Fort Bragg is home to a number of senior commands, few of which are more unique than the unconventional war fighters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. This week the command celebrates 20 years of service to the nation, and will hold a by-invitation, black-tie banquet on Friday at Fort Bragg.
The commanding general of USASOC, Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, will lead his headquarters in saluting the more than 27,000 personnel who currently form the ranks of the Army Special Operations headquarters and seven principle subordinate commands. A sizable portion of Mulholland’s force is located at Fort Bragg, with other units stationed from Key West, Fla., to Okinawa, Japan. The command oversees such unconventional warfare units as the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, the 4th Psychological Operations Group, the 160th Special Operations Brigade and the 528th Sustainment Brigade. Also located at Fort Bragg is USASOC’s training center, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, which trains more than 10,000 students annually in more than 60 courses of instruction.
Since its inception on Dec. 1, 1989, the pace of USASOC’s operations has been extraordinary; operating around the world, often behind-the-lines, in some of the most remote and hostile regions on the planet. The command’s operations and range of military contributions reads like a travel guide to America’s foreign policy — Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Rwanda, Haiti, the Philippines, Somalia, Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq — to name just a few.
Today the operations tempo for Army Special Operations has never been greater, and is unlikely to decrease in the near future. USASOC currently has Soldiers deployed on 103 missions in 56 countries around the world, and is operating across the spectrum of lethality and influence. On any given day elements of three of the five active-duty Special Forces groups, units from the two National Guard Special Forces Groups, one ranger battalion, some 36 special-operations aircraft and more than 35 Civil Affairs teams and 35 Psychological Operations Teams and Sustainment Brigade logistics units are deployed around the world.
In the eight years since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, more than 240 of USASOC’s Soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their names are cast in bronze on a wall in USASOC’s Memorial Plaza.
That range of USASOC’s expertise ensures the Army’s special-operations forces can execute the most lethal, highly complex and sensitive special operations, wage unconventional warfare, conduct high-risk helicopter operations or prosecute civil military and influence operations. The command’s motto, “Without Equal,” captures the spirit of its people and their commitment to maintaining the world’s finest ground special operations force.
Few commands can match USASOC’s contributions over the past two decades, its countless missions most often quietly executed and unheralded. For those in today’s USASOC, the pace is fast, the challenges great and morale and job satisfaction have seldom been greater.