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Briefing on Special Operations Forces Capabilities

Special Briefing on Special Operations Forces Capabilities

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing Robert Andrews, PDASD for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 3 p.m. EST

(Special briefing on special operations forces capabilities. Also participating: Army Col. Dave McCracken and Air Force Lt. Col. Gary Holland from the OASD SOLIC and Navy Capt. Tim Taylor, director, DoD Press Operations.)

Taylor: Good afternoon. This afternoon we're going to have a briefing on Special Operations capabilities. The briefer will be Robert Andrews, who is the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. And he'll make a brief presentation and then be able to answer some of your questions.

We have some of his senior colleagues with him. Colonel Dave McCracken, from the Army, is here; Captain Bob Schoultz from Naval -- Navy Special Forces is here; and Lieutenant Colonel Gary Holland from the Air Force.

So after --

Andrews: I also have Steve Hoogland from SOCOM.

Taylor: Excellent. Okay. Steve Hoogland from Special Operations Command. Mr. Andrews will make a brief presentation, and then we will take some questions.

Mr. Andrews?

Andrews: Thanks a lot.

As Tim said, I'd like to make a short statement and then answer your questions.

I think among the defense intellectuals, or at least among the cognoscenti, we heard a lot of buzzwords about "asymmetric warfare" before 9/11. Usually the term, as it was applied then, applied to something our opponents would do to us. Now, obviously, 9/11 was one example of that. But asymmetric warfare can cut both ways, and I think that al Qaeda and the Taliban can testify to that now.

I'm proud to have Bob Schoultz, who is a Navy Seal; Steve Hoogland, who is our Ranger representative; Gary Holland, who is -- one of his main claims to fame is AC-130 gunship driver; and Dave McCracken, U.S. Army Special Forces, also a Ranger and qualified diver. Unfortunately, we were unable to have some of our colleagues here from the British Special SAS, or the Jordanian operations.

I'd like to make a point and just suggest it to you, that you think about it when you're writing about these people and the jobs that they're doing. And I think you might want to think about it when the lessons of this war are being written, and I think that you guys will be writing them; and that is, is that these people here, and these very special people, have changed the face of war.

Before 9/11, a term called "defense transformation" was a buzzword, very much like asymmetrical warfare. And very much like asymmetrical warfare, it was a product of coffee-shop discussions and theory. But now I think it's real.

You're seeing in Afghanistan the Special Operations forces and airpower are a combination that the defense intellectuals are going to have to digest over the coming months and years. The Special Operations forces dramatically increased the effectiveness of the air campaign, and on the ground, they turned the Northern Alliance into a conquering army.

I think one of the better articles I've seen about Special Ops came out of Peter Finn's Washington Post article, I think December 11th. Did any of you here read that yet, about Captain Amerine? I was a Special Forces captain in the Vietnam War, and that account that came out in the Post -- I thought, gee, I'd give my eye teeth just to be able to do what that guy was able to do. At any rate, it was a grown up juvenile's dream come true.

I think that also, too, what's happened in the past weeks in Special Operations is we've had a exponential increase in the ability of our people on the ground and in the air to talk to each other, to work together, and this has been due to a large amount of hard thought, and I'm here to testify, some hard thumping from my boss, the secretary of Defense, on this.

I'd like to also talk a little bit -- how many of you went down at Bragg last Wednesday with -- or Wednesday before last -- with the secretary, just before Thanksgiving? Thought I saw a couple of familiar faces in the room, here. There you get to meet the troops of the Special Operations forces. And Army, Navy, Air Force -- it doesn't really make much difference -- they are different. And some of the differences are is they are older than their cohorts in the regular services. They've been better and more rigorously trained, and they're generally better educated. The degrees -- masters' degrees are not rare in the enlisted ranks in Special Ops. And I think the very common thing that makes them dear to my heart and makes it fun to be working with them again is that when you talk to them, you'll find that they're all motivated by a desire to do well at that which is most difficult.

