Leading in the Gray Zone: Command and Control of Special Operations in Phases 0-1
Naval War College Newport United States
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Special Operations Forces SOF conduct activities in every phase of joint operations. To tackle these differing requirements that range from high end combat to shaping politically complex environments of countries not at war, SOF has developed several command and control C2 constructs. These constructs include the Special Operations Joint Task Force SOJTF and the Special Operations Command Forward SOC-FWD. Further, SOF developed concepts of special warfare in the gray zone to describe the environment in which SOF operates outside of war. Employing the right C2 structure in special warfare is essential to achieving the mission in the politically complex gray zone environment. This space exists in phases 0-1 of the joint operations model phases. Primacy of interagency collaboration, the requirement for a small footprint and a unified voice in key relationships, and the central role of the TSOC characterize special operations in the gray zone. The SOC-FWD model is the optimum model for SOF C2 in special warfare campaigns to shape and deter. To increase the effectiveness of special operations, SOF must adopt SOC-FWDs as the preferable C2 model over the SOJTF in phases 0-1. It must man the SOC-FWD with qualified commanders under Chief of Mission Authority and improve the ability of the SOC-FWD to prepare for transition to larger C2 nodes with greater capacity in the event of higher end conflict.