Sunday, November 29, 2015

‘Gray Zone’ conflicts far more complex to combat, says Socom chief Votel

 Along the lines of "observe" I would say that one of the key contributions SOF can make is through area assessments, civil information management, and target audience analysis all of which contribute to the most important aspect of the human domain:  situational understanding - we have to move past situational awareness which can be provided by drones, and technical intelligence to situational understanding which allows us to understand the conditions and strategies which will allow us to devise policies and strategies and campaign plans to protect our interests.  And in some cases situational understanding may lead to an appropriate decision to not act.

Excerpts:

So given all that, what can special operators do in the Gray Zone?
“We are most valued-added when we can engage early ... and can get out and understand what’s happening in the areas and helpidentify options for our political leadership and other military leaders out there to help them address, prevent, deter actions from taking place out there,” Votel said. “What I think the Gray Zone offers to us, is the ability to get out there to shape, or detour, or influence things before they become catastrophes. That’s kind of the big idea, we want to get left of problems, and not just show up and try to deal with a bad situation.”
Though they don’t get the kind of headlines spurred by direct action missions like the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, one of Special Operations Forces’ main efforts is to observe, train and equip host nation forces in those Gray Zones.
Those kinds of training missions are taking place in Iraq, with the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurds, and have been set in motion for Kurds and Arabs in Syria.
But they also take place around the globe, Votel stressed.
​My thesis:

The future is characterized (not exclusively of course) by states and non-state actors conducting UW (revolution, resistance and insurgency (RRI)) and thus there is a requirement to conduct Counter-UW. SOF is organized, educated, trained, equipped and optimized for both
​ ​
(but does not conduct them unilaterally or in a vacuum but as one element of the means in support of a joint campaign and national strategy)
​Special Warfare (including u
nconventional warfare
, counter-unconventional warfare and support to political warfare​)
 can provide a strategic capability to operate in this gap
​ (the gray zone between peace and war)​
.  To be effective, elements of the US military and Intelligence Community must continuously assess potential, nascent, and existing resistance organizations around the world on a day-to-day basis.  Assessments will contribute to understanding when USG interests and resistance objectives can be aligned and provide the intellectual foundation to determine if a UW campaign is warranted or if opponents’ UW campaigns should be countered
​.

​And a standing "PIR" for resistance (
​basic ​
information that should be sought on every deployment):

•Who is the resistance?
–Leaders, groups, former military, in or out of government, etc.
•What are the objectives of the resistance?
–Do they align with US and friends, partners, and allies?
•Where is it operating?
–From where is it getting support?
•When did it begin?
–When will it/did it commence operations?
•Why is there a resistance or the potential for resistance?
–What are the underlying causes/drivers?
•How will it turn out?
–E.g., what is the assessment of success or failure of the resistance?
•Most important  -  An expert recommendation: Should the US support or counter the resistance and if so how?

‘Gray Zone’ conflicts far more complex to combat, says Socom chief Votel


Army Gen. Joseph Votel calls the Islamic State “a non-state actor attempting to operate like a state.” TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
Army Gen. Joseph Votel calls the Islamic State “a non-state actor attempting to operate like a state.” TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
By Howard Altman | Tribune Staff Howard Altman on Google+
Published: November 28, 2015   |   Updated: November 28, 2015 at 09:51 PM
TAMPA — Between peace and all-out war exists the Gray Zone.
To Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, the Gray Zone is a familiar place of ambiguity. It’s a place where the Islamic State operates. A place where Russia has taken on Ukraine.
And it’s home to many other spots, hot, lukewarm or otherwise, around the globe.
“The Gray Zone,” said Votel, “really defines this area between ... for the most part healthy economic, political competition between states, and open warfare.”
It’s a place, he said, where “actors, sometimes state actors and sometimes non-state actors, act in a manner just below what would normally take us into normal open warfare.”
In September, Socom, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, issued a paper on Gray Zone challenges. The paper says that while traditional war might have been the dominant means of deadly conflict, Gray Zone challenges have now become the norm, and that countering foes like the former Soviet Union in many ways proved far less complex than taking on current adversaries.
Last week, Votel sat down to talk to The Tampa Tribune about his vision for Gray Zone conflicts, how the command he leads fits into that paradigm, and how commandos are ideally suited for a mental and physical space that challenges much of what we have come to know about the nature of conflict.
“It is certainly the most challenging environment that I have experienced in 35 years of military service,” Votel said.
It is an especially important topic, given that the Gray Zone is a space that Army Green Berets, Rangers, Delta Force and aviators, Navy SEALs and special warfare boat crews, Marine Raiders and Air Force special operators will be operating in for many years to come
(Continued at the link below)

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