Irregular techniques for controlling under-governed space
Coburn, Matthew D.
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The United States government has identified undergoverned areas in weakened or failed states as one of the threats faced by the U.S. and its allies because these spaces can provide safe havens for terrorists. Under certain circumstances, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) may choose to counter these threats by utilizing specific elements of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to work indirectly through irregular forces who can achieve control over and legitimacy with the populations within these under-governed areas. This study uses the cases of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Taliban in Afghanistan to determine how irregular forces, with external support, can establish political control of under-governed space. To a more limited extent, this study also determines methods that Special Operations Forces (SOF) can utilize to influence irregular surrogates, should SOF choose to operate by, with, and through them to attempt to establish control of under-governed space within weakened or failed states in support of United States foreign policy. This study provides lessons learned and potential implications for emerging DoD irregular warfare (IW) literature and future DoD and USSOCOM IW doctrine design and operational planning.
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