Joint Special Operations Command
|Joint Special Operations Command
— JSOC —
Emblem of the Joint Special Operations Command
|Active||December 15, 1980 – present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Part of||United States Special Operations Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort Bragg, North Carolina|
|Engagements||Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Gothic Serpent
Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Allied Force
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Neptune Spear
Operation Inherent Resolve
The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is a component command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and is charged to study special operations requirements and techniques to ensure interoperability and equipment standardization; plan and conduct special operations exercises and training; develop joint special operations tactics; and execute special operations missions worldwide. It was established in 1980 on recommendation of Colonel Charlie Beckwith, in the aftermath of the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. It is located at Pope Field (Fort Bragg, North Carolina).
- 1 Overview
- 2 Security support
- 3 Operational history
- 4 List of JSOC commanders
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The JSOC is the "joint headquarters designed to study special operations requirements and techniques; ensure interoperability and equipment standardization; plan and conduct joint special operations exercises and training; and develop joint special operations tactics". For this task, the Joint Communications Unit is tasked to ensure compatibility of communications systems and standard operating procedures of the different special operations units.
Special Mission Units
The Joint Special Operations Command also commands and controls the Special Mission Units of U.S. Special Operations Command. These are elite special forces units that perform highly classified activities. So far, only four SMUs have been publicly disclosed: The Army's Delta Force, the Navy's SEAL Team Six, the Air Force's 24th Special Tactics Squadron, and the Army's Intelligence Support Activity. The Intelligence Support Activity's primary role is as a deep reconnaissance, intelligence-gathering SMU, while Delta Force and SEAL Team Six are the primary SMUs for direct action. Units from the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are controlled by JSOC when deployed as part of JSOC Task Forces such as Task Force 121 and Task Force 145.
Advanced Force Operations
Advanced Force Operations (AFO) is a term used by the U.S. Department of Defense to describe a task force that encompasses personnel from Delta Force, SEAL Team Six and U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity. Although mainly a term in many cases used to describe a particular sub-set of Delta Force RECCE operators from an even more specialized squadron, the term "AFO" also was later known used to describe mixed Special Mission Unit elements doing long range RECCE/long range target interdiction operations etc. Even in some rare cases including members (or "hangers") from other Coalition Special Operations Forces (SOF) units such as the UK SAS/SBS/SRR, Canadian Joint Task Force 2, and others. According to Gen. Michael Repass, who conducted it in the Iraq War and was very familiar with its use in Afghanistan, "AFO consists of U.S. Secretary of Defense-approved military operations such as clandestine operations, source operations, and deployment of enabling forces and capabilities to conduct target-specific preparations prior to the conduct of an actual operation. It is logically part of Operational Preparation of the Battlespace (OPB), which follows the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace, a concept well-known in U.S. and NATO doctrine, OPB is seldom used outside of SOF channels. OPB is defined by the U.S. Special Operations Command as "Non-intelligence activities conducted prior to D-Day, H-Hour, in likely or potential areas of employment, to train and prepare for follow-on military operations".
An AFO unit reported to JSOC in the Afghanistan War. In the Iraq War, Respass, who first commanded the 10th Special Forces Group, took control of a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force, which used the 5th and 10th Groups to conduct AFO. AFO units were heavily involved in Operation Anaconda and Operation Viking Hammer.
JSO Package / Rotational Group
The Joint Special Operations Package / Rotational Group of the United States Special Operations Command consist of Tier 1 and Tier 2 U.S. Joint Special Operations Command units that train and deploy together. All Tier 1 and Tier 2 units maintain three separate operational groups within their respective units (The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalions of the 75th Ranger Regiment as an example). These groups are essentially identical and deploy within their respective JSOC package. The rotational cycle is generally three months. This allows one group to be deployed overseas, another to be on an 18-hour worldwide emergency deployment notice, and the last group to be training, attending military schools, or on "block leave." Tier 1 and Tier 2 units take leave together within their respective JSOC package. This term is called block leave. Given the wartime tasking of JSOC, an additional deployment package is currently being created. This will allow less operational strain on these units.
