In a world increasingly defined by the Compound Security Dilemma and marked by conditions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, no component of the military element of national power is better prepared to help secure vital U.S. interests than the nation's Special Operations Forces (SOF). U.S. SOF is ever-evolving in order to meet the challenges of an uncertain future, which now sees the dawning of a Fourth Age of SOF. An understanding of the ways in which SOF previously deterred conflict and combatted the nation's enemies is necessary, but not sufficient, to meet the challenges of the future. With an eye on the past and a focus on the future, this forum provides a platform in which to consider, debate, and explore what are sure to be many answers to the question, "What kinds of personnel, capabilities, authorities, mission sets, equipment and doctrine will best prepare America's Special Operations Forces to succeed in the Fourth Age of Special Operations?"
Fourth Age of SOF Pub.pdfHot of the press - this is a sweeping monograph that chronicles the history of modern Special Operations Forces (SOF) and insightfully describes their new challenges. The authors have compiled a concise history of SOF's three early ages: 1941-1960, 1961-1979, and 1980-2020, setting the stage for projecting SOF's Fourth-Age roles in the emerging era of strategic competition. The early years were not easy, but with determination and perseverance, the SOF community prevailed, and four decades of remarkable SOF achievements resulted. As they begin their Fourth Age, and look out on the horizon of the Compound Security Environment, SOF will again be challenged.
Major Maher has served in the Australian Army for 20 years and is taking leave in 2022 to complete a Doctorate examining Proxy Warfare. He has served with multiple deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq and has been a military fellow and post-graduate lecturer with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra. He is also a visiting fellow with the Charles Sturt University Terrorism studies program, a non-resident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point, and lectures with David Kilcullen on Irregular Warfare and the Theory of Special Operations. In 2021, he was an Australian Chief of Army Scholar.
BRIG Chaloner entered Army via the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1991 and
commissioned in 1994. Following service in Transport and Infantry, BRIG Chaloner
completed Commando selection and reinforcement training and served in the 4
The Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) (4RAR(Cdo)). He subsequently completed
Special Air Service Regiment selection and training, serving in a range of command and
operations appointments. These included deployment to East Timor and Counter Terrorism
duties in support of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Concurrent to service as the Adjutant of the
Royal Military College – Duntroon, BRIG Chaloner deployed in support of operations in Iraq
Brian Babcock-Lumish is the director of the General David H. Petraeus Center for Emerging Leaders at the Institute for the Study of War. He is an adjunct associate professor in the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, and a security fellow of the Truman National Security Project. He served as a U.S. Army military intelligence officer, retiring after 24 years in uniform. Dr. Babcock-Lumish had two deployments to Iraq, first training Iraqi intelligence collectors and then serving as General Petraeus’ daily intelligence briefer during “The Surge” in 2007. At U.S. Army Pacific, he served as the analysis chief leading 200 analysts watching the 36 countries of the Indo-Pacific. He served two tours teaching international relations in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he also led the Academy’s graduate scholarship program. Formerly an enlisted Russian linguist, Dr. Babcock-Lumish double majored in International & Strategic History and International Politics and received his commission from West Point. Upon graduation, he earned an M.Phil. in Russian and East European Studies at Oxford University as a U.S. Marshall Scholar. Prior to his first tour on faculty at West Point, he completed his Ph.D. in War Studies at King’s College London as a Harry S. Truman Scholar. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Royal United Services Institute, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and Chatham House.
LTC Charles (Charlie) Faint commissioned into the Military Intelligence Branch of the US Army through the ROTC program at Mercer University and claims Alabama as his home state. After completing a branch detail to the Infantry in the 101st Airborne Division, he subsequently served as an intelligence officer in a variety of units, including ing the 2nd Infantry Division, the 5th Special Forces Group, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the Joint Special Operations Command. His most recent operational assignment was at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where he served as the Chief of Intelligence Plans and Exercises and then Chief of Intelligence Operations on the G2 staff of US Army Pacific. LTC Faint currently serves as an Assistant Professor and Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute at West Point, and instructs the Comparative Defense Policy course. During a previous tour at West Point, LTC Faint was the Course Director for MX400, the Superintendent’s capstone course on Officership, for two years. He also instructed International Relations, American Politics, Comparative Politics, Conflict and Negotiation, and Intelligence and National Policy for three years in West Point’s renowned Department of Social Sciences.
Cristian Simon is in the U.S. Army for 22 years, 7 as a Western Hemisphere Foreign Area Officer. He spent 2 years as a WHINSEC Instructor, 2.5 years in the US Embassy in Nicaragua, 2.5 years in the Joint Staff J5, and 4 years with the OUSD(I&S) CPE WHEM -- current WHEM Team Chief.
David Kilcullen is Professor of Practice in the Center on the Future of War and the School of Politics and Global Studies, a Senior Fellow at New America and an author, strategist and counterinsurgency expert. He served 25 years as an army officer, diplomat and policy advisor for the Australian and United States governments, in command and operational missions (including peacekeeping, counterinsurgency and foreign internal defense) across the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe. In the United States he was Chief Strategist in the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, and served in Iraq as Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus, before becoming Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is the author of a number of influential books including, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One and Counterinsurgency, Out of the Mountains and, Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism based on an essay that received the Walkley Award, the Australian version of the Pulitzer Prize.
