Accession Number : ADA495521

Title :   A Theory of Special Operations: The Origin, Qualities, and Use of SOF

Descriptive Note : Monograph

Corporate Author : SANDIA NATIONAL LABS ALBUQUERQUE NM

Personal Author(s) : Spulak, Jr, Robert G.

PDF Url : ADA495521

Report Date : OCT 2007

Pagination or Media Count : 63

Abstract : As we enter the seventh year of the current conflict against violent-extremist terrorist networks, the importance of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in this fight remains crucial. SOF were the lead element in Afghanistan as the initial response to the 9/11 terror attacks. It is likely that U.S. leadership will increasingly turn to SOF, in conjunction with other government departments and agencies, to prosecute the campaign against violent extremists. In many ways, SOF will be the force of choice, because SOF skill sets and capabilities are optimized to conduct operations against these types of terrorist groups. Building on Rear Admiral William McRaven's seminal work "Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice," Dr. Spulak expands McRaven's theory beyond direct action and small raid concepts and builds a theory of SOF looking at SOF as a whole and across the spectrum of operations. He focuses on SOF attributes and how they allow SOF to accomplish missions beyond the capabilities of conventional forces. Through the prism of the principles of war, the author argues that SOF's inherent capabilities allow them to overcome the risk and obstacles that would preclude conventional forces from undertaking the mission. The challenge today is how to focus SOF on these "special" missions. Throughout history, leaders have a tendency to overuse or misuse SOF. By the very nature of SOF attributes, SOF will always be a limited force vis-a-vis conventional forces. Consequently, care must be taken to use SOF where its special skills and capabilities are best suited.

Descriptors :   *OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR, *SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES, *SKILLS, *COUNTERTERRORISM, *UTILIZATION, *MILITARY CAPABILITIES, *MISSIONS, *THEORY, CREATIVITY, LIMITATIONS, CASE STUDIES, MILITARY DOCTRINE, NETWORKS, ASYMMETRIC WARFARE, TERRORISTS, RISK

Subject Categories : Military Forces and Organizations
      Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE