The United States Armed Forces has the primary mandate of ensuring that the country is safe from any form of external attack. For a long time, the potential threat that it had to prepare to fight was hostile nations such as the Soviet Union/Russia, Iran, North Korea, and most recently China. However, it is becoming evident that none of these nations can make a deliberate step to attack the United States because they understand the military superiority of the country.
As such, a new form of warfare is emerging where the enemy is using asymmetrical strategies of attacking the country. This strategy minimizes the ability of the military to use its heavy artillery to fight the enemy. The strategy also offers the United States opportunity to strike an enemy through proxies, without getting directly involved in the fight. In this paper, the researcher focused on investigating why combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare.
Using primary and secondary data, various issues were identified such as limited experience on this approach to fighting an enemy, inability to fully use modern weapons to fight the enemy, and the fear of civilian casualties as the main reasons why they do not favor unconventional warfare.
The United States of America has the most sophisticated, modern, and powerful military in the world. Studies have shown that the government has been investing heavily in the military since the end of the Second World War. During the period of the Cold War, there was a constant fear that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) could attack the United States. As such, the government invested heavily in modernizing its military and equipping the personnel with unique combat skills.
Reports indicate that the United States spends more than any other country in the world to train its staff, purchase various types of weapons, and to make the country ready for any attack or counter-attack whenever it is necessary. The primary goal is to ensure that the country and its allies around the world are safe from any form of military aggression.
The global community is aware of the power of the United States military and it is highly unlikely that they can directly challenge it in a military confrontation. The country demonstrated its military capacity during the World War Two when it helped the Allied forces end and win the war.
Most recently, the country was able to bring down authoritarian governments in Afghanistan and Iraq because it felt that they posed threats to the United States and its allies. It is clear to the global community that the sophistication of the American military is unmatched, and it may not be possible to win a conventional war against this country.
The enemies of the United States have realized that the only way that they can fight the country and have a slim chance of winning is to wage unconventional warfare. Instead of waging a war in a traditional combat approach, these groups of extremists operate as terrorists. They attack when least expected, and use simple strategies to strike their targets.
The September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack is a clear demonstration of the form and approach that these enemies tack to wage asymmetrical warfare against the United States. With the knowledge that they stand a zero chance of winning a fight against the highly trained and properly equipped American military, they attack civilians. They strike when least expected and use the simplest of technologies and strategies because they are also financially strained. Such attacks have also been witnessed in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, some of the closest allies of the United States in Europe.
It is the responsibility of the United States’ army to protect the country from any form of attack by external forces. The problem is that for a long time, the military academies in the country had not envisioned a case where the country would be under a serious threat from unconventional military attacks.
As such, most of the highly trained officers and the weapons that they use are not designed to fight unconventional wars. It explains why after the September 11 attack, the government decided to wage a conventional war that it was certain to win, by directly attacking and toppling the leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq. The two countries had directly and indirectly facilitated the terrorists in accomplishing their missions, and it was believed that these governments were hiding the attackers.
The combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare against its enemies that have succeeded in crossing the border and those that are outside the country. This approach to waging a war is relatively new to these officers, and most often it is not possible to use some of the most advanced military equipment that the country has amassed over the years. With the knowledge of the threat from these enemies and the understanding of their amorphous nature, United States Army Special Forces was created as a unit within the United States military.
It was assigned a special mission in unconventional warfare, counter-insurgency, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism, counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, information operation, and security force assistance.1 The report shows that even with the creation of this specialized unit, top combatant commanders and senior officers still do not prefer unconventional warfare. This paper aims to understand why senior military officers are reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagements.
Statement of the Problem
The United States’ government has been investing heavily in modernizing and equipping its military with the primary purpose of ensuring that the country is safe from any form of attack. However, recent events shows that there is a major weakness that is yet to be addressed by the country’s military.
The threat to the country and its citizen is changing in a way that top military commanders had not anticipated. The unconventional warfare has become the preferred approach that some extremists are using against the country. The problem that the country faces is that it is not possible to use conventional strategies, which the country has perfected, in fighting such wars.
Intelligence agencies have shown that some of the people these extremist groups use to achieve their goals are Americans. They target individuals born and brought up in the country, radicalize them, take them through some basic training, and then direct them to target specific installments in the country.
Most of the places they target are civilian institutions such as schools, churches, and companies where they know they will not meet any significant resistance. In the Middle East, where American forces have been waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy is using suicide bombers to help them achieve their goal. Some of the people used as suicide bombers are women and children because they are less likely to be suspected as being of any threat to the American forces. These attacks have had devastating consequences to the American civilians and military personnel.
The top combatant commanders and senior army officers are aware of the threat that these enemies pose. However, they are still reluctant to employ unconventional warfare against these enemies. The enemy is aware that this approach to waging a war is less popular among the leaders of the American military. It means that they are likely to use it more because it offers them a slim chance of having some gains in their attacks.
It is evident that this reluctance is posing a major problem to the country’s security and that of its allies around the world. The problem is less likely to go away, and the more these commanders continue to avoid this warfare, the more the threat is becoming potent. Instead of solving the problem, this reluctance is exposing the country and its citizen to greater danger. Many lives have been lost already, and the problem may get worse, unless there is a change in the perception among these top officers.
Significance and Purpose of the Study
The decision that the top commanders and senior army officers make is critical in ensuring that the United States military wins its wars and protects the country from all forms of external threats. Studies have shown that decisions that such senior officers make often depend on their perception and attitude towards an issue under focus. The reluctance of these top officers in employing unconventional warfare is a major concern.
The problem could be caused by lack of experience in waging such wars. Most of these commanders have been actively involved in conventional wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and various parts of the world where the United States military has been actively present. They know how to plan a conventional war, attack the enemy, and win the war within the shortest time possible using highly trained officers and with sophisticated weapons.
The guerilla tactics that is common in asymmetrical warfare is not easy for these officers to deal with. The fact that some of these extremists often target civilian installments when least expected only makes this warfare more complex for these military officers. The sophisticated weapons and the trainings that these officers have are not designed to work in areas populated by civilians.
The fear of failing is believed to be the main reason why these officers are avoiding this new approach to waging a war against its new enemies. They feel their lack of experience in such strategies may result in failure. Others fear having civilian casualties when they are forced to fight among civilian population.