Mr. Doug Jordan is Course Director for the newly developed Strategic Influence and Information Advantage (SAIA) Integrated Program of Study (IPoS) for the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), MacDill AFB, Florida. He also serves as the Course Director for the the Special Operations Forces Security Cooperation Course (SOF-SC) and the Information Related Capabilities Seminar (IRC-S) and is assigned to the Department of International Education and Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, Multinational and Commercial (JIIM-C). JSOU is the joint educational component of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a global combatant command which provides fully capable Special Operations Forces (SOF) and synchronizes DOD planning against terrorists and terrorist networks. He was detailed from 2019-2020 to the Office of Defense Cooperation, US Embassy Ukraine as the Ministry of Defense Advisor for Strategic Communication. Mr. Jordan is a Master Instructor at JSOU responsible for the coordination, development and delivery of senior leader education programs in support of U.S. and International SOF personnel, including strategic and operational leadership and the coordination of joint special operations and irregular warfare education. He earned Defense Security Cooperation- Intermediate Certification in 2020. He graduated from the Air War College (Non-Resident) in 2021.
Dr. Isaiah (Ike) Wilson III, PhD is the President of the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU). He is a master strategist and a leading advocate for change in America’s concepts of and approaches to security and defense policy, and affairs of war and peace. A decorated combat veteran, former army aviator, and strategist, he most recently served as Director (Chief), Commander’s Initiatives Group, for the Commander, U.S. Central Command. A full professor of political science, Dr. Wilson formerly served as a professor and academic program director at West Point, where he also founded the West Point Grand Strategy Program. He has also taught extensively at the undergraduate and graduate levels at a number of prestigious colleges and universities, including Columbia University, Yale University, George Washington University, and the National War College. Prior to his appointment with U.S. Special Operations Command, Dr. Wilson was the Director of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and USAWC Press. Dr. Wilson has numerous publications to his credit, including, Thinking Beyond War: Civil-Military Relations and Why America Fails to Win the Peace. Dr. Wilson is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an International Affairs Fellow with New America. He also serves as a professor of practice with the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.
Jacob N. Shapiro is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and co-founder of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project, a multi-university consortium that studies politically motivated violence in countries around the world. His research covers conflict, economic development, and misinformation. He is author of The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations and co-author of Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution in Modern Conflict. His research has been published in broad range of academic and policy journals as well as a number of edited volumes. He has conducted field research and large-scale policy evaluations in Afghanistan, Colombia, India, and Pakistan. Shapiro received the 2016 Karl Deutsch Award from the International Studies Association, given to a scholar younger than 40, or within 10 years of earning a Ph.D., who has made the most significant contribution to the study of international relations. He is a veteran of the United States Navy.
Elected on March 16, 2021, Mr. Gagliano was installed as the Village’s 29 mayor, after serving one term as a Village trustee. His professional pursuits include serving as a law enforcement analyst and policing methodology subject matter expert in the media, where he provides on-air analyses of complex law enforcement and counterterror matters. An adjunct assistant professor and doctoral candidate at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, he is a sought-after speaker on criminal justice, homeland security, police use of force, and organizational leadership matters, and delivers keynote addresses for corporate clients and in academic settings.
A 1987 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was commissioned as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer, serving as a light infantry platoon leader and company executive officer in the 2 Brigade of the 10 Mountain Division, while stationed at Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Drum, NY, between 1988 and 1991. He earned an M.P.S. in Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Leadership from St. John’s University in 2017.
Colonel Jaroslaw Jablonski has been a member of the Polish Special Forces since 2002. COL Jablonski received his MA in defense analysis from the US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in 2009 and a PhD in information and knowledge management in 2012. COL Jablonski has a combined more than 40 months of deployment time to Balkans, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan in support of the ISAF. At present he serves as POLSOF Exchange Officer in USSOCOM.
Sergeant First Class Jarrid Johnson is the senior enlisted advisor for the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is an instructor for MS200 Fundamentals of Small Unit Operations. SFC Johnson is also the non-commissioned officer-in-charge and dive supervisor for the USMA Maritime Assessment Course for cadets attending Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC). SFC Johnson was assigned to an Operational Detachment Alpha as a senior weapons sergeant and combat dive supervisor. He deployed with the detachment to Afghanistan in 2017-2018 and 2019 in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. He also deployed to Latvia in 2021 in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Mr. John Melkon is the Director of the Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations and an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy. In this capacity he is responsible for facilitating the coordination, planning and execution of the strategic vision and mission for the Center and education of cadets, faculty and the community of practice. He is the Course Director for the Geography of the Middle East and North Africa, and the Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa as well as a Civ-Mil Ops Colloquium. Before assuming his position at West Point, Mr. Melkon served as a Senior Operations Advisor to the United States Army Africa in Vicenza, Italy from 2009 to 2012 and service to OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN. He was also a Strategic Operations Officer for the Department of Defense from 2006 to 2009 with service to OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. He is a retired Army Special Forces Officer with tours in Europe, Africa, SE Asia, the Middle East and multiple combat tours in Afghanistan. He has been awarded the Ranger Tab, the Special Forces Tab, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal. Before re-entering public service Mr. Melkon worked as an International Banking Associate for Credit Suisse First Boston in Frankfurt, Germany. He holds an AB History from Princeton, an MA European Politics and Certificate of Professional Achievement in Enterprise Risk Management from Columbia, and an MBA from the Lowry Mays School of Business along with an MAIA from the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M. He enjoys competing in endurance events and completed Ironman Indian in 2021.
