Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Special Operations and Diplomacy: A Unique Nexus

Steve Kashkett,

Image (not from article) from
Some fear that the expansion of well-funded U.S. special operations activities into nearly 70 percent of the countries of the world will somehow overwhelm traditional civilian diplomacy and render it obsolete. This concern overlooks the fact that SOF [special operation forces] is ill-equipped to replace many of the key functions of embassies: maintaining a high-level dialogue with host governments on vital bilateral issues, reporting and analyzing political-economic developments, providing assistance to U.S. citizens abroad, and conducting the public outreach and educational and cultural exchanges that embody U.S. public diplomacy. Special operations teams will not usurp these roles.
But in a world where asymmetric, non-state extremist networks and unconventional “gray zone” warfare represent the greatest threat to international security, SOF will have a growing role to play as a foreign policy instrument alongside traditional diplomacy. ...

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