Special Operations Forces: DOD's Report to Congress Generally Addressed the Statutory Requirements but Lacks Detail
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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U.S. special operations forces SOF are specially organized, trained, and equipped to conduct operations in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments. Since 2001, the Department of Defense DOD has deployed SOF to conduct a range of military operations, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. To meet an increase in operational demands for SOF, DOD has increased funding for U.S. Special Operations Command SOCOM as well as SOF force levels from about 45,700 in fiscal year 2001 including about 43,000 military personnel and about 2,700 civilians to about 69,500 in fiscal year 2014 including about 63,000 military personnel and about 6,500 civilians.1 DOD s strategic guidance indicates that SOF will continue to play a prominent role in support of the defense strategy. For example, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review report states that the investment in SOF supports DOD s ability to sustain operations against terrorist networks, counter other transnational threats, and build the capacity of partners, among other things.2 DOD has taken steps to adjust some organizational structures and relationships for SOF. For example, DOD has assigned all SOF, including forward-based headquarters and forces, to SOCOM.3 With this new organizational relationship, SOCOM has direct responsibility for manning, training, and equipping all SOF.
- Military Forces and Organizations