Major General Joshua M. Rudd most recently served
as the Deputy Commanding General - Operations for the
25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. In this
role, he oversaw 29,000 soldiers, family members, retirees,
civilians and contractors. He provided operational oversight
for the planning and execution of current and future
operations, training, contingency response requirements,
readiness exercises, and Theater Security Cooperation
Plans in support of the USINDOPACOM Commander's
objectives. His other flag assignment includes Deputy
Commanding General, 1st Special Forces Command
Brigadier General Rudd was born in Southern California and
grew up in South Carolina. He graduated from Furman
University in 1993 after earning his comission through ROTC.
He entered active duty as a Quartermaster Officer, and in 1996 he successfully completed
Special Forces Assessment and Selection. As a Special Forces Officer he has commanded
at every echelon - from ODA to Group. Most recent Command Assignments include:
Commander JIATF-NCR (2017-2018), Commander of a Forward Deployed Combined
Joint Special Operations Task Force (2017-2018), and Commander 3rd Operations Support
Group (2015-2017), Commander of a Forward Deployed Combined Joint Task Force
(2015-2017). Brigadier General Rudd has deployed in support of multiple combat operations
including to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, and Iraq and Jordan for Operation
Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Brigadier General Rudd has completed the following military schools: US Army War College -
Fellowship at Duke University, Naval Command and Staff College, Infantry Officer Advanced
Course, and Quartermaster Officer Basic Course. He holds a M.A. in Strategy and National
Security from the Naval War College and a B.A. in Political Science from Furman University.
He is authorized to wear the following awards and decorations: Defense Superior Service Medal
(2nd award), Legion of Merit (3rd award), Bronze Star Medal (3rd award), Combat Infantryman
Badge, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Badge and Combat
Diver Supervisor Badge.
Dr. Kari Thyne served in the US Air Force for 20 years as an aircraft maintenance and munitions officer. Her experience includes command of a C-5 aircraft maintenance squadron at Dover, Delaware, before and after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, as well as shop and flight line aircraft maintenance experience on C-130 and C-141 aircraft. She was also a conventional munitions maintenance flight commander and munitions accountable supply officer (MASO) for the Air Force’s largest conventional munitions stockpile.
She served in the Pentagon on the Air Staff, the Joint Staff, and in the immediate office of the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She recently worked in the RAND Corporation’s Washington office supporting Project AIR FORCE’s Strategy and Doctrine Program.
Within academic environs, Dr. Thyne taught biomedical ethics and formal logic at the Northern Virginia Community College-Annandale Campus and military ethics at the US Air Force Academy.
She holds a doctorate of liberal studies from Georgetown University, a master of arts in philosophy from The Ohio State University, a master of science in educational leadership from Troy State University, and a bachelor of science from the US Air Force Academy.
MAJ Kate Nelson is the National Media Manager for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office (AEMO) which includes Linear Video, Streaming Video, Programmatic Online Video, Sports, Entertainment, Esports, Gaming, Digital Direct, Streaming Audio, Paid Social, Custom Content and Print media. As a Military Intelligence officer she most recently served as the US Army Pacific G2 Battle CPT where she was responsible for tracking the integration and execution of intelligence operations across the Pacific theater. She served as the Bravo Company Commander in the 715th MI BN where she was responsible for timely and relevant Signal Intelligence in support of NSA-Hawaii. She served as a targeting and reconnaissance officer for unmanned aircraft supporting Joint forces, Special Operations, and multinational forces. She served as the 82nd Aviation 1st BN S2 deploying to Afghanistan in support of combat operations. She began her career as an enlisted Radio Operator with 5th Special Forces Group deploying multiple times with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force throughout Iraq. MAJ Nelson will complete her Doctorate in Business Administration from Temple University this summer focusing on digital fan engagement. She holds two Master’s degrees, Master of Military Studies and Master of Sport Management.
Lt Col Katie Crombe has served in a variety of
strategy and planning roles across the Middle East and currently serves at U.S.
Special Operations Command Central as the Director of Strategy and Plans. Prior
to this assignment, Katie served at U.S. Central Command, where she led a
planning team charged with the D-ISIS campaign plan within the strategy and
plans directorate prior to being selected as the CENTCOM commander’s
aide-de-camp. Katie also spent three years working at the U.S Embassy in Amman,
Jordan overseeing bilateral, coalition, and interagency plans, culminating with
serving as the planning adviser to the Jordanian Chief of Defense for the Syria
crisis and initial operations to combat ISIS along the Jordanian border.
Katie also served as an exchange officer in the United Kingdom’s Operational
Headquarters, leading the team in development of a new U.K. theater strategy
for the Middle East.
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Keith Carter is a United States Army officer currently stationed at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he serves as the Director of the Defense and Strategic Studies Program. Keith’s last operational assignment was at Fort Bragg where he served as a strategic planner in the Joint Special Operations Command. Prior to that Keith Commanded 1-26 IN at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Over the course of his career, Keith has served in a variety of infantry formations including the 101st ABN DIV, the 2nd Infantry Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the 4th Infantry Division.
Keith earned his Doctorate in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania; his research interests include technology and strategy, civil-military relations, the role of arms trades in alliance formation, and information age war.
Lieutenant Colonel Ken Segelhorst is a U.S. Army Special Forces officer
and information operations practitioner. He is currently assigned to the Simon
Center for the Professional Military Ethic at the United States Military
Academy at West Point. Ken serves as the course director for MX400:
Officership, the Superintendent’s capstone course. In his previous assignment,
Ken served as a joint information operations officer and cross-functional team leader
with Joint Special Operations Command. His operational experience includes numerous
deployments to the Middle East and Africa. Ken’s interagency experience
includes assignments to U.S. embassies in Baghdad, Iraq, and Bangui, Central
African Republic. He is also a non-resident fellow with the Simons Center for
Ethical Leadership and Interagency Cooperation at Fort Leavenworth.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ken Tovo retired from the U.S. Army in 2018 with 35 years of service. A career Green Beret, he commanded at every level in the 10th Special Forces Group. He commanded SOCCENT, the Nato Training Mission in Afghanistan, was the deputy at U.S. Southern Command and commanded the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Ken was the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group Commander, working with the PUK before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
MAJ Kyle Atwell is an instructor in the Social Sciences Department at West Point and the founder and Chair of the Irregular Warfare Initiative, a joint venture between the Modern War Institute at West Point and the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project at Princeton University. His operational experience includes assignments in North and West Africa, Afghanistan, South Korea, and Germany. As a civilian, he has also held positions at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the United States Mission to the United Nations, and worked for two California state legislators. Kyle is currently a nonresident senior fellow in the Forward Defense practice of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a Council on Foreign Relations term member. He was previously a Center for a New American Security Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders fellow and a fellow at the Princeton Center for International Security Studies. Kyle received B.A. degrees in both Economics and International Relations from the University of California at Davis (2006), a M.A. in Public Affairs from Princeton University (2021), and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Security Studies at Princeton University.
Liam Collins is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces colonel who conducted operational deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, South America, the Horn of Africa, and Bosnia. He was the founding director of the Modern War Institute at West Point, former director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, a fellow at New America, and a permanent member with the Council on Foreign Relations. Collins’ work has been cited by the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, the White House press secretary, the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, ABC News, Fox News, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of U.S Counterterrorism and Irregular Warfare Operations and holds a PhD from Princeton University.
Lieutenant Colonel Meghan Cumpston is the Assistant Chief of Staff – G2, 1st Armored Division. LTC Cumpston received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Villanova University in 2003, and completed her Masters in International Relations and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 2013. LTC Cumpston was recently selected as a Goodpaster Scholar and will pursue a PhD upon completion of her assignment as the 1st Armored Division G2. LTC Cumpston served in multiple Army and joint command and staff appointments, including five years assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command Intelligence Brigade (JIB). LTC Cumpston previously taught in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy, and is a 2009 recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
Graduated from USMA in 1961, commissioned Field Artillery. Special Forces 1965-75
(7th, 5th, 1st Special Forces Groups and MACVSOG). OSD 1975-77. Detailed to
Department of State and US Embassy Bangkok 1978-83. DIA 1984. Retired 1985. CIA
1985-2003, primarily in Southeast Asia (Chief of Station, Chief of Base, Chief of
Platform, etc). Independent contractor 2004-present. BS USMA, MA Georgetown
University, PhD George Washington University. Resides in Arlington, VA.
Colonel Michael Harris is a leading irregular warfare practitioner and scholar. He’s led special operations teams conducting integrated deterrence, support to resistance, unconventional warfare, hostage recovery, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, counter-narcoterrorism, and joint forcible entry operations. He’s completed studies at National Defense University, U.S. Army War College, Columbia University, and Harvard University. His scholarly work on deterrence of hybrid warfare while an Army War College Fellow was lauded by senior faculty from Columbia University. His PhD dissertation analyzes Russian and Chinese appropriation of resistance methods in gray zone campaigns. He is currently working on a book titled, “The Love of War.”
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kelvington was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in American History and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Ranger School, and Airborne School, he was assigned to the 501st Battalion (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, Alaska, where he served as an Airborne Rifle Platoon Leader. In 2008, LTC Kelvington was assigned to 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, GA where he served as a Ranger Platoon Leader and Ranger Company Executive Officer. At the completion of the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2011, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he assumed command of Battle Company in August 2011. In January 2013, he relinquished command and was assigned to 2nd Ranger Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord where he served first as the Battalion Assistant Liaison Officer and then later as the Battalion Logistics Officer. In April 2014, he was hand-selected to become the aide-de-camp of the Deputy Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command and returned to Fort Bragg. After a year, LTC Kelvington was selected for the General Wayne A. Downing Scholarship. In June of 2017, upon completion of ILE and grad school, LTC Kelvington was assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment for a third time, serving as the Battalion Operations and Executive Officer of the Regimental Special Troops Battalion at Fort Benning, GA. During this time period, he also served overseas twice as a Joint Task Force Commander. In June of 2019, LTC Kelvington became the Deputy Operations Officer of the 75th Ranger Regiment, where he served as the Operations Officer for a Joint Task Force in support of overseas contingency operations. He has deployed 14 times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Following these assignments, LTC Kelvington and his family moved to Columbus, Ohio where he now serves as the Professor of Military Science and Leadership at The Ohio State University.
