Special Operations in Counterterrorism

The role of special operations in combating the terrorist threat has significantly evolved since 9/11. Special operations forces (SOF) have been the post-9/11 military instrument of choice for sensitive, direct action operations where failure is not an option.

Indeed, the skills and technologies that these combat forces apply are unmatched and highly effective. However, the fact that SOF forces are in such high demand and are used increasingly for a host of alternative mission assignments raises a contentious issue: are special operations units still “special”?

Course Information

This workshop was be held March 28-30, 2014. Students explored several intelligence and SOF related capabilities and challenges related to their roles in countering terrorism. Intelligence and Special Operations Forces play critical roles in combating terrorist threats. To be sure, both intelligence and SOF have been instrumental in addressing all major threats to US national security for the past several decades, but since 9/11 both have increased in importance to U.S. policy makers as they address America's new enemies; transnational, non-state actors with global reach and who are seeking access to weapons of mass destruction.



COL Danial Pick
Intelligence and Special Operations

COL Pick graduated from the University of Washington in 1987. He entered active duty as a military intelligence officer and served as a scout platoon leader and battalion S2 in 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment in Garlstedt, Germany, deploying to Operations Desert Shield/Storm in January 1991 as S2 3/66 Armor Battalion. Following graduation from the Military Intelligence Officer Advance Course, COL Pick served with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) as Commander, Military Intelligence Detachment and Group S2.

COL Pick became a Middle East Foreign Area Officer (FAO) in 1996. His FAO assignments include: Kuwaiti Land Forces Advisor, OMC-Kuwait; FAO Assignment Officer, Army Human Resources Command, WA D.C.; Executive Officer, Human Intelligence Team, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Northern Iraq; Army Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Amman, Jordan; Policy Officer, Office of the Secretary of Defense; and FAO Program Director, Defense Language Institute. His decorations include the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, and Iraq Campaign Medal with arrowhead device.

Paul Mullin

COL (ret.) Paul Mullin

COL Paul Mullin retired from the J3, Information Operations at USSOCOM(A). He works for FRDA LLC, a leadership consulting company. He commanded 9 units, and served 19 of his 25 years with troops up to Group/Brigade level. He also served as an infantryman and intelligence officer in West Berlin. He was a Task Force J3 in Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation RESTORE HOPE. COL Mullin is the founder of US worldwide Humanitarian Demining. He also served as the Chief of Psychological Operations.

COL Mullin’s studied as an Army War College Fellow in the Special Operations Defense Analysis Group at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a graduate of the South East Asia Program at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute in Washington DC. He also studied at two foreign universities. He is a graduate of the Army War College, both the Army and Marine Corps Command and Staff Colleges, Special Forces Officer Qualification Course, Psychological Operations, Anti-Terrorism Instructor’s Training Course.

After military retirement, Mr. Mullin served as a branch chief and staff officer in several US Embassies overseas. Until April 2012, he was the inter-agency liaison officer for Special Operations/Counterterrorism Directorate for the ASD/SOLIC in the Pentagon.


Linda Robinson
Future of Special Operations

Linda Robinson is a senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Her areas of expertise include national security strategy, international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, security force assistance, joint force development, special operations forces, irregular warfare and stability operations. She has worked in South Asia, Iraq, the Middle East, and Latin America as a journalist and researcher. Her current research centers on defense strategy and planning, political and post-conflict transitions, building partner capacity, and special operations forces. Robinson has authored joint and interagency concepts, designed workshops on complex contingency operations, and provided political-military, policy and strategy analysis to various commands. She was senior adviser to the AFPAK Center at USCENTCOM (2010-11) and author of a Council on Foreign Relations special report on the future of special operations forces (2013). Her most recent book, One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare, was published in 2013. She is also the author of Tell Me How This Ends (2008), Masters of Chaos (2004), and Intervention or Neglect (1991). She is on the board of the National Defense University, chair of the Army War College board, and a senior fellow at Joint Special Operations University.

And Many More...

Active Duty Military Officers from Naval Post Graduate School's Defense Analysis Department will be covering the following topics and sharing first hand accounts about their experiences in Counter Terrorism:

  • U. S. Air Force Special Operations Command
  • U. S. Navy Special Operations Command
  • U. S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command
  • U. S. Army Special Operations Command
  • U. S. Army Civil Affairs Command