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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Relationship Between Conventional and Special Operations Forces in Transition (Updated)
Relationship Between Conventional and Special Operations Forces in Transition (Updated)
By Valerie Insinna

Despite a decade of cooperation during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army conventional and special Operations forces are just beginning to codify their relationship, said the commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

One major breakthrough is the publication of Army Doctrine Publication 3-05, in August 2012, said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland. That might not seem like much, he said, but it’s a huge advance for special operations to have its own place in the doctrine of the Army.

Cleveland said conventional forces and special operations forces work well on the tactical level, but there needs to be more emphasis on cooperation at the operational level, especially in counterinsurgency or other areas where SOF specializes.

“We need to make sure we have the right kind of presence to be able to inform campaign development,” he said. He said the army is still working through that process.

Brig. Gen. Christopher Haas, commanding general of the United States Army Special Forces Command, said he had seen growing respect between Army and SOF as a result of partnership and blending of capabilities. Haas worked as in Afghanistan as the commander of Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command.

"Our Army is very comfortable with surgical strike,” he said. “It does a lot of surgical strike, and so when SOF enters the battlefield and conducts even more precision surgical strike operations, there's an immediate trust there and confidence there."

However, he said special forces in Afghanistan brought additional expertise to the table, including unconventional warfare and how to work with unpredictable local forces.

SOF has “come out of its shell” in the last decade, said Linda Robinson, an adjunct senior fellow for the Council of Foreign Relations who spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Some of that, she said, is due to the new doctrine.

"I think for the first time, it [the doctrine] really provides a lexicon for communicating what SOF does,” she said.

However, friction still remains in command and control issues, she said.

“The new buzzword now is interdependence,” she said. “I think the meaning of interdependence could be probed a bit more.”

Correction: Brig. Gen. Christopher Haas' command was previously incorrect.

Photo Credit: Defense Dept.


Re: Relationship Between Conventional and Special Operations Forces in Transition

"Brig. Gen. Christopher Haas, commanding general for the airborne unit of the army’s Special Operations Command..."

Actually, BG Haas is the commanding general of the United States Army Special Forces Command (USASFC), whose personnel are commonly referred to as the Green Berets.  You may want to do a little more reading about USASFC and its core missions and capabilities prior to writing your next article on SOF.
bkkman at 10/23/2012 7:31 PM

Re: Relationship Between Conventional and Special Operations Forces in Transition (Updated)

SOF & Big Army doing more together!? This is GREAT & hopefully this includes sharing ideas relating to Stability Ops (Army FM 3-07 & Joint Pubs. as well). 

Village Stability Ops includes Economic Development so let's please not forget the MICRO aspect (as in the People's Economy).

 Quite simply this includes "cottage industry" traditional culture products (hand-crafts being made by Afghan women) and having an Alternate Trade System in which to market these items.

 Think of what the Marshall Plan did for post war Europe and then think of how Fair Trade started right about that time (1947 with with the Dutch Mennonites).  Fair Trade is another means of Economic (micro) Development for Afghanistan!

 Let's not forget that the Taliban taxes all those MULTI-MILLION (hundreds of millions of dollars!) USAID development projects !!

 Fair Trade is transparent and accountable so you knew where the money is going.  This GREATLY reduces - practically 100% eliminates the chance for corruption.  If COIN is to truly effect measures of success, the Afghan people must have long-term sustainable livlihoods.

Thank you for taking the time to read this humble submission...and THANK YOU for all that ya'll do to help ensure our safe & privilged life style in America - and the free world for that matter!

Mrs. Connie Piper (Proud Special Forces Gold Star Wife of SSG Christopher Neal Piper of ODA 731).
Connie Piper at 1/9/2013 4:50 PM

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