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Otto Fiala, expert on Special Operations enterprise, joins START as an affiliate

START recently welcomed Dr. Otto C. Fiala, an expert on near-peer competition and resistance operations, as a research affiliate.

Fiala is a task lead, analyst and editor at United States Army Special Operations Command, Sensitive Activities Division, where he engages in research and development of various supporting activities, including support to resistance.

Before this, he was a resistance and resilience planner at United States Special Operations Command-Europe (SOCEUR), and the author and chief editor of the “Resistance Operating Concept (ROC),” which was published earlier this year by the Swedish Defense University in Stockholm, Sweden and the United States Joint Special Operations University in Tampa, Florida.

“The ROC is a collaborative planning guide that SOCEUR is using with the Baltic nations now. It’s also being used in both Army and Joint Special Operations courses,” Fiala said.

Fiala provided a virtual presentation on the ROC for START staff and interns in November.

“The concept of the ROC started in Europe in 2014, when SOCEUR realized that a resistance capability might be necessary in particular for the Baltic states regarding Russia,” Fiala said during the presentation. “When the Russians took Crimea, this concept became extremely relevant.”

Fiala also served as a Senior Counterintelligence Analyst at United States European Command, in Stuttgart, Germany (USEUCOM) and as the Joint Doctrine Coordinator for United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), also in Stuttgart.

During his time in the United States Army, Fiala deployed to Iraq and Georgia, and conducted assessments in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo while assigned to NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), before retiring as a Colonel in the Army Reserve’s Civil Affairs.

Fiala holds a doctoral degree in International Relations from the University of Reading, where he produced a thesis about American counterinsurgency doctrine, which he is developing into a second book manuscript.

Fiala previously worked with START on a Department of Defense-funded project that focused on resistance simulations for SOCEUR.

“We had a great experience working with Otto over the last couple of years on this project,” Near-peer Competition Lead Researcher Barnett Koven said. “His work is synergistic with START’s emergent focus on great power competition, and especially important as we continue to expand our focus from the study of terrorism to irregular warfare more generally.”