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

Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century

Perspectives from the Social Sciences, 1st Edition

Edited by Jessica Glicken Turnley, Kobi Michael, Eyal Ben-Ari


312 pages

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Hardback: 9781138632622
pub: 2017-08-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315208114
pub: 2017-08-09
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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 Joseph 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, Eyal Lewin and Eyal Ben-Ari: Special Forces, Ethos and Technology: The Case of Israel's Haruv Reconnaissance Unit

15. Organizational Entrepreneurship and Special Forces: The First Isreali Helicopter Squadron and the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Matkal), Lior Brichta and Eyal Ben-Ari

16. The diffusion of innovation: SOF in Iraq, Rebecca Jensen

PART V: Psychological Perspectives

17. Profiling the Swedish Ranger: Perceptions of Motivation, Profession and Risk and Safety Issues, Johan Osterberg, Marcus Borjesson, and Ann Enander

18. The Resilience of SOF Personnel, Irina Goldenberg and Mathieu Saindon

PART VI: Setting (Special) Agendas

19. What is Special about Special Operations Forces?, Anthony King

20. A Social Scientific Agenda for the Study of SOF, Eyal Ben-Ari, Jessica Glicken Turnley, Kobi Michael

About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Cass Military Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Strategy
HISTORY / Military / Special Forces
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security