SOCOM’S 30TH – MacDill’s covert command celebrates it’s anniversary

SOCOM is the lesser known MacDill based command center

Most average people living in the Tampa Bay area know MacDill Airforce base is home to the United States Central Command, the premier warfighting Combatant Command in the entire U.S. military. All wars fought in the Middle East are planned and executed from the CENTCOM headquarters. But how about SOCOM?

What most don’t know is MacDill is also home to United States Special Operations Command, or as it known in the military SOCOM. For the past 30 years, SOCOM who oversees the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force most elite covert operations teams has become the United State most effect weapon that few people know about.

The man in charge of SOCOM is Led by General Raymond Thomas and he commands such well known fighting teams as the Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, to name a few. On any given day, around 8,000 of Thomas’s commandos can be found in more than 90 countries worldwide

There is not a hot spot in the world that SOCOM has not been a key player in over the past 16 years post the 9/11 attacks. As a matter of fact, in 2016, SOCOM was involved in military action in over an estimated 138 countries.

SOCOM conducts a number of “shadow wars,” against terror groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State or as it is better known ISIS. They work in small groups and move quickly going into as well as out of a conflict without many on the ground even knowing they were there until long after they have departed.

“In just the past few years, we have witnessed a varied and evolving threat environment consisting of: the emergence of a militarily expansionist China; an increasingly unpredictable North Korea; a revanchist Russia threatening our interests in both Europe and Asia; and an Iran which continues to expand its influence across the Middle East, fueling the Sunni-Shia conflict,” General Thomas wrote last month in PRISM, the official journal of the Pentagon’s Center for Complex Operations.  “Nonstate actors further confuse this landscape by employing terrorist, criminal, and insurgent networks that erode governance in all but the strongest states… Special operations forces provide asymmetric capability and responses to these challenges.”

According to a report in the Huffington Post, in Afghanistan, alone, Special Operations forces conducted 350 raids targeting al-Qaeda and Islamic State operatives last year, averaging about one per day, and capturing or killing nearly 50 “leaders” as well as 200 “members” of the terror groups, according to General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in that country.  Some sources also suggest that while JSOC and CIA drones flew roughly the same number of missions in 2016, the military launched more than 20,000 strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria, compared to less than a dozen by the Agency. This may reflect an Obama administration decision to implement a long-considered plan to put JSOC in charge of lethal operations and shift the CIA back to its traditional intelligence duties.

So, while we all know about CENTCOM it might be time that we give some respect to SOCOM and what they do without any fanfare. By the way a great way to follow what is going on with SOCOM, I strongly recommend you check out Nick Turse and his publication TomDispatch, they will keep you informed on what is going on around the world.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.