Special Operations Command



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United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)

Brian Carter

LIS 620


Special Operations Command

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is the organization charged with the overall command of the various special operations units within in the United States military. After the failure of Operation Eagle Claw in 1980 - when the US attempted to rescue hostages held at the American embassy in Iran – work began to establish a central command for all US special operations. After several unsuccessful incarnations and numerous debates, USSOCOM in its current form was created by act of Congress in October of 1986 and was approved by President Ronald Reagan in April of 1987. Since then the men and women of USSOCOM have had their hands (and often guns) in almost every operation the United States military has engaged in.

While USSOCOM has overall command of special operations, each branch of the military also has a command established to oversee its specific contributions to this elite community. They are:


  1. AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command), Activated May 1990. AFSOC’s units include: 23rd Air Force, 1st Special Operations Wing, 27th Special Operations Wing, 919th Special Operations Wing, 193d Special Operations Wing, 352d Special Operations Wing, 353d Special Operations Wing and 720th Special Tactics Group

  2. USASOC (United States Army Special Operations Command), Act. Dec. 1989. USASOC’s units include: 75th Ranger Regiment, US Army Special Forces, 160th Special Operation Aviation Unit (Night Stalkers), 4th Psychological Operations Group, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations

  3. NAVSPECWARCOM (United States Navy Special Warfare Command, a.k.a. NAVSOC, NSWC, NSW), Act. April 1987. NSW units include: US Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams (SEALs), Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC), and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams (SDVT)

  4. MARSOC (United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command). Act. Feb. 2006. MARSOC units include: Marine Special Operations Regiment, Marine Special Operations Intelligence Battalion, and Marine Special Operations Support Group

  5. JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) – JSOC is a command component within USSOCOM. It’s stated purpose is to analyze special operations techniques, to ensure that all the commands can work together, and to plan any joint operations. JSOC also oversees certain types of special missions and has command of the elite Delta Force and DEVGRU (aka SEAL Team Six) units.

USSOCOM is currently based MacDill Air Force Base - located a short distance southwest of Tampa, Florida. Since its activation, USSOCOM has had eight commanding officers, the current of which is Admiral Eric T. Olson, a 37-year veteran of the US Navy who was assigned to the post in April of 2007.

Navigating the maze of units and personnel within USSOCOM is a daunting task, so the following information is presented to provide a little more detail about the more common elements that the average citizen will find mentioned in the media. It should be no surprise that these elements are also the ones most likely to get their guns in the fight.



US Army Special Forces (Army):

Also known as the Green Berets, the US Army Special Forces – while capable of many different types of special operations missions – specialize in unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense. Unconventional warfare (UW) – to put it rather simplistically – is a term used to describe operations that fall outside those carried out by the conventional army units (think regular infantry). Guerilla warfare, counter-insurgency, etc. fall into this category. Foreign internal defense (FID) involves sending US forces into foreign nations to help them train their own forces and played a big part in the early successes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Soldiers able to pass the selection process for admittance into the Special Forces Qualification Course (Q-Course) can look forward to around a year’s worth of constant training and evaluation (or two years for those soldiers selected to become medics). This training includes small unit combat tactics, land navigation, parachuting techniques, advanced survival techniques, battlefield medicine, cultural awareness, and foreign languages (all Special Forces soldiers are required to be proficient in at least one additional language). Soldiers will also receive specialized training based on which of the Special Forces Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) they are entering. Training culminates in a month-long exercise called ROBIN SAGE, during which time the trainees will bring together everything they have learned so far as they conduct large-scale FID and UW missions in the fictional country of Pineland (which covers 50,000 square miles of North Carolina). Supporting the ROBIN SAGE exercise are hundreds of personnel who portray Pineland’s guerilla leaders and soldiers. Over the course of their career, a Special Forces soldier will receive further advanced training from the numerous schools offered by the Army and other military branches.

The basic unit of the Special Forces is the Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA or A-Team). On paper an ODA consists of twelve soldiers: a commander (usually a Captain), an executive officer (usually a Warrant Officer), a team/operations sergeant (usually a Master Sergeant), an intelligence sergeant (usually a Sergeant First Class), and two each of the four specialty MOS (communications, weapons, medical, and engineering). The eight specialty sergeants will be ranked between Sergeant (the minimum rank for a Special Forces soldier) and Sergeant First Class.

Multiple ODAs are organized into companies, which in turn are organized into battalions. Overseeing the battalions are seven Special Forces Groups – five active duty (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th) and two National Guard (19th, and 20th). Each of the active duty Special Forces Groups is responsible for a specific geographical area and their language and cultural skills will reflect this.

De Oppressor Liber (To Liberate the Oppressed)


  • Motto of the Special Force

75th Ranger Regiment (Army):

Another well-known name, Army Rangers are an elite, airborne light infantry that trace their roots all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The modern incarnation of the Rangers (the 1st Ranger Battalion) was activated in 1974, followed eight months later by the 2nd Ranger Battalion. The 3rd Ranger Battalion was activated in 1984 and in 1986 the 75th Ranger Regiment was born.

Rangers begin their journey by going through the same training as regular US Army infantrymen, but then undergo additional training at the US Army Airborne School and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program. Completion of this training earns the soldier a spot in the 75th Ranger Battalion, but there is still one last school that must be completed to have a career in the Regiment: the Ranger School.

The Ranger School is a two-month course that is required not just for a career in the 75th, but is also considered an essential part of any infantry officer’s education. The main purpose of the Ranger School is to teach small unit tactics, but it will also teach the trainees how to survive and operate in a variety of environments. The Ranger School will also test the trainee’s ability to perform under pressure by strict regulation of their eating and by depriving them of sleep.

Dick Couch offers the following description of a Ranger in his book Chosen Soldier: “The Rangers are young, tough, and perhaps the finest airborne light infantry in the world. A Ranger can drop from the sky at night, carry a hundred-pound rucksack for a long distance, and fight like a demon when he gets there.”1

Rangers lead the way


  • Motto of the 75th Ranger Regiment

Pararescue (Air Force):

The Air Force’s Pararescuemen’s (PJs) primary missions are search and rescue and emergency medical treatment. Officially established in 1946 as the Air Rescue Service (ARS), the first modern pararescue teams were activated in 1947. Since then Air Force PJs have taken part in operations during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Besides maintaining an Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic license at all times, the PJs undergo an extremely rigorous training program that is every bit as physically demanding as the programs of combat-focused special operators.

From start to finish, a Pararescue trainee can expect to spend close to eighty weeks training and competing for a spot on one of the Air Forces Special Tactics Teams. Besides almost a year’s worth of specialized emergency medical care training, the cadet will attend courses in parachuting (static-line and free-fall), combat diving, underwater egress, and survival techniques.

That others may live.


  • Motto of the Air Force Pararescuemen

Combat Control Team (Air Force):

If the Air Force Pararescuemen can be seen as a paramedic with advanced special operations training, then the Combat Controller is an air traffic controller with the same training. Like the Pararescuemen, they also maintain a civilian license outside of their normal military certifications (in the case of the Combat Controller, they must obtain and maintain certification from the Federal Aviation Administration as air traffic controllers). On top of this, they also receive much of the same training as their brothers in the STT: parachuting, survival, and diving. All told a Combat Controller goes through almost nine months of highly specialized training.

The primary mission of the Combat Control Teams (CCT), according to the factsheet on the official Air Force webpage (http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=174) follows:

“The mission of a combat controller is to deploy undetected into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance in the joint arena. “



First There.

  • Motto of the Combat Control Teams

SEALs (Navy):

Arguably the most well-known of the Special Operations units, the Navy SEAL (Sea Air and Land) enjoys a reputation as one of the toughest and deadliest commandos of this or any other country. The SEALs have their roots in the Underwater Demolitions Teams (UDT) of World War 2, who were first tasked with scouting the beaches ahead of the landing troops and removing any obstacles that would prevent a successful assault. In 1961 the Navy SEAL Teams were formed (mostly from the UDTs) with an expanded mission tasking. During Vietnam their role expanded to include covert operations, direct action assaults, FID, and special reconnaissance missions. While their specialty is still maritime and over-the-beach operations, SEALs train to be ready for any situation in any environment.

Part of the fearsome reputation of the SEALs comes from the well-publicized harshness of SEAL training. The two major components of this roughly year-long training program are the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School (BUD/S) and the SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) course. BUD/S lasts a total of twenty-eight weeks and includes four parts: the indoctrination course, the physical conditioning phase, the diving phase, and the land warfare phase. It is during the physical conditioning phase that the students will be tested by the infamous “Hell Week” - an entire week of the most intense and brutal physical challenges their instructors can devise, which must be completed on next to no sleep (only a few hours of sleep total are allowed for the entirety of the week). Those who survive BUD/S training (usually less that 30% of those who started the course) earn a spot in SQT where their technical skills will be put to the test over twenty-six weeks. During SQT the students will receive training in the various skills expected of a SEAL operator, including: land navigation, advanced special operations tactics, battlefield medicine, communications, land warfare, cold weather survival, demolitions, unarmed combat, and more.

All of this training eventually earns the new SEAL his Trident and a spot in one of the SEAL Teams, where his training will continue for the rest of his career.

The basic unit of the SEAL Teams is the SEAL Platoon, which consists of 16 men (2 officers and 14 enlisted). Platoons are organized into Troops, which are then organized into Teams. There are currently nine active duty SEAL Teams (numbered 1-10, but missing 6) and two SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams.

The only easy day was yesterday.


  • Common phrase amongst Navy SEALs

Combat-craft Crewmen (Navy):

Also known as the “Boat Guys,” the Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC) specialize in maritime special operations. They operate multiple types advanced watercraft capable of maneuvering in the deep sea, close to shore, and in rivers. One of their primary duties is to provide platforms for the SEALs to gain entry to and make quick exits from their mission target areas.

SWCC students undergo twenty-one weeks of training with most of that time being spent in Basic Crewman Training (BCT) and SWCC Crewman Qualification Training (CQT). In addition to this training, all SWCC will receive advanced battlefield medical training.

On time! On target! Never quit!


  • Motto of the SWCC

MARSOC:

MARSOC is the new kid on the block when it comes to USSOCOM. At one time, the Marine Corps preferred to keep all of its soldiers under its own command and contributed no units to USSOCOM. This changed in early 2006 when MARSOC was officially activated, using the former Marine Force Recon companies to form its core. The first Marines to be specifically trained for this unit began the Marine Special Operations Individual Training Course in October of 2008 and graduated in March of 2009. Like the US Army Special Forces, Marine special operators are expected to demonstrate additional language skills.

MARSOC’s mission tasking includes direct action, special reconnaissance, and foreign internal defense. Since 2006 MARSOC has had units in constant deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Always Faithful, Always Forward


  • Motto of MARSOC



Subject Headings

The following subject headings should aid users in searching for materials related to USSOCOM and its subordinate units. These subject headings were drawn from the WorldCat database (http://www.worldcat.org/):

United States – Navy – SEALs

– Commando Troops – Training of

- Army – Special Forces

- History Of

- Army – Ranger Regiment, 75thHistory

- Army – Commando Troops – History

- Biography

- Air Force Special Operations Command – History

- Commando Troops

Special Forces (Military Science) – United States – History

Special Operations (Military Science) – United States – History

Afghan War, 2001 – Commando Operations

Iraq War, 2001 – Commando Operations

War on Terrorism, 2001-2009



Classifications:

Dewey – 355 (Military Science)

Library of Congress – DS [History of Asia, includes books on modern conflicts in Afghanistan (350-375) and Iraq (67-79.9)]

- U (Military Science)

- U262 (Commando Tactics)

- U320-325 (Physical Training of Soldiers)

- UA10-997 (Armies: Organization, distribution, military situation)

- V (Naval Science)

- VA39-349 (Navies: Organization, Distribution, Naval Situation – United States)

- VD7-430 (Naval Seamen)



General Resources:

The organization, training, and mission tasking of USSOCOM’s units are constantly evolving and it doesn’t take long for some of the general resources to become out of date. While encyclopedic resources can still be good sources for general information as it relates to the history of USSOCOM, if you want the most current general information, it is suggested that you take a look at the official websites for these various units.

Once you wade through the recruiting pitches, you can find a good deal of useful information on these websites. Almost all of them will have sections related to the following information:


  1. Selection criteria – what it takes to be accepted into the training programs

  2. Training

  3. A brief history of the unit (usually includes information about the founding and a summary of its operational history as well)

  4. The mission statement of the unit

Here is a list of the various Special Operations Commands and the subordinate units that were discussed in the introduction of this bibliography.

  1. USSOCOM: http://www.socom.mil/SOCOMHome/Pages/default.aspx

  2. NAVSPECWARCOM: http://www.navsoc.navy.mil/

  3. USASOC: http://www.soc.mil/

  4. MARSOC: http://www.marines.mil/unit/marsoc/Pages/default.aspx

  5. AFSOC: http://www.afsoc.af.mil/

  6. US Army Special Forces: http://www.goarmy.com/special_forces/index.jsp

  7. US Army Rangers: http://www.goarmy.com/ranger/

  8. Navy SEALs: http://www.sealchallenge.navy.mil/seal/

  9. Navy SWCC: http://www.sealchallenge.navy.mil/swcc/

  10. Air Force PJs: http://www2.afsoc.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=217

  11. Air Force CCT: http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=4487

Besides the above websites, the following resources provide good general information on USSOCOM:

United States Special Operations Command Fact Book. http://www.socom.mil/SOCOMHome /newspub/pubs/Documents/FactBook.pdf (accessed April 18, 2010).

This 48 page fact book is available as a free download from the official USSOCOM website and touches on every aspect of the Command. Nearly every page of the fact book sports full color photographs and there are numerous charts throughout to help the reader better understand the structure of the various USSOCOM units. Every one of these units (including those not discussed above) has at least one page dedicated to it which includes unit history, mission statement, and training. Also touched on is the equipment these units use to accomplish their special operations.

USSOCOM History, 6th ed. http://www.socom.mil/SOCOM Home/Documents/ history6thedition.pdf (accessed April 18, 2010).

Another free to download pdf from the official USSOCOM website, this operational history of USSOCOM was updated in 2008. There is a chapter for the “founding and evolution” of USSOCOM at the beginning, but the true value of this text is that it divides the history of USSOCOM into chapters based on a chronological presentation of the major operations and conflicts that it has participated in. There is an abundance of tactical maps and photographs throughout, as well as an extensive index at the end.

American Special Ops Website: http://www.americanspecialops.com/

While most of the information on this website can be found on the individual websites listed above, this website centralizes the information. This website also maintains a large database of public domain videos and photographs related to USSOCOM and its component units.

Unit Specific Resources:

The following lists of resources (divided by units) will give the reader a look into the history and training of some of the more well-known USSOCOM units (the SEALs, the Special Forces, and the Rangers). Resources that deal mostly with their roles in modern conflicts (even if they are still unit-specific) will follow in a separate list.



Navy SEAL Specific Sources:

Couch, Dick. The Warrior Elite: Forging of SEAL Class 228. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001.

Dick Couch will appear several times in this bibliography, so a small bit of biographical information will be given to explain why. Couch graduated from the Naval Academy in 1967 and was commissioned at as SEAL officer in 1969 as a graduate of BUD/S Class 45. He served as a platoon commander in Vietnam and as a maritime and paramilitary case officer with the CIA after leaving the Navy. He retired from the Navy in 1999 as a Captain. His connections with the SEAL and Special Operations community have allowed him to gain access to personnel and information that would not be available to outsiders.

In The Warrior Elite Couch was allowed to follow BUD/S Class 228 for the entirety of their training. His book provides not only exclusive insight into the training program but also access to the young men who hope to join the elite SEAL community. Throughout his work Couch seeks to identify what qualities these young men possess that allow them to succeed at one of the most brutal testing grounds in any military.

Couch, Dick. The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004.

For this book Couch follows several classes of young men through the SEAL Qualification Training courses in 2002. Throughout SQT the students will take the skills they learned in BUD/S – plus a few new ones – and hone them until they become instinct. Reading this book together with The Warrior Elite will give you a good idea of why the SEALs have a reputation as being some of the toughest and most skilled warriors of any military in the world.

Bahmanyar, Mir. Navy SEALs: The U.S. Navy’s Elite Fighting Force. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2008.

This book touches on some of the things already covered in this bibliography – training, structure, etc – but also contains information on SEAL tactics and equipment not found in the other sources. Also valuable is its detailed analysis of the various special operations that the SEALs have been a part of, including: Panama (1989), Bolivia (1991), Yugoslavia (1999), Bosnia (2003), and the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.



Navy SEALs: BUD/S Class 234. DVD. Directed by Gordon Forbes III. Los Angeles, CA: Image Entertainment, 2007.

While there is already a book on this list that covers Navy SEAL training in depth, this DVD is included for those who prefer a visual medium. As SEAL training evolves every year, it is still worthwhile to use both references.



US Army Special Forces Specific Resources:

Couch, Dick. Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007.

For this book, Couch moves away from his normal subject matter (Navy SEALs) and gives the reader a look into the world of the US Army Special Forces. The book begins with an introduction to the entire Special Operations group and then moves into an overview of the Special Forces in particular where it discusses the history and organization of the unit. The rest of the book follows a single Q-Course class throughout the entirety of their training. Much like he did with his works devoted to the Navy SEALs, Couch along the way attempts to give his reader insight into the motivations of the men who volunteer for this type of assignment and to identify the unique qualities that allow certain ones to succeed.

National Geographic: Inside Special Forces. DVD. Directed by Beverley Mitchell Washington, DC: National Geographic Video, 2003.

This video from National Geographic gives a detailed look into the history of the US Army Special Forces while also discussing the Special Forces ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are numerous interviews with serving soldiers (officers and enlisted) and cameras also follow them as they carry out their missions. As of the writing of this bibliography the video is available to view for free on the video-streaming site Hulu (http://www.hulu.com/watch/63237/national-geographic-specials-inside-special-forces).



Ranger Specific Resources:

Bahmanyar, Mir. Shadow Warrior: A History of the US Army Rangers. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2005.

This book provides a detailed look at the history of the US Army Rangers. It discusses their origins in the Revolutionary War and follows the unit through the Civil War to World War 2 to modern conflicts and everything in between. A substantial preview of the book is available at Google Books (http://books.google.com/books).

Lock, John D. The Coveted Black and Gold: A Daily Journey Through the U.S. Army Ranger School Experience. Tucson: Fenestra Books, 2005.

Lock – a retired Army officer – touches briefly upon the history of the Rangers as a unit, but the true value of this book is its firsthand account of what it’s like to go through the Army’s elite Ranger School.



Modern Warfare:

The following resources are drawn from accounts of the current conflicts in both Afghanistan (2001 – Current) and Iraq (2003 – Current). Each of these selected works relates missions and operations that were carried out by one or more of the Special Operations units. Most often represented are the Navy SEALs, US Army Special Forces, and the Army Rangers, but the Pararescuemen and Combat Controllers are also frequently mentioned. While the previous listings in this bibliography were devoted to the history and training of the various USSOCOM units, these works will give the reader a glimpse into how these elements are being utilized on the current battlefields.

Antenori, Frank. Roughneck Nine-One: The Extraordinary Story of a Special Forces A-Team at War. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006.

Roughneck Nine-One’s story is that of a group of Green Berets operating in Iraq in 2003. Of primary concern is the battle that occurred in April of that year near the town of Debecka. Here the Green Berets with their superior training and equipment were able to defeat an Iraqi force that not only outnumbered them, but also included tanks. Antenori’s firsthand account (he was a Sergeant First Class with ODA 391 at the time) also includes the missions that led up to the climactic battle.

Blehm, Eric. The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan. New York: Harper, 2010.

This book tells the story of a Special Forces ODA charged with the protection of Hamid Karzai – the man that the US had placed hope in as the future leader of Afghanistan. The narrative follows them as they attempt to unify the southern tribes into an alliance against the Taliban that still held much of the area. Along the way, the ODA deals with opposition from not just the enemy, but also from their leaders and the CIA agents that traveled with them.

Couch, Dick. Down Range: Navy SEALs in the War on Terrorism. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005.

