$1 Billion Budget Shortfall for Special Operations; Commander Predicts Female Commandos

By Stew Magnuson
U.S. Special Operations Command will be short $1 billion this fiscal year if Congress does not pass a 2013 budget, SOCOM Commander Navy Adm. William H. McRaven said Jan. 29.
McRaven said he was more concerned about this shortfall than the possibility of across-the-board cuts that may come to pass if sequestration goes into effect.
"The continuing resolution ... in all honesty, puts a greater constraint on us than I think sequestration will," he said in a speech at the National Defense Industrial Association Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict conference in Washington, D.C.
"We don't know what sequestration is going to look like, but there is an expectation that it is clearly going to be an additional bill on top of that," he said, referring to the fact that SOCOM is already feeling the financial burden of operating under fiscal year 2012 levels.
"We want to make sure first and foremost that we protect our war fighting capability. And we will do that," he said. However, that means lower-priority portions of the command's budget are going to get short shrift. Speaking to reporters after the speech, McRaven declined to spell out what these lower priorities might be.
"We are going to make sure that the guys at the pointy tip of the spear are trained, fully equipped and ready to go," he said.
As far as the great unknown of sequestration, SOCOM will not be insulated from cuts, he told reporters. "We will contribute just like the services do," he said. "I don't know how that will affect us until I see what the magnitude [of the cuts] are," he added.
As far as "the guys at the pointy tip of the spear," McRaven predicted that there will one day be women accompanying them. He fully supports Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent announcement that the services must pave the way for women to serve in most combat roles.
"One thing we want to make sure is that we maintain our standards," he said. Physical standards have always been aligned for male special operators assigned to combat roles, he said. He did not want to have separate male standards and female standards. SOCOM will have until the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 to submit a plan to the Defense Department for how it will integrate women into its ranks.
"I guarantee you that there will be females out there who ... will do a phenomenal job," he said.
Photo Credit: Defense Dept.

Topics: Defense Department, DOD Budget, Special Operations-Low Intensity Conflict

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