What Does Love Have to do with Special Operations

by Erin Wold

Tough, Audacity, and Love. These three traits are the core of Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) warriors. ARSOF warriors are tough. ARSOF warriors have audacity. These traits we can see and understand. The third trait is different. It is an action. It is something Special Operations warriors do.

ARSOF warriors Love.

Army Special Operations warriors are Tough. They possess both physical and mental toughness. They are also morally tough, standing with their convictions. ARSOF warriors completed the most physically and mentally rigorous training in their careers. The nature of their missions will put them into many tough environments. In these environments they will display the next trait.

Army Special Operations warriors have Audacity. They think outside the box and see options that others may not see. ARSOF encourages warriors to make bold and daring decisions to accomplish their missions. However, the decisions are not reckless. Special Operations warriors quickly weigh the benefits and risks of a decision using their advanced skills and cultural knowledge. This brings us to the final trait.

Army Special Operations warriors Love. This is the most difficult trait to talk about because it is different to every warrior. Yet, each knows it’s there hovering in the background. In 2015, the United States Army Special Operations Command publication, ARSOF Next explained the ARSOF warrior’s capacity to love. “Despite attempts to find a more acceptable word – devotion, commitment, passion, faithfulness, brotherhood – the fact remains that ARSOF warriors have a capacity to love that is unique in its intensity.” The capacity to love is in every mission the Special Operations warrior conducts. It begins with the love members of the ARSOF teams have for their country, their missions, and one another.

“A warrior who does not possess the capacity to love is not truly ARSOF,” the publication further describes the Special Operations warrior. Whether it is Special Forces, Civil Affairs, or Psychological Operations, the ARSOF warrior develops skill sets enabling them to become part of their environment. They become experts in the languages and cultures they work within. They develop a deeper understanding, compassion and empathy for the local people. Their capacity to love enables them to see the humanity in some of the most difficult environments and situations. It enables them to gain information and knowledge in areas that conventional units cannot. Special Operations warriors, see, feel, and build genuine trust relationships with the people they live and work among.

Love is at the very core of Special Operations. ARSOF Next states, “ARSOF’s intense capacity for love, whether spoken out loud or silently acknowledged, is part of what binds it together.” It provides the trust and faith Special Operations warriors have in their teammates to complete their missions. It allows ARSOF warriors to operate inside a culture instead of merely observing it. Finally, Love tempers the toughness of the Special Operations warrior and helps them to make the bold and audacious decisions that accomplish their missions.

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