Ah, the "Surge." This is a bumper sticker "tag" that has launched a thousand empty diatribes. The political "back and forth over which efforts in Iraq have done what have now slopped over into the grubby world of intra-service and inter-service rivalry.
There are now effectively five US military services; Army, Marine Corps; Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Forces (SOF).
The SOF "service" is still somewhat dependent on the older services for personnel and other residual support, but increasingly the money is contained in their own appropriations, their equipment is procured in their own channels and the people think of themselves as SOF "operators," rather than soldiers, a breed apart from the common herd. The marines have finally been pressured into creating a marine component of the SOF, but are trying hard to keep their men from being absorbed into this new thing. I wish them luck. The process of the SOF service absorption of those parts and people that are wanted from US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) has been underway for some time. There is little doubt as to what the outcome will be in that process.
The SOF "service" had its origins in the creation of anti-terrorist commando forces in the ’70s. At about the same time, Congress created "Special Operations Command," a headquarters built to advocate the cause of those same anti-terrorist commandos. That heaquarters has now become a center of operational control. This "pairing" remained a small and little employed creation until 9/11. That event caused the sunlight to shine on these "plants," and they have grown enormously ever since.
The SOF forces operate on a largely stove-piped (vertically integrated) basis around the world with a single minded mandate to hunt down and kill terrorists and terrorist leaders and that is very largely all they do. They have no other function. War is more than that, but they seem blind to that fact. "Special Operations" used to encompass a whole panoply of sophisticated approaches to conflict. There seems to be little left of that other than lip service. Think about that before you "sound off."
This set of giant "plants" has become self aware like the monstrous toothed green thing in the "Little Shop of Horrors." The "plants" have now become jealous and resentful of praise and attention when these are given to the traditional services. Like the CIA and the marines, they have become active in the self-promoting business of managing press contacts.
Focused altogether on the business of destroying terrorist groups, they are increasingly dismissive of the "contributions" of the traditional services. Example: You thought the 4th Infantry Division captured Saddam Hussein? From the beginning the SOF people have whispered that it was they and not the ham-handed "grunts" who did that, and virtually everything else of value in Iraq.
This Washington Post article, and Woodward’s latest book are examples of the gullibility of the media when confronted by mustachioed (or not), hard muscled characters in a briefing van at Balad or a bar somewhere.
The SOF task forces and their CIA, etc. accretions have done good work in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere? Of course they have. Have they made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in Iraq?