Barriers to Special Operations Forces-Led Counterterrorism Effectiveness

Barnett Koven, Katy Lindquist
Published on 10/29/2021

Koven and Lindquist address the main problems with Special Operations Forces (SOF) counterterrorism (CT) effectiveness: lack of grand strategy, overemphasis on disruption-focused CT, limitations to existing interagency processes, and barriers to effective international CT cooperation. The authors demonstrate this in two case studies of the Philippines and Colombia. Using the simple formula of Terrorism = Motivation + Operational Capability, the authors posit that terrorism and CT at their core are political phenomenons. Targeting capabilities without addressing motivation is insufficient, and counterproductive. The monograph wraps up by providing suggestions for areas for improvement that SOF could implement to improve CT effectiveness.