Small Wars Journal

special operations

Operationalizing the Science of the Human Domain in Great Power Competition for Special Operations Forces

Special Operations Forces (SOF) must continue to build capability and capacity to scientifically understand, accurately interpret and effectively influence human behavior. It is the SOF operator who will be on the ground early, working with an indigenous populace, learning to understand a given situation in order to provide critical context to both civilian and military leadership. SOF must be able to navigate complex social systems and operate at a speed that creates critical decision space while ensuring their actions don’t make matters worse.

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The Niger Ambush and Leadership Accountability

This paper addresses my concerns about issues raised by news media publicity surrounding the 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four Americans - members of U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF) Team OUALLAM - and the perceived mishandling of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) investigation results by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

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Special Forces at the Lion’s Tail: Managing Risk in the Use of Special Operations Forces and the Application of Law

The 2017 NSS allows undue risk. A parsing of the NSS strategy toward Africa helps make the point: the NSS defers to ends and means and leaves ways unclear. The Lykke model of military strategy (ways to apply means to ends) is brilliant in its simplicity. But this model fails as a construct of national strategy.

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Defying Stereotypes: The Untapped Potential of Integrating Female Reconnaissance Operators Into Small State NATO SOF

This paper is based on a qualitative study of NORSOF. In the study, twelve high ranking officers in NORSOF and the Norwegian military were interviewed according to an interview template, thereby ensuring consistency in the research. The interviewees participating in this research generated original primary source data, enabling unique insight to the subject. The sample group consists of some of the most experienced people in Scandinavia with regard to SR, in addition to the central leadership in NORSOF. There are no existing publications with such a comprehensive sample group looking into this subject, thus the qualitative data that will be presented in this paper provides a notable insight.

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SOF Futures: Pathways Through the Transition

Special operations forces (SOF) will once again find itself out ahead of others, operating in ambiguity and uncertainty as the world’s players compete to establish new rules and new structures. One of the key challenges for SOF is that, rather than just being tactical, this time the ambiguity and uncertainty is strategic. If SOF is to continue to be effective during this time of transition, then they must rely on their collective ability to perceive weak signals and adapt more rapidly than our competitors.

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Special Ops and the Future of American Foreign Policy

In this Center for National Policy video, SWJ friends Dave Maxwell, Fernando Lujan, Sean Naylor, and Ryan Evans talk special ops and foreign policy.

From the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, special operations have taken on a new prominence in American foreign policy in the 21st Century. It appears that America's reliance on special operations forces will only increase in the coming decade. Major Fernando Lujan, Colonel David Maxwell (ret.), Sean Naylor and moderator CNP Research Fellow Ryan Evans discussed the political and strategic implications.