The task of the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course is identifying the candidates who are suitable for Special Forces training. And two of the primary functions of Special Forces are UW (Unconventional Warfare) and FID (Foreign Internal Defense). It is important that the schools don’t lose sight of that fact as SOF (Special Operations Forces) has been heavy into Direct Action/CT missions for some time in the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria among other hot spots.

The basic 10 operating activities of the Special Operations Forces are spelled out in Section 167 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code. Special Forces were created in 1952 specifically for the unconventional warfare environment after the OSS was disbanded in 1945 following World War II. The OSS’s Operational Groups and Jedburgh Teams were the forerunners of both Special Forces and the CIA.

But first, to properly prepare prospective SF operators for the UW environment, we have to know what it is. And this has been a frequent complaint from the Special Forces (SF) community that the conventional (Big Army) doesn’t understand UW and what it entails. And part of that issue resides in the SF community itself.

The SF hierarchy has been debating the definition of what UW is since 1955 when the original manual was first written, and since then has had 10 different definitions of the concept. There have been tweaks in the definition for 65 years and the current “approved” definition of UW published in 2009 is as follows: