TSOC: US Theatre Special Operations Commands (2023)

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Last Updated: 26 January, 2016

1.0 Introduction

This article is about the United States (US) Theatre Special Operations Commands which sit within the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

The article will look at the role of women and provide a description of Theatre Special Operations Commands, as well as their role and place in the Special Operations community.

The article will then provide an overview of the organisation and structure of Theatre Special Operations Commands, before highlighting some operational deficits.

Next the article will identify and describe extant and obsolete Theatre Special Operations Commands, before providing some useful links and references.

2.0 Women and Theatre Special Operations Commands

Women in the US military have, for a number of years, been able to serve in a variety of SOF-related roles, including:

  • Intelligence;
  • Military information support;
  • Civil affairs units;
  • Female engagement teams;
  • Cultural support teams; and
  • Air Force special operations aviation roles.

As of March 2015, approximately two-thirds of the roles in USSOCOM were integrated (Vogel, 2015).

On 04 December 2015, the US Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, announced that beginning in January 2016, all military occupations and positions would be open to women, without exception (Pellerin, 2015).

However, in a survey of over 7,600 special operations forces personnel by the RAND Corporation, the overwhelming view was negative: “Allowing women to serve in Navy SEAL, Army Delta or other commando units could hurt their effectiveness and lower the standards, and it may drive men away from the dangerous posts.” (Baldor, 2015).

3.0 What are Theatre Special Operations Commands?

Theatre Special Operations Commands (TSOCs) are sub-unified commands under their respective Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs), e.g. US Africa Command.

TSOCs are special operational headquarters (HQ) elements designed to support a GCCs special operations logistics, planning, and operational command and control (C2) requirements, and are normally commanded by a general officer (either OF-6 or OF-7).

3.1 The Role of Theatre Special Operations Commands

Since 1988 each of the theatre unified commands have established a separate TSOC to meet its theatre-unique special operations requirements. As subordinate unified commands, the TSOCs provide the planning, preparation, and command and control of special operations forces (SOF) from across the US military (the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps and US Air Force) [LINKS]. They ensure that SOF strategic capabilities are fully employed and that SOF are fully synchronised with conventional military operations, when applicable.

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In general, each TSOC:

  • Exercises operational control (OPCON) of assigned forces;
  • Has responsibility for SOF-peculiar logistical requirements of assigned forces; and
  • Forms the core of a joint special operations task force (JSOTF) able to act independently or as the special operations component of a larger joint/combined task force.

Ultimately, the TSOCs are responsible to the GCC Commander for integrating and employing SOF in theatre plans.

Thus, TSOCs offer several advantages to regional commanders:

  • As peacetime elements, the TSOCs are the nucleus around which a JSOTF can be structured.
  • They provide a clear chain of command for in-theatre SOF as well as the staff expertise to plan, conduct and support joint special operations in the theatre’s area of responsibility (AOR).
  • These special operations may include General Purpose Forces (GPF) under OPCON to a TSOC.
  • TSOCs normally exercise OPCON of SOF (except psychological operations and civil affairs, PSYOP and CA respectively) within each GCC AOR.
  • Additionally, the TSOCs ensure that SOF personnel fully participate in theatre mission planning and that theatre component commanders are thoroughly familiar with SOF operational and support requirements and capabilities.

In 1999, the Special Operations Acquisition and Logistics Centre (SOAL) “…developed the Joint Special Operations Mission Planner that provided the Theater Special Operations Commands with a planning and command and control tool.” (USSOCOM, 2007, p.24).

3.2 Role in the Network

SOF operate in foreign countries under GCC authority and chief of mission approval.

SOF teams normally establish transparent liaison with the US mission while reporting to forward-based sub-regional SOF command and control elements that in turn report to the appropriate TSOC.

The TSOCs perform as regional hubs in the network to plan and conduct their operations and activities in support of theatre campaigns and other nationally-designated priorities.

The TSOCs also have a close relationship with the Regional SOF Coordination Centres (RSCCs), which complement the TSOC role by serving as regional hubs for improving SOF capable training and education, coordination, information sharing, and interoperability among regional partners.

At the country level, USSOCOM assigns SOF Liaison Officers (the primary US SOF advisor to the foreign national SOF HQ) through the TSOCs for duty at the national HQ (or US Mission if no HQ) of selected foreign SOF partners.

4.0 Organisation of Theatre Special Operations Commands

In February 2013, based on a request from USSOCOM (with the concurrence of Geographic and Functional Combatant Commanders and the Military Service Chiefs and Secretaries), the then Secretary of Defence assigned command of the TSOCs to USSOCOM (Feickert, 2015).

As a consequence, USSOCOM now has the responsibility to organise, train and equip the various TSOCs as it previously had for all assigned SOF units as specified in US Code, Title 10, Section 167. However, the GCCs will continue to have OPCON which will ensure that TSOC operations are conceived and executed as part of the plan of the GCC to ensure synergy and effectiveness. This change was intended to enable USSOCOM to standardise, where appropriate, TSOC capabilities and manpower requirements.

Because the TSOCs are now classified as sub-unified commands, the Services are responsible to provide non-SOF support to the TSOCs in the same manner in which they provided support to the GCC HQ. The Services have what the US Department of Defence calls ‘Combatant Command Service Agency (CCSA)’ responsibilities for providing manpower, non-SOF peculiar equipment and logistic support to the TSOCs. There are currently seven TSOC’s, each of which may have a number of sub-units within their geographic area (USSOCOM, 2015). Table 1 highlights the current TSOCs, the GCCs they support and the CCSA responsibility:

Table 1: TSOC, GCC and CCSA responsibility
TSOCGCCCCSA
SOC Central (SOCCENT)US Central CommandUS Air Force
SOC Northern (SOCNORTH)US Northern CommandUS Air Force
SOC Southern (SOCSOUTH)US Southern CommandUS Army
SOC Europe (SOCEUR)US European CommandUS Army
SOC Pacfic (SOCPAC)US Pacific CommandUS Navy
SOC Korea (SOCKOR)US Forces KoreaUS Army
SOC Africa (SOCAFRICA)US Africa CommandUS Army
NATO Special Operations Component Command/Special Operations Joint Task Force – AfghanistanAfghanistan?

Robinson (2013, p.9) reported that in 2012 the TSOC HQs encompassed “1,425” personnel, with a plan to increase this by “…eight hundred personnel…” (Robinson, 2013, p.22).

In broad terms, the role of a TSOC commander (CDRTSOC) is to:

  • Exercise OPCON over joint SOF in theatre on a continuous basis;
  • Act as the principal advisor on special operations for their respective GCCs; and
  • Be the joint force special operations component commander (for short-term operations).

4.1 Structure of Theatre Special Operations Commands

Unless otherwise specified each TSOC is organised as a conventional joint staff with a command group and seven J‑coded functional directorates. Therefore, each TSOC will typically consist of:

  • Command Group which includes the Commander; Senior Enlisted Leader; Vice- or Deputy Commander; Chief of Staff; Foreign Policy Advisor; Executive Officer; and the Secretary, Joint Staff (SJS).
  • Special Staff includes the surgeon; reserve affairs officer; public affairs officer; and the staff judge advocate (SJA).
  • Staff directorate includes: Headquarters Commandant; J1 Human Resources; J2 Intelligence; J3 Operations; J4 Logistics; J5 Strategy, Plans, and Programs; J6 Communications; and J8 Resource Management.
  • Component commanders which may include:
    • Special Operations Command and Control Element(s) (SOCCE).
    • Joint Special Operations Air Component (JSOAC).
    • SOF Units: SEALs, Green Berets etc.
    • Signal Detachment.

4.2 Operational Deficits

In her report, Robinson (2013, p.15) noted a number of operational deficits regarding the TSOCs, which included:

  • Severely under-resourced commands;
  • Shortage of sufficient quantity and quality of staff and intelligence, analytical and planning resources;
  • Poor respect and support from their GCC Commander;
  • Staff and resources redirected;
  • Rare career promotions from TSOCs; and
  • Personnel on short term assignments or are reservists with inadequate training.

However, some of these issues are not new, as noted by the then Commander USSOCOM in 1997 (Shelton, 1997, p.52). Although to be fair, on at least three separate occasions from 1987 to 2007 USSOCOM did assign and increase posts (billets) to, and downsize the HQ to free personnel for, the TSOCs (USSOCOM, 2007).

5.0 Identifying the Special Operations Commands

5.1 Special Operations Command, Central

The Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US Central Command (USCENTCOM), with its HQ located at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, USA. The CCSA is the US Air Force.

It was established 01 December 1983 and is commanded by an OF-7 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. Commander SOCCENT serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USCENTCOM. It also has a forward headquarters, the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC), in Qatar.

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SOCCENTs AOR includes 20 countries: Afghanistan; Bahrain; Egypt; Iran; Iraq; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lebanon; Oman; Pakistan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; and Yemen.

The primary responsibility of SOCCENT is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USCENTCOM AOR.

SOCCENT conducts the full spectrum of SOF missions and closely works with Component, Interagency and Partner Nations to enable and support the goals and objectives of USCENTCOM.

5.2 Special Operations Command, North

The Special Operations Command North (SOCNORTH) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US North Command (USNORTHCOM), with its HQ located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The CCSA is the US Air Force.

It was established 05 November 2013 and is commanded by an OF-7 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. Commander SOCNORTH serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USNORTHCOM.

Canadian SOF are assigned to SOCNORTH as non-reciprocal exchange officers, including the Vice-Commander.

SOCNORTHs AOR includes the continental US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles. The AOR also includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida and portions of the Caribbean region (including the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands).

The primary responsibility of SOCNORTH is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USNORTHCOM AOR. The Commander SOCNORTH is also responsible for maintaining existing relationships with regional SOF organisations in Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas, and facilitates their contributions to the cooperative defence of North America.

SOCNORTH conducts the full spectrum of SOF missions and closely works with Component, Interagency and Partner Nations, synchronising operations in order to:

  • Contribute to the defence of the US homeland, with emphasis on counterterrorism;
  • Counter acquisition or use of weapons of mass destruction; and
  • Counter-transnational organised crime in Mexico.

5.3 Special Operations Command, South

The Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), with its HQ located at Homestead Air Force Base (Reserve), Florida. The CCSA is the US Army.

It was established 04 August 1986 and is commanded by an OF-6 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. Commander SOCSOUTH serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USSOUTHCOM. SOCSOUTH is organised with a command group and seven function directorates, J1 to J6 and J8. SOCSOUTH exercises control of:

  • One Army Special Forces Company;
  • One Army Special Operations Aviation Company; and
  • One Naval Special Warfare Unit.

SOCSOUTHs AOR covers Central and South America, and the Caribbean totalling 31 countries and 15 territories. As a result SOCSOUTH divides its area of focus into four regions:

  • Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
  • Andean Ridge: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
  • Southern Cone: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The primary responsibility of SOCSOUTH is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USSOUTHCOM AOR.

SOCSOUTH conducts the full spectrum of SOF missions and closely works with Component, Interagency and Partner Nations, by establishing a networked defence that will detect, deter, disrupt and defeat illicit transnational elements, thereby enhancing security and stability in the Americas.

5.4 Special Operations Command, Europe

The Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US European Command (USEUCOM), with its HQ located at Patch Barracks in Vaihingen, Stuttgart in Germany. The CCSA is the US Army.

It was established 22 January 1955 and is commanded by an OF-7 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. SOCEUR exercises control of:

  • One Army Special Forces Battalion;
  • One Air Force Special Operations Group with two subordinate Air Force Special Operations Flying Squadrons and one Air Force Special Tactics Squadron;
  • One Naval Special Warfare Unit; and
  • A Signal Support Detachment.

SOCEUR also maintains proponency for Civil Affairs (CA) and Military Information Support Operations (MISO).

Commander SOCEUR (COMSOCEUR) is one of five commanders (along with US Army, Europe; US Air Forces in Europe; US Naval Forces, Europe; and US Marine Corps Forces, Europe) in the USEUCOM AOR who may be designated to establish or lead a European joint task force (JTF) to plan, coordinate, and conduct military operations in support of USEUCOM or the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). Commander SOCEUR serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USEUCOM.

SOCEUR’s AOR has 52 independent countries that extend beyond Europe, to include the Caucuses and Israel. As a result SOCEUR divides its area of focus into three regions:

  • Western: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, France and Greenland.
  • Central: Albania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland and Slovakia.
  • Eastern: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia.

The primary responsibility of SOCEUR is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USEUCOM AOR. More specifically, SOCEUR is responsible for:

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  • SOF readiness, exercises, plans, and joint and combined training;
  • NATO and partnership activities; and
  • Execution of counterterrorism, peacetime and contingency operations.

SOCEUR conducts the full spectrum of SOF missions and closely works with Component, Interagency and Partner Nations, and builds Alliance and Partner Nation SOF capability and capacity in order to counter Russian aggression, conduct crisis response activities, and support counterterrorism operations in order to advance US strategic interests and neutralise security threats.

5.5 Special Operations Command, Pacific

The Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US Pacific Command (USPACOM), with its HQ located at Camp Smith, Hawaii. The CCSA is the US Navy.

It was established 01 November 1983 and is commanded by an OF-7 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. Commander SOCAPC serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USPACOM.

The SOCPAC staff is organised as discussed earlier but is augmented by the Joint Intelligence Support Element (JISE/JICPAC) and a detachment from the 112th Signal Battalion. SOCPAC is assigned OPCON of:

  • One Army Special Forces Battalion;
  • One Naval Special Warfare Unit;
  • One Air Force Special Operations Group, which includes two Air Force Special Operations Squadrons and one Air Force Special Tactics Squadron; and
  • Additionally, SOCPAC maintains a Joint Special Operations Air Component (JSOAC) in Hawaii and a forward-based Joint Special Operations Air Detachment.

SOCPACs AOR includes 36 countries and encompasses half of the earth’s surface. As a result SOCPAC divides its area of focus into four regions:

  • South East Asia: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka.
  • Northeast Asia and Oceania: Australia, China, Fiji, Japan, Kiraribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, North Korea, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The primary responsibility of SOCPAC, throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USPACOM AOR.

SOCPAC conducts the full spectrum of SOF missions and closely works with Component, Interagency and Partner Nations, developing mutual interoperability and regional expertise in order to create stability and combat trans-regional threats.

5.6 Special Operations Command, Korea

The Special Operations Command Korea (SOCKOR) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US Forces Korea (USFK), with its HQ located at Yongsan, Korea. The CCSA is the US Army.

It was established 14 July 1986 and is commanded by an OF-6 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. Commander SOCKOR serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USFK/United Nations Commander/Combined Forces Commander. In peacetime, it is established as a traditional joint HQ with a command group and six directorates augmented by the 112 Signal Battalion (Special Operations) (Airborne), Detachment-Korea and an Air Liaison Element (ALE). It exercises OPCON of the Special Forces Detachment 39 and tactical control (TACON) of other US SOF units training in Korea.

Since its inception, SOCKOR continues to be the only TSOC in which US and host nation SOF are institutionally organised for combined operations. SOCKOR and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Special Warfare Command (SWC) regularly train in their combined roles, while SOCKOR’s Special Forces Detachment acts as the liaison between ROK Special Forces and the US Special Forces.

In peacetime, the primary responsibility of SOCKOR is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting (combined and joint) operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USFK AOR.

If the armistice fails, elements of SOCKOR, the ROK SWC and ROK Air Force Special Operations Squadron combine to establish the Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force (CUWTF) under the Combined Forces Command. Under the current plan, when CUWTF is formed, the Commander SOCKOR becomes the CUWTF Deputy Commander, with a ROK Lieutenant General as the Commander CUWTF. SOCKOR is then designated as the United Nations Command Special Operations Component under the United Nations Command, with the Commander SOCKOR as the Special Operations Component Commander.

