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Joint Special Operations University Press Publications


Occasional Paper

Warrior Pose: Building Readiness through Resilience—Yoga and Meditation by Ajit V. Joshi

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.


The Death of the Golden Hour and the Return of the Future Guerrilla Hospital by Warner D. “Rocky” Farr


Colonel Warner “Rocky” Farr has made an important contribution to the body of SOF knowledge with this well-researched monograph. He advances the understanding of the many challenges and accomplishments related to guerrilla warfare medicine—care provided by predominantly indigenous medical personnel under austere conditions with limited evacuation capability—by providing a survey of the historical record in UW literature. Colonel Farr relates manyhistorical experiences in the field, assesses their effectiveness, and lays a foundation for further in-depth study of the subject. The Joint Special Operations University is pleased to offer this monograph as a means of providing those scholars and operators, as well as policymakers and military leaders, a greater understanding of the complex and complicated field of guerrilla warfare medicine.


Transitioning from War to Peace: Post-Deployment Support for Special Operations Forces by Jennifer M. Hazen

The complexities of transitioning from war to home are myriad, and Dr. Jennifer Hazen’s monograph not only describes many of the complex factors associated with post deployment adjustment of Special Operations Forces (SOF), but elucidates what can be done to improve the ways in which the Services reach SOF Service members and families. For SOF, the complexities associated with reentering civil society following wartime deployments may be exacerbated by the frequency, intensity, and unpredictability of special operations deployments. The author observes that many current programs are designed as “one-size-fits-all” interventions and are often of little value to the participants. Consistent with USSOCOM’s views on this matter, Hazen suggests that programs need to be tailored to accommodate the unique characteristics of individuals and units.


A Social Marketing Analysis for Suicide Prevention Initiatives in USSOCOM: A Framework for Future Research and Success, by R. Craig Lefebvre, Ph.D.

After more than fifteen years of conflict, the fact that suicide persists as a command issue in the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is heartbreaking and serves as a clarion call to redouble efforts by individuals and institutions to invest in programs that demonstrate effectiveness in reducing suicide, eroding the stigma associated with seeking treatment, and increasing the use of behavioral health care (BHC). In this monograph, Dr. Craig Lefebvre offers a social marketing perspective that reveals insights and actions to enhance existing programs. A central theme in Dr. Lefebvre's monograph is that no one is powerless if sufficiently aware. But experience shows that the task at hand is more than encouraging individuals to pursue available resources. Assistance and treatment options exist and they have proven to be effective when pursued. The path that emerges in the pages that follow exposes the reader to the context, theory, content, and practical history of suicide and suicide prevention.

Occasional Paper

U.S. Special Operations Forces in a Period of Transition by Dr. Francisco Wong-Diaz, Esq.

Dr. Wong-Diaz, an expert in international security law, looks at the effects of the post-cold war strategic environment on Special Operations Forces (SOF). After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 there was hope for a more peaceful world order. That all changed after the shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  A resurgent Russia and a rising communist China, along with failed states, humanitarian crises, and ungoverned spaces, creates a strategic security environment that is complex and dangerous. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey once stated, "We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups..." Dr. Wong-Diaz looks at the threats to our U.S. vital interests, our strategy for dealing with those threats, and our reliance on third offset technologies that are innovative, disruptive, and advantageous to the United States. He concludes with a look at the human dimension of SOF within USSOCOM and the Global SOF Network (GSN). The GSN strives for interoperability and is a key component of the indirect approach: an interoperable network of networks to achieve operational success.


Cultural Intelligence for Special Forces Personnel by Russell D. Howard, Greta Hanson, and Carly Laywell


In a 2009 JSOU Press monograph reflecting on the education requirements for Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel, Brigadier General Russ Howard (U.S. Army, retired) identified “cultural competency” as critical to SOF professional development. He returns to this theme with researchers Greta Hanson and Carly Laywell by answering this question: Why can some people act effectively in new cultures or among people with unfamiliar backgrounds while others, even highly respected people within their own group, stumble in those same situations? The research team asserts that cultural intelligence (CQ) makes the difference and describes a proficiency that goes beyond simply being intelligent, emotionally mature, or having good general social skills. Their message to SOF is that a person with high CQ, whether cultivated or innate, can understand and master situations, persevere, and do the right thing.


Assessing Special Operations Forces Language, Region, and Culture Needs: Leveraging Digital and LRC Learning ot Reroute the "Roadmap" from Human Terrain to Human Domain by Robert R. Greene Sands


Dr. Greene Sands’ Assessing Special Operations Forces Language, Region, and Culture Needs uses his vast experience and knowledge of this subject and draws from the existing Department of Defense Defense Language Transformation Roadmap (DLRT), recent lessons learned, and historical beginnings to outline the importance to the U.S. military, especially the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community. The past decade of counterinsurgency operations has challenged the U.S. military personnel in their ability to carry out a variety of missions involving culturally complex situations and interactions. Success in such operations often depends on difficult linguistic and interpersonal skill-based competencies and abilities. Dr. Sands emphasizes the utility of language skills, along with regional and cultural knowledge and cross-cultural competence, in engaging populations across sometimes uncompromising cultural divides. This monograph provides key lessons learned as U.S. Special Operations Command determines the way ahead for LRC education and training to better prepare the future SOF operator to meet the challenges of operating in complex environments and meet the command’s priority to continue to build relationships.


Military Innovation in War: It Takes a Learning Organization - A Case Study of Task Force 714 in Iraq by Richard Shultz


In this monograph, Dr. Shultz provides key findings on how organizational change and innovation by Task Force 714 dismantled al-Qaeda in Iraq’s networked secret organization. Dr. Shultz utilizes sound methodology to show how TF 714 was able to achieve this incredible transformation. Drawing from memoirs and in-depth interviews with several TF 714 leaders, Dr. Shultz further analyzes these sources through the use of analytic tools drawn from leading business and management studies focused on organizational learning and innovation. This monograph provides critical insights and lessons learned for U.S. Special Operations Forces and interagency partners who will establish, deploy, or support a special operations command and control organization. It is also a good historical case study and provides a foundation on how to adapt, innovate, and grow military structures into learning organizations to meet the future challenges of complex environments and our enemies.

Occasional Paper

Rethinking Special Operations Leadership: Process, Persuasion, Pre-existing, and Personality by Paul S. Lieber

In this paper Dr. Lieber describes leadership characteristics through the lens of special operations.  By exploring the importance of process, persuasion, pre-existing schemata, and personality nuances on special operations leadership training and execution, along with additional traits/characteristics necessary for success within them, Dr. Lieber extends beyond the traditional definitions of military leadership. The first section looks at process and adaptation to innovation.  Organizations must innovate, but it is the leader’s responsibility to make certain that innovation is both appropriate and matched to an established goal.  The next section explores the leader’s power of persuasion and the ability to nuance messaging and influence desirable opinions and consensus building.  He then explores pre-existing schemata and provides recommendations to avoid cognitive dissonance.  Finally, personality differences are described with a nod to exploiting teams comprised of diverse personality types.  Dr. Lieber is an award-winning scholar and practitioner on global strategic communication. Currently a resident senior fellow at JSOU, he previously served as the command writer for two USSOCOM commanders.

SOF Mixed-Gender Elite Teams

Special Operations Forces Mixed-Gender Elite Teams by William Knarr, Jessica Glicken Turnley, Dona Stewart, Rich Rubright, and Jason Quirin

On 24 January 2013, the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) rescinded the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule (DCAR) that excluded women from assignment to units and positions whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground. In doing so, the SecDef directed the opening of all occupational specialties, positions and units to women; the validation of gender-neutral standards for those positions; and establishment of milestones for implementation. In a March 2013 memorandum, Commander USSOCOM directed several initiatives as a result of the SecDef's DCAR rescission. While other studies examined individual performance and standards, the JSOU Center for Special Operations Studies and Research examined the effects on team dynamics. The challenge for this study was to determine if changing the gender component of Special Operations Forces elite teams from single-gender (masculine) to mixed-gender would affect team dynamics in a way that would compromise the ability of the team to meet a mission objective.


Strategic Culture by Russell D. Howard

In this monograph, Brigadier General (retired) Russ Howard presents a substitute for traditional International Relations Theory by asserting that strategic culture analysis of states and non-state actors or groups is a better predictor of behavior. Specifically, General Howard posits that studying and understanding the strategic cultures of threatening states and non-state actors might be a more useful mechanism for analyzing potential adversaries’ proclivity to using force to further their strategic security objectives.  The author delves into the strategic cultures of The United States, China, Iran, North Korea, and al-Qaeda before analyzing commonalities among them. This founda­tion allows General Howard to then develop and provide actionable policy guidelines to contextualize an end state which strategic cultural analysis can provide.  This strategic culture analysis can be beneficial to all echelons, from the SOF operator in a village who must understand and work within the strategic culture of the operational environment, to the policymakers who must decide National Strategy.


