WASHINGTON — Vice Adm. Eric Olson, a highly decorated Navy SEAL, sailed through a low-key Senate Armed Service Committee confirmation hearing Tuesday on his nomination to head the Special Operations Command.
Under questioning, Olson said:
"This nation expects to have forces that can respond to the sound of guns whenever and wherever they are needed," said Olson, who's now the second in command of special ops.
A Naval Academy graduate who received a Silver Star for his actions during a battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, popularized by the book and movie "Black Hawk Down," Olson is expected to be confirmed. The committee gave no indication when it would vote.
Olson also said he was optimistic that efforts to defeat al Qaida and the Taliban and install a new government in Afghanistan were working.
"Things are headed in the right direction and we continue to work to eliminate enemy safe havens," he said in written responses to questions the committee had asked before the hearing.
Regarding Iraq, Olson said U.S. forces would continue to face an "irregular enemy," and that special ops and regular U.S. forces sometimes "overlap" when it comes to responding.
"Special operations forces are routinely performing tasks that could be performed by existing general-purpose forces capabilities or general-purpose forces with additional training," he said.
Olson said he didn't believe that abusive interrogation techniques were appropriate or effective in the struggle against terrorism. Special ops forces were supposed to follow the regulations in the Army Field Manual, he said.
"There are no exceptions granted to special operations forces in regards to interrogation," he said.