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Field Manual *FM 31-20

No. 31-20 Headquarters

Department of the Army
Washington, DC, 20 April 1990


Distribution authorized to US government agencies only to protect technical or operational
information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by
other means. This determination was made on 29 January 1988. Other requests for this
document will be referred to Commander, US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center
and School, ATTN: ATSU-DT-PDM, Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000.

Destroy by any method that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.

*This publication supersedes FM 31-20, 30 September 1977.

FM 31-20

Table of Contents

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20


Field Manual (FM) 31-20 is the Special Forces (SF) the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare
principles manual. It is directly linked to and Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) will publish a
must be used in conjunction with the doctrinal series of subordinate field manuals to disseminate
principles found in FMs 100-5 and 100-20 and the the specific SF tactics, techniques, and procedures
projected FM 100-25. It describes SF roles, (TTP) necessary to plan and conduct SF operations.
missions, capabilities, organization, command and The provisions of this publication are the subject of
control, employment, and support across the the international agreements listed in the references
operational continuum and at all levels of war. It in the back of this book.
provides the authoritative foundation for SF sub-
ordinate doctrine, force design, materiel acquisition, There are numerous terms, acronyms, and abbre-
professional education, and individual and collec- viations found within this manual. Users should refer
tive training. It supports the doctrinal requirements to Parts I and II of the Glossary for their meanings
of the Concept Based Requirements System. or definitions.
This manual provides the doctrinal principles to plan SF commanders and trainers at all levels should use
and prepare SF operational elements for commit- this manual in conjunction with Army Training and
ment and to direct and sustain those elements after Evacuation Program (ARTEP) mission training plans
commitment. The user must adapt the principles to plan and conduct their training.
presented here to any given situation using his
own professional knowledge, skills, and judgment. The proponent of this publication is Headquarters,
Because this manual articulates the collective vision Training and Doctrine Command (HQ TRADOC).
of the senior SF leadership, users must understand Users of this manual should submit comments and
that it describes emerging doctrinal requirements as recommended changes on DA Form 2028 (Recom-
well as current operational capabilities. mended Changes to Publications and Blank Forms)
This manual is unclassified to ensure its Armywide DT-PDM, Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000.
dissemination and the integration of SF into the
Army’s systems. As the preparing agency for this Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine
manual and all SF doctrinal and training publications, gender is used, both men and women are included.

FM 31-20

SF operations occur across the operational continuum and at all levels of war. They are an integral part of
the broader category, special operations (SO). This chapter provides an overview of the strategic environ-
ment in which SF operations occur. It defines and describes the nature of SO. It discusses the principles
that govern the design and execution of SO. It defines SF and discusses its roles in peace, conflict, and
war. By placing SF operations in contemporary perspective, this chapter provides the foundation for all SF

Strategic and major US national security objectives, policy,

and strategy. Key US national interests include—
Environment The survival of the United States as a free and
independent nation, with its basic values intact
The threats to US national interests and objectives and its institutions and people secure.
are more diverse now than ever before. The US A healthy and growing US economy that provides
national security policy and strategy are designed to individual opportunity for prosperity and a
protect US national interests from these threats. The resource base for US national endeavors.
President’s annual report, National Security Strategy A stable world without major threats to US
of the United States, and the annual Secretary of interests.
Defense’s Defense Planning Guidance outline US The growth of human freedom, democratic insti-
national interests, major threats to those interests, tutions, and free market economies throughout

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the world, linked by a fair and open international war on favorable terms at the lowest possible level of
trading system. hostilities. National security objectives include—
Healthy and vigorous alliance relationships. Securing the interests of the United States and its
The Soviet Union still poses the main threat to US Encouraging and assisting US allies and friends to
defend themselves against aggression, coercion,
interests worldwide. Its military power and active subversion, insurgency, and terrorism.
diplomacy continue to threaten our interests in many
parts of the world. However, the United States also Ensuring US access to critical resources, markets,
the oceans, and aerospace.
faces other serious threats. These threats include–
Defending and advancing the cause of democracy,
Regional conflicts. freedom, and human rights throughout the world.
Proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical Resolving peacefully those regional disputes that
(NBC) and high-technology weapons. affect US interests.
International terrorism. Building effective and friendly relationships with
all nations with whom there is a basis of shared
International drug trafficking. concerns.
Radical politico-religious movements. National military strategy is the art and science of
Instability in countries that are important to the employing the armed forces of a nation to secure
United States and its friends and allies. national security policy objectives by the threat or
application of force. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
National security strategy is the art and science of formulate national military strategy for the Secretary
developing and synchronizing the political, military, of Defense. National military strategy appears in the
economic, and informational elements of national Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) and other
power to secure national security objectives. The joint strategic planning documents. It supports the
National Security Council (NSC) assists the Presi- goals of national security strategy. National military
dent in formulating national security strategy. US strategic objectives include—
national security strategy appears in classified na- Deterring Soviet direct and indirect expansionism
tional security directives (NSDs) and other classified worldwide.
NSC documents. In general, the goal of US Defending North America and the Western
peacetime strategy is to deter aggression and acts of Hemisphere.
intimidation against the United States and its allies. Promoting the collective security of Western
The goal of US national security strategy in conflict Europe.
is to protect US and allied interests while precluding Promoting regional stability in Latin America,
or limiting the direct employment of US combat East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, South
forces. In war, the US strategic goal is to rapidly end Asia, and Africa.

have stressed deterrence through preparation for war

Contemporary with the Soviet Union and its allies and surrogates.
Perspective The effectiveness of US nuclear and conventional
deterrence has made the likelihood of such a war
Historically, US national security strategy, national improbable. Nevertheless, the risks remain dispro-
military strategy, and military force development portionately high.

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While the United States has successfully deterred The contemporary strategic environment dictates
war with the Soviet Union, conflicts short of war have that the US armed forces think in terms of an opera-
become pervasive. These conflicts can directly affect tional continuum made up of three conditions: peace,
each of the national security objectives stated above. conflict, and war (Figure 1-1).

FM 31-20

Peace is defined as nonmilitary competition between survival. From the US perspective, LIC includes the
states and other organized parties. Competition active support of parties to a conflict.
among foreign powers is inevitable in peace. Peaceful
competition may promote conditions that lead to War, declared or undeclared, is defined as con-
conflict or war. The military element of national ventional, unconventional, or nuclear armed action
power supports the three nonmilitary elements by between states or other organized parties. It may
preventing and deterring conflict and war. include any of the actions described in conflict, above.
War may be general, involving the national survival
Conflict is defined as a politico-military struggle short and the total resources of nations. However, it is
of conventional armed hostility between states or more commonly limited, with restraints on resources
other organized parties. It is often protracted and and objectives. The same war may be general for one
generally confined to a geographic region, but may party and limited for another party. War may include
have global implications. The parties to a conflict any of the actions included in the description of
often use military power in a strategically indirect conflict.
manner to support or counter subversion, sabotage,
terrorism, and insurgency. However, they can also The United States must have credible and competent
use military power directly in short-duration, military options to protect its national interests across
limited-objective contingency operations by conven- the operational continuum. Strategic success re-
tional military forces and special operations forces quires a balanced force structure of strategic
(SOF). The term low-intensity conflict (LIC) repre- (nuclear) forces, general purpose forces, and SOF.
sents the US perspective of a conflict. The term These forces must deal with the full range of global
suggests that the conflict does not directly threaten threats—from the certainty of peacetime compe-
US vital national interests. Another party to the tition and conflict to the unlikely but potentially
same conflict may consider it a struggle for national devastating threat of strategic nuclear war.

Nature of techniques, mode of employment, independence

from friendly support, and dependence upon
Special Operations operational intelligence and indigenous assets.
Public law (10 USC 167) states that SO activities
SO are actions conducted by specially organized, include the following as far as they relate to SO:
trained, and equipped military and paramilitary Direct action (DA).
forces to achieve military, political, economic, or Strategic reconnaissance, which the US Spe-
psychological objectives by nonconventional means cial Operations Command (USSOCOM) has
in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive areas. They incorporated into a broader activity called special
are cxmducted in peace, conflict, and war, inde- reconnaissance (SR).
pendently or in coordination with operations of Unconventional warfare (UW).
conventional forces. Politico-military considerations Foreign internal defense (FID).
frequently shape SO, requiring clandestine, covert Civil affairs (CA).
or low-visibility techniques, and oversight at the Psychological operations (PSYOP).
national level. SO usually differ from conventional Counterterrorism (CT).
operations in their degree of risk, operational Humanitarian assistance (HA).

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Theater search and rescue (SAR). defense posture of the United States and a strate-
Such other activities as may be specified by the gic instrument of national policy. These forces serve
National Command Authorities (NCA). as force multipliers. They can function in an
SOF are those forces specifically organized, trained, economy of force role to provide substantial leverage
and equipped to conduct SO activities or provide at a reasonable cost and effort. SOF thus provide
direct support (DS) to other SOF. They provide a military options for national response that can
versatile military capability to defend US national stabilize an international situation with minimum
interests. They are an integral part of the total risk to US interests (Figure 1-2).

battle, the US Army’s keystone warfighting doctrine,

SO Principles explains how Army forces plan and conduct major
operations battles, and engagements in conjunction
When conducting tactical combat operations, SOF with other services and allied forces. It does not
conduct their operations in accordance with the address military strategy or the formulation of
fundamentals of AirLand battle (ALB). AirLand strategic guidance. However, it does favor a strategy

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that quickly and decisively attains the military No clearly defined enemy or battlefield exists.
strategic objectives of the war. (For a detailed
discussion on AirLand battle, see FM 100-5.) In such an environment, the focus of military
operations is different (Figure 1-3). Consequently,
the contemporary dynamics of military power are
At the tactical level, SO often share many of the more subtle. Commanders must influence (rather
characteristics of light infantry combined arms oper- than dominate) their operational environment to
ations. However, the fundamentals of AirLand create favorable politico-military conditions for
battle doctrine focus primarily on conventional war achieving specific national security objectives. Be-
fighting. The traditional objective of military power cause SO normally occur in such an environment,
in war has been to generate maximum combat power SOF commanders must adapt the fundamentals of
at the decisive time and place to defeat hostile AirLand battle to account for the politico-military
military forces. The traditional dynamics of military implications of SO (Figure 1-4). They must learn to
power are inappropriate in a conflict environment apply military power indirectly through the military
where— and paramilitary forces of a foreign government or
Nonmilitary aspects of the situation dominate other political group or directly through the surgical
military operations, or where use of combat power.

Application of the defensive posture. Nevertheless, at the operational

level, SOF are an offensive capability.
Principles of War
SOF commanders must apply the principles. of war
differently than conventional commanders. SOF In contrast to conventional forces, SOF cannot hope
commanders must recognize the effect of their to bring overwhelming combat power against a target
operational environment and force capabilities on except at the lowest tactical level. They do not
their application of the principles of war (Figure 1-5). normally seek dominance in size of force or
firepower. Instead, SOF focus on selecting and
applying sufficient military power to accomplish the
Objective mission without adverse collateral effects. The appli-
Objectives assigned SOF may often be as political, cation of minimum force is dangerous, but SOF
economic, or psychological as they are military. In war commanders must sometimes accept the higher risk
and protracted conflict, SO objectives usually focus associated with not massing in the conventional
on hostile military vulnerabilities. In other situations, sense. They may have to compensate for their lack
SOF may be assigned objectives that lead directly to of combat power through the use of such combat
accomplishing national or theater political, eco- multipliers as surprise, superior training, and uncon-
nomic, or psychological objectives. ventional tactics Nonetheless, SOF commanders
must concentrate their combat power, albeit subtly
Offensive and indirectly, so that the effects of their actions are
felt at decisive times and places. SOF must not be at
SO are inherently offensive actions. SOF may be the margin of their operational capabilities at critical
employed as part of a strategic defensive, and hostile points of mission execution. Care must be taken not
activities may force SOF to assume a tactical to fragment the efforts of SOF by committing them

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FM 31-20

against targets that are tactically attractive, but mobility and reinforcement capability of the hostile
operationally or strategically irrelevant. forces opposing them. With respect to SO, maneuver
implies the ability to infiltrate and exfiltrate denied
Economy of Force areas so as to gain a positional advantage from which
SOF can attack hostile vulnerabilities. They must
SOF are often employed as a strategic economy of anticipate hostile reactions and pre-position combat
force measure to allow the concentration of other power to counter those reactions. This characteristic
forces elsewhere. Many SO are specifically designed
of SO dictates that SOF commanders accept calcu-
to divert hostile forces into secondary theaters, lated high risks to achieve decisive results. Indecision
preventing hostile concentration against the friendly
main effort. SOF are particularly effective when and hesitation may result in a lost opportunity,
mission failure, or needless loss of life.
employed in combination with indigenous or
surrogate forces to create a force multiplier effect. Unity of Command
To achieve unity of command, SOF organize jointly
SOF do not maneuver against an enemy in the classic with clean, uncluttered chains of command that
sense. Once committed, SOF often lack the tactical minimize the layering of headquarters. However, SO

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are often conducted as interagency activities of the Surprise

US government. In such cases the Department of
Defense (DOD) will often play only a supporting role, SOF achieve surprise by exploiting indirect
and interagency cooperation will be the only means approaches and doing the unexpected. SO often
of achieving unity of effort. SOF commanders must require bold, imaginative, and audacious actions,
synchronize their activities with nonmilitary members particularly when applying combat power directly and
of the Country Team. During combined operations with surgical precision. In other SO, however,
with indigenous military forces, SOF commanders surprise can take on a more subtle meaning. SOF
must stress the requirement for cooperation between often conceal not only their capabilities and
indigenous military and civilian organizations. intentions, but also their activities. Indirect SO
exploit the hostile power’s inadaptability or
misunderstanding of the operational environment.
Security These operations can create unsettling conditions
In SO, security is often a dominant consideration, within a hostile power’s environment without
revealing the source. The effects of surprise are
rather than a supporting consideration as is often the maximized when the hostile power cannot define the
case in conventional operations. Because of the means of the disruption and, therefore, cannot
nature of many SO, a breach in security can affect implement effective countermeasures.
national credibility and legitimacy as well as mission
success. SOF commanders must emphasize security Simplicity
throughout mission planning, during execution, and
possibly for many years after the mission incomplete. Although SOF often use sophisticated and un-
As a result, SO may require compartmentation orthodox methods and equipment, their plans and
and/or deception measures. Active and passive procedures must be simple and direct. A complex and
counterintelligence (CI) efforts must minimize the inflexible plan that relies on precise timing is less
potential for hostile penetration or accidental likely to withstand changing situations and the stress
disclosure of sensitive information. and confusion that accompany its execution.

the environment-political, economic, sociological,

SO Imperatives psychological, geographic, and military-before act-
ing to influence it. The conditions of conflict can
While the principles of war characterize successful change based on military successor defeat, a change
SO, the SO imperatives discussed below prescribe key in hostile strategy or tactics, or fluctuating levels of
operational requirements. SOF commanders must US support. They must know who the friendly and
incorporate these imperatives into their mission hostile decision makers are, what their objectives and
planning and execution if they are to use their forces strategies are, and how they interact. They must
effectively (Figure 1-6). influence friendly decision makers to ensure they
understand the implications of SO mission re-
Understand the quirements and the consequences of not adequately
Operational Environment supporting them. SOF commanders must remain
flexible and adapt their operations to changing
SOF commanders cannot dominate their environ- realities. They must anticipate these changes in their
ment. They must assess and understand all aspects of environment to exploit fleeting opportunities. They

FM 31-20

must also assist their supported indigenous military Actively and continuously coordinating their
forces to adjust their strategy and tactics. activities with all relevant parties (US and non-
US, military and nonmilitary).
Recognize Political
Implications Engage the Threat
SOF commanders must not anticipate a conventional
battlefield environment where military concerns SOF commanders have limited resources they cannot
dominate. The role of SOF infrequently a supporting easily replace. Their missions often have sensitive
one that creates the conditions for decisive non- political implications. Therefore, SOF commanders
military activities to occur. Whether conducting SO must carefully select when, where, and how to employ
independently or in coordination with conventional SOF (Figure 1-7).
military operations, SOF commanders must consider
the political effects of their military activities. Consider Long-Term
Facilitate Interagency
Activities SOF commanders must place each discrete problem
in its broader political, military, and psychological
When participating in an interagency and often context. They must then develop a long-term
combined effort such as SO, commanders must strive approach to solving the problem. They must accept
for unity of effort (synchronization), but recognize legal and political constraints (such as less than
the difficulty of achieving it. They must anticipate optimal rules of engagement [ROE]) to avoid
ambiguous missions conflicting interests and objec- strategic failure while achieving tactical success. SOF
tives, compartmentation of activity, and disunity of commanders must not jeopardize the success of
command. Lacking unity of command, SOF com- national and theater long-term objectives by their
manders must facilitate unity of effort by— desire for immediate or short-term effects. SO
Requesting clear mission statements and the policies, plans, and operations must be consistent
decision makers’ intent. with the national and theater priorities and objectives

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they support. Inconsistency can lead to a loss of support of foreign indigenous elements, the US
legitimacy and credibility at the national level. population, or the international community. SOF
commanders must ensure their legal advisors review
all sensitive aspects of SO mission planning and
Ensure Legitimacy and execution.
Credibility of SO
Anticipate and Control
There are significant legal and policy considerations Psychological Effects
to many SO, particularly in conflict situations short of All SO have significant psychological effects. Some
war. In modem conflict, legitimacy is the most crucial may be conducted specifically to produce a desired
factor in developing and maintaining internal and psychological effect. SOF commanders must inte-
international support. Without this support the grate PSYOP into all their activities to control these
United States cannot sustain its assistance to a effects.
foreign power. The concept of legitimacy is broader
than the strict legal definition contained in inter- Apply Capabilities
national law. The concept also includes the moral and Indirectly
political legitimacy of a government or resistance
organization. Its legitimacy is determined by the Whenever participating in combined operations, the
people of the nation and by the international primary role of SOF is to advise, train, and assist
community based on their collective perception of indigenous military and paramilitary forces. The
the credibility of its cause and methods. Without supported non-US forces then serve as force
legitimacy and credibility, SO will not receive the multipliers in the pursuit of US national security

FM 31-20

objectives with minimum US visibility, risk, and cost. strategy, and programs must therefore be durable,
SOF commanders must avoid taking charge when consistent, and sustainable.
supporting a foreign government or group. ‘he
foreign government or group must assume primary Provide Sufficient
authority and responsibility for the success or failure Intelligence
of the combined effort. All US efforts must reinforce
and enhance the legitimacy and credibility of the SOF normally cannot infiltrate denied territory and
supported foreign government or group. develop an ambiguous situation. They do not have the
combat power or the reinforcement and support
Develop Multiple capabilities of conventional forces to deal with
Options unanticipated hostile reactions. The success of SO
missions often depends on the executors receiving
SOF commanders must maintain their operational detailed, near-real-time, all-source intelligence
flexibility by developing a broad range of options and products. This need for national and theater
intelligence at the tactical level is unique to SOF.
contingency plans. They must be able to shift from
one option to another before and during mission SOF intelligence requirements (IR) impose great
execution. demands on supporting intelligence capabilities. SOF
commanders must identify their IR in priority. They
must note which are mission essential and which are
Ensure Long-Term just nice to have. Without realistic priorities to guide
Sustainment it, the intelligence community can quickly become
overcommitted attempting to satisfy SOF IR.
SOF are currently engaged in protracted conflict
around the world. They must prepare to continue this Balance Security and
effort for the foreseeable future. The US response to Synchronization
conflict varies from case to case. Resourcing of any
particular US support effort may also vary. SOF Security concerns often dominate SO, but compart-
commanders must recognize the need for persis- mentation can exclude key personnel from the
tence, patience, and continuity of effort. They should planning cycle. SOF commanders must resolve these
not begin programs that are beyond the economic or conflicting demands on mission planning and
technological capacity of the host nation (HN) to execution. Insufficient security may compromise a
maintain without US assistance. US funded programs mission, but excessive security will almost always
can be counterproductive if the population becomes cause the mission to fail because of inadequate
dependent on them and funding is lost. SO policy, coordination.

Special Forces supported by conventional forces. The role of SF

varies with the environment and the level of activity.
As a component of Army SOF (ARSOF), SF plans, SF is an unconventional combat arm. It combines at
conducts, and supports SO in all operational envi- the lowest tactical level the functions performed by
ronments in peace, conflict, and war. SF operations several conventional branches of the Army. In
are normally joint and may be combined and/or part effect it is a combined arms branch. As a result,
of an interagency activity. They may support or be neither SF nor the conventional Army has thought

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of SF operations as being combined arms operations. battlefield functions performed in a combat zone by
At best, SF commanders have employed the tactics Army units at corps level and below. In contrast, SF
of supplementary or reinforcing combined arms. units normally focus on functions performed in a
They have used PSYOP, lift assets, and other theater of operations by joint and combined forces at
resources to increase the effectiveness of independent echelons above corps (EAC). Therefore, SF com-
SF operations. The old H-series table of organization manders must apply the BOS differently than con-
and equipment (TOE) supported this concept of ventional Army commanders do (see Appendix A).
employment by consolidating all combat support (CS) The centerpiece of SF operations is the SF opera-
and combat service support (CSS) assets at group tional detachment (SFOD) A, also known as the A
level. Battalion commanders dealt only with opera- detachment. The SFOD A is a simple but versatile
tional matters. Their CS and CSS assets were provided combined arms organization. Its activities do not
from external sources when required. revolve around a single weapon system (like a tank
The L-series TOE and the concept of SF employ- crew) or a single battlefield function (like a rifle
ment in this publication recognize the comple- squad). They cut across all BOS functions,
mentary combined arms nature of SF operations. Detachment members are generalists with expertise
They also shift the level of combined arms integration in at least one specialty, not functional specialists.
from group to battalion. SF commanders must now Each member performs multiple functions during
integrate and synchronize their organic capabilities mission planning and execution.
with those of other SOF and theater assets. By doing Like the conventional Army, SF task organizes its
so, they generate sufficient military power to elements into teams to execute a specific mission. An
influence their operational environment. They apply SF team is any size operational element composed
this military power through indirect means or mainly of SF members and led by a member of an SF
through the direct application of combat power in a chain of command. An SF team may be organized
specific, usually surgical, economy of force operation. according to modification table(s) of organization and
The Army uses seven battlefield operating systems equipment (MTOE). It may be an SFOD A a
(BOS) to analyze and integrate its activities (Figure composite team of hand-picked individuals or a
1-8). These BOS represent a new way of thinking combined arms team organized for a specific mission.
about war because they orient on functions rather It may also be as small as a two-man team or as large
than the units that perform them. The BOS focus on as a reinforced SF company.

Role of Special of hostile states that threaten lines of communi-

cation (LOC) in the friendly strategic rear. The
Forces in War impact of these operations may be felt throughout the
theater of war.
In a limited or general war, SF can perform its
missions at the strategic, operational, or tactical level During war, the strategic role of SF focuses on the
to influence, deep, close, or rear operations. How- hostile power’s long-term capacity to continue
ever, the primary role of SF is to conduct and support hostilities. This role has two aspects.
deep operations beyond the forward limits of con- The NCA, through the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of
ventional military forces. Such operations may extend Staff (CJCS), may direct a unified commander to
into a hostile power’s homeland or into the territory conduct SO in pursuit of national strategic objectives.

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For example, SF teams may deploy into denied Disrupt the economy.
territory to—
Protect friendly strategic LOC threatened by
Collect and report information of national hostile regimes in the theater’s strategic rear.
strategic importance.
Accomplish other missions with decisive strategic
Develop and support insurgences in the hostile implications but with no near-term effect on
power’s strategic rear. conventional military operations.

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Attack or secure (for limited periods) critical

facilities of operational significance.
MYTH: SF operates at the strategic level and Divert hostile forces from the main effort.
is not part of the AirLand battle.
At the tactical level, SF supports (and is supported
FACT: In war, SF conducts SO to support, by) conventional military forces whenever their
complement, and extend con- operational areas converge. SF units lack the
ventional military operations. The
employment of SF depends on the firepower, tactical mobility, real-time communi-
mission, not the environment in cations, and CSS capabilities to conduct sustained
which it operates or its location on close combat operations. SF teams gain mobility
the battlefield. SF can be committed and protection advantages through stealth and the
anywhere on the battlefield—deep, use of restrictive terrain. They gain firepower ad-
close, or rear (Figure 1-9). vantage through surprise and superior training. SF
missions generally rely on detailed pre-mission
preparation that is unsuitable for fluid close
SF also supports the unified commander’s theater operations. An SF team may conduct a DA or
campaign plan by conducting deep operations in SR mission of strategic or operational significance in
pursuit of theater strategic military objectives. The the corps main battle area. However, the priority of
unified commander may employ SF teams to inter- the mission and the nature of the target must justify
dict the advance of hostile forces to gain more time the diversion of SF assets to a mission more suitable
for employing conventional forces. SF teams may for conventional forces.
perform SR tasks at the theater strategic level to
identify hostile capabilities, intentions, and activities During a limited or general war, SF units may con-
of importance to the unified commander. SF teams duct operations in friendly rear areas. Friendly rear
may also delay, disrupt, or harass the hostile power’s security forces may be nonexistent, particularly when
strategic second-echelon forces (or divert them to US forces are operating in liberated or occupied
secondary theaters of operations) to— territory. Available HN rear security forces may need
advisory assistance or other support similar to the
Alter the momentum and tempo of hostile support SF provides in a FID mission. SF rear
operations. operations are proactive rather than reactive. SF
Prevent the hostile power from conducting teams do not defend base clusters or perform military
continuous theater strategic operations. police (MP) functions. They organize, train, and
support (or direct) indigenous tactical combat forces
SF also conducts SO as strategic economy of force to actively locate and destroy hostile insurgent and/or
operations in secondary theaters. These operations SO forces in contested areas. SF teams only conduct
may include FID missions in the strategic rear of the unilateral rear operations as an extreme measure.
theater of war.
SF rear operations are proactive rather than reactive.
At the operational level, SF deep operations support SF teams do not defend base clusters or perform
the theater of operations commander and his sub- military police (MP) functions. They organize, train,
ordinate land, air, and naval force commanders. At and support (or direct) indigenous tactical combat
this level, SF operations have a near-term effect on forces to actively locate and destroy hostile insurgent
current theater operations. By attacking hostile and/or SO forces in contested areas. SF teams only
operational follow-on forces, SF disrupts their conduct unilateral rear operations as an extreme
combined-arms operations and breaks their mo- measure.
mentum, creating opportunities for friendly decisive Once hostilities end, SF plays an important role in
action. SF operations can also— US posthostility consolidation activities. SF teams
Collect and report military information of facilitate the early redeployment of US conventional
operational significance. combat forces by performing security assistance and
Screen an operational land force commander’s FID missions that enhance the military capabilities
open flank. of US allies in the region.

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Role of Special conflict, SF provides the NCA with options for

discriminate engagement that preclude or limit the
Forces in Conflict need to employ conventional combat forces. The low
visibility of SF operations helps the United States
and its allies to maintain diplomatic flexibility. SF
In conflict situations short of war, the commitment operations also allow other powers (friendly, neutral,
of conventional combat forces may be premature, and hostile) to accept the outcome of an operation
inappropriate, or infeasible. It may also increase the because they avoid the publicity of a more obvious
risk of further escalation to an unacceptable level. In use of military force. Some operations, such as overt
these situations, when nonmilitary instruments of DA and CT missions, may have high visibility and
national power are inadequate to respond to a affect the prestige of the nation.

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United States may undertake long-term operations

in support of selected resistance organizations that
MYTH: SF is primarily a LIC force. seek to oppose or overthrow foreign powers hostile
to vital US interests. When directed, SF units advise,
FACT: SF has great utility in conflict short train, and assist indigenous resistance organizations.
of war. However, it can perform any These units use the same TTP they employ to con-
of its five primary missions across
the operational continuum—during duct a wartime UW mission. Direct US military
peace, conflict, or war (Figure 1-10). involvement is rare and subject to legal and policy
(For a detailed discussion of LIC, constraints. Indirect support from friendly territory
see FM 100-20.) will be the norm.

SF can conduct a DA or SR mission in support of a

SF can conduct a FID mission to support a friendly contingency operation. Contingency operations are
government against an insurgent threat. The SF politically sensitive military operations normally
organization and its capabilities and operational characterized by the short-term, rapid projection or
methods make it ideally suited to conduct or support employment of military forces in conditions short of
FID programs in a counterinsurgency environ- war. Such employment can also require a large, high-
ment. The primary SF mission in FID is to advise, ly visible buildup of military forces over extended
train, and assist HN military and paramilitary forces. periods. SF units task organize to participate in
contingency operations either unilaterally or in
SF can conduct a UW mission to support an in- conjunction with other military forces or government
surgent or other armed resistance organization. The agencies.

FM 31-20

national interests and refrain from acts of inter-

Role of Special national aggression and coercion.
Forces in Peace In peacetime, many SF training activities also have
operational real world significance. For example,
SF has both preventive and deterrent roles in peace. they may provide US presence in a troubled
In its preventive role, SF participates in foreign region, demonstrate US commitment, or otherwise
internal development efforts and other programs contribute to collective security. The strategic value
designed to improve Third World conditions. In its and political sensitivity of SF units make them
deterrent role, SF maintains strategic capabilities inappropriate for employment in peacekeeping
that help convince hostile powers to respect US operations.

FM 31-20

The threats to SF operations are global and vary with the geopolitical environment, the SF mission, and
the nature of conflict. Threat capabilities increase each year. The Soviets, their allies and surrogates, and
nonaligned Third World countries continually improve the quantity and quality of their military capabilities.
SF commanders must analyze the specific threats that exist in their particular operational areas. They
must also recognize that threats considered under conflict also exist within the context of general and
limited war, making threat analysis even more difficult. This chapter examines the diverse nature of
these threats in terms of what SF can expect to face in general war, limited war, and conflict.

General War Hostile rear area security operations directed

against deployed SF teams.
In general war, the survival of the nation is at stake. Hostile interception and disruption of SF com-
The use of chemical and nuclear weapons is probable. munnications.
Nature of the Threats Hostile NBC operations directed against SF bases
and deployed SF teams.
General war poses the greatest threats to SF Hostile surveillance and deep attack of SF bases
capabilities to infiltrate, communicate, and conduct and deployments in the continental United States
operations in denied territory. The primary threats to (CONUS) and overseas.
SF in general war are—
Infiltration and Exfiltration
Hostile early warning, air defense, and coastal
security and border security systems encountered The threats to each method of infiltration and
by SF teams during infiltration and exfiltration. exfiltration are different. The following paragraphs

FM 31-20

illustrate typical threats SF teams face when infil- pose a significant threat to SF. Hostile police activity
trating and exfiltrating by air, land, and sea. and informer networks also make SF operations
difficult, even with the use of clandestine techniques.
SF teams infiltrating and exfiltrating by air must avoid Moreover, significant portions of the population are
an extensive and integrated air defense system. This likely to report any SF activity they detect.
system provides complete coverage at medium to
high altitudes with a high redundancy of coverage in
heavily defended areas. The Soviets in particular Electronic Warfare
have made concerted efforts to improve low-altitude Hostile forces have an extensive electronic warfare
detection by– (EW) capability. The Soviets in particular have large
Increasing radar site density. numbers of EW systems with broad coverage
Elevating radar antennas to overcome terrain at great distances. Because SF communications have
limitations. a unique electronic signature, their detection com-
Using height-finding early warning radars. promises the presence of an SF team even if the
Exploiting new radar technologies. hostile force cannot locate it.
Employing airborne early warning systems to
detect aircraft flying at low altitudes. Hostile NBC Capabilities
SF teams infiltrating and exfiltrating by sea must Hostile forces have NBC weapons and plan for their
pass through coastal security forces arrayed in use. Special Forces operational bases (SFOBs) have
overlapping zones. The outer ring consists of hostile always been likely NBC targets in general war. Now
surface craft and patrol submarines supported by NBC weapons proliferation has greatly increased the
land-based naval aviation. Closer to shore, coastal likelihood of these bases becoming targets in a
patrol vessels protect the coast from clandestine regional conflict. Moreover, recent combat experi-
delivery and recovery. Fixed and mobile land-based ences in the Third World indicate that SF teams
coastal security forces defend key coastal installations deployed in remote and denied areas may also
and frontiers. become targets. The risks for SF are significant.
SF teams infiltrating and exfiltrating by land must The principal nuclear risk to SF teams is from the
avoid hostile border security forces. These forces collateral damage effects of friendly nuclear bursts.
employ sensors, minefield, other barriers, patrols, There is also a danger of widespread fallout from
checkpoints, and other populace control measures large battlefield and theater weapons.
to detect clandestine movement across closed
borders. Once SF teams cross the border, they still Biological weapons and toxins pose a significant
face the rear area security threats discussed below. threat to SF teams and their indigenous forces in
remote areas. These weapons effectively cover wide
areas with minimal resources. Their use is hard to
Hostile Rear Area Security verify, and defensive warning systems and protective
measures are rudimentary.
SF teams must be able to operate in a restrictive
social environment. Hostile powers rely on active and Chemical weapons are generally low technology,
passive defense measures to protect their rear areas inexpensive, and militarily significant even in
from disruption. They normally impose stringent modest quantities. The psychological impact of these
populace and resources control (PRC) measures. If weapons is tremendous, even when they produce
SF teams threaten their rear, hostile powers may relatively few casualties. Use of these weapons causes
dislocate entire civilian populations and dedicate untrained or unequipped personnel to abandon their
significant combat power to isolate and neutralize mission and leave the area.
the teams. In addition to regular military and internal
security units, hostile powers employ local defense Surveillance and Deep Attack
units drawn from the civilian population in threat-
ened areas. A variety of fixed- and rotary-wing Hostile SOF and intelligence and sabotage agents
aircraft normally support these ground forces and pose a significant threat to SF in and around US

FM 31-20

military installations, both in CONUS and abroad. and direct attack. Strategic sabotage may adversely
During their normal peacetime activities, SF units affect an SF unit’s transition to active operations.
are vulnerable to surveillance, sabotage, terrorism,

Limited War Hostile Rear Area Security

Internal security measures vary widely from country
From the US perspective, a limited war is generally to country. The threat faced by SF teams may be
confined to a specific region of the world. It is fought similar to that discussed under general war, depend-
for limited objectives and does not threaten US ing on the following factors:
national survival. Density and capabilities of internal security
Nature of the Threats Severity of hostile PSYOP and PRC measures.
Attitude of the local population.
In a limited war, SF may face all the threats asso-
ciated with general war. Many regional powers now Electronic Warfare
have military capabilities similar to those previously Hostile EW capabilities may not be extensive or
belonging only to superpowers. The armed forces integrated in a limited war. However, they still pose
of many Third World countries have a mix of Western a significant threat to the SF command and control
and Communist weapons. These countries blend US, (C2) system.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and
Soviet doctrine to meet their particular wartime Hostile NBC Capabilities
needs and their existing technologies. As a result, The use of nuclear weapons in limited war is
their military capabilities are difficult to analyze. improbable, but the likelihood of their use increases
with Third World nuclear proliferation. The proba-
Infiltration and Exfiltration bility of biological and chemical weapons use in
limited war varies from region to region. Chemical
Most regional powers do not have border or coastal proliferation has greatly increased the likelihood of
security or air defense systems as integrated and SF units becoming chemical targets during a conflict.
comprehensive as those of the Warsaw Pact nations. Nonnuclear nations may use biological or chemical
SF infiltration and exfiltration usually do not pose weapons for their psychological effect or as weapons
the same problem anticipated in general war. of mass destruction.

Conflict easily identifiable. Much of the Third World is

plagued by high population growth rates, social
Conflict encompasses a broad range of complex unrest, and political and economic instability. These
environments for SF operations. The threats are not conditions provide fertile ground for banditry,

FM 31-20

terrorism, and insurgency. The Soviets and their revolution in China, the Communist insurgency in
allies have developed an effective strategy that Vietnam, and the Shining Path insurgency in Peru.
supports and encourages wars of national liberation. The traditional strategy employs existing tribal, racial,
Their aim is to establish Marxist-Leninist regimes religious, linguistic, or other similar groups as the
and obtain bases of geostrategic importance. basis for a resistance organization. The traditional
However, the Soviet Union is not the only foreign insurgency frequently seeks withdrawal from
power exploiting Third World instability. Radical and government control through autonomy or semi-
reactionary states and other self-directed political autonomy, usually in response to government
groups also use armed conflict to pursue their violence or other very specific grievances. Examples
interests. These interests may either threaten or of this strategy include the Mujahideen in
complement US national interests. Afghanistan, the Ibo revolt in Biafra, and the Karen
separatists in Burma.
Nature of the Threats
International terrorist organizations have sophis-
When operating in hostile or denied territory, SF ticated covert and clandestine infrastructures and
teams face threats similar to those found in a limited support mechanisms. Many receive support from
war. When operating in friendly or contested foreign governments hostile to the United States and
territory, SF units are still subject to acts of es- its allies. These organizations can inflict heavy
pionage, sabotage, terrorism, and insurgency. This damage and casualties that would preclude SF mis-
section addresses only those threats not addressed in the sion success. They generally consider SF personnel
previouus paragraph. to be lucrative and legal targets.
Terrorist strategies are usually shorter range than
Insurgent organizations are the primary threats to SF
insurgent strategies. Terrorists frequently do not
in a counterinsurgency environment. Each insurgent
organization is unique. Nevertheless, insurgent seek popular support. They exploit mass media to
publicize a cause, obtain a policy change, or intimi-
organizations can be categorized according to the
date a particular group.
general strategy they pursue.
Insurgences seldom follow precisely one of these
The subversive strategy employs both legal and illegal four strategies. Terrorists and insurgents modify their
means to penetrate and seize control of the strategies to fit their existing situation.
established political system. Subversive insurgences
can quickly shift to the critical-cell strategy when Hostile Rear Area Security
conditions dictate. Examples of subversive insur-
gences include Hitler’s rise to power and the In a friendly nation, the security threat takes the form
Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia. of espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and subversive
activity. The severity of the threat varies widely from
The critical-cell strategy employs armed violence as country to country.
a catalyst to create dissatisfaction and undermine the
legitimacy of the established government without Electronic Warfare
extensive political organization. A critical-cell insur-
gency may co-opt a mass popular revolution, as Hostile EW capabilities vary widely. SF must not
Lenin did in Russia. The insurgency may instead equate intensity of conflict with sophistication of EW
provide an armed cell around which mass popular threat. Even insurgent and terrorist organizations
support can rally in an atmosphere of disintegrating may have significant EW capabilities.
legitimacy. The Cuban revolution is an example.
Hostile NBC Capabilities
The mass-oriented strategy emphasizes mobilization
of the masses and extensive political organization as Hostile NBC capabilities also vary widely from
a prerequisite for a protracted politico-military conflict to conflict. Insurgents and terrorists may
struggle. Examples of this strategy include the Maoist acquire and use NBC weapons to advance their cause.

FM 31-20

SF plans, conducts, and supports SO in all operational environments and across the operational continuum.
The US Army organizes, trains, equips, and provides SF to perform five primary missions– UW, FID, DA, SR,
and CT. (For SF, CT is a primary mission only for designated and specially organized, trained, and equipped
SF units.) Mission priorities vary from theater to theater. SF missions are dynamic because they are directly
affected by politico-military considerations. A change in national security policy or strategy may radically alter
the nature of an SF mission. Indeed, a policy change may add or drop a mission. This chapter describes each
SF mission in detail. Although the missions are treated separately, they are all interrelated.

Warfare MYTH: Insurgency differs from UW because
insurgency gives priority to infrastruc-
UW is a broad spectrum of military and paramilitary ture and political development, while
operations, normally of long duration, predomi- UW emphasizes military operations.
SF conducts UW only during war.
nantly conducted by indigenous or surrogate forces
who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and FACT: Successful UW combat employment
directed in varying degrees by an external source. UW depends on an insurgent infrastruc-
includes guerilla warfare (GW) and other direct ture resilient enough to withstand the
offensive low-visibility, covert, or clandestine opera- hostile power’s retaliation. SF can
tions, as well as the indirect activities of subversion, conduct UW in conflict or war.
sabotage, intelligence collection, and evasion and
escape (E&E).

FM 31-20

UW is the military and paramilitary aspect of an The SOC may task the SF group to conduct and
insurgency or other armed resistance movement. support these special category (SPECAT) activities.
Armed resistance provides UW with its envi- (See FM 21-77A for a detailed discussion of E&E.)
ronmental context. UW is thus a protracted
politico-military activity. SF units do not create Subversion is an activity designed to undermine
resistance movements. They provide advice, train- the military, economic psychological, or political
ing, and assistance to indigenous resistance strength of a nation. All elements of the resistance
organizations already in existence. From the US organization contribute to the subversive effort, but
perspective, the intent is to develop and sustain those the clandestine nature of subversion dictates that
organizations and synchronize their activities to the underground perform the bulk of the activity.
further US national security objectives. When Sabotage is an activity designed to injure or obstruct
conducted independently, the primary focus of UW the national defense of a country by willfully dam-
is on politico-military and psychological objectives. aging or destroying any national defense or war
Military activity represents the culmination of a materiel, premises, or utilities, to include human and
successful effort to organize and mobilize the civil natural resources. Sabotage may be the most effec-
population. When UW operations support conven- tive or the only means of attacking specific targets
tional military operations, the focus shifts to primarily beyond the capabilities of conventional weapons
military objectives. However, the political and systems. It is used to selectively disrupt, destroy, or
psychological implications remain. Regardless of neutralize hostile capabilities with a minimum of
whether UW objectives are strategic or operational, manpower and materiel resources.
the nature of resistance and the fundamental UW
doctrine, tactics, and techniques remain unchanged. In UW, intelligence collection is designed to collect
UW includes the following interrelated activities: and report information concerning the capabilities,
GW, E&E, subversion, and sabotage. intentions, and activities of the established govern-
ment, or occupying power, and its external sponsors.
GW consists of military and paramilitary operations In this context, intelligence collection includes both
conducted by irregular, predominantly indigenous offensive and defensive low-level source operations.
forces in enemy-held or hostile territory. It is the
overt military aspect of an insurgency or other armed Contemporary UW takes on new significance for
resistance movement. several reasons. Historically, SF has focused on UW
as an adjunct to general war. However, the new US
E&E is an activity that assists military personnel and policy of supporting selected anti-communist resis-
other selected persons to move from an enemy-held, tance movements requires SF to focus on UW during
hostile, or sensitive area to areas under friendly conflicts short of war. Moreover, global urbanization
control. The special operations command (SOC) dictates a shift in emphasis from rural GW to all
plans and directs all E&E activities in the theater. aspects of clandestine resistance.

Foreign Internal programs taken by another government to free and

Defense protect its society from subversion, lawlessness,and
insurgency. The primary SF mission in this inter-
FID is the participation by civilian and military agency activity is to organize, train, advise, and assist
agencies of a government in any of the action HN military and paramilitary forces.

FM 31-20

performing a FID mission, SF teams train, advise, and

support HN forces conducting counterinsurgency
MYTH: SF is the Army’s answer to counter- operations. Other SF teams may conduct DA, SR,
insurgency. and CT operations in the HN, either unilaterally or
FACT: SF is well suited for FID missions in a with indigenous personnel. Still other SF teams may
counterinsurgency environment, but perform any or all of their wartime missions in hostile
only within the context of a larger effort or politically sensitive territory near the HN.
that is usually joint and interagency in
nature. In a limited or general war, SF units may conduct FID
missions against armed resistance organizations
opposing friendly conventional military operations.
In a counterinsurgency environment, SF opera- SF may also conduct FID missions to counter
tions may occur within or outside the HN. When insurgences in the strategic rear of the theater.

Direct Action systems and conventional maneuver forces. DA

operations typically involve the—
Attack of critical targets.
DA operations are short-duration strikes and other Interdiction of critical LOC or other target
small-scale offensive actions by SOF to seize, systems.
destroy, or inflict damage on a specified target or to Capture, rescue, or recovery of designated per-
destroy, capture, or recover designated personnel or sonnel or materiel.
materiel. In the conduct of these operations, SOF
MYTH: SF performed DA operations because
Employ direct assault, raid, or ambush tactics. the Army did not have any ranger units;
now rangers are the primary DA force.
Emplace mines and other munitions.
Conduct standoff attacks by fire from air, ground, FACT: The roles of SF and rangers overlap in
or maritime platforms. DA operations. SF DA operations
require unconventional tactics and
Provide terminal guidance for precision-guided techniques, area orientation, and lan-
munitions. guage qualification. Ranger DA
operations use conventional tactics
Conduct independent sabotage. and specialized ranger techniques in
platoon or greater strength. On
occasion, DA operations may require
SF DA operations are normally limited in scope and a mix of SF and rangers. An SF team
duration and have a planned exfiltration. They are may serve as an advance party for an
designed to achieve specific, well defined, and often operation requiring ranger combat
power, or a ranger force may provide
time-sensitive results of strategic or operational sig- security for a surgical SF operation.
nificance. They usually occur beyond the range (or
other operational capabilities) of tactical weapons

FM 31-20

Special SF may conduct SR in any operational environment

in peace, conflict, or war. SF teams normally con-
Reconnaissance duct SR missions beyond the sensing capabilities of
tactical collection systems.
SR is reconnaissance and surveillance conducted by
SOF to obtain or verify, by visual observation or other SR typically seeks to obtain specific well-defined,
collection methods, information concerning the and time-sensitive information of strategic or
capabilities, intentions, and activities of an actual or operational significance. SF may use advanced
potential enemy. SOF may also use SR to secure reconnaissance and surveillance techniques or more
data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, sophisticated clandestine collection methods. During
or geographic characteristics of a particular area. the critical transition from peace to war, the NCA,
SR includes target acquisition, area assessment, and JCS, and unified commanders may have priority in-
post-strike reconnaissance. telligence requirements (PIR) that only SF teams can
collect. During war, SF teams deploy to named areas
MYTH: SR is essentially the same as the of interest (NAI) to collect and report information in
tactical reconnaissance performed by response to specific PIR of the unified commander
corps long-range surveillance units and his subordinate operational force commanders.
(LRSUs), but SF teams conduct SR
deeper and for longer periods in
hostile territory.
FACT: SF may employ battlefield recon- In a conflict, SF teams may perform SR missions
naissance and surveillance tech- at the strategic, operational, or tactical level. At
niques similar to those used by the strategic level, SF teams collect and report critical
LRSUs. However, SR is frequently information for the NCA, JCS, or unified
more technology-intensive. SF teams commander in crisis situations and in support of
use their UW tactics and techniques, national and theater CT forces. SF teams perform
area orientation, and language skills
to accomplish more difficult re- operational-level SR missions in support of
connaissance tasks. They may use insurgency, counterinsurgency, and contingency
sophisticated clandestine collection operations. SF teams may also perform tactical
methods. reconnaissance when the nature or sensitivity of
the mission makes the use of LRSUs inappropriate.

Counterterrorism capabilities to preclude, preempt, and resolve terror-

ist incidents abroad. SOF involvement in CT is
limited by HN responsibilities, Department of Justice
CT is offensive measures taken by civilian and mili- (DOJ) and Department of State (DOS) lead agency
tary agencies of a government to prevent, deter, and authority, legal and political restrictions, and
respond to terrorism. The primary mission of SOF in appropriate DOD directives. When directed by the
this interagency activity is to apply specialized NCA or the appropriate unified commander,

FM 31-20

designated SOF units conduct or support CT For SF, CT is a special mission, not a generic mis-
missions that include— sion applicable to all SF units. SF participation in CT
Hostage rescue. is limited to those specially organized, trained, and
Recovery of sensitive material from terrorist equipped SF units designated in theater contingency
organizations. plans. These designated SF units respond as directed
Attack of the terrorist infrastructure. by the NCA or unified commander to resolve specific
situations arising from a terrorist incident. As part of
Because of the very low profile of most terrorist the counterterrorist enhancement program (CTEP),
organizations, identifying targets for CT missions can these designated SF units may also train selected HN
be extremely difficult. While a preemptive strike forces to perform CT missions.
against terrorists may be preferred, CT missions must
often be conducted after the terrorists have already Many CT missions remain classified. Further dis-
initiated a terrorist incident. cussion of CT is beyond the scope of this publication.

Collateral Activities Humanitarian Assistance

HA is any military actor operation of a humanitarian
In addition to their five primary missions, SF units nature. These activities include disaster relief, non-
perform collateral activities. These activities include combatant evacuation, and support to and/or
SA, HA antiterrorism and other security activities, resettlement of displaced civilians. SF units are
countemarcotics (CN), SAR, and special activities. well-suited to perform HA activities in remote areas,
SF units conductor support collateral activities using particularly in a conflict environment. Several pro-
their inherent capabilities to perform their primary grams authorize the use of DOD resources for
missions. SF commanders should anticipate their humanitarian and civil assistance and for foreign
collateral requirements and ensure their units disaster relief. Combatants to include members of
prepare for them. certain friendly resistance organizations, are eligible
for assistance under some of these programs. All SF
participation in such activities requires significant
Security Assistance interagency coordination.
SA is a group of programs authorized by the Foreign Antiterrorism and Other
Assistance Act, the Arms Export Control Act, or Security Activities
other related US statutes. The US government
provides defense articles and services, including These activities ensure the physical security of
training, to eligible foreign countries and inter- important persons, facilities, and events meets ac-
national organizations that further US national ceptable security standards. Responding to requests
security objectives. The primary SF role in SA is to from the services and other government agencies, SF
provide mobile training teams (MTTs) and other can provide training and advice on how to reduce
forms of mobile training assistance. Public law vulnerability to terrorism and other hostile threats.
prohibits personnel providing SA services (to in- SF teams use their UW expertise to anticipate hostile
clude mobile training assistance) from performing activity and evaluate the adequacy of existing physical
combatant duties. (See DOD 5105-38-M, AR 12-1, security systems. When directed, SF capabilities can
and AR 12-15 for detailed discussions on SA augment existing security for important persons and
programs.) events.

FM 31-20

Counternarcotics to friendly control selected persons or materiel that

are isolated and threatened in sensitive, denied, or
CN activities are measures taken to disrupt, interdict, contested areas. They focus on situations that involve
and destroy illicit drug activities. The levels of political sensitivity and/or remote or hostile
violence used by the drug infrastructure dictate the environments. These situations may arise from a
increased use of military and paramilitary forces in political change, combat action, chance happening, or
CN activities. A 1981 amendment to the Posse mechanical mishap. When directed, SF units perform
Comitatus Act (18 US Code 1385) authorizes specific combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions using
DOD assistance in drug interdiction and drug collateral capabilities inherent in a DA recovery
eradication. The primary SF role in this interagency mission. SF does not employ standard CSAR
activity is to support US and HN CN efforts abroad. procedures when executing such a mission.
The DOS’s Bureau of International Narcotics
Matters and the DOJ’s Drug Enforcement Admin- Special Activities
istration (DEA) are normally the lead US operational
CN agencies within a HN. When these agencies or Special activities require presidential approval and
the HN requests military assistance, SF teams may be congressional oversight. Executive Order 12333
directed to provide in-country or out-of-country states that no agency except the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) may conduct any special activity in
(offshore) training to US and HN CN forces. SF
advisors may also assist CN staffs in planning, peacetime unless the President so directs. When
organizing, and conducting large-scale, long-term directed by the President, the DOD performs special
activities during war declared by Congress or during
CN operations. When authorized and subject to legal
and policy constraints, SF advisors may also any period covered by a presidential report under
accompany CN forces on actual operations. the War Powers Resolution. Whether supporting or
conducting a special activity, an SF unit may per-
Search and Rescue form any of its primary wartime missions, subject to
the limitations imposed on special activities. Such
SF can participate in theater SAR efforts. These activities are highly compartmented and centrally
activities are designed to locate, recover, and restore managed and controlled.

Other SO Activities Deception Operations

SF can support and enhance a national or theater
The categorization of SO activities as primary mis- deception plan. SF deception operations distort,
sions and collateral activities focuses on what SOF do. manipulate, or falsify facts to induce a foreign
In some cases, it is more important to focus on why government or group to react in a manner favorable
SOF conduct SO. The physical result of SO may be to US interests. These operations also enhance
secondary to some greater purpose. Deception friendly operations security (OPSEC). SF may per-
operations, demonstrations, and shows of force are form deception as part of another mission or as an
examples of such operations. operation in itself. Whenever possible, the SF

FM 31-20

deception role should be combined with other SO to They may involve the forward deployment of military
make the deception more credible. forces, combined training exercises, and the
introduction or buildup of military forces in a region.
Demonstrations and Demonstrations and shows of force are not meant to
Shows of Force deceive the target audience. These operations may
These operations are overt demonstrations of meet with a hostile response, so they must be planned
national intention or resolve. The NCA initiate them and executed to counter such a response. SF units are
to influence another government or political group to well-suited for certain demonstrations and shows of
respect US interests or to enforce international law. force because of their strategic capabilities.

Multiple and An SF team may conduct an area assessment

(SR mission) and then remain in the joint special
Follow-On Missions operations area (JSOA) to develop an indigenous
resistance organization (UW mission).
Actual operational requirements often cut across Follow-on missions are appropriate when the risk of
doctrinal mission lines. An SF team may conduct an exfiltration is greater than the risk of remaining in
operation involving multiple missions. It may also the operational area. They are also appropriate when
receive a follow-on mission after its initial mission. the importance of the follow-on mission justifies
Multiple missions are appropriate when opera- leaving the SF team in the JSOA. For example–
tional requirements demand the application of TTPs An SF team may conduct a DA mission against a
drawn from more than one doctrinal mission. For specified target, then link up with a resistance
example— organization or a bypassed or cutoff conventional
An SF team may acquire a target (SR mission) force to conduct a UW mission.
and then provide terminal guidance for precision An SF team conducting another mission may be
guided munitions launched against the acquired directed to recover a downed aircrew or other
target (DA mission). designated personnel or materiel.

FM 31-20

SF group commanders routinely task organize companies and battalions to create mission-oriented
teams and task forces. This chapter describes the formal organization of the SF group and its organic
elements. Later chapters will expand on this chapter to explain how and why SF commanders task
organize their units.

Special Forces other services. The group’s C2 and support elements

can (see Chapter 5)—
Group (Airborne) Establish, operate, and support an SFOB and
three forward operational bases (FOBs).
The Special Forces group (airborne) [SFG(A)] is a Provide three special operations command and
multipurpose and extremely flexible organization. Its control elements (SOCCEs) to conventional
mission is to plan, conduct, and support SO in any headquarters at corps level or higher.
operational environment in peace, conflict, and war. Train and prepare SF teams for deployment.
Figure 4-1 depicts the group’s organization. Direct, support, and sustain deployed SF teams.
The group’s C2 and support elements can function as The group’s SF teams infiltrate and exfiltrate
the headquarters for an Army special operations task specified operational areas by air, land, or sea. They
force (ARSOTF) or for a joint special operations task conduct operations in remote areas and non-
force (JSOTF) when augmented by resources from permissive environments for extended periods with

FM 31-20

minimal external direction and support. SF teams can Plan and conduct unilateral SF operations.
also— Train, advise, and assist other US and allied forces
or agencies.
Develop, organize, equip, train, and advise or Perform other SO as directed by the NCA or a
direct indigenous military and paramilitary forces. unified commander.

Headquarters and Provides command and staff personnel to estab-

lish and operate an SFOB.
Headquarters Company, Provides advice, coordination, and staff assis-
tance on the employment of SF elements to a joint
SFG(A) SOC, JSOTF, security assistance organization
(SAO), or other major headquarters.
The group headquarters and headquarters company
(HHC) provides C2, staff planning, and staff super- Provides cryptomaterial support to the SFOB and
its deployed SF teams.
vision of group operations and administration. Its
organization is depicted in Figure 4-2. The headquarters company provides routine ad-
ministrative and logistical support to the group
Functions headquarters. It depends on the group support
The group headquarters commands and controls company for unit-level maintenance of its organic
assigned and attached forces. It— wheeled vehicles, power generation equipment, and
signal equipment. When the group establishes an
Plans, coordinates, and directs SF operations SFOB, the HHC commander serves as head-
separately or as a part of a larger force.
quarters commandant under the direct supervision of
Trains and prepares SF teams for deployment. the deputy group commander. As headquarters

FM 31-20

commandant, the HHC commander is responsible The deputy commander performs those duties as-
for the movement, internal administration (to signed to him by the group commander. He
include space allocation, billeting, and food service), assumes commmand of the group in the com-
and physical security of the group headquarters and mander’s absence. When the group establishes an
the SFOB operations center (OPCEN). SFOB, he serves as the OPCEN director. The group
commander commands the group, but the deputy
Command and Staff commander directs its day-to-day activities. The
Responsibilities relationship between the group commander and his
deputy commander normally is such that the deputy
The group commander exercises comnmand of the commander can act for the commander when the
group and its attached elements. When the group commander is absent or involved with more
establishes an SFOB, he is the SFOB commander. important tasks.

FM 31-20

The executive officer (XO) performs duties similar to The S5 is the principal staff officer for all CA matters.
those of a chief of staff. He directs the group staff and He plans and coordinates the group’s civil-military
assigns specific responsibilities to prepare plans, operations (CMO), to include foreign nation support
orders, reports and other staff actions. When the (FNS). He advises the commander on politico-
group establishes an SFOB, he serves as director of military matters and assists him in meeting his legal
the battle staff. and moral obligations to the local populace. He
exercises staff supervision over attached CA
The S1 is the principal staff officer for all personnel elements.
service support (PSS) matters and other admin-
istrative matters not assigned to another coordinating The signal officer is the principal staff officer for all
staff officer. He may perform special staff officer signal matters. He plans and recommends employ-
duties, such as inspector general, provost marshal, ment of SF group communications. He is also the
public affairs officer, and special services officer. tactical command information systems (TCIS)
Additional duties include safety, postal operations, management officer with staff responsibility for
and the management of stragglers and hostile automation. He assists the S3 in preparing EW
prisoners of war (PWs). His primary operational plans and is responsible for electronic counter-
concerns are replacement operations, strength man- countermeasures (ECCM). He supervises the
agement, and casualty reporting. He directly group’s frequency manager and preparation of the
supervises the group personnel section and exercises group signal operation instructions (SOI). He
staff supervision over attached PSS and MP units. coordinates and exercises technical supervision over
training of organic and attached communications
The S2 is the principal staff officer for all matters personnel. He exercises staff supervision over the
pertaining to intelligence and counterintelligence. SFOB signal center (SIGCEN). He is also the group
He plans for the collection, processing, and dis- communications security (COMSEC) officer and
semination of intelligence that is required for SF supervises the group COMSEC custodian, who
group operations. He advises the commander in the maintains the group COMSEC account.
employment of group intelligence assets. He pro-
vides special security office (SSO) support to the The budget officer is the principal staff officer for all
SFOB. He provides the S3 with intelligence support matters pertaining to programming, budgeting, re-
for the OPSEC program, EW operations, and decep- ceiving, handling, safeguarding, and disbursing all
tion planning. He exercises staff supervision over the program funds. These include special mission funds,
group’s military intelligence (MI) detachment, the intelligence contingency funds, foreign currency
DS engineer terrain detachment (when attached operations, and commercial accounts. He coor-
from the theater army [TA] engineer command), and dinates and exercises technical control over group
attached MI units. financial policies, plans, and services. If the budget
officer is qualified and acceptable under the
The S3 is the principal staff officer for all matters provisions of AR 37-103, the supporting finance and
pertaining to the organization, training, and opera- accounting officer may appoint him as a deputy or
tions of the group. He has overall staff responsibility Class B agent officer.
for PSYOP, OPSEC, EW, CSAR, and deception.
He exercises staff supervision over organic and The engineer is the principal advisor to the com-
attached aviation and PSYOP units. mander and staff on engineer matters. He exercises
staff supervision over attached engineer units. He
The S4 is the principal staff officer for all logistics coordinates and exercises technical supervision over
matters. He is the group’s primary logistical planner training of organic and attached engineer personnel.
and coordinator. He exercises staff supervision over He plans and coordinates the group’s real estate and
the group support company’s service detachment and construction requirements and real property main-
attached logistical units. He coordinates closely with tenance. He establishes the group’s emergency action
the four support company commanders, who are the facility (EAF) and manages the group’s emergency
principal logistical operators of the group. action program (EAP).

FM 31-20

The chemical officer is the principal advisor to the families. He assesses the religious attitudes of
commander and staff for all matters concerning indigenous populations to determine the impact of
offensive and defensive chemical operations. He these attitudes on SF operations.
exercises technical supervision over group NBC
activities and staff supervision over attached chem- The judge advocate is the principal advisor to the
ical units. commander and his staff on legal matters. He advises
on matters involving military law, US domestic law,
The flight surgeon is the principal advisor to the foreign law, status of forces agreements, intern-
commander and staff for all matters affecting the ational law, operational law, and ROE. He reviews all
mental and physical health of the group, attached sensitive mission taskings, plans, and orders to ensure
elements, and its supported indigenous forces. He they adequately address legal issues. He may perform
directly supervises the group’s medical section and additional duties as public affairs officer when no
exercises staff supervision over attached medical full-time public affairs officer is attached to the
units. He coordinates and exercises technical group.
control over training of organic and attached medical
personnel. The command sergeant major (CSM) is the group’s
senior noncommissioned officer (NCO). He is the
The chaplain is the principal advisor to the com- principal advisor to the commander and staff on
mander and staff on moral, ethical, and religious matters pertaining to enlisted personnel. He moni-
issues affecting the unit mission. He plans and tors policy implementation and standards on the
coordinates the activities of unit ministry teams performance, training, appearance, and conduct of
(UMTs) to ensure comprehensive religious support enlisted personnel. He provides counsel and
of all assigned and attached personnel and their guidance to NCOs and other enlisted personnel.

Support Company, coordination with the S3 and headquarters com-

mandant, the Spt Co commander prepares the base
SFG(A) defense plan and supervises base defense operations
center (BDOC) activities (see Chapter 6).
The group support company (Spt Co) provides intel-
ligence support, CSS, and signal support to the SFOB The MI detachment provides integrated all-source
and its deployed SF teams. The company’s aviation intelligence collection management, analysis, pro-
platoon provides general aviation support to the duction, and dissemination in support of group-level
entire group. The company’s organization is shown situation and target development. These functions
in Figure 4-3. Its functions are discussed below. correspond to those performed by the tactical
operations center (TOC) support element of a
The Spt Co commander commands all personnel conventional MI unit. The detachment establishes
and elements assigned or attached to the company. and operates a tactical sensitive compartmented in-
His company headquarters provides routine adminis- formation facility (SCIF) in the SFOB OPCEN and
trative and logistical support to the SFOB support provides sensitive compartmented information (SCI)
center (SPTGEN) and SIGCEN. He is the group’s communications between the SFOB and the de-
primary logistical operator. When the group ployed FOBs. It provides interrogation and CI
establishes an SFOB, he serves as the SPTCEN support, to include CI support of the group’s OPSEC
director. His duties require direct interface with TA and deception programs. The detachment com-
logistical support elements (see Chapter 14). In mander works for the deputy group commander

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

under the staff supervision of the group S2. When the the detachment remains dependent on the Spt Co
detachment is formally detached from the support for administrative and logistical support.
company, the detachment commander exercises
normal company-level command. However, the The aviation platoon provides limited general (non-
detachment remains dependent on the Spt Co for tactical) aviation support to the group and its attached
administrative and logistical support. elements. The platoon headquarters receives, pro-
cesses, and coordinates all group general aviation
The service detachment performs unit-level supply, support requirements. It also establishes and
services, and maintenance functions for the group operates the SFOB’s flight OPCEN. The aviation
HHC and Spt Co and their attached elements. When unit maintenance (AVUM) section maintains or-
the group establishes an SFOB, the service de- ganic aircraft and avionics equipment used by the
tachment commander coordinates and supemises flight section.
SPTCEN logistics. He works for the Spt Co
commander under the staff supervision of the S4. The medical section provides health service support
(HSS) to the SFOB. This support includes unit-
The signal detachment has two primary functions. It level medical support, medical supply (to include
installs, operates, and maintains secure SFOB radio maintenance of the Class VIII basic load), emergency
communications with the FOBs and deployed SF medical and resuscitative treatment for all classes of
teams. It also installs, operates, and maintains patients, emergency dental treatment, preventive
continuous internal SFOB communications. This medicine support, and veterinary support.
base communications support includes communi-
cations center services, telephone communications, The personnel section collocates with the supporting
electronic maintenance, and photographic support. military personnel office (MILPO). The section
When the group establishes an SFOB, the signal augments the MILPO to perform personnel
detachment commander serves as the SIGCEN management functions for the entire SF group.
director. When the detachment is formally detached When elements of the group are supported by more
from the Spt Co, the detachment commander exer- than one MILPO, members of the personnel section
cises normal company-level command. However, may be attached to each supporting MILPO.

SF Battalion, SFG(A) Train and prepare SF teams for deployment.

Direct, support, and sustain deployed SF teams.
Like the SF group, the SF battalion plans, conducts,
and supports SO in any operational environment in The battalion’s SF teams infiltrate and exfiltrate
peace, conflