Shifting focus: assessing the role of U.S. Army Special Forces in the counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Milliron, Craig W.
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The role of U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) in the counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has been minimal in recent years. As globalization leads to increased ability of both states and non-state actors to acquire WMDs, the efforts of Army SF should increase accordingly. Focusing on nuclear weapons, this thesis argues that Army SF elements are ideally positioned to contribute to the counterproliferation mission through the use of the global special operations forces (SOF) network. Utilizing the regional expertise of Army SF and its network of foreign military and government contacts achieved through years of sustained relationships, it serves as an ideal opportunity for strengthening counterproliferation capabilities across the world. Rather than focusing exclusively on the interdiction of WMDs by specialized SOF elements, this thesis recommends shifting to Phase Zero—before WMDs are present—with a focus on building partner capacity to combat WMDs. It examines the adaptation of existing Army SF programs and authorities in order to focus them on WMD and compares this to Army SF augmenting existing non-SOF counterproliferation programs. Finally, it explains how these missions can build relationships within the global SOF network for future operations against proliferators and lead to improved international security.
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