Special Operations Forces and Elusive Enemy Ground Targets: Lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War

Special Operations Forces and Elusive Enemy Ground Targets: Lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War

Special Operations Forces and Elusive Enemy Ground Targets: Lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War

Special Operations Forces and Elusive Enemy Ground Targets: Lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War

Synopsis

Special operations forces can be effective where conventional gound units and air power alone cannot locate elusive or hidden ground targets, but there are limitations.

Excerpt

This report was written as part of a Project AIR FORCE FY 2000 study on elusive ground targets. The larger effort, sponsored by the Director of Strategic Planning, Headquarters, USAF, explored the possibility that warfare is evolving in reaction to the dominance of standoff sensors and weapons. The study looked in particular at how elusive forces (ranging from light forces in a peace operation to mobile ballistic missiles in a larger conflict) operate, why the United States has a limited capability against them today, and how we might do better in the future. Findings from the broader effort, part of the Project AIR FORCE Strategy and Doctrine program, are documented in MR-1398/ AF, Aerospace Operations Against Elusive Ground Targets, by Alan Vick, Richard M. Moore, Bruce R. Pirnie, and John Stillion.

This report explores the role of ground observers in efforts to detect and defeat such forces. Drawing on U.S. experiences during the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, the study examines the challenges associated with employing ground observers to search large areas for elusive targets. The report also suggests ways in which ground ob/ servers might be usefully employed during future conflicts. It should be of interest to both aviators and land warriors in U.S. and allied militaries as well as the broader defense community.

Research for this report was completed in November 2000.

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