As the United States military prepares to move beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and develop new strategies, operating concepts and organizations, policymakers are asking whether there are any useful lessons to be learned from the more than decade-long global war on terrorism. Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P) is an instructive case that can provide possible considerations for the future.
The U.S. military’s experience in the Philippines is particularly relevant, as the December 2012 Army Capstone Concept guiding the service’s future operations envisions regionally focused brigade combat teams with the ability to conduct security force assistance with host-nation forces. More importantly, the Capstone Concept recognizes the importance of conventional and special operations forces interdependence, which it defines as “the deliberate and mutual reliance by one force on another’s inherent capabilities designed to provide complementary and reinforcing effects.”
OEF-P and operations by U.S. special operations forces in the Philippines are best characterized by the definition of “special warfare” given in in the Army’s August 2012 doctrinal publication “Special Operations”: