It’s being reported that after watching our experiences over the last three decades, the Russians are adopting our approach to SOF. They have stood up the Силы специальных операций or ССО – in English this translates to “Forces Special Operations.” The new organization will at first include a special forces brigade, a training center and also helicopter and air transportation squadrons. It is believed that it will eventually assume at least operational control of Russia’s Spetsnaz (which currently work for the Russian’s General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU) and potentially Russia’s airborne divisions and marines.
After the Eagle Claw disaster (the failed Iranian Embassy hostage rescue), our military moved into gear to address the shortcomings identified in that tragedy. Some organizations already existed before Eagle Claw. like Delta and the 1st Special Operations Wing. Immediately after the Eagle Claw operation, Honey Badger (a second attempt to rescue the Iranian Embassy hostages) was planned and elements of the 158th Aviation Battalion of the 101st were hand-picked to participate in the Op under the moniker TF158. This eventually became TF160 shortly after the hostages were released. Likewise, DEVGRU can also trace its lineage directly to Eagle Claw: the Navy established a task force called the Terrorist Action Team (TAT) to develop a plan to release the Iranian Embassy hostages. After the hostages were released, TAT morphed into Mobility 6 and eventually Seal Team Six.
With the myriad efforts by different branches (each commanded by a branch specific organization) and the existence of JSOC (which was charged with responsibility for the most capable SOF units), it was obvious that a command was necessary to corral the cats and promote the interests of SOF separate from each branches’ interests and focus. Subsequently, in ’87 USSOCOM was created, putting in place a command (and bureaucracy). This is why SOF has some of the best and most unique capabilities when it comes to equipment, training and capabilities. Additionally, the interoperability across branches creates a synergy that is much greater than any one SOF branch component on its own. USSOCOM leaders work to ensure that it has a place at the table when it comes to money. They also provide a certain degree of horsepower to compete with the branch chiefs when it comes to policy, strategy or contingencies, though the latter isn’t as formal as the branch chiefs.
Overall, this is a very interesting development, especially from the Russians who loathe to credit the west or the US with anything worth copying.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Eurasian Defence)