Raid admiral`s toughest fight: Winning Washington

Admiral Bill McRaven is defending his proposal that would give him more authority to send special operations forces overseas.

Last Updated: May 26, 2012, 11:08 AM IST

Tampa: The commander in charge of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden is defending his proposal that would give him more authority to send special operations forces overseas to address problems like terrorists or sudden Arab Spring-style unrest.

At a rare press conference during a weeklong meeting of international special operations forces, Admiral Bill McRaven said the plan would also trim some of the limits on where and how special operations troops work. But those troops would still answer to US commanders overseas, not him, and missions would be coordinated with and approved by the US ambassador, he said.

"I really do need to clear this up because there is some speculation out there, some sensationalisation," McRaven said on Thursday. He said his plan was "absolutely not about US Special Operations Command running global special operations”.

McRaven has been shuttling to sell his plan between the Pentagon and Capitol Hill, working to dispel suggestions of a power grab by the high-profile commander of the Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden.

"I worry about speed making it too easy to employ force," a former Joint Chiefs chairman, retired General Peter Pace, said last month in Washington.

"I worry about speed making it too easy to take the easy answer let`s go whack them with special operations as opposed to perhaps a more laborious answer for perhaps a better long-term solution."

McRaven got a boost from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who appeared earlier in the week with McRaven, a tacit message that she backs his proposal.

"We need special operations forces who are as comfortable drinking tea with tribal leaders as raiding a terrorist compound," Hillary said. "We also need diplomats and development experts who understand modern warfare and are up to the job of being your partners."

McRaven`s plan, first reported by a news agency in January, is to send special operations forces to work with local forces something they are already doing, but in smaller numbers as they`ve been tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The continuous interaction means the US and local officers forge ties, build the local force`s skills and jointly track local threats that might include terrorists or drug traffickers.

PTI