5.7 Special Operations Command, Africa

The Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) is a sub-unified command of USSOCOM under the OPCON of the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM), with its HQ located at Kelley Barracks in the outer Stuttgart district of Mohringen, Germany. The CCSA is the US Army.

It was established 01 October 2007 and is commanded by an OF-6 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9. Commander SOCAFRICA serves as the Special Operations Advisor to Commander USAFRICOM. SOCAFRICA is organised into:

  • Command Group includes Commander; Senior Enlisted Leader; Deputy Commander; Chief of Staff; Foreign Policy Advisor; Executive Officer; and the Secretary, Joint Staff (SJS).
  • Special Staff includes the surgeon; reserve affairs officer; public affairs officer; and the staff judge advocate (SJA).
  • Staff directorate includes: Headquarters Commandant; J1 Human Resources; J2 Intelligence; J3 Operations; J4 Logistics; J5 Strategy, Plans, and Programs; J6 Communications; and J8 Resource Management.
  • Component commanders which includes:
    • SOCFWD West Africa (Trans Sahara).
    • SOCFWD East Africa (Horn of Africa).
    • SOCFWD Central Africa (AFRICOM Counter-Lord’s Resistance Army).
    • Joint Special Operations Air Component (JSOAC).
    • ?Naval Special Warfare Unit 10.
    • SOCAFRICA Signal Detachment.

The African continent is large and diverse: three-and-a-half times the size of the US, with 54 countries spanning 11 million square miles. SOCAFRICA is routinely engaged, on average, in half of these countries; working with and through their African counterparts.

The primary responsibility of SOCAFRICA is to exercise OPCON over theatre-assigned or allocated US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps or US Navy SOF conducting operations, exercises and theatre security cooperation within the USAFRICOM AOR.

SOCAFRICA conducts the full spectrum of SOF missions and closely works with Component, Interagency and Partner Nations, and builds tactical and operational Counter-VEO (Violent Extremist Organisation) capability in select, key partner nations and assists in developing regional security structures to create stability and combat trans-regional threats.

5.8 NATO Special Operations Component Command/Special Operations Joint Task Force – Afghanistan

The NATO Special Operations Component Command/Special Operations Joint Task Force – Afghanistan (NSOCCA/SOJTF-A) was established 01 July 2012 and is commanded by an OF-7 level officer, who is assisted by the Senior Enlisted Advisor, an OR-9.

The overarching role of NSOCCA/SOJTF-A is to conduct Security Force Assistance (SFA) and targeted Counterterrorism (CT) in Afghanistan to ensure the enduring relevance, proficiency, capability and sustainability of the Afghan Special Security Force as a CT partner, and to deny safe haven to Al Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents. Supporting roles include:

  • Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan (SOTF-A): Conducts Foreign Internal Defence (FID) throughout Afghanistan to improve partnered unit capacity, capability, and self-sustainability.
  • Combined Joint Special Operations Aviation Component – Afghanistan (CJSOAC-A): Conducts special and conventional aviation operations to include assault, fires, mobility and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance within Afghanistan in support of SOJTF-A.
  • General Command Police Special Units (GCPSU) and Special Operations Advisory Group (SOAG): Builds enduring tactical Ministry of the Interior capabilities with specialised units in order to neutralise insurgent networks, protect the population and create a stable environment for the populace.
  • Task Force: Conducts offensive operations in Afghanistan to degrade the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and the Haqqani Networks against terrorist organisations and supporting networks in order to prevent them from reestablishment of operationally significant safe havens which threaten the US, international community and stability and sovereignty of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Afghan forces that operate with the NSOCCA/SOJTF-A include:

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  • Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC): the ANASOC is comprised of two elements:
    • The Afghan Commandos: Conduct specialised light infantry operations in support of regional Afghan National Army Corps counterinsurgency operations, and provide a strategic response capability for the Government of Afghanistan.
    • The Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF): Specialises in internal defence by immersing a specialised Afghan soldier Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) into the local populace.
  • Special Mission Wing (SMW): The SMW works in close partnership with members of ANASOC, as well as other Afghan National Security Force partners, in order to provide lift, air support, and ISR capabilities with MI-17s and PC-12 aircraft.
  • Afghan Local Police (ALP): The ALP programme is an Afghan Minister of Interior sponsored, village focused security programme, which complements counterinsurgency efforts by assisting and supporting rural areas with limited or no Afghan Security Force presence in order to enable conditions for improved security, governance and development.
  • National Mission Units (NMUs): The NMUs are Afghan Ministry of the Interior units which conduct special police law enforcement in high threat environments in order to uphold the laws of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

5.9 Special Operations Command, Atlantic Command

The US Atlantic Command, commanded by an Admiral (OF-9), was established in 1947 as a primarily US Navy Command, and was focused upon the wartime defence of the Atlantic sea lanes against Soviet attack, with the US Atlantic Fleet and other sub-unified commands such as the Iceland Defence Force under its authority.

The US Atlantic Command was abbreviated as USLANTCOM from 1947 to 1993, and as USACOM from 1993. The TSOC as was known as the Special Operations Command, Atlantic Command (SOCACOM), was located at Norfolk in Virginia, and was a subordinate unified command of USACOM.

In peacetime, SOCACOM operated as a traditional joint HQ, with a command group and five functional directorates (with J3 and J5 combined). In contingency and wartime, the J3 and J5 would be separated.

5.10 Special Operations Command, Joint Forces Command

On 01 October 1999, USACOM was renamed the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) as part of the Unified Command Plan (UCP 99), and given a new mission as the joint force provider, trainer and integrator. The TSOC was also renamed the Special Operations Command, Joint Forces Command (SOCJFCOM), located at Suffolk in Virginia.

SOCJFCOM was a subordinate unified command of USJFCOM and conducted worldwide joint SOF training and facilitated joint integration to enhance the effectiveness and interoperability of SOF in joint, multinational, and interagency environments; it supported all GCCs and JTFs. Additionally, as a TSOC, SOCJFCOM conducted special operations as directed by Commander USJFCOM.

As a result of USJFCOM being officially disestablished on 31 August 2011, SOCJFCOM was renamed the Special Operations Command – Joint Capabilities (SOC-JC). It became a sub-unified command of USSOCOM, and was commanded by a Colonel (OF-5). SOC-JC continued to be the primary joint SOF trainer and integrator.

At some point in 2014, SOC-JC drops from the radar and is no longer mentioned in USSOCOMs Fact Book.

6.0 Useful Links

7.0 References

Baldor, L.C. (2015) US Special Operators Say No to Women in Special Operations Jobs. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/12/11/us-special-operators-say-no-to-women-in-special-operations-jobs.html. [Accessed: 07 January, 2016].

Feickert, A. (2015) U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service.

Pellerin, C. (2015) SecDef Opens all Military Occupations to Women. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.therecruiterjournal.com/secdef-opens-all-military-occupations-to-women.html. [Accessed: 04 December, 2015].

Robinson, L. (2013) Council Special Report No.66. The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces. New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations.

Shelton, H.H. (1997) Coming of Age: Theatre Special Operations Commands. JFQ. Winter 1996-97, pp.50-52. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA528704. [Accessed: 24 January, 2016].

USSOCOM (US Special Operations Command) (2007) United States Special Operations Command History, 1987 to 2007. Tampa, Florida: USSOCOM.

USSOCOM (US Special Operations Command) (2015) USSOCOM Fact Book 2016. Tampa, Florida: USSOCOM.

Vogel, J.L. (2015) Statement of General Joseph L. Vogel, U.S. Army Commander United States Special Operations Command before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, March 18, 2015. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.socom.mil/Documents/2015%20USSOCOM%20Posture%20Statement.pdf. [Accessed: 29 December, 2015].

