"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics." This quote is attributed to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert H. Barrow in 1980. The observation is especially relevant to the USSOCOM enterprise due to the command's dual role as a combatant command and an organization with legislated military department-like authorities. One of the chief tasks under those military department-like authorities is the procurement and fielding of SOF-peculiar equipment. Certainly within the past 15 years, many in the special operations community will argue that technology that is acquired and fast-fielded can save lives. Therefore, Dr. Tkach's monograph is an important read for SOF professionals. Dr. Tkach wrote this monograph for all professionals who study logistics and enable Special Operations Forces (SOF). As you review the work, consider how you can ensure SOF continues to receive the effective support it needs to carry out its mission.
In this monograph, Robert Haddick examines a variety of emerging technologies and techniques that could improve the sustainment and effectiveness of distributed SOF operations, especially in access-denied environments. He begins by describing a challenging yet plausible notional unconventional warfare campaign scenario. He describes how current SOF planners would attempt to cope with this scenario under current doctrine and sustainment capabilities, explores current and emerging technologies that could provide new options and capabilities, and evaluates new technologies that promise to reduce logistic demand for distributed SOF operations. Haddick proposes research and development recommendations that provide SOF with capabilities that improve their capacity to execute clandestine UW campaigns in denied areas. This monograph helps close the gap between current conditions and what will be necessary in an access-denied future.
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.
The publication of Dr. Wong-Diaz’s monograph coincides with the major strategic reassessment of U.S. national security interests and future military posture taking place at the national level. The strategic environment of today requires astute statecraft to formulate and execute grand strategy--strategy that effectively blends all forms of power and uses them smartly. Though there is no consensus on what constitutes smart use of U.S. power, the concept of “smart power” is a dominant theme in policy circles. Smart power, however defined, is directly relevant to the SOF community. With a smaller footprint than conventional forces, SOF are both a cost effective and less visible instrument of national power. SOF are expected to combine both hard and soft power approaches instinctively to achieve strategic level effects. Using case studies from around the world, Dr. Wong-Diaz expertly draws the links between the strategic level projection of power by states and their consequences on the ground.
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.
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.
Worldwide private security organizations, ranging from unarmed security guards to "combat-capable" paramilitary groups, can act as a force multiplier to enhance security. A critical component of official and nonofficial security regimes is the role of government oversight in ensuring criminals and terrorists are unable to hijack private security organizations for their own objectives. A major problem is the ability of governments to manage or oversee these security elements, which varies significantly from country to country and region to region. In many countries, government control is almost nonexistent, creating an environment in which private security organizations are ripe for criminal or terrorist manipulation.
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.