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INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT TO SPECIAL OPERATIONS IN - page 9 / 35

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SPECIAL OPERATIONS DEFINED

The global nature of the war, the nature of the enemy, and the need for fast, efficient operations in hunting down and rooting out terrorist networks around the world have all contributed to the need for an expanded role for the special

operations forces.

  • Donald Rumsfeld

Secretary of Defense

According to the 2003-2004 Special Operations Forces Posture Statement,

Special operations are conducted in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments to achieve military, diplomatic, informational, and/or economic objectives employing military capabilities for which there is no broad conventional force requirement. These operations often require covert, clandestine, or discreet capabilities.1

Special operations occur in an environment and at a pace very different from conventional warfare. Special operations require more intelligence up front, in greater detail, than operations using large, conventional forces, as SOF units typically work independently for short periods of time, or with support from cooperative locals.2 Given their impact, which is often disproportionate to the size of the unit, “Politico-military considerations frequently shape special operations, requiring clandestine, covert or low-visibility techniques, and oversight at the national level.”3

The SOF operator is distinguished from other military personnel by his language capabilities, his extensive overseas experience, his ability to work closely with indigenous forces and to train them, his ability to blend into the fabric of the society in which he operates, his independence and maturity, and an unparalleled degree of training. These Americans are truly one of a kind—each one. That is why there are so few of them. They cannot be mass-produced. Nor can their equipment. They are one of the nation’s most scarce and precious resources, and they should not be employed casually. 4

SPECIAL OPERATIONS STRUCTURE

Army

“Army Special Forces (SF) are made up of SF (Green Beret), Ranger, special operations aviation, civil affairs, psychological operations and special operations support units.5 “Much like the Navy SEALs, (they) recruit from the entire service force, not only from Rangers and infantry. This recruiting is required to meet the varying skill requirements of Special Forces, as well as the need to infuse new perspectives and flexibility into the force.”6

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