Maritime SOF in the littorals: theoretical principles for successful littoral special operations
van der Veen, Oscar
Sepp, Kalev I.
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This thesis uses past experiences to help develop a theoretical framework for maritime special operations forces (SOF) to succeed in the littorals. The theoretical framework defines six principles important to special operations in littoral spaces: deliberate planning, tailored force, specified mobility, joint support, cover/concealment, and innovation. Five historical case studies followed by a vignette show the importance of these theoretical principles for planning and executing successful special operations in this complex environment. These principles should be considered for incorporation into any future SOF doctrine or concepts designed for this environment. For more than a decade of deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq, maritime SOF focused on land warfare. However, most maritime and amphibious forces are currently refocusing their efforts to their core capabilities. General statistics indicate that, because of population growth, urbanization, and half the world's population living no more than 120 miles from a coast, future conflicts and humanitarian disasters will likely take place in the littorals. Littoral operations are vastly different from land-locked or open-water operations. Maritime SOF units must prepare for future operations in the littorals.
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