The Roles American Special Operations Forces Play in the War on Terror.

///The Roles American Special Operations Forces Play in the War on Terror.

Bijan Razzaghi

With the war on Terror going on nearly 17 years now Special Operations Forces of the United States have played a major role in targeting terrorist leaders, propping up local allied forces, and taking the leading role and seizing territory held by terrorist and extremist. The US Special Operations command consist of several major units and many smaller support units each unit has its own particular mission but many have overlapping responsibility’s.

Starting with the Army they’re are four major Special Operations Units, three ground units and one air support unit. The first of these is the Special Forces (Green Berets) the primary mission of the Special Forces is to conduct unconventional asymmetrical warfare other wise referred to as Guerrilla warfare. This included small unit tactics such as ambushes and hit and run attacks. The Special Forces primary role that it has been employed in is training local forces and other military’s in various tactics based on the theater of conflict and mission. Special Forces operate primarily in twelve man teams. Special Forces have assisted in the training of Kurdish Forces of the SDF and Peshmerga in Iraq and Syria.

The next unit is 1stSOFD or Delta Force sometimes referred to as CAG. This unit’s primary objective is to conduct hostage rescue missions and go after high value targets for kill or capture missions. The unit falls under the command of JSOC. Delta Force is hand picked from Special Forces and Rangers and much about the unit is classified. Delta Force operators typically operate in squadrons much likes the British SAS. Delta Force has been involved in rescuing Kurdish hostages in Syria and Iraq as well as conducting joint operation’s with Jordon’s Special Forces in Syria against high value targets.

The third Special Operations unit in the Army is the Rangers. Or 75th Ranger regiment. The regiment consist of three battalion’s and they primary function as light infantry capable of direct action missions. Rangers are trained to deploy from Land Sea and air. Rangers have often been employed in seizing strategic objectives and providing support and cover for Delta Force, Green Beret and Navy Seal Operations. This may include locking down an area while Delta Force units take down an objective. Rangers often deploy with extra firepower as they function as a conventional light infantry force. This firepower included Mortars, Anti tank Missiles and Rockets as well as heavy machine guns and armored vehicles.

The fourth unit of the Army Special Operation’s Command is the 160thSOAR or Task Force 160. This unit is a support unit that consist of highly trained army helicopter pilots that fly modified variants of the Blackhawk, Little Bird and Chinook helicopters, they also operate a small number of drones. The primary mission of the 160th SOAR is to provide fire support, transport and aerial reconnaissance for Special Operations Forces.

For the Navy the primary unit is the United States Navy SEALs (Sea Air and Land). There primary objective is to conduct direct action raids such as hostage rescues, going after high value targets and conducting unconventional warfare operations such as hit and run attacks and training local forces. The Navy SEALs unique capability is under water demolitions. This is using explosives to destroy targets underwater as well as maritime insertions using subversive vehicles that deploy from submarines. The Navy SEALS have a special unit that falls under the command of JSOC called DEVGRU or SEAL Team 6. This unit can be tasked to conduct similar operations to Delta Force. Navy SEALS operate SOC Riverine boats, which are used for rapid maritime surface insertion and extractions.

The US Air Force has a specialized special operation’s units known AFSOC are primary designed to provide Special Operations Forces fixed wing transport in the form of platforms such as the MC-130 Combat Talon and CV-22 Ospreys and electronic warfare through EC-130s. Air Force Special Operation’s forces can also employ RPAs (Drones) to conduct strikes on high value targets. The Air Force also assist Special Operations forces by deploying Joint Terminal Attack Controllers which are designed to designate targets for air support and Para rescue men who act are specially trained medics tasked with infiltrating enemy territory in order to rescue downed airmen and assist wounded soldiers.

The newest Special Operations Force and the last on this list is MARSOC. Marine Special Operations Command or Marine Raiders. There primary objective is to provide the Marine Corps with a dedicated Special Operation’s capability. Their missions include Special Recconesense, Direct Action, Counter Terrorism, Unconventional Warfare and Counter Insurgency. Formed in 2006 many of the members came from the elite Marine Force Recons units. MARSOC falls under the command of SOCOM.

Each of these units have played a major role in the War on Terror often working in conjunction with one another to complete the various challenging missions that have been necessary in the War on Terror. Special Operations Forces have been seen is a excellent alternative to using conventional military forces for major combat operations.