Commander: Special ops ready, willing and under pressure

Story highlights

  • Adm. William McRaven testifies to the House Armed Services Committee
  • "Pressure on our service members and their families" merits attention, he says
  • McRaven: "We will continue to fight as long and as hard as you need us"
America's top commando said Thursday that special operations forces had conducted some 2,000 raids in Afghanistan over just the past year but that talking -- not shooting -- is the way forward.
"We are not going to be able to kill our way to victory in Afghanistan," Adm. William McRaven told a House Armed Services subcommittee. "We've always understood that."
McRaven said everyone involved understands the U.S. counter-insuregency goals.
"The village stability operations, developing the Afghan local police, this is the most promising effort we have in Afghansitan right now," McRaven said.
He was the architect of the Osama bin Laden raid by his fellow Navy SEALs and took over the top job at U.S. Special Operations Command five weeks ago.
U.S. Special Operations Forces have doubled in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, their budget has tripled and deployments have quadrupled.
McRaven said 13,000 special operators are deployed globally, with 10,000 focused on Iraq and Afghanistan and 3,000 in noncombat missions in 75 other countries.
Special Operations Forces -- which include elite warriors from each of the services such as Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Army Rangers -- handle many of the riskiest missions for the U.S. military, such as the raid in May in which bin Laden was killed.
"I think our greatest challenge in SOF (Special Operations Forces) right now is that we are in great demand," McRaven told the subcommittee. "That's a good place to be, but obviously that demand is in fact taxing our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and civilians that support SOCOM (Special Operations Command)."
He echoed sentiments of others in the Pentagon: that 10 years of war risk fraying the force.
"The pressure on our service members and their families demands careful attention," he said.
But he assured the committee members that special operators will go on fulfilling their role.
"We will continue to fight as long and as hard as you need us," McRaven said.