Army Special Operations Command

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The U.S. Army Special Operations Command (ARSOF) is the land forces component of United States Special Operations Command (USSOC); it is commanded by a lieutenant general, currently John Mulholland.

U.S. Army Special Forces Command

This provides overall directions to the deployed and reserve component Special Forces Groups (Airborne), the various augmentation detachments, and training, support, and development. It is headed by a major general.

John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School

The U. S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is the the Army’s "special operations university", but also has responsibility for doctrinal development and career management for Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations.[1]

Training Group

This Group conducts the six phases of Army Special Forces training, as well as common training for other special operations personnel, such as all combat medical personnel assigned to USSOC.

The Group’s lst Battalion conducts four of the six phases of training in the United States Army Special Forces Training Pipeline: Phase I is the three-week Special Forces Assessment and Selection course ("Q-course"), Phase II is Small Unit Tactics training and Phase IV is the practical unconventional warfare exercise known as “Robin Sage”.[2] }}</ref> Phase VI is the Survival, Escape, Resistance and Evasion(SERE) course, given in its most advanced version.

The 2nd Battalion teaches advanced special operations skills in weapons training; military free fall and combat diving. They also teach all Special Forces Warrant Officer courses and the Special Forces Intelligence Sergeants' course.

The 3rd Battalion conducts Phase V, language training, a shorter program than that of the Defense Language Institute. It also does all civil affairs and psychological operations training, and runs regional studies programs.

The 4th Battalion conducts Phase III of the Special Training Pipeline including the Weapons, Engineer, Communications and Medical Sergeants' courses and the Officer Qualification course.

The Support Battalion, consisting of 29 different combat service support Military Occupational Specialtiess (MOS) relieves the other battalions of non-training functions by running the logistics logistical, administrative, transportation, and facility management support to the Center and School.

The Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center is responsible for all U.S. Military Special Operations Forces’ combat medical training including Army Rangers and United States Navy SEALS.

The Noncommissioned Officer Academy prepares enlisted soldiers for leadership positions in all Army Special Operations Forces including Army Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations. Soldiers receive training in leadership skills, military studies, resource management, effective communication, operations and intelligence, unconventionalwarfare, operational planning, psychological operations and advanced military occupational skills.


The Center and School’s Directorate of Training and Doctrine develops all special operations doctrine and works with the field and the Training Group to develop all courses and training programs.

Career management

The Proponency Office has the responsibility for managing the careers of all Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations soldiers.

75th Ranger Regiment

The 75th Ranger Regiment is a highly skilled, parachute qualified light infantry unit with two major functions: raids in company or larger strngth, and providing perimeter security for more experienced special operations troops. It is possible, as long as all of the other requirements are met, for a soldier to have Ranger duty as a first assignment, while the other special operations uints tend to need more experience.

In American forces, the term "Ranger" goes back to the French and Indian Wars, under Francis Rogers; "Roger's Rules" still remain tactically useful. Nevertheless, Ranger units did not again exist until the Second World War, and were deactivated afterwards. Company-sized Ranger units were created for the Korean War.

While there were Vietnamese Rangers in the Vietnam War, there were no U.S. units designated as Rangers, although the Army Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols and Marine Force Reconnaissance had a special reconnaissance and limited raiding capability. Quick reaction raiding forces existed in Vietnamese units under Special Forces, principally "Mike Forces" of Nung mercenaries, although these were not at the training levels associated with Rangers.

After Vietnam, the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment was created in January 1974, and the 2nd Battalion in October. These, however, were seen as elite infantry rather than special operators. [3]

160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment

One of the major causes of failure of Operation EAGLE CLAW, the planned rescue of U.S. diplomats held hostage in the U.S. embassy in Iran was a lack of both specialized aviation skills, and aviation units experienced in working in special operations.

As a consequence, a specific force was created, specializing in low-level, night operations. The unit became a battalion of its own on Oct. 16, 1981. Designated the 160th Aviation Battalion, the unit was popularly known as Task Force 160 because of the constant attachment and detachment of units to prepare for a wide variety of missions. Its focus on night operations resulted in the nickname, the "Night Stalkers." On May 16, 1990, the unit was reorganized, designated the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), and assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. It operates MH-6 and AH-6 light helicopters, MH-60 Nighthawk helicopters and MH-47 medium assault helicopters.

The Regiment currently consists of three battalions, a headquarters company, the Special Operations Aviation Training Company, and two forward-deployed companies located in the United States Southern Command and United States Pacific Command areas of responsibility. The 1st and 2nd battalions are located at Fort Campbell, Ky., while the 3rd Battalion is located at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. A detachment operates with the highly classified Joint Special Operations Command.

4th Psychological Operations Group

Psychological operations units of the U.S. Army are language and culturally oriented. The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C., the only active Army psychological operations unit, constitutes 26 percent of all U.S. Army psychological operations units. The remaining 74 percent, split between the 2nd and 7th Psychological Operations Groups, are in the Army Reserve.[4]

95th Civil Affairs Brigade

Military government has long been an Army mission, but it was formalized in the Second World War, especially in occupation forces. In those units, there was a distinction between the Constabulary, who were military police, and the technical units that rebuilt and managed infrastructure. Most Army civil affairs capability is in the Reserve Components, but the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade is part of Army Special Operations Command. ARSOC also supervises the reserve units.

Civil affairs is now doctrinally part of information operations. They work with combat commanders to interact with civil authorities and civilian populations during peace, contingency operations and war. Civil affairs personnel will have language and cultural qualifiations as well as technical skills, and sometimes will become advisers on the local area to conventional and special operations commanders.[5]

They identify critical requirements needed by local citizens in war or disaster situations. To some extent, they may meet those requirements. Many Civil Affairs personnel are reservists, and their military and civilian jobs, such as water supply, may be very similar. In addition, they find local resources, minimize (in concert with military police) and manage relationships with civilian aid agencies and other nongovernmental organizations.

Tactical civil affairs was provided to military commanders during Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in Southwest Asia, support to the restoration of the Panamanian government infrastructure during Operation Promote Liberty, management of Haitian refugee camps at Guantanamo Bay and rebuiding rebuild the Haitian civilian infrastructure during Operation Uphold Democracy. They also participated in NATO peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Civil Affairs units have deployed with ground combat units in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

Civil affairs experts were also called on to help in the U.S. after hurricanes Andrew and Iniki.

They continue to provide support for ongoing missions in countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia and Yemen.

Special Operations Support Command

There is a headquarters element at Fort Bragg, and a Special Operations Theater Support Element (SOTSE) at each of the geographic Unified Combatant Commands.

At Bragg, the 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion (Airborne) and the 528th Special Operations Support Battalion (Airborne) procure, or sometimes make, unconventional items, and package them appropriately for field delivery and use. They can provide technical support and training, and are airborne qualified to deploy as needed,

The Material Management Center provides the ARSOF with centralized and integrated materiel management of property, equipment maintenance, logistical automation and repair parts and supplies.


  1. U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (5 July 2007), USAJFKSWCS Factsheet
  2. Waller DC (1994), The Commandos: The Inside Story of America's Secret Soldiers, Dell, pp. 35-108
  3. Thomas K. Adams (1998), US special operations forces in action: the challenge of unconventional warfare, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0714643505, pp. 159-160
  4. "4th Psychological Operations Group", Psywarrior
  5. 95th Civil Affairs Group