chapter  1
25 Pages


The profession of arms is an ancient and a persistent occupation. It has been pursued by people on land and at sea for millennia, and its ongoing popularity in international relations appears to offer no foreseeable end in sight for its continued perpetuation in human affairs. However, with the passing of time, the trappings of militarism have changed dramatically, from crudely shaped wooden clubs in primitive times to modern plastic assault rifles that come equipped with optical or laser sights, grenade launchers and 30-round magazines. Notwithstanding the cosmetic yet qualitative enhancements, the elements of strategy and making war on land have remained largely constant in terms of character. This consistency is predominantly structural in nature and can be attributed in part to the almost universal adoption on a global scale of the traditional combat triumvirate that have characterised premier league armies throughout history: infantry, cavalry and artillery (Mann 2005: 132). From Hannibal to Napoleon, Lee to Schwarzkopf, the core components or building blocks of modern land warfare have barely altered, from the classical commander on horseback directing operations on the battlefield to the modern commander in the air-conditioned, digitalenabled headquarters (HQ) issuing commands electronically to units, often thousands of miles away from the sounds of war. Nevertheless, in spite of these consistencies, an unrecognised and potentially revolutionary alteration in military strategy did actually occur in the early to mid-twentieth century and one that still remains quite enigmatic with regard to its true potential to upset traditional perspectives on warfare: the evolution of Special Forces.