Joint Special Operations Command
|Joint Special Operations Command
— JSOC —
Emblem of the Joint Special Operations Command
|Active||15 December 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
|LTG Raymond A. Thomas III|
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 Col. 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 units 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
On 11 January 2007, 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."
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.
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 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||Present|
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- Jeremy Scahill (1 December 2010). "The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan". The Nation. Archived from the original on 20 August 2014.
- Ross, Brian; Tapper, Jake; Esposito, Richard; Schifrin, Nick (2 May 2011). "Osama Bin Laden Killed By Navy Seals in Firefight". ABC News. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
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- "Pentagon Says Shabab Bomb Specialist Is Killed in Missile Strike in Somalia". New York Times. 28 October 2013.
- "Drone kills two in Somalia: witnesses: Eyewitnesses say missile came from a drone amid reports dead men are senior members of the al-Shabab armed group". Al Jazeera. 28 October 2013.
- "Same US military unit that got Osama bin laden killed Anwar al-Awlaki". Telegraph.co.uk. 30 September 2011.
- Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth, "Two-Year Manhunt Led to Killing of Awlaki in Yemen", New York Times (30 September 2011)
- , Flight Sciences Corporation Archived 22 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- "Vice Admiral Named JSOC Head". military.com / McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. 14 June 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2009.
- "Former JSOC Commander McRaven nominated to lead US Special Ops Command". 6 January 2010.
- "Votel nominated to head up Joint Special Operations Command". Stars and Stripes. 17 February 2011.
- "New commander takes over Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg". The Fayetteville Observer. 29 July 2014.
- Berntsen, Gary; Pezzullo, Ralph (27 December 2005). Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander. Crown. ISBN 0-307-35106-8.
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- Smith, Michael (2006). Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-36727-3.
- Steven, Graeme C. S. and Gunaratna, Rohan (14 September 2004). Counterterrorism: A Reference Handbook. Contemporary World Issues. ISBN 978-1-85109-666-4.
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