SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND
On December 1, 1989, the Department of the Army established the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a major Army command to enhance the readiness of Army Special Operations Forces and streamline the command and control of US Army Reserve Special Operations Forces. Army support to the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) located at MacDill Air Force Base, FL, also was enhanced as a result of the new command and control structure. As the Army's component of USSOCOM, USASOC provides Special Forces, Ranger, Special Operations Aviation, Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs forces to USSOCOM for deployment to combatant unified commands around the world. As a major Army command, USASOC reports directly to Department of the Army for service guidance. USASOC commands both the active Army and US Army Reserve Special Operations Forces. It also provides oversight of Army National Guard Special Operations Force readiness, organization, training, and employment in coordination with the National Guard Bureau and State Adjutants General.
THE 75th RANGER REGIMENT
When the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions were re-activated in 1974, General Abrams chartered the battalions to be "the best light infantry unit in the world" and a "standard bearer for the rest of the Army." After Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada, 1983), the requirement for more Rangers and a better suited command structure resulted in the formation of the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the Regimental Headquarters in 1984. Today, the 75th Ranger Regiment is assigned to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
The 75th Ranger Regiment plans and conducts special military operations in support of US policy and objectives. Its specially organized, equipped, and trained soldiers provide the National Command Authority (NCA) the capability to rapidly deploy a credible military force to any region of the world. In addition, Rangers are often called upon to perform missions in support of general purpose forces (GPF).
The primary Ranger mission is to conduct direct action (DA) operations. More specifically, Rangers are the US Army's premiere airfield seizure and raid unit. In order to remain proficient in all light infantry skills, Ranger units also focus on mission essential tasks that include movement to contact, ambush, reconnaissance, airborne and air assaults, and hasty defense.
A typical Ranger Battalion or Regiment mission would involve seizing an airfield for use by follow-on general purpose forces and conducting raids on key targets of operational or strategic importance. Once secured, follow-on airland or airborne forces are introduced into theater and relieve the Ranger force so that it may conduct planning for future SOF operations. Rangers rely heavily on external fire support. Ranger fire support personnel train extensively on the employment of CAS, attack helicopters, Naval Gunfire (NGF), AC-130 Gunship and artillery. The close working relationships with units that habitually support the force (USAF TACP, USAF Special Tactics , USMC ANGLICO) ensures that the Ranger Force always has the required assets to perform its mission.
The 75 th Ranger Regiment, headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia, is composed of three Ranger battalions, and is the premier light-infantry unit of the United States Army. The three Ranger battalions that comprise the 75th Ranger Regiment are geographically dispersed. Their locations are:
Regimental Headquarters consists of a Command Group, normal staff positions (S-1 through S-5), a fairly robust communications detachment, a fire support element, a reconnaissance detachment of three 6-man teams, a cadre for the Ranger Training Detachment (RTD), and a Company Headquarters. Additionally, the Regiment has the capability of deploying a planning team consisting of experienced Ranger operations, intelligence, fire support, communications and logistics planners. The team can deploy on short notice with USASOC approval, to theater SOCs to plan ranger operations during crisis action planning for contingency operations.
Each of the three Ranger Battalions is identical in organization. Each battalion consists of three rifle companies and a Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Each battalion is authorized 580 Rangers. However, the battalions may be up to 15% over-manned to make allowances for schools and TDYs.
Command and Control
The flexibility of the Ranger Force requires it to perform under various command structures. The force can work unilaterally under a Corps, as a part of Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF), as an Army Special Operations Task Force (ARSOTF), or as an Army component in a JointTask Force (JTF). Historically, it is common for the Ranger Force to conduct forced entry operations as part of a JSOTF, then become operational control (OPCON) to a JTF to afford them the capability to conduct special operations/direct action missions.
The Army maintains the Regiment at a high level of readiness. Each battalion can deploy anywhere in the world with 18 hours notice. Because of the importance the Army places on the 75 th Ranger Regiment, it must possess a number of capabilities. These capabilities include:
· Conducting direct action operations
Ranger units have a limited anti-armor capability (84mm Carl Gustav and Javelin) and lack organic indirect fire support (60mm mortars only). The only air defense artillery (ADA) system as the Stinger. Ranger units have no organic combat support (CS) or combat service support (CSS) and deploy with only 5 days of supplies. There are no organic transportation assets. As a result of the lack of organic CSS, Ranger units require logistical and mission support from other services and/or agencies. Ranger battalions are light infantry and have only a few vehicles and crew-served weapons systems. Standard weapon systems per battalion are listed below:
On any given day, one Ranger Battalion is on Ready Reaction Force (RRF) 1 with the requirement to be "wheels up" within 18 hours of notification. Additionally, one rifle company with battalion command and control can deploy in 9 hours. The Regimental Headquarters remains on RRF1 at all times. RRF1 rotates between the three battalions normally in 13 week periods. While on RRF1, the designated battalion is prohibited from conducting any off post training, deployments for training (DFTs), etc., as they would be unable to meet the required deployment time standards. The Ranger Regiment can deploy in any number of ways. The force can deploy directly from home station to the area of operations. More often, the force deploys to an Intermediate Staging Base (ISB) in CONUS, or OCONUS to link-up with attachments, rest, plan, rehearse, etc. before conducting operations. METT-T (emphasis on time and distance to the area of operations) determines how the force will deploy.
Each Ranger Battalion possesses 12 Ranger Special Operations Vehicles (RSOVs) for its airfield seizure mission. The vehicle is a modified 110 Land Rover Special Operations Vehicle. Each vehicle carriers a six or seven-man crew. Normally, each vehicle mounts an M240G MG and either a MK-19 Grenade Launcher or a M2, .50 cal MG. One of the passengers mans an anti-armor weapon (RAAWS, AT-4, LAW, and Javelin). The main purpose of the vehicle is to provide the operation force with a mobile, lethal defensive capability. They are not assault vehicles, but useful in establishing battle positions that provide the force some standoff capability for a short duration. Each Battalion also possesses ten 250CC motorcycles that assist in providing security and mobility during airfield seizures. Most commonly used as listening posts/observation posts (LP/OPs), or as an economy of force screen for early warning, the motorcycles offer the commander tactical mobility.
Each Ranger Battalion has a Ranger Support Element (RSE) that supports home station training. This unit (Riggers, Truck Drivers, Maintenance, etc.) is not organic, but through individual post memorandums of understanding (MoU) provides the battalion with the necessary requirements to meet mission/training demands. It is important to note, however, that this unit, although responsible for supporting the Ranger Force's outload for combat, does not deploy with the unit. The logistical and support arrangements for extended sustainment remain a constant Ranger concern.
The rifle companies consist of 152 Rangers each, while the headquarters company has the remaining Rangers assigned. Each rifle company within the Regiment is organized the same. It is comprised of a Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 3 rifle platoons, and a weapons platoon. The weapons platoon of each Rifle Company contains a mortar section of two 60mm mortars (a third is available for special operations) and an anti-tank section of three 3-man teams firing the 84mm Carl Gustav (referred to has the RAAWS: Ranger Anti-Armor Weapon System). This weapon is also Ranger unique and not currently under any testing for other infantry units. A versatile weapon, it can fire High Explosive, High Explosive Anti-Tank, Illumination, smoke, and in the future, a flechette round. Finally, the weapons platoon has a sniper section consisting of two 2-man, M24 (7.62mm) sniper teams. The third team in this section employs the .50 cal Barrett Sniper System. The Barrett is a SOF specific weapon, but as of 1996 is undergoing testing and analysis for possible inclusion in other Army units. U.S ARMY SPECIAL FORCES COMMAND (AIRBORNE)
On November 27, 1990, the US Army lst Special Operations Command was redesignated the US Army Special Forces Command (Airborne). Its mission is to train, validate, and prepare Special Forces units to deploy and execute operational requirements for the warfighting commanders in chief.
