U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress [May 8, 2014]   [open pdf - 256KB]

"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 66,000 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 2014, DOD issued the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The 2014 QDR calls for 3,700 personnel to be added to USSOCOM's current strength but falls short of the 72,000-person goal set by the 2010 QDR. The 2014 QDR also places heavy emphasis on USSOCOM's role in counterterrorism operations. Beyond this, the QDR offers little detail as to how these additional personnel will be allocated and how the counterterror mandate will be accomplished. USSOCOM's FY2015 budget request was $9.913 billion--a 4% reduction over the $10.409 billion FY2013 budget request. This includes both the Base Budget and Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funding. Potential issues for Congress include possible greater clarification of the 2014 QDR's implications for USSOCOM and U.S. SOF and recent events in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. This report will be updated."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS21048
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