The integration of special operations and general purpose forces
Kershaw, Michael M.
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Special Operations Forces (SOF) are frequently employed to conduct missions not within the limited boundaries of unilateral special operations. These operations often involve cooperation with general purpose forces (GPF) and are often under their command. This thesis argues that these cooperative efforts are better examined as integrated operations, rather than special or conventional operations. These operations require SOF to conduct specialized tasks facilitating the introduction of follow-on GPF to complete the mission. This thesis develops a theory of integrated operations by examining six operations, previously considered under conventional wisdom as either special or conventional. It rejects much of the myth which surrounds these operations and offers a revisionist interpretation of the necessary and sufficient conditions for success in these endeavors. The thesis then goes on to compare cases of these special units using organizational theory to determine the sources of integration. The cases examined indicate a causal relationship between organizational factors related to command and training and a special unit's ability to integrate with GPF. The thesis concludes by recommending the realignment of select SOF in the current force structure to better meet the challenges of future integrated operations.
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