Bridging the gap: historical analysis of conventional and unconventional forces integration
Harris, Scott E.
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Throughout American history, there has been a tension between conventional and unconventional forces on the field as well as between the commanders; we even see this at the strategic level. Force misperceptions created a gap between U.S. conventional and unconventional forces that reached a peak at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. This gap has slowly been reduced with the creation and efforts of SOCOM; however, inefficiencies in the conduct of major combat campaigns still remain as a result of poor integration. The Burma Campaign and the Liberation of the Philippines 1942-1945 provide two unique case studies in which unconventional forces worked under the overall guidance and command of a conventional leader. Throughout the Burma Campaign and the struggle for the Liberation of the Philippines, conventional forces relied heavily on the ability of unconventional forces to support and contribute to the overall campaign strategy. Direct and indirect communication, coordination, and autonomy of operations between these forces resulted in strategic successes enroute to victory in World War II. The coordination and roles of these forces throughout the campaigns provide valuable insights and lessons learned that can be applied to today's forces, who find themselves working together - and needing to work together - in conflicts abroad.
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