U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress [July 16, 2010]   [open pdf - 183KB]

"Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations and the Administration has given U.S. SOF greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) directs increases in SOF force structure, particularly in terms of increasing enabling units and rotary and fixed-wing SOF aviation assets and units. [...] Afghan-related issues include the impact of new command relationships as well as rules of engagement, which have limited SOF nighttime raids targeting insurgent leadership. These SOF raids have been characterized as being highly successful, even though on some occasions they have resulted in civilian casualties. U.S. SOF have been given the mission of training Afghan Civil Order Police. A more controversial mission involves up to 23 Special Forces Operational Detachments -- Alphas (ODAs) training local militias in remote areas of Afghanistan to fill a security void. Potential issues for congressional consideration include how command relationships and rules of engagement are affecting special operations in Afghanistan and whether training police and militias is the best use of U.S. SOF."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS21048
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