Accession Number:



Joint Irregular Warfare Capability and a Special Operations Forces Joint Task Force Capable Headquarters

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



A current problem facing the US military is that, while future Irregular Warfare IW requirements exist, US civilian and military leaders see large-scale combat operations or Traditional Warfare TW as a more significant threat to the nation than IW. However, there is also a requirement from US civilian leaders for the military to maintain competency and capability in IW not just for the current War on Terror, but also for future threats. Currently, the US military has one primary answer for the organization of both TW and IW, the Joint Task Force JTF. A Conventional Force CF headquarters HQ typically commands a JTF through the phases of a campaign, but this may not be the best command option for IW. Based on the different objectives and required activities within TW and IW campaigns, this paper argues that joint doctrine should specify the creation of a standing three-star Special Operations Forces HQ capable of commanding IW-focused phases and operations. This institutionalizes long-term IW capability and enables CF to safely refocus efforts to training and readiness for large-scale conflict and TW. This argument is supported by two case studies from Afghanistan and Iraq, which examine CF HQ transitioning from a TW-focused phase to an IW-focused phase these studies outline the potential shortfalls in using a CF HQ to lead an IW-focused JTF.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: