Have you ever had one of those mornings when you wake up and your brain is just firing on all synapses? I am having one of those days today. I met with a future Special Operations commander yesterday, and we had a great conversation about a variety of topic areas. It got me thinking about a bunch of things related to some of the recent national strategy documents and the direction of our military engagements. There is a very good document out there called the Joint Operational Access Concept that attempts to define emerging threat areas and considers how the joint force might gain access to those areas of interest. Interestingly, this document and other recent national strategy and DOD strategy documents either imply or explicitly call for greater uses for Special Operations Forces. Particularly, within the persistent engagement strategy, it seems SOF is being pegged to fulfill that role.
From the DOD perspective, what that means is determining with whom DOD maintains persistent engagement. For many years we have heard about failing and failed states. There is also an interest in so called “unlit” spaces as characterized by the NASA Earthlights image. So, what I have been thinking about is what do we really mean by these “unlit” spaces and what are the DOD and potentially SOF implications for them? I think before DOD moves forward reaching out to a broad, quite frankly gigantic swath of earth, they should define what falls into the “unlit” category. There is plenty of research out there regarding failed states and the like, but I do not know how much consideration has been made to match capabilities with specific definitions of potentially “unlit” spaces. Doing so might re-frame the type of military outfit used to address persistent engagement in those places. That is what I’ll be looking at in the coming weeks – somewhat coalescing those definitions and examining their potential implication for DOD.