from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2015, Issue No. 28
April 17, 2015

Secrecy News Blog:


"Power and influence are now diffusing to a range of actors, both state and non-state, who have not traditionally wielded it," said Gen. Joseph L. Votel, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), last month.

Under these circumstances, "Traditional approaches to deterrence are increasingly inadequate," he said. "Adversaries [seek] to maximize their coercive influence while limiting their risk of serious retribution. They are becoming adept at avoiding crossing thresholds that would clearly justify the use of conventional military force."

"The diffusion of power is decreasing the ability of any state, acting alone, to control outcomes unilaterally."

The comparative advantage of U.S. Special Operations Forces, Gen. Votel told Congress in his 2015 SOCOM posture statement on March 18, "is built upon three pillars: 1) persistent engagement, 2) enabling partners, and 3) discreet action."

"Our success in this environment will be determined by our ability to adequately navigate conflicts that fall outside of the traditional peace-or-war construct," he said.

U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) consist of over 69,000 operators and support personnel deployed to more than 80 countries around the world, the SOCOM posture statement said (compared to "over 75 countries" in last year's statement). They include Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Air Commandos, Rangers, Night Stalker helicopter crews, Marine Raiders, and others.

A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service discusses the SOF command structure and the FY 2016 US SOCOM budget request. See U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress, April 9, 2015.


Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from public distribution include the following.

Islamic State Financing and U.S. Policy Approaches, April 10, 2015:

2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: Issues Concerning Its Continued Application, April 14, 2015:

The War Powers Resolution: Concepts and Practice, April 3, 2015:

Iran: Efforts to Achieve a Nuclear Accord, April 9, 2015:

Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress, April 7, 2015:

Military Funeral Honors and Military Cemeteries: Frequently Asked Questions, April 10, 2015:

Patent Litigation Reform Legislation in the 114th Congress, April 10, 2015:

Funding of Presidential Nominating Conventions: An Overview, April 9, 2015:

Recent Changes in the Estate and Gift Tax Provisions, April 13, 2015:

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations, April 9, 2015:

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations, April 1, 2015:

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances, April 10, 2015:

Attempt: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law, April 6, 2015:

Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements, April 8, 2015:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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