Current National Defense Strategy

Back in April 2022, General Richard Clark, commander of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and Christopher Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, announced the release of a sixteen-page document outlining the “Vision and Strategy” of US Special Operations Forces (SOF). This came on the heels of the Department of Defense (DOD) release of the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS); a factsheet outlining the highlights can be found here.

To fully understand the role SOF plays in national defense, we must first understand the broader picture of the National Defense Strategy. According to the factsheet, the US has four defense priorities, these are:

  1. Defending the homeland, paced to the growing multi-domain threat posed by the PRC (People’s Republic of China)
  2. Deterring strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners
  3. Deterring aggression while being prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary, prioritizing the PRC challenge in the Indo-Pacific, then the Russia challenge in Europe.
  4. Building a resident Joint Force and defense ecosystem.
Three operators exit an Osprey
A joint special forces team moves together out of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey aircraft during Emerald Warrior, our largest joint and combined special operations exercise. Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Clayton Cupit.

Take note that counterterrorism activities are no longer listed as a top defense priority. As a matter of fact, the word “terrorism” does not appear once on the non-classified NDS fact sheet.

The document continues: