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The characterization of Special Operation (SO) comes in broad spectrum, and it is very

much subjected to individual nation’s doctrine. For the purpose of this research, the
American’s Joint Special Operations doctrine by the United States Special Operations
Command (USSOCOM) would be adapted. The Special Operation Forces (SOF) is a
specialized designated unit that is trained to conduct SO to achieve military, political,
economic, or informational objectives by unconventional military means in hostile,
denied, or politically sensitive areas. SOF are organized, trained, and equipped
specifically to accomplish nine principal missions: direct action, special reconnaissance,
foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, combating terrorism, psychological
operations (PSYOP), civil affairs (CA), counter-proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction, and information operations. Although SOF are self sufficiency in conducting
operations as a single service, the doctrine had also clearly pointed out that SO are
inherently joint, whereby the SOF would still routinely require joint support and
coordination1.

Shortly after the September 11th attack from the terrorist, the United State (U.S.)
conducted their war against terrorism in Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan (OEF-
A). The Special Force (SF) demonstrated a vital role in the early stages of the operation
and undeniably, the SO is conducted in an unconventional warfare environment2. The
success of the campaign was contributed by the SF’s ability in synchronizing the Afghan
Militias with the help of close air support by U.S. Airforce. With the help of 160th
Special Aviation Regiment, the SOF was inserted via Chinooks into enemy territory,
infiltrating into northern Afghanistan to the south of the key city of Mazar-e Sharif3.
Once established contact with the local warlords, the SF separated into two teams to lead
the Afghan Militias in the campaign against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The air support
called upon by the SF was an important key factor to the campaign’s success. The air
support was influential to the extent that the highest level of command within the Afghan
Militias actually based on its availability to decide on their attacks4. The Afghan Militias
were also an important force in the joint warfare that is responsible in securing the city
that is captured. In addition, the PSYOP team in Afghanistan began distribution of
PSYOP leaflets by B-52 bombers was a significant combat multiplier for the SF deep in
Afghanistan5.

Apart from combat operations in Afghanistan, SOF was deployed in Philippines to help
them in combating terrorism. The SOF employed joint elements to advise and assist the
Philippine Security Force counterparts in building their capacity to combat terrorism and
creating a secure and stable environment6. It had been proven, that the terrorist are
capable of hijacking aircrafts or ships and using them as a weapon of mass destruction,
by crashing them into key installations. Using the example of a ship being hijacked out in
the sea, the SF would definitely need the help of the Navy or Airforce assets to transport
him to the ship for their operation.

From the above examples, it is apparent that most SOs are conducted in a joint
environment. Nevertheless, there are merits and shortfall for such operations. The
insertion of SF with the help of Chinook significantly shortens the time taken for them to
travel into hostile territory. The request for close air support to assault the enemies had
effectively minimized the casualties from the Afghan Militias and SF. Unlike
conventional forces, the SF would not be able to perform the role of defending the
captured cities in Afghanistan. However, there were also shortfalls within a joint SO.
Often than not, different services (i.e. Afghan Militias, CIA) tend to have different
practices and doctrines which is inefficiency and could led to potential fratricides7.

Documenting the lessons learnt, the United States had been constantly improving their
joint operation through: interoperable systems, procedures and communications; people
who are experienced and knowledgeable; mutual trust and respect; joint doctrine;
command and control structures that do not hinder joint operations 8. Having fast net-
centric communication and technology is the way forward for joint SO within inter-
services.
1. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations (2005)

2. Dr. Emily Spencer, The Difficult War: Perspectives on Insurgency and Special
Operations Forces (2009_, p. 163.

3. Dr. Richard W. Stewart, “The United States Army in Afghanistan: Operation Enduring
Freedom”. U.S. Army Center of Military History Online. 17 March 2006. Available:
http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/Afghanistan/Operation%20Enduring
%20Freedom.htm [2010, October 1], p. 38.

4. Dr. Emily Spencer, The Difficult War: Perspectives on Insurgency and Special
Operations Forces (2009), p. 181.

5. Donald P. Wright, James R. Bird, Peter W. Connors, Scott C. Farquhar, Lynne


Chandler Garcia, Dennis F. Van Wey, Steven E. Clay, A Different Kind of War: The
United States Army in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, October 2001 - September
2005: The United States Army in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, October 2001 -
September 2005 (2010), p. 65.

6. Joint Chiefs of Staff , USSOCOM posture statement (2007), p. 10.

7. Dr. Richard W. Stewart, “The United States Army in Afghanistan: Operation Enduring
Freedom”. U.S. Army Center of Military History Online. 17 March 2006. Available:
http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/Afghanistan/Operation%20Enduring
%20Freedom.htm [2010, October 1], p. 38.

8. Geoffrey Till, Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-First Century (2004), p. 110.