And I think there are some things that I'd like you to keep in mind when you're looking at these people -- I suggest you keep in mind, and that is that Special Operations is a very small outfit. You look at the overall numbers, and we have around 45,000 SEALs, Special Forces, and Air Force Air Commandos. That is not a large number. That is about 1.3 percent -- and that's a good number to remember, because 1.3 percent of DoD personnel are in Special Ops, and we only take up about 1.3 percent of the budget -- defense budget.

So I think you as taxpayers are getting a pretty good bang for your buck with these folks.

The problems that we have, the restrictions and limitations of Special Ops, though, are the fact that it does take so long to train these people. To qualify a young man in some of the enlisted ranks will take at least two years. A Special Forces captain such as Captain Amerine, who went in with the fifth group into Afghanistan, probably had seven or eight years under his belt. And I think his language was Arabic, one of his languages was Arabic and another one was French. And one of his team sergeants spoke Pashtun. So you just find those people everywhere, and it's tough to find them in the military. There is a limit to how many Special Operations forces we can generate. No matter how successful we are in Afghanistan, it is just very difficult to get the kind of quality we need. And we are not going to compromise on quality.

I think with that introduction, I'd like to open this up for any questions. My colleagues and I will be as open as we possibly can. However, we cannot give you any information concerning current operations or the potential employment of Special Operations forces.

Right here?

Q: Can you just talk very generally about what types of things the Special Operations Forces might be doing in the Tora Bora region?

Andrews: Well, I can tell you what they are capable of doing. And you know the region yourself. I have an official list of the so-called missions of Special Operations, and essentially, it's unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance. But essentially what they would be doing in that area is probably advising the Afghani forces; advising, training, equipping.

Q: Advising them in what way?

Andrews: Well, you know, I don't know that you need to advise Afghanis very much on how to work in caves. I think we're probably learning a few lessons there ourselves. I think it would be basically -- and this is just conjecture here, because I have not been there yet -- is that here's how to use these weapons better, here's how to do this, these kind of flashlights, what have you.

But it's going to be a very general kind of thing. Most of these Afghanis have been fighting for an awful long time.

Yes, sir.

Q: I understand that going back as far as Vietnam when you've had CIA personnel and Special Forces both doing sort of similar things, that there has been on occasion friction between them, rivalry, what have you. I think there's even been some official reporting on this. I don't know if it's been declassified or not. But in this campaign we've seen a much higher profile as far as the CIA than we're accustomed to seeing. Can you say -- and we saw, for example, the case of Mike Spann, what he was doing. Can you say how the -- you handle the division of labor between the CIA and the Special Operations folks?

Andrews: No. (Light laughter.) The CIA does provide intelligence, and we -- Special Operations forces are customers, consumers of intelligence. And I think that's where I'd just better have to leave it right now.

Q: But is there a way to -- is there a way to make sure that there isn't friction, rivalry, duplication, redundancy --

Andrews: Oh, I think in organizational terms, if I was speaking as an organization man, I'd say, Well, there are many ways, and we'll work hard to work at that. But there's always friction between people working like that. There's friction within -- we had friction in our detachments in Vietnam. And so -- what I think it generally basically comes down to is, you know, we're all in the craft together here, fellas, and -- you know, the friction doesn't last in the field there that long.

Yes, sir.

Q: Mr. Andrews, I'm Chris Walson from Air Force Times. And I know the Air Force Special Operations are always in high demand -- low density, even, you know, when we're at so-called peaceful times. And right now they've got folks who are -- you know, have long extended orders -- you know, deployed. Are you looking at any increases in manpower overall for the Air Force or the Army? Also, the question of the Air Force actually has fewer aircraft available now in Special Operations than it did a couple years ago because it's had to retire its older Pave Lows, and --

Andrews: Gary, you want to take some of that on the airplanes?

Gary Holland, come on up.

Holland: I'm not really able to talk as far as Pave Lows or different type aircraft like that, because, as you mentioned before, I'm a AC-130 background. But I can say that every year, as we go through normal budgetary processes through the commands and everything else, we assess what our requirements are based on our current assets. And, you know, as each year goes on, you know, through our U.S. Special Operations Command, make determinations. And right now, it -- unless I haven't seen any latest reports right now, that the assets we have are currently meeting our requirements that we have.

Andrews: Any questions of Gary while he's up there? He's --

Q: If you could just talk in general about what do the Special Forces bring to bear in Afghanistan? What was their most important role here? And how crucial were they, would you say, to the --

Andrews: I was listening.

Q: I know you're an unbiased observer, but how crucial were they, would you say, to the success of the Northern Alliance and the Pashtun tribes?

Andrews: Well, you know, obviously, the flip answer would be, you have to ask the Northern Alliance guys and the Pashtun tribes. But I can't help but think that, you know, you look at the Northern Alliance, and they were sitting up there in the North for quite some time before we started -- we entered Afghanistan, and they had gotten to the limits of what -- where you think they wanted -- they could go. So you've got to say that -- guys in the Northern Alliance, that we were glad to see them. I mean, it just stands to reason.

I think that -- I think there are -- look at two things -- I mean, if I were in your place, I would look at two things. I would look at the role of Special Forces in making the air campaign more effective, and then, I would look at it -- the role of Special Forces in working on the ground with the tribes and with the Northern Alliance. And, you know, it's been pointed out before, I mean, here you had -- I saw a SITREP that talked about one Navy pilot, as I recall, saying something like, you know, "Gee, I just dropped a 2,000-pound bomb at the direction of a guy on horseback down there," you know. And that's what -- it's just this 15th-century technology -- low or no-tech with Special Forces, and being able to deal all the way up the spectrum.

Q: Do you think that calling in the airstrikes it was more crucial than, let's say, advice they gave --

Andrews: I don't know. I'm going to leave that for the Air Force to work on.

I was going to say, I still have loyalties to my old branch, and I would say that Special Forces can do anything. But --

Q: Yeah -- (inaudible) -- question too. There's been a lot of talk about Predator being used for the first time here, and also Global Hawk. Are there any sort of tools of the trade that you can talk about that Special Forces used here for the first time -- and if you can't talk specifically, generally -- that help them either communicate or call in air strikes, that -- maybe it's been in use since Kosovo and in use since the Persian Gulf war?

Andrews: Well, you reported it yourselves that the rate of expenditure of precision guided weapons was a lot higher here in Afghanistan than even in Kosovo. And I think there was a splendid story this morning, I think in the Post, about the damage in Kandahar. I mean, there were rooms that were bombed out -- (laughs) -- and right next door, you know, the guy said, "Well, those Arabs, we're glad to be rid of them." I -- you know, "The bad neighbors got a 2,000-pound bomb through their roof, but we didn't."

Q: But I'm talking about the Special Forces troops themselves, what they have that they didn't have maybe two years or 10 years ago.

Andrews: Well, I can tell you that what they have -- Special Forces, because -- and it's not just Special Forces, it's the Special Operations Forces. And that's what I'm -- when I say that, I mean the SEALs and the Rangers and the Air Force guys as well -- is that they all come under Special Operations Command in Tampa under Charlie Holland, General Charlie Holland. And this is very unusual and very unique, and I don't think very many people understand it because mostly it's stuff that Army and military guys talk about. And that is, it's unusual because Special Operations, all those guys have their own distinct budget. In other words, there's a Navy budget, an Army budget, and an Air Force budget, and there's a Special Operations budget. In other words, they're not depending on the procurement policies of the Army, Navy or Air Force to get their guns and bullets, radios and whatever. They have a separate R&D budget, and they can guide that budget wherever they want to. I mean, the -- one of the things that SOCOM is working on now is a small eight-man submarine that -- we've only got one working, that Northrop Grumman has built for us.

So, yeah, I mean, we have a faster procurement capability because we're equipping fewer people, and so our decision is a lot smaller.

Q: Is there anybody over here that could answer that question, maybe what new gadgets are brought to bear here?


