Speaker: Doherty, T. (US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)); McBride, R. (USASOC)
Date: 6 May 2019
SMA hosted a speaker session presented by MAJ Thomas Doherty (US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)) and MAJ Robert McBride (USASOC) as a part of its SMA NDU Speaker Series. MAJ McBride began by emphasizing the importance of expanding strategic options, especially in this era of great power competition. MAJ Doherty then defined countergovernance and identified its two types: negative governance and competing governance. He also compared countergovernance to unconventional warfare (UW). Next, the speakers explained that Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) are often challenged by scenarios in which traditional methods of UW prove to be ill-suited. In these cases, ARSOF must find ways to achieve the same ends of UW, yet limit escalation to more effectively conduct a mission. One way in which this can be done is through the use of strategic nonviolence (SNV). The speakers defined SNV and explained the theory behind it, highlighting its underlying assumption—”consent” theory of power—and its strategic, operational, and tactical focuses. These SNV movements have historically proven to succeed in disrupting, coercing, or overthrowing regimes across all continents and among a variety of cultures. MAJ McBride and MAJ Doherty then provided a series of historical case studies that demonstrated how nonviolent tactics were applied and how nonviolent movements achieved political gains while avoiding escalation. The tactics examined were: 1) protest and persuasion, 2) nonviolent noncooperation, and 3) nonviolent intervention. The speakers also identified the ways in which ARSOF may be suited to support this method of resistance. To conclude, MAJ Doherty and MAJ McBride provided a series of recommendations for further study and the practical implementation of SNV tactics, both in training and in operation.