SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES AND COUNTERPROLIFERATION: LESSONS FROM HISTORY
Thompson, Kyle J.
Rice, Ian C.
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Considering the significant consequences of nuclear proliferation, this thesis asserts that historical case studies yield lessons learned that inform the suitability of Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) role within counterproliferation efforts that can help guide development of SOF counterproliferation-related missions. The important aspects of each case form the basis of the evaluation: the agility of SOF in relation to the success of the mission being examined. In other words, if the conditions enabling an organization’s agility are present, an organization is more likely to be successful in its counterproliferation role. To determine cogent lessons from SOF’s history informing the suitability of its role in counterproliferation, the thesis begins with a survey of SOF characteristics. Next, a historical analysis of two representative case studies was evaluated to judge the success of the operations and adherence to SOF principles and concepts. Both cases highlight that understanding the threat and attacking proliferation networks can be enhanced with coordination across SOF organizations internally and through partnerships fostered by engagement of United States SOF abroad. Qualities of increased familiarity with counterproliferation, consistent communication with weapons specialists, and coordination through security cooperation are present in the studies and can be applied to contemporary pathway defeat efforts.
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