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Joint Special Operations University Press Publications


Interagency Reference Guide (Fourth Edition)

undefinedSpecial Operations Forces Interagency Reference Guide, Fourth Edition, edited by Charles Ricks 

Mr. Charles Ricks, a Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) Senior Fellow, first compiled this guide over a decade ago and continues to provide updates and revisions so that it remains a valuable reference work for JSOU students, Special Operations Forces (SOF) staff officers, and partners within the interagency (IA) enterprise. This is now the fourth edition of this publication. This new edition recognizes the changing nature of the international security environment and the adaptive and evolutionary nature of the IA process. While counterterrorism and combating terrorism remain essential SOF activities, the IA concepts, principles, and processes discussed here apply similarly to the involvement of SOF across the entire competition continuum and to all SOF core activities. As noted by the fifth SOF Truth, “Most special operations require non-SOF support.” That reality continues to form the basis for this guide as it addresses SOF IA engagement across the entire international competition continuum.


Occasional Paper

Enhancing the Global SOF Enterprise: A Consortium Concept, by Walter L. Christman, Ph.D.

In this paper, Dr. Christman proposes a means to better organize Special Operations Forces (SOF) worldwide to meet the " and collective brew of wicked problems...a world of panarchy...defined here to mean the competition of new actors in the gray zone, as described by SOF leaders, and accelerated even more by the unpredictable consequences of continuously evolving technology." To do this the author discusses a means to connect the global SOF enterprise so that U.S. SOF can effectively collaborate with the SOF from any nation willing to work with the United States and its regional partners. Dr. Christman proposes a consortium approach, through a Global Special Operations Consortium, to solve problems while avoiding a U.S.-centric solution set that is not always embraced by our international partners. This consortium approach would also include an array of defense, development, and diplomacy tools (for '3D' security) within a framework for success.

Occasional Paper

The Evolution of Global SOF Enterprise from a Partner Perspective by Lieutenant Colonel Asbjørn Lysgård, Norwegian Army

Lieutenant Colonel Lysgård was the first Norwegian exchange liaison officer assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).  In this paper he chronicles the development and maturation of the Global Special Operations Forces Network (GSN). He sets the stage by recounting the evolution of present day Norwegian Special Operations Forces (SOF) from its genesis in World War II. He then explains the development of the GSN at USSOCOM and describes the utility of the network. Knowing whom to trust and who is willing to support a nation’s efforts becomes important as leaders build a ‘coalition of the willing.’ He shows that through the GSN, SOF can execute integrated campaigning with partners to facilitate dialogue across borders, shortening lines of communication and continuing development of high technology solutions. The author concludes that the creation and implementation of the GSN by partner nations has created cost-effective coordination solutions and, through that, increased security for deployed personnel across the globe.

SOF Role in Combating Transnational Organized Crime













SOF Role in Combating Transnational Organized Crime, edited by William Mendel and Dr. Peter McCabe

       In April 2015, military and civilian personnel from Canada, Mexico, and the United States came together at Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a symposium hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command-North and facilitated by Joint Special Operations University and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. Their task was to examine the role of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in combating transnational organized crime (TOC). The panelists and plenary participants set to work considering a wide range of issues attending to the TOC threat. After the Symposium concluded, panelists and speakers synthesized the results of their research and panel discussions in articles for publication—those articles are found in the chapters of this report of proceedings. The implication for SOF is they must continue to train to meet the strategic challenges ahead. This will require forward-deployed units that are engaged with their counterparts in host countries because TOC is both a threat to, and a result of, weak, emerging democratic governments that benefit from engagement. Readiness to conduct all SOF core activities will remain a priority.


Building Partner Capacity by Harry R. Yarger

Dr. Rich Yarger discusses Building Partner Capacity (BPC) as a strategic necessity and contends that BPC is an essential strategic concept for any practical U.S. grand strategy. He addresses the questions of how SOF and others might think strategically about BPC in the 21st century environment and the implications of such thinking. In order to best develop this grand concept, he maintains that decision makers, strategists, and planners need to comprehend and develop a high level of strategic understanding and be able to distinguish between cooperation, partnering, and strategic partnerships among states and other  international actors. While recognizing the Joint Force and all the services and agencies play important roles in this larger picture of BPC, he reasons that USSOCOM and SOF are presented with unique opportunities and challenges in pursuit of the grand strategy. There are multiple ways of viewing the role of BPC as part of a U.S. grand or defense strategy and the place of SOF in these strategies. 


Persistent Engagement in Colombia by Dr. Mark Moyar, Brigadier General (retired) Hector Pagan, and Lieutenant Colonel, (retired) Wil R. Griego

This monograph analyzes United States Special Operations Forces’ (USSOF) assistance to Colombia in the context of decades of counterinsurgency and counternarcotics operations. While the case of Colombia is often cited as an exemplar of global Special Operations Forces (SOF) foreign engagement, the details of the engagement, and the reasons for its success, have not previously been addressed in a scholarly publication. This study represents the first comprehensive analysis of the persistent SOF engagement in Colombia. It draws upon the collective wisdom of numerous U.S. and Colombian government personnel, and the authors’ own decades of experience in Colombia and other countries where the United States has undertaken prolonged partnership. 


