Call For Papers

The theme of this year’s conference is Special Operations at the Crossroads.  Special operations forces have never been more popular as instruments of national policy.  This popularity is reflected in the growth of special operations organizations and their budgets, as well as the willingness to deploy them. Is this short-term trend merely a fad that will be reversed or will special operations perhaps become a "sixth armed service" to address hybrid threats and “gray zone” challenges?

The primary focus of this conference is on the exchange of ideas through scholarly presentations by researchers, policy makers, and operators on the broad range of issues facing the SOF community today and in the future.

We invite papers across the full range of issues related to special operations, both historically and contemporary and unilaterally or multilaterally. We encourage submissions from a diverse population of those with expertise and interests in special operations, including scholars and researchers from different academic disciplines, military practitioners and strategists, and policy makers and analysts.

Potential topics include:
Special Operations and State Actors
Policy and Strategy Implications of Special Operations
Special Operations as Instruments of National Security
Small State and Coalition Considerations of Special Operations
Special Operations: The Fourth Offset?
Special Operations and Gray Zone Challenges
Special Operations: Realist, Liberal, and Constructivist Perspectives
Special Operations, Deterrence, and “Compellence”
Economic and Social Aspects of Special Operations
Organizational and Cultural Aspects of SOF
The Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Special Operations

We encourage submissions from a diverse population of those with expertise and interests in special operations, including academic researchers, military practitioners, and policy analysts. Paper proposals should consist of a title, abstract (150-300 words), contact information (name, affiliation, address, phone, email), and 1-page CV. Along with your proposal, please indicate if you would be willing to serve as a panel chair or discussant at the conference.

Panel proposals are intended to provide a thematically consistent discussion of research on a specific topic. Panels consist of a panel chair/discussant, and 4-5 paper presenters. Panel submissions must provide all of the following information: title/theme of panel; contact information (name, affiliation, address, phone, email), and 1-page CV for chair, discussant, and all presenters; and paper proposals for all presenters on the panel (title and 150-300 word abstract). Please note: paper proposals for the panel should be included with the panel submission, and not submitted separately as an individual paper proposal.

Roundtable proposals are intended to encourage a less structured, more open discussion format wherein topics of interest to the special operations community are debated by 3-5 researchers and/or practitioners with knowledge of the topic. Roundtable proposals should consist of a title/theme; brief summary of why topic is important and what questions will be addressed by the roundtable (150-300 words); and 1-page CV and contact information for all proposed roundtable members (name, affiliation, address, phone, email).

Submissions  This year we are using a rolling acceptance policy, meaning we will try to get your paper accepted within 1-2 weeks of submission, if not sooner. This will allow people to make the necessary plans to participate at the conference. While there is no hard deadline, any submission received after early October might be a bit difficult to accommodate, so it would be wise to check with us before submitting if it's less than two weeks out. Proposals should be submitted via email to Submitters will be notified of receipt as quickly as possible and again regarding acceptance within 1-2 weeks. 


Washington, DC/Alexandria, VA

Useful Information

Click here for the final program - SORA program final.pdf

The Special Operations Research Association is pleased to announce that this year's annual symposium will be held October 28-29, 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia. Events will be held at the Embassy Suites in Old Town, Alexandria

Once your proposal has been accepted for presentation at the symposium, you will need to register for the symposium and pay your registration fee. The registration fee is $75.00 for all. Unfortunately, due to the expense of holding the symposium in the DC area, we are not able to offer a discount to SORA members this year. Registration fees can be paid through our online store at: