TALES of risk and adrenaline swirl around the Army's special operations forces. And while special operations have long operated at the tip of the spear, the character of the men and women of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, known as USASOC, is much more about mental agility, cohesion, small-team operations and individuals pushing past self-imposed barriers.

Now in their 20th year of service, the "quiet professionals" have, like conventional forces, been in the thick of the fight for the past eight years. The result: USASOC's ranks are now as experienced and well-seasoned as they've ever been. Currently made up of roughly 26,000 personnel, the command combines a vast range of warfighting skills, from raiding and airfield seizures, to human-terrain mapping and cultural analysis, and employs many of the latest technologies. USASOC's training center is second to none in producing world-class operators with 44 programs of instruction.

That range of skills within USASOC is embraced by a spectrum of unconventional Army units, with legendary bloodlines running back to Rogers' Rangers, the Devil's Brigade and the Office of Strategic Services, among others. The seven principle units that make up today's USASOC include the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, U.S. Army Special Forces Command, 75th Ranger Regiment, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, 4th Psychological Operations Group, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade and the 528th Sustainment Brigade.

In his agenda for defense, President Barack Obama said, "We must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations and other units and capabilities."

The demand for special operations personnel, skills and training is high. Faced with often desperate, unconventional enemies, USASOC's approaches for defeating them involve unwavering commitment, combined with unique unconventional skills. As a result, USASOC's units are experiencing a period of significant growth and reorganization to meet current and future requirements worldwide.

Though only about 5 percent of the Army, USASOC is the largest of the service components that make up U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, and provides about 70 percent of the special operations personnel in Central Command's theater. USASOC also makes up about 63 percent of America's total overseas military commitment of special operations personnel. On any given day, dozens of USASOC elements are deployed around the world, including units from three of the five active-duty Special Forces Groups and the two National Guard Special Forces Groups, one Ranger Battalion, approximately 36 Special Operations aircraft, more than 35 Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations teams, and the Sustainment Brigade logistics units to support them all.

For those in USASOC, the pace is fast, and morale and job satisfaction have seldom been greater. Combining some of the best equipment and training of any military force in the world, USASOC has never lost sight that the key to winning the fight is the character of its Soldiers.

With a "backbone" of impeccably trained and seasoned noncommissioned officers, USASOC forces take quiet professional pride in executing missions with excellence, honor and valor.

For those interested in pursuing the less conventional path, the rewards are largely personal. Special operations seeks volunteers with high degrees of intelligence, initiative, self-reliance and discipline-Soldiers who look forward to pushing their mental and physical limits.

The personnel of USASOC are comfortable stepping into the unknown, scaling a cliff, falling from space or talking to a stranger to reach an objective. These are Soldiers to whom "man versus wild" means more than an entertaining TV show.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16