Michael Rutledge originated from Bettendorf, IA and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 1990. He served three years as a helicopter rescue swimmer and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1994. Assigned to SEAL Team ONE he completed 3 contingency deployments as an M-60 machine gunner, and air operations specialist. Michael’s last assignment in the SEAL Teams was Course Director of Air Operations at Naval Special Warfare Group One.
In 2002 upon returning from the initial assaults into Afghanistan, Mike transferred from the US Navy to the US Army to become a helicopter pilot with a direct follow-on assignment upon graduation to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. After 13 years of continuous combat operations, Michael was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer Four and assumed command of the Executive Flight Detachment and Aviation Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In May 2019, CW4 Rutledge retired after 30 years of active duty and combat operations in Desert Storm, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He currently resides in Casa Grande, AZ as the CEO of Rutledge Airborne Applications providing wildland aerial firefighting capabilities and training. Michael and his wife Dena of 27 years have 2 children, Matthew and Joshua who is currently deployed as an Army Infantryman.
CPT Moriamo Sulaiman-Ifelodun currently serves as a Public Affairs Officer. As a prior-service enlisted Imagery Analyst, her first unit and combat tour were with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). As an experienced Military Intelligence and Public Affairs Officer, Mo has a demonstrated history of working across all ranks, echelons, and communities. Mo is a published author and holds a Master's of Professional Studies in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from Georgetown University.
Col. Patrick Howell is the assistant to the director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is a career Engineer officer as well as Strategic/Operational Planner and is currently a Chief of Staff of the Army Advanced Strategic Plans & Policy Program Fellow. He has served in a variety of conventional and special operations assignments and has conducted multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eastern Africa. He has graduated from several military courses including Ranger School and the School of Advanced Military Studies. Prior to assuming his current position as the Director of MWI, Patrick served as the lead Strategic Planner at the Joint Special Operations Command, Battalion Commander, and an Assistant Professor of International Relations in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy. He has taught courses in International Relations, Comparative Politics, Politics & Government of Europe, and Central European Security Studies. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States Military Academy, Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Master of Military Arts & Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies, and PhD in Political Science from Duke University.
Peter Cloutier is the new Joint Special Operations
University Professor for Development and Human Security. He is a career
Foreign Service Officer in the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) having served as Office Director for programs in Afghanistan,
Mozambique, Angola and Timor-Leste (East Timor). He has devoted much of his
Foreign Service career to developing innovative strategies and advancing
interagency partnerships in a range of technical fields. He is a successful
and skilled negotiator with host country governments, in sector coordination
bodies, and within the interagency. He has a track record for leading teams to
achieve ambitious results in multiple technical areas. He is an accomplished
writer and presenter, as evidenced by authoring a USAID country strategy and
presenting numerous interagency proposals and presentations to senior USG
decision makers. With 15 years overseas with USAID, he has demonstrated
consistent leadership, accountability and impact. USAID
has recognized his sustained performance with three Superior Honor Awards as a
General Richard D. Clarke currently serves as the 12th Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, FL.
Prior to assuming command of USSOCOM, General Clarke served as Director for Strategic Plans and Policy (J5), Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
General Clarke’s other assignments as a general officer include: Deputy Commanding General for Operations, 10th Mountain Division from 2011 to 2013; the 74th Commandant of Cadets, United States Military Academy at West Point from 2013 to 2014; and the Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.
His formative and key, Army and special operations, assignments include: Director of Operations, Joint Special Operations Command from 2009 to 2011. Eight years in the 75th Ranger Regiment first as a company commander, then as a battalion commander, and finally as the regimental commander. He also served as commander of 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
General Clarke has led Soldiers at all levels in Airborne, Ranger, Mechanized and Light Infantry units in five different divisions, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the 75th Ranger Regiment in the United States, Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan. His deployments while serving in the aforementioned positions include Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Joint Guardian in Macedonia, three deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, four deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and one deployment as the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command - Operation Inherent Resolve.
General Clarke was born in Germany and raised in an Army family. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and was commissioned into the Infantry in 1984. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from West Point and a Master of Business Administration from Benedictine College. He is a distinguished graduate of the National War College earning a master's degree in Security and Strategic Studies.
Brigadier Rob Stephenson
commissioned into The Parachute Regiment in 1987. During his career he has deployed on numerous
operational tours in Northern Ireland under Op BANNER and also on various
overseas operations both with the Parachute Regiment and with other units
including to Bosnia, North Macedonia, Iraq and Afghanistan. As a staff officer, he has fulfilled a
variety of roles within the UK’s Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office. In 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British
Empire (OBE) for his unit command appointment which included operational
deployments to Afghanistan and North Africa. He has been the Deputy Commander
of NATO Special Operations Headquarters since August 2018. Brigadier Rob holds
a Masters Degree in Defence Studies from Kings College London. He is married
and has two sons.
Dr. Robert S. Burrell is a military historian and professor of irregular warfare at Joint Special Operations University. Previously, he taught military history at U.S. Naval Academy. He is also the former editor-in-chief of special operations doctrine.
A retired Marine with combat experience, Dr. Burrell is an Asia-Pacific expert with 12 years living and working in Japan, Korea, Philippines, and Thailand, as well as a diplomatic tour at the U.S. Embassy in Australia.
He is married to Carmen Burrell and has three boys Alex, Max, and Ben.
Seth G. Jones is senior vice president, Harold Brown Chair, director of the International Security Program, and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He leads a bipartisan team of over 50 resident staff and an extensive network of non-resident affiliates dedicated to providing independent strategic insights and policy solutions that shape national security. He also teaches at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
Command Sergeant Major Shorter enlisted in the
Army in 1988 and attended Infantry Basic Training
and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning,
GA. He was subsequently assigned to 3rd Infantry
Division in Kitzingen, Germany.
Command Sergeant Major Shorter volunteered for
Special Forces training and graduated the Special
Forces Qualification Course in 1992. He was then
assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (A)
at Fort Lewis Washington. During the following 23
years, he has held the positions of Junior Medical NCO, Senior Medical NCO, Team
Sergeant and HSC First Sergeant. His Sergeant Major assignments are all with 1st
Special Forces Group and include, OPSDET Sergeant Major, Company Sergeant
Major for Charlie Company 3
rd Battalion, Group Operations Sergeant Major, and 1st
Battalion Command Sergeant Major.
Command Sergeant Major Shorter’s military education includes every level of NonCommissioned Officer Professional Development, to include the Summit Course.
He is a graduate of the Special Forces Qualification Course, Special Forces
Operations and Intelligence Course, Static Line Jumpmaster Course, Dive Medical
Technician’s Course and the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course.
Command Sergeant Major Shorter’s awards and decorations include the Bronze
Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with “V”
device, and Army Achievement Medal. He has been awarded the Special Forces
Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Field Medic
Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge, and the
Saint Phillip of Neri Award (Bronze Order).
Command Sergeant Major Shorter currently serves as the Special Operations
Command, Pacific (SOCPAC) Senior Enlisted Leader. He and his wife Leslie have
been married 26 years and have one daughter, Kelcie, who is a senior at the
University of Washington.
1LT Shawna Moore graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2018 as a Stamps Scholar and Rhodes Finalist with a degree in Environmental Engineering. She commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer and began her service with the 101st Airborne Division. Subsequently, she deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as a JSOC targeting operations officer and cultural support team member. Currently, 1LT Moore is serving as a company fire support officer in 2D Ranger Battalion. She also works as a project manager at Allied Airlift 21, a non-profit evacuating at-risk partners from Afghanistan.
Sergeant Major Timo Braese was born on 23 September 1972 and is a native of Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He enlisted into the German Army on 1 July 1991 as an infantryman. SGM Braese has served in all leadership positions from team leader to platoon leader of a ranger assault platoon. He was appointed as Sergeant Major of the German Armed Forces on 1st January 2015 and continues to serve today. His last assignment was with 3rd EGB 31st Airborne Regiment (SOF), and has served as an Operations Sergeant Major for the unit.
Timothy Heck is the deputy editorial director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is an artillery and regional affairs officer in the US Marine Corps Reserve and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He previously served at SOCOM FMD-JCT. He writes on Soviet military history, amphibious operations, operational art, and the Cold War. He teaches courses in the Defense & Strategic Studies program.
COL Trevor Hough is a career U.S. Army Intelligence Officer with extensive assignments in USSOCOM units. COL Hough has served at every level of Special Operations formation from Special Forces Company to Special Operations Intelligence Brigade to 3 Star Joint Special Operations Task Force level. COL Hough has also served at the national policy making level including tours at the Joint Staff and at the White House as Vice President Pence's Middle East policy advisor and at the National Security Council Staff. COL Hough's last assignments in the Army were as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command Intelligence Brigade and at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as the Deputy GEOINT Mission Manager for Counterterrorism and the Near East.
What is the 4th Age of SOF?: Conversation w/ Dr. Isaiah "Ike" Wilson, JSOU President
The views expressed in this video are entirely those of the speaker[s] and do no necessarily reflect the views, policy or position of the United States Government, Department of Defense, United States Operations Command, or the Joint Special Operations University.
Forum Scene Setter, Dr. Isaiah Wilson, JSOU president and CSM Shane Shorter, SEA JSOU
JSOU - The fourth age of SOF: the use and utility of Special Operations Forces in a new age history, theory and future practices scene setter with Dr. Isaiah “Ike” Wilson III, JSOU President and CSM Shane Shorter, SEA, JSOU. Day 1, 29 March 2022. Opinions in this forum are those of the presenters and may not necessarily be the views of U.S. Government, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command, and the Joint Special Operations University.
- When we speak about “Ages of SOF”, we are referring to organizational structure essentially, and how ours has or has not changed over time to help us – SOF -- meet mission requirements for Nation.
