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United States Special Operations Command

United States Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command emblem. Active April 16, 1987Country United StatesType Special OperationsRole Provide fully capable Special Operations Forces to defend the United States and its interests. Plan and synchronize operations against terrorist networks. Size 48,000 Part of Department of DefenseGarrison/HQ MacDill AFBNickname USSOCOM or SOCOM Engagements Operation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm
Battle of Mogadishu
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi FreedomCommanders Current
commander AdmiralEric T. Olson

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands (SOC or SOCOM) of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines of the U.S. military. The command is part of the U.S. Department of Defense. USSOCOM is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Since its activation on April 18, 1987, United States Special Operations Command has participated in many operations, from Operation Just Cause to the War in Iraq.[1][2]USSOCOM conducts several overt and clandestine missions such as; unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism and counter-drug operations. USSOCOM's global performance in combat and noncombat areas has proven the value of a mature, culturally attuned, properly equipped, adaptive Special Operations Force (SOF).[3]Each branch has a Special Operations Command that is unique and capable of running their own operations, but when the different Special Operations Forces need to work together for an operation, USSOCOM becomes the joint component command of the operation, instead of a SOC of a specific branch.[4]



The idea of a unified special operations command had its origins in the aftermath of Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrous attempted rescue of hostages at the American embassy in Iran. The ensuing investigation, chaired by Adm. James L. Holloway III, the retired Chief of Naval Operations, cited command and control and inter-service coordination as significant factors in the failure of the mission.[5]

Desert One did serve to strengthen the resolve of some within the Department of Defense to reform SOF. Army Chief of Staff General Edward C. “Shy” Meyer called for a further restructuring of special operations capabilities. Although unsuccessful at the joint level, Meyer nevertheless went on to consolidate Army SOF units under the new 1st Special Operations Command in 1982, a significant step to improve Army SOF.

Senator Barry Goldwater Former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee

By 1983, there was a small but growing sense in the Congress for the need for military reforms. In June, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), under the chairmanship of Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), began a two-year long study of the Defense Department which included an examination of SOF. With concern mounting on Capitol Hill, the Department of Defense created the Joint Special Operations Agency on 1 January 1984; this agency, however, had neither operational nor command authority over any SOF.[6][7] The Joint Special Operations Agency thus did little to improve SOF readiness, capabilities, or policies hardly what Congress had in mind as a systemic fix for SOF’s problems. Within the Defense Department, there were a few staunch SOF supporters. Noel Koch, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and his deputy, Lynn Rylander, both advocated SOF reforms.[8]

At the same time, a few visionaries on Capitol Hill were determined to overhaul SOF. They included Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA) and William Cohen (R-ME), both members of the Armed Services Committee, and Representative Dan Daniel (D-VA), the chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Daniel had become convinced that the U.S. military establishment was not interested in special operations, that the country’s capability in this area was second rate, and that SOF operational command and control was an endemic problem.[8] Senators Nunn and Cohen also felt strongly that the Department of Defense was not preparing adequately for future threats. Senator Cohen agreed that the U.S. needed a clearer organizational focus and chain of command for special operations to deal with low-intensity conflicts.[6]

In October 1985, the Senate Armed Services Committee published the results of its two-year review of the U.S. military structure, entitled “Defense Organization: The Need For Change.”[9] Mr. James R. Locher III, the principal author of this study, also examined past special operations and speculated on the most likely future threats. This influential document led to the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.[10] [11]

By spring 1986, SOF advocates had introduced reform bills in both houses of Congress. On 15 May, Senator Cohen introduced the Senate bill, co-sponsored by Senator Nunn and others, which called for a joint military organization for SOF and the establishment of an office in the Defense Department to ensure adequate funding and policy emphasis for low-intensity conflict and special operations.[12] Representative Daniel’s proposal went even further—he wanted a national special operations agency headed by a civilian who would bypass the Joint Chiefs and report directly to the Secretary of Defense; this would keep Joint Chiefs and the Services out of the SOF budget process.[7]

Congress held hearings on the two bills in the summer of 1986. Admiral William J. Crowe Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led the Pentagon’s opposition to the bills. He proposed, as an alternative, a new Special Operations Forces command led by a three-star general. This proposal was not well received on Capitol Hill—Congress wanted a four-star general in charge to give SOF more clout. A number of retired military officers and others testified in favor of the need for reform.[8]

By most accounts, retired Army Major General Richard Scholtes gave the most compelling reasons for change. Scholtes, who commanded the joint special operations task force in Grenada, explained how conventional force leaders misused SOF during the operation, not allowing them to use their unique capabilities, which resulted in high SOF casualties. After his formal testimony, Scholtes met privately with a small number of Senators to elaborate on the problems that he had encountered in Grenada.[13]

Both the House and Senate passed SOF reform bills, and these went to a conference committee for reconciliation. Senate and House conferees forged a compromise. The bill called for a unified combatant command headed by a four star general for all SOF, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, a coordinating board for low-intensity conflict within the National Security Council, and a new Major Force Program (MFP-11) for SOF (the so-called “SOF checkbook”).[14] [15] The final bill, attached as a rider to the 1987 Defense Authorization Act, amended the Goldwater-Nichols Act and was signed into law in October 1986. Congress clearly intended to force DOD and the Administration to face up to the realities of past failures and emerging threats. DOD and the Administration were responsible for implementing the law, and Congress subsequently had to pass two additional bills to ensure proper implementation.[8]

The legislation promised to improve SOF in several respects. Once implemented, MFP-11 provided SOF with control over its own resources, better enabling it to modernize the force. Additionally, the law fostered interservice cooperation: a single commander for all SOF promoted interoperability among the forces assigned to the same command. The establishment of a four-star Commander in Chief and an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict eventually gave SOF a voice in the highest councils of the Defense Department.[14]

Implementing the provisions and mandates of the Nunn-Cohen Act, however, was neither rapid nor smooth. One of the first issues to surface was appointing an ASD (SO/LIC), whose principal duties included monitorship of special operations activities and low-intensity conflict activities of the Department of Defense. The Congress even increased the number of assistant secretaries of defense from 11 to 12, but the Department of Defense still did not fill this new billet. In December 1987, the Congress directed Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh to carry out the ASD (SO/LIC) duties until a suitable replacement was approved by the Senate. Not until 18 months after the legislation passed did Ambassador Charles Whitehouse assume the duties of ASD (SO/LIC).[16]

General James Lindsay

Meanwhile, the establishment of USSOCOM provided its own measure of excitement. A quick solution to manning and basing a brand new unified command was to abolish an existing command. U.S. Readiness Command (USREDCOM),with an often misunderstood mission, did not appear to have a viable mission in the post Goldwater-Nichols era. and its Commander in Chief, General James Lindsay, had had some special operations experience. On 23 January 1987, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended to the Secretary of Defense that USREDCOM be disestablished to provide billets and facilities for USSOCOM. President Ronald Reagan approved the establishment of the new command on 13 April 1987. The Department of Defense activated USSOCOM on April 16, 1987 and nominated General Lindsay to be the first Commander in Chief Special Operations Command (USCINCSOC). The Senate accepted him without debate.[8]

Current Role

United States Special Operations Command has played a pivotal role in toppling the former Taliban government in Afghanistan and combating the insurgency since capturing Saddam Hussein in Iraq.[17] USSOCOM is now developing plans to have an expanded and more complex role in the global campaign against terrorism.[18]


Combat areas during Operation Anaconda.

During the War in Afghanistan U.S. Special operators have been engaged in furious battles. One such battle happened during Operation Anaconda the mission to squeeze life out of a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold dug deep into the Shah-i-Kot mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The operation was seen as one of the heaviest and bloodiest fights in the War in Afghanistan.[19] The battle on an Afghan mountaintop called Takur Ghar featured Special Operations forces from three of the 4 services. Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and pilots and Air Force Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen fought against entrenched Al-Qaeda fighters atop a 10,000-foot (3,000 m) mountain. According to an executive summary, the battle of Takur Ghar was the most intense firefight American special operators have been involved in since 18 U.S. Army Rangers were killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993.[20] [21] [22] During Operation Red Wing on June 28, 2005, four Navy SEALs, pinned down in a firefight, radioed for help. A Chinook helicopter, carrying 16 service members, responded but was shot down. All members of the rescue team and three of four Seals on the ground died. It was the worst loss of life in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001.The Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell alone survived.[23] [24]


At the launch of the Iraq War dozens of 12-member Special Forces teams infiltrated southern and western Iraq to hunt for Scud missiles and pinpoint bombing targets. Scores of Navy SEALs seized oil terminals and pumping stations on the southern coast.[25] Air Force combat controllers flew combat missions in AC-130 gunships and established austere desert airstrips to begin the flow of soldiers and supplies deep into Iraq. It was a far cry from the Persian Gulf war of 1991, where Special Operations forces were kept largely on the sidelines. But it would not be a replay of Afghanistan, where Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs led the fighting. After their star turn in Afghanistan, many special operators were disappointed to play a supporting role in Iraq. Many special operators felt restricted by cautious commanders.[26] From that point, USSOCOM has since killed or captured hundreds of insurgents and Al-Qaeda terrorists. It has conducted several foreign internal defense missions successfully training the Iraqi security forces.[27][28]


U.S. Special Operations forces have recently began training Pakistan's elite Special Service Group.[29][30] Suspicions persist that the Pakistani intelligence service, a Taliban patron before U.S. forces overthrew the Islamist government in Kabul in 2001, continues to protect the Taliban's exiled leadership and to facilitate its resurgent operations across the border into Afghanistan.[31] Currently, C.I.A. operatives and Special Operations forces have limited authority to conduct counter-terrorism missions in Pakistan based on specific intelligence about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri or other members of their terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, hiding in or near the tribal areas.[32]

Air Force

Air Force Special Operations Command emblem.

Air Force Special Operations Command was established May 22, 1990, with headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Florida. AFSOC is one of nine major Air Force commands, and the Air Force component of U.S. Special Operations Command, a unified command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

AFSOC provides Air Force special operations forces for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified commands. The command's SOF are composed of highly trained, rapidly deployable Airmen, conducting global special operations missions ranging from precision application of firepower, to infiltration, exfiltration, resupply and refueling of SOF operational elements.[33] AFSOC's unique capabilities include airborne radio and television broadcast for psychological operations, as well as aviation foreign internal defense instructors to provide other governments military expertise for their internal development.

The command's core missions include battlefield air operations; agile combat support; aviation foreign internal defense; information operations; precision aerospace fires; psychological operations; specialized air mobility; specialized refueling; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.[34][35][26]