Retooling for the Future by Francisco Wong-Diaz

 Dr. Francisco Wong-Diaz looks at the importance of China’s strategic culture. While many see an inevitable strategic conflict of interests between our two countries, others see the rise of China as an opportunity for the U.S. to collaborate on international security. Businesses see potential for new markets. Although perceptions vary dramatically, it is clear China cannot be ignored. Dr. Wong-Diaz analyzes the Chinese concept of unrestricted warfare (URW). Whether the Chinese approach economic and military parity with the Unites States is of secondary concern to the strategic vehicle they will use to influence regional and global behavior. Although URW will fundamentally challenge the United State’s capability to engage China with a coherent strategy, the U.S. does have an opportunity to proactively come to grips with the strategic challenges of a regionally dominant China. 



Cultural and Linguistic Skills Acquisition for Special Forces: Necessity, Acceleration, and Potential Alternatives by Russ Howard

Brigadier General (Ret) Russ Howard articulates the need for SOF to develop language and cultural skills capabilities that reflect the wider range of locales and ethnic groups in which SOF engage while carrying out their diverse missions. General Howard outlines various definitions of culture and highlights the relationship between cultural understanding and the ability to predict behavior on the ground--an invaluable asset for a SOF operator. Drawing on his experience leading the Special Forces Language School, General Howard explores the relationship between learning a language and culture, highlighting the implications for SOF. As USSOCOM and SOF rebalance the force for a posture of persistent presence in complex operating environments, this monograph is an important contribution to the discussion of how language and cultural skills capabilities should be defined, prioritized, and developed. 

Keeping Special Forces Special (NPS Thesis)

Regional proficiency is a critical capability in irregular warfare. In preparation for increased engagement in irregular warfare, the Department of Defense and the Military Services made several significant improvements in developing regional proficiency. An analysis of Special Forces training and development reveals that the Special Forces primary means of developing regional proficiency is through deployment experience. While the Special Forces Groups are regionally aligned, several have consistently deployed outside of their Area of Responsibility to support combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A survey and a series of interviews were conducted to determine the state of regional proficiency interest in Special Forces. Through survey analysis, several trends were identified. With this information this thesis concludes with a suggested strategy to improve regional proficiency in Special Forces non-commissioned officers.


Cross-Cultural Competence and Small Groups: Why SOF are the way SOF are by Jessica Glicken Turnley

In this two-part work, Dr. Turnley addresses first the relationship between cultural competency and language, closing the first section with a look at how cross-cultural competency is measured and assessed. The discussion addresses the ability to operate cross-culturally--long been touted as one of the hallmarks of SOF general and Army Special Forces (SF) in particular--and explores if and how the various service special operations components select and assess candidates for their ability to operate cross-culturally. Among other things, this will consider the unequal distribution of this competency across the SOF service components. The second part of this monograph addresses current interest in developing and transmitting knowledge about human terrain within the Department of Defense. As culture and its importance as a component of successful warfighting has risen significantly, the defense community as a whole has embraced the tenants of irregular warfare. This section further addresses whether there is a difference between the ways in which the General Purpose Force (GPF) and SOF develop and use cultural knowledge and considers whether an increased focus on irregular warfare forced GPF to adopt a skill set long at work within SOF, or if SOF retain either a special type of knowledge or a special way to apply knowledge more broadly held.


Innovate or Die: Innovation and Technology for Special Operations by Robert J. Spulack, Jr.

Like the well-known slogan, hydrate or die, Special Operations Forces (SOF) also must innovate  or die. Innovation may be crucial to SOF personnel’s actual physical survival, but die is also a metaphor for organizational oblivion: conformity and assimilation. One of the fundamental qualities of SOF that derives from the nature of the personnel and their organization is creativity. Dr. Spulak advances a concept for enhancing the rapid innovation that enables SOF to stay ahead of our adversaries on the battlefield. He takes a look at how SOF might innovate in ways that are different from conventional forces and emphasizes that “innovation for SOF is a function of the attributes of SOF personnel and culture.” Whereas the conventional General Purpose Forces must seek innovation within large organizations--often merely applying more of existing capabilities--SOF personnel have greater license to innovate during ongoing operations.  


