The need for a well thought out, planned, and rehearsed command and control organization to conduct special operations in the US Northern Command Area of Responsibility is vital to success in defending the Homeland. Currently, USNORTHCOM does not have an apportioned or assigned command and control structure for the conduct of special operations. This thesis analyzes three courses of action to fulfill this requirement: use the current USNORTHCOM battle staff command structure including the integration of the Standing Joint Force Headquarters-North; rely on the newly formed US Special Operations Command's Joint Task Force Structures; and establish a Theater Special Operations Command North assigned to USNORTHCOM. Through the conduct of analysis and research this thesis recommends that The Joint Staff direct the reorganization required to establish a Theater Special Operations Command North to exercise command and control of special operations forces conducting operations in the USNORTHCOM AOR.
Special Operations Forces are a critical component of United States Northern Command's mission. However, unless significant changes are made to the manner in which US Northern Command is structured, the capabilities of Special Operations Forces may not be used to their full potential when they are most needed. This paper argues that US Northern Command should reorganize to provide better control of Special Operations missions in the US Northern Command Area of Responsibility.
US Northern Command was established as a Geographic Combatant Commander in October 2002 with the dual mission of defending the United States from aggression and providing support to civil authorities in times of crisis and disaster. In order to defend the Homeland in the most effective manner, the primary focus is on defeating attacks of aggression prior to terrorist attacks being realized in the United States. The only means of successfully defeating these attacks prior to their import into the homeland is to win the "away game." The most adept force to conduct counter-terrorism operations of this nature are United States Special Operations Forces (SOF). Command and control of SOF requires an in-depth knowledge of the capabilities and weaknesses of these forces which can only be affected by a structure of command with this knowledge, a Special Operations-capable command. US Northern Command, in its current configuration, lacks a Special Operations Command capability. In order for US Northern Command to have the highest probability of success in the execution of Special Operations, it is imperative that a Special Operations capable command be established to provide the Commander, US Northern Command the option to control Special Operations in the US Northern Command area of responsibility (AOR).
This paper will explore the most probable courses of action available for the Commander, US Northern Command to command and control Special Operations in the US Northern Command AOR.