21-646 - Army Special Operations Forces in Multi-Domain Operations Catalog

By Mr. Robert WilliamsJuly 16, 2021

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Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) are a vital component of multi-domain operations (MDO). Defeating great power enemies requires defeating the enemy’s entire warfighting systems. This means defeating capabilities in all domains, the electromagnetic spectrum, and the information environment (IE); including personnel, command and control (C2) architecture, intelligence, logistics base, and the enemy’s means of using data. Finally, one must defeat the enemy cognitively by destroying the will to fight. The systematic defeat of an enemy demands an in-depth understanding of the opponent’s strengths and vulnerabilities. More importantly, defeating an enemy’s system requires defeating their logic—the reason the system functions the way it does.

Throughout the competition continuum, ARSOF support MDO by providing unique capabilities to advance partnerships, influence adversary behavior, execute special operations, and respond to crisis. ARSOF provide unique modes of employment, tactical techniques, equipment, and training for operations that are often conducted in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments. These operations are often high risk, time sensitive, clandestine, or low visibility. Operations are often conducted with and through partner forces, thereby requiring regional expertise.

ARSOF can play a significant role in the Army’s execution of the tenets of MDO (calibrated force posture, multi-domain formation, and convergence) as discussed in Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) pamphlet 525-3-1, Multi-Domain Operations. ARSOF’s calibrated force posture provides a dynamic mix of forces that adapt as dictated by the strategic environment: forward presence forces (U.S. and partner SOF), continental United States (CONUS)-based forces that provide operational support to the combatant commands in the information space (SOF and interagency units and capabilities), and expeditionary forces (Army and joint units and capabilities) in coordination with national-level cyberspace capabilities, space-based platforms, and strike capabilities. ARSOF’s inherently multi-domain formations possess the combination of capacity, capability, and endurance to generate cross-domain effects through independent maneuver, lethal and non-lethal fires, and SOF-unique intelligence functions. Convergence will require that ARSOF rapidly and continuously integrate multi-domain capabilities to gain cross-domain overmatch in decisive spaces. This will generate advantages over the enemy and influence the outcome of operations.

Special Operations Joint Task Force (SOJTF) and 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) (1st SFC) provide operational-level C2 for joint and multinational SOF (the only ground maneuver forces in the deep fires areas), which creates a physical point of presence for the convergence of intelligence, information, cyber, space, and fires effects in conflict and in the return to competition. The 1st SFC’s Information Warfare Center (IWC) provides a unique competition focused capability designed to converge psychological operations, other information-related capabilities (IRC), and intelligence functions against adversaries in the information space.

Through persistent engagement during competition, ARSOF build relationships and advance partnerships to create leverage and advantage for the United States. In armed conflict, ARSOF are postured for crisis response and, as necessary, to execute precision targeting operations supporting our nation’s priorities.

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