US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
As the Army's component of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) provides Special Forces, Ranger, Special Operations Aviation, Special Operations Support, Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs forces to USSOCOM for deployment as required to other combatant, unified commands around the world. They also provide logistics and signal support to those operations. ARSOC trains, equips, deploys and sustains Army special operations forces for worldwide special operations supporting regional combatant commanders and country ambassadors.
As a major Army command, USASOC reports directly to Department of the Army. USASOC commands both the active Army and Reserve Component special operations forces. It also provides oversight of Army National Guard special operations forces readiness, organization, training and employment in coordination with the National Guard Bureau and State Adjutants General.
The Army's special operations forces consist of Special Forces, Ranger, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs, Special Operations Aviation units, and Special Mission Units. These units may be employed during peacetime as one element of a national response to a National Command Authority (NCA) tasking or, during wartime, in strategic, operational, and tactical roles. Most special operations forces were regionally oriented, capable of rapid deployment, and equipped for all-weather, all-terrain, worldwide deployment.
As of 2010, major subordinate units include the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), 75th Ranger Regiment, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the 528th Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne), and the US Army Special Forces Command (Airborne). Also part of the Command was the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
While the USASOC was not formally activated until 1989, Army special operations forces trace part of their heritage back to the beginning of the Second World War and the formation of the Office of Strategic Services and the 1st Special Service Force, a joint US-Canadian unit. Ranger infantry were also a part of World War II, and appeared again later in Korea and Vietnam. Aviation support organic to the US Army had been an important element of special missions since World War II as well. The beginnings of the Cold War saw the formation of Special Forces and Psychological Warfare units. The Army established the 1st Special Operations Command (Airborne) (Provisional) on 1 October 1982, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as part of a push to streamline and unify special operations forces in the US Army and the US military as a whole.
On 1 December 1989, the Department of the Army established the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a major Army command to enhance the readiness of Army special operations forces. The change also streamlined the command and control of US Army Reserve special operations forces. Army support to the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), then located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, was also enhanced as a result of the new command and control structure. USSOCOM was the congressionally mandated, unified command responsible for all Department of Defense special operations forces, Army, Navy and Air Force.
From October 1997 to May 1998, 21,326 USASOC soldiers deployed to 102 countries and conducted 3,151 missions including peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, demining and mine awareness, and foreign internal defense. Army special operations forces included special forces, rangers, civil affairs, psychological operations, special operations aviation, and signal and support.
The command was committed to continual improvement to provide special operations forces for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified commands to accomplish the following special operations activities: unconventional warfare, counterproliferation, direct action, psychological operations, special reconnaissance, civil affairs, combating terrorism, foreign internal defense, and information operations.
In early 2006, the USASOC as a whole consisted of: 5 active and 2 Army National Guard (ARNG) Special Forces groups totaling 15 active and 6 ARNG battalions; one active Ranger regiment with 3 battalions; an active special operations aviation regiment with one detachment in Puerto Rico; one active special operations support command composed of one special operations signal battalion, one special operations support battalion, and 6 special operations theater support elements; 2 active and 2 reserve chemical reconnaissance detachments; the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centerand School; 4 reserve civil affairs commands, 7 reserve civil affairs brigades, and one active and 24 reserve civil affairs battalions and one active and 2 reserve psychological operations groups totaling 5 active and 8 reserve psychological operations battalions. Operational command and control of the the civil affairs and psychological operations elements was tranferred to the US Army Reserve in May 2006. Prior to this USASOC also had as one of its major subordinate commands, the US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). USASOC still retained proponency for Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations, including doctrine, combat development and institutional training with the the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Provisional) and the 4th Psychological Operations Group remaining assigned to USASOC.
Until May 2006, ARSOC had approximately 25,600 active duty, Reserve, National Guard and civilian professionals. The breakdown was approximately 1,000 civilians, 13,500 active duty personnel; 3,400 National Guard, and 7,700 from the Army Reserve. Army special operations forces (ARSOF) included active, Army National Guard, and US Army Reserve forces consisting of Special Forces, Rangers, special operations aviation, civil affairs, psychological operations, and combat support and combat service support units. These units were assigned to USASOC located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The Special Operations Support Command (Airborne) (SOSCOM-A) was inactivated on 6 December 2005. It was reflagged as the Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne) (Provisional). In 2007, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) was formally activated as an active army element assigned to USASOC.
Effective as of 2 February 2009, the Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne) (Provisional) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was reflagged as the 528th Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne), which was subsequently activated later in 2009.
On 25 March 2011, the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne) (Provisional) was activated and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment was reassigned from US Army Special Operations Command to the new command. In August 2011, the Army Special Operations Command also began the restructuring of military information support operations (MISO) units (previously known as psychological operations units), with the activation of the Military Information Support Operations Command (Airborne) (Provisional). 4th Military Information Support Operations Group (Airborne) was reassigned to the new Command.