Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. John W. Outland


This thesis addresses the development of United States military assets for dealing with revolutionary warfare, terrorism, and other threats which could be identified under the rubric, "low-· intensity conflict." Elite military units, collectively identified as Special Operations Forces (SOF), are examined for the character- !sties and attributes which promote misunderstanding and mistrust about their capabilities. Some analytical distinctions are developed which may be useful in defining roles and missions for SOF elements. Cultural impediments which may inhibit SOF activities are considered as well. Research efforts included interviews and discussion with twenty Special Operations soldiers, both active and retired, a number of them flag-rank or general officers. As a result of his research in this sensitive area, the author concludes that military SOF are the most adaptable military forces the United States can field for operation in the current and prospective low-intensity environment.