“A 12-person detachment might be upgunned,” asserted Gen. Bryan Fenton, commander of USASOC. He envisions the inclusion of Air Force pilots, Navy ship drivers, cryptologists, and cyber experts as battlefields become increasingly sophisticated and technologically advanced.

Lessons from Ukraine

Fenton emphasized that the US is “taking a lot of lessons learned out of the experience in Ukraine,” where special operations forces have been engaged. The absence of US troops on the ground in Ukraine has provided a unique opportunity for observation and analysis.

Restructuring and Cuts

The personnel reductions stem from the Army’s decision to downscale its force by around 24,000 and realign its troops as the focus shifts from counterterrorism to large-scale combat operations. Additionally, the Army has faced challenges in meeting recruitment goals.

USASOC, according to Fenton, is absorbing about 4,000 cuts ordered over the past year and a half. The command is weighing the addition of individuals with high-tech skills.

Maintaining Capabilities in the Face of Cuts

While cuts to Army special operations forces have garnered some congressional opposition, Pentagon leaders contend that the numbers can be reduced without compromising capabilities. However, Fenton acknowledged the growing demand for special operations forces worldwide.

“We’ll be able to meet less of what they demand,” he cautioned. “And I think we owe the secretary of defense our assessment as we go forward.”

Leveraging Technology and Expertise

As special forces teams adjust to the reductions, their training must be adapted to incorporate more technology, robotics, sensors, and signals intelligence information. Currently, troops are experimenting with these technologies at the National Training Center in California and in the field in Iraq and Syria.

Adaptability is crucial, according to Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, deputy commander of USASOC. “We have to figure out how we’re going to make the most of this.”

Key Insights

  • US special operations forces are adapting to meet increasing demand for their expertise.
  • The addition of high-tech experts to teams enhances their capabilities.
  • Personnel cuts will require a restructuring of special forces units.
  • Training must adapt to incorporate advanced technologies.
  • Lessons learned from the conflict in Ukraine inform the reconfiguration of special operations forces.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • Balancing personnel cuts with operational requirements.
  • Recruiting and retaining individuals with the necessary technical expertise.
  • Optimizing training programs to keep pace with technological advancements.
  • Maintaining special operations capabilities in an era of shifting priorities.
  • Adapting to the changing nature of warfare.


The US special operations forces are undergoing a transformative period, juggling the need to add high-tech experts while reducing overall forces. By embracing adaptability, leveraging advanced technologies, and learning from the experience in Ukraine, these elite teams will continue to meet the challenges of future conflicts and safeguard national security.

Data sourced from: foxnews.com