Resulting from legislation passed in October 1986, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was established on April 16, 1987. Congress mandated the creation of USSOCOM to address unconventional threats. Because of new responsibilities brought on by the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), USSOCOM’s mission statement is:
Provide fully capable Special Operations Forces to defend the United States and its interests. Plan and synchronize operations against terrorist networks.
In March 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Unified Command Plan that codified the command’s new authorities for the GWOT. The President designated USSOCOM as the lead for planning, synchronizing, and, as directed, executing global operations against terrorist networks. USSOCOM’s strategic approach is keyed by positioning the limited numbers of high demand Special Operations Forces (SOF) who are highly trained, properly equipped, and deployed to the right places, at the right time, facing the right missions.
USSOCOM is comprised of four service Component Commands: the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC); the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC); the Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM); and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). Each component ensures that its SOF are highly trained, equipped, and rapidly deployable to support our goals around the world. USSOCOM also has one sub-unified command, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
From its earliest days, USSOCOM has responded to our nation's call and has conducted special operations along the entire continuum of operations, in support of conventional forces and as independent missions in support of national security objectives. USSOCOM and SOF have played significant roles in major operations dating back to Operation EARNEST WILL (1987-89) through to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF-Afghanistan, OEF-Philippines, and OEF-Trans Sahara) and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) (2001-Present).
One key means of SOF engagement is through foreign internal defense (FID), which enables SOF to assess, train, advise and assist the military of other nations around the world. Conducting military operations by, with, and through host nation forces, as well as indigenous and surrogate forces, is a crucial capability in accomplishing the United States’ national interests, especially in the GWOT. To meet these challenges, USSOCOM continues to adapt, establishing command and control infrastructures and investing in programs and systems to improve SOF’s operational capacities and capabilities. The results of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) have begun to significantly increase SOF capacities and capabilities.
America’s Special Operators are the most capable in the world, and we need to maintain this edge. The United States faces more unconventional challenges, and SOF have the skills and leadership, to meet the irregular warfare challenges in complex, ambiguous environments. USSOCOM is and will continue to be engaged in the fight against terrorism around the world.