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US National Security


Resistance Operating
Concept (ROC)

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Beginning in 2014, the Resistance Operating Concept began its development - guided by Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) and its NATO partners. The ROC ws developed as a method to refine the doctrine for unconventional warfare in Europe. The agressive actions of a resurgent Russia was a driving force for developing and implementing the ROC by the European special operations community. The ROC is a plan of action for how a nation deters, defends, and resists a full or partial occupation of its sovereign territory.

ROC Publication. In 2019 the Resistance Operating Concept was published by SOCEUR and the Swedish Defence University. It was later re-published by the Joint Special Operations University. A comprehensive listing for references and publications about the Resistance Operating Concept is available (internal page).

U.S. SOF Support to National Resistance and Resilience Activities. U.S. Special Operations Forces support to other nations is in accordance with US Code 1202. The Section 1202 authority may be used to provide support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing and authorized irregular warfare operations by U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF).

Case Studies - by Country / Region

Ukraine Conflict. As the Resistance Operating Concept was being developed and formalized from 2014 to 2019, it became a guiding mechanism for SOCEUR's assistance to the Ukrainian military shortly after the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine and Crimea in 2014. Some credit for the effectiveness of the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion and occupation to SOCEUR's efforts to develop the resistance and resiliency of Ukraine during this period.

The conflict in Ukraine has shown how important it is that the general population be included in the defense of a country by a larger invading adversary. The nature and tasks of the Ukrainian resistance movement is different than those of a traditional resistance movement of past conflicts. The study of the Ukrainian resistance movement deserves special attention - as it can help in adapting existing doctrines and training programs for resistance movement specialists to the realities that they may face in future conflicts. 1

Baltic States. The ROC has been instrumental in the development of resistance and resiliency mechanisms and concepts in the countries of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. The U.S. Army Special Forces have been conducting unconventional warfare in the Baltic States for several years.

A number of irregular warfare (IW) exercises were planned, coordinated, and conducted by SOCEUR and the 10th Special Forces in concert with the militaries of the Baltic States. Members of the U.S. SOF community are becoming exposed to the culture of the Baltic States through various training and exchange events. Two of these annual exercises are known as Trojan Footprint 2. and Ridge Runner 3.

Nordic States. The countries of Finland and Norway share a border with Russia. Sweden's, soon to be an official NATO member, is separated from Russia by Finland; but it could possible be involved in a conflict with Russia due to its proximitey with the Scandinavian North Cape and its close relationship with Finland and Norway. All three of these countries have taken concrete measures to increase their resilience and ability to resist an aggressive Russia.

SOCEUR and the 10th Special Forces Group have been busy training in unconventional warfare in Sweden and Finland as well. Both of these countries as well as Norway have well-developed resistance and resiliency programs to deter, defend against, and resist invasion and occupation.

Finland. The newest NATO member shares a long border with Russia. It has, over the centuries, endured invasion and occupation from its larger neighbor. The Winter War of 1939 demonstrated the ability of the Finnish people to defend their country and prove to be a determined opponent in warfare. Finland has taken a number of steps to ensure its military and the general population is prepared to resist future agression from Russia.

Taiwan. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has increased its aggressiveness in the Pacific region and towards Taiwan. This has prompted a strategic shift in focus of the United States from counterinsurgency and counterterrorism to strategic competition - especially in the Indo-Pacific region. The application ROC and the porcupine defense in the Taiwan scenario has been a topic of discussion amongst national security experts. 4.

Developing a resistance capability could deter the PRC from invading Taiwan; however, it may have to be a capability used during a future occupation by the PRC. "Even a small resistance movement can make it more difficult for China to achieve its goals in Taiwan." 5.


Resistance Operating Concept. A slide presentation by SOCEUR (which is responsible for developing and operationalizing the resistance operating concept).

Resistance Operating Concept. From the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) which has been teaching UW and resistance to those in the military and interagency who recognize the importance of such study. Resistance Operating Concept (ROC) by Otto C. Fiala with foreword by Major General Kirk Smith and Brigadier General Anders Löfberg.

A comprehensive listing for references and publications about the Resistance Operating Concept is available (internal page). Available on this webpage are publcations, news articles, videos, and podcasts on U.S. national strategy, funding, authorities, and case studies by region and country.

Remote Advising

Remote Advise Assist Virtual Accompany Kits (RAA/VAK). The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has been purchasing RAA/VAKs for its SOF advisors. The early VAKs were a compilation of off-the-shelf phones, tablets, Wi-Fi, cellular, and satellite communications technologies. This allowed the U.S. and partner nation forces to see the 'same' battlefield - solving the problem of how to effectively assist partners when they cannot accompany them in combat.

Advising from Outside Theater. One aspect of special operations that is quite effective is the continued and persistant relationships between units and individuals of US SOF and the partner nations. Developing long-term relationships over time can significantly increase the effectiveness of advising and training activities. This is best accomplished when a US advisor or unit works with the partner force when deployed to the host nation but then continues the relationship once returned to the United States.

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1. For more on this topic read “Against the Odds: Lessons from the Ukrainian Resistance Movement”, RUSI, July 4, 2023, by Oleksandr V. Danylyuk.

2. “SOCEUR Kicks Off Trojan Footprint 22”, SOF News, May 5, 2022.

3. “SOF CA Soldiers Learn About Lithuanian Culture”, SOF News, May 26, 2021.

4. Friberg, John, “JSOU Paper – SOF Quills for the Porcupine”, SOF News, May 4, 2023. A review of a paper published by the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) entitled SOF Quills for the Porcupine: Applying Lessons from Ukraine to Taiwan, March 2023, PDF, 18 pages.

5. Lumpy Lumbaca, "Every Taiwan Citizen a Resistance Member: Preparing for a Chinese Occupation", Modern War Institute at West Point, September 14, 2023. This article explores the components of resistance, building an effective resistance in Taiwan, and aligning the resistance strategy with the environment and legitimate government's strategic objectives.


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Related Pages

ROC References

Remote Advise and Assist

Unconventional Warfare


Taiwan and Resistance

Ukraine and Resistance





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