The topic presents a puzzle that prompts a research because the threat that American forces face is changing but the top military commanders are reluctant to change accordingly. The new problem is likely to become the biggest threat that the American military will have to face. The reluctance of these top commanders is likely to worsen the capacity of the country to fight back the enemy successfully.
The assumption that the most potent threat to the country’s existence can only be fought using conventional warfare is misleading. The world is changing and the threat that the United States is facing is also transforming. It is still the responsibility of the country’s military to protect its borders from all forms of threat.
The negative perception that these top officers have towards this approach to fighting enemies remains a major concern to the transformation needed. As long as they are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare, these officers are less likely to approve training of its personnel to specialize in this field. It means that as the enemy becomes more potent in its attack, the country is still ill prepared to deal with the threat.
The purpose of this study is to investigate possible reasons why these top officers are reluctant to employ conventional warfare, the impact of such decisions, the possible ways of changing the perception, and the threat that the country faces if the perception is not addressed. The researcher seeks to find a way in which this perception can be changed to ensure that these top officers feel comfortable in waging such warfare. They need to understand the changing forces and the need to adjust their operations accordingly.
The study will help in finding ways of addressing concerns that these officers have towards asymmetrical warfare. The goal is to help these officers to understand the significance of being dynamic based on the changing external forces. They should have the capacity to change their strategies when it becomes clear that the enemy has transformed.
Research Aim and Objectives
The primary aim of this paper is to understand why senior military officers are reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagements. Studies have shown that these top commanders prefer waging conventional wars in most of the military engagements that they have had, especially outside the country. As mentioned above, the threat is changing and the only way that the military can remain effective in protecting the country is to change based on these changes. However, that change can only be witnessed if combatant commanders and senior army officers embrace unconventional warfare. The following are the specific objectives that the researcher seeks to achieve in this study:
- To identify specific reasons why senior military officers are reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagements;
- To determine the impact of the reluctance to employ unconventional warfare on the effectiveness of the military to fight the enemy;
- To propose ways in which the perception of these senior military officers towards unconventional warfare can be changed.
Research Question and Hypothesis
When conducting research, it is always important to develop research questions that guides the process of collecting data. The research questions enables one to determine information that is needed to help achieve the goal of the study. The following is the primary research question that had to be answered in this study:
Will the United States Army Special Forces be required to redefine their doctrine, mission, organization, and training as a result of the ever-changing roles facilitated by the unconventional risky environment?
The following sub-questions will be used to ensure that the objectives of this study are realized:
- Why are senior military officers reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagement?
- What is the impact of the reluctance to employ unconventional warfare on the effectiveness of the military to fight the enemy?
- What are some of the ways in which the perception of these senior military officers towards unconventional warfare can be changed?
The researcher also found it necessary to develop hypothesis, based on the preliminary review of the literature, that had to be confirmed based on the analysis of both primary and secondary data. The hypothesis of the study is that asymmetrical warfare is the most relevant in achieving objectives and strategy if conducted within the specific principles.
Review of the Literature
The previous section provided a detailed background on the reluctance of combatant commanders and senior army officers’ reluctance to employ unconventional warfare. In this chapter, the goal is to provide a detailed review of the literature on the issue to determine what scholars have found out in this issue. The review will help to identify research gaps that need to be addressed through primary data collection and analysis.
Understanding the Concept of Unconventional Warfare
It is important to start the review of the literature by providing a clear definition of the concept of unconventional warfare. Lynch defines unconventional warfare as “as activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.”2
Instead of using its forces and military hardware in direct attacks, such as is the case in traditional wars, asymmetrical warfare involves using proxies and providing them with the relevant assistance so that they can wage a war against a hostile regime. This approach to dealing with an enemy does not require the sophistication of the United States army. Unlike the direct attacks that the United States used in Iraq and Afghanistan, in this case the government will rely on the local militia and the opposition to wage a war against the reigning government with the primary goal of toppling it from leadership.
An example of asymmetrical warfare that the United States and its allies waged successfully in the recent past is the toppling of Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi. Instead of sending a large contingent of highly trained military officers using the most modern American artillery, the United States provided support to the local militia so that they could fight the government.
The United States Army Special Forces offered little support such as surveillance of government officers, provision of the relevant weapons, and training of the militia. Unconventional warfare has gained popularity over the recent past, especially during the Arab Spring where revolution was witnessed in various Middle East and North African (MENA) countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, and Yemen.3
The strategy has proven to be significantly cheap compared to waging a conventional war against a hostile state. The United States does not need to spend a lot in using its sophisticated weapons. It only needs to supply simple weapons to the insurgents. Another major benefit of this form of fighting an enemy is the significant reduction of casualties among American soldiers. In most of the cases, only a few United States Army Special Forces are needed to train and equip the local insurgents with skills needed to fight their own government.4
They may engage in the actual combat, but in most of the cases their role is reduced to that of advisors as they assess the level of threat and define effective ways of encountering it. It means that they are not constantly exposed to the danger, as opposed to cases where they have to be directly involved in the fight.
It is important to note that the United States has also been a victim of asymmetrical warfare. Soon after the devastating September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack, the government launched investigations that revealed that the terrorists involved were getting direct support from the Taliban government of Afghanistan.5
It meant that the Afghan government was directly waging a war against the United States using its proxies. The same was witnessed during the rise of ISIS. This extremist group was using Americans, Britons, and French to fight their own governments. They used suicide bombing and gun attacks, always targeting civilian populations where they expect the least possible resistance.
Special Forces in the United States
The United States Special Operations Forces, as the name suggests, are units within the United States Armed Forces that are often assigned specific roles that differs from that of conventional military officers. These special forces include United States Army Special Forces (Army Green Berets), Army Night Stalkers, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, Navy SWCCs, Marine MARSOC, Marine RECON, Marine RECON Mission, and Air Force Special Tactics.6 Each of these highly specialized military units has specific role that they have to achieve. Hence their training is sometimes different. In this case, the focus was on the United States Army Special Forces, popularly known as the Army Green Berets.
The Green Berets was established on June 19, 1952 with a wide range of mandate to help the United States Armed Forces to achieve specific goals that could not be realized through the use of the conventional forces.7
It was assigned 9 doctrinal missions that it was to execute. They include engaging in unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism, counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, security force assistance, and information operations. The training that officers in this unit went through was significantly different from that of the rest of the population because of their highly specialized missions.
When it was established, the Second World War had just ended and Cold war was taking its shape. The United States was concerned about the emerging threat from a new enemy that was an ally during the Second World War, the Soviet Union.8 A decision was made by the top military organ to establish different ways of fighting this enemy. Although direct conventional military action was an option, there was a need to find alternative ways of fighting the enemy. Unconventional warfare was seen as an effective and less expensive strategy.
It meant that instead of the United States sending its own troops to fight in a foreign land, it only needed to provide support to the insurgencies and help them topple the hostile regime. The strategy only required the military to send an elite squad, the Green Berets, to facilitate the training of the insurgents and ensure that they have the capacity to effectively challenge and destabilize the regime. The unit was also meant to fight insurgencies at home and ensure that hostile states, especially the Soviet Union, do not use proxies to fight the American government.
Afghanistan and Iraq Experience
When the United States came under attack in September 11, 2001, the government made a resolution to hunt down and eliminate all terrorists who were involved in the heinous act and all their supporters and sympathizers. Investigations revealed that the attack was organized and funded by Al Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. It was also revealed that the Taliban government in Afghanistan, had offered these terrorists considerable support.
As such, the government made a resolution to topple that regime, hunt down bin Laden and all his associate and punish them for the attack that they executed on American soil.9 The resistance that the Taliban and Al Qaeda put up led to the War in Afghanistan, which was popularly known as War on Terror.
The United States, the United Kingdom and their allies, launched an attack on Taliban on October 7, 2001, and by December the same year, the regime had already been forced out of power. However, the victory came at a great human cost. Although the majority of those who died were Afghan soldiers and their Al Qaeda supporters, the United States and United Kingdom soldiers also lost their lives in this war. Many more sustained life-changing injuries and could not continue serving in the military. Those who did not sustain major physical injuries were left with posttraumatic stress disorder because of what they witnessed and the pain they went through both emotionally and physically.10
In 2003, the United States and its allies announced their concern about the growing suspicion about Saddam Hussein’s regime amassing weapons of mass destruction. The allies made a demand that Hussein should publicly destroy all the weapons and commit to a policy that would limit his regime’s ability to create, test, or use such weapons against any other country.
When Saddam Hussein expressed his unwillingness to cooperate with the United States, the allies declared war on Iraq. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other allies who were involved in the attack were concerned about a possibility that Saddam’s government could sponsor an attack similar to that launched by Al Qaeda with the help of the Taliban government.
In such a preemptive attack, the allies justified the attack by stating that their action would impede the ability of Hussein to execute an attack against the west using proxies. The war begun on March 20, 2003 and within the first 3 years of the fight, it is estimated that about 1 million Iraqis, most of whom were civilians, had lost their lives directly because of the war.11 Saddam Hussein was finally captured, tried, sentenced to death, and hanged soon after. Most of his associated were killed during the war, and the few who survived were either arrested or escaped to other countries they considered friendly.
Most of those who actively participated in the two major recent wars are the current combatant commanders and senior army officers responsible for commanding various military units in the armed forces. They have the experience of battling an enemy in an environment that is not favorable to the attacking forces. Although they have managed to overcome the trauma of the events they witnessed during these wars, the memory is still clear and it has defined most of the actions they take as soldiers and policies they use to guide their officers.
They have learned to trust a section of the global society members because of these unfortunate events. They know that their survival was hinged on the superiority of the weapons used by the allies and trainings that they had in engaging in a conventional war.12 These top officers believe that when dealing with an enemy, it is necessary to use as much of a military force as possible. The only way of achieving that goal is to use conventional warfare. Sometimes trusting proxies may be dangerous as they may not be fully loyal to the country. These insurgents may be interested in protecting their personal gains as opposed to that of the supporting forces.
Attitudes toward Unconventional Warfare
The attitude that these top officers have towards unconventional warfare has been informed by the experience that they had in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the War on Iraq and that in Afghanistan, the United States and allied forces received some form of support from the locals. In fact, it reached a point when the foreign forces were relying on the locals to achieve their mission.13
When Saddam Hussein was finally forced out of power, it was necessary to hand over the leadership of the country to the locals. The foreign forces trained Iraqis and Afghan forces on how to fight sympathizers of the toppled governments. After years of training, they provided them with sophisticated weapons to help in protecting the new regime.
When the United States finally pulled out all its troops from Iraq in 2011, a leadership vacuum was created, which led to the emergence of ISIS and other extremist groups.14 Some of the top leaders of ISIS were officers that had been trained and equipped by the United States. They became radicalized and blamed the allied forces for the political and economic turmoil that the country was facing. Instead of fighting in the interest of the United States, they became the enemy.
The problem that combatant commanders faced was that the new enemy knew the tactics that the United States uses in such combats because they had been trained. They also had some of the best weapons that had been handed over to them by the allied forces. It meant that it was not easy to crash them as it was when dealing with Saddam Hussein’s troop and Taliban forces.
The betrayal witnessed in the two countries is not unique as it had been witnessed in the past. Ethiopia was able to convince Italian forces to train them and give them weapons so that they could help them conquer neighboring states during the African colonization period. Once they were trained and properly equipped, they used the same weapons to ensure that they remain an independent nation. Such betrayals had also been witnessed in Vietnam when the American forces trusted some of the locals to help them win the war.15
These locals that were expected to be allies only leaked critical information to the enemy. These experiences had led to the creation of a negative attitude of these top commanders towards asymmetrical warfare. They believe that to achieve the desired goal within the shortest period possible, American soldiers have to be directly involved in the war using conventional strategies. These officers highly value military intelligence and believe that it is not advisable to share it with foreign forces that can easily become an enemy.
Future Expectations from Unconventional Warfare
Asymmetrical warfare has become one of the strategies that the United States Armed Forces is using to achieve its goals in the international community. The strategy has proven to be effective in neutralizing the enemy without heavy involvement of the American soldiers. A good example was the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya in 2011.16
The United States was only involved in providing surveillance and enforcing a no-fly zone in the Libyan airspace and the local insurgents were involved in the actual fighting. In the end, the same goal was achieved in Libya as that in Iraq and Afghanistan, only that the human and financial cost to the United States was almost negligible.
One of the main challenges of using this strategy is the fear that the insurgents may turn against the United States and use American training and military hardware in ways that jeopardize safety and security of Americans. It is necessary to find ways of addressing these concerns to ensure that top commanders can embrace this form of neutralizing the enemy.
It may be necessary to find ways of training insurgents and other proxies but in a way that does not turn them into a potential threat to the American forces. When it comes to offering them military equipment for them to participate in these wars, the United States should be selective in deciding which weapons these allies should be given.
When it is necessary that sophisticated weapons have to be handed to groups that can easily become disloyal to the Americans, then it may be necessary for American troops to have full control in their operations.17 The goal is to ensure that when the war is ended, these equipment can be taken back to American camps within the host nation or back at home in the United States.
In the future, unconventional warfare will become the most effective ways of dealing with the enemy. Within the homeland, the United States Army Special Forces have to embrace new strategies of neutralizing the threat using the new strategies. They have to learn how to fight the enemy that is hiding within the civilian population without causing any significant civilian casualties.18
Outside the country, asymmetrical wars offers the United States an opportunity to destroy the enemy without using most of its resources. In Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, United States troops were directly involved in the war, and it is evident that it was a very costly initiative.
This can change when combatant commanders and senior army officers embrace unconventional warfare. That can only happen if their major concerns can be addressed using effective strategies. It is necessary to have a plan that would ensure that highly sensitive information is not released to these insurgents, especially if they can easily turn into enemies. These commanders also do not expect to witness cases where American tanks, handed over to the insurgents to facilitate successful assault against a hostile regime, is in the hands of extremist, as was the case in Iraq. Using data from secondary sources, the researcher will address the gaps identified in this review of the literature.19
Of primary concern will be to determine if the United States Army Special Forces will be required to redefine their doctrine, mission, organization, and training as a result of the ever-changing roles facilitated by the unconventional risky environment.
Methodology and Research Strategy
The previous chapter has provided a detailed literature review that makes it possible to understand the combatant commanders and senior army officers’ reluctance to employ unconventional warfare. In this chapter, the focus is to explain the method that was used to collect and analyze data from various sources. It explains how the researcher used primary data sources to address gaps identified during the review of the literature in the previous chapter.
The researcher relied on both primary and secondary data to inform this study. Secondary data was obtained from published sources such as book, peer-reviewed journals, and reliable online sources. Primary data was obtained from a sample of officers who have experienced the issue under investigation and have the potential to identity and explain the perception of combatant commanders and senior army officers towards employing unconventional warfare.
The researcher has divided this chapter into several sections for clarity purposes. They include research design, sampling and sample size, questionnaire design, and data analysis method. Also discussed in this chapter are problems encountered during the study and ethical considerations.
A researcher can opt to use deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, or abductive research, depending on the primary goal that is to be realized and specific questions that have to be answered. In this study, the researcher chose to use deductive reasoning as the most appropriate research design. In this design, a researcher develops a theory based on the existing knowledge then develops an appropriate strategy to test and confirm or reject the theory.20
It is a process that is sometimes referred to as moving from particular to general or from the known to unknown. This approach was chosen because it is effective in explaining causal relationship between variables and concepts. It is an effective strategy of explaining a phenomenon.
The researcher believed that it was the best way of explaining why combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant in employing unconventional warfare. As shown in figure 3.1 below, when using this approach, the first step is to identify a theory upon which the study will be based. The next step is to develop a hypothesis based on the identified theory or existing bodies of knowledge. The next step is to conduct observations that would facilitate testing of the theory.
In this case, the process involved collection and processing of primary data from the participants. The final stage is to confirm or reject the theory that had been developed. Kumar warns that confirming or rejecting a theory should not be based on personal preferences of the researcher.21 Instead, it should be based on the actual information collected from the field. Even if the outcome of the study is not in line with the researcher’s previous knowledge or anticipation, conclusion should be based on facts.
When planning to conduct research, one of the first factors that have to be clearly defined is the design that is appropriate for the study. According to Palmer, the choice of a design depends on the research question that has to be answered in the study.23 The design should enable the researcher to investigate the issue in detail and to achieve the objectives set in the study. In this case, the choice of the research design had to enable the researcher to understand why senior military officers are reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagements. The most appropriate design was considered to be a qualitative research.
The design was chosen because it explains how a phenomenon occurred, events that led to its occurrence, and the impact that it has had. The perception of the senior military officers towards unconventional warfare was defined by a specific events or various issues that affected them. Using qualitative research, it will be possible to get a detailed explanation of why these officers are reluctant to embrace this approach to dealing with an enemy.
The researcher will understand the experience that these officers have had and how it shaped their views. Qualitative research was also chosen because it goes beyond statistical and restrictive responses that is always common in quantitative research. In this case, respondents are allowed to provide detailed explanation of an events, using their own words, and to justify their responses.
Sampling and Sample Size
Sampling is an important process in research when dealing with a large population. As explained in the methodology section, the researcher needed to collect data from the current or former The United States has the largest active military officers in the world, estimated to be over 1.3 million people.24 The number of veterans in the country is even larger, estimated to be over 18 million people. It means that in this study, data can be collected from a sample of over 20 million adult Americans.
In this academic research, it was not possible to collect data from such a large population because of the limited time and resources available for the study. The researcher had to develop a reasonably small sample that could be contacted and engaged in the study within the time that was available. The researcher had to develop an inclusion criteria to be followed in identifying these subjects.
The first criteria that had to be observed was the age factor. The researcher believes that for one to have a detailed information on the issue under investigation, respondents should be working in the military for some time. As such, the study only included those over 25 years, with the assumption that they have been in the service for at least 3 years.
The second factor was the need to have both men and women participating in the study. Although it is true that the majority of the personnel in the United States Department of Defense is men, the researcher wanted to have a higher number of female participants. The ratio of females to males of the study was be 70:30. The final inclusion criteria was that for one to qualify for the study, they should be serving in the Special Forces or retired.
The researcher only needed 50 individuals to participate in this investigation. To ensure that the above inclusion criteria was met, the researcher used stratified sampling technique. The targeted officers were classified into two general strata of male and female. The researcher then used probability sampling (simple random sampling) to select individuals in each of the two subgroups. Probability sampling was used to ensure that the researcher does not influence the composition of participants in each strata by selecting preferred individuals. Stratified sampling technique is always effective in ensuring that the sample achieves the required composition.
When developing the proposal, the researcher outlined the approach that will be used in collecting primary data from the respondents. It was important to collect data using a standard format from all the respondents. As such, the researcher developed a questionnaire that was distributed to all the participants to facilitate the process of data collection. The questionnaire had three sections. The first section of this document focused on the background of the participants. The section focused on age and gender of the respondents, which were important inclusion criteria that had to be considered in the data collection process, as was explained in the process.