JSOC has provided support to domestic law enforcement agencies during high profile or high risk events such as the Olympics, the World Cup, political party conventions and Presidential inaugurations. Although use of the military for law enforcement purposes in the U.S. is generally prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act, Title 10 of the U.S. Code expressly allows the Secretary of Defense to make military personnel available to train Federal, State, and local civilian law enforcement officials in the operation and maintenance of equipment; and to provide such law enforcement officials with expert advice. Additionally, civilian and military lawyers said provisions in several federal statutes, including the Fiscal Year 2000 Defense Department Authorization Act, Public Law 106-65, permits the secretary of defense to authorize military forces to support civilian agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the event of a national emergency, especially any involving nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
In January 2005, a small group of commandos were deployed to support security at the Presidential inauguration. They were allegedly deployed under a secret counter-terrorism program named Power Geyser. The New York Times quoted a senior military official as saying, "They bring unique military and technical capabilities that often are centered around potential WMD events," A civil liberties advocate who was told about the program by a reporter said that he had no objections to the program as described to him because its scope appeared to be limited to supporting the counterterrorism efforts of civilian authorities.
Operations in Pakistan
According to The Washington Post, JSOC's commander Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal operated in 2006 on the understanding with Pakistan that US units will not enter Pakistan except under extreme circumstances, and that Pakistan will deny giving them permission if exposed.
That scenario happened according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), in January 2006, JSOC troops clandestinely entered the village of Saidgai, Pakistan, to hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Pakistan refused entry.
According to a November 2009 report in The Nation, JSOC, in tandem with Blackwater/Xe, has an ongoing drone program, along with snatch/grab/assassination operations, based in Karachi and conducted both in and outside of Pakistan.
In an October 2009 leak published on the WikiLeaks website, U.S. embassy communication cables from the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, states the Pakistani Army approved the embedding of U.S. Special Operations Forces, including elements from the Joint Special Operations Command, with the Pakistani military to provide support for operations in the country. This goes beyond the original claims of the U.S. that the only role of the Special Forces was in training the Pakistani miliary. The leak further revealed that JSOC elements involved in intelligence gathering and surveillance and use of drone UAV technology.
Operations in Afghanistan
According to the movie Dirty Wars, by Jeremy Scahill, JSOC was responsible for a number of raids in Afghanistan. One among them took place in Gardez, initially reported by Jerome Starkey but later in other media as well. The then current commander William McRaven visited the affected family, offered them a sheep in restitution and apologized for the incident. In the incident, one US trained Police commander and another man were killed, as were 3 women, 2 of whom were pregnant, while going to the men's aid.
How many other raids there were during this time, and before and since, is difficult to count as JSOC only answers to the White House and not the rest of the military. The secrecy around the number of raids could reasonably be counted in the hundreds since they started but only a mere few have been documented as well as the Gardez incident according to Scahill.
Operations in Iraq
In September 2003, Major General Stanley A. McChrystal was appointed JSOC's commander, JSOC task was to gather intelligence (especially accurate and timely) about who exactly was behind the rising tide of violence and quelling it in a targeted way - by mounting precision special forces raids. JSOC was particularly interested in the links between foreign fighters in Iraq and the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan; JSOC codename in Iraq was Task Force 121: which was set up in such a way that Delta Force and other elements of JSOC could be switched between Afghanistan and Iraq as required. In December 2003, Stuart A. Herrington inspected JSOC's detention facility at Camp Nama and found that Iraqi prisoners captured by TF 121 had been mistreated (beaten) by their captors, following months of investigations 34 soldiers were disciplined.
