Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century : Perspectives from the Social Sciences book cover
1st Edition

Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century
Perspectives from the Social Sciences

ISBN 9780367886400
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
326 Pages

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Book Description

This book sets out the major social scientific approaches to the study of Special Operations Forces.

Despite consistent downsizing, over the past two decades the armed forces of the industrial democracies have seen a huge growth in Special Operations Forces (SOF). Through increasing numbers of personnel and more frequent deployments, SOF units have wielded considerable influence in conflicts around the world, with senior SOF officers having led major strategic operations. This increased presence and unprecedented expansion for SOF is largely a result of the ‘new’ kinds of conflicts that have emerged in the 21st century. At the same time, even with this high profile in the military, policy and media and popular cultural arenas, there is relatively little social scientific research on SOF. This volume aims to fill this gap by providing a series of studies and analyses of SOF across the globe, since the end of World War II. Analysing SOF at the micro, mezzo and macro levels provides broad and diverse insights. Moreover, the volume deals with new issues raised by the use of such forces that include emerging modes of civilian control, innovative organizational forms and the special psychological characteristics necessitated by SOF operatives. It concludes with a discussion of a question which continues to be debated in today’s militaries: what makes SOF ‘special’?

Filling a clear gap in the literature, this book will be of much interest to students of strategic studies, civil-military relations, irregular warfare, security studies, and international relations.

Table of Contents

1. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Social Science: An Introductory Essay, Eyal Ben-Ari, Jessica Glicken Turnley, Kobi Michael  PART I: The Emergence of Special Operations Forces 2. The Evolution of SOF and Rise of SOF Power, Bernd Horn 3. The Special Operations Forces Mosaic: A Portrait for Discussion, Emily Spencer 4. Warrior-Diplomats and Ungoverned Spaces: Narratives of Possibilities, Jessica Glicken Turnley  PART II: Civilian Control and Public Imagery 5. Special Operations Forces (SOF) as the "Silver Bullet": Strategic Helplessness and Weakened Institutional and Extra-Institutional Civilian Control, Kobi Michael 6. "Unintended Acceleration": The Problematique of Civil-Military Relations of Special Operations Forces in the American Context, James Kiras  PART III: Social Dynamics, Organizational Processes and Challenges 7. The Seaman's Council: A SOFish Way of Making Decisions, Tone Danielsen 8. Service Cultures and Collective Military Action: Successful Joint Operations by the Israeli Air Force and Special Operations Forces, Uzi Ben-Shalom and Yuval Tsur 9. Dutch Forward Air Controllers in Uruzgan: Aspects of Cooperation, Courage, Responsibility, Legitimacy and…. People Getting Killed, Wout Jansen and Sjo Soeters 10. In Search of Intelligence: The Dutch Special Forces in Mali, Sebastian Rietjens and Jelle Zomer 11. Aiming to Punch above Their Weight: The Belgian Special Forces, Delphine Resteigne 12. Integrating Men and Women within Naval Special Warfare Combat Teams, Deborah Gibbons, Alan Nelson and Jim Suchan  PART IV: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Military Institution 13. The Self and the Mirror: Institutional Tensions and Canadian Special Operations Forces, Eric Oullet Chapter Fourteen: Zeev Drory, E

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Jessica Glicken Turnley is President of Galisteo Consulting Group, Inc., and a Senior Fellow at the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), US Special Operations Command.

Kobi Michael is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Eyal Ben-Ari is Director of the Kinneret Center for Society, Security and Peace, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel.