Dec. 7, 2016
Regional Understanding and Unity of Effort
The convergence of popular wars, ethnic and religious conflict, ideological extremism, and competition over diminishing resources are “messy” scenarios that defy prescriptive solutions. Yet this messiness is what increasingly defines today’s operating environment, requiring adaptive combinations of knowledge and action within a unified interagency framework. In this context, Special Operations Forces (SOF), to include Information Operations and Civil Affairs, plays an increasingly active and necessary role. To this end, “the global SOF network vision consists of a globally networked force of SOF, interagency allies and partners able to rapidly respond to, and persistently address, regional contingencies and threats to stability.”1 The success of both the conventional military and the global SOF network requires sustained regional expertise for success in future operating environments, as well as institutionalized relationships with interagency partners born from mutual respect, common interests, and a shared understanding of the operating environment. This article proposes an increased emphasis on understanding both the institutional and geo-cultural operating environments. In theory, this is nothing new, but in reality, it requires a shift in the ways we look at military education, senior leaders, and strategic expectations.