Military Innovation: Sources of Change for United States Special Operations Forces (SOF)
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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Today, in the post-Cold War era, each of the U.S. military services and U.S. Special Operations Command USSOCOM realizes that in order to remain relevant it must be able to innovate and change. This thesis defines military innovation as a change in the stated roles or missions of the organization to solve current or projected military challenges or threats as defined by the national strategy. The thesis surveys three contending theories of military innovation. It identifies elements from each and develops a hypothesis to explain innovation in U.S. Special Operations Forces SOF. This hypothesis is then tested against three instances where U.S. SOF accepted and developed the new missions of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and counterproliferation. The study concludes that the variables of SOF culture, changes in the security environment, civilian intervention, and military leaders have combined to cause military innovation in U.S. SOF. Of these variables, military leaders, who control of resources and can provide promotion pathways to junior officers, is necessary for innovation. Recommendations for USSOCOM are then drawn from these conclusions.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics