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U.S. Army Special Forces: "The Green Berets"

A Special Operations Primer

Special Operations are defined as operations conducted by specially trained, equipped and organized Department of Defense forces against strategic or tactical targets in pursuit of national military, political, economic or psychological objectives. These operations may be conducted during periods of peace or hostilities. They may support conventional operations, or they may be undertaken independently when the use of conventional forces is either inappropriate or infeasible.

U.S. Army Special Operations Forces (or SOF) consist of Special Forces, Ranger, Special Operations Aviation, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs, as well as Signal and Support.

The mission of the Special Forces Groups is to plan, prepare for, and when directed, deploy to conduct unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance and direct actions in support of U.S. National Policy objectives within designated areas of responsibility.

The units continually train to conduct unconventional warfare in any of its forms -- Guerrilla Warfare, Evasion and Escape, Subversion, and Sabotage. The soldiers are also schooled in direct action operations and special reconnaissance.

Approximately 1400 soldiers are assigned to each group. The 12-man "A" Team is the operating level of the SF Group.

Rangers are the masters of special light infantry operations. These include attacks to temporarily seize and secure key objectives and other light infantry operations requiring unique capabilities. Like their special forces counterparts, Rangers can infiltrate an area by land, by sea or by air.

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment is a unique unit. It is prepared to support Special Operations Forces on a worldwide basis. The unit uses three types of modified helicopters.

The capabilities of the aviation units include inserting, resupplying and extracting U.S. and Allied SOF personnel. They also assist in SOF Search & Rescue and Escape & Evasion activities. In addition to general aviation support to the SOF community, these units provide forward air control and close air support.

The purpose of Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) is to demoralize the enemy by causing dissention and unrest among his ranks, while at the same time convincing the local population to support American troops. Psyop units accomplish their mission by disseminating propaganda messages in the form of leaflets, posters, broadcasts and audio-visual tapes. Each unit has its own intelligence and audio-visual specialists.

The Civil Affairs units are designed to prevent civilian interference with tactical operations, to assist commanders in discharging their responsibilities toward the civilian population, and to provide liaison with civilian government agencies.

In the mid-1980's, separate units were organized to provide signal and support to Special Operations units. The 112th Signal Battalion provides communications links and service between the command, joint controlling agencies or commands, and U.S. Army special operations commands in two theaters of operation. The 528th Support Battalion enhances USASOC's medical, maintenance, supply, and transportation capabilities.


This page is an unofficial document and does not represent information endorsed by the United States Government, the United States Special Operations Command or the United States Army Special Operations Command. However, most information is derived from those sources and has been checked for accuracy. For comments, questions, and suggestions, please go to the Communications Center.

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