News: Strategic adviser briefs 352nd SOG leadership
Story by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch
RAF MILDENHALL, U.K. - Retired U.S. Army Col. Robert Jones, U.S. Special Operations Command strategic adviser, spoke to leaders of the 352nd Special Operations Group July 22, 2013, at RAF Mildenhall, England, about the importance of thinking strategically.
Throughout the talk, Jones highlighted the strategic uncertainty of the current era, and resultant reliance on tactical prowess. “The sum of tactics does not equal strategy,” Jones cautioned.
“Why is it,” Jones asked, “that where we have the greatest tactical freedom and success – where our metrics of those tactics clearly show we are ‘winning’ – we appear to be trending towards strategic failure. Yet where we are the most tactically constrained by our hosts the situations are trending toward strategic success?
“This is the big question,” he continued. “As the relative balance of power shifts from governments to the people we must reconsider what is ‘winning’ in this emerging environment, and how special operations forces best support attaining strategic success across a wide range of political conditions.
“I’m not going to give you any answers today,” he added, noting that asking more questions and the right questions is essential to thinking strategically and to refining our tactical programs accordingly.
“Asking questions rooted in the purpose for our presence and the complex nature of our host’s governance-populace relationships is essential,” said Jones. “Perhaps above all else special operations forces must be a source of understanding, influence and relationships that both informs and advances our interests at the strategic level.”
One of the briefing participants, Chief Master Sgt. William Markham, 352nd SOG command chief, said he agrees that thinking strategically is important and believes it is vital even at the tactical level.
“On a tactical and operational level, which is us … we have to have an understanding,” said Markham. “And to quote Col. Jones, ‘what we don’t want to do is fall into tactical success and strategic failure, because the two are inseparable.’
“The smallest effect at the tactical level can have strategic implications,” Markham added.
(Editor’s note: The opinions in this story are those of retired U.S. Army Col. Robert Jones and do not represent the official views of the Department of Defense or U.S. Special Operations Command.)