  • The 1st Special Operations Wing mission focus is unconventional warfare: counter-terrorism, combat search and rescue, personnel recovery, psychological operations, aviation assistance to developing nations, "deep battlefield" resupply, interdiction and close air support. The wing's core missions include aerospace surface interface, agile combat support, combat aviation advisory operations, information operations, personnel recovery/recovery operations, precision aerospace fires, psychological operations dissemination, specialized aerospace mobility and specialized aerial refueling.[36]Among its aircraft is the MC-130 Combat Talon, a low-flying transport/rescue plane that can evade radar detection and slip into enemy territory at a 200-foot (61 m) altitude, even in zero visibility, dropping off men or supplies with pinpoint accuracy.[37]
  • The 27th Special Operations Wing's primary mission includes infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of special operations forces; air refueling of special operations rotary wing and tiltrotor aircraft; and precision fire support. These capabilities support a variety of special operations missions including direct action, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, personnel recovery, psychological operations and information operations.[38]
Air Force Special Operators on a training mission.
  • 352nd Special Operations Group serves as the core to European Command's standing Joint Special Operations Air Component headquarters. The squadron provides support for three flying squadrons, one special tactics squadron and one maintenance squadron for exercise, logistics, and war planning; aircrew training; communications; aerial delivery; medical; intelligence; security and force protection; weather; information technologies and transformation support and current operations.[39]
  • The 353rd Special Operations Group is the focal point for all U.S. Air Force special operations activities throughout the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) theater. The group is prepared to conduct a variety of high- priority, low-visibility missions. Its mission is air support of joint and allied special operations forces in the Pacific. It maintains a worldwide mobility commitment, participates in Pacific theater exercises as directed and supports humanitarian and relief operations.[40]
  • The 720th Special Tactics Group organizes, trains and equips Special forces worldwide to integrate, synchronize, and/or control the elements of air and space power in the area of operations. It also provides long-range operational and logistics planning, and deploys command and control elements during special tactics force employment or deployment. The 720th STG is also the functional manager for AFSOC's two overseas STS': the 320th under the command of the 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the 321st under the command of the 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall, England.[41]
  • The United States Air Force Special Operations School is a primary support unit of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The USAFSOS prepares special operations Airmen to successfully plan, organize, and execute global special operations by providing indoctrination and education for AFSOC, other USSOCOM components, and joint/interagency/ coalition partners.[42]
  • The 18th Flight Test Squadron evaluates aircraft, equipment and tactics in realistic battlespace environments to provide decision makers accurate, timely and complete assessments of mission capability.[43]


United States Army Special Operations Command patch.

On December 1, 1989 the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) activated as the 16th major Army command. These special operations forces have been America's spearhead for unconventional warfare more than 40 years. USASOC commands such units as the well known Special Forces (SF) and Rangers, and such relatively unknown units as the Psychological Operations Group (PSYOP) and Civil Affairs Brigade (CA). These are one of the USSOCOM's main weapons for waging unconventional warfare and counter-insurgency. The significance of these units is emphasized as conventional conflicts are becoming less prevalent as insurgent and guerrilla warfare increases.[44][45]


The Rangers are a flexible and rapid-deployable force. Each battalion can deploy anywhere in the world with 18 hours notice. The Army places much importance on the 75th Ranger Regiment and its training, it possess the capabilities to conduct conventional and most special operations missions. Rangers are capable of: infiltrating by land, sea and air, direct action operations such as conducting raids or assaulting buildings or airfields.[47]

  • United States Army Special Forces (SF) aka Green Berets perform several doctrinal missions: Unconventional Warfare, Foreign Internal Defense, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Action, Counter-Terrorism and Counter-proliferation. These missions make Special Forces unique in the U.S. military, because they are employed throughout the three stages of the operational continuum: peacetime, conflict and war.[48] Special Forces on a patrol in Afghanistan.

Foreign Internal Defense operations, SF’s main peacetime mission, are designed to help friendly developing nations by working with their military and police forces to improve their technical skills, understanding of human rights issues, and to help with humanitarian and civic action projects. Special Forces unconventional warfare capabilities provide a viable military option for a variety of operational taskings that are inappropriate or infeasible for conventional forces. Special Forces are the U.S. military’s premier unconventional warfare force.[49]

Foreign internal defense and unconventional warfare missions are the bread and butter of Special Forces soldiers. For this reason SF candidates are trained extensively in weapons, engineering, communications and medicine. SF soldiers are taught to be warriors first and teachers second because they must be able to train their team and be able to train their allies during a FID or UW mission.[48][30]Often SF units are required to perform additional, or collateral, activities outside their primary missions. These collateral activities are coalition warfare/support, combat search and rescue, security assistance, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian de-mining and counter-drug operations.[50]

