Rising from the Shadows: Understanding the Adaptation of U.S. Special Operations Forces 2003-2015
Committee MemberPeric, Sabrina
SubjectSpecial Operations Forces
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AbstractThe Global War on Terror presented a significant challenge to the United States Military. Asymmetric actors employed irregular warfare tactics and strategies combined with technological advances to exploit weaknesses in the conventional military’s traditional combat process. Faced with an acute crisis, the U.S. Military’s special operations forces emerged as the most viable practitioner in these wars. However, this was not an easy task as special operations forces had traditionally been designed around short-term tactical operations or small wars. The Global War on Terror presented a long-term campaign that required special operations forces to make significant changes to succeed. This thesis seeks to answer the question: What factors influenced the adaptation of U.S. special operations forces during the Global War on Terror? This study follows the scholarly work in the field of military innovation studies to understand how external threats, leadership, and culture affected the adaptation of special operations forces from 2003-2015. Three case studies from the Global War on Terror will examine how the interplay of these variables led special operations forces to adapt their competencies to bridge the gap between the traditional American way of war and that of their adversaries. This will contribute to the growing field of military adaptation studies, which seeks to provide civilian and military policymakers with a better understanding of how militaries can change to meet their immediate challenges.
CitationFinn, S. (2022). Rising from the shadows: understanding the adaptation of U.S. Special Operations Forces 2003-2015 (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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