Educating Special Forces Junior Leaders for a Complex Security Environment by Russell D. Howard

By exploring the SOF future strategic environment that includes globalization, demographic trends, competition for resources, transnational non-state actors, advanced technology, and emerging powers, Brigadier General (Ret.) Howard identifies "cultural competency" as critical to the development of junior Special Forces (SF) officers. The need for the SF operator, at once, to effectively interact with indigenous peoples, interagency counterparts, and transnational, nongovernmental players suggests that a new program of graduate level study is needed early-on in the officer's career. 


Retaining a Precarious Value as Special Operations Go Mainstream by Jessica Glicken Turnley

Jessica Turnley wades into the discussion with a short monograph on the concept of organizational identity or organizational culture and the difficulty of developing and, more importantly, retaining these in the face of changing organizational structures and institutional growth. Her discussion cuts to the heart of what it means to be SOF vice what it means to be a member of USSOCOM. In the current organization, they are not synonymous. A significant percentage of the command is made up of non-SOF members assigned from the various services. As the command grows, these "SOF enablers" will remain a critical element within the command and the SOF community at large. 


Psychological Operations: Learning is Not a Defense Science Project by Curtis D. Boyd

This paper intends to demystify Psychological Operations (PSYOP) by framing the analysis in terms of certain cultural biases, organizational challenges, and troubles with terminology. The objective is twofold: a. Make PSYOP more understandable by looking at how it is defined in today's information environment and its relationship to other information activities. b. Create an understanding that PSYOP is truth-based, is an amalgam of many media and marketing tactics and techniques, and requires a closer alliance with Public Affairs to communicate a more comprehensible message. 


Educating for Strategic Thinking in the SOF Community: Considerations and a Proposal by Harry R. Yarger

The image of tactical "snake eaters" and individual and small unit tactical focus appear to be in direct contrast to the increasing stra-tegic role of SOF senior leaders and staff members. Equally important, increasingly SOF will be placed in situations where poor tactical decisions can have significant negative strategic consequences or the fleeting opportunity for positive strategic effect is revealed. How well are SOF personnel prepared for these roles and how best can the SOF "operator" acquire strategic awareness and appreciation and develop strategic thinking abilities for his level? The objective of this monograph is to examine the issue of "strategic thinking" in SOF-what is the future need and how should the community develop and better inculcate strategic thinking in its members. 


Filling Special Operations Gaps with Civilian Expertise by James F. Powers, Jr.

This monograph looks at leveraging civilian personnel outside USSOCOM who possess unusual skills that can enhance and support special operations-designated activities. It also suggests solutions for bringing these uniquely skilled people in for a brief period and addresses using technology to aid in locating, assessing, managing, and retaining these experts. Filling existing and emerging special operations-related gaps in skills and competencies with civilian expertise affords the most innovative and cost-effective means of mission support while ensuring Special Operations Forces (SOF) remain focused on core competencies and congressionally mandated special operations activities. 


Civil-Military Operations and Professional Military Education by James F. Powers

In this monograph, the author addresses the historical, legal, doctrinal, and operational reasons CMO should be included in core PME. He discusses the impacts of this omission on the SOF assigned to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and suggests that the time to correct the oversight is now. 


The Changing Nature of Warfare, the Factors Mediating Future Conflict, and Implications for SOF by John B. Alexander

This paper challenges the prevailing sentiment regarding the nature of war. Designed to generate discussion on topics where little or none has been acceptable, it pushes the envelope of traditional political and military science thinking. It argues that the nature of war has changed at a fundamental level-that of definition. Further, information technology is so pervasive and interpenetrating that its impact cannot be relegated to mere alteration in the techniques by which war is prosecuted. Rather, information technology facilitates new social structures, exacerbates competing hierarchical beliefs, and, combined with other factors, enhances the ability of powerful nations, or other philosophical organizations, to impose their will on adversaries. 

Pamphlet 5-2

The Evolving Requirements of the Canadian Special Operations Forces: Future Concept Paper by  J. Paul de B. Taillon

The current world situation of widespread terror organizations and insurgencies highlights the need for Special Operations Forces (SOF). Canada's decision to establish a SOF capability (CANSOF) in 1992 indicates their desire to possess a strategic SOF resource to meet these threats. Dr. Taillon argues that this need remains and requires a more robust and expanded SOF capability to handle strategic challenges to Canada. He discusses morphing demographics and limited resources available to the Canadian military as critical issues in future CANSOF development. The British and American models of recruiting and training special operations forces offer useful models and he draws a sensible parallel with SOF recruiting in his native Canada.