NATO Special Operations: Promise and Problem

Abstract

NATO special operations forces (SOF) are at a crossroads as the NATO role in Afghanistan winds down. After more than a decade of development, NATO SOF have greatly increased their ability to operate together in the field and in headquarters. If the alliance continues to emphasize SOF development, these forces can play a major role in future NATO campaigns, particularly outside Europe. Moreover, SOF can be maintained effectively in times of austerity. Yet intelligence sharing, particularly in real time, is currently one of the major limitations on NATO SOF, creating divisions between United States and United Kingdom on one hand and much of the rest of NATO on the other. In order to make truly effective use of SOF the alliance needs to make fundamental changes to its decades old system for sharing intelligence.

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