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Partners of Choice and Necessity: Special Operations Forces and the National Security Imperatives of Building Partner Capacity

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,01 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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How do US special operations forces maximize their role in the foreign policy of building partner capacity BPC to support the objectives of national security strategy Most analytical writing about partner force development focuses on the wartime advise-and-assist experience of both conventional forces CF and special operations forces SOF. Few scholars have written about the nature of warfare in phase 0 or the strategic utility of special operations campaigns to develop capable and competent forces for partner nations. Fewer still have studied the comprehensive integration of SOF and CF to achieve the policy goals associated with building partner capacity. This monograph identifies gaps in the progression of history, theory, and doctrine for partner force advising and for phase 0 operations in general that contribute to differing cultural attitudes towards these mission and environments between SOF and CF. SOF are proven highly effective in building partner capacity with minimal CF integration, but only when certain criteria are present. When environments are suboptimal, there is insufficient evidence to suggest how these forces might campaign together to compliment each others capabilities and build partner capacity more effectively. US national security policy states that countering the global terrorist network which threatens US and allied interests requires support via an indirect approach through and with the military capacity of our partner nations. Threat groups based in weak and failed states uniformly exploit the under governed spaces where US partner nations lack the capacity to deny those spaces to the terrorist or insurgent. US security policy ends therefore include both defeating the terrorist network and supporting partner nation stability. The policy of building partner capacity is the way to achieve those ends, through whole-of-government actions to improve the security, development, and governance abilities of the partner nation.

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