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The Five Special Ops Forces Truths

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The Special Operations Forces truths were first codified for leadership and guidance of these elite units. The guiding principles are actually applicable to any organization that relies on the services of highly skilled professionals. Especially when proper training is expensive and time consuming, many upper managers balk at maintaining proper staffing levels. I have seen this in many airlines that lack a long term vision. These truths are listed as a reminder that one must prepare ahead of time for the demand, and budget the time, expense, and attention that will be required. Otherwise, the organization will fail under strain.

1. Humans are more important than hardware.
Hardware is only a tool. Humans actually conceive of, initiate,
accomplish action.  Success or failure depends on the human element.

2. Quality is better than quantity.
A few well trained specialists are always more efficient and
effective than any number of clueless bumblers.

3. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced.
Each operator requires time, individual attention, and focused effort to
produce.

4. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after
emergencies occur.
Emergencies require immediate action by a team already prepared in
anticipation of the emergency.  There is neither enough time nor funding
to recruit and train specialists after the need arises.

5. Most special operations require non-SOF assistance.
Other people will always be necessary, in enabling and supporting roles,
to help the specialists accomplish their mission.

John Collins, a retired Army colonel, authored truths. He enjoyed a second career in the Congressional Research Service, and in 1987 found himself writing a publication titled "United States and Soviet Special Operations" for a House Armed Services Committee.

Colonel Collins was not a special operator. The report he wrote "had to do with what special operations are all about," he later said. The truths were born out of the "SOF Imperatives" and originally included a fifth truth: "Most special operations require non-SOF assistance." However, this truth was lost for about 20 years, until Adm. Eric Olsen, a SOCOM Commander, resurrected it in September 2009. Ever since they were brought to light, the truths became basic fundamental guidelines for all special operations forces of the USA.

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Tags: Special Operations Philosophy, Special Operations Forces, SOF Truths, Colonel John Collins

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