Integration of special operations and conventional forces in unconventional warfare
Bado, Christopher M.
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Special operations forces (SOF) and conventional forces (hereafter referred to as general purpose forces (GPF) frequently operate together under a unified chain of command. When they do, conventional wisdom places SOP in command. In unconventional warfare operations, however, this subordination of SOF to GPF may hinder the ability of the integrated force to design an appropriate solution. This thesis examines the integration of SOF and GPF in unconventional warfare (UW) from an organizational perspective. It begins by examining the unique challenges posed by UW problems and establishing the organizational culture and functional specialization of SOF and GPF. It posits that SOP is, from an organizational perspective, better suited to designing solutions to UW problems than GPF. It further posits that by subordinating SOP to GPF the likelihood of the integrated force designing a campaign strategy appropriate for a UW problem is greatly reduced. It then uses the US involvement in Vietnam to test these hypotheses. The thesis concludes that organizational factors do, in fact, play a role in the formation of strategy, and that careful consideration of the command relationships in future unconventional warfare operations is warranted.
National Security Affairs
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