US Special Forces. Special Operations Command

24th Special Tactical Squadron

Currently, the US Special Forces are among the largest in the world in terms of both the number and the number of different units. At the same time, the American special forces are distinguished by a fairly extensive structure, their own special forces exist in all types of the American armed forces. The overall command of all US special forces is carried out by the United States Special Operations Command (US SOCOM).

US SOCOM education and objectives

The Special Operations Command was formed relatively recently, on April 16, 1987. Without exaggeration, this command is the main think tank of all American special forces and is responsible for the direct leadership, planning and conduct of special operations around the world. Today it is one of the Unified Combat Commands – the elements of command and control of the armed forces adopted in the United States. Refers to functional commands along with Strategic, Space, Transport and Cybernetic.

The creation of the Special Operations Command as a single governing body of all units and units of the special forces was influenced by the operation of the US Armed Forces “Eagle Claw”, which ended in complete failure. The purpose of the operation, which began and ended on April 24, 1980, was to free 53 hostages who were being held on the premises of the American embassy in Tehran. The operation began to develop not according to plan from the very beginning and ended in a deafening fiasco. The Americans lost 8 people killed, two RH-53D helicopters and an EC-130E aircraft were destroyed and five Sikorsky RH-53D helicopters abandoned without even engaging in battle with the enemy.

US Special Forces.  Special Operations Command

United States Special Operations Command emblem

The failure of the operation caused obvious discontent at all levels of the country’s military and political leadership. This operation has been comprehensively studied and analyzed. For several years, the Senate Committee has been investigating the circumstances and clarifying the reasons for the failure, which in 1985 published a report on the results of the work carried out, recommending the allocation of special forces into a separate branch of the American armed forces.

The commission and American military experts concluded that the reason for the failure of Operation Eagle Claw was the existing departmental fragmentation of the special forces, as well as the absence of a single command body for all units and subunits of the US Special Forces. To correct the identified situation, it was proposed to organize the Special Operations Command. It was officially formed 33 years ago, on April 16, 1987.

The tasks solved by the Special Operations Command are extensive and affect various areas of activity that meet the military, political and economic goals of the United States. US SOCOM is responsible for sabotage and subversive activities on the territory of hostile countries, the fight against international terrorism, for the organization and conduct of humanitarian assistance operations in the conflict zone, as well as for the fight against international drug trafficking. Another specific task of this Command is to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as nuclear weapons.

Fighters of the American special forces in Jordan

Despite a fairly large list of tasks to be solved (not all of them are listed above, and not all of them directly relate to military operations), most often the forces of American special forces are used today around the world in local conflicts of low intensity. The use of special-purpose units and subunits is especially relevant when the redeployment and use of large American military contingents is recognized as premature and inappropriate for political reasons. Also, Special Operations Commands turn to help in cases where it is necessary to quickly and efficiently engage small groups of well-trained military personnel. At the same time, the focus of spetsnaz troops on work in “peacetime” does not exclude their widespread use during full-fledged hostilities, as has already happened more than once in Iraq, including during Operation Desert Storm.

Composition and structure of US SOCOM

The Special Operations Command of the United States Armed Forces exercises unified operational control of special forces in all branches of the American armed forces: the Ground Forces (Army), the Air Force and the Navy, including the Marine Corps. The organizational structure of US SOCOM includes the following structures: US Army Special Operations Command; United States Air Force Special Operations Command; United States Navy Special Operations Command; United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command. In addition, the Special Operations Command includes a functional (specialized) management – the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

The main base and headquarters of the United States Special Operations Command is McDill Air Force Base, located near Tampa, Florida. According to the official website of the Command, the total number of military personnel and civil servants in the units and subdivisions of the US Special Forces is currently more than 70 thousand people, including about 2.5 thousand of them serving at the headquarters of US SOCOM. The US Special Operations Command is currently led by General Richard Douglas Clark, who assumed this position at the end of March 2019. It is this general who is currently carrying out the overall leadership of all US special forces.

General Richard Douglas Clark, Chief of the US Special Operations Command

The role of the Special Operations Command has grown exponentially since the events of September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks, which shocked the United States and the entire world, highlighted the fight against international terrorism. True, in the future, in Washington, the paradigm of this struggle will adapt a variety of operations that meet the interests of the United States around the world. One way or another, it was after September 11, 2001 that the role of the Special Operations Command increased many times over, since it was to this Command that the US Department of Defense delegated the main powers in the fight against international terrorism, shifting the main burden of the fight against combined-arms (naval) units and subunits to subunits and units. special forces troops.

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

The Joint Special Operations Command, which is organizationally part of the Special Operations Command, carries out operational control of all reconnaissance and sabotage units and units of the US special forces, primarily units of constant combat readiness. It is JSOC that is operatively subordinate to the most famous American special forces unit “Delta”, which became famous thanks to numerous Hollywood feature films. The 1986 action movie Delta Squad with Chuck Norris in the title role became canonical in this regard.

Also, in addition to the Delta Group (from the Army), the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG or DEVGRU) from the Navy and the 24th Special Tactical Squadron from the Air Force are under the operational subordination of the Joint Special Operations Command. At the same time, the exact number of the Delta special forces, as well as the other two listed divisions, is unknown. Most likely, DEVGRU has the largest number of personnel; this fleet unit has more than 1.5 thousand military and civilian personnel.

Emblem of the Joint Special Operations Command

The main activity of the Joint Special Operations Command is countering international terrorism with the help of special forces in all overseas theaters of military operations. In addition to direct operational control of special forces units of constant combat readiness, the department is engaged in the development of practical methods and theory of interaction between all special forces units and units of different types of armed forces (Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force). Responsible for the theory and standardization of the training process for special forces units and units of different types and types of troops, and also issues technical assignments for the development of specialized weapons and equipment for special forces.

The main command and control bodies of the JSOC are located in North Carolina at Fort Bragg at the main garrison of the US Army Special Forces. The estimated number of JSOC is about 4 thousand people, including civilian personnel.

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