AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare recently published a Land Warfare Paper titled “Special Operations Forces in Unlit Spaces: Understanding the World's Dark Spots in the Context of SOF Operational Planning.” This paper should be of great interest to those who would like to better understand what defines the unlit spaces of the world and the implication of that definition for Special Operations Forces (SOF).
“Special Operations Forces in Unlit Spaces: Understanding the World's Dark Spots in the Context of SOF Operational Planning” by Joseph A. Royo (Land Warfare Paper 101, June 2014) begins by examining how certain characteristics of unlit spaces impact SOF operational planning. These five characteristics—pertaining to aspects such as the stability of a nation’s governing body, internal infrastructure and overall development—occurring in varying degrees and combinations, are described in detail in the Framework for Unlit Spaces. Depending on the nature of any given unlit space, SOF operational planning and engagements will be affected in different ways and will have to be conducted with malleable methods. Finally, the author looks at two case examples—Afghanistan and Somalia—to demonstrate how the political environments in conjunction with the physical environments during two different time periods present altogether different planning considerations. Because of the potentially wide variance of circumstances within unlit spaces, SOF planners must fully understand the physical and cultural nuances of their operational environments if they wish to conduct successful operations.