USASOC will be conducting operation Jade Helm 15 (JH15) from 15 July to 15 September OF 2015. JH15 is a US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) sponsored exercise to improve the Special Operations Forces' Unconventional Warfare (UW) capability as part of the National Security Strategy.
JH15 is a challenging eight-week joint military and interagency (IA) UW exercise conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah,, Colorado, Mississippi and Florida.
I wanted to re-release this article so people could understand what UW is, and who exactly Special Forces are. I will be writing future articles with the intent of explaining Jade Helm and hopefully explaining a little better to those who are scared by those like Alex Jones who’s only goal is to spread fear and widen the chasm between the military, vet’s, and civilians of all parties.
Special Forces Motto: De Oppresso Liber, to Free the Oppressed.
Who and what are United States Special Forces (USSF)? The only unit in the United States that can be called Special Forces (SF) is the United States Army Special Forces, also known as the "Green Berets." The main SF element is the 12 man Operation Detachment Alpha (ODA) or A Team, sometimes just shortened to Team.
U.S. Army Special Forces Command (USASFC). The 1st Special Forces Command, commanded by Brig. Gen. Darsie Rogers, is the result of the merging of the Army units who are specifically trained in UW. This command is based around the United States Army Special Forces Command (USASFC) and pulled in underneath them are Civil Affairs (CA), Military Information Support Operations Command (MISOC) formerly known as Psychological Operations (PSYOPS), and the 528th Sustainment Brigade.
SF is often used incorrectly either by the media or the general public when referring to any Special Operations Force (SOF) unit. SOF are components of the Department of Defense's United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which has approximately 57,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and DoD civilians assigned to the headquarters.
USSOCOM has four components and one sub-unified command that fall under it. USSOCOM’s components are:
- U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
- Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM)
- Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
- Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC)
- Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is a USSOCOM sub-unified command.
USASFC fall under USASOC.
To make it a little easier, the command structure is as follows from highest to lowest:
USSOCOM > USASOC > USASFC > SF GROUP > BATTALION > COMPANY > ODA
For the rest of this article I am going to refer to SF as "Special Forces/Green Berets" because, even though a green beret is just a hat, that is the only way many people know who we are. I'm hoping if I use it enough that, subconsciously, people will start to understand the difference.
The second most common misconception about Special Forces/Green Berets from all the "experts" is, "Rangers and SEALs do the fighting and Special Forces/Green Berets teach, dig wells and build schools." Part of the reason for this is that all the current movies, books and television shows talking about high speed commando-like raids (known as Direct Action, or DA) encourage these inaccuracies. Most people also have a complete misunderstanding of Foreign Internal Defense (FID), which they refer to as "teaching," and Counter Insurgency (COIN), which they refer to as "building schools and digging wells." Many people, even within the SOF community, think that is all Special Forces/Green Berets do.
What really makes my anuerism act up is that the same people who say SEALs and Rangers take care of all the DA will then turn around and say that SEALs also do Unconventional Warfare (UW). Really? Like Inigo Montoya said: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area. Also called UW. (JP 3-05)
To understand whether a SOF unit has the ability and is truly designated for UW, one needs to look at a few things:
1. Language requirements
2. What kind of UW-specific training does the unit go through during their pipeline training?
3. Do they like bacon and look awesome with beards?
Every Special Forces/Green Beret goes through a minimum of 4-6 months of language training prior to arriving at their assigned Group, and the culmination exercise during the last phase of the Q course (Robin Sage) is an intense two-week UW FTX that takes place in rural NC, with the support and assistance of locals, who act as role players. Some of these families have been doing it for generations: "It is a passion. It is a chance to pay back the soldiers...and maybe we're just a bunch of rednecks that like to raise hell."
While I'm not sure about the SEALs and MARSOC on the third point, all Special Forces/Green Berets eat bacon morning noon and night, and we grow beards that make hipsters weep.
About the author: Loren Schofield is a retired Special Forces with over 16 years serving in the various positions within the Special Forces Regiment. He started out as an infantryman, in both a line company and a scout platoon and during his Special Forces career he was both an 18E (SF Commo) and an 18F (SF Intel). He served on a Mountain Team, Mobility Team, and in a Special Forces Direct Action Company. He deployed twice to Kosovo and from April of 2002 to May of 2009 he deployed five times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.
You can find Loren on Instagram @Loren_NotASeal