U.S. Special Operations Forces civilian and military leaders have joined together to release the new Special Operations Forces Vision and Strategy to guide the force into the future.
Christopher P. Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, Commander of United States Special Operations Command, authored the document as form of a handbook on the changing global security environment.
This is all the more important as the national defense strategy emphasizes the return of strategic competition with China and Russia.
“The updated Special Operations Forces vision and strategy reflect our overall strategic directions for the company, emphasizing force modernization, force employment, force development and design, and helping to ensure that forces are positioned to support the national defense strategy,” Maier said in a written statement. “In accordance with the National Policy and Strategy, the Vision and Strategy serve as the foundation for shaping the SOF in the near term and into the future as an adaptive, agile and capable force that can compete and prevail against n any adversary, in any environment, while also recognizing the need to preserve and increase readiness and strengthen our force and our families.”
Joint release of vision and strategy highlights cooperation at the highest levels of the community. “Special Operations Forces’ full range of core activities, tailored capabilities and deep partnerships provide critical options for campaigning to enhance deterrence,” Clarke said in a written statement. “These documents underpin our efforts to create a lasting advantage. They ensure that our special operations forces remain the most capable and credible in the world by providing an enduring foundation to guide future activities and investments focused on the innovation, modernization and caring for our most critical resource – our people.”
The vision statement takes the core special operations values of Honor, Courage, Excellence, Creativity, and Respect and pushes that foundation into the future. Special Operators must be “a resilient business capable of conducting integrated special operations across all domains”.
Special operators, of course, have a role to play in countering the stimulus challenge moves of US China – and Russia – whose action in invading Ukraine shows just how much of a threat they can become.
“China is currently the only nation capable of combining economic, diplomatic, military and technological might to compete with the United States and destabilize the international system that has advanced our interests for 75 years,” the Vision and Strategy document states.
But that doesn’t mean there are less threats from Iran, North Korea or violent extremist organizations. Organizations like the Islamic State seek to reconstitute themselves wherever they can find a safe haven. The ungoverned, little-governed or corruptly ruled regions of the Middle East, Southwest Asia and especially Africa could meet this need.
The strategy aims to establish a 10-year framework of strategic goals, strategic efforts, and resources to “create strategic and asymmetric advantages” for the United States.
Over the next decade, Special Operators must be prepared “to conduct operations to support priority missions in critical locations as part of integrated deterrence, to reduce strategic risk, and to facilitate integration with forces. conventions in high-level conflicts”.
The community must also modernize for the missions of the future. It’s not just about buying new gear, it’s about looking at new concepts, doctrines, methods, and abilities.
Staying true to its roots is another priority of this strategy, which places a strong emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best people for the missions. The force will also maintain Department of Defense deployment-to-live and mobilization-to-live ratios.
Again, when it comes to staff, the strategy calls for a focus on diversity and inclusion within the community while also calling for responsible leadership.
According to the strategy, special operations forces will be essential in helping the entire army operate with partner and allied military organizations.
Maier and Clarke see the vision and strategy as a chance to continue discussions within the special operations community. Yet they define the qualities they deem important and the path they would like to follow – together – to move forward.