The topic has been addressed before, but it seems that things are changing for U.S. Special Operations units. For 20 years, the Special Operations community and the U.S. military as a whole have been locked into a fight against terrorism. This kind of fight has required boots on the ground, kicking doors down, and getting rid of the bad guys. But, as one door closes, another opens. We’re on the precipice of a new age of warfighting, with new players at the top of the “bad guy” list.

Based on articles written by the Military Times, the U.S. is shifting its focus from counterterrorism operations to concentrating on information warfare and Gray Zone operations. Gray Zone indicates operations and events that take place before a major armed conflict breaks out. This can come in the form of small group, militia-like attacks, and cyber warfare.

This notable and official shift for U.S. Special Operations is a result of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy. The classified version of the Annex was released in January of 2019, and the unclassified version was released last week. The general purpose of this document is to outline a plan for how to effectively compete in the “great power competition” against China and Russia.

It took quite some time to declassify the Annex. But it was deemed appropriate to do so, in an effort to share the plan with allies, Congress, and the public.