By USASOC History OfficeNovember 27, 2019
On December 1, 2019, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command marks its 30th anniversary. Headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USASOC was established, according to its first Commanding General, then Lt. Gen. Gary E. Luck, because the Army recognized "the importance of Special Operations Forces in counterinsurgency around the world," as the Cold War drew to a close. Luck, Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Carl E. Vuono, and Brig. Gen. William F. 'Bill' Garrison, USASOC's first Deputy Commanding General, envisioned the command as "the force of choice" in future conflicts. Stood up as a Major Army Command, it was also the Army Service Component Command of U.S. Special Operations Command.
Army Special Operations Forces traces its legacy to World War I, with dedicated psychological operations and civil affairs agencies. The use of ARSOF expanded greatly during World War II, with units deliberately organized and trained for a wide array of special operations missions, such as long range reconnaissance, irregular warfare, prisoner rescue, and commando raids.
During the Korean War, psychological warfare, CA, Rangers, guerrilla advisors, and other ARSOF capabilities were employed. In addition, Ranger training was codified and the first Special Forces units were established. ARSOF expansion during the Vietnam War included the activation of three PSYOP Groups, multiple SF Groups, and the first special operations aviation units.
The post-Vietnam drawdown threatened ARSOF's existence. However, it experienced a revival in response to the failed 1980 hostage rescue mission in Iran (Operation EAGLE CLAW) and various insurgencies in Central America. In 1982, the 1st Special Operations Command was established provisionally as higher headquarters for SF, Ranger, PSYOP, CA, and SOA units. In 1988, Gen. Vuono, approved the creation of an ARSOF MACOM. USASOC was established in provisional status on December 1, 1988.
Activated a year later, on December 1, 1989, at Fort Bragg, USASOC provided a higher headquarters for the 14,000 active duty and 10,000 reserve Soldiers assigned to 1st SOCOM, U.S. Army Reserve Special Operations Command, 160th Special Operations Aviation Group, and the 75th Ranger Regiment. Over time, USASOC organizational expansion included the 95th CA Brigade, 528th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Psychological Operations Group, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command. For the past thirty years, it has trained, equipped, organized, and deployed ARSOF Soldiers across the globe.
The current Commanding General, USASOC, Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, shared his thoughts on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of USASOC. "ARSOF Soldiers are custodians of the legacy of those who've gone before them. They will never let America down, and as always, they will keep winning through calculated recklessness, disciplined daring, and aggressive action."
Today, USASOC is home to 33,000 Soldiers, assigned to its headquarters or to its subordinate commands: 1st Special Forces Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
Lt. Gen. Beaudette concludes, "We're all extremely proud of today's Special Operator. Unified by selfless service, sacrifice, and dedication to mission, our men and women are trusted, empowered, and vigilant in the fight against violent extremism and at the leading edge of great power competition."