Where Are Special Operations Forces
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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The capabilities of Special Operations Forces SOF had declined severely for more than a decade before 1986 when legislation created both the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict--the ASD SOLIC--and the U.S. Special Operations Command SOCOM, and also directed the Secretary of Defense to devise a major force program namely, MFP-11, especially for SOF. Progress was slow at first but soon gained momentum. Subsequent accomplishments have been impressive. Institutionally, the office of the ASD SOLIC as well as SOCOM headquarters and its Army, Navy, and Air Force component commands, theater Special Operations Commands SOCs, and Army Special Operations Support Commands have been activated and staffed. SOCOM has codified relationships with regionally-oriented unified commands and the services. It also has created a planning, programming, and budgeting system and a research, development, and acquisition system as well as intelligence architectures for special operations. A new series of doctrinal publications guides their employment in peacetime, crises, and war. Teamwork between SOF and conventional forces is much improved. Approximately 2,500 SOF personnel serve in roughly forty countries on a constant basis, and they have played an important part in all major contingencies since Operation Desert Storm.
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