In silence toward the unknown: principles of special reconnaissance and surveillance
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Recently, the debate surrounding special operations has neglected one of its core activities, special reconnaissance and surveillance (SR). The application of advanced technology capacities has overtaken the more traditional intelligence collection. Therefore, SR may become a lost art and science, and certain principles need to be considered to support SR missions. The purpose of this thesis is to identify principles and a theory for SR missions. The thesis asserts that there is a threshold called relative certainty (sufficient actionable intelligence), where a decision maker can make an informed decision based on the intelligence presented. The chosen approach is a qualitative comparative analysis of historical SR missions, including in the South Atlantic War of 1982 and the Inchon landing of 1950. Also, this study suggests special operations forces can improve mission success with the use of the suggested principles of SR: coordination, review, cover, reporting, and exploitation. Finally, this study asserts that there is a distinction between theories that support special operations in achieving the aim and theories explaining the unique utility of special operations, that is, theories for special operations and theories of special operations. Ultimately, special operations engage a unique set of principles to accomplish successful missions.
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