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Toward Operational Art in Special Warfare
RAND Corporation Arroyo Center Santa Monica United States
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This report demonstrates the need for a strategic and operational approach to securing U.S. interests called special warfare. The United States requires new approaches for exerting influence, filling the missing middle between the limitations of distant-strike options presented by armed unmanned aerial systems and Tomahawk missiles and the costly, indefinite commitment of conventional forces. Special warfare is an Army Special Operations Forces doctrinal term meaning the execution of activities that involve a combinationof lethal and nonlethal actions taken by a specially trained and educated force that has a deep understanding of cultures and foreign language, proficiency in small-unit tactics, and the ability to build and fight alongside indigenous combat formations in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment. It includes special operations forces conducting combinations of unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, andor counterinsurgency through and with indigenous forces or personnel. The report has four aims 1 to adapt conventional operational art to the unique characteristics of special warfare, 2 to identify the strategic advantages and risks associated with special warfare, 3 to explore how special warfare campaigns could be used to address challenges identified in strategic guidance, and 4 to provide guidance to military and civilian leaders and planners in designing and executing these campaigns.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE