For the past decade plus, Special Operations Forces have been utilized heavily on the Direct Action, (DA) side of operations including Counter-Terrorism (CT) in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

But the pendulum is swinging back toward the traditional advisory role of SOF as the allies in Syria, Iraq, and in Afghanistan begin to improve militarily. The classic role of SOF is to train and advise foreign military units to do the bidding of the United States. While DA mission has always been and will always be a part of the SOF community, it should not be their main focus.

Now as these allies become more proficient, the onus goes on them to conduct these missions with US SOF support. And it is beginning to work.

After 9/11, however, SOF began to be used in more “precision, highly kinetic strike forces enabled by technology and linked through a digitally networked battlefield.” But by and large, the new counter-terrorism strategy in Iraq and Syria may prove to be something of a reset to SOF’s former tactics.