Strategic usefulness of conventional force/special operations force interdependence in irregular warfare
King, Eric D.
White, Matthew R.
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Over the past 15 years, the United States has been involved in many irregular conflicts worldwide. The most prominent of these conflicts occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan, where both conventional forces (CF) and special operations forces (SOF) were deployed on a large scale. As the United States attempted to figure out how to deal with these insurgencies and irregular threats, CF and SOF were often interdependent with one another. These interdependent operations often had tactical success, but strategic gains have proved elusive and it is unclear what effect these actions have had on SOF and their ability to counter irregular threats. Other conflicts, such as Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P), only saw the employment of SOF to counter the irregular threats. This independent operation allowed SOF to remain flexible and bolster the Philippine government through an indirect approach. While interdependence is being applauded by both CF and SOF leaders from experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, this thesis suggests that SOF may gain the greatest strategic utility in irregular wars when operating independently against irregular threats.
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