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Implications for US Special Operations Forces and the Interagency in Phase Zero: Case Studies in the Pacific Theater, 2000 to 2014

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Technical Report,10 Aug 2015,10 Jun 2016

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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Using a qualitative case study methodology in this thesis, I explore how USSOF and the interagency support chiefs of mission and geographic combatant commanders in achieving national security objectives. Analysis of national security documents, research literature, and US phase zero counter terrorism campaigns in the Philippines and Indonesia reveals four major themes. First, threat groups exploit instability, and voids in phase zero engagement prevent the United States from understanding that exploitation. Second, authorities can be mutually supportive for the DoS and USSOF, but they can also unintentionally narrow the scope of phase zero operations and create an authorities trap. Third, the contemporary operating environment is complex, and the US lacks a strategy that synchronizes all the elements of national power to navigate that environment effectively. Finally, understanding the operational environment is paramount for USSOF to effectively execute phase zero operations. These four themes support three recommendations the legislative foundation of the US national security structure needs to be updated a national security council level directorate needs to be established to develop and execute phase zero strategy and Theater Special Operations Commands need to drive national strategy through comprehensive, regional phase zero campaign planning that is integrated at all levels of the GCC and US country team.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Government and Political Science

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