Special Forces soldiers are carefully selected, specially trained, and capable of extended operations in extremely remote and hostile territory. They train to perform five doctrinal missions: Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Unconventional Warfare (UW), Special Reconnaissance (SR), Direct Action (DA) and Combating Terrorism (CBT). While Special Forces soldiers are capable of performing all of these missions, an increasing emphasis is being placed on FID and coalition warfare/support. FID operations are designed to help friendly developing nations by working with host country military and paramilitary forces to improve their technical skills, understanding of human rights issues, and to help with humanitarian and civic action projects.
A new collateral task that has emerged as a result of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm is Coalition Support. Coalition warfare/support draws upon the Special Forces soldier's maturity, military skills, language skills, and cultural awareness. It ensures the ability of a wide variety of foreign troops to work together effectively in a wide variety of military exercises or operations such as Operation Desert Storm.
In addition to the individual skills of operations and intelligence, communications, medical aid, engineering, and weapons, each Special Forces soldier is taught to train, advise, and assist host nation military or paramilitary forces. Special Forces soldiers are highly skilled operators, trainers, and teachers. Area-oriented, these soldiers are specially trained in their area's native language and culture.
Special Forces Command exercises command and control over five active component groups. Additionally, it exercises training oversight of two Army National Guard groups. Each Special Forces Group is regionally oriented to support one of the warfighting commanders in chief.
SPECIAL FORCES GROUP (AIRBORNE)
The Special Forces Group (Airborne) is comprised of one Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), one Support Company (SPT CO), and three Special Forces Battalions (SF BN). See Figure 3-3 for typical group organization.
The HHC consists of 28 officers, 3 warrant officers, and 58 enlisted soldiers. The SPT CO consists of 13 officers, 12 warrant officers, and 151 enlisted soldiers. Each SF BN consists of 39 officers, 24 warrant officers, and 320 enlisted soldiers.
To plan and support special operations in any operational environment in peace, conflict, and war as directed by the National Command Authorities.
C2 and Support Elements:
Air Infiltration ( Parachute )
Special Forces Groups Airborne, Special Forces Battalions, Operational Detachment Charlie (ODC) Special Forces Companies, Operational Detachment Bravo (ODB), and Operational Detachment Alphas (ODA) are static line parachute qualified. During training, cloud ceilings of less than 800ft above ground level (AGL) or winds in excess of 13 knots prevent static infiltrations without a waiver. Static line operations can not be conducted at altitudes greater than 10,000 feet AGL. (HALO/HAHO) Three ODAs per SFG can infiltrate by Military freefall High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) or High Altitude High Opening (HAHO). HALO/HAHO operations cannot be conducted in ceilings lower than 500 feet AGL. HALO/HAHO operations cannot be conducted at altitudes greater than 36,000 feet AGL in combat operations without a waiver. Training safety requirements dictate ground visibility and winds less than 18 knots for HALO/HAHO operations.
Air Infiltration ( Fixed and Rotary Wing Aircraft ) Non Parachute
ODC, ODB, and ODA personnel and equipment can infiltrate via fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Specific infiltration techniques include air, land, rappel, and fast rope. Capabilities are only limited by aircraft requirements and landing site availability.
All water infiltration techniques may be initiated from surface or sub-surface mother craft, dropped by parachute from fixed wing aircraft, or delivered by rotary wing aircraft. Three ODAs per SFG can infiltrate or exfiltrate using closed circuit breathing equipment. Three ODAs per SFG are capable of utilizing open circuit breathing equipment for non-tactical applications (i.e., ship bottom searches and recovery operations). Nine ODAs per SFG are trained to infiltrate/exfiltrate by combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC). Twelve ODAs per SFG can infiltrate/exfiltrate by surface swim techniques. All surface swim operations are limited to sea states not to exceed 3 foot chop and 4 foot swell. Surface swim operations will not be conducted against currents in excess of 1 knot.
54 ODAs and 9 Support Operations Team Alpha (SOTA) per SFG can infiltrate/exfiltrate an operational area by foot. Foot movement limiting factors include terrain, water availability, enemy presence and soldier load. Tactical foot movement distance is limited to 0.5-6 kilometers per hour based on terrain, vegetation and weather. 9 ODAs assigned to the 10 th and 1 st SFG, 7 ODAs assigned to the 3 rd and 7 th SFG and 6 ODAs from the 5 th SFG can infiltrate using High Altitude/Technical Mountain techniques. 36 ODAs from the 10 th SFG & 36 ODAs from the 1 st SFG can infiltrate using ski techniques and Mobile Over Snow Transports (MOST). 54 ODAs assigned to the 5 th SFG and 18 ODAs assigned to the 3 rd SFG are trained and equipped to infiltrate/exfiltrate by Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMVs). Land mobility by GMV is limited to approximately a 150 mile radius with full combat load without resupply.
The group headquarters commands and controls assigned and attached forces:
SUPPORT COMPANY, SPECIAL FORCES GROUP (AIRBORNE)
The Support Company, Special Forces Group (Airborne) (SPT CO) is comprised of a Company HQ, Service Detachment, Military Intelligence Detachment, Medical Section, Signal Detachment, and Personnel Section.
The SPT CO consists of 13 officers, 12 warrant officers, and 151 enlisted soldiers.
To provide intelligence support, combat service support, and signal support to an SFOB and its deployed operational elements.
SF Medical Assistance in Bosnia
SPECIAL FORCES BATTALION (AIRBORNE)
The Special Forces Battalion (Airborne) is comprised of one Battalion Headquarters Detachment (BN HQ DET/C DET), one Support Company (SPT CO), and three Special Forces Companies (SF CO). There is one SFOD Combat Diving A Detachment (CBT DIV A DET) and one SFOD Military Free Fall A Detachment (MFF A DET) per battalion.
The BN HQ DET consists of 11 officers, 2 warrant officers, and 25 enlisted soldiers. The SPT CO consists of 4 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 94 enlisted soldiers. Each SF CO consists of 8 officers, 7 warrant officers, and 67 enlisted soldiers.
To plan, conduct, and support special operations in any operational environment in peace, conflict, and war.
The battalion's C2 and support elements can function as the headquarters for an ARSOTF or for a JSOTF when augmented by resources from other services. The C2 and support elements can:
BATTALION HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT (C DETACHMENT)
The BN HQ DET is comprised of the Battalion Headquarters, one Signal Section (SIG SEC), the S-1 Section (S-1), the S-2 Section (S-2), the S-3 Section (S-3), the S-4 Section (S-4), the S-5 Section (S-5), and the Medical Section (MED SEC).
The BN HQ DET consists of 11 officers, 2 warrant officers, and 25 enlisted soldiers.
To provide command and control, staff planning, and staff supervision of administration and operations for the Special Forces battalion and its attached elements.
The SFOD C, also known as C detachment, provides C2, staff planning, and staff supervision of battalion operations and administration. The SFOD C detachment:
SUPPORT COMPANY, SPECIAL FORCES BATTALION (AIRBORNE)
The Support Company of the Special Forces Battalion is comprised of one Military Intelligence Detachment (MI DET), a Company Headquarters (CO HQ), a Service Detachment (SVC DET), and a Signal Detachment (SIG DET).
The Support Company consists of 4 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 94 enlisted soldiers.
To provide intelligence and electronic warfare (EW) support, CSS, and signal support to an FOB and its deployed operational elements.
SPECIAL FORCES COMPANY, SPECIAL FORCES BATTALION
The Special Forces Company is comprised of a Company Headquarters (CO HQ) and six SFOD Operational "A" Detachments (A DET).
The Special Forces Company consists of 8 officers, 7 warrant officers, and 67 enlisted soldiers.
To plan and conduct special operations in any operational environment in peace, conflict, and war.
SPECIAL FORCES OPERATIONAL DETACHMENT "A"
The A Detachment consists of one Captain (Commander), one Warrant Officer (Detachment Technician), one Master Sergeant (Operations Sergeant), one Sergeant First Class (Assistant Operations Sergeant), two Weapons Sergeants, two Engineer Sergeants, two Medical Sergeants, and two Communications Sergeants.