It is well-known fact inside our Special Operations Forces that being in one of the many units in the United States SOF has more to do with the operators being ‘special’ and not just the gear that they use to get the job done.

But frequently the public gets wrapped around the ax handle with the gadgets that the military has at its disposal and yes while many of them are intriguing, they are not an end-all, be-all for Special Operations.

Special Operations Forces are often compared to professional athletes. While quite different, in one area where they are very similar is that SOF units are always training. They place supreme emphasis on it. The training is what makes the operators special, not the equipment used.

When the Special Operations Command was in its infancy, MG David Baratto, then Commander of the JFKSWC came up with SOF Imperatives to serve as the basic tenets to which SOF should operate.

These were written by a retired Col. John Collins who interestingly enough was not a Special Operations officer. The command adopted them back in 1987 and about twenty years later they were rebranded as “truths”.

But whether they’re called imperatives or truths doesn’t matter. They’re the cornerstone for any operational unit and can be used in both the military and later into the civilian world. For aspiring SOF operators, these truths should become second nature.

At a time when the Special Operations Forces are conducting a lion’s share of operations in Afghanistan and Syria while comprising just a fraction of the total force, it is always important to know what Special Operations is and isn’t.

The Five Special Operations Forces Truths:

Humans are more important than hardware:
This one is a no-brainer but at times gets frequently misunderstood in the public’s eye, and at times in our government’s. Operators make the equipment, not the other way around. The training and preparedness of the operator is the critical difference in mission success and failure.