  • The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) headquartered at Fort Campbell, Kentucky provides aviation support to Army special operations forces. The Regiment consists of MH-6 and AH-6 light helicopters, MH-60 helicopters and MH-47 heavy assault helicopters. The capabilities of the 160th SOAR (A) have been evolving since the early 1980s. Its focus on night operations resulting in the nickname, the "Night Stalkers."[51]The primary mission of the Night Stalkers is to conduct overt or covert infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces across a wide range of environmental conditions.[52]
  • 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) Soldiers use persuasion to influence perceptions and encourage desired behavior. The cornerstone of PSYOP is truth, credibly presented to convince a foreign audience to cease resistance or take actions favorable to friendly forces.[53][54]4th PSYOP Gp supports national objectives at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of operations. Strategic psychological operations advance broad or long-term objectives; global in nature, they may be directed toward large audiences or at key communicators. Operational psychological operations are conducted on a smaller scale. 4th PSYOP Gp is employed by theater commanders to target groups within the theater of operations. 4th PSYOP Gp purpose can range from gaining support for U.S. operations to preparing the battlefield for combat. Tactical psychological operations are more limited, used by commanders to secure immediate and near-term goals. In this environment, these force-enhancing activities serve as a means to lower the morale and efficiency of enemy forces.[55]
  • 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) specialists identify critical requirements needed by local citizens in war or disaster situations. They also locate civilian resources to support military operations, help minimize civilian interference with operations, support national assistance activities, plan and execute noncombatant evacuation, support counter-drug operations and establish and maintain liaison with civilian aid agencies and other nongovernmental organizations. In support of special operations, these culturally-oriented, linguistically-capable Soldiers may also be tasked to provide functional expertise for foreign internal defense operations, unconventional warfare operations and direct action missions.[56]
  • Special Operations Support Command (Airborne) has a difficult mission supporting ARSOF. In their respective fields, signal and support soldiers provide supplies, maintenance, equipment and expertise allowing Special Operation Forces to "shoot, move and communicate" on a continuous basis. Because ARSOF often uses SOF-unique items, soldiers assigned to these units are taught to operate and maintain a vast array of specialized equipment not normally used by their conventional counterparts. SOSCOM also provides the ARSOF with centralized and integrated materiel management of property, equipment maintenance, logistical automation and repair parts and supplies.[57]


United States Naval Special Warfare Command emblem.

The United States Naval Special Warfare Command (SPECWARCOM, NAVSOC, or NSW) was commissioned April 16, 1987, at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. As the Naval component to the United States Special Operations Command headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Naval Special Warfare Command provides vision, leadership, doctrinal guidance, resources and oversight to ensure component maritime special operations forces are ready to meet the operational requirements of combatant commanders.[59] Today, SEAL Teams, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams, and Special Boat Teams comprise the elite combat units of Naval Special Warfare. These teams are organized, trained, and equipped to conduct a variety of missions to include unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter terrorism missions, and support psychological and civil affairs operations. Their highly trained specialists are deployed worldwide in support of National Command Authority objectives, conducting operations with other conventional and unconventional forces.


SEALs emerge from the water during a demonstration.
  • United States Navy SEALs have distinguished themselves as an individually reliable, collectively disciplined and highly skilled maritime force. The most important trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from all other military forces is that SEALs are maritime special forces, as they strike from and return to the sea. SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) take their name from the elements in and from which they operate. Their stealth and clandestine methods of operation allow them to conduct multiple missions against targets that larger forces cannot approach undetected. Because of the dangers inherent in their missions, prospective SEALs go through what is considered by many military experts to be one of the toughest training regimes in the world.[60][61]
  • SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams are SEALs who use the SDV MK VIII and the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS), submersibles that provides NSW with an unprecedented capability that combines the attributes of clandestine underwater mobility and the combat swimmer.[62][63]
  • Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) are trained extensively in craft and weapons tactics, techniques and procedures. Focusing on clandestine infiltration and exfiltration of SEALs and other special operations forces, SWCC provide dedicated, rapid mobility in shallow water areas where larger ships cannot operate. Like SEALs, SWCC must have excellent physical fitness, highly motivated, combat-focused and responsive in high stress situations.[64]

Marine Corps

United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command emblem.

