"Originals" vs. "Newbies:" A Special Forces Allegory

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Marauder06

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For the SF-qualified members of the board: any thoughts about this article?

"There was once an ODA that was based on a remote hilltop. They lived quietly amongst the neighboring villages of natives, spoke the same tongue, and were even supported by the villages in many ways. There were never any squabbles, but there were also never any real joint projects to improve the hilltop or the quality of life for the ODA or the Villagers. The ODA kept to themselves, and only interacted when necessary, feeling that their fortified position would fend off any threats and their mere reputation would stop anyone from even planning to take their spot.

One day, another ODA rucked up to a nearby hilltop and started building their base of operations..."


The “Newbies” and the “Originals:” which is the future of Special Forces?
 

Etype

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Every new organization I've been in, I've heard, "that's not how we did it in (insert year/whatever here)." Right, and in 1865 we stood in formation and slaughtered each other.

Times, tactics, techniques, best practices, etc. change, and every organization has people in it who are fiercely resistant to change.

Dinosaurs will die.
 

Six-Two

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This article is pretty allegorical, but part of what's always interested me about SF is that they seem inherently willing to adapt and form relationships and bonds with their indigenous counterparts. Part of the reason Infantry has less appeal for me is because I don't want to occupy a country whose residents I have disdain for, who I don't understand, and who I fear and distrust.

If I'm putting my ass on the line to improve the lives of a country's residents, living, eating, and talking with them just seems like good business. SF seems likes it lives that idea and integrates with its population on the micro level to better accomplish an overall strategy at the macro level. Perhaps its methodology changes generation to generation, but a willingness to integrate and understand local populations seems like a core tenet of the SF mission and it's one of the many things that continues to impress me about Special Forces.
 

Viper1

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If I'm putting my ass on the line to improve the lives of a country's residents, living, eating, and talking with them just seems like good business. SF seems likes it lives that idea and integrates with its population on the micro level to better accomplish an overall strategy at the macro level. Perhaps its methodology changes generation to generation, but a willingness to integrate and understand local populations seems like a core tenet of the SF mission and it's one of the many things that continues to impress me about Special Forces.

I think you hit the nail on the head...this is why I applied for SFAS. I saw what the SFODAs were doing in my area, and it was everything I wanted to do, but wasn't allowed to do. It was the best professional decision I made.
 

Etype

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This article is pretty allegorical, but part of what's always interested me about SF is that they seem inherently willing to adapt and form relationships and bonds with their indigenous counterparts. Part of the reason Infantry has less appeal for me is because I don't want to occupy a country whose residents I have disdain for, who I don't understand, and who I fear and distrust.

If I'm putting my ass on the line to improve the lives of a country's residents, living, eating, and talking with them just seems like good business. SF seems likes it lives that idea and integrates with its population on the micro level to better accomplish an overall strategy at the macro level. Perhaps its methodology changes generation to generation, but a willingness to integrate and understand local populations seems like a core tenet of the SF mission and it's one of the many things that continues to impress me about Special Forces.
Just remember that the living with, eating with, etc. is a means to your end. The goal isn't to truly become friends with them, but to make them do you will. Bonds are inevitable, but the goal is manipulation.
 

Six-Two

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Just remember that the living with, eating with, etc. is a means to your end. The goal isn't to truly become friends with them, but to make them do you will. Bonds are inevitable, but the goal is manipulation.

That's what sucks about Special Forces. We so habitually back the wrong horse that a career-SF Sniper is telling a shithead on the internet (me) to not get too attached to the people he's training to fight, both with and for him.

From its inception, in post-WWII Europe with Operation Gladio, which was essentially a string of state-sponsored false flag operations (into which multiple foreign governments have launched investigations), to Vietnam, which was a bloody maelstrom that we didn't even have a dog in the fight of, and ended about as poorly as a campaign could end, to El Salvador, during which we trained Death Squads at the School of the Americas (there are people in my family tree that died as a result of these actions), to Panama, which would've been sweet if we hadn't bailed and left a wake of looting and rape, to Iraq, where we've basically decimated the country that has since spawned ISIL/ISIS and whose disgraced army is fueling. The mission has rather quickly evolved into perpetuating states of conflict for economic interests rather than national interest.

Don't get me wrong - I think the past, present, and future of warfare is UW and FID. I am in awe of the capabilities of SF, and weaponizing an indigenous population is ingenious. But it'd be a hell of a lot more effective if we were backing people we'd be happy to sacrifice ourselves for, and using humans as ammo in our force multiplication is only justifiable if our goals are noble. We play shitty games abroad, and it sucks, because if we were the righteous fist of vengeance and vigilance, SF would be the most badass organization in world history. Our endgame needs to rival our capabilities. The notion that there's dudes out there who wake up and go "Well, today I'm gonna fly 5,000 miles and make friends with some bearded motherfucker who shits in a bush and train his eleven sons how to shoot an AK, AMD, CAR, or motherfucking Khyber Pass FAL, and then fight along side them and maybe get hit by a fucking Russian surplus mortar that some fucking Mooj stole 30 years ago from an over-run soviet base that my CO trained them to take" is humbling, but the fact that that caliber of guy is wasted on going to some shithole like Iraq for no fucking reason is a fucking heartbreaker to me. And yes, I have read those reports that the CIA bought the Iraqi WMD right out from under indigenous forces, but that just makes it all the more AAAAARGH-worthy to me. They'd just sell them? Motherfucking SERIOUSLY? We didn't need dudes who can overthrow a country to get them?

Right now, the men outmatch the mission, and that is the greatest travesty of all.

Disclaimer: I don't mean this as an insult. That said, there's guys here who are smart enough to know I respect them and don't mean this as an insult and there's guys that aren't, so... let 'er rip. This is gonna get eaten apart, but I said what I said and I stand by it - SF is fucking awesome; or our foreign policy isn't. I truly, sincerely, do not presume to tell you vastly-braver motherfuckers how to live your lives or how they've been spent. They're yours; I can't tell you how to spend them and I certainly can't criticize the way you did. That isn't what this is.

This is probably where I get banned, so please know I didn't mean this as disrespect.

Also, sorry, Panama should read "wherein we deposed an American-trained military official who succeeded a populist military leader-turned-political leader after backing him and then discrediting him as a Narco, despite the fact that he was on the CIA payroll under a CIA Director-turned-President under whom Cocaine proliferation in the United States rose 300% up until his very undignified capture.
 
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AWP

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wtfcatchlightningbottle.jpg
 

Etype

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I have to like what @Six-Two said, because I can't disagree or hate it...

What I can disagree with, is the UW bit- the US has never really done UW except in the early stages of Afghanistan and in WWII.
 

AWP

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I have to like what @Six-Two said, because I can't disagree or hate it...

What I can disagree with, is the UW bit- the US has never really done UW except in the early stages of Afghanistan and in WWII.

I thought his valid points were lost in a sea of whargarbl; some good intent poorly executed.

When you say we never really did UW, do you mean as a strategic whole? We did UW in Vietnam and some in Korea, but those were usually isolated incidents and not a sustained campaign with an end state.
 

Florida173

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I'd have to disagree that we don't really do UW. Maybe just not at your level?
 

Etype

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I'd have to disagree that we don't really do UW. Maybe just not at your level?
UW involves coercing, disrupting, or overthrowing a legitimate gov't or occupying force through use of an underground, auxiliary, and/or guerilla force. It happened in maybe the first few weeks of Iraq and Afghanistan, but wasn't really the case in the UW poster boy which was Vietnam.

The minimum and most benign definition could include disruption or coercion through an underground. You could really stretch those minimum requirements to apply to a few places- but it's nothing like the romanticized book definition.

If you want good examples of UW, look to Iran's involvement in Lebanon and Iraq, and ISIS of course.

BTW, what is my level?
 

Florida173

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UW involves coercing, disrupting, or overthrowing a legitimate gov't or occupying force through use of an underground, auxiliary, and/or guerilla force. It happened in maybe the first few weeks of Iraq and Afghanistan, but wasn't really the case in the UW poster boy which was Vietnam.

The minimum and most benign definition could include disruption or coercion through an underground. You could really stretch those minimum requirements to apply to a few places- but it's nothing like the romanticized book definition.

If you want good examples of UW, look to Iran's involvement in Lebanon and Iraq, and ISIS of course.

BTW, what is my level?

I would suggest going to the UW operational design course, or even some of the SOF joint staff courses provided by JPRA. I'm not suggesting that the examples you have given aren't just, but that it's a little bit more nuanced and joint. In the context of ARSOF, I'd maybe agree with you that there are limited contemporary examples that would be shared here.
 

