Thesis Title

United States Army Elite Forces and the Global War on Terrorism

Date of Graduation

Spring 2005


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

C. Walton


The terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 constituted an act of war against the United States. The perpetrators of these attacks against American symbols of military and economic might, which resulted in the death of over three thousand people, were not under the orders of a foreign government but rather a terrorist organization led by the fanatical Islamist Osama bin Laden. This new kind of enemy will not attempt to fight American armed forces on the conventional battlefield. Therefore, in order to hunt down and destroy these terrorists, the United States will need to unleash its own unconventional warriors: Special Operations Forces (SOF). As the world witnessed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, the need for SOF has never been greater as the American government attempts to bring the terrorists to justice and destroy their capabilities to wage terror campaigns. This thesis will examine specifically the roles of the elite forces under the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC): rangers, Special Forces, and Delta Force. The history of these elite forces from World War II to the present will be studied closely. Furthermore, this thesis will explore the types of training, missions, and technology used by these forces. Finally, this project will demonstrate how elite Army forces are a crucial element of the U.S.-led war on terrorism and, if utilized properly, will be a decisive factor in defeating the al-Qaeda terrorist network and other organizations that aspire to attack the United States, its allies, and its interests abroad.


Army, Special Operations Forces, Rangers, Delta Force, terrorism

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


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