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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Sharpening The Spear: Moving SOF’s Operating Concept Beyond The GWOT | Modern War Institute

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After two decades, Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has the chance to restructure the combined special operations force for future combat. USSOCOM must develop an operational concept that aligns with the Department of Defense’s broad vision of what each service must deliver.

To express a successful notion, commanders must overcome a profound nostalgia for the generous funding and top billing that special operations troops enjoyed throughout the two decades of war before the current conflict. The Middle Eastern conflicts resulted in a remarkable increase in the role of special operations. USSOCOM is not a military service or department but rather a unified combatant command with duties similar to military service.

This idea must dictate where special operations components divest and how they prioritize their regional concentration. The four service components of USSOCOM are moving closer to their respective parent services, making it more challenging to sustain the combined force. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act instructs USSOCOM to design an operational model that nests inside the Joint Warfighting Concept.

Defining an operational paradigm for combined special operations will assist in bridging the cultural difference between special operators and conventional forces. USSOCOM must describe an operating concept that supports numerous service concepts.

For instance, it is quite probable that the Navy and Marine Corps would spearhead a future conflict in Asia. As a result of USASOC’s regional alignment, Army special operations will play a prominent role in the battle. Anything resembling unilateral action should be discarded.

As part of the Army’s special operations component, troops assigned to civil affairs and psychological operations are included. These troops are geographically affiliated, yet they collaborate with special functions from the whole combined force.

These experts’ roles within the operational concept must be sufficiently broad to use their area knowledge and autonomy. The Marines are the newest special operations component and lack the natural, identifiable mission of the land, sea, and air particular operations components. However, necessity is the mother of creativity, and Marine special operations personnel will likely construct a task set that is both imaginative and operationally different.

As recently advocated by a component strategist, Marine special operations may prioritize the capabilities to perform reconnaissance in littoral regions. Large-scale combat operations are a priority for conventional forces like the Army.



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