[…] The JCET program is a key facet of a global strategy involving America’s most secretive and least scrutinized troops. Since 9/11, special operations forces (SOF) have expanded in almost every conceivable way — from budget to personnel to overseas missions. On any given day, 10,000 special operators are deployed or “forward stationed,” conducting missions that vary “from behind-the-scenes information-gathering and partner-building to high-end dynamic strike operations,” then-chief of U.S. Special Operations Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year.
In 2014, more than 4,800 elite troops took part in JCETs, compared to just over 3,800 the year before. “The purpose of JCETs is to foster the training of U.S. SOF in mission-critical skills by training with partner-nation forces in their home countries,” Ken McGraw, a spokesperson for U.S. Special Operations Command, told The Intercept. “JCETs allow U.S. SOF to use and further develop their language skills and cultural knowledge plus hone their skills training indigenous forces.”
Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, who is Votel’s successor as head of SOCOM,told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that “working with our international partners allows us to share the burden more appropriately. We must engage, not only where problems occur, but also in places critical to our vital national interests where no visible threat currently exists.”