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Learning on the Move, OSS Detachment 101 Special Operations in Burma

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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In order to meet the challenges of the anticipated operating environment, Americas Special Operations Forces SOF must be able to adapt to any terrain, local culture, adversary, or mission set. The Office of Strategic Services OSS Detachment 101 provides current SOF a historical model for building organizational adaptability and resiliency while at the same time executing special operations against a highly capable opponent. This thesis employs case studies and historical narratives to analyze Detachment 101s operational evolution and its ability to adapt to varying conditions in the Burma Theater from 1942 to 1945. OSS Detachment 101 defeated Japanese forces in Burma by evolving into a learning organization that could rapidly adapt to changing environments and intuitively design operational solutions in action. This adaptability and intuitive approach to problem solving enabled the successful assessment, integration with, and employment of a highly capable indigenous partner force, the development of a campaign planning capability that could link small unit actions to strategic objectives, and the development of a liaison network that could ensure SOF-CF interdependence. A subtle combination of the right personnel, unit culture, operational freedom, and leadership created the necessary conditions for Detachment 101 to become a learning organization.

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Technical Report,11 Aug 2014,12 Jun 2015



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Approved For Public Release;

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