SOCOM: The New Waffen-SS?

I noted with interest Secretary Rumsfeld's recent announcement of the transformation of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This unified command'comprised of a small, elite group of highly trained operators'normally operates in the shadows, but it is suddenly not only very visible, it is also underfunded, undermanned, and overextended.

Rumsfeld's recent announcement is a fundamental change and it bears closer scrutiny. This piece also attempts to draw some interesting, if not ominous, parallels between the 'new' SOCOM and the Waffen-SS.

Commanders of conventional forces have often misunderstood special operations troops, their capabilities, and how best to employ them. This sometimes resulted in them being kept 'out of the way' when the shooting started. Desert Storm was no exception. Combat search and rescue (CSAR) of downed pilots was a dedicated special ops mission in that campaign, but it may soon disappear for them, along with several others due to the demands being placed upon SOCOM in the War on Terror.

Rowan Scarborough writes in The Washington Times, 'Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced yesterday he has given new power to the nation's covert warriors to kill and capture al Qaeda operatives and other terrorists. [Emphasis mine.]

'In a significant transformation of U.S. Special Operations Command, Mr. Rumsfeld said the command in Tampa, Fla., and its satellite units around the world, can now plan and execute their own hunt-and-destroy missions.'

This is a sea change of monumental proportions regarding the employment of special operators, especially from the perspective of commanders of conventional forces.

'Previously, Special Operations Command'played a lesser role by providing warriors to combatant commands that planned and supervised attacks. The defense secretary's announcement marked a major promotion in status and authority for special operations . . . . The aim is to give [SOCOM] the tools to find terrorists and then dispatch commandos to catch or kill them in a matter of hours, not days. Before [it] was focused on training and equipping some 47,000 personnel. Now, it will also devise secret missions and command the operation.'

'[O]fficials told The Times that [SOCOM's] $4.9 billion annual budget will be increased to $6 billion in fiscal 2004. In all, it will receive a $7 billion increase to buy new weapons and equipment, and accommodate the [4,000] new personnel.'

Not only is SOCOM receiving national level attention, it is also being given unprecedented authority and funding, in addition to the ability to plan and execute its own covert missions, with support from theater conventional forces. You would be very hard pressed to find an operator who isn't jumping up and down over this announcement with a huge grin on his face.

But what has any of this to do with the Waffen-SS? Plenty, if you look for parallels. Rob Fitzgibbon has a wonderful Waffen-SS website from which the following extracts were lifted. [My emphasis in bold.]

'The SSVT or 'special purpose' troops were several SS paramilitary battalions combined between 1935 and 1938. The purpose of SSVT was never entirely clear, since national defense was already in the capable hands of the Wehrmacht, or German Armed Forces. Himmler and Hitler never came up with a satisfactory answer, usually referring to the SSVT as a Weltanschauliche Truppe or 'political soldiers' that served Hitler directly as 'the spearhead of National Socialism.' Essentially, the purpose of the SSVT was whatever Hitler and Himmler wanted; its existence became Himmler's justification for the continued growth of the SS.'

'The Waffen-SS - which translates as 'Weapon-SS' or 'Armed-SS', was the military wing of the Schutzstaffel. It's conceptual origins lay in the 'politische bereitschaften'--or 'political ready reserves' in the early days of the Nazi movement. These reserves were the fanatical Nazis who would protect the party leaders and ruthlessly attack all enemies during the political chaos of Germany in the 1920s & '30s. It is important to distinguish that serving in the Waffen-SS (a military organization with foreign troops and conscription) wasn't the same as membership in the SS (a Nazi political organization and executive arm for racial Germans), although the two states commingled. The Waffen-SS was expected to be a military organization absolutely and perfectly obedient and loyal to its master, Adolf Hitler.'

'When Hitler began WWII, RFSS Himmler wanted to ensure that the SS--guardians of the internal security of the Reich--got their share of the military glory. In early 1940, he combined . . . three units [Leibstandarte, SSVT, and SSTK] into the 'Waffen-SS.' By August, 1940, Hitler & Himmler further defined the purpose of the Waffen-SS:

  • The Waffen-SS will help execute the authority of the state within the borders of the Greater German Empire.

  • The Waffen-SS will be a paragon of both Aryan racial purity and of National Socialist philosophy.

  • The Waffen-SS will be organized along military lines, function as a 'state police,' but be prepared for any & all 'special tasks' that may be required.

  • The Waffen-SS will earn its authority through front line combat.

  • The Waffen-SS will concentrate on internal enemies of the state; the Wehrmacht will concentrate on the external enemies.

  • The Waffen-SS will be an exclusive formation, limited in size.

The Waffen-SS were a political-ideological elite military formation akin to the Teutonic Knights; brave soldiers that represented both the Nazi ideal and were the future aristocratic spine of the German Empire. However, WWII created massive changes in the structure and purpose of the Waffen-SS.'

'Although the Waffen-SS is most famous for its battlefield exploits during the latter part of the war, and is often thought of as a military formation exclusively, it is important to recognize that the Waffen-SS never entirely disassociated itself from internal security duties for the Reich, either in practice or purpose, as this excerpt from a June 1943 training manual for the 9th SS-Panzer Division Hohenstaufen illustrates how the W[affen]-SS would serve:

'. . .The necessity for an unflinching force at the disposal of the leadership of the Reich in any situation, even when this implies maintenance of order at home by the use of all methods.''

For anyone who reads the news, the parallels are obvious and ominous. SOCOM isn't quite there yet, but who knows what the future holds for this nation? Much like the Waffen-SS, SOCOM is already the national special operations force, it is growing, it must be prepared for any and all special tasks that may be required, and now the War on Terror is causing massive changes in its structure and purpose.

Need I even mention that the borders of the Greater American Empire stretch around the globe and that this regime has already ordered SOCOM operators to do whatever is required to ruthlessly attack any and all terrorists, worldwide?

It's the definition of terrorist that worries me the most. That, and the fact that the Waffen-SS was organized to concentrate on internal enemies of the State.

Today's patriot can quickly become tomorrow's terrorist simply by dissenting. Recent federal legislation allows the State to do whatever it wants in the name of national security and it doesn't matter if the deemed threat is internal or external.

The State recently declared that Americans overseas who are accused or suspected enemy combatants have no Constitutional rights. The federal court did not address the issue for Americans on home soil. That test case can't come soon enough for me.

The specter of local black helicopters looms again. Are you concerned?

Nah, it can't happen here.

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Columns on STR: 58

Joe Blow is a privacy advocate with proven subspecialties in strategic planning.  Note: Pirate Poop is now a free newsletter, available by email only. Send all subscription requests to