Accession Number : ADA606691


Title :   Special Operations, Irregular Warfare, and Operational Art: A Theory of Special Operations


Descriptive Note : Monograph


Corporate Author : ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES


Personal Author(s) : Harris, Jr, William D


Full Text : https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a606691.pdf


Report Date : 10 Dec 2013


Pagination or Media Count : 80


Abstract : Despite the rapid expansion of special operations forces around the world, their strategic utility rests on obscure foundations. Building on the insights of the literature on special operations it is possible to construct a theory of special operations that explains the nature of special operations forces and the conditions that favor the successful pursuit of strategic purpose through special operations tactical actions. The theory predicts that states will increasingly create special operations forces to combat irregular threats because irregular warfare is evolving into a functionally separate domain of war. Defining Irregular warfare as war fought by institutionally weak combatants, as opposed to conventional warfare between institutionally strong states, provides a useful theoretical basis for understanding the nature and history of irregular warfare. The increase in cross-border linkages and inexpensive weaponry have propelled an historic expansion of irregular warfare to the point where it is a functionally separate domain of war, dominated by its own grammar connecting tactical actions to strategic purpose. Designing operations to contest this irregular domain requires an understanding of the nature of irregular warfare. Five fundamental characteristics of irregular warfare guide the operational design of special operations: inability to project power over distance, the prevalence of short-term offensive actions, the proximity of the tactical and strategic levels, violent competitive coalition building, and mismatches between limited and total war. These characteristics define an opaque form of warfare, requiring physical, cognitive, and moral access to successfully pursue strategic purpose. These three types of access summarize nine tenets of special operations operational art, which the theory derived from an understanding of the fundamental nature of irregular as a guide for the design of special operations campaigns. Arranging tactical actions to achieve


Descriptors :   *SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES , CONVENTIONAL WARFARE , GUERRILLA WARFARE , TERRORISM , THREATS


Subject Categories : Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics


Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE