Department of Education
Graduate Research Management Office
Research Papers
Academic Year 2006

Sharpening the Tip of the Spear: Preparing Special Forces Detachment Commanders for the Future

The thesis of this study is that when actions that are not consistent with stated values are introduced into the information environment, they can create a strategic effect. In the present Information Era, it is very difficult for a government to win a counterinsurgent war when the actions of its military do not consistently support stated values. What is the importance of the relationship between ethics and counterinsurgency? Perception. From antiquity to the present there has been cultural tension over different views of what is perceived to be right and wrong, and every culture desires to apply their values universally to the rest of the world. When a nation chooses to go to war, exercising its sovereign right to use military force, it must act in a way that is ethically justifiable. The central issue of this paper is analyzing the effects caused by actions that do not support stated values when they are reported in the information environment. No country in the world today can act autonomously; each must justify its actions or inevitably face failure. Especially challenged is the country that justifies its choice to go to war based upon universally stated values and then consistently act in ways that do not support those values.

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International Crisis Information Network

Historically, there has been a separation between the U.S. military and outside agencies, to include non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations (IOs). These communities often have misconceptions, biases, and stereotypical misperceptions of each other. Furthermore, these effects have sometimes degraded the ability of the military to accomplish its missions in stability, stabilization, transition, and reconstruction operations.

It is imperative that the military and outside agencies cooperate with each other. From this observation, we ask the question: How can we develop a system to share information and lessons learned and collaborate on humanitarian activities within the international community? From this question the following hypothesis emerges: Information sharing and collaboration on lessons learned can be accomplished through a web-based network.

The thesis will study the rift between the military, NGOs and IOs, show their overlapping area of operations, the results of this separation, and the fact that these communities have a desire and a need to share information; discuss the definition of networks and explain how networks and communities of interest have developed and advance a business model of how to best implement a web-based information sharing network.

Note: This thesis includes the establishment of a prototype website to test the hypothesis.

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Synchronizing Chaos: Command and Control of Special Operations and Conventional Forces in Shared Battlespace

Conventional Forces (CF) and Special Operations Forces (SOF) today are working on a common battlefield, with a level of integration never before seen in U.S. military history. Much progress has been made in synchronizing the effects of this integration, but doctrinal gaps and other command and control (C2) issues still detract from the effectiveness of SOF as a critical enabler. The joint force and the Services must continue to address SOF/CF command and control to achieve consistent synergistic effects, and to maximize the utility of SOF in the irregular and asymmetric environments characteristic of the Global War On Terror (GWOT). This paper will briefly illustrate the integration between SOF and CF in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the current main effort of SOF and the U.S. military. The command and control problems in OIF will then be identified and analyzed in a framework derived from Joint Publication 3.05, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations, which provides guiding principles to commanders exercising command authority over SOF. Finally, the paper defines the C2 issues established in the analysis, and makes recommendations for force-wide changes in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities as appropriate.

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Phoenix Rises Again: HUMINT Lessons for Counterinsurgency Operations

Today’s lessons from military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have given rise to the question of how to best develop counterinsurgency strategies that will integrate Human Intelligence (HUMINT) approaches designed to achieve the established objectives. Vietnam demonstrates that this is not a new question. There were then, as there are now, operational-level seams in the fields of HUMINT and counterinsurgency approaches which must be stitched together. This paper will examine the lessons of counterinsurgency in Vietnam and suggest as its thesis that today’s doctrine must enhance the conventional tenets of the Joint HUMINT and Counterintelligence (J2X) role by incorporating an aggressive strategy for synchronizing tribal and indigenous human intelligence. To redefine U.S. counterinsurgency operations, we must leverage human networks at the operational-level of war. This tribal-indigenous thread is an important nexus of military and political networks. The military HUMINT mission calls for a confluence of management with indigenous security forces, while simultaneously building and moderating tribal networks. Accordingly, this will provide greater equilibrium between the need for security and the needs of the people within an insurgency. In the absence of a CORDS or Phoenix-like interagency approach to counterinsurgency, it remains crucial that the J2X role be expanded to synchronize tribal interactions and indigenous security forces to close this operational-level HUMINT gap.

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Unconventional Counter-Insurgency in Afghanistan

Immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a small number of U.S. Army Special Forces (USSF) invaded the Al Qaeda safe haven of Afghanistan. USSF A-teams, operating with almost total independence, conducted highly successful Unconventional Warfare “through, with, and by” the indigenous Afghan militias of the Northern Alliance. The USSF and their indigenous Afghan armies rapidly deposed the Taliban regime and denied the Al Qaeda terrorists their training and support areas within Afghanistan. The momentum of the initial success achieved by USSF during 2001-2002, however, has been dramatically overshadowed by the inability of follow-on U.S. forces to establish long-term stability in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. Since 2002, the conventional U.S./Coalition forces, which replaced Army USSF as the main U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) forces, have thus far failed to defeat the re-emerging Taliban/Al Qaeda threat. In fact, 2005 has been the most violent year-to-date for U.S./Coalition forces serving in Afghanistan with 239 U.S. casualties, and President Hamid Karzai’s central Afghan government exhibiting little control outside its major cities. This trend continues in 2006. In this thesis we question the current U.S./Coalition campaign plan, which places emphasis on conventional military forces, not USSF, as the main effort COIN force in Operation Enduring Freedom. We propose an alternative Unconventional COIN model which focuses on population control instead of “clear and sweep operations”, Afghan constabulary-style forces instead of conventional Afghan National Army troops, the importance of “grassroots” intelligence collection at the village level, and the employment of USSF advisors instead of conventional U.S. infantry troops.

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Using BATs, CATs, AND RATs to Defeat Transnational Terrorist and Control Ungoverned Space

The Department of Defense must establish specially trained and selected advisory teams that immerse themselves in the country for 2-3 years, and who work at the regional, country and unit level, provide the cultural understanding and regional coordination that is required to defeat transnational terrorist and control ungoverned space. Many countries around the world lack the resources and experience to control all of their territory and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency. Transnational terrorists capitalize on this weakness and use these ungoverned spaces as sanctuary from which to launch attacks. Poor regional coordination between nations and even within the U.S. interagency hinders efforts to defeat the terrorist and control ungoverned space. Military operations in Malaya, Vietnam, El Salvador have demonstrated the need for a coordinated regional counterinsurgency approach along with the need to understand the nation’s language and culture.

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Comprehensive Transformation Strategy for U.S. Army Special Forces for the 21st Century

This strategy research paper examines the nuances and complexities of the 21st century battlefield in an ever-changing strategic environment and explores how U.S. Army Special Forces are adapting with new transformation strategies. With the strategic shift brought about by the increase in non-state actors and assorted terrorist groups, comes a requirement to re-focus Special Forces architecture, resourcing, and training techniques to prepare our Soldiers for the complexities of current and future battlefields. The historical, contemporary, and future design of Special Forces formations are considered and possible enhancements to resourcing and training are investigated. By exploring the complex and uncertain 21st century strategic environment, and by examining current mission requirements, we can more accurately anticipate and predict future requirements and prepare for any contingency. The result is to ensure the appropriate force design, resourcing, and training necessary to provide the nation with highly trained, competent Special Forces operatives capable of fighting and winning in any complicated environs or future battle space.

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Combing the Underworld: Identification of South East Asian Non-State Actor Proliferation Networks, Nodes, and Chokepoints

The US military, as with all US government agencies, shares the responsibility for countering proliferation efforts. Although we have identified the types of threat we face, the systems through which it operates are more difficult to identify. Each region of the world, and indeed, each country have its own peculiarities. This paper asks the question, “How can we be prepared to identify potential proliferation networks and chokepoints in South East Asia?” This paper proposes that a potential solution is the development of a common template that we can use as a starting point for identification of networks, chokepoints, and nodes. This template begins by looking at the interactions within a single country and expands to a geographical region, then ties in other regions to encompass the globe. This paper focuses on South East Asia, and will use examples from a single country for the sample template. The US needs a holistic template that includes networks for other illicit trades identified by not only the Department of Defense but also other agencies. These templates, once completed, may not reveal existing networks, but they could identify the potential for network formation, and assist us in analyzing nodes to monitor, influence, or disrupt.

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Ending the Debate: Unconventional Warfare, Foreign Internal Defense, and Why Words Matter

There is an ongoing debate within the Special Forces community whether unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense are applicable in the contemporary and future Special Operations environments, based on current doctrinal definitions and operational concepts. For unconventional warfare, the debate surrounds its current broad and confusing definition and whether it can be an overarching term for efforts against nonstate actors in the Global War on Terrorism. The foreign internal defense debate is not over definitions, but responsibilities, as the conventional military begins to play a larger role in foreign internal defense, a legacy Special Forces mission. This thesis argues that unconventional warfare needs a clear and concise definition, such as “operations by a state or non-state actor to support an insurgency aimed at the overthrow of a government or occupying power,” that unconventional warfare should not be “transformed” to fight global insurgency; that there is an identifiable relationship between unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense called the “transition point” signifying the change from unconventional warfare to foreign internal defense, and that this relationship can be modeled; that operational preparation of the environment is not unconventional warfare, but an emerging operation requiring its own doctrine; and that unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, and operational preparation of the environment will be the dominate Special Forces missions in the Global War on Terrorism.

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Adapting the Vehicle Mounted Tactical Loudspeaker System to Today's Operational Environment

From the time they were first used by the United States Army during World War II, loudspeakers have proven to be an effective means for tactical psychological operations (PSYOP) teams to disseminate messages to their intended target audiences. The vehicle mounted family of loudspeakers (FOL) is the loudspeaker system currently being utilized by tactical psychological operations forces as the primary mobile means of disseminating messages or sound effects to their target audiences. In its current configuration, the vehicle mounted loudspeaker system is not meeting the needs of the tactical PSYOP teams (TPTs) conducting operations in today’s operational environment. The objective of our project is to determine why the current loudspeaker system is not meeting the requirements of the TPTs, and provide recommended changes to the current FOL system.

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Fighting Afghanistan’s Opium Dependency as a Means of Disrupting al Qaeda’s Illicit Funding

Afghanistan supplies 87 percent of the global opium product, and terrorist organizations are using the narcotics trade to fund their operations. The nascent Afghani government has a limited capacity to combat this problem without significant assistance from the U.S. and its coalition partners. This thesis examines the question: Is the current model of interagency counterdrug cooperation sufficient to rid Afghanistan of its opium dependency and disrupt one of al Qaeda’s main sources of funding? To help answer this question this thesis will review the current coalition, joint and interagency counternarcotics strategy, and in doing so will try to ascertain if there is a more efficient and effective model for interagency coordination as it pertains to counterdrug operations. Finally, this thesis will study the role of special operations forces in counterdrug operations through the historical model of the Latin American counternarcotics strategy and how special forces, in particular, can be used to a greater extent in the counterdrug role in Afghanistan.

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Special Operations: Achieving Unified Direction in the Global War on Terrorism

Designated by the Department of Defense as the lead for planning and synchronizing operations for the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) now has the significant challenge of prosecuting a global campaign without owning any global terrain. What organizational changes within SOF would allow USSOCOM to achieve increased efficiency and greater responsiveness to both global and theater requirements within the boundaries of its authorities as a functional combatant command? This monograph analyzes USSOCOM's current organization and command and control (C2) for employment of forces in its role as both a supporting and supported combatant command within the framework of joint operations doctrine. The fundamentals of joint operations provide a common doctrinal framework for examining command structures and functions in the joint environment and, more importantly, it explains the joint environment in which SOF operates and to which it must adhere. This monograph provides three recommendations for organizational change within SOF to enhance USSOCOM's ability to achieve unified direction in the prosecution of the GWOT.

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Leveraging Operational Preparation of the Environment in the GWOT

USSOCOM’s effective execution of operational preparation of the environment (OPE) is a critical component in the strategy for winning the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). OPE isa series of activities that seek to enable future operations by allowing U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) personnel to enhance their situational awareness and understanding within an area of interest and improve operational responsiveness. Joint Publication 3-13 defines OPE as “non-intelligence activities conducted to plan and prepare for potential follow-on military operations” conducted under Title 10 authority Maximizing the effectiveness of OPE in support of the GWOT will require the following measures. Although USSOCOM has in fact developed a comprehensive unconventional warfare campaign plan and an OPE planning framework it would benefit from having an OPE specific campaign plan that operationalizes OPE in an effort to both guide its conduct and synchronize its effects. A comprehensive OPE campaign plan would synchronize preparation activities while subsuming regional specific OPE programs into one unified global effort thus ensuring that preparation activities are more than just isolated tactical actions.

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A Forgotten Lesson for Contemporary Counterinsurgency Operations: The Combined Action Program

This research identifies and analyzes the Marine Corps’ Combined Action Program in the Vietnam War, how it was initiated and employed in a counterinsurgency strategy, and whether this concept has any validity in today’s counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq. As this program developed over time, it proved successful in disrupting multiple tenets of the Vietnam insurgency. This program started in 1965 throughout the Marine Corps area of operations but did not receive support from the operational commander and his staff, therefore a unified strategy to defeat the insurgency never materialized. Critical to success for the operational commander in irregular warfare is first having an understanding of its nature, assisted by historical analysis, and then applying the proper solution to the problem. The Combined Action Program alone cannot defeat the insurgency but a contemporary program will provide US military leaders a supporting strategy as they continue counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.

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The British Boer War and the French Algerian Conflict: Counterinsurgency for Today

Military historical case studies provide insight for military planners. Military planners cannot afford to ignore history when planning in today's complex environment. This thesis analyzes military doctrinal changes and adaptation during Britain's Boer War and the French counterinsurgency war in Algeria. The Boer War serves as an example of doctrinal change during a counterinsurgency campaign. The French experience demonstrates the difficult task of fighting against an ambiguous enemy who uses terrorism as its primary tactic. A counterinsurgency comparison and analysis focuses on three issues present in both case studies: population control measures, operational tactics, and the civil military operations. The conclusion offers solutions to the military situation today based on the British and French counterinsurgency. This thesis argues history provides US military planners with the background to develop a successful counterinsurgency strategy for today's environment.

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The Use of Special Operations Forces in Combating Terrorist Financing

With United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) being given the role as the lead Combatant Command in fighting the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) USSOCOM must examine ways to engage terrorists on a global scale. USSOCOM must look at means other than direct action to defeat these terrorist networks. It must also look at the entire network and not just the cells that carry out the terrorist operations.

Terrorist Financing is an integral part of the GWOT, though; thus far it has mostly been pursued by law enforcement agencies rather than the U.S. Military. This is due to the perception that terrorist financing is criminal in nature and relegated to law enforcement agencies rather a threat to national security that would be the responsibility military.

This thesis serves two purposes. The first is to analyze whether the U.S. military and Special Operations Forces (SOF) in particular should look at terrorist financing as part of the military’s role in the GWOT and what that possible role could be. The second is to look at how SOF could organize itself in order to carry out such a role should it be necessary to do so. Ironically, during the time this thesis was being written DoD has determined that SOF does have a role in terrorist financing and that USSOCOM will be the executive agent for the DoD with regards to terrorist financing.

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Exploiting Tribal Networks Through Conflict

In the current fight against Islamic extremism, the United States is challenged in its ability to isolate and target specific individuals and groups in select regional environments – efforts that are arguably symptomatic of broader shortfalls in US global influence and strategic reach. These particularly troublesome environments are characterized by a lack of State control and are populated with fiercely independent, largely Muslim, and decidedly anti-western communities.

Unable to consistently penetrate and influence these “ungoverned” regions, operational intelligence remains sporadic and opportunities limited. No broader, structural change has yet been made that would weaken or sever the links among Islamic extremists and their regional hosts over a sustained period or enable greater cooperation between the US or its allies with indigenous tribal populations. Accordingly, these regions continue to provide ideal locations for terrorist sanctuary, bases of support and operation, and freedom of movement. A supplemental US policy option is required.

The challenge thus becomes one of how to create more effective opportunities to gain influence and control over these select tribal regions while countering the influence of competitors over a sustained period. A policy of manipulating tribal fractures and rivalries in order to induce or heighten internal conflict could provide these opportunities.

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The Military Cooperation Group

The United States has experienced a significant amount of difficulty of late with two factors: a) how to fight against a networked enemy, and b) the need for more cultural intelligence. This thesis will describe a structure to assist with both those needs. The premise is that an expanded and improved network of US Military Groups is the weapon of choice for the war on terror, and beyond. The purpose of this thesis is to propose a policy that will consolidate the functions of Defense Attachés, Security Assistance Officers, and a proposed corps of ethnographic information officers into a network of embassy annexes that will cover every nation in which the United States has a country team. The intertwined questions of how to fight a network and how to gather cultural intelligence present the United States with a strategic challenge, and require the examination of the type of information the Department of Defense captures, and what is to be done with that information. This thesis proposes a means to collect ethnographic information and a structure for using it to make effective decisions in a variety of traditional security roles as well as in the fight against transnational terror networks.

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Interrogation: Is the US Army Equipped and Trained to Meet the Present Challenges in Today's Contemporary Operational Environment?

Interrogations are a critical method for the United States of America to identify and develop intelligence on an asymmetric battlefield. The ability to gathering information that allows other elements within the military to conduct surgical attacks against enemy targets will remain a vital need for the United States military. In order for interrogations to be effective, the interrogator must be properly trained and equipped. The research in this thesis compares training methodologies between the US Army interrogation course, other countries’ military courses, government agencies, and civilian interrogation courses. The research addresses equipment that may be used to better enhance the effectiveness of interrogator on the battlefield. Interrogation is the art of questioning and examining a source to obtain the maximum amount of usable information. The goal of any interrogation is to obtain usable and reliable information, in a lawful manner and in the least amount of time, which meets intelligence requirements of any echelon of command. Sources may be civilian internees, insurgents, Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW), defectors, refugees, displaced persons, agents, or suspected agents. According to FM 34-52 (1992), a successful interrogation produces needed information which is timely, complete, clear, and accurate.

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Comprehensive Engagement With China

China’s economic rise is causing an increase of potential conflict with U.S. interests. Reactions from the U.S. administration and Congress to China’s quest for markets, resources and increased military growth have ranged from concern to alarm. These actions are viewed as overreactions and hypocritical in China. Given China’s increased sophistication in applying its evolving national power as in the U.S.-Chinese cooperation in dealing with Iran and North Korea and the interdependent nature of the global economy, the U.S.-China relationship can not afford to recede back to the post-Tiananmen level. Now that China is becoming an increasingly open society and an important economic partner, the U.S. should develop a strategic relationship with China that anticipates the internal and external effects of China’s relentless growth. This SRP will use the elements of national power as the basis to recommend a strategic approach for the future of the U.S.-China relationship.

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Culture - We Need Some of That! Cultural Knowledge and Army Officer Professional Development

The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report articulates a “Shift in Emphasis from the 20th Century to the 21st Century in order to meet the new strategic environment.” Multiple references within the document refer to the movement away from traditional industrial age American operational principles such as weapons systems, mass and firepower to Information Age constructs of humans, information and effects.
Culture has gained quite a bit of currency in recent defense community debates concerning current and future capabilities of the American military, so much so that it has become something of a DOD “buzzword.” As is often the case with “buzzwords,” the term lacks a commonly accepted, agreed upon definition. What then, exactly, is culture? Does it really matter to the success of current and future American military operations, specifically land operations? If so, how do we effectively instill an appreciation of cultural knowledge within the force?
This Strategic Research Project will define culture and examine its role within the current and emerging contemporary operating environments, determine the importance of culture to the accomplishment of military objectives and provide recommendations for inculcating the appropriate level of cultural competence within the Nation’s primary land force, the Army.

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Improving Counterinsurgency an Auxiliary Training Program for Special Forces

The US military has proven its strengths many times over through its ability to dominate opponents on the conventional battlefield. However, when it comes to irregular wars and insurgent conflicts, which are defined by enemies who conduct war from the shadows and refuse to meet on the open field, finding success has been far more difficult. The nature and dynamics of these unconventional wars are dramatically different from the conventional warfare realm, and require innovative approaches and rethinking of many long held conceptions of waging war.

Conducting unconventional warfare has been the core mission of US Army Special Forces (USSF) since they were founded in 1952. Throughout a relatively short history, USSF have shown a broad utility in conducting operations with indigenous military, paramilitary, and civilian personnel in “irregular wars” and low intensity conflicts (LICs), and thus Special Forces have been widely regarded as the preeminent experts in this particular field of warfare. Now more than ever, the capabilities of Special Forces are invaluable in supporting US national security strategy, continuing the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and supporting efforts to transform military capabilities for irregular warfare and unconventional conflicts. USSF are now faced with a difficult challenge: high demand and operations tempo require that USSF must find new ways to more effectively and efficiently employ their skills in unconventional environments.

In order to enhance the capabilities of USSF in conducting unconventional warfare and counterinsurgency, this thesis proposes that USSF develop a training program that allows recruitment and selection of both indigenous personnel and US foreign-born as auxiliaries and surrogates to USSF operations. Training would take place in the US and would be for the explicit purpose of creating indigenous cadres for assisting Special Forces Operational Detachment Alphas (SFODAs) in developing operational/security forces and intelligence networks at the local level in order to create long-term stability in unconventional conflict areas.

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Attacking Al-Qaeda's Operational Centers of Gravity

The doctrinal basis for defeating an enemy is the proper identification of an enemy's center of gravity (COG) and attacking it. This concept is applicable to the War on Terror. Al-Qaeda is an ideology and an organization providing operational level inspiration and guidance to insurgencies throughout the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda's basis of support among Muslims is its ideology - a rejection of the West and return to fundamentalist Islam. This ideology is al-Qaeda's strategic COG. Al-Qaeda's struggle is best understood as a global insurgency with many local insurgency subsets rather than a global war of terror. Each local insurgency is connected to al-Qaeda's global insurgent war against the West through ideology. At the operational level, an insurgency's COG is the population's support, and this is al- Qaeda's operational COG. Al-Qaeda's ideology attracts the population and local insurgents to al-Qaeda, which in turn connects theater of operations insurgencies to al-Qaeda's global war. By attacking the al-Qaeda ideology at the operational level, an operational commander can weaken an insurgency by making it a local affair not connected to the larger global struggle. The al-Qaeda ideology is a decisive point at the operational level of counterinsurgency.

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