View Full Version : Restructuring SOF for Emerging Threats

02-10-2006, 06:46 AM
Restructuring SOF for Emerging Threats (http://www.ndu.edu/inss/strforum/SF219/SF_219.pdf)

Special Operations Forces (SOF) already make major contributions to national defense. However, the Department of Defense should adjust SOF operations, organization, and national-level command and control to deal more effectively with terrorism and related forms of political violence. Almost 20 years after the Special Operations Command was created, it is clear that to make strategic contributions to defeating current and emerging threats, SOF direct and indirect action capabilities should be organized in separate commands.

SOFís so-called indirect action activitiesótypically performed by Special Forces, psychological operations, and civil affairs when they work by, with, and through the forces and people of host countries, such as the Philippines, Afghanistan, or Iraqóare critical for reshaping the sociopolitical environment in which terrorists and insurgents thrive. A separate command will ensure resources and priority missions for indirect action capabilities that currently are underemphasized. The new commandís indirect capabilities should be augmented by improved abilities to understand and influence traditional social networks.

SOF direct action capabilities that support or bring force to bear directly against the enemy are proficient but require national-level decisionmaking reforms. Better command and control mechanisms, including the Defense Department and national-level horizontal integration teams with their own resources, are necessary if direct action capabilities are to reach their full potential.

02-11-2006, 07:52 PM
Mmm. Do you agree with this? This sounds a lot like Barnett's "Two Armies" theory to me.

Bill Moore
02-12-2006, 04:19 AM
When I read the key points I almost rejected the article as a knee jerk reaction. The last thing we need is another command, an immature one at that. Yep, having another dog in the fight over turf, money, manpower, and more disunity of effort will help us win this war. Initially I thought all we really need to do to meet the authorís intent is to have SOCOM make the indirect approach its primary effort, and all other approaches secondary and in a supporting role (obviously situation dependent). We donít need a new command to do this we simply need new leaders who embrace this methodology, right?

Then after reading the entire article I think the authors do make valid points that need to be seriously considered. Letís face it, DOD talks transformation, but for the most part transformation is a beltway bandit feeding frenzy over contracts for new techno toys, but the soldier in the field has seen very little transformation that addresses our ability to address 4th generation warfare threats. I sometimes think the reality is that transformation is driven by our industry; it also drives Congress to some degree. If it doesnít benefit a Congressional district financially who is going is going to support funding the effort? If the Army wanted to focus on developed these Lawrences of Arabia type of soldiers that the authors want us to sprinkle around the world, how would they sell the program? Iím being somewhat flippant, but at the same time I think Iím being realistic, so I propose that as a potential limitation for implementing this course of action.

On the other hand, the author may be right in that the only way to implement what he suggests is to create a new command, because the horses we have are not going to change their colors. However, before we go down that road any further I think we need to seriously consider the authorís assumptions for validity.

1. Are we going to find the right folks to do this? The authors are asking for an impressive set of skills. We know how long it takes to make a foreign area officer, but we want this guy to have that knowledge and then some. Oh, by the way, we need a lot of these guys and gals.

2. Also, isnít it a bit arrogant to assume we can significantly influence other cultures that may not like our ideas? Our ability to influence others will depend on several situational variables, but in many cases it will be very limited, so I wonder if we would really get the return on the investment that the authors thinks we will?

Not for or against at this time, need to think about it more.