In October 2005, the Secretary of Defense directed the formation of United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command the Marine component of U. S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). It was determined that the Marine Corps would initially form a unit of approximately 2500 to serve with USSOCOM. On February 24, 2006, MARSOC activated at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. MARSOC initially consisted of a small staff and the Foreign Military Training Unit (FMTU), which had been formed to conduct Foreign Internal Defense. FMTU is now designated as the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group (MSOAG).[65]

As a service component of USSOCOM, MARSOC is tasked by the Commander USSOCOM to train, organize, equip; deploy task organized, scalable, and responsive U.S. Marine Corps special operations forces worldwide in support of combatant commanders and other agencies. MARSOC has been directed to conduct Foreign Internal Defense, Direct Action and Special Reconnaissance. MARSOC has also been directed to develop a capability in Unconventional Warfare , Counter Terrorism , and Information Operations. MARSOC deployed its first units in August 2006, six months after initial activation. MARSOC will reach full operational capability in October of 2008. [66]


DASR Operators from 1st SOB (Special Operations Battalion) respond to enemy fire in Afghanistan.
  • Marine Special Operations Battalions (MSOB) are organized, trained and equipped to deploy for worldwide missions as directed by MARSOC. MSOBs consists of five Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOCs) and is task-organized with personnel uniquely skilled in special equipment support, intelligence and fire-support.[67][68]
  • Marine Special Operations Advisor Group (MSOAG), formerly the Foreign Military Training Unit train, advise and assist friendly host-nation forces—including naval and maritime military and paramilitary forces—to enable them to support their governments’ internal security and stability, to counter subversion and to reduce the risk of violence from internal and external threats.[69]
  • The Marine Special Operations Support Group (MSOSG) provides specified support capabilities for worldwide special operations missions as directed by MARSOC. The MSOSG specifically provides combined arms planning and coordination, K-9 support, special operations communications support, combat service support (including logistics) and all-source intelligence fusion capability. The MSOSG can deploy tailored support detachments as directed by MARSOC.[70]
  • The Marine Special Operations School (MSOS) performs the screening, recruiting, training, assessment and doctrinal development functions for MARSOC. It includes two subordinate Special Missions Training Branches (SMTBs), one on each coast.
    • The Special Mission Training Branch—East provide special operations training in tactics, techniques and procedures, and evaluation and certification of MARSOC forces to specified conditions and standards for SOF. The Marines of MSOS are operators with the training, experience and mature judgment to plan, coordinate, instruct and supervise development of SOF special reconnaissance and direct action skills.[71]

Joint Special Operations Command

Emblem of the Joint Special Operations Command.

The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is the component that controls the special mission units (SMU) of USSOCOM. These units perform highly classified activities.[37][72][73]