This work leads off with the obligatory introduction to the SEALs as a unit, but soon moves gets to the matter at hand: descriptions of how SEALs are putting those years of brutal training to good use. Missions that Couch describes and analyzes include the seizure of an underway ship, the early operations just after 9/11, the exploration of a Taliban cave complex, the seizure of two oil drilling platforms, and urban operations in Baghdad.

Couch, Dick. The Sheriff of Ramadi: Navy SEALs and the Winning of al-Anbar. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008.

While the cities of Baghdad and Fallujah garnered the most press, the city of Ramadi and the surrounding province of al-Anbar were actually at one point the deadliest place in Iraq. This book tells the story of a SEAL task unit that – working closely with the regular Army, Marines, the Iraq Army, and the local officials – completely turned this area around. It shows how the SEALs were able to empower the local populace and police to take back the city from the insurgents.

Luttrell, Marcus. Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. New York: Little, Brown, 2007.

The first part of this memoir describes Luttrell’s training as a SEAL, but soon turns into a story of the story of heroism and survival. Luttrell and three other teammates were sent on a mission targeting a high ranking Taliban official that soon turned into a disaster when they were found by a large force of Taliban troops. Luttrell was the only survivor of the encounter and soon finds himself taking refuge with a group of Afghani tribesmen who risk their own lives to protect his.

Stanton, Doug. Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. New York: Scribner, 2009.



Horse Soldiers tells the story of one of the first American units to enter Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The story is mainly about of how the Special Forces soldiers managed to band together the various northern tribes into a fighting force capable of ousting the Taliban from northern Afghanistan, but there is more to it than that. Stanton also includes the stories of the Northern Alliance leaders, regular citizens of the cities of Afghanistan, and even John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban” that was captured during the campaign.

Taylor, Sean. Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. New York: Berkley Books, 2005.

Operation Anaconda was the first major engagement of the war in Afghanistan – an ambitious mission that ultimately failed when faced with breakdowns in communication and the chain of command. Avoidable mistakes cost American lives and allowed many of the enemy to escape the trap the US had been hoping to set for them. Despite this ultimate failure, the Operation showcased what various units within USSOCOM were capable of. The Special Forces led an army of indigenous soldiers as the primary thrust of the plan, while SEALs set up observation points from which to call down air support.

Other Resources:

Special Operations 2006: Special Bibliography No. 328. http://www.au.af.mil/au/aul/bibs/specops.htm#bibs

An incredibly comprehensive list of almost everything related to USSOCOM that is maintained on the website of the Air Force’s Air University (dedicated to professional military education and not to be confused with the Air Force Academy). Only sparsely annotated and lacking an introduction, it nonetheless has an incredible amount of books, periodicals, multimedia, and other bibliographies to wade through. Great starting point for anyone doing in depth research into the topic, but may be a bit overwhelming for beginners.

Journal Searching Tips

Due to their extensive use in the current global conflicts, the various units of USSOCOM have received extensive coverage in print media. Given that, the following advice is given to aid users in searching databases for journal articles related to this topic.



  1. It is better to search for the full names than to use the acronyms.

  2. Identify any nicknames the units have and include those as search terms. For example – if looking for information on the US Army Special Forces, remember that they are also commonly known as the “Green Berets”

  3. If you are looking for a information on a specific unit, look ONLY for that unit, once again making use its more common name than the unit number or any acronyms. For example – if looking for information on Army Rangers, search for “Army Rangers” rather than “75th Ranger Regiment.”

  4. It is often necessary to specify that you are looking for American special operations in particular, as almost every military in the world has several units that fall into the category of special ops or special forces.

  5. “Special Operations” and “Special Forces” are sometimes used (incorrectly) interchangeably.

Notable Publishers:

The following publishers deal almost exclusively in military history resources.



Osprey Publishing

44-02 23rd Street Suite 219


Long Island City
New York, NY 11101 USA
Phone: (718) 433-4402

U.S. Naval Institute Press

Naval Heritage Group

291 Wood Rd

Annapolis, MD 21402

Phone: 1-800-233-8764

Presidio Press (Random House Imprint)

The Random House Publishing Group



1745 Broadway, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10019



1 Dick Couch, Chosen Soldier (New York: Random House, 2007), 10-11.




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