FAQs

What are the SOF service component commands? ›

USSOCOM has three service component commands: Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Ft. Bragg, NC; Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM) Coronado, CA; Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Hurlburt Field, FL; and one sub-unified command, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Ft. Bragg, NC.

What type of command is USSOCOM? ›

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) is the unified combatant command charged with overseeing the various special operations component commands of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force of the United States Armed Forces.

Where is Special Operations Command located? ›

SOCOM headquarters is at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Its components include the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.; the Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla; the Naval Special Warfare Command, Coronado, Calif., and the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.

What units are in special operations command? ›

Special Operations Forces
  • Army Green Berets.
  • Army Night Stalkers.
  • Army Rangers.
  • Navy SEALs.
  • Navy SEALs Missions.
  • Navy SWCCs.
  • Marine MARSOC.
  • Marine RECON.

What is a JSOC ghost unit? ›

The Group for Specialized Tactics, also known as the Ghosts, is an elite Special Mission Unit within the US Army and JSOC and is located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The unit was established in 1994 and is a secretive special operations force.

How many U.S. commands are there? ›

There are currently eleven Combatant Commands. The COCOMs, and by extension their commanders, have responsibility for the military's Page 2 Defense Primer: Commanding U.S. Military Operations https://crsreports.congress.gov operations in their respective area of responsibility during both peacetime and war.

What's the difference between JSOC and SOCOM? ›

SOCOM was activated in April 1987. SOCOM oversees any special operations involving elements from multiple services. JSOC, a joint command which is focused on counter terrorism, was established in December 1980 and was later brought in under the umbrella of SOCOM.

What rifle does SOCOM use? ›

The Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) is a modular rifle made by FN Herstal (FNH) for the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to satisfy the requirements of the SCAR competition. This family of rifles consist of two main types.

Is Delta Force under SOCOM? ›

The unit is under the organization of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), but is controlled by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

What are special ops Marines called? ›

First, the Marine Corps has two primary special operations forces: The Marine Raiders and the Force RECON units. As part of the Special Operations Command, the Marine Raiders run small lethal teams to eliminate targets.

What is the Air Force equivalent to Navy SEALs? ›

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida, is the special operations component of the United States Air Force.

Who is the Commander of US Special Operations Command? ›

General Raymond A. Thomas III currently serves as the 11th Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Prior to assuming command of USSOCOM, Gen. Thomas served as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Fort Bragg, N.C.

Are Rangers Usasoc? ›

As the Army's component of USSOCOM, USASOC provides Special Forces, Ranger, Special Operations Aviation, Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs forces to USSOCOM for deployment to combatant unified commands around the world (see Figure 3-1).

How many Special Forces commands are there? ›

The Defense Department has 11 combatant commands, each with a geographic or functional mission that provides command and control of military forces in peace and war.

How many Green Berets are in a group? ›

The US Army's Special Forces are known to the public as Green Berets — but they call themselves the quiet professionals. They work in 12-man teams, known as an "A-Team," with each member having a specific job.

What is the most secret military unit? ›

If they are compromised during a mission, the US government may deny all knowledge. SOG is considered the most secretive special operations force within the United States, with fewer than 100 operators. The group generally recruits personnel from special mission units within the U.S. Special Operations community.

What is a Tier 1 special forces? ›

The term Tier One Special Mission Unit or Special Missions Unit (SMU) is a term sometimes used, particularly in the United States, to describe some highly secretive military Special Operations Forces. Special mission units have been involved in high-profile military operations, such as the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

What is GREY Fox military? ›

Gray Fox was the codename used by the ISA at the beginning of the War in Afghanistan. Its members often worked closely with Joint Special Operations Command and the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2002, Gray Fox operators served alongside Delta Force and DEVGRU in the mountains of Afghanistan.

What are the 5 types of command in a drill? ›

Basic Drill Commands
  • Fall in. Individuals form a formation at the position of attention.
  • Fall out. Individuals drop out of formation. ...
  • Attention. ...
  • Present, ARMS. ...
  • Order, ARMS. ...
  • Open ranks, MARCH. ...
  • Close ranks, MARCH. ...
  • Dress right, DRESS.

