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US Military Challenging Russia and China Amid Size Reduction and Overall Decline

CC0 / / A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (File)
A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.05.2024
The US Special Operations Forces (SOF) say they are experiencing a "renaissance," adapting to irregular warfare in the context of heightened great power competition. But in reality the command is facing cuts as the US military's ability to project power wanes.
US special forces are currently shifting from counterterror operations to potential great power conflict with Russia and China, according to Asia Times.
Sergeant Major Shane Shorter, the US Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) senior enlisted leader, claimed earlier this month that "the demand for SOF to support strategic competition has increased year-over-year by over 30 percent", while "crisis response events have increased over 150 percent."
SOCOM leaders insist that the command may play a key role in the US bid to strategically outpace Russia and China.
The US military and politicians have recently placed special emphasis on what they call "convergence of adversaries," referring to evolving cooperation between Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
US experts argue that special operations could prove especially useful because they help avoid direct confrontation with nuclear-capable adversaries, instead employing irregular warfare, information operations and foreign internal defense.
Asia Times particularly referred to Washington's increased deployment of SOF on the island of Taipei for a possible confrontation with China.
Leaked Pentagon documents and US investigative journalists have shed light on US special forces deployments in Ukraine during Russia's special military operation.
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While US special forces appear to be in demand, SOCOM is now cutting their overall strength by about 5,000 troops over the next five years to adapt to broader US Army budget cuts, according to the Associated Press.
The US Army has already announced plans to reduce the size of its force by roughly 24,000 and restructure its forces — while still struggling to meet its recruitment goals.
In his May 3 op-ed for Asia Times, Erik Prince, founder of mercenary firm Blackwater (later rebranded as Academi), argued that the US is losing its competitive edge and ability to project power across the globe.
Prince advocated cost-cutting measures and leveraging the US private military sector, which he represents, to restore US credibility. He highlighted issues such as excessive defense spending and the Biden administration's military adventurism, warning of potential conflicts that the US military may not be prepared for.
"It is painfully apparent to anyone of sound mind and judgment that there’s something gravely wrong with America’s current military capacity and our ability to project power in the world," Prince wrote, accusing American neoconservatives of taking the reins of the US foreign policy and launching endless wars "funded by an unlimited fiat printing press."
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Prince lamented the decline of the US military, pointing to its withdrawal from Africa and Afghanistan, the increasing targeting of US military personnel by Yemen's Houthi-led armed forces and Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces militia, as well as the Biden administration's inconsistent and risky operations in Ukraine and the looming US-China conflict.
"The current policy model of US security assistance is broken and counterproductive," Prince stressed. "The US military is the most expensive organization in 3,000 years of human history and has degenerated into an instrument for selling or grifting overpriced military hardware to countries that struggle to use it, let alone maintain it."
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