Eight Points of Special Warfare:
Special Warfare is the execution of activities that involve a combination of lethal and nonlethal actions taken by a specially trained and educated force that has a deep understanding of cultures and foreign language, proficiency in small-unit tactics, and the ability to build and fight alongside indigenous combat formations in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment.
–If there is an indigenous solution or an indigenous contribution to the solution for a complex political military problem conduct special warfare – the essence of which is “through, with, and by” as developed by Mark Boyatt
The American Way of Irregular Warfare - what is it?
1. Must determine the acceptable, durable, political arrangement that can achieved. (per LTG Jim Dubik) Without this clearly articulated and understood there is no way to achieve unity of effort or to judge mission success. I think Congress must demand this from the Administration.
2. Eliot Cohen & John Gooch: Military Misfortune: All military failures are a result of a failure learn, failure to adapt, and failure to anticipate. Look at Mali and Yemen. Did we anticipate the Turegs and the Houthis? I would submit that SOF on the ground reported on the growing threats to Mali and Yemen yet our myopic focus on CT blinded us at the strategic level.
3. Larry Cable (the discredited COIN theorist who wrote Conflict of Myths) The three P’s: Presence, Patience, Persistence. You have to be present to make a difference. You have to be patient because it takes a long time to influence indigenous forces and develop indigenous capabilities. It takes persistence because mistakes will be made, every operation will include discovery learning and we will have to learn and adapt.
4. Assessment - must conduct continuous assessment to gain understanding - tactical, operational, and strategic. Assessments are key to developing strategy and campaign plans and anticipating potential conflict. Assessments allow you to challenge assumptions and determine if a rebalance of ends, ways, and means is required. Understand the indigenous way of war and adapt to it. Do not force the US way of war upon indigenous forces if is counter to their history, customs, traditions, and abilities.
5. Assure US and indigenous interests are sufficiently aligned. If indigenous and US interests are not sufficiently aligned the mission will fail. If the US has stronger interest than the indigenous forces we can create an “assistance paradox” - if the indigenous forces believe the US mission is "no fail” then the US forces will not allow them to fail and therefore they do not need to try too hard. They may very well benefit from long term US aid and support.
6. Employ the right forces for the right mission. US SOF, conventional, civilian agency, indigenous forces. Always based on assessment and thorough understanding of the problem and available resources and capabilities. Cannot over rely on one force to do everything.
7. Learn how to operate without being in charge. If we usurp the mission indigenous forces will never be successful on their own. You cannot pay lip service to advising and assisting. This is why operations in Colombia and the Philippines achieve some level of success. This is not “leading from behind.” This is the appropriate understanding of the relationship between USSF/SOF and indigenous forces in a sovereign nation or indigenous forces seeking self determination of government.
8. Campaigning - we have to develop the campaign plan based on Design thinking to determine the resources and authorities - and then execute the campaign - we have to get good at campaigning and it has to be more than a military campaign. While disrupting terrorist attacks and attacking terrorist networks, finances and auxiliaries are important they are not a strategy. They can be part of a strategy and campaign but they are not sufficient. We have to campaign beyond counter-terrorism with a campaign focused on attacking the enemy’s strategy. This requires deep understanding to include especially understanding the enemy’s political objectives. Once we understand the enemy ways and means can be employed to counter the enemy’s strategy and his political objectives. Campaigning is important because it will orchestrate all the activities to achieve the strategic objectives or the acceptable, durable political arrangement we seek. Campaigns identify the resources necessary (forces, bases, funding). Campaigns identify the authorities necessary. Although many in the military and government desire blanket authorities that is not the right way to operate. However, establishing programs and funding lines such as 1206, 1207, 1208, and 1209 are not effective either. Authorities need to be specifically applied to each campaign. And with an approved campaign plan Congress can more effectively provide oversight rather than managing funding programs. Focusing on effective campaigning can discipline the application of the military instrument of power. Of course it would useful for other elements of national power to be able to “campaign” as well. (As an aside, we perhaps need to take another look at the 1997 PDD 56 which was for the management of complex contingency operations in the interagency – a disciplined process to orchestrate US government agencies and harmonize the instruments of power.)
· A Principle of Special Warfare: "Go early, go small, go local, go long” LTG(R) Charles T. Cleveland remarks at NDU November 30, 2015
· Understanding indigenous forces: ”Potential allies always start as at least unproven. It is hard work that starts with assessments and making the best of who you have, seeking to improve your position (and your partners’) over time.” LTG (R) Charles T. Cleveland, email January 18, 2016 (Note: This can apply to resistance in nK)
· Frank Hoffman's Principle of Understanding. I am a supporter of Dr. Frank Hoffman’s idea that we need a new principle of war called understanding. Although that seems like a no-brainer – as far back as Sun Tzu we have be told that we must know our enemies and know ourselves to be victorious. We all know we need to understand war and warfare, the conditions that give rise to conflict, and the politics that lead to and end conflict. Yet even though the need for understanding is so obvious that we think we do not need to even mention it, it is surprising how so many of our failures can be traced to our lack of understanding. SOF, through its various assessment capabilities and engagement with indigenous populations can make a key contribution to understanding.