Six-Two

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UW involves coercing, disrupting, or overthrowing a legitimate gov't or occupying force through use of an underground, auxiliary, and/or guerilla force. It happened in maybe the first few weeks of Iraq and Afghanistan, but wasn't really the case in the UW poster boy which was Vietnam.

The minimum and most benign definition could include disruption or coercion through an underground. You could really stretch those minimum requirements to apply to a few places- but it's nothing like the romanticized book definition.

If you want good examples of UW, look to Iran's involvement in Lebanon and Iraq, and ISIS of course.

BTW, what is my level?

I would suggest going to the UW operational design course, or even some of the SOF joint staff courses provided by JPRA. I'm not suggesting that the examples you have given aren't just, but that it's a little bit more nuanced and joint. In the context of ARSOF, I'd maybe agree with you that there are limited contemporary examples that would be shared here.

@Etype are you defining UW by its belligerents in the examples you cited (OEF, WWII)? Or its methodologies, troop commitments; combination thereof, etc.?

@Florida173 I think Etype's examples hold up under the definition of UW.
I'd say our most successful UW mission predates UW doctrine and was led by an Engineer. I'd include the Jedburgh teams, and the SAS-forebearers' harrassment campaigns in Nazi-occupied Western Europe and Norther Africa, respectively, as well as the SOE's activities in Greece in the 1940s.
All of the above had an exceedingly small footprint against a vastly larger force.
I'd also include our covert support in Angola in there as an analog to Iran's activities in the greater Levant. I'd say our support for the Contras in Nicaragua was UW, though it was undertaken by primarily by the CIA rather than SF and resulted in horrifying human rights abuses.

Finally, I'd include the Triple Nickel guys in there as the latest to take on the mantle of UW. Unfortunately, that mission was cut short before it even began due to our undermining of the Northern Alliance in the five years prior/support for the Taliban for the sake of "stability" and the assassination of a crucial ally, and again with the shift to conventional tactics and occupation. Time will probably reveal some activities against AQIM in the Maghreb as Unconventional Warfare as well.

But the unifying factor in all of these seems to be a giant dissonance between mission and overarching policy, basically resulting in us fighting ourselves, in Vietnam, Afghanistan, against ISIL, and so on and so forth.
 

Etype

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Time will probably reveal some activities against AQIM in the Maghreb as Unconventional Warfare as well.
Going back to how it is defined, UW is conducted against a government or occupying force.

UW by definition, can be broken down into three categories- which also makes it easier to understand than the sentence/paragraph definition -

1. Goal
1. Coerce
2. Disrupt
3. Overthrow​
2. Target
1. Government
2. Occupying Force​
3. Mechanism
1. Auxiliary
2. Underground
3. Guerilla Force​

To satisfy the definition doctrinal, you need to pick at least one from category one, pick one from category two, and have at least an underground or guerilla force (the auxiliary exists to support the underground or g-force).

So bringing this full circle to AQIM, I'm not intimately familiar with AFRICOM, but I'm sure there are places where they could be considered an occupying force.

I would suggest going to the UW operational design course, or even some of the SOF joint staff courses provided by JPRA. I'm not suggesting that the examples you have given aren't just, but that it's a little bit more nuanced and joint. In the context of ARSOF, I'd maybe agree with you that there are limited contemporary examples that would be shared here.
To touch on what you might be alluding to, you can have an underground and auxiliaries that exist in a perpetual Phase I or latent/incipient phase (depending on which definition of phases you like).

In that sense, UW may be happening around the world.
 
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AWP

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@Six-Two just a few points of order:
- Citing Wikipedia, even if the article's correct, is intellectually lazy and wouldn't fly in any serious environments. Wikipedia might work in 6th or 7th grade, but isn't taken seriously elsewhere. Which leads me to...
-...you don't have to link to something like the LRDG. Just type "LRDG" and we can do the research on our own if we think there's something wrong.

Either make your post with legit sources or make your post and we'll challenge your assertions, at which time you'll need some serious sources. Your writing style and constant use of Wikipedia doesn't give you a lot of credibility. Even when you're right it turns people off. Less is more.
 

Six-Two

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I didn't realize this was so formal. It was meant for reference, not as proof positive of my assertions. Still, noted for future posts.
 

Ooh-Rah

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That's a dick response.

Observation -

You have become noticeably more confrontational since your recent "I haven't enlisted yet"'post.

Theory -

You feel the members here have nothing to offer you anymore and so you have decided to go out with a bang.
 
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