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INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT TO SPECIAL OPERATIONS IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM

Fusing the ability to see and strike through interconnected systems, while at the same time reducing the vulnerability of operators, portends momentous changes in the nature of warfare. On the other hand, the complex task of extracting the Taliban and al-Qa’ida forces from difficult terrain and cave hideouts illustrates how much farther we need to progress in our ability to fuse knowledge, decisions, and action into a seamless combat process.

  • GEN Richard B. Myers

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

THE POST 9/11 ENVIRONMENT

The events of 11 September 2001 had a profound impact on both institutions and individuals in the United States. After 9/11, the threat of terrorism demanded a new level of cooperation among the Interagency Community. Gone from our collective national nightmares were the ponderous standing armies of the Cold War as many of our former foes became partners in the global war on terrorism. Instead, we were left fearful of every small bump in the night. The events of 9/11 were a slap in the face, a kinetic wake-up call of the most painful kind--to everyone from policy makers to the man on the street--that the world had changed. We were shown that it did not take a nation- state to kick sand in our face. Individual actors with a dime store tool and a plane ticket could wreak havoc all out of proportion to their evident capabilities. Compounding the anxiety were recollections of the events at the Murragh building in Oklahoma City a decade before, which showed that a few pounds of ingredients available at any garden center could accomplish the purposes of homegrown and foreign terrorists alike. The conclusion to be drawn was inescapable: new responses were going to be required. One of these new responses was demonstrated during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in the close partnership of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Special Operations Forces (SOF). That partnership has continued to expand in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This paper will explore the environment leading up to this change, and how SOF has used and provided intelligence in the last two major conflicts, and whether that support has kept up with the demands of SOF’s new roles in the global war on terrorism.

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