May 9, 2022

Strategic Change in Special Operations

Opening Remarks and Conversation: 9:00am until 10:00am (ET)

Discussion Panel 1: 10:00am until 11:30am (ET)

Technology and Attribution: Operational Secrecy in Today's Information Environment

Are non-attribution and delayed attribution operations disappearing? The time between conducting an operation and having the act, participants, methods, and sponsors identified and publicized is shrinking rapidly. Many recent special operations have been discovered and accurately reported, in detail, within twenty-four hours—including by non- governmental entities. Who are the newly-emerging “trackers”? What are the primary methods they employ? Is there anything governments can do to regain some of their ability to operate with secrecy and deniability? Or will tracking progress to a point where attribution times not only evaporate, but operations are discovered before they even occur?

Discussion Panel 2: 1:00pm until 2:30pm (ET)

Private Military Contractors: Encountering Privatization in Irregular Warfare

To a growing extent, nations rely on Private Military Contractors (PMCs) to conduct military operations below the threshold of war. PMCs can allow their sponsors to amass and project military power with greater efficiency, flexibility, and deniability. SOF increasingly find themselves in environments where PMCs—friendly and hostile—have an operationally significant presence. How are PMCs reshaping the ability of nations to conduct irregular warfare? What are the primary advantages and disadvantages to sponsors of utilizing PMCs? What role do PMCs have in America's geopolitical toolkit? And what changes do we need to make to the way we recruit, train, equip, and field our special operators in order to account for the trend towards privatization in the "grey zone"?

Discussion Panel 3: 3:00pm until 4:30pm (ET)

Strategic Change in Special Operations

"Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security." - National Defense Strategy (NDS) 2018. In the four years since the pivotal 2018 NDS, and in anticipation of the forthcoming 2022 NDS, how have special operations begun to change? How do strategic-level military and civilian SOF leaders envision the way forward? Looking back over the dramatic transformation the force underwent during 20 years of the Global War on Terror, what did we fail at, and what have we learned? And what should special operations look like 20 years from now?

Closing Remarks and Conversation: 5:00pm (ET)