SOF Quills for the Porcupine: Applying Lessons from Ukraine to Taiwan

Authored by:
Scott Simeral, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Skipper, Lieutenant Colonel Giovanna Espegio
Published on 3/7/2023
Digital Only

CIA Director William Burns assesses that Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine may inform China’s plan to gain control of Taiwan. Given the remarkable challenge Ukrainian resistance forces have presented Russia, Richard Clarke, General, U.S. Army, Ret. shares the desire of many U.S. officials for “Taiwan, just like Ukraine has been, to be an indigestible porcupine.” As of this writing, Ukraine has managed to avoid being metaphorically swallowed by Russia due to Ukraine’s conventional arsenal of deterrent “quills” comprised (in part) of ballistic missile defense, air defense, mine warfare, sea-denial fires, shore-denial fires, jamming, decoys, deception, civil defense, urban warfare, and life-essential infrastructure. Nevertheless, the U.S. and its allies have been reluctant to directly engage in open conflict with Russia or China due to the cataclysmic costs such a war might impose. Special Operations Forces (SOF) are uniquely suited for the delicate task of filling strategic deterrence gaps left by conventional capabilities.


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