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Chapter 7

Army Special Operations Forces Logistics Support

The U.S. Army strategy for conducting land warfare has changed from AirLand Operations to force projection. Most ARSOF units are in CONUS and have traditionally operated in a force projection mode. USASOC has aligned its ARSOF sustainment organizations and activities with the U.S. Army's concept of force projection. During deployment, CA units are attached to Army organizations and receive continuous, responsive sustainment.


7-1. The type of operation, deployment sequence, unit basing, and AOR shape the logistics environment for CA forces. A common problem throughout the environment is the integration and distribution of logistics to committed CA forces.


7-2. A robust sustainment system that develops into a mature logistics infrastructure characterizes a protracted MTW. When the theater support system is in place, it meets most ARSOF requirements. CA logistics planners must concentrate on the--

  • Initial entry. They must determine the type of sustainment required, the number of days of accompanying supplies based on the time-phased force and deployment list (TPFDL), and the CA basing needs.

  • Buildup and integration. They must coordinate and integrate CA logistics with the theater support system before TPFDL closure and as the system matures. In some cases, the theater logistics infrastructure never achieves full maturity.

  • Redeployment. As units start the redeployment phase, the Army Services Component Commander (ASCC) ensures the tailoring (FNS or contract) of the remaining support units to meet stay-behind CA support requirements.


7-3. Each operation is unique and requires mission-specific analysis that develops a tailored sustainment force. Joint, international, and interagency activities add complexity to the sustainment system. CA forces may find themselves conducting operations outside a theater support system because of geographic location. Preparation and submission of an SOR during these types of operations not only enhance the unit requirements determination process, but also add a sanity check to the theater OPLAN.


7-4. Two methodologies of planning are deliberate planning and crisis-action planning. In deliberate planning, CA units fully identify support requirements for OPLANs and CONPLANs in a bare-based SOR, down to the user level. In this way, the ASCC coordinates how to fulfill requirements from the support structure in the theater Army and prepares a support plan identifying support relationships. In crisis-action planning, the requirements anticipated at the COCOM level dictate the amount of responsiveness and improvisation required to provide reactive, no-notice support and sustainment. Upon notification of mission requirements, CA units submit another SOR modifying logistics requirements differing from the bare-based SOR.


7-5. The theater combatant commander establishes the command relationship involving CA forces. Regardless of SOF command relationships in theater, the relationships do not affect support for CA units. The ASCC has the Title 10 USC responsibility to provide support and sustainment to all ARSOF unless designated otherwise.

7-6. Special operations support command (SOSCOM) HQ provides C2 of its organic elements and, when directed, deploys its CS and CSS battalions in direct support of deployed CA elements.


7-7. The special operations theater support element (SOTSE) is a staff planning, coordinating, and facilitating element. It serves as the CA liaison to the ASCC for logistics matters. It coordinates requirements identified by CA elements. The SOTSE also facilitates the interface of CA organizational logistics functions with the services provided by the ASCC. Each ASCC commander has a SOTSE embedded within the staff. As a part of the ASCC staff, the SOTSE ensures that the theater logistics system satisfies validated CA requirements.

7-8. The SOR developed by the CA unit is a critical source of information the ASCC needs in its coordination and facilitation function. CA logistics planners must be proactive and must be included in the mission-planning process. They must anticipate operational unit requirements at all stages of the mission. Ideally, the COCOM J4 uses the ASCC OPLAN to prepare his CONPLAN for inclusion in the mission order. This approach allows theater support elements time to review required support before the CA unit submits its mission-tailored SOR. This review is especially critical in crisis-action planning and short-notice mission changes. The SOR is a living document that requires periodic reevaluation and updating. Again, determination of requirements begins during the deliberate-planning process and is modified with the receipt of the mission. Figure 7-1, depicts the SOR flow. Time and accuracy are critical factors.

Figure 7-1. SOR Flow Once CA Unit Receives Mission

7-9. Although deliberate planning is the preferred method, crisis-action planning is within the framework. Anticipating requirements based on emerging operations and using approved OPLANs enhances this process.


7-10. The intent of the SOR process is to make sure each CA unit submits a comprehensive, valid SOR early in the planning cycle. The CA unit coordinates through the USACAPOC operations and logistics staff to provide the USASOC Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans (DCSOPS) an initial list of requirements. USASOC DCSOPS tasks the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics to source all requirements.

