Friday, April 12, 2013

How Would Our SOF Perform in North Korea?

I do not know this author (you can find the young Ranger's bio on the web site) but I have six words from Special Operations that he did not use that will be the most important Special Operations conducted before, during, and after the conflict:  

Psychological Operations, Unconventional Warfare, Civil Affairs

(I would have used MISO but that would make it eight words!)  And of course he makes no mention of working with our allied Special Operations Forces (who will dwarf the US contribution in size).  And although he makes slight mention of Air Force Special Operations (their ground elements) he does not describe the Air Force Air Commandos who will be transporting (infiltrating and exfiltrating and resupplying) the majority of ROK and US SOF around the battlefield.

I also would guess that those tier one units he describes going after leadership targets probably will not get there before the precision guided munitions delivered by Air Force and Naval Aviators and when they do get there I suppose they will then be doing sensitive site exploitation and confirming the deaths of the leadership through air power.

How Would Our SOF Perform in North Korea?
by Nicholas Irving · April 12, 2013 · Posted In: Special Operations

With all the hype in regards to North Korea, it’s only necessary to have a discussion about how our special operations forces (SOF) would perform in the region if things actually did go south.
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While my background is specifically within the Army Special Operations Command, I can shed some light as to how our SOF units would perform in the N. Korean environment, and touch on how other special operations forces within the Navy and Marines may perform, as I have worked with them extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Special Operations Command and Tier Status

Special Operations Forces play a significant role in U.S. military operations, and the Administration has given US SOF greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. Special Operations Forces are elite military units with special training and equipment who can infiltrate into hostile territory through land, sea, and air to conduct a variety of operations, many of them being classified.

SOF personnel undergo rigorous selection and lengthy special training. Typically, the general public categorizes SOF forces by their tier: the higher the tier, the better the unit. In actuality, this is not a designation of which unit is the best. Instead, the tier status designates units by their mission capabilities. Tier 1 units typically take on the nation’s high priority missions, while Tier 2 and Tier 3 units perform a larger scale of specialized classified operations.

All Tier 1 and Tier 2 units maintain three separate operational groups within their respective units; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ranger Battalion is an example. These groups are essentially identical and deploy within their respective JSOC package. The rotational cycle is generally three months. This allows one group to be deployed overseas, another to be on an 18-hour worldwide emergency deployment notice, and the last group to be training, attending military schools, or on “block leave.” Tier 1 and Tier 2 units take leave together within their respective JSOC package. This term is called “block leave.” Given the wartime tasking of JSOC, an additional deployment package is currently being created. This will allow less operational strain on these units.


Army Special Operations Forces consist of approximately 28,000 soldiers organized into the Special Forces (Green Berets and 1st SFOD), Rangers (75th Ranger Regiment), and Aviation (Night Stalkers). Within these organizations, each unit is broken down into a particular Tier status as well. Special Forces have a Tier status of 3, while the 1st SFOD/Delta Force has a Tier status of 1. The Rangers within the 75th Ranger Regiment have a Tier status of 2, along with the 160th Night Stalkers.

The Green Berets operate with little oversight, working with native peoples in predetermined Areas of Operation (AOs) and serving as unofficial “warrior-diplomats.” They are also capable of conducting direct action raids and overtaking key infrastructure.

The 75th Ranger Regiment is a lethal, agile and flexible force, capable of conducting many complex, joint special operations missions. Today’s Ranger Regiment is the Army’s premier direct-action raid force. Their capabilities include conducting airborne and air assault operations; seizing key terrain, such as airfields; recon; counterterrorism; destroying strategic facilities; and capturing or killing enemies of the nation. Rangers are capable of conducting squad through regimental size operations.

Our Aviation (Night Stalkers) are capable of flying an array of fixed wing aircraft to transport special operations units. Their missions also include attack, assault, and reconnaissance, and are usually conducted at night, at high speeds, low altitudes, and on short notice.

The Army’s Tier 1 unit, 1st SFOD/Delta Force, specializes in recon, counterterrorism (pre-emptive and after something happens), counter proliferation, and recovery and elimination of high value targets.


The United States Navy has a specialized group that I’m sure we are all familiar with, the US Navy SEALs. SEALs have a tier status of 3, with the exception of SEAL Team 6, who have a Tier status of 1. Navy SEALs specialize in direct action, recon, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense. The mission of the unit that we have become very familiar with, SEAL Team 6, is still considered “classified,” although we know that they do specialize in counterterrorism (pre-emptive and after something happens), counter proliferation, and recovery and elimination of high value targets.


Our Marine Corps has the MARSOC, which is a special operations unit not to be confused with the Marine Force Recon units, which are special operations capable. The MARSOC obtains a Tier 2 and Tier 1 status. MARSOC trains, organizes, equips and, when directed by the Commander, USSOCOM, deploys task-organized, scalable and responsive U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Forces in support of Combatant Commanders and other agencies.

Air Force

The United States Air Force Special Operations unit, better known in the Air Force as Special Tactics, are broken up into two specific specialties. Combat Control (CCT) and Para rescue (PJ). CCT’s are combat ready FAA certified air traffic controllers, and PJ’s are combat ready rescue and recovery specialists certified as EMT’s to the paramedic level. Members of these two career fields are trained in parachuting, scuba diving, repelling, skiing, motorcycling, and survival skills, along with other specialties.

North Korea’s Geography

(Continued at the link below)

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