Into the Void
Special Operations Forces after the War on Terror
A critical analysis of how global special forces can and should evolve into a future-ready capability, responding to today’s post–War on Terror challenges.
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.
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.