The second section of the document focused on the educational background and experience of the participants. Kumar explains that the level of education of a respondents defines the authority they have in explaining a given issue.25 Senior officers with post-graduate education in military science are more likely to provide reliable information about the issue being investigated that a junior officer whose training primarily focused on the physical aspect of combat.
Experience is also another major factor that helps in defining how reliable the information is from a given respondent, irrespective of their academic background. An officer who has been at the battlefront for decades will have a better capacity to explain why combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare based on their personal experiences.
The last section of the questionnaire focused on questions specific to the study. These questions focused on explaining the perception of these senior officers towards unconventional warfare. The researcher contacted these participants through phone calls and social media platforms.
The goal of the study was explained and they were informed about the role they needed to play. They were informed that participation in the study was on a voluntary basis and that they could withdraw from it whenever they felt compelled to do so. The researcher then e-mailed the document to them and explained how they were supposed to answer each question. Participants filled the questionnaire and e-mailed it back to the researcher within the agreed period.
The chosen design for the study was qualitative analysis. As such, the researcher used this approach in processing primary data collected from the study. It took the form of thematic analysis. Using open-ended questions, the researcher was able to collect data about combatant and senior army officers’ reluctance to employ unconventional warfare.
Respondents provided answers using their own wards. In each case, respondents were requested to provide as much details on the issue as possible, and to provide examples whenever possible. As such, it was possible to identify themes that emerged based on these responses. These themes provided explanation of the possible reasons why this warfare strategy is becoming increasingly popular. The analysis involved supporting each theme with direct quote from the participants.
At this stage of the research, it is important to discuss challenges that were encountered when conducting this study. One of the main challenges that the researcher encountered was the difficulty of reaching respondents. The current COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in almost every sphere of human socio-economic and political life.26 For the first time in the recent history, it is no longer safe to travel or be in large crowds as the virus is spread through human contact. Medical experts have strongly recommended that people should stay indoors unless they are essential service providers.
In the United States, some governors have imposed quarantine measures as a way of minimizing the spread of the virus and protecting the vulnerable. As a result, physically meeting the respondents has been impossible. The researcher could not had to rely on contacts that had been developed in the past to reach out to the participants through phone calls and social media. The initial plan was to conduct a face-to-face interview, but that was not an option anymore because of the same challenge brought about by the virus. However, the researcher was able to overcome this challenge. 50 participants were finally contacted and they participated in the study as was requested.
The researcher had to get permission from the relevant authorities within the Department of the Defense before collecting data from the officers. It was necessary to ensure that information gathered was not of sensitive nature to the national security. It took longer than expected to get the permission from the relevant authorities before proceeding with the data collection process.
It is also important to note that it was not easy convincing some of the officers to participate in the study. Junior special forces officers feared revealing information that may be considered classified, while senior officers felt that they had to protect critical information that define their combat tactics. The researcher was able to overcome all these challenges and the needed data was obtained.
When conducting this study, the researcher had to observe ethical issues, especially when collecting data and writing up the report. Kumar explains that extremism has remained one of the social challenges in the United States.27 It is common to find cases where people are victimized or even attacked because of their divergent views. The concern is even greater in the military where promotion strictly depends on one’s discipline, commitment to the service, and respect to the authority. Because of these concerns, it was necessary to protect the identity of the respondents. Instead of using their actual names, they were assigned numeric, from Participant 1 to Participant 50.
The step was taken to ensure that these individuals could not be traced and subjected to criticism. The researcher also explained to these respondents the goal of this study and the role they needed to play. Only those who consented to the request participated in the data collection. All their questions and concerns were all addressed. Palmer warns against engaging in various forms of academic malpractice.28 The researcher made sure that this report was written from scratch. Information obtained from secondary sources was properly referenced using Turabian citation style. Information obtained from the sampled participants was also cited correctly to avoid any form of plagiarism.
Findings and Analysis
Analysis of the Variables
The previous chapter provided a detailed explanation of the method that the researcher used to collect and analyze data. In this section, the focus is to present findings made from the analysis of the primary data.
As explained above, the researcher chose qualitative research as the most effective approach of analyzing the information obtained from the participants. It was considered an effective way of understanding why combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare in their military engagements. This chapter starts by directly responding to the questions that were set in chapter 1 and then discusses themes that came out from the analysis based on the variables.
- Will the United States Army Special Forces be required to redefine their doctrine, mission, organization, and training as a result of the ever-changing roles facilitated by the unconventional risky environment?
The doctrine, mission, organization, and training of the United States Army Special Forces are based on the traditional conventional combat that has defined operations of the country’s military for decades. The ability of the Special Forces to engage in the unconventional warfare will need major changes that have to be implemented by the top military commanders, as shown in the literature review. As such, the researcher wanted to determine the view of military officers on this issue.
Respondent 1 said, “I believe the United States Army Special Forces has made major steps in achieving its mandate of engaging in unconventional warfare. However, the ability of the United States Army Special Forces to achieve greater success in such engagements will require a change in the mission organization. The primary goal of this unit of the military will have to be redefined.”
This respondent felt that the United States Army Special Forces has made impressive steps in engaging in unconventional warfare. The intelligence agencies have helped this unit to understand the changing face of threat, especially in cases where attacks are directed at civilians. These officers have been trained to fight terrorists in civilian populated areas, especially in major urban centers, without causing major casualties. The respondents noted that despite the progress that has been made, a lot can still be achieved if the mission and organization of this unit is redefined. Currently, the mission statement defines five roles that have to be realized by this unit. They include unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, counter-terrorism, and special reconnaissance.29
It is necessary to narrow down the mission further to two or three primary roles around fighting unconventional warfare. This unit must understand the fact that their primary mandate is to identify threats that may emerge from unsuspected sources and take unconventional approaches, then the unit should develop measures to counter the threat in the most effective way possible.
Respondent 4 said, “It is essential to redefine the doctrine of the United States Army Special Forces in a way that empowers its officers to wage unconventional warfare in the changing environment. The United needs to understand the fact that extremist groups, some of which are recruiting American citizens born and brought up within the country”
This respondent felt that one of the primary changes needed in the United States Army Special Forces is the doctrine. Although this special unit understands that its primary role is to effectively prepare and fight in unconventional wars, there is still a belief among its officers that the major threat will come from hostile nations such as Russia, China, or Iran. It is highly unlikely that the United States will ever be attacked by these nations. These hostile states understands and appreciates the military might of the country and although they may issue threats, chances of a direct attack is highly unlikely.
The problem is that most of these officers often dismiss the potent threat of terrorists, believing that it is critical to pay attention to the growing threat of these other states. It is necessary for the commanders of this unit to understand the significance of equipping the officers with skills needed in the asymmetrical warfare. When necessary, they should not be reluctant to employ unconventional warfare. It is essential to appreciate the fact that asymmetrical warfare is emerging as the most effective way of dealing with the new threat.
Respondent 16 said, “The ever-changing roles facilitated by the unconventional risky environment require the United States Army Special Forces to redefine their training. Regular effective training will help create confidence among senior military commanders, eliminating the fear of failing during such combats”
This respondent felt that the greatest concern for these commanders is the fear of possible failure during such combats. They have come to rely heavily on sophisticated equipment that help them detect and neutralize threats within the shortest period possible during conventional wars. They have trained for a long period on how to successfully wage these wars. The asymmetrical warfare poses a completely new challenge of fighting in environments populated by civilians.
The problem that these officers face is that they have to neutralize the threat as fast as possible without having civilian casualties. Achieving such a high level of efficiency require proper training. These officers should be capable of identifying the potential threat amongst the civilians and find ways of taking them out in a way that is as safe to the rest of the population as possible.
- Why are senior military officers reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagement?
The second question was more specific, asking directly why senior military commander are reluctant to adopt unconventional warfare during military engagement. Given that some of these respondents are senior military officers, getting their views was important because it provided a direct answer to the primary research question. It helped in responding to the hypothesis of the study beyond the review of secondary data. The following are some of the notable responses obtained from those who took park in this study.
Respondent 2 said, “Some of these senior officers lack experience in engaging in asymmetrical warfare. As such, they are reluctant to embrace it, and instead prefer the conventional warfare that they have used in the past”
This respondent identified limited experience as one of the main reasons why these top commanders often avoid unconventional warfare. A significant number of these officers have served in major battles out of the country, especially in the Middle East, and have amassed a wealth of experience engaging in conventional warfare. However, the concept of asymmetrical warfare is relatively new to them. They fear making costly mistakes when engaging in this form of war.
For these reason, they do not favor this approach to fighting American enemies, especially if they are directly involved as the troop commanders. In case such a threat is within the country, they will prefer giving support to law enforcement agencies, which are better equipped to deal with such threats among civilian population.
Respondent 36 said, “These senior military officers know that they cannot use sophisticated weapons at their disposal when engaging in unconventional warfare. As such, the enemy will have some advantage over the military forces.”
The respondent believe that these top commanders do not prefer this strategy of fighting American enemies because of the inability to use sophisticated weapons. The population of Chinese army personnel is almost twice that of the United States and India also has a larger population than that of the US.30
However, the two countries combined cannot match the military might of the United States because of the weapons and related equipment that the country uses. The advanced military hardware at the disposal of the US has earned it respect in the global society. The problem with asymmetrical warfare is that it is not possible to use these equipment. The United States Army Special Forces cannot effectively use advanced fighter jets, tanks, or explosives when fighting an enemy that is hiding among the civilian population. It means that the soldiers involved in such operations have to fight a way of protecting themes while at the same time fight the enemy.
Respondent 41 noted, “Unconventional warfare is relatively cheap for the attacking forces. They only need volunteer suicide bombers to execute their attacks. Most of the improvised explosive devices they use are cheaply manufactured at home.”
The respondent noted that one of the issues that top commanders have raised in unconventional warfare is that it is always cheap for the attacking forces. When the Al Qaeda attacked the United States in September 11, 2001, the only significant investment they made was to train the attackers on how to fly a plane. The terrorists did not use any major weapon in their attacks. They then took control of the planes and succeeded in killing more than 3000 Americans, destroying properties with hundreds of millions of dollars.
The low cost means that these terrorists find it easy to wage their war as long as they can find volunteers. It is also important to note that the opponents have a completely different mission when they meet at the battle front. The military officers are seeking to neutralize the threat and go back home to their families. On the other hand, the criminals are keen on killing as many people as they can and sacrificing their lives in the process. They have no intention of coming out of the battle alive. In such an environment, the criminal has a favorable environment that makes it easy for them to achieve their goals.
Respondent 50 said, “One of the main reasons why these top commanders do not prefer asymmetrical warfare is the fear of civilian casualties. Sometimes the officers involved may be court martialed for mistakes that they could not avoid when facing an enemy in such an environment
The respondent noted that a major concern that top commanders have when they are forced to wage unconventional warfare is the fear of civilian casualties. The training of the military personnel is significantly different from that of law enforcement agencies. The police are trained to work among the civilians, identifying criminals and making prompt arrest so that they can be arraigned in court. They are not expected to use their weapons unless they ascertain that their lives or that of members of the public are in danger. On the other hand, soldiers are trained to neutralize the threat as soon as it is identified.
They do not do arrests and most of the cases, they are required to use their weapons when engaging an enemy. When they have to fight the enemy among civilians, there is always the constant fear that their excessive firepower may leave many civilian casualties. In such a case, they will end up killing those that they are expected to protect.
In some cases, the involved military personnel may be court martialed, especially if the investigating team feel that they used force when it was not necessary. They feel that avoiding a possibility of asymmetrical warfare not only protects civilians but army personnel as well. These are some of the reasons why combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare.
- What is the impact of the reluctance to employ unconventional warfare on the effectiveness of the military to fight the enemy?
The third question focused on identifying the impact of the reluctance of these top officers to employ unconventional warfare on the effectiveness of the military to fight the new enemy. The respondents provided their responses based on their experience. The following are the responses they provided on this issue.
Respondent 16 said, “It delays effective training that is needed to equip the United States Army Special Forces with skills needed in asymmetrical warfare. These top commanders have to appreciate that the battlefront is changing and the only way of remaining relevant is to adjust accordingly”
This respondent felt that this reluctance has created a problem when it comes to training of the personnel. The form of attack that the United States and other countries around the world are facing has changed and it may not be possible to use traditional approaches to achieve the expected goal. The negative attitude that these top officers have towards asymmetrical warfare has led to a situation where the military is not taking enough time to train. Those who are expected to provide leadership and guidance in this new approach to fighting enemies have a negative perception towards this strategy. As such, they have deliberately failed to develop the needed policies and to create an appropriate plan to facilitate the needed training.
Respondent 33 noted, “It has created an environment where the military is not investing effectively in the equipment needed for this form of battle because they do not believe in it.”
The ability of the United States Army Special Forces to fight effectively in asymmetrical warfare depends on the training and military equipment that is made available for them. The country spends a significant amount of money in equipping and training its personnel. However, most of this investment goes to activities related to conventional warfare.
The money is used in purchasing the most modern jetfighters and training of pilots on new maneuvers. Servicing of nuclear weapons, which might never be put to use, is also costing the department of defense a lot of money. Little is left for the Special Forces to purchase equipment they need to engage in unconventional warfare. It means that these officers are constantly struggling to match the increasing sophistication of the enemy.
Respondent 28 said, “The reluctance among the combatant commanders and senior army officers has created a perception that this form of war is not of great significance. As such, junior officers are yet to take it seriously.”
The perception of the top leaders in the military often define policies made and how the rest of the personnel view a given issue of concern. It has become evident to the junior officers that their superiors do not favor asymmetrical warfare. In an organization where discipline is paramount and orders are rarely questioned, junior officers have to respect views of their superiors.
It means that they also have to give little significance to this form of warfare. They are made to believe that such forms of threat are meant for law enforcement agencies trained to deal with criminal elements among the civilian population. Even in cases where they are taken to train on such kind of battles, they will not take them seriously, believing that it is highly unlikely that they will be called upon to engage in such wars. Such ill preparations may have disastrous outcome when a time comes when these personnel have to neutralize such a threat.
- What are some of the ways in which the perception of these senior military officers towards unconventional warfare can be changed?
The expected change can only be realized if the military embraces unconventional warfare as a new approach to fighting the enemy. They have to understand the changes that have taken place over the recent past and their impact on the ability of the United States Army to achieve success. As such, the researcher asked the respondents to provide their view on how the problem can be addressed based on their knowledge and experience.
Respondent 7 proposed that “it is necessary for these top commanders to redefine the mission of their military units based on the changing forces.”
This respondent believe that one of the ways of changing this perception is for the top military commanders to redefine the mission of their military units based on the changing environmental forces. During the period of Cold War, there was a real threat of a possible attack by hostile nations, especially the Soviet Union.
However, it is highly unlikely that Russia will consider attacking the United States. As such, the top commanders must redefine their mission based on the current threat that it faces. Terrorists currently pose the greatest threat to the country’s security, and the only way through which they can be defeated is through unconventional warfare. The mission of the United States Army Special Forces should be very specific and focused on addressing the eminent threat that the country is facing.
Respondent 18 suggested that “civilian leaders of the military at the Department of Defense should lead the needed change because they may not have the same fear that combatant commanders have.”
The respondent believe that the current top army officers and combatant commanders may not address this problem on their own effectively. The experience that some of these officers have gone through have made them to trust a given way of waging a war. It may not be easy to change their mind, especially when they strongly believe that such a new strategy may put the lives of their troops in danger. Some of these officers witnessed their friends die in the battlefield, and have come to strongly trust conventional warfare as the most effective way of obliterating their enemy.
Given a chance, they cannot embrace a new strategy that are not only untested in the field of military engagements but also appear to be dangerous. They need assistance from civilians who are more flexible and have not gone through such traumatizing experiences. These civilians at the top of the command can enact policies that will encourage unconventional warfare in a way that ensures that soldiers’ lives are not put at risk.
Respondent 44 believe that “regular training is needed even among the senior military commanders, not just junior officers. Such trainings will help them understand the changing environmental forces and how they need to adjust their operations accordingly.”
This respondent noted that one of the main reasons why combatant commanders and senior military officers are reluctant to embrace unconventional warfare is because they lack adequate training in this field. Most of these officers are advanced in age, having been in active service for more than 30 years.
Most of them rarely go for further education because they believe they have the needed knowledge and experience to lead troops in the battlefield. Asymmetrical warfare is a concept that is relatively new to them. Their perception can only change if they gain knowledge about this approach to neutralizing the enemy and its effectiveness in ensuring that the country is safe.
When writing the proposal, the researcher developed a hypothesis based on the preliminary review of the literature. It was necessary to confirm or reject it based on primary data collected from the sampled participants. The following was the hypothesis that was developed. To confirm or reject this hypothesis, data from the sampled participants was analyzed as discussed below.
- H1. Asymmetrical warfare is the most relevant in achieving objectives and strategy if conducted within specific principles.
The researcher wanted to determine views of respondents based on their knowledge of this form of warfare and experience they have had. The following are the responses that they provided.
Respondent 22 said, “Asymmetrical warfare is relevant in achieving specific objectives when conducted by trained and properly equipped personnel.”
This respondent believe that indeed unconventional warfare is highly relevant when addressing a specific threat such as terror attacks in places dominated by civilians. During the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack, the United States Army Special Forces was not adequately prepared to respond to such an unprecedented attack and that is why it took too long to respond. Measures that they took were reactionary and did not help in countering the attack. However, such as the cases where unconventional warfare can be highly effective.
Respondent 36 explained, “Asymmetrical warfare is the only effective strategy of fighting threats posed by terrorists and other extremist groups that rely on suicide bombers.”
The respondent feels that threat that the country faces has changed and it is evident that conventional warfare that has been in use for centuries may no longer be effective anymore. As such, it is necessary for the military to redefine their approach, and asymmetrical warfare offers them the best option. It enables them to use unique approaches that specifically target the threat and neutralizes it within the shortest time possible.
The response obtained from the other participants further confirmed that indeed asymmetrical warfare is becoming one of the most relevant ways of achieving military objectives if conducted within specific principles. It means that the research hypothesis was confirmed. The primary data confirmed the new knowledge obtained from secondary sources about the changing face of threat that the United States Army Special Forces have to address.
Conventional warfare is still important, just in case another hostile state considers the possibility of attacking the country. However, the military cannot continue ignoring asymmetrical warfare because it presents the best way of dealing with the new threat.
Combatant commanders and senior army officers are often reluctant to employ asymmetrical warfare even when dealing with the new threat to national security. They still prefer conventional warfare that allows them to use heavy military equipment and traditional strategies of neutralizing the enemy. However, the threat is changing and some of the traditional strategies are no longer effective.
