The SOF Experience in the Philippines and the Implications for Future Defense Strategy
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA SANTA MONICA United States
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United States special operations forces SOF have engaged in a number of long-duration missions around the globe in the last 15 years. One of those, Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines OEF-P, epitomized the type of partnered, light footprint approach that recent defense strategy guidance has called for as a way to defend U.S. national security interests and promote global stability without incurring the crushing cost or unwanted side effects of large scale military interventions. The requirements for success through this approach, and the limits of its application, have been a matter of ongoing debate. Some skepticism derives from doubts about the will, probity andor basic capability of the host or partner nations that the United States has tried to buttress. Another source of skepticism has been the apparent inefficacy of the U.S. approach to building partner capacity, as illustrated most prominently by the Iraqi armys disintegration in 2014 after more than 20 billion in U.S. assistance from 2003-2011, and by the difficulties the Afghan army has encountered in taking on the Taliban as the U.S. forces have drawn down. An exception in both of these cases has been the Iraqi and Afghan special operations forces, which have demonstrated notably greater capability and fortitude. These elite units were intensively trained, advised, and assisted by U.S. and coalition special operations forces over the course of a decade, which suggests that there may be some valuable and possibly fungible lessons to learn from the way in which SOF approaches this mission.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Military Forces and Organizations