What is the mission of Special Forces?

Ultimately, to work yourself out of a mission, as SF has done in Iraq.

Friends of ours recently returned and saw little action on their tour. In fact, they spent much of the tour preparing equipment for turn-in or turn-over. The young guys whose first tour it was, were disappointed in not receiving the Combat Infantryman Badge.

But in fact, the miserable tour was how things shake out at the end of a war. The Washington Post’s Thomas Erdbrink reported on it early last year.

Special Forces works by, with and through friendly regular or irregular forces, in war, insurgency and counterinsurgency… and also in peacetime. TE Lawrence (the real one, not David Lean’s Peter O’Toole version) probably said it best when he wrote, “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly.”

Or course, in that same list of 27 maxims for serving with Arabs, Lawrence also wrote, “I have never seen a successful combined operation, but many failures.” That quote should probably hang above the door of the CJSOTF.

Lawrence did, in fact, work himself out of the job.