An examination of overt offensive military operations outside of combat zones
Basha, Lawrence O.
Gustaitis, Peter J.
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Under the leadership of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the military is undergoing transformation to more effectively counter the asymmetric threat of non-state terrorists and extremists in the "long war." After five years, however, one component of national security strategy is visibly unfulfilled: military pursuit of terrorists and extremists outside of Afghanistan and Iraq. The lack of offensive military efforts outside of areas designated as combat zones creates the impression that the long war has stalled. Overt offensive military operations targeting non-state actors may advance the counterterrorism mission and serve as a deterrent. This thesis identifies and analyzes four major constraints on the conduct of such operations: legal concerns about the use of force, use of the CIA for covert paramilitary activities, limits on USSOCOM and Special Operations Forces, and civilian and military leaders' aversion to risk. It describes the historical, bureaucratic and cultural causes of the constraints, concluding with recommendations to allow the US government and the US military to pursue non-state terrorists and extremists with overt offensive military operations.
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