U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress [July 15, 2011] [open pdf - 239KB]
"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. U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has close to 60,000 active duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians assigned to its headquarters, its four components, and one sub-unified command. 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. USSOCOM Commander Admiral Eric T. Olson, in commenting on the current state of the forces under his command, noted that since September 11, 2001, USSOCOM manpower has nearly doubled, the budget nearly tripled, and overseas deployments have quadrupled; because of this high level of demand, the admiral added, SOF is beginning to show some 'fraying around the edges,' and one potential way to combat this is by finding ways to get SOF 'more time at home.' […] Another implication is that these force reductions might also have an impact on the creation and sustainment of Army and Marine Corps 'enabling' units that USSOCOM is seeking to support operations. Another potential issue involves initiatives to get more 'time at home' for SOF troops to help reduce stress on service members and their families. One of the major factors is that SOF has neither access to nor the appropriate types of training facilities near their home stations, thereby necessitating travel away from their bases and families to conduct pre-deployment training."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21048