Mattis: Conventional forces will assume more special operations force roles in 2018

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Source: Military Times

The Pentagon will lean more heavily on its conventional forces in 2018 to perform some of the worldwide counterterrorism advising roles that have strained U.S. special operations forces, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday.

There were about 8,000 special operators deployed to about 80 countries in 2017, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command told Congress earlier this year.

A shift toward enabling conventional forces also reflects strategy changes in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is preparing to deploy its first Security Forces Assistance Brigade.

The SFAB, an all-volunteer unit of non-commissioned officers who are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this spring, is currently training at Fort Benning, Georgia. The NCOs are receiving additional special weaponry, language and cultural training, and will deploy to Afghanistan to embed with Afghan army units. Previously, U.S. advisers only embedded with Afghan special forces units.