This year USASOC celebrates its 25th anniversary, and in this short but auspicious period, Special Operations Forces have built an unequalled capability to target terrorist networks and an unmatched capacity for counterinsurgency operations. ARSOF Soldiers have performed magnificently during two of the nation's longest wars, while executing a wide range of demanding and high-risk operations in hostile environments. USASOC units have actively safeguarded U.S. interests in key areas around the world, outside of declared theaters of armed conflict, often by focusing on building partner-nation capacity and advising partner forces. Though typically small in presence and long in duration, these efforts have been strategic in effect as they directly supported regional or national objectives.
While our success over the past decade of conflicts highlights our relevance, as a force we must continuously learn, anticipate and evolve in order to defeat an adaptive enemy and the uncertain threats of the 21st century. It remains our responsibility as leaders to constantly scrutinize the organizations, personnel, and equipment we have been entrusted with to ensure they are optimized for efficiency and effectiveness. It is no coincidence that at this milestone we are in the midst of bounding forward as an organization shaping the next 25 years of ARSOF. This responsibility, and the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan led to the creation of a strategic framework, or blueprint, for change called ARSOF 2022 introduced throughout the command in April, 2013.
ARSOF 2022 clarifies the narrative for Army special operations, provides direction to the force, and establishes a process for future force development that leads to better support of Joint Force Commanders (JFC) in the future operating environment. This blueprint focuses on specific areas that need improvement to better enable Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOC) and Joint Force Commanders to conduct special operations campaigns worldwide.
Throughout this past year, USASOC conducted studies and explored concepts to
take a critical and necessary step to mature the profession. These efforts focused on
the challenging task of reshaping ARSOF institutions and developing new mission
command capabilities to address contemporary and future operational requirements.
ARSOF 2022 is a three-phased approach to maturing the Army SOF profession.
The first phase focused on our tactical formations, introduced the vision, clarified the
SOF narrative and identified these six priorities:
• Invest in Human Capital: Fielding a more diverse, regionally expert force with the world's best trained and educated ARSOF Soldiers who are capable of addressing uncertainty.
• Optimize Interdependence: Enhancing the force multiplying potential of partnership with interagency and conventional forces and USASOC to provide the nation with seamless combat power. ARSOF brings something different to the table -- an expertise in navigating the human domain - that totality of the
physical, cognitive, social, cultural, and information elements affecting and influencing human behavior.
• Operationalize the CONUS Base: When Soldiers and units rotate back from deployment; we need to keep them directly tied to those who remain in theater, supporting them as they further our objectives and carry on the fight. We have CONUS assets that should be leveraged by those who are directly engaged, and capabilities that can provide timely and expert reach-back support. We have
regionally expert forces that need to provide continuous, proactive, and
responsive support to their respective JFCs.
• Develop SOF Capabilities at the Operational Level: USASOC forces provide expertise to enable operational level headquarters in their effort connecting tactical capabilities to regional or national strategies.
• Facilitate SOF Mission Command: This priority is directly related to a command-wide redesign effort -- creating a scalable two-star headquarters that is able to achieve SOF mission command at the operational level in support of the TSOCs and JFCs.
• Optimize Resourcing and Commodity Areas: Rebalancing our USASOC portfolio by getting better, not bigger is tantamount. At the heart of this is making the most of what we have and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. It involves looking at everything across the USASOC enterprise -- vehicle fleets, aerial delivery, technology, aviation platforms, and Soldier systems.
The current phase, titled ARSOF 2022 Part II, focuses on the institutional change with the intent to increase efficiency, improve alignment of operational force generation capabilities within the US Army and USSOCOM, and create new operational-level capabilities. We are looking for a balance between conceptually-based and operationally-driven requirements.
The final phase, titled ARSOF Next, addresses individuals. During this phase we want to truly understand our culture and answer the questions, "What is our promise to the nation? What makes serving in ARSOF different than service elsewhere? Who are we and what can people expect from us? What can the nation expect from us?" It will identify the core values of ARSOF and what it means to be an ARSOF Soldier. During this final phase, we will evaluate ourselves against the priorities outlined last April. Once we assess progress or a lack of progress, we will provide feedback into our established processes to make the organization better and better support USSOCOM, the Army, and key decision-makers.
Over the last 25 years, Army Special Operations Forces have been a relevant and indispensable partner to the joint and interagency team against belligerent nations and non-state actors who employ nonconventional means against the United States and its allies, and terrorist networks who attempt to strike at our homeland and interests abroad. ARSOF 2022 will insure that we remain relevant and indispensable for the next 25 years and beyond.
LTG Charles T. Cleveland assumed command of U.S. Army Special Operations Command in July 2012. LTG Cleveland has commanded from the Special Forces Detachment level to the sub-unified command level most recently as the commanding general of Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida and Special Operations Command South at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. LTG Cleveland holds a bachelor's degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a master's degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College.