The Quiet Professionals.
Special Operations Forces (SOF) are known as the Rangers, Green Berets, Night Stalkers, Delta Force, SEALS, Air Force Special Tactics, and Marine Raiders but there are other SOF that you rarely or may never hear mentioned. Each branch of the United States Armed Forces has its own Special Operations units. The parent command of all SOF is U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. Comprising only about 3.5 percent of Department of Defense personnel, SOF are reportedly working in up to 76 countries on any given day, and they're tasked with carrying out the military's most secretive and specialized missions.
SOF missions are characterized as extreme in risk, precise in execution, and able to deliver a high payoff, the impacts of which will be felt for decades. Special Operators are entrusted to perform missions that exceed the authority given to conventional military units. Often called the “quiet professionals”, they are continually “trained for certainty, while being educated for uncertainty”— a hallmark of SOF.
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Who are these shadow warriors?
On average, Special Operators are or have:
What are Special Operations Forces?
Theirs is a code unbreakable.
•Older than conventional military; average age 31
•Married with two children
•Eight years experience with conventional forces before volunteering, being assessed, selected, and trained for Special Operations
•Attended and continue to attend multiple Advanced Tactical Schools
•Extensive, and continuing education in order to become more effective strategic thinkers and ambassadors
•Extensive, and continuing language, cultural, medical and survival training to be effective in diverse environments
•Require two or more years of specialized training to be mission-ready
•Exceptional physical skills and endurance
SOF personnel operate under an ethic that incorporates the best American values within their unique circumstances.
Truth 1: Humans are more important than hardware.
People – not equipment – make the critical difference.
Truth 2: Quality is better than quantity.
A small number of people, carefully selected, well trained, and well led, are preferable to larger numbers of troops, some of whom may not be up to the task.
Truth 3: Special Operations Forces cannot be mass-produced.
It takes years to train operational units to the level of proficiency needed to accomplish difficult and specialized SOF missions.
Truth 4: Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.
Creation of competent, fully mission capable units takes time.
Truth 5: Most special operations require non-SOF assistance.
The operational effectiveness of our deployed forces cannot be, and never has been, achieved without being enabled by our joint service partners.
September 11, 2001
The attacks of September 11, 2001 forever changed the nature of global warfare. Special Operations Forces (SOF) became and will remain a major player in America’s strategy to successfully defeat violent extremists around the world.
Our Nation continues to call on our most elite forces with a demand that has far exceeded the supply of our special operators. The result is repeated deployments with minimal 'reset' and refit time before their next combat overseas deployment, adding an unprecedented strain not only on the special operators but their families as well. Consequently, our most mentally and physically tough elite have seen a sharp spike in suicides and divorce rates after over 15 years of war.
There is also a certain reluctance to admit to needing help or having wounds, seen or unseen, that might effect their service.
Admiral William McRaven created a readiness program called the Preservation of the Force and Family. Subsequently, he called on Congress to provide an additional $48 million in funding to hire psychologists, physical therapists, dietitians, sports psychologists, and strength and conditioning specialists to work with troops in order to address the increasing rate of injuries and suicides among those involved in Special Operations. Most of the funding was not approved.
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Their thanks are heartfelt.
At Operation Healing Forces (OHF) we are always gratified when
participants take the time to thank us for their experience attending
Operation Healing Forces events. Below are a
few comments from past participants:
The current SOF situation:
For numerous reasons, there are many things about SOF that the public does not know. There are some things, though, we believe you should be aware of.
•No President has ever used SOF to the extent President Obama has in the last eight years.
•The increasing global need is outpacing the SOF’s ability to grow. This means more frequent and more violent deployments.
•SOF fighters are delaying retirement and deploying with injuries and illnesses to ensure coverage. One Navy SEAL received cancer treatments between his 8-9th and 9-10th deployments.
•SOF have more musculoskeletal injuries (1 out of every 4 SOF) than the general services due to their rigorous training, types of deployments, and equipment they carry.
•Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition of persistent mental stress occurring as a result of injury or severe shock, that typically involves disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world. It is assumed that every front-line Special Operator has some degree of PTSD. A person cannot experience what they do over long periods of time without experiencing some degree of PTSD. Much of it goes untreated.
•Traumatic Brain Injury is increasing because of the weaponry and special tactics SOF use. They receive cumulative and significant damage to the brain, experts say, but many of the SOF don’t even recognize it.
•America has lost its appetite for large-scale war efforts. The President does not consider the use of SOF as “boots on the ground,” so SOF will enter with or without conventional troops and stay long after troops depart.
•Divorce rates are escalating at an alarming rate. The visible and invisible wounds (PTSD), stress and uncertainty have deteriorated many marriages.
•For all the reasons above, depression and suicides rates are up sharply amongst SOF. “The (suicide) numbers are shocking,” said Dr. Geoffrey Ling, a leading brain-trauma expert and director of biological technologies at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
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“We’ve got to do something…
US Special Operations Forces have been committing suicide at record levels for the last two years.”
– Admiral William McRaven, Former Commander U.S. Special Operations Command