In the context of the US’s strategic competition with China, policymakers should recognize that special-operations forces, which have been pivotal in US military endeavors for the past two decades, have certain limitations. David Ucko, an expert in irregular warfare, cautions against over-relying on these forces and emphasizes the need for a broader strategic approach that incorporates political warfare.
- US special-operations forces have played a major role in military missions for 20 years, often achieving remarkable results despite their limited size and budget.
- David Ucko, an expert in irregular warfare, suggests that while these forces are skilled in combat and violence, political warfare is equally crucial in the context of strategic competition with China.
- Ucko proposes four strategies: emphasizing the special-operations community’s core strengths, especially in irregular warfare; exercising restraint in deploying these forces for tasks outside their expertise; ensuring other US agencies participate in irregular warfare efforts; and clarifying US objectives in the strategic competition.
- Some tasks, such as countering local corruption that enables Chinese political infiltration or blocking Russian election interference efforts, don’t have a “special ops easy button”.
- Ucko emphasizes the importance of focusing on the unique strengths of special operators in the face of evolving global challenges and warns against burdening them with unsuitable missions.