U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress [November 19, 2014]   [open pdf - 265KB]

"In February 2013, based on a request from USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] and the concurrence of Geographic and Functional Combatant Commanders and Military Service Chiefs and Secretaries, the Secretary of Defense assigned command of 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 TSOCs, 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 current responsibilities, include the responsibility for synchronizing the planning, coordination, deployment, and, when directed, the employment of special operations forces globally and will do so with the approval of the Geographic Combatant Commanders, the Services and, as directed, appropriate U.S. government agencies. […] 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."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS21048
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