Special Forces: Theory and Practice

This course allows students to acquire a deep knowledge of the development of Special Forces in theory and practice to facilitate understanding about their employment in international relations.

It focuses on how secret military forces developed from the twentieth century to the present day, their theoretical foundations and relationship with modern strategy.

The course also encompasses a number of themes related to Special Forces such as their relationship with technology, irregular warfare, counterterrorism and their prominent role in the contemporary use of force.


Prof. Alastair Finlan is a Professor of War Studies at the Swedish Defence University. His research interests encompass modern warfare, military culture and Special Forces.

He has published widely in the area of Special Forces including a monograph, Special Forces, Strategy and the War on Terror: Warfare by Other Means (London: Routledge, 2008) and, more recently, an article with Comparative Strategy entitled ‘A Dangerous Pathway? Toward a Theory of Special Forces’. He is also the Chair of the Executive Board of the new Centre of Special Operations Research (CSOR) in the Swedish Defence University.