It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So consider the actions of the U.S. Special Operations Command flattering indeed to the larger U.S. military. After all, over recent decades the Pentagon has done something that once would have been inconceivable. It has divided the whole globe, just about every inch of it, like a giant pie, into six command slices: U.S. European Command, or EUCOM (for Europe and Russia), U.S. Pacific Command, or PACOM (Asia), U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM (the Greater Middle East and part of North Africa), U.S. Southern Command, or SOUTHCOM (Latin America), and in this century, U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM (the United States, Canada, and Mexico), and starting in 2007, U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM (most of Africa).
The ambitiousness of the creeping decision to bring every inch of the planet under the watchful eyes of U.S. military commanders should take anyone's breath away. It's the sort of thing that once might only have been imaginable in movies where some truly malign and evil force planned to "conquer the world" and dominate Planet Earth for an eternity. (And don't forget that the Pentagon's ambitions hardly stop at Earth's boundaries. There are also commands for the heavens, U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, into which the U.S. Space Command was merged, and, most recent of all, the Internet, where U.S. Cyber Command, or CYBERCOM rules.)
Now, unnoticed and unreported, the process is being repeated. Since 9/11, a secret military has been gestating inside the U.S. military. It's called U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). At TomDispatch, both Nick Turse and Andrew Bacevich have covered its startling growth in these years. Now, in a new post, "America's Black Ops Blackout," Turse explores the way that command's dreams of expansion on a global scale have led it to follow in the footsteps of the larger institution that houses it.
The special ops guys are, it seems, taking their own pie-cutter to the planet and slicing and dicing it into a similar set of commands, including most recently a NORTHCOM-style command for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Once could be an anomaly or a mistake. Twice and you have a pattern, which catches a Washington urge to control planet Earth, an urge that, as the twenty-first century has already shown many times over, can only be frustrated. That this urge is playing out again in what, back in the Cold War days, used to be called "the shadows," without publicity or attention of any sort, is notable in itself and makes Turse's latest post all the more important.