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Home > SOF Primer

SOF Primer

  • Army Special Operations Forces or ARSOF consist of Special Forces, Ranger, Special Operations Aviation, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs, as well as Signal and Combat Service Support units.
  • Special Operations are defined as operations conducted by specially trained, equipped and organized Department of Defense forces against strategic or tactical targets in pursuit of national military, political, economic or psychological objectives. These operations may be conducted during periods of peace or hostilities. They may support conventional operations, or they may be undertaken independently when the use of conventional forces is either inappropriate or infeasible.
  • The mission of the Special Forces Groups is to plan, prepare for, and when directed, deploy to conduct unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance and direct actions in support of U.S. national policy objectives within designated areas of responsibility.
    The units continually train to conduct unconventional warfare in any of its forms -- Guerrilla Warfare, Evasion and Escape, Subversion, and Sabotage. The soldiers are also schooled in direct action operations and special reconnaissance.
    Approximately 1,400 soldiers are assigned to each group. The 12-man "A" Team is the key operating element of the Special Forces Group.
  • Rangers are the masters of special light infantry operations. These include attacks to temporarily seize and secure key objectives and other light infantry operations requiring unique capabilities. Like their Special Forces counterparts, Rangers can infiltrate an area by land, by sea or by air.
  • 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
  • The mission of 4th Military Information Support Group (Airborne) is to disseminate truthful information to foreign audiences in support of U.S. goals and objectives. PSYOP units accomplish their mission by disseminating messages in the form of leaflets, posters, broadcasts and audiovisual tapes. Each unit has its own intelligence and audiovisual specialists.
  • The Civil Affairs units are designed to prevent civilian interference with tactical operations, to assist commanders in discharging their responsibilities toward the civilian population, and to provide liaison with civilian government agencies.
  • In late 1995, the U.S. Army Special Operations Support Command (Airborne) was formed to centrally manage signal and combat service support to Special Operations units.
  • The 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion (Airborne) provides communications links and service between the command, joint controlling agencies or commands, and U.S. Army special operations commands in two theaters of operation.
  • The 528th Sustainment Brigade (SO) (Airborne) enhances USASOC's medical, maintenance, supply and transportation capabilities.