Professor Pat Paterson published his second book in as many months, Training Surrogate Forces in International Humanitarian Law: Lessons from Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, and Iraq. The book, published by the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), examines the important US military strategy of working with partner nations to combat terrorism and other 21st Century threats, known by its US colloquialism as the “indirect approach.” Professor Paterson examines the legal issues and restrictions on training and equipping foreign forces and the impact of these exchanges with our partners. His research includes extensive interviews with US Special Operations Forces (USSOF) personnel and includes a historical case study approach, examining efforts in Peru, Colombia, and El Salvador for lessons learned, and then comparing and contrasting USSOF train-and-equip efforts in Iraq.
The author notes three key operational benefits of the indirect approach: training foreign forces keeps USSOF from doing the job as part of a larger, costlier direct-action operation; training and educating foreign forces in security and defense tactics can increase USSOF military capacity; and US values concerning civilian authority, human rights, and rules of warfare in international humanitarian law (IHL) can be instilled. At the same time, he captures why it’s critical for USSOF to know who they’re training and what their allegiances are. Paterson then moves into the issue of modern warfare and IHL, and the difficulties of navigating the complexities of security cooperation and how modern warfare has evolved to include what was traditionally considered police work.