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Indigenous Warfare: The Search for Partners in the Syrian Civil War

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2017,31 May 2018

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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This monograph seeks to answer the research question What criteria can US Special Forces apply to identify the correct partner forces among the available armed indigenous groups in Syria to gain the desired operational effects By analyzing current strategic guidance and applying unconventional warfare doctrine, special warfare planners can identify suitable partner forces on the convoluted Syrian battlefield. However, this monograph argues that current doctrine lacks a critical component, international palatability, which is necessary for assessing the long-term viability of a potential indigenous force in an unconventional warfare scenario. International palatability is the degree to which the international community will accept any group as a governing entity at the conclusion of hostilities. After developing this new international palatability criteria, the monograph applies this new unconventional warfare component to an analysis of the current proxy warfare environment in Syria. A review of available literature and reporting from multiple news sources highlights three distinct armed Syrian opposition groups, which are analyzed in terms of feasibility, acceptability, and palatability. This monograph examines the Free Syrian Army FSA, Syrian Democratic Forces SDF, and the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army SF-FSA to determine if any of these groups are suitable partners for the United States. The research indicates that of these groups, the SDF is the only force that is currently a viable US partner. The FSA is not viable, and the SF-FSA has potential to be viable, but more research is needed before making a definitive assessment. The SDF is presently the only indigenous force that both meets the doctrinal criteria for US partnership and could be considered internationally palatable enough to govern at least some parts of the country in a post-conflict Syria.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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