Special Operations Forces Operating Concept

February 2016 No Comments

Special Operations Forces Operating Concept – A Whitepaper to Guide Future Special Operations Force Development 1.0.

Author | Editor: U.S. Special Operations Command.

Agility and flexibility are the foundational strengths that allow Special Operations Forces (SOF) to rapidly seize opportunities and adapt to unforeseen requirements and operational challenges. Facing a complex and uncertain future, the Nation expects SOF to apply these strengths to more fully integrate with partners and better identify and develop strategic opportunities to advance and protect US interests.

In an increasingly interconnected world, a broadening array of state and non-state actors employing irregular and hybrid approaches challenge US interests. Identifying activities and intentions of these malign actors within disordered societies and disenfranchised populations is challenging, but not impossible. To achieve this, persistent operations and deep understanding of the human domain will be necessary to identify and influence relevant actors to produce outcomes acceptable to the US.

The risk of not acting, or acting late, can dramatically alter the world landscape, eroding the Nation’s security, influence, and standing while allowing nefarious actors to inflict horrific human catastrophe as demonstrated by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Limited and reactionary responses are the result of insufficient awareness and understanding of emerging indicators of instability.

SOF will always provide critical capabilities to resolve crises and support major operations. However, SOF’s value to the Nation lies in our global perspective, coupled with the ability to act early with partners to provide a range of options for policy makers. Operating ahead of crisis allows SOF and partners to develop long-term and cost-effective options to prevent or mitigate conflict, providing decision space and strategic options to achieve outcomes favorable to the US.


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