Report to Congress on U.S. Special Operations Forces

February 13, 2024 9:03 AM

The following is the Feb. 9, 2024, Congressional Research Service report, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations. In 1986, Congress, concerned about the status of SOF within overall U.S. defense planning, passed legislation (P.L. 99-661) to strengthen special operations’ position within the defense community and to improve interoperability among the branches of U.S. SOF. These actions included the establishment of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as a new unified command.

As of 2023, USSOCOM consisted of approximately 70,000 Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, and civilian personnel assigned to its headquarters, its four components, and sub-unified commands. USSOCOM’s components are the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC), the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), and the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is a USSOCOM sub-unified command.

USSOCOM also comprises seven Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs). TSOCs are sub-unified commands under their respective Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs). TSOCs are special operational headquarters elements designed to support a GCC’s special operations logistics, planning, and operational command and control requirements.

Considerations for Congress include Army Special Forces recruiting and possible force structure reductions and Air Force Special Operations Power Projection Wings and future unit relocations.

Download the document here.

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