Looking Beyond Afghanistan for Special Operations

The next Quadrennial Defense Review offers an opportunity for reshaping US special operations forces to address a wider range of issues, including weapons of mass destruction proliferation and anti-access, area-denial challenges, according to a new Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments report. While the last decade has seen the size of SOF grow, their mission set has focused intensely on kinetic counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, states “Beyond the Ramparts: The Future of US Special Operations.” In the future, “SOF will need to conduct operations short of war that are more indirect and less kinetic,” note authors Jim Thomas, CSBA vice president, and Chris Dougherty, research fellow. They unveiled the report in a May 10 presentation on Capitol Hill. The report suggests five SOF-related areas to focus on in the QDR: growing military-to-military engagement with SOF of allies and partner nations; disaggregating SOF for “persistent engagement;” growing language proficiencies; updating legal authorities for preventive action; and developing new tools. (CSBA report with link to video of presentation)