We like a “Back to our Futures” approach to framing or rediscovering, the Ages, and this involves 3 main questions: a) how is Global Geopolitical or Power Competition changing, and what are the implications of such change (good and bad)? b) What does this mean for Special Ops and SOF, for next 30 years? c) What will change / needs to change for SOF to meet mission requirements? Consider: 12 core tasks, joint combined competencies, SOF’s value proposition – what can we offer, force structure, force modernization, force design, etc.
Consider all this in the context of: 2022 draft National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, National Military Strategy
3rd Age of SOF -- James Dietz’ “Call to Colors” Print, explanation. The GWOT Era in hindsight – this is the 3rd Age of SOF, which shows: failure of preventative deterrence, reactionary posture, under-preparedness, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars define the 3rd Age. But new light ahead – hope through new intention, benefits of anticipation, benefits of foresight. SOF Operators at the left of the print show SOF at the vanguard of change.
o Afghanistan withdrawal in August 2021, puts an end to the 3rd Age of SOF, closes out the second GWOT War.
SOF are at another threshold crossing, Compound Security, driven by a Compound Security Dilemma. Need SOF that is equally “compounded” – use all we have learned from the last 3 Ages and make new. We lose nothing, we take it all and use it.
Compound Security – this dynamic is placing new demands on us – New Operational Overview. Conflicts at the Seem – low intensity conflict, indirect force, physical and human terrain at the sub - system level. Gain positional advantage – in physical, virtual, and ideationally*
Sources of conflict can be viewed as sources of opportunity
Old School Mercantilism – going back to a more transactional international relations – breakdown of Westphalia
Early Age – task forces used for Special Ops – team put together and then disbanded after mission complete.
1st Age – WW2 – still disbanding after wars. But were becoming able to see the values of SOF.
2nd Age -- President John F Kennedy saw the need to build COIN and that SOF was the way. In response to Cold War threats against nationalism.
3rd Age – started w/ Operation Eagle Claw and the establishment of USSOCOM. Goes through Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, and ends with the end of GWOT, August 2021.
Now begins the 4th Age of SOF – exploitation of traditional Western institutions. China and Russia no longer playing by established norms.
o China – island building, Taiwan, One Belt One Road Initiative
o Russia -- little green men and Wagner Group, bold invasion. Georgia, Ukraine
o We must view these threats NOT ONLY as singularly and separate threats, BUT ALSO in light of ALL the other threats – Iran, Terrorism, CWMD, Climate, Information, etc
How do we overcome transactional relationships? How can we find positional advantage? Mention of Commanding Heights in the One Belt One Road Initiative.
Is the key to preventing hot wars using irregular warfare in order to extend the length of periods of relative peace?
SOF Value Proposition: SOF has the most professional, educated, discipline, and mature forces our nation has to offer. SOF can help in 5 ways: Geostrategic Shapers, Agent of Influence, Integrated Deterrence, Help pursue ideological supremist and CWMD proliferators, SOF Options for traditional warfare and crisis response
Panel 1: Session 1: Ages of SOF from a Historical Perspective
JSOU SOF Q2 Forum - Panel 1 - Day 1, 29 March 2022 Panel 1: Ages of SOF from a Historical Perspective What are the major historical lessons from each previous age of Special Operations, and how can they be used to prepare for the future? Moderator: Mr. John Melkon Panel: COL (Ret) Mike Eiland CW4 (Ret.) Mike Rutledge 1LT(P) Shawna Moore Day 1, 29 March 2022. Opinions in this forum are those of the presenters and may not necessarily be the views of U.S. Government, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command, and the Joint Special Operations University.
Kings College War Studies research – Royal Navy officers dismissed historical lessons learned from 18th and 19th century commanders, which led to rigid Commands. Also, they dismissed technology from past decades and centuries that they should have been familiar with in order to benefit tactically, operationally, and strategically.
We do not study military history, or even history really, in our national education system. Why? We didn’t want to study the Vietnam War, due to national embarrassment, and so we refused to learn lessons from it. Why did it happen? Why did it expand? What did we do wrong?
Next was the Cold War, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), as well as the desire to abandon warfare altogether. Elites searched for the source of the problem, the “warmongers” they considered to be the “establishments” of the government, military, religion, etc. They saw war as a failure of human action / inaction. Trotsky – “You may not be interested in war, but it is interested in you”.
Panelist 1: COL (Ret) Mike Eiland – 1st Age of SOF. 1964-1974 – SOF HQ never existed, no SOF doctrine or anything like that existed. All was tactical. SE Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia.
Question: What inspired you to come into Special Operations? Answer: His first year as a lieutenant, he met a SOF operator, and noticed his professionalism and was inspired by his stories. SOF was a career killer and had a bad reputation of attracting rogues and misfits. But he did well in it anyway and also went to Vietnam.
Question: Discuss some lessons learned that have been applied. Answer: 1) recruiting has gotten better in order to weed out bad personalities, 2) communications capability has improved exponentially (but this can be a disadvantage as well), 3) principal of war that we violate the most is – simplicity. We have many layers of command, and large staffs, which diminishes our agility, 4) language capability is better now than it was, and could get even better still, 5) old SOF had too many ethical pitfalls – we do better today, but we have much room for improvement.
Panelist 2: CW4 (Ret) Mike Rutledge -- 2nd Age of SOF. Enlisted Navy and Warrant Officer Army – 1990 – helicopter pilot, then SEAL Team 1.
Lessons Learned: Desert Storm was the first true JOINT environment, but SOF didn’t seem too JOINT at the time, in some ways. The new generation is every bit as tenacious and physically and mentally able to do the job as well or better than we did. As a community, we have overestimated our ability to handle everything mentally. We need to look out for each other, there is no way to do this job for 20-30 years without feeling any effects mentally and physically.
Panelist 3: 1LT Shawna Moore: 4th Age of SOF, graduated from West Point. Artillery Officer, Fort Campbell, JSOC, Cultural Support Officer. 4 years so far.
Lessons: What do we do well? 1) Selection and reselection. This is unique and getting better all the time – longer selection, more mentally strong, AND intellectual tasks – SOF is getting smarter. This selection applies also to supporters, which makes the whole force better. Reselection is important because it means you have to repeatedly prove yourself, you are not “tenured”. Keeps SOF professional. 2) Another distinguishing factor is INNOVATION. We encourage innovation, which is not what general forces do. Doctrinally, GPF and SOF are not much different from each other, but they do work different, and this is because SOF is allowed and expected to be innovative, eg: warm blood transfusions. 3) Unwavering mastery of doctrine – we are good at quick institutional learning. What we asked of 2nd age of SOF and 3rd age of SOF were very different, and it adapted. We are able to innovate and learn and scale to capacity. 4) Ops-tempo we need to achieve, we have to improve. Figuring out where we fit in the future fight will help us achieve this and get the tempo correct, so that we can sustain forces.
Question: What’s the greatest challenge from your Age of SOF, and from what you hear and know about the state of the force today, is it still an issue?
Eiland – North Vietnamese Army, is no longer a challenge. Lack of communications was another challenge, and we have gotten better at that. Also, problem of Jointness, which was lacking more then and we have improved upon.
Rutledge – the biggest challenge in sustained combat ops, is finding motivation to a mission that is ongoing. After a year or two, we lose sight of mission and focus more on safety of ourselves and become adverse to risk.
Moore -- focus on what the next fight looks like. There is a lot of things going on, and not knowing what is going to be most important, we train on various things, but will we be ready for the big fight? What will the next big fight be?
Melkon -- What are you most excited about for the future, regarding technology? For Moore.
Moore -- We possess a lot of technology and a lot of combat experience within our force. We have been at a technological overmatch for many years with the forces we have been fighting (ISIS), but going forward, it will be interesting to see how we combine our combat experience with our technological experience to address a new (more technologically competent) enemy and new threats.
Eiland (same question) -- values are timeless, selfless service among them. As far as technology goes, what concerns me is how we use the technology. We do not have to exercise a capability just because it is there, and we must stay true to our values when we employ technology in the future. We have to balance all this with a tendency to micromanage, and how we recruit and give our best soldiers the ability to solve problems.
Moore – Question: Discuss human factors and psychological factors in the fourth age – we need to establish left and right limits very clearly. Young soldiers are asked to walk the line of what is human dignity and achieving tasks and mission. It is imperative for their psychological health that we set left and right limits and that we keep lines of communication open in order to support them. We ask a lot of them.
Melkon reminds us that allies and partners are crucial to the next fight. And relationships with our allies and partners are not only the responsibility of our government, but of each individual as well.
Panel 2: Session: The Fourth Age of SOF
Panel 2: The Fourth Age of SOF
How do the past three “ages of SOF” impact the preparation for, and success in, the Fourth Age of Special Operations?
Moderator: COL Mike Harris
Panel: Dr. Isaiah “Ike” Wilson Mr. Chris FussellBG (UK) Rob Stephenson MAJ Alex Deep
Day 1, 29 March 2022.
Opinions in this forum are those of the presenters and may not necessarily be the views of U.S. Government, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command, and the Joint Special Operations University.
Panel 3: Session 1: Creating Complexity for Current and Potential Rivals
Panel 3: Creating Complexity for Current and Potential Rivals
How can Special Operations Forces best create complexity for current and potential rivals during both competition and conflict?
Moderator: COL (Ret.) Liam Collins
Panel: Mr. Andy Maher, LTC Meghan Cumpston, Dr. David Kilcullin and Mr. Peter Cloutier.
Day 1, 29 March 2022.
Opinions in this forum are those of the presenters and may not necessarily be the views of U.S. Government, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command, and the Joint Special Operations University.
Panel 4: Understanding and Countering Irregular Adversaries
Panel 4: Understanding and Countering Irregular Adversaries
What is ‘irregular warfare,’ and how can SOF conduct, and prevent against, IW in the future?
Moderator: MAJ Kyle Atwell
Panel: Dr. Jake Shapiro, Dr. Seth Jones, LTC Katie Crombe, and LTG Ken Tovo
Day 1, 29 March 2022.
Opinions in this forum are those of the presenters and may not necessarily be the views of U.S. Government, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command, and the Joint Special Operations University.