United States special operations forces

United States special operations forces

United States Special Operations Forces are active and reserve component forces of U.S. Military. They are designated by the United States Secretary of Defense, and are specifically trained to conduct operations in an area under enemy or unfriendly control or politically sensitive environments to achieve military, diplomatic, informational, and economic objectives of the United States.


When in the Continental United States (CONUS), most special operations forces (SOF) answer to the administration of their assigned branch of the military, but, organizationally, are under the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Operational control of units deployed overseas falls under the respective SOCOM, and its command structure. Yet, at any time, the Secretary of Defense can place all SOFs under the direct control of the SOCOM, usually during active hostilities.

U.S. SOF units have the same basic role in warfare as do the special forces of most other countries: supplying small, elite units that can operate deep behind enemy lines on unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, counter-terrorism, special reconnaissance, and direct action missions.

List of United States Special Operations Forces

Special Missions Units

* 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D) "Delta Force" (United States Army)
* United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group "DEVGRU" (United States Navy)
* 24th Special Tactics Squadron - (United States Air Force)
* Intelligence Support Activity "ISA" (United States Army)

United States Army

* Special Forces ("Green Berets")
* 75th Ranger Regiment ("Rangers")
* 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) ("Night Stalkers")
* 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)
* 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne)
* 528th Sustainment Brigade (Airborne)

United States Navy

* Navy SEALs
* Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen

United States Air Force

* 352d Special Operations Group
* 353d Special Operations Group
* 1st Special Operations Wing (Formerly the 16th Special Operations Wing)
* 27th Special Operations Wing
* Combat Control Team
* Air Force Special Operations Weather Technician
* United States Air Force Pararescue
* U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Strategic Irregular Tactics Teams (SITT) ( relating to AFOSI work)

United States Marine Corps

* Marine Special Operations Regiment
* Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

United States Coast Guard

* Coast Guard Deployable Operations Group

Intelligence Community Special Units

* Strategic Support Branch (CIA/DIA)
* Special Activities Division (CIA)
* Special Collections Service (NSA - CIA)

Disbanded and inactive units

In the modern U.S. military structure since World War II, dozens of special operations units have been formed and later disbanded. Many were created for a specific, limited objective (such as Task Force 11), or for a specific conflict. In some cases, a special operations unit is reconstituted under a different name, usually for reasons of security, or evolves from a pilot project into a more permanent force. See Former United States special operations units.

U.S. special operations centers, schools, and courses

* Joint Special Operations University - Hurlburt Field
* Ranger School - Fort Benning
* Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) - Fort Benning
* John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School - Fort Bragg
* Naval Special Warfare Center - Coronado, California
* USAF Special Operations School - Hurlburt Field
* Marine Special Operations School - Camp Lejeune
* Marine Corps Special Operations Training Group


* United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command
* United States Army Special Operations Command
* United States Air Force Special Operations Command
* United States Naval Special Warfare Command
* United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
* Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

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