In the early months of 2004, JSOC had exploited the best information available to them to round up fugitive Ba'athists - many of the leading "deck of cards" had been accounted for. McChrystal decided to deciding to "build a network" to defeat the network of the insurgents, after vital months were lost due the Pentagon leadership being in denial of the insurgency. He shut down the special operations facility at Camp Nama and established a new base at Balad Air Base, a state-of-the-art JOC (Joint Operations Centre) was created - where JSOCs war in Iraq would be run day to day by the commander of Delta Force. It was up and running by July 2004, teams from each of the different intelligence agencies were established at Balad, as part of this network, McChrystal also established a liaison offices across the middle east. This network would allow those at the cutting edge of the US counterterrorism effort to share information worldwide, it took much of 2004 to establish this network. JSOC's Iraq operations had, through intense secrecy, gained a large measure of exemption from hostile public scrutiny, that focused on the visible Coalition effort following the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Due to this scandal, the treatment of detainees at JSOCs detention centre at Camp Nama in 2003 and being flown to the US facility at Bagram Airbase - in April 2004, senior British officials told JSOC that they could no longer hand over detainees if they were flown elsewhere; as standard procedure, the British SAS - who in the past handed over prisoners to American custody. Following the First Battle of Fallujah, to track car bombs that ended up in Baghdad - the CIA used agents from the INIS to infiltrate Fallujah and 24/7 surveillance from Predator drones to pinpoint those responsible and car bombs, JSOC then was able to direct USAF airstrikes on these targets. Before the Second Battle of Fallujah, MI6 inspected JSOC's TSF (Temporary Screening Facility) at Balad and due to the conditions of the detainees and the facility, the British government told JSOC that British Special Forces would only turn over their prisoners to the Americans if there was undertaking not to take them to Balad.
In January 2005, JSOC were behind the arrest of the master bomber behind the Canal Hotel bombing and other bombings. On 20 February 2005, JSOC had a chance to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was travelling in a car with his bodyguards; acting on intelligence, a US special operations forces team landed by helicopter on a desert road in Al Anbar province from Ramadi to Fallujah, setting up a checkpoint. However the car sped off through the checkpoint and off into the desert and JSOCs predator drone suffered a technical failure, losing the opportunity to kill him. By early 2005, JSOC had a clear focus on taking down HVTs, McChrystal's command had built a regional laydown that allowed a rapid response to intelligence anywhere that Zarqawi or key AQI's associates might be found; JSOC leaders devoted the best intelligence-gathering people and including Britain's equivalent behind the effort. In April 2005, there was underlying tension between General George Casey and McChrystal, due to JSOC taking all the available overhead reconnaissance assets in the hunt for Zarqawi, this included predator UAVs satellites and aircraft used to intercept and locate Mobile phones. Pressure for results against AQI mounted on JSOC following the Battle of Abu Ghraib, another attack on a USMC at Husaybah 11 days later involving 100 al-Qaeda terrorists with US ground and air forces killing about 3 dozen and the 14 suicide bombings in Baghdad by al-Qaeda on April 29. McChrystal responded to the pressure and criticism of JSOC war in Iraq by exploiting growing information from drones and cell phones to target the entire AQI network from top to bottom. In summer 2005 - to eliminate AQI's network from top to bottom with particular focus on the "middle" - JSOC command initiated Operation Snake Eyes: this involved synchronised raids by SEAL Team 6 or Delta Force to those of the regular Army and Marine units up the Euphrates valley. From May to October regular US ground forces fought a series of at least 14 different operations, each involving more than a thousand troops fighting along this key watercourse in places like Al-Qaim, Haditha, Hīt, through to Ramadi, Fallujah and Abu Gharib. As the operation went ahead, JSOCs units mounted dozens of takedowns against suspected local players or middle mangers in al-Qaeda's organisation, they faced heavy opposition by insurgents; JSOC changed its codename from TF-121 to TF-145. JSOC put forward 3 concepts: 24/7 aerial surveillance of certain critical targets, to increase Black operations and to emphasise F3EA (find-fix-finish-exploit-analyse) operations: find the enemy - fix where he was in space and time - "finish" him -and gather intelligence. JSOC developed intelligence on a type of al-Qaeda target that US special operation forces would have wanted, but with the Delta Force squadron in Baghdad being committed to Operation Snake Eyes, the task was given to Task Force Black who carried out Operation Marlborough on July 23 2005. During the Basra prison incident JSOC offered assistance of a squadron from Delta Force, they also sent a Predator UAV and tasked the NSA to intercept dozens of mobile phones in the Basra area, the incident was eventually resolved by British forces. By the end of 2005, conditions at JSOCs TSF at Balad had been improved up
During Late 2005 and early 2006, a shift in tribal alliances from Ba'athists to the jihadists had in many places added more people to AQI's network faster than JSOC could eliminate them. After a change of DSF and improvement of the JSOCs TSF in late 2005 Task Force Black began to integrate more closely with JSOC, and in mid-January 2006, the British SAS began Operation Traction: which was its secret upgrade/integration into JSOC, they deployed TGHG (Task Group Headquarters Group): this included senior officers and other senior members of 22 SAS - to JSOCs base at Balad. This upgrade now meant that the SAS were "joined at the hip" with JSOC and it gave the SAS a pivotal role against Sunni militant groups, particularly AQI. In early 2006, JSOC launched Operation Dahir: JSOC would broaden its take downs of AQI leadership, mounting more raids against mi-level AQI pinpointed by regular US forces on the ground, they in turn would give more support to JSOC, intelligence would also be fused together so that regular Army and Marine would get greater access to assets such as drones. In nigh-time raids on April 8 and on April 13, 2006, in a town near Yusufiyah, SAS and Delta Force operators killed 7 insurgents who the intelligence agencies claimed were foreign jihadists, the intelligence gathered in these raids gave JSOC a clear intelligence picture of a group of Al-Qaeda cells around Baghdad, suggesting that their tactics had evolved. As a result of these raid the SAS carried out Operation Larchwood 4, intelligence gathered from the operation was examined by JSOC and NSA experts and used to counter AQI propaganda, whilst a senior AQI leader captured in the raid was interrogated at JSOCs TSF and gave them information that led to the death of Zarqawi. Major general Rick Lynch claimed that JSOC units (including the SAS) launched about five operations in the receding weeks before Larchwood 4, killing 31 foreign fighters (90% of them were suicide bombers), which degraded AQI's capability to mount retaliatory attacks in the months following the operation. In the violent weeks following Zarqawi's death, JSOC had to analyze intelligence gathered from the scene of the killing and raids on other sites around Baghdad, on top of that, they also had to go through intelligence collected from a week that saw 450 Coalition raids take place, which was beyond JSOCs resources, however they were still able to remove entire Sunni extremist cells night after night. In November 2006, George W. Bush sanctioned a new directive to allow US forces in Iraq to capture or kill Iranian nationals if they engaged in targeting coalition forces, the missions against them were known by the acronym CII (Counter Iranian Influence). It was essential for JSOC to keep pressure of Sunni extremists so JSOC changed it's name from TF-145 to TF-16, whilst a new command called TF-17, based around the headquarters of an US Army Special Forces Group was created. TF-17 was given the CII missions, in its early operations it "netted" an intelligence trove 
On 11 January 2007, JSOC authorised the U.S. raid on the Iranian Liaison Office in Arbil: Delta Force carried out the operation, intelligence gathered from the raid showed that Iran had connections with Ansar al-Sunna in an effort to undermine the coalition efforts in Iraq. Also that day, President Bush pledged in a major speech to "seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq." The next day, in a meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Chairman Senator Joseph Biden (Delaware), informed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Bush Administration did not have the authority to send U.S. troops on cross-border raids. Biden said, "I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that. I just want to set that marker." Following the Karbala raid the purpose of TF-17 was infused and JSOC gave them their own command and the Task Forces Green Berets and the elite Iraqi units they were mentoring became actively involved in the campaign against Iranian-backed Special Groups; in respect for JSOCs widening targets, a significant increase of troops became available. JSOC assisted the British military during the Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel by sending a Predator drone to assist them. By early 2007 JSOC estimated that they had killed over 2,000 members of Sunni Jihadists groups as well as detaining many more, TF-16 often mounted six raids per night, TF-17 produced similar results, the effectiveness of the raids had increased; JSOCs intelligence database had grown with each network it destroyed.
Sometime in 2007, JSOC started conducting cross-border operations into Iran from southern Iraq with the CIA. These operations included seizing members of Al-Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, as well as the pursuit, capture or killing of high-value targets in the war on terror. The Bush administration allegedly combined the CIA's intelligence operations and covert action with JSOC clandestine military operations so that Congress would only partially see how the money was spent. By March 2008, the Sunni insurgency was rapidly waning, the need for aggressive special forces operations reduced; by May 2009, JSOC's US operations in Iraq had inflicted estimated 11,000-12,000 casualties on enemy combatants of whom 3,000 were killed, British operations had killed or captured 3,500 with 33 to 400 killed. JSOCs campaign had ultimately succeeded in breaking al-Qaeda in Iraq, capturing or killing its leaders faster than they could replace them; JSOCs operations against al-Qaeda and Iranian influence played an important role in bringing Iraq back from the brink of anarchy. With the Awakening movement already delivering important results in the second half of 2006, JSOC's campaign in the "Triangle of Death" degraded al-Qaeda ability to mount complex large-scale attacks. The wider JSOC campaign and the CII campaign demonstrated that Iran could be deterred from escalating its covert activities in Iraq with the Shia militias, however JSOC could only contain the threat rather than destroy it, due to Iraq's population being made up of a Shia majority, many members of the Special Groups have since been released by the Iraqi government.
Operations in Somalia
On 28 October 2013 a drone strike by JSOC on a vehicle near the town of Jilib in Lower Shabelle killed two senior Somali members of Al-Shabaab. Preliminary evidence suggested that one of them was Ibrahim Ali (also known as Anta), an explosives specialist known for his skill in building and using homemade bombs and suicide vests. The US administration has been reluctant to use drone strikes in Somalia. The reluctance partly centered on questions of whether Al-Shabaab—which has not tried to carry out an attack on American soil—could legally be the target of lethal operations by the military or the CIA. In May 2013, the White House announced that it would carry out targeted killing operations only against those who posed a "continuing and imminent threat to the American people." The strike on 28 Oct. was the first known American operation resulting in a death since that policy was announced and is considered evidence by some observers that views have changed in Washington and that the Obama administration has decided to escalate operations against Al-Shabaab in the aftermath of the group's Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, that took place from 21–24 September 2013 and which left some 70 people dead.
Operations in Syria
Operations in Yemen
Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American U.S. citizen, was killed on 30 September 2011, by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command. After several days of surveillance of Awlaki by the Central Intelligence Agency, armed drones took off from a new, secret American base in the Arabian Peninsula, crossed into northern Yemen and unleashed a barrage of Hellfire missiles at al-Awlaki's vehicle. Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American al-Qaeda member and editor of the jihadist Inspire magazine, also reportedly died in the attack. The combined CIA/JSOC drone strike was the first in Yemen since 2002—there have been others by the military's Special Operations forces—and was part of an effort by the spy agency to duplicate in Yemen the covert war which has been running in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to The New York Times the Yemen government banned military drone operations after a series of botched drone strikes by JSOC, the last of which was a December 2013 drone strike that killed numerous civilians at a wedding ceremony. Despite a ban on military drone operations the Yemen government allowed CIA drone operations to continue.
List of JSOC commanders
|Rank and Name||Start of Term||End of Term|
|MG Richard Scholtes||December 1980||August 1984|
|MG Carl Stiner||August 1984||January 1987|
|MG Gary E. Luck||January 1987||December 1989|
|MG Wayne A. Downing||December 1989||August 1991|
|MG William F. Garrison||1992||July 1994|
|MG Peter J. Schoomaker||July 1994||August 1996|
|MG Michael Canavan||1 August 1996||1 August 1998|
|LTG Bryan D. Brown||1998||2000|
|LTG Dell L. Dailey||2001||March 2003|
|LTG Stanley McChrystal||September 2003||June 2008|
|VADM William H. McRaven||June 2008||June 2011|
|LTG Joseph Votel||June 2011||29 July 2014|
|LTG Raymond A. Thomas III||29 July 2014||30 March 2016|
|LTG Austin S. Miller||30 March 2016||Present|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States Joint Special Operations Command.|
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