The Role of the Global SOF Network in a Resources Constrained Environment edited by Chuck Ricks

In February 2013, more than 125 Special Operations Forces SOF personnel from Canada, the United States, and eight other countries gathered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, for a two-day symposium on the Role of the Global SOF Network in a Resource Constrained Environment. This was the third symposium in a series held by the Joint Special Operations University and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command Professional Development Centre. The event featured a mix of individual presentations, panel discussions, and social interaction to introduce issues, engage in productive discussions, and strengthen SOF network relationships. The focus ranged from the tactical (The Acid Test of Reality—Experiences of the Operators) to the strategic with senior civilian and military leadership from both Canada and the U.S. assuming active, contributing roles. This report offers insights and suggestions on how to deliver operational success while accommodating both changing mission sets and resource constrained environments. 


Knowing Your Partner: The Evolution of Brazilian Special Operations Forces by Souza Pinheiro

Retired Brazilian Army Major General Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro, in his monograph highlights the importance of knowing our partners. General Pinheiro begins by presenting a Brazilian point of view of the post-9/11 world. He then presents a history and over view of Brazilian SOF units from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Modern day Brazilian Army SOF pioneers attended U.S. Army schools and founded Brazil’s Special Operations Course in 1958, which later expanded to include Commando Actions, Special Forces, and Jungle Operations qualifications courses. In 2002 the Brazilian Special Operations Brigade was created by presidential decree. As U.S. Special Operations Command looks to thicken the global SOF network, General Pinhiero’s monograph is a must read for the American SOF operator in order to better know our partners. 


"We Will Find a Way": Understanding the Legacy of Canadian Special Operations Forces by Bernd Horn

Colonel Bernd Horn’s monograph on the legacy of Canadian Special Operations Forces (SOF) highlights the colorful history and heritage of SOF from a vital partner nation. Horn reaches back to the 17th and 18th centuries with the Canadian Ranger tradition. He recounts Canada’s entry into World War II and its SOF experience with the British-led Special Operations Executive.  He highlights a combined U.S./Canadian unit, the First Special Service Force, which trained together in Montana and fought alongside each other earning the moniker “Black Devils” by the Germans. Colonel Horn then continues to present day. He provides a brief but exciting recap of Canadian SOF history that not only enriches our understanding of SOF from a key ally, but also highlights the historic bonds and military experiences that our two great nations share. 


U.S. Military Engagement with Mexico: Uneasy Past and Challenging Future by Dr. Graham Turbiville

Dr. Graham Turbiville's account of U.S. military engagement with Mexico provides a broad account of the interaction among the military elements of both countries from 1846 to the present day. He describes the evolution of the Mexican military toward a more capable and modern force. Especially informative for the special operations reader is the advent of numerous special operations units within the military and some civil elements. As noted, this has fostered reciprocal opportunities for SOF training and education. 


Irregular Warfare: Brazil's Fight Against Criminal Urban Guerrillas by Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro

Major General (Ret.) Alvaro Pinheiro-whose career in the Brazilian Army has seen service as a paratrooper, jumpmaster, pathfinder, commando, and Special Forces Operational Detachment commander-in this monograph addresses the challenges posed by urban guerrillas. Recognizing that urban guerrillas are far from limited to a few individual countries, he uses the experiences of Brazil in combating this complex criminal-terrorist phenomenon to illustrate the ways in which this threat can be understood and confronted within legal and Constitutional frameworks. In this assessment, General Alvaro includes their origin, operational environment, tactics, impact on society, and the role of the armed forces in countering these criminal-terrorist elements. The monograph includes both the theory and practice of the urban criminal-terrorist, and draws upon the writings and activities of the notorious urban terrorist Carlos Marighella's (author of the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla) as well as his own experience and that of other military and law enforcement specialists who have dealt directly with this destabilizing threat.


The Israeli Approach to Irregular Warfare and Implications for the United States by Thomas H. Henriksen

The purview of this study is not large-scale conventional wars such as Israel's 1948, 1956, 1967, or 1973 conflicts or America's Persian Gulf War or its Kosovo bombing campaign. The emphasis is on Israel's practice of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, and the IDF generally and its SOF in particular are rich in experience in these most difficult forms of conflict. Even before Israel's declaration of independence, there have been specialized Jewish forces that date back to the 1930s. With World War II, Great Britain (who ruled Palestine under a League of Nations mandate) trained and equipped unconventional forces from among the Jewish population to combat Nazi armies and their Arab sympathizers in the Middle East. 


Beyond Draining the Swamp: Urban Development and Counterterrorism in Morocco by Stephen R. Dalzell

In this paper civil affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel Steve Dalzell discusses ways that the Kingdom of Morocco is addressing some of the fundamental social and physical needs of its growing population in order to preempt social unrest-and the potential for support to extremist groups. Morocco's campaign against Islamic extremism merits study because of its importance for the global war on terrorism and the apparent linkages between urban conditions and domestic terrorist groups. 


Special Operations Aviation in NATO: A Vector to the Future by Richard D. Newton

Special operations air/aviation in NATO is coming of age. Within the alliance, NATO member nations have devoted significant resources to enhance the capabilities and maintain the relevance of their ground and maritime Special Operations Forces (SOF). That has not always been the case with the special operations air and aviation elements, though. The good news is that times are changing. It is encouraging to note that air-oriented SOF within NATO are growing in numbers and in capabilities. This bodes well for our alliance as we transform defense capabilities to enable an expeditionary force. 


Narcoterrorism in Latin America: A Brazilian Perspective by Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro

Narcoterrorism in Latin America: A Brazilian Perspective builds a case for giving greater attention to the narcoterrorism threat. General Alvaro suggests that security conditions in Colombia and the Tri-Border Area (TBA), where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, deserve the immediate attention of security officials of the Hemisphere's more capable countries. In this paper, General Alvaro provides a review of Colombia's security situation-the history and current situation-and details his thoughts about the United States' support of the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez. 

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.