Re-Evaluating Special Operations Forces-Led Counterterrorism Efforts   [open pdf - 453KB]

From the Introduction: "While the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) clearly articulates that near-peer competition is the primary national security concern for the U.S. Government (USG), terrorism remains a persistent threat. Indeed, the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) documented over 9,600 terrorist attacks perpetrated in 2018 alone. Moreover, of the 52 active conflicts captured in the 2018 release of the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, 49 were between states and violent non-state actors. Two of the three remaining conflicts were between the governments of India and Pakistan, and Iran and Israel, respectively. Both of these dyads entailed extensive state use of terrorist proxies. To the extent that terrorism is likely to remain a relevant focus for U.S. national security practitioners, it is reasonable to expect that Special Operations Forces (SOF) will continue to be involved in counterterrorism (CT). Not only is CT one of 12 core U.S. Special Operations Command activities, but policymakers tend to disproportionately look to the armed forces when it comes to CT. This is the case as the U.S. Department of Defense is resourced and trained to rapidly mobilize in response to complex problems like terrorism. SOF, in particular, are postured for especially rapid mobilization in response to terrorist threats."

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