U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have played a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the broader U.S. effort to destroy al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. In fact, over the past eight years SOF have experienced their most extensive and transformative use of the modern era. Still, these strategic national assets are not yet fully optimized for success.
This policy brief describes the unintentional difficulties and misunderstandings that flow from the current list of SOFOF activities; disaggregates and re-categorizes them into a new construct that differentiates missions from activities; and redefines the two general approaches to the conduct of special operations. These proposals have importance beyond a mere academic exercise. Taken together, they attempt to develop a more unified SOFOF community, with all Special Operations Forces working in support of six shared missions to greater strategic effect.
More from CNAS
PodcastU.S And 25 Other Nations To Participate In Huge Joint Training Exercise
Last year the pandemic derailed large-scale war gaming – this year it's back with a vengeance. The U.S. military is taking part in a massive joint training exercise across Eur...
By Becca Wasser & Jay Price
CommentaryTwo Cheers for Esper’s Plan to Reassert Civilian Control of the Pentagon
The longest-ever gap in civilian leadership atop the Department of Defense came to an end on July 23, when Mark Esper was sworn in as secretary of defense. His presence in the...
By Loren DeJonge Schulman, Alice Hunt Friend & Mara Karlin
Au Revoir QDR
Whatever version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) emerges from the House-Senate conference process later this year, it seems likely that the 20-year old Quadre...
By Loren DeJonge Schulman & Shawn Brimley
The DIUx Is Dead. Long Live The DIUx.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter launched his high-profile Silicon Valley outpost a year ago to great fanfare and high expectations. Less than a year later, he has completely over...
By Ben FitzGerald & Loren DeJonge Schulman