  • 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Combat Applications Group (CAG), Delta Force) is the first of the two primary counter-terrorist units of JSOC and SOCOM.[37] Modeled after the British Special Operations force Special Air Service, Delta is arguably one of the best SOF in the world.[74] This is because of Delta's stringent training and selection process. Delta recruits primarily from the most talented and highly skilled operators in the Army Special Forces and the 75th Ranger Regiment although CAG will take anyone and everyone that can pass their screening.[74][75] Recruits must pass a rigid selection course before beginning training. Delta has received training from numerous U.S. government agencies and other tier one SOF and has created a curriculum based on this training and techniques that it has developed.[74] Delta Force conducts clandestine and overt special operations all over the world.[74] It has the capability to conduct a myriad of special operations missions but specializes in counter-terrorism and hostage rescue operations.[37][72][75]
  • Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) is the second of the two primary counter-terrorist units of JSOC and SOCOM.[37] DEVGRU is the Naval Special Warfare's counter-part to Delta Force. Like Delta DEVGRU recruits the best operators from the best units in its branch, the Navy SEALs. DEVGRU is also capable of performing any type of special operations mission, but trains especially for maritime counter-terrorist operations.[37][75]
  • The Intelligence Support Activity (ISA ,The Activity) is the support branch of JSOC and USSOCOM. Its primary missions are to obtain intelligence mainly for Delta and DEVGRU's operations.[37][76] Before the establishing of the Strategic Support Branch in 2001, the ISA needed the permission of the CIA to conducts its operations which sometimes caused it to be less effective in its support of JSOC's primary units.[77][37][78]
  • The 24th Special Tactics Squadron (24th STS) is the AFSOC component of JSOC. The 24th STS operates similarly to the 720th Special Tactics Group. The 24th STS usually operates with Delta and DEVGRU because of the convenience of 24th STS ability to synchronize and control the different elements of air power and enhance air operations deep in enemy territory.[75]

Portions of JSOC units have made up the constantly changing special operations task force, operating in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The Task Force 11, Task Force 121, Task Force 6-26 and Task Force 145 are creations of the Pentagon's post-Sept. 11 campaign against terrorism, and it quickly became the model for how the military would gain intelligence and battle insurgents in the future. Originally known as Task Force 121, it was formed in the summer of 2003, when the military merged two existing Special Operations units, one hunting Osama bin Laden in and around Afghanistan, and the other tracking Sadaam Hussein in Iraq.[79][80]

List of USSOCOM commanders

Name and Affiliation Start of Term End of Term 1 GEN James J. Lindsay, USAApril 1987 June 1990 2 GEN Carl W. Stiner, USA June 1990 May 1993 3 GEN Wayne A. Downing, USA May 1993 February 1996 4 GEN Henry H. Shelton, USA February 1996 September 1997 RADM Raymond C. Smith, Jr., USN(acting)   September 1997 November 1997 5 GEN Peter J. Schoomaker, USA November 1997 October 2000 6 Gen Charles R. Holland, USAFOctober 2000 September 2003 7 GEN Bryan D. Brown, USA September 2003 July 2007 8 ADM Eric T. Olson, USN July 2007 Present


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  • USSOCOM Posture Statement. USSOCOM (2007). Retrieved on 2008-02-12.
  • Pushies, Fred (2007). U.S. Air Force Special Ops. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7603-0733-4
  • Couch, Dick (March 2007). Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0307339394
  • Smith, Michael (2007). Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312362722
  • Couch, Dick (2006). Down Range: Navy SEALs in the War on Terrorism. New York, New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 1400081017
  • David Tucker, Christopher J. Lamb (2007). United States Special Operations Forces. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231131909
  • Luttrell, Marcus; Patrick Robinson (June 2007). Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0316067598

External links

Military of the United States Portal
v • d • eUnited States Special Operations Command Functional responsibilities United States Army Special Operations Command · United States Naval Special Warfare Command · United States Air Force Special Operations Command · United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command · Joint Special Operations CommandRegional responsibilities Special Operations Command · Special Operations Command, Pacific · Special Operations Command, Europe Personnel United States Army Special Forces · 75th Ranger Regiment · United States Navy SEALs · Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen · Air Force Special Tactics v • d • e Unified Combatant Commandsof the United States armed forcesRegional responsibilities Africa Command- Central Command- European Command- Northern Command- Pacific Command- Southern CommandFunctional responsibilities Joint Forces Command- Special Operations Command - Strategic Command- Transportation CommandInactivated United States Strike Command- United States Atlantic Command- United States Space Command- United States Readiness Command Categories: Commands of the United States armed forces | Special forces of the United States | United States Special Operations Command | Military in Florida | Counter-terrorism

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