7-11. The SOR flow is not an exact procedure. More than one level may work the sustainment issues concurrently. CA units develop an SOR for all theater contingency plans. The ASCC staff looks at the key issues and coordinates them before receiving the revised SOR. The step-by-step process of the SOR flow from user to provider is as follows:

  • When a CA unit receives a mission, it updates the standing SOR developed during the deliberate-planning process. The CA commander uses this SOR to cross-level supplies needed for the assigned mission at the unit level. The SOR identifies and consolidates, in priority, all unit requirements that exceed organic capabilities. The mission unit forwards it to the next higher organization.
  • At the next higher level, the SOR starts the process into the operational channels (S3, G3). The operations and logistics sections review the SOR and direct or assist the cross-leveling and transfer of needed items in the most expeditious way possible. This staff level then forwards the SOR to the next higher level for any supplies and services still remaining on the SOR.
  • Any supplies and services still unresourced on the SOR are again passed up the chain. This level forwards an SOR requesting only the supplies and services not previously obtained.
  • At the next level (USASOC), the requirements that can be obtained within USASOC are coordinated and transferred. USASOC coordinates with HQ DA, Army Materiel Command (subordinate commands), other agencies, and major commands to source all requirements.
  • To complete the SOR process, USASOC forwards unsatisfied support requirements to the CINC for validation. (NOTE: USASOC forwards two copies of the sor--one for the CINC and the other for the ascc for information pending validation.) The CINC tasks the ASCC for the needed supplies and services.
  • The theater ASCC then tasks selected units with the sustainment mission. The ASCC publishes a support plan detailing support to the CA unit. If the ASCC cannot provide the service or if a sister Service is better suited to support the CA mission, the theater ASCC returns the SOR to the theater CINC for assistance.


7-12. Conventional Army organizations and procedures are normally adequate for CA requirements. Standard procedures are in place to handle the few CA-peculiar requirements. The ASCC is responsible for reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI) and follow-on support and sustainment of in-theater Army forces, including ARSOF. The following conditions occur often enough that they must receive special consideration during logistics planning:

  • Forward-deployed CA units are usually in isolated, austere locations. In such cases, distribution of the support requirement is the key consideration.
  • Although a requirement may exist for some special equipment, most equipment is Army-common and organic units can maintain the equipment.


7-13. Responsibilities for planning and executing theater support do not align with the levels of war or with the HQ normally associated with them.

7-14. The theater CINC tasks missions to CA forces. The theater CINC's staff works closely with USSOCOM and the theater ASCC to articulate the CA requirements. The theater CINC establishes priorities and allocates the available resources to accomplish each mission. The ASCC develops the theater support plan of theater logistics organizations. The plans include CA.

7-15. CA logisticians coordinate with the ASCC to develop plans and subsequent orders or to implement directives the ASCC issues to support CA forces. The SOTSE keeps SOSCOM informed of the status of ASCC supporting plans.

7-16. CA logistics planners identify the support requirements in the planning phase. The ASCC must also identify the logistics shortfalls for inclusion in the CINC's risk assessment in his AOR. If the ASCC cannot support the CA forces, the ASCC must raise the shortfall to the supported CINC for resolution.


7-17. Planners must address the following considerations:

  • Maximizing the use of existing fixed facilities.
  • Limiting CSS requirements to mission essentials.
  • Minimizing the handling of supplies.
  • Concentrating maintenance on returning major end items to service.
  • Relying on air lines of communication for rapid resupply.
  • Anticipating high attrition during resupply missions into denied areas.
  • Identifying as early as possible those items that require operational floats or other special logistics arrangements.
  • Making maximum use of FNS.

7-18. During deliberate planning, the ASCC may use CA elements (either in theater or from USSOCOM) to assist in conducting assessments or site surveys. These missions can also serve ASCC preparations. When feasible, planners integrate these assessments into the theater campaign plan to provide intelligence and operational and logistics information for logistics preparation of the theater.

7-19. The use of assessment teams may not be practical during crisis-action planning. USASOC can deploy advance party personnel to assist the ASCC in receiving CA forces.

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