As shown in the literature review and analysis of primary data, hostile nations such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea cannot risk engaging the United States in conventional warfare because they know that they will be destroyed in the process. As such, a new form of threat is emerging in the form of terror outfits such as the ISIS and Al Qaeda. These organizations are using asymmetrical warfare, often operating in secrecy and in small groups. They use simple strategies and simple weapons to achieve the goal of inflicting as much injury and damage as possible to civilians and civilian instalments.
The problem that the United States Army Special Forces face is that it is not possible to use conventional warfare strategies to fight these enemies. The current sophisticated and highly advanced military equipment that the military uses are designed for conventional warfare. The training that the officers go through is also design to facilitate effective symmetrical combat. As such, they find it challenging to engage in asymmetrical warfare that is becoming a popular strategy for extremist groups targeting the United States and its allies.
The study has confirmed that indeed it is true that combatant commanders and senior military officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare. They feel that this strategy of neutralizing American threat is not effective enough based on the training they have, experience, and weapons at their disposal. The study shows that this strategy is not popular among officers because they fear having civilian casualties, which may be unavoidable if the attackers operate among the civilian population.
The primary data also shows that asymmetrical warfare is a cheap way for the enemy to launch a devastating attack within the borders of the country, such as what happened during the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack.
The results of the analysis show that despite this negative perception that these senior army officers have towards unconventional warfare, they cannot afford to continue ignoring it. The enemy has realized that it is the most effective way of attacking the United States, which has a more advanced military system. These top commanders must realize that traditional strategies are no longer effective in neutralizing this new threat.
They have to find ways of training the United States Army Special Forces on how to engage in asymmetrical warfare, especially when dealing with international terror organizations or hostile administrations around the world that may want to wage their war against the United States through proxies. They have to develop new strategies and weapons that can facilitate timely identification and neutralization of these threats.
The study has identified various ways through which the current problem can be addressed. The current top commanders of the army lack experience in engaging in asymmetrical warfare. The majority of them have served in various capacities during the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. They have perfected the conventional warfare, using highly sophisticated weapons to neutralize the enemy within the shortest period possible.
As such, they feel that they lack the necessary experience to plan for and execute attacks when using unconventional warfare. They fear making costly mistakes that may jeopardize the lives of their officers and that of the general American population. The problem can be addressed by ensuring that these top officers go through some form of training on this new strategy of fighting the enemy. The new knowledge gained through such training sessions may create a sense of confidence among these officers.
The study also suggests that it may be necessary to have civilians at the very top of the leadership in the Department of the Defense leading change that is needed. These civilian leaders do not have battlefield experience and as such, may not be too rigid to embrace change as the top combatant commanders. They can help assess the real threat that the country is facing and then develop new policies that can bring the expected transformation.
The study also suggests that it is necessary to redefine weapons that are used in waging such wars. They should be designed in a way that ensures that they are highly effective in neutralizing the threat without exposing any major threat to civilians. Introduction of such effective weapons may help eliminate some of the concerns that senior army officers have when it comes to embracing asymmetrical warfare.
The information gained from this investigation adds new information to the existing body of knowledge. It has identified specific reasons why combatant commanders and senior army officers are reluctant to employ unconventional warfare. The interview conducted identified various issues that needs to be addressed to ensure that these concerns are addressed because it is likely that this threat will continue to exist because it is the only way that hostile organizations can wage any meaningful fight against the United States. Scholars interested in conducting further investigation on this issue will find this document relevant in their studies.
The researcher suggests that such future scholars should focus on the role that junior officers can play to encourage senior officers to embrace unconventional warfare. These junior officers are more flexible and capable of adopting new strategies of fighting enemies. As such, they can help create confidence among their superiors.
This new avenue for research will help provide a comprehensive understanding on how to address the current problem as defined in chapter 1 of this document. The outcome of the analysis shows that the United States Army Special Forces will be required to redefine their doctrine, mission, organization, and training as a result of the ever-changing roles facilitated by the unconventional risky environment.
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- Leigh Neville, Special Forces in the War on Terror (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015), 22.
- Chris Lynch, Unconventional Warfare: Special Forces, Book 1 (New York: Scholastic, 2018), 49.
- Brian Hughes and Fergus Robson, Unconventional Warfare from Antiquity to the Present Day (New York: Springer, 2017), 56.
- Lynch, Unconventional Warfare, 70.
- David Maxwell, “Do We Really Understand Unconventional Warfare?” Small Wars Journal (October 2020).
- Leigh Neville, The Elite: The A–Z of Modern Special Operations Forces (New York: Osprey Publishing, 2019), 67.
- Leigh. The Elite, 90.
- Brin Najzer, Clarifying Hybrid Warfare: Investigation and Elucidation of the Phenomenon of Low-level Coercion and Conflict in the Grey Zone (London: University of Aberdeen, 2018), 41.
- Najzer, Clarifying Hybrid Warfare, 33.
- Jennifer Obernier and Frank Sanders, “Enabling Unconventional Warfare to Address Grey Zone Conflict,” Small Wars Journal (Spring 2016).
- John Winters and Eric Adams, Delta Force: The Elite US Special Forces Unit (New York: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), 77.
- Winters and Adams, Delta Force, 113.
- Winters and Adams, Delta Force, 45.
- Joseph Votel, Charles Cleveland, Charles Connett and Will Irwin, “Unconventional Warfare in the Gray Zone,” Joint Force Quarterly 80: no. 1 (2016): 101-109.
- Winters and Adams, Delta Force, 122.
- Winters and Adams, Delta Force, 97.
- Neville. The Elite, 78.
- Winters and Adams. Delta Force, 76.
- Lynch, Unconventional Warfare, 146.
- Drew Palmer, Research Methods in Social Science Statistics (London: Scientific Resources, 2019), 112.
- Ranjit Kumar, Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners (New York: Sage Publication, 2018), 67.
- Kumar, Research Methodology, 114.
- Palmer, Research Methods, 39
- Jim Sciutto, The Shadow War: Inside Russia’s and China’s Secret Operations to Defeat America (New York: Harper Collins, 2019), 55.
- Kumar, Research Methodology, 98.
- Aek Phakiti, Costa De, Luke Plonsky, and Sue Starfield, The Palgrave Handbook of Applied Linguistics Research Methodology (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 78.
- Kumar, Research Methodology, 118.
- Palmer, Research Methods, 36.
- Manuchehr Irandoust, “Militarism and Globalization: Is There an Empirical Link?” Quality & Quantity 52, no. 1 (2018): 1349-1369.
- Dale Carothers, Teutoburg Forest (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2020), 88.