Special Operations and Conventional Forces: How to Improve Unity of Effort Using Afghanistan as a Case Study
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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This monograph offers some practical solutions to building unity of effort between Special Operations Forces SOF and conventional forces using operations in Afghanistan from 2001 until 2009 as a case study. In researching U.S. legal code and U.S. Armed Forces doctrine, it is clear that both the U.S. Congress and the various services intended all forces to work together towards a common end during operations. In the case of Afghanistan, it is apparent that three things complicated unity of effort between SOF and conventional forces the lack of an Afghanistan campaign plan by USCENTCOM, the assignment of SOF under the operational control of the conventional force Joint Task Force from 2002 until 2006, and the difficulties of a transition to a NATO command structure in 2006. These complications affected both activities on the battlefield and the synchronization of operational and strategic plans. This led to problems that included an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding, conventional forces struggling to command and control SOF, unneeded restrictions on SOF, and personality conflicts that affected operations and synchronization. Several possible solutions to improving unity of effort exist. They are changing the command and control structure between SOF and conventional forces, nesting SOF operations and plans with the overall campaign plan, attempting to align the proper personalities with certain tasks and positions, educating and integrating SOF and conventional forces, aligning and empowering liaison officers more appropriately, and aligning SOF headquarters with conventional force headquarters as appropriate.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Unconventional Warfare
- Command, Control and Communications Systems