Into the Void

Special Operations Forces after the War on Terror

Edited by
June 2024 9781911723158 400 pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
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The moment in the sun for special operations sometimes appears to have passed, seemingly eclipsed by preparations for potential conflict under the guise of ‘great power’ competition, combined with failure in Afghanistan. Yet the war in Ukraine serves as a reminder that special operations play an even greater role today―before, during and presumably after conflict. The challenge remains dealing with current irregular and hybrid threats, at the same time as preparing for an uncertain future, as threats and technologies evolve at a dizzying pace.

Focusing too much on the future of conventional warfare creates a void in national security discussions related to special operations. This book seeks to fill that gap, drawing on the expertise of scholars and practitioners in the field, from the Indo-Pacific, Europe and the United States, to answer what, if anything, special operations can or should seek to do, and how. The contributors explore such topics as proxies, non-state special forces, capabilities, innovation and transformation, artificial intelligence, and special operations in space and cyberspace. These chapters are united by their analysis that special operations will have future strategic and operational value, for allies and adversaries alike, provided that difficult choices are made in the present.


‘Well written and meticulously researched—Kiras and Kitzen have once again made a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on special operations.’ — Col. (Retd) Bernd Horn, former Deputy Commander of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

‘The book we have long needed to illuminate a new design and direction for special operations in the coming tests of competition, conflict and war.’ — Kalev I. Sepp, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Counterterrorism

‘An intellectually rewarding excursion into the future of special operations. Complete with cutting-edge insights, this is a much-needed foundation for reconceptualising special operations’ contributions beyond the traditional combat role. Enthusiastically recommended for policy makers, scholars and tomorrow’s practitioners.’ — Frank Hoffman, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Defense University

‘This book fills multiple voids as the contributors generate much-needed food for thought on the evolving usefulness of special operations.’ — Anna Simons, Professor Emerita of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School

‘An excellent overview of the potential utility of special operations, demonstrating their enduring relevance in a new strategic context. A must-read for practitioners and academics alike.’ — Olivier Schmitt, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark


James D. Kiras is Dean of Academics and Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at Air University’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, located at Maxwell Air Force Base, USA.

Martijn Kitzen is Professor and Chair of Irregular Warfare and Special Operations at the Netherlands Defence Academy, in Breda.

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