The misuse of special operations forces
Winters, Edward G.
Paro, Kent A.
McCormick, Gordon H.
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By their nature, special operations forces (SOF) are central to policy in a world-order dominated by low-intensity conflicts. Therefore, the proper use of SOF is essential. Based on published doctrine and decision making theory, this thesis develops a theory that defines misuse and provides a systematic framework for analyzing the use of SOF. Misuse occurs at the decision point. We have quantified the decision process and determined that misuse occurs when SOF are used while GPF have an absolute and comparative advantage, or, misuse occurs when SOF are not used while they have both an absolute and comparative advantage over GPF. The concepts of absolute and comparative advantage are crucial to our theory of the misuse of SOF. Absolute advantage is achieved if the expected value of conducting a specific mission outweighs the expected cost. Assuming that both forces have an absolute advantage, the force with the greatest expected value-to- expected cost ratio is sald to have the comparative advantage. Absolute and comparative advantage are the necessary and sufficient conditions for proper use and allow us to delineate specific types of errors. Through the use of four case studies, illustrative of four types of error, this thesis demonstrates a systematic method of considering the proper employment of SOF.
Distinguished Alumni Award Program author. RADM Edward Winters III, USN (Presented 14 March 11)
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