Special Operations Forces as Change Agents

Authored by:
Jessica Turnley
Published on 3/1/2017
Digital Only

Dr. Turnley examines Special Operations Forces (SOF) through a cultural anthropologic lens to explore the socio-cultural aspects of the SOF community and their ability to perform as change agents. As the author explains in her introduction, "Well-positioned or particularly persuasive individuals from the SOF community have been able to use personal connections and social networks to catalyze and institutionalize change in a wide range of communities, stimulating individuals to coalesce around ideas presented through charismatic players." Through the use of historical examples, such as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II or the more recent Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P), Dr. Turnley guides the reader through explanations of organizational change and the modern day SOF operator who is creative and performs as a change agent within established bureaucracies. She arrives at the conclusion that, "SOF bring to the military the potential for change, realized through an ability to create, stimulate, and work through social networks and the power of individual personalities."