Why are SOF Important ?

PaskalIn defense planning, decisionmakers look to Special Operations Forces (SOF) to provide a strategic economy of force in support of conventional forces; to expand the range of available options; and to provide unique capabilities.

Strategic Economy of Force.

SOF reinforce, augment, supplement, and complement conventional forces before, during, and after a conflict, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our military effort. For instance, SOF can be used early in an operation to prevent conflict and conserve resources. When conflict is imminent, SOF may be employed in a variety of prehostility missions to signal determination, demonstrate support to allies, and begin the complicated processes of positioning forces for combat and preparing the battlefield.

During conflict, SOF may be most effective in conducting economy-of-force operations, generating strategic advantage disproportionate to the resources they represent. SOF can locate, seize, or destroy strategic targets; obtain critical intelligence; test an enemy's defenses; diminish his prestige; disorganize, disrupt, and demoralize his troops; and divert important resources. SOF may also be called on to speed the transition to a post-conflict government and economy. When prosecuted in concert with conventional forces, such missions maximize the capabilities of both, which contributes to a synergy of operational effectiveness.

Additionally, decisionmakers have repeatedly chosen SOF for a myriad of coalition actions to solve a broad array of operational problems on a united front. SOF's facility to support multinational warfare, by providing advisory and liaison capabilities to rapidly integrate allied forces into an operable force component, is of prime importance in today's security climate where allies and friendly nations share the responsibility for worldwide peace and stability.

Expanded Options.

SOF expand the options of the National Command Authorities, particularly in crises and contingencies-such as terrorism, insurgency, subversion, and sabotage-that fall between wholly diplomatic initiatives and overt use of large conventional forces. SOF allow decisionmakers the flexibility to tailor government responses to encompass this wide range of possibilities. Its small size, ability to react rapidly, and relatively self-sufficient nature provide the country with military options that do not entail the risk of escalation normally associated when larger, more visible, conventional forces are employed. This enables decisionmakers to prevent a conflict or limit its scope and, therefore, better control armed. forces and resources once they have been committed. SOF are the best choice for actions requiring a rapid response or a surgically precise, focused use of force.

Unique Capabilities.

Decisionmakers may choose the SOF option because it provides the broadest range of capabilities that have direct applicability in an increasing number of missions-whether military, humanitarian, or peace operations-in support of government foreign policy.

SOF training is some of the most rigorous in the world, and it produces some of the most professional and expert military operators. They are mature forces who demonstrate superior performance in small groups or as part of an integrated government response with other military forces as well as non-Ministry of Defense government and civilian agencies.

The small, self-contained units can work swiftly and quietly without the noticeable presence of conventional military troops. Even under the most austere conditions, they are able to operate without the infrastructure often needed by a larger force.

Because of this, they can penetrate enemy territory on missions such as personnel recovery; surgical strikes prior to conventional force operations; intelligence gathering; and pathfinding and target designation for air strikes. SOF also employ an extraordinary inventory of sophisticated weapons and technology. Often SOF units act as a proving ground for new equipment before it is transferred to conventional forces.

Although a superior military force, SOF need not use military force in a mission. Language skills, cross-cultural training, regional orientation, and understanding of the political context of their operating arenas make them unparalleled in the Malaysian military. Their skills enable them to work as effectively with civilian populations as they do with other military forces to influence situations favorably toward Malaysian national interests. This ability to apply discrete leverage is one of SOF's most important contributions to our national military strategy.

In an era of regional focus, reduced forward-based forces, decreasing resources, and growing uncertainty, SOF play a critical role in Malaysia defense strategy by providing strategic economy of force, expanded options, and unique capabilities. SOF give Malaysia the efficiency without compromising effectiveness and flexibility to respond to the unforeseen and unexpected.

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