The Use of Special Operations Forces in Support of American Strategic Security Strategies
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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Much has been written about the who and how of special operations. To date very little more than a paragraph has been devoted to what special operations are and how they fit into a nations grand strategy not only during times of war but during those periods between the wars. This paper was written with the mindset of taking a fresh look at the employment of special operations forces SOF at the political level of warfare in a time when financial austerity comes to the forefront of policy makers decisions. In the twenty-six years since the stand-up of US Special Operations Command USSOCOM global threats have morphed. The world has evolved from a bi-polar conflict characterized by the Cold War through what may be the end of major conventional operations such as Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom I. Today it continues to evolve into an even more uncertain and complex state of radicalized extremist threats. SOF has the unique capability of operating in a pre-crisis capacity to enhance regional security by working with allies and partners, in less obvious ways, to enhance regional partners. It can act as a preventative mechanism that helps build the community of nations and create a more stable and thus, prosperous, world. This paper sets the strategic context for future operations, defines the domain of special operations and provides recommendations for the operational employment and education and guidance needed to achieve a security enhancing situation. It is only by taking a fresh look at a collective image of what special operations are that they can be used for the maximum effect in support of Americas national security strategy.