U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress [September 18, 2013] [open pdf - 372KB]
"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 about 67,000 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. In February 2013, based on a request from USSOCOM and the concurrence of Geographic and Functional Combatant Commanders and Military Service Chiefs and Secretaries, the Secretary of Defense reassigned the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs) to USSOCOM. This means that USSOCOM now has the responsibility to organize, train, and equip TSOCs as it previously had for all assigned SOF units. While USSOCOM is now responsible for the organizing, training, and equipping of TSOC s, the Geographic Combatant Commands will continue to have operational control over the TSOCs. The current Unified Command Plan (UCP) stipulates USSOCOM is responsible only for synchronizing planning for global operations to combat terrorist networks. This limits its ability to conduct activities designed to deter emerging threats, build relationships with foreign militaries, and potentially develop greater access to foreign militaries. USSOCOM is proposing changes that would, in addition to its current responsibilities, include the responsibility for deploying and, when directed, employing SOF globally with the approval of the Geographic Combatant Command. In March 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Ha gel directed a DOD-wide Strategic Choices Management Review (SCMR). SCMR proposals include a possible reduction of USSOCOM and Service Component Headquarters by as much as 20%, a reduction in headquarters intelligence staff and capabilities, and possible reductions to SOF force structure."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21048
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html