U.S. Joint Special Operations Forces: Two Few, Overworked, Young, Homogenous & Macho to Fulfill the Unconventional Demands of the Long War?
MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA
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The United States currently finds itself engaged in a prolonged conflict against global insurgency, commonly recognized as the Long War. Regrettably, many American leaders continue to misunderstand its nature, and consequently, they have arguably not applied the best methods to combat it. The U.S. military, in particular, has resisted reform to meet the demands of a war perpetuated by non-state actors due to its predisposition towards confronting and defeating other countries in conventional warfare. As a result, it has not employed its resources and personnel, particularly its Joint Special Operations Forces JSOF, many of whom specialize in counter-insurgency warfare, in the most effective manner. United States Special Operations Commands USSOCOM similar fixation on strike warfare has come at the expense of fully developing and maintaining its unconventional capacity to carryout indirect approaches, which strive to undermine opponents through proxies. These indirect approaches have historically proven to be one of the most efficient means to defeat insurgencies. These unconventional skill sets are arguably the most distinguishing and special characteristic of JSOF because they cannot be replicated by conventional forces. USSOCOMs continued emphasis on strike warfare and hard or warrior skills, and its extolment of exceptional physical and mental toughness over soft skills of persuasion and diplomacy, have resulted in a force that is more elite than genuinely special. Hence, USSOCOM currently selects, trains, and employs many personnel whose capabilities can only be differentiated from those of general-purpose forces by a matter of degree, not kind. Due to improved training and technology, general-purpose forces are capable of carrying out many of the direct missions that JSOF undertakes consequently, the overall value of USSOCOMs participation in direct missions has diminished.
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