Weinstein-Minkoff Lecture: Ami Pedahzur, “Military Entrepreneurs and the Evolution of Israel’s Special Operations Forces”
By placing the Israeli experience in a comparative perspective, I explore the circumstances that led to the debut of present-day special operations forces and the mechanisms that allowed these units to ascend to their current prominent status. I argue that the recent crossing of four vectors, namely the rise of asymmetrical wars, technological leaps, heightened sensitivity to military casualties, and the professionalization of armed forces provided an environment conducive to the rise of special operations forces. Small teams of professional operators, equipped with cutting edge technologies, can rapidly deploy and carry out missions of strategic significance that in the past required massive military campaigns. An analysis of an original global database of special operations forces offers a counterintuitive picture. The seeming global proliferation of this branch is a façade. In reality, a small number of units account for the trend, while the majority of their counterparts suffer a demise shorty after they form. Moreover, success in meeting their military objectives has little impact on the survival prospects of individual units. So far, I found out that victories in the bureaucratic battlefields, and especially the presence of military entrepreneurs, separate the successful units from the less fortunate ones.
This lecture is made possible through the generosity of family and friends of the Weinstein and Minkoff families.
Sponsor: Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies