Special Operations Forces: Looking Forward   [open pdf - 171KB]

The article introduces the United States as the sole superpower. As such the U.S. is obligated to assist other countries in need or threatened by adversaries, as long as it's in our national interests. Future U.S. military involvement will not necessarily be driven by what our armed forces perceive to be a threat to our national security or interest, but how American society at large and our elected officials view threats, determine our national interests and how we wage war as a nation. Special operations forces today are global, joint and versatile. They operate world wide, with little fanfare, often in parts of the world where disease, poverty and civil strife riddle the countryside. They serve in extremely harsh, as well as permissive, environments, under the cover of darkness and increasingly, in the high-tech realm of cyberspace. They can operate as a cohesive joint service team or as a single service unit. A hallmark is frequent operations with coalition forces and other foreign militaries. Special operations forces support conventional forces in major conflicts, and they respond to conflicts or crises such as insurgencies, subversion, sabotage, narcotics trafficking and terrorism. They are not structured or expected to win wars single- handedly, but they can help prevent and deter them. As part of a theater joint task force, they can enable conventional forces to achieve victory. By anticipating changes in world development, analyzing our special operations force employment trends and examining American societal and cultural trends, will help prepare special operations forces for the future. Also in preparing for the future means considering what DoD's expectations will be for the use and role of special operations forces. General Shelton expects we will need special operations forces more th% ever in traditional roles, but they must also prepare for nontraditional environments and more sophisticated threats.

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