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Are Special Forces Groups Understrength?

...of course, they are (but it's not that big of a deal...yet).  They always have been understrength.  But take into consideration the lure of contracting jobs at double or triple the pay and you'll see that something drastic may be needed soon to keep the best on active duty.

Chris M. sends this article about Special Forces unit strength.  It's why a large bonus ($150,000 for a six year extension) is being contemplated.

U.S.'s key anti-terror force is understrength

By Rowan Scarborough
Published February 8, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Army's Green Berets, a key weapon in the war on terror, are operating at under their authorized strength because of the high-attrition qualification course and because of the lure of higher-paying security work at private companies, military officials say.
    A number of military analysts and politicians have noted the Green Berets' importance in hunting al Qaeda terrorists and called on the Pentagon to increase significantly the Green Berets' ranks. For example, Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said during the presidential campaign that the number of Green Berets -- officially called Special Forces -- should double.
    But an examination by The Washington Times shows that there has been no budget authorization for significantly more Green Berets because Army Special Operations Command cannot fill all the billets it had before the September 11 attacks.
    "Special Forces cannot be mass-produced overnight," said Maj. Robert Gowan, a command spokesman. "We work very hard to maintain our standards."
    A Green Beret, who asked not to be named, said, "We are always understrength because we cannot find enough qualified candidates. ... The notion of expanding Special Forces was always a pipe dream. Special Forces could never get bigger without the Army getting bigger. The more milk, the more cream."
    Elite Green Berets are a perfect fit for the war on terror because they train for the kind of unconventional warfare now going on in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Today, a Green Beret force of five active-duty groups stands at 98 percent of billets. It had been at 94 percent before the September 11 attacks. The soldiers deploy from the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 10th Special Forces groups headquartered at bases in North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado and Washington state....

You can read what Special Forces soldiers have said about unit strength on this blog (mostly with regards to John Kerry's propaganda comments about doubling the number of SF Soldiers).

Read the whole Scarborough article here.