Sunday, April 21, 2013

Special Operations Missions to Require New Doctrine


Excerpt citing a friend and colleague's paper:

The effort was instigated by then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, who wanted to see what Army SOF and general-purpose forces learned after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq together for 10 years, wrote Army Lt. Col. Jan Kenneth Gleiman in a monograph that was produced for the School for Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. 
A working group comprising members of Special Forces, TRADOC, general-purpose and other Army organizations looking at the question ultimately recommended that SOF and its special skill sets be considered as an essential part of the Army core capabilities, he said in the paper, “Operational Art and the Clash of Organizational Cultures: Postmortem on Special Operations as a Seventh Warfighting Function. 
As the title suggests, when Army Special Forces went to TRADOC with the final proposal, it was shot down.

Special Operations Missions to Require New Doctrine 
May 2013 
By Stew Magnuson 

U.S. Navy SEALs talk to local Afghans while conducting a mission in the Jaji Mountains

Whether it is called “soft power,” or the latest buzzword, “the seventh warfighting function,” special operations forces are entering a new chapter in their storied history, senior SOF leaders said. 

The “dead of night” direct-action operations will be fewer in number, while the more touchy-feely missions “by, through and with” partner nations will increase, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said recently.

“Their missions are not secretive. They are not sexy. Nor do they involve low flying black helicopters in the dead of night.” Afghanistan is winding down. This “will give us an opportunity to do more in places we have neglected,” McRaven said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict conference in Washington, D.C. 

The question is whether all of the command’s components are ready to take on these missions that have more to do with breaking down cultural barriers in a village than breaking down an insurgent’s door. Each of the four services contributes personnel to SOCOM. Each comes with its own skill sets, doctrine and history, said Gordon Potter, president of Practical Defense Training, and a 15-year veteran of Army Special Forces.

For example, Navy Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) teams historically have not conducted foreign internal defense missions, whereas Army special operators have done so for years.

Special operations forces are serving in about 70 countries and very few deployments involve commando missions. Most are supporting U.S. embassies, training foreign forces or strengthening bonds with allied militaries.

The ultimate goal is to prevent conflict before it happens or to nip terrorism in the bud before it spreads. 

“It is hard, slow and methodical work that does not lend itself to a quick win,” McRaven said. 

Potter until 2012 served as a military adviser in Afghanistan, where he worked on socio-cultural, village stability and psychological operations programs. 

He witnessed first hand a SEAL unit’s ham-handed attempt to engage in a village stability operation. Untrained in how to work in the complex cultural environment, the team picked a man whom they believed should be the police chief. The choice caused a great deal of discord in the area, and the man and his brother were assassinated, Potter said in an interview.

“It’s not their fault,” he said of the SEAL team. “They should have never been tasked with that because they don’t have the doctrine.

“How many Navy SEALs have worked with [military information support operations] or psy-ops elements?” he asked. “Not many. Usually they are door-kickers.”


Army Special Forces, meanwhile, have been doing these operations since it was established six decades ago.

“They have a much more comprehensive approach because they have the doctrine to support it,” Potter said. The problem is that there aren’t enough of them. Army Special Forces are spread thin, and the other three services are lagging when it comes to “indirect action” skills, he added.

William Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low intensity conflict, said there will always be the need for direct activities.

“But by and large as we look forward, it is more likely than not that the geographic places in the world and the types of adversaries that we are going to have to confront are going to require us to use more indirect means than direct means,” he said.

SOCOM is going to have to operate more in the “human terrain,” he added. The command will have to understand the gaps it needs to fill to effectively operate in that domain, he added.

Who is the adversary? “What is the socio-political, economic and cultural environment that we are going to have to deal with?” he asked.

Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, commander of Navy Special Warfare Command, said at the conference that he wanted to change SEAL training and emphasize “brain over bicep.”

“We intend to make more investments in their mental capacity, their ability to focus, their ability to relax, their ability to memorize, to have a better understanding of human and physical terrain,” he said.

“We have for many years now invested in physical fitness and rehabilitation. We’re very strong there. I want to do the same with our mental abilities so we can not only be resilient, but improve our capabilities in that realm.” 

At the root of this is the belief among many in the military that the era of state-on-state warfare is coming to an end. Unstable, developing nations will be the battlegrounds of the future and the opponents will more than likely be what Potter described as “thugs” — religious extremists and criminals who are trying to impose their will on a local population.

The January 2012 “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” strategic guidance document said U.S. forces will no longer be sized to “conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.”

They “will nevertheless be ready to conduct limited counterinsurgency and other stability operations if required, operating alongside coalition forces wherever possible,” the paper said. 
These “small-footprint” missions are the heart and soul of special operations. 

The summer before the new strategic guidance emerged, Army Special Operations Command officials went to Training and Doctrine Command with a proposal to add SOF as a “seventh war fighting function” to the Army.

It would follow mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment and protection.

The effort was instigated by then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, who wanted to see what Army SOF and general-purpose forces learned after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq together for 10 years, wrote Army Lt. Col. Jan Kenneth Gleiman in a monograph that was produced for the School for Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

A working group comprising members of Special Forces, TRADOC, general-purpose and other Army organizations looking at the question ultimately recommended that SOF and its special skill sets be considered as an essential part of the Army core capabilities, he said in the paper, “Operational Art and the Clash of Organizational Cultures: Postmortem on Special Operations as a Seventh Warfighting Function.”

As the title suggests, when Army Special Forces went to TRADOC with the final proposal, it was shot down.

Potter said the idea was well received, but there was no doctrine to support it.
(Continued at the link below)




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