Joint Special Operations University’s (JSOU) publication of Special Operations Research Topics 2020 represents a list of Special Operations Forces (SOF)-related research topics proposed so that the resulting research can provide insight and recommendations on issues and challenges facing the SOF enterprise. As in previous years, this list is tailored to address the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Commander’s special operations priorities. This year’s topics focus on how the confluence of information, technology, and innovation (artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber operations, and big data) affect these issues. Researcher may explore and identify doctrine, capabilities, techniques, and procedures that will increase SOF effectiveness in addressing them. At the same time, research on these topics may be used to inform policymakers, military professionals, and the public of the issues and challenges facing the SOF community.
This monograph is the first in a planned series of three volumes that will provide Special Operations Forces (SOF) with an in-depth study of resistance movements. Mr. Will Irwin provides a wealth of case studies focused on the United States Government’s support to resistance movements. For each of his case studies the author summarizes in a clear, concise manner the duration of U.S. support, the political environments or conditions, the type of operation, the purpose or objective of U.S. support, and the ultimate outcome: success, partial success, failure, or an inconclusive outcome. Unfolding world events are indicative of the need for SOF to maintain and enhance traditional unconventional warfare (UW) skills, but those skills must be assessed in the context of modern resistance movement dynamics. This work will serve as a benchmark reference on resistance movements for the benefit of the special operations community and its civilian leadership.
Framed by more than three decades of anthropological research experience working in Syria and surrounding Middle Eastern countries, and experience working with both U.S. development and military entities, Dr. O’Leary and Mr. Heras offer a sociocultural and political analysis valuable for deployed SOF. They contend that the political strategy necessary for sustainable strategic effect in the unconventional warfare (UW) component of the counterterrorism operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was subordinated to the operational level imperative to cultivate a viable proxy force. The authors offer SOF a way to conceptualize strategic political analysis for UW efforts using Syria as a recent case study, but also provide a glimmer of hope for consolidating the gains made there in support of national policy.
Mr. Ajit V. Joshi's award-winning research asserts that the foundation for readiness is resilience, which aligns with the warrior ethos and is an enduring quality of good leaders. A variety of techniques and practices including yoga, trauma sensitive yoga, systematic relaxation, breathing (pranayama), meditation, yoga nidra, and iRest Yoga Nidra are evidenced based tools with proven efficacy for improving the health and resilience of Joint Force service members and their families. Leading change in the Joint Force to adopt these tools for all service members’ comprehensive physical, mental, and spiritual fitness is vital in a world of greater uncertainty, but barriers exist both at individual and organizational levels. This paper defines relevant terms; reviews the extensive literature on the subject, with particular attention to the conclusions of studies conducted with veteran and military populations; examines the relevance of these tools to the modern warrior ethos and military culture; and makes specific recommendations regarding cultural and institutional change to facilitate program implementation. Mr. Joshi conducted this research while attending the U.S. Army War College and received the U.S. Army War College Commandant’s Award for Distinction in Research for excellence in research and writing.