News | Dec. 21, 2016

Letter to the Editor

By Jerome M. Lynes

From the Jerry Lynes, DDJ-7 for Joint Education and Doctrine

Dear Editor,

Regarding the article "Special Operations Doctrine: Is it Needed?" by Charles T. Cleveland, James B Linder, and Ronald Dempsey (PRISM, Volume 6, No 3),

I am struck by the curious absence of reference to the long established and mature body of Joint Special Operations doctrine. The authors write as if there was no special operations doctrine until Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-05 came along in 2012. They opine as to the various reasons for this, including accusing "...the general military doctrine community (of holding) a myopic view of U.S. special operations capabilities." In truth, their contention is not factually correct, as follows:

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff first issued bespoke doctrine for special operations in October 1992 (specifically Joint Publication (JP) 3-05, " Doctrine for Joint Special Operations.”) JP 3-05 was subsequently revised and re-issued several times between then and now (April 1998, December 2003, April 2011, July 2014), with a new edition in work now. JP 3-05 is, and has been, been written by Special Operators under the lead agency of U.S. Special Operations Command, and under the sponsorship of the Joint Staff J3's Deputy Director for Special Operations. Next, the authors do not note that U.S. Special Operations Command issued its own doctrine for special operations, commencing with "USSOCOM Publication 1" in August 2011. Further, there was other Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures level Joint Special Operations Doctrine available to the force -- specifically JP 3-05.1, “Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Joint Special Operations Task Force Operations” (December 2001, updated April 2007 and folded into JP 3-05 in 2014), and JP 3-05.2, “Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Special Operations Targeting and Mission Planning,” effective 21 May 2003, (an update of a similarly named Joint Doctrine from 1993). JP 3-05.2 was also subsequently folded into JP 3-05 and into JP 3-60 (Joint Targeting). There are other joint doctrine publications that touch upon Special Operations core activities -- Counterterrorism, (JP 3-26), Unconventional Warfare (JP 3-05.1), Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (JP 3-40), Foreign Internal Defense (JP 3-22), Counterinsurgency (JP 3-24), Military Information Support Operations (JP 3-13.2), Security Force Assistance (Joint Doctrine Note 1-13, being folded into a new JP on Security Cooperation (JP 3-20), and a new JP on Countering Threat Networks (JP 3-25) due later this month This long list hardly constitutes a doctrinal vacuum; nor does it suggest any myopia of the general doctrine community on the topic. The article should have at least considered this foundational doctrine before it moved on to its other points. (As an aside, the Army was involved in the production and review of the JPs listed above, and it is almost certainly 100 percent true that Special Operations Soldiers helped write each JP.)

ADP 3-05 didn't fill a void as much as join a vibrant and mature special operations doctrine community as an Army consideration of the matter...a point that is somewhat lost in the article as constituted. A better title of the article might have focused the reader to the perspectives of the authors -- that of Army Special Operators sharing their thoughts of the need for Army Special Operations Doctrine.


Jerome M. Lynes
Colonel USMC (RET)

Deputy Director for
Joint Education & Doctrine
Joint Staff J7