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Introduction to Special Operations Command

Special Operations - 1st Platoon


SOF are a multipurpose, combat forces designated to be task-organized, trained, and equipped to plan, conduct, and support a variety of special operations (SO) in all environments and levels of conflict.

Doctrine and Principles of War

Doctrine is a statement of the fundamental principles that guide the employment of military forces in support of national objectives.

1. Objective

Every military operation must be directed toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. The military objective of a nation at war must be to apply whatever degree of force is necessary to attain the political purpose for which the war is being fought.

SO objectives may often be as political, economic, or psychological as they are military. SO objectives in war focus predominantly on enemy military vulnerabilities without direct force-on-force confrontation.

2. Offensive

Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. The principle of the offensive suggests that offensive action, or maintenance of the initiative, is the most effective and decisive way to pursue and to attain a clearly defined, common goal.

Offensive action, whatever form it takes, is the means by which the nation or a military force captures and holds the initiative, maintains freedom of action and achieves results. The side that retains the initiative through offensive action forces the foe to react rather than act. SO are inherently offensive.

3. Mass

Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time. In the strategic context, this principle suggests that the nation should commit, or be prepared to commit, a predominance of national power to those regions or areas where the threat to vital security interests is greatest.

Special Operations Forces (SOF) are not employed to mass in the conventional sense. Acceptance of attrition or force-on-force battle is not applicable for SOF. SOF must concentrate their combat power covertly, indirectly, and at decisive times and places. In SO, concentration of force relies on the quality and focus of tactics, timing, and weaponry.

4. Economy of Force

Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. As a reciprocal of the principle of mass, economy of force in the strategic dimension suggests that, in the absence of unlimited resources, a nation may have to accept some risks in areas where vital national interests are not immediately at stake.

SOF may be employed strategically as an economy of force measure to allow the concentration of other forces elsewhere. This may be particularly effective when SOF are employed in conjunction with indigenous forces to create a “force multiplier” effect, or when SO are conducted for the purpose of deception.

5. Maneuver

Place the enemy in a disadvantageous position through the flexible application of combat power. WIP

6. Unity of Command

For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander. WIP

7. Security

Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. WIP

8. Surprise

Strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared. WIP

9. Simplicity

Prepare clear, concise plans and orders. Guidance, plans, and orders should be as simple and direct as the attainment of the objective will allow. WIP