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Extremism on the Horizon: The Challenges of VEO Innovation and its Impact on Special Operations

This paper identifies and discusses prospective patterns of emerging technology use in the 2020-2027 period by Violent Extremist Organizations (VEO) through the lens of the National Security Strategy and the Special Operations mission. The paper offers strategists and planners recommendations on how best to mitigate and address the emerging VEO technology use against U.S. national interests. Overall, this paper identified additive manufacturing, cryptocurrency, genome editing and synthetic DNA, robotics, commercial- off-the-shelf intelligence systems, and compounded technologies as the greatest potential challenges. This paper concluded that as the SOF enterprise postures itself to respond to the changes in VEO capabilities, it must prioritize relationships, maximize acquisition agility, and recruit differently. If SOF is to remain fit-for-purpose and continue to effectively advance the interests of the U.S. and its partners, it must change the way it does business today.