Naval Special Warfare Deployments in Support of Theater Commanders: Special Operations Forces or Naval Support Elements?
MARINE CORPS WAR COLL QUANTICO VA
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Naval Special Warfare NSW has a unique requirement to provide operational support as both Special Operations Forces and naval support elements. Their support to both fleet and Special Operations commanders has been a source of controversy since the 1987 inception of the US Special Operations Command. Special Operations advocates propose that all Naval Special Warfare forces should be assigned under operational control OPCON of the theater Special Operations Command who will provide forces as necessary to support fleet operations. Navy and Marine Corps advocates are not convinced that traditional amphibious and maritime operational requirements will be adequately supported if OPCON is relinquished. As the geographic Commanders-in-Chief CINC gained power and influence, so too did the sub-unified theater Special Operations Commands. The operational primacy of the theater Special Operations Command has served to negate the utility of having NSW assets as integral members of the Carrier Battle Group and Amphibious Ready Group. Special Operations mission requirements are usually tasked from the theater CINC very early in the planning phase, usually designating the theater Special Operations Command as the Joint Special Operations Task Force. Even in the littoral area, the SEALS on the ship will likely not be tasked because the joint force SEALS will have already been employed to fulfill the requirement.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics