Time flies when you are having fun, or in the case of the United States Army Special Operations Command, when you are employed so heavily, the years, never mind the days and months fly by.
In 1989, USASOC was activated and although it wasn’t that long ago, the world, as well as the command has changed a great deal. The command was activated just days before the US would invade Panama, or in the case of many troops involved from USASOC, namely the 3rd Bn, 7th Special Forces Group and SOCSOUTH, they’d just pick up and move out from their team rooms.
The command was activated and went right into Just Cause, and shortly thereafter Desert Shield, Desert Storm. And it seemed like the op-tempo never slowed down.
Since 9/11 and the quick invasion of Afghanistan right after that, no major command in the Army has been involved in the Global War on Terror as heavily as USASOC.
History: On Dec. 1, 1989, the Department of the Army established USASOC at Fort Bragg, N.C. , as a major Army command to enhance the readiness of Army special operations forces.
In addition to reporting to the Department of the Army, USASOC also functions as the Army component of the U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM, located at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. USSOCOM is the unified combatant command responsible for all Department of Defense special operations forces within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
From the USASOC Command Page:
Structure: With an allocated strength of approximately 23,000 Soldiers, USASOC commands both active-duty and Army Reserve special operations forces. The command also provides oversight of Army National Guard special operations forces’ readiness, organization, training, and employment in coordination with the National Guard Bureau and state adjutants general.
USASOC controls seven major subordinate elements, which in turn train and maintain forces for deployment by USSOCOM to combatant command theaters worldwide.
USASOC has four major subordinate commands that include the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) (Provisional), U. S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, all located at Fort Bragg, N.C. Located elsewhere is the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga.
The 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) (Provisional), Fort Bragg, N.C., controls five active Special Forces groups and has training oversight for two groups in the Army National Guard. The Green Berets are uniquely selected, trained and equipped for deployment around the world during peacetime, conflict, and war. Regionally and culturally oriented, Special Forces Soldiers are experts in unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense and combating terrorism. The command also includes the 4th and 8th Military Information Support Groups (Airborne), the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) and the 528th Sustainment Brigade (Airborne).
The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) at Fort Bragg, N.C., is one of the Army’s premier education institutions, managing and resourcing professional growth for Soldiers in the Army’s three distinct special-operations branches: Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Military Information Support.
The 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga. , is the Army’s premier light infantry force. The Rangers are flexible, highly-trained and rapidly deployable Soldiers with specialized skills who can be employed against a variety of targets. The regiment’s three battalions plan and conduct direct action missions in support of U.S. policy objectives.
The U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command organizes, mans, trains, resources and equips ARSOAC units to provide responsive, special operations aviation support to Special Operations Forces and is the USASOC Aviation staff proponent
1st SFC: The US Army 1st Special Forces Command is tasked with organizing, equipping, training, and validating forces to conduct full spectrum special operations in support of USSOCOM, Geographic Combatant Commanders, American ambassadors, and other governmental agencies.
Special Forces Green Berets deploy and execute nine doctrinal missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, counter-insurgency, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, information operations, counter-proliferation of WMD, and security force assistance.
There are five active component and two National Guard Special Forces Groups. Each SF Group is regionally oriented to support the US interests in their specific area.
1st SFG(A): Joint Base Lewis-McChord Washington
3rd SFG(A): Ft. Bragg, NC
5th SFG(A): Ft. Campbell, KY
7th SFG(A): Eglin, AFB FL
10th SFG(A): Ft. Carson, CO
19th SFG(A): Draper, UT
20th SFG(A): Birmingham, AL
4th Military Information Support Group: The 4th MISG remains the Army’s only active military information support operations unit.
The ranks of the 4th MISG include regional and language-trained experts who understand political, cultural, ethnic and religious subtleties. With functional experts in all aspects of tactical communications, the 4th MISG offers joint force commanders unmatched abilities to influence target audiences as well as support to U.S. diplomacy.
95th Civil Affairs Brigade: 95th Civil Affairs Brigade Soldiers enable military commanders and U.S. Ambassadors to improve relationships
with various stakeholders in a local area to meet the objectives of the U.S. government.
95th Civil Affairs Brigade teams work with U.S. Department of State country teams, government and nongovernmental organizations at all levels and with local populations in peaceful, contingency and hostile environments.
US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School: The JFKSWC trains, educates, develops and manages world-class Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations and Special Forces warriors and leaders in order to provide our nation with highly educated, innovative and adaptive operators.
1st Special Warfare Training Group
Special Warfare Education Group
Special Warfare Medical Group
Special Warfare Warrant Officer Institute
David K. Thuma Noncommissioned Officer Academy
Directorate of Training and Doctrine
Branch Proponents (CA, PSYOP, & SF)
Army Special Operations Capabilities Integration Center
ARSOF Training, Leader Development, and Education
ARSOF Personnel Policies and Programs Center
US Army Special Operations Aviation Command: The USASOAC traces its lineage back to the early 1960s when Special Forces were just beginning to expand and the unit supported the 5th, 7th and 1st SFGs in Vietnam. After the debacle at Desert One in 1980, the Army dedicated a command specifically for Special Operations Aviation. Today, 160th SOAR has almost 3000 soldiers and more than 200 aircraft.
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment: Ft. Campbell, KY
75th Ranger Regiment: The Ranger Regiment has four geographically displaced battalions ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Their capabilities include air assault and direct action raids seizing key terrain such as airfields, destroying strategic facilities, and capturing or killing the enemy.
1st Ranger Bn: Hunter Army Airfield, GA
2nd Ranger Bn: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
3rd Ranger Bn: Ft. Benning, GA
75th Ranger Special Troops Bn:
USASOC has certainly grown since the early days of the command and it will continue to grow. The demands placed upon the Special Operations troops of the military has continued to stretch the units to their breaking point. The demand for high-quality Special Operations troops is higher now than ever before.
With the US government using Special Operations troops as their “Go-To” first unit of choice, USSOCOM and USASOC will be tasked to do more and more as the events of the world play out.