Military


Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC),
Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT)

A Combined and/or Joint Special Operations Component Command exercises day-to-day command and control of assigned or attached special operations forces within a theater of operations. The Command, usually formed from elements of a theater special operations command, allocates forces against strategic or operational tasks and supports other component commanders based on guidance from the regional commander. Additionally, other responsibilities of the Command are to make recommendations on the proper employment of special operations forces and assets; plan and coordinate special operations; and synchronize the conduct of special operations with the other component commanders.

Following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, US defense officials immediately began investigating possible methods of response. This included looking to target elements of Al Qaeda and the Taliban government in Afghanistan. The use of special operations forces to conduct unconventional warfare operations, such as supporting anti-Taliban insurgents and locating targets, was determined almost immediately to be a viable course of action. US Army Special Forces Command confirmed that elements assigned to it had received deployment orders by 20 September 2001.

Special operations forces deployed to Afghanistan were initially organized in task forces assigned directly to Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT), designated as the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC), which would operate in support of what became known as Operation Enduring Freedom. However, since Operation Enduring Freedom was not limited to operations in Afghanistan, it was determined that subordinate task forces to handle localized operations there were needed.

The first of these task forces was Joint Special Operations Task Force - North (JSOTF-N). Also known as Task Force Dagger, JSOTF-N was led by elements of the Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and also included elements of the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the Air Force's 16th Special Operations Wing. In theater by October 2001, JSOTF-N assisted Northern Alliance insurgents, primarily by providing a link to US air support, in their offensive against the Taliban government.

In November 2001, a second task force, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - South (CJSOTF-S) began to be formed to support operations in the southern part of the country in support of a planned US-led coalition intervention. This support of conventional operations meant that the unit was under the tactical control of SOCCENT's Combined Forces Land Component Command, despite being under the operational control of the CFSOCC. Also known as Task Force K-Bar, CJSOTF-S was led by elements of the Navy's Naval Special Warfare Group One, but also included other US and multinational elements.

In December 2001, the decision was also made to establish an intermediate command element for all special operations forces elements in Afghanistan, subsequently known as Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A). With the establishment of a US-led combined joint task force for all operations in Afghanistan in 2002, CJSOTF-A was placed under the operational control of that command and SOCCENT's CFSOCC was inactivated.

SOCCENT reactivated its CFOSCC in January 2003 in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom. For operations in Iraq, 2 CJSOTF's were established, Combined Joint Task Force - North (CJSOTF-N; not to be confused with JSOTF-N) and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - West (CJSOTF-W). SOCCENT's CFSOCC also commanded a naval task force during the initial stages of the operation. CJSOTF-N, also known as Task Force Viking, was a brigade-sized force consisting of both special operations and conventional military forces. CJSOTF-W was led by elements of Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Following the end of major combat operations in May 2003, CJSOTF-N was inactivated and CJSOTF-W was transformed into Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP). As in Afghanistan, once a combined joint task force command for operations in Iraq was established, CJSOTF-AP was placed under the operational control of that command and the CFSOCC was inactivated again.




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