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Innovative Practices for Special Warfare

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Special Warfare forces are tasked with conducting operations in uncertain environments defined by rapidly changing environmental elements instability and the interaction of many diverse external factorscomplexity. In order to succeed, organizations operating in uncertain environments should decentralize decision-making to the appropriate level and emphasize an organic approach that focuses on the importance of people, adaptation, and innovation. The current USASOC bureaucracy, mirroring the conventional Army, is built to maximize internal efficiency and specialize in previously predicted scenarios. Due to persistently high operational tempo, personnel downsizing, and fiscal constraints, redesigning USASOC is not feasible at this time. However, the improvement of processes and incremental enhancement to align better with the operational environment within the existing design is possible. This study explores best practices from innovative and adaptive organizations that ARSOF can draw upon to increase its capability to conduct special warfare. Through the examination of these best practices, the study identified four key factors that lead to innovation collaboration, organizational structure, incentives, and acceptance. This study recommends that Special Warfare forces apply these factors by increasing career flexibility, internal and external linkages through broadening opportunities and liaisons, and the collective intelligence of the organization through the use of cross-functional teams and increased communication measures. Adopting these enhancements may promote innovation and adaptation and increase Special Warfare forces contributions to national defense.

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