Andrews: Yeah, I think on the specifics -- I mean, you get into communications and stuff like that, but --

Q: (Off mike.)

Andrews: Steve, have you got any --

Staff: No, sir. I'd just echo what you said. I don't think there's anything new -- (off mike).

Q: Sir, we always think about Special Operating Forces, the Special Forces, the Rangers, the SEALs, et cetera, but there are others, like the Commando Solo guys, I understand come under you guys, the 4th Psyops and those folks. Can you talk about what they did in support of this operation from a special forces standpoint? And a second question is, why are there no Marines in Special Operations Command?

Andrews: You'll have to ask my friend Jim Jones.

Q: Okay.

Andrews: Jim, the commandant has recently signed a memorandum of agreement with Special Operations Command, with Charlie Holland, and I don't know the details of that. But the Marines and the guys in SOCOM are getting a lot closer together.

You raised a question about Psyops and Commando Solo. We have an EC-130 aircraft that is rigged out as a broadcasting studio. And it broadcasts -- I had some figures here -- we were broadcasting in Afghani -- in the various languages with Afghan music intermittently to put on a five-hour radio program covering all of Afghanistan in theater. We were running two five-hour broadcasts per day out of this aircraft, short wave and AM. The leaflet drops -- I've got some figures here -- from 14 October to 21 October, the B-52s, which obviously dropped other things, dropped over 10 million leaflets across Afghanistan. And our MC-130s also were dropping leaflets there. The 4th Psyops group that you've mentioned is down at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and it's a very unique operation of video, graphics arts, printed media, some very good professionals down there that work on these psyop themes that are approved here at national policy, at the State Department, et cetera.

Q: How about the Civil Affairs folks? They're mostly in the Reserves. Are you calling them up to start working with you?

Andrews: There are going to be Civil Affairs units working in Afghanistan, yes. And as you say, most of them, or a lot of them are in the Reserves. And these are units that essentially can set up City Hall for you, which is -- that's where a lot of the reservists are, too.


Q: Yesterday the president indicated that Special Ops had played a crucial role in what is a new way of warfare. What does that mean to your budget and to -- to SOCOM's budget and to SOCOM's end strength? It's sort of a truism of special ops that you can't create special ops forces overnight.

Andrews: Right.

Q: But are you going to look, in any of the branches, at expanding the number of Special Operations troops over the long term? And do you expect to see a big increase in your budget as a result of the success of special ops in this war?

Andrews: We just finished a budget drill. The budget -- and these are not exactly precise numbers. My wife won't let me write checks out of the checkbook, so bear with me. But the SOCOM budget was about 3.7, 3.8; is that right, Steve? Is that in the neighborhood?

Staff: Yes, sir, up to 4.2, (4.3 ?)?

Andrews: Going up to 4.2. So, you know, if you're on an allowance, that's a lot of money, going up.

But it's not -- like I say, it's about 1.3 percent of the overall DOD budget, and it's probably even staying there.

One of the things you run into on this kind of thing is -- and you pointed it out -- is that it takes -- and this is not an official position, but I was in Special Forces when we were trying to expand during the Vietnam War, and it was almost as hard to expand a 500, 600-man -- or grow a 500, 600-man Special Forces group as it was to put together an armored division because of -- you're looking for people with quality, you're looking for people with language skills, and it's -- that's your limiting factor. It's the long pole of the tent. And, you know, you could dump a lot of money into Special Ops, but the return is going to be very, very, very slender, because you need the people. You need the people in the airplanes and you need them in the little subs. You need them everywhere.

Q: To try to expand -- I mean, if you increase the cadre that quick, if you pull more resources into the similar functions that the other services have over time, in theory you could grow more --

Andrews: Over time, in theory, but it would probably take -- probably take years. But then again, I've had a senior SOF guy -- and this is over beers talking -- and he said, you know, this kind of war -- even post-Afghanistan -- this kind of war could be a long war. It could be a war in which the people who win this war are going to be the people who are now in high school. And we'll all be retired.

Yes, sir?

Q: You talked about the role of the Special Operations forces in aiding the air war. I'm wondering if you can expand a little more about how dramatically it changed things when there were Special Ops on the ground. Have you done any kind of -- run any numbers about, you know, bombing efficiency --

Andrews: No.

Q: -- when they were spotting targets. But if you haven't done that, just -- can you talk a little bit about how much that it turned the tide?

Andrews: Oh. You know, I can tell you, I mean, just -- anybody who flies an airplane can tell you it's a lot better to be getting something from the ground than trying it from the air. I mean, it's just -- it's a quantum difference.

I mean, no matter whether you're laser-designating a target from the ground, or you're just simply calling it in by your calibrated eyeball, you're just so much better off, and even on the -- even on some of the B-52 strikes.

I would say I think one thing you ought to look at is this little device called the JDAM. I think it's a revolution in precision or more-accurate weaponry. Most of this stuff, as your accuracy goes up, so does your cost. The accuracy of this thing has gone up; the cost has gone down tremendously -- about 18,000 bucks a pop, which is more than my kids' allowance.

Q: Speaking of the JDAM, the account of Captain Amerine, of what happened, it sounded to me as if -- it was sort of a different picture of what I had thought at the time, (where I imagined ?) very, very close air support. It sounded like it was a good distance away and that he was sort of on a hilltop looking out and not really expecting something to be so close to him, and it just fell out of the blue --

Andrews: Yeah, I read that account. That's how he put it. It came out --

Q: Is there any assessment of what happened?

Andrews: I'm sure there is. We don't have access to it. I don't know. But I will, again, tell you that no matter how smart things are, how smart all we are, I think we've -- at least some of us, in the past week have dialed the wrong number on our punch telephones.

Q: (Fat fingers ?).

Andrews: Could do it. That's why I have a "delete" button on my computer.

Yes, sir?

Q: It was said that there's really been no significant increase or change in equipment since Kosovo. Yet the impression is that the Special Forces are doing so much better. What does make such a difference this time?

Andrews: Well, I haven't been in Kosovo and I haven't been in Afghanistan.

So, I don't know if you'd want to hazard guess over here, experts?


McCracken: Dave McCracken. My view is that the tenet of the foundation of Special Forces of working with coalition partners was the key difference; that the Special Force detachments -- you know, a highly flexible organization -- went in and worked with people having appreciation for the culture they were going into, what they were going to do, tactically proficient. But it's that gel that comes from being with someone.

I think the other thing I would certainly want to applaud is the leadership, because a group commander has a wide number of detachments to select from, you know, to send individuals on missions.

And truly, as we know from the report form that fine young captain, they did a pretty fine selection of putting the right person, because he was able to, you know, meet all of our objectives of human rights, et cetera, and yet form a bond with the now soon-to-be leader in the government.

Q: What kind of training were they given ahead of time about the culture of Afghanistan and how to talk to, you know, the opposition forces and that sort of thing?

McCracken: I certainly can't tell you in this particular case, because I'm not in that unit. I can tell you that from the very foundation of the qualification course, they learn to work with people, learn to do area studies and a very detailed country study, then, when they get assigned an operational area. They get language training, as Mr. Andrews had already said. And we kind of go with fundamental languages -- Arabic, French, Spanish, et cetera, because we only can give them about four to six months of training, depending upon the challenge of that particular language while they're in the qualification course. Then, when they go out in the detachment and get their assigned country, then they'll learn more. And generally speaking, having been a group commander, [we] try to assign a country to a team. And that works out very well in terms of their country- study work, their area-study work, and that allows them to bore down into all of the information that's available, both in the unclassified systems and classified systems.

In our Joint Combined Exchange Training, then, we try to get them into the regions, and even if we can't go to a specific country because we just may not have bilateral agreements with them, we'll try to get them into an adjacent country so they can actually get some on-the-ground experience of how to work in that culture, besides just their study. And I think, again, our very broad Joint Combined Exchange Training program has totally worked, in this case. I think that's, again, another positive aspect of this outcome.

Andrews: Yeah, that young captain - [had] been in Uzbekistan before coming back to go back to Afghanistan.

Q: These folks have been coordinating humanitarian aid, liaising diplomatically, liaising politically, plus they have been doing combat for two months. How long before they get spelled? You know, is there any thought to -- is this going to be the new war?

This is totally unconventional. We've never seen Special Forces run a war like this. Maybe some in Kosovo, but -- when are they're going to get spelled or what -- I mean, there's always 45,000. And number two, could this be replicated, like in Somalia? SEAL teams?

McCracken: I'll answer the first question, because that's within my purview of telling you that -- one of the again, additional, wonderful things about the way we do our assessment, selection and qualification -- we have a three-week assessment/selection program, which really focuses more on the individual's, you know, physical challenge, although there certainly are leadership tasks, et cetera, in there, and willingness to work as a member of a team.

But in the qualification course, they go through a minimum -- and Mr. Andrews said, you know, some of the skills go as high as two years. But every single skill goes no less than six months. And we've found in that training that that's a really good indicator; you know, most of our deployments in peacetime, maximum length is 179 days. That's just, you know, kind of the policy. But I'm going to tell you that these folks are guaranteed to be good for 179, and I think, because they're doing what they absolutely volunteered to do and seem to be doing it fairly successfully, if they have to stay longer than 179, I don't think you'll get a lot of argument from the actual soldiers.

Your other answer, sir, is -- it would be speculation, and, you know, again, we have groups that are organized worldwide and have countries in the five active component groups, so could this similar-type thing work, again, given the conditions that you match up personalities? I think it's certainly possible.

Q: Sir, obviously we didn't have a relationship with Afghanistan before this so we couldn't have JCETs and things like that with Afghanistan, but did you have people who were actually assigned to Afghanistan as their country?

McCracken: Again, I cannot tell you that in terms of what the commander of the Fifth Group did. I mean, each group commander certainly has some command authority. In my case I had a responsibility for Africa, and even though we did not go to Libya, some team had Libya [experience]. I mean, because the theory is, in my view, as those soldiers are trying, again, to become truly area experts, do we know today who may be tomorrow's ally, no. And so better that we try to give them a primary country that they have responsibility for to do area studies, then give them a secondary country that they might get a chance to deploy to, ideally something with some similar characteristics.

Q: This concept of using Special Forces teams on the ground for close air support, was that one of the lessons learned that came out of Kosovo, because it wasn't widely used there.

McCracken: I would say absolutely not, sir. And I say that with clarity in my mind because we were sending our soldiers with great frequency -- a detachment at a time -- through an excellent training program with Hurlburt Air [Force] Base in Florida, the Joint Firepower course, where they learned to do this very kind of guidance with all types of Air Force aircraft. But I would want to make a point to, sir, you, I guess, and the gentleman from the Air Force Times, we also like -- because we like to work joint, and the Air Force has their special tactics guys. And when we can get those individuals, just -- again, we said, high demand, low density, but we like to work with those folks too. It brings an extra radio, extra human being with capability, and someone who actually speaks Air Force.

Q: Do they actually work and train together, though?

McCracken: Yes, sir.

Q: And how long had they been training for this?

McCracken: How long has that course been going on?

Q: Yeah.

McCracken: Oh, sir, I was in the training base as a battalion commander in the '91-'93 [timeframe], and there was at least a similar course -- it might have had a different name. So that course has been around for a good long time. That's why I say it's not something that's just come out of Kosovo.

Staff: Sarah?

Q: As you guys think about transformation within the kind of broad rubric of what the department's doing, how are you guys looking at transforming and what are the issues? Are there training issues or cultural issues or equipment issues that you're exploring?

McCracken: Sarah, that's an excellent question. I will, in fact, turn this podium back over to Mr. Andrews. (Laughter.)

Andrews: (To Col. McCracken) You're a slicky.

By the way, I want to point out that Dave recently came to us from the professorship at the National War College, spent a year in Cambridge at Harvard and speaks pretty damn good English.

(Light laughter.)

Transformation. Again, I think that -- as I said before, I think transformation was on everybody's tongue here in the Pentagon before 9/11. And there were a lot of -- I think we're all sort of heading in a direction -- I mean, I think we all sort of knew -- in a general direction where we had to go. I think that this has sort of sharpened our sensing of what we have to do.

So, I can't say that people are going to be saying we can really well-define what exact weapons we're going to need and aircraft and things like that. But I think, you know, you learn -- you start to realize things that are apparent now but weren't apparent then. Like, by golly, it does pay to have big aircraft carriers. You know, you can launch aircraft off of them. You might use them for -- there's four and a half acres of American sovereignty that you can move around anywhere you want to and put troops on those things and send them in there. So --


Q: In the beginning of the conflict there was some speculation that General Holland might, in fact, be given some direct command authority to run certain operations, reporting directly to the SECDEF. Did that ever happen in Afghanistan?

Andrews: General Franks as CINC CENTCOM has had -- I mean, he's had the whole ball of wax. So I have to leave it at that.

Q: I apologize, I came in late, when you were mentioning that you didn't have any Special Air Service people or -- then you mentioned the Jordanian Special Operations?

Andrews: Jordan has offered the use of their Special Operations Forces.

Q: Well, that was my next question, because my ears perked up when I heard that. Have they done anything at this point? Obviously, the British have, but --

Andrews: I really can't say about the Jordanians. That's -- you know, King Abdullah, who was leading that unit before his father died, made an offer to us, and...

Q: So you'll just go that he made an offer, and whether or not that offer has been employed, you don't know, or you just won't say?

Andrews: Yes. (Laughter.)

Yes, sir.

Q: Not to compromise current operations, what theoretically would be done, what kind of tactics would be employed for a prisoner protocol and preventing escape?

Andrews: I've stayed away from the detention business at all costs. I -- being an unreconstructed Neanderthal -- oh, well. I think you can read the rest of my mind there. I wasn't looking to get -- take up a lot of prisoners.


Q: What kind of tactics and equipment would be used in going after targets like caves and tunnels in mountainous areas?

Andrews: Generally, usually, the way you have to fight in a situation like that is very much akin to fighting in a city. You're taught in urban combat you have to clear rooms. You learn how to do that with -- so, I mean, it's not that much different than urban combat and clearing rooms out. In some ways it might be a little bit easier. I was just thinking that in urban combat, you're always taught you should try to clear a building from the top down. It's a lot easier. In a cave, of course, you're going in on the top floor and you're working your way down, anyway.

Q: (Inaudible.)

Q: Yeah. You said that Special Operations takes about 1.3 percent of the manpower and the budget.

Andrews: Yeah.

Q: And it's hard to grow more. Do we need more, or is that sufficient for the needs of the nation?

Andrews: Well, let me put it this way. As I said, we have about 40-some thousand folks in Special Operations, and then you've got to realize that on deployments, what you're doing is you're putting these guys -- these guys, mostly -- out there, and you've got to keep some people back, and it's a rotational basis. And these guys come back for rest and refit, and then you've got to send somebody else out there. So of that 45,000 total, you might only have one- third of that wedge committed at one time. And so, I mean, it depends on what we're going to be doing with it.

Let me close with one thing, and this is a quote that I have long favored from years back, but -- it's from George Orwell, who once remarked that, "We all sleep safe in our beds because there are rough men who stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." And you as Americans -- you're being served by some very good people.

Thank you.

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Traditionally, communiques capture the consensus reached at the meeting. In this case, the division on display between Australia and the Pacific meant the only commitment is to commission yet another report into what action needs to be taken. More>>


For NZ, It Was May 6: Earth Overshoot Day 2019 Is The Earliest Ever

Humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. This is akin to using 1.75 Earths... More>>


Asylum: More Manus Refugees Fly To US But Hundreds Still In Limbo

“The US deal was never going to provide enough places for the refugees Australia has held on Manus and Nauru. There are over 1800 refugees needing resettlement,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. More>>