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The core purpose of the current study is to shed some light on the issue of what it means to be a US Army Special Forces Operator. The aforementioned question is very complex because it involves both individual and strategic peculiarites of Special Forces Operations which should be apprehended as a unique aspect of a warfare. In order to elucidate the major requirements for the US Army Special Forces, a diligent analysis of SOF Directives and doctrinal missions has been made. Furthermore, it should be admitted that the essence of Special Forces Operators has been investigated with the help of practical approaches expressed in relevant articles.
Above all things, a US Army Special Forces Operator should be apprehended as a Special Forces Soldier who takes the direct part in special military operations. The core characteristics of such operators need to be enumerated as follows: 1) they are carefully selected; 2) all of them must move through a special training in order to become fully prepared for special military operations; 3) the aforesaid military men are capable to perform exhasting and continuous operations in “extremely remote and hostile territory” (“Special Forces Mission”, n.d.).
In this connection, it might be appropriate to accentuate on the fact that the soldiers who serve in Special Forces are not designed to conduct an ordinary warfare just like frontline soldiers do. Contrariwise, they are specially trained to succeed in well-elaborated covert/overt, rapid and extremely dangerous missions which usualy take place in the rear and not in front lines. Also, it should be mentioned that there is a number of doctrinal missions which are performed by Special Forces Operators.
First, the aforementioned sort of soldiers is trained with the purpose to be proficient in Foreign Internal Defense (FID). In the context of FID, it should be claimed that the operators are frequently involved in the development of friendly nations by cooperating with the host country military forces and police. In addition, they enhance the level of technical expertise and teach the relevant provisions of human rights documents. Second, in friendly states, the operators assist the progress of both humanitarian and civic action plans. Second, the doctrine of Unconventional Warfare (UW) is also frequently practiced by the US Special Forces. In accordance with the doctrine’s implications, Special Forces Operators are required to conduct a wide range of special actions in hostile territories such as sabotage and clandestine operations (“Special Forces Mission”, n.d.). Third, Special Reconnaissance (SR) is another doctrinal mission which requires special skills and knowledge. The essence of Special Reconnaissance lies in the necessity to collect the intelligence on either enemies or terrain. Fourth, the doctrinal mission of Direct Action (DA) should be recognized as one of the most important as well as dangerous missions which are conducted by Special Forces Operators. Such activities may be either overt or covert and involve various types of targets. Other doctrinal missions of the US Special Forces include the actions directed towards combating terrorism, counter terrorism, psychological operations, civil affairs, coalition warfare, humanitarian, and civic action etc. Besides, it might be relevant to notice that there is a set of imperatives which are conceived to shape the functional image of the US Special Forces Operator. Thus, the US Army Special Operations Command’s Imperatives should be elucidated as follows: 1) comprehend the environment which is used during operations; 2) understand political connotations; 3) facilitate the activities which are performed between various agencies; 4) develop specific approach to each threat; 5) take into consideration every long-term effect; 6) guarantee legitimacy and credibility of Special Operations etc (“SOF Imperatives”, n.d.).
After the theoretical issues have been discussed, it seems reasonable to examine the practical dimensions of special military operations which are conducted by the US Special Forces Operators such as The Green Berets. In this connection, it should be clarified that the Green Berets is the US Army’s Elite Special Forces Unit which has been active since World War II (Streissguth, 1996, p. 9). The unit has also been widely involved in various operations during the Vietnamese War. The modern warfare in Afghanistan involves the unit as well.
In view of the above, it should be conceded that the doctrinal missions of Direct Action and Unconventional Warfare constitute the most important function of the US Army Special Forces. As far as the operator’s warfighting function is concerned, it is possible to detect that the contemporary US Army has made enormous changes in respect of operational environment. According to Lieutenant Colonel Glenn R. Thomas (2011), the eight elements of combat power contain six warfighting functions such as intelligence, fires, sustainment, mission command, protection, movement and maneuver (p. 10). Furthermore, these six functions need to be multiplied by leadership and supplemented by information. Hence, a mental note should be made that the aforementioned factors are taken into consideration while planning, performing, and evaluating special military operations. In the author’s opinion, Special Operations Forces are highly valuable and must be seriously approached by military leaders. Lieutenant Colonel Glenn R. Thomas expresses confidence that the US Army Special Forces Operators create a combat-multiplying capability which lies in their unique skills and knowledge.
In like manner, Lietenant Colonel Mark Grdovic (2009) argues that Special Forces Operators play fairly specific role in contemporary Irregullar Warfare (IW). According to the author, Irregular Warfare is defined in DoD Directive 3000.07 as “a violent struggle among state and nonstate actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population” (Grdovic, 2009, p. 15). Also, it is possible to subdivide Irregular Warefare into Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, Foreign Internal Defense, Stability Operations, and Unconventional Warfare. Therefore, Unconventional Warfare requires from Special Forces Operators to infiltrate enemy territory, make connections with the forces of resistance and sychronize their efforts with the US forces. Similarly, the doctrine of Counterterrorism requires from the operators to take offensive measures in order to “prevent, deter, preempt and respond to terrorism” (Grdovic, 2009, p. 16). Apart from the above, it needs to be ascertained that the US Army Special Forces Operators are frequently involved in Stability Operations. The key responsibilities of the operators during stability missions consist of various actions which are directed towards the maintanence as well as reestablishment of a safe and secure environment with essential governmental services and infrastructure (Grdovic, 2009, p. 16).
Finally, it should be generalized that the role of the US Army Special Forces Operator is genuinely manifold and unique.