What is Army G1 G2 G3 G4? ›

G1-G9 are staff officer “functional responsibilities.” G1 is personnel, G2 intelligence, G3 operations/training, G4 logistics, G5 civil/military operations (i.e. working with civilians, note that this is not present), G6 is command/control/communications/computers (C^4), G7 is info operations (i.e. “psychological ...

How many soldiers does a major command? ›

The major general typically commands division-sized units (10,000 to 15,000 Soldiers). The lieutenant general typically commands corps-sized units (20,000 to 45,000 Soldiers). The senior level of commissioned officer typically has more than 30 years of experience and service.

Are Green Berets Tier 1? ›

US Army Special Forces, widely known as the Green Berets, are Tier 1 forces (i.e. undertake direct action) and are trained by the US Army's 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), located at the John F.

Do the SEALs fall under JSOC? ›

The 75th Ranger Regiment

Like the Navy SEALs, a highly specialized company of Rangers falls under JSOC, but the rest of Ranger Battalion answers to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

What tier is Marsoc? ›

US special operators

US special-operations units can be divided into unofficial tiers. Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 would be at the top (Tier 1), followed by the 75th Ranger Regiment, Night Stalkers, MARSOC, and SEAL and Boat Teams (Tier 2), and then the Special Forces Groups (Tier 3).

What gun does Delta Force use? ›

Delta Force traditionally relies on the M4 assault rifle along with the HK416 Carbine and M3A1 Grease Gun. Sniper rifles, shotguns, pistols, and explosives provide additional means for defense along with protective gear like camo and armor.

What gun do Green Berets use? ›

The Core Green Beret Rifle

Green Berets have access to any number of rifles, including Sniper rifles, DMRs, Anti-material rifles, submachine guns, and much more, so it's a solid vote in the platform's favor that the M4A1 is the main rifle of these Special Operations commandos.

What knife does Delta Force use? ›

The Ontario 6143 M9 Bayonet Fixed Blade Knife is perfect for Delta Force operations. With a similar basic design to the Ka-bar style knife, the Ontario 6143 takes it a step further in functionality. This blade also doubles as a fixed bayonet for the M16 service rifle.

What is USSOCOM responsible for? ›

USSOCOM develops and employs fully capable Special Operations Forces to conduct global special operations and activities as part of the Joint Force to support persistent, networked and distributed Combatant Command operations and campaigns against state and non-state actors to protect and advance U.S. policies and ...

Who does the commander of USSOCOM report to? ›

The USSOCOM commander is a four-star general officer from any Service, who reports directly to the SECDEF.

Is Southern a command? ›

USSOUTHCOM is a joint command of more than 1,201 military and civilian personnel representing the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and several other federal agencies.
...
United States Southern Command
Part ofDepartment of Defense
HeadquartersDoral, Florida, U.S.
Nickname(s)"USSOUTHCOM"
16 more rows

Why was USSOCOM established? ›

SOCOM was established to bring the disparate elements of America's special operations apparatus under the same roof, where they could not only work to combine skill sets into the most versatile and functionally capable combat force on the planet, but to establish a joint culture that prized cooperation over all else ...

Videos

1. S2E4 10th Special Forces Team - what’s working and what’s not
(SOFcast Podcast)
2. 2014 SOFIC USSOCOM and International SOF Leaders meet Industry Leaders
(SOFICTV)
3. A Conversation with Mr. Andrew Strand about SOF and Security Cooperation with C4ISR and Cyber
(Think JSOU)
4. 09. MGySgt Jay Root - Marine Raider and Joint Leader
(SOFcast Podcast)
5. 15th Annual Western Hemisphere Security Colloquium - Day 2 Part 4b
(INSSatNDU)
6. JSOU SOF Q4 Forum - Panel 6: SOF/IC Partnership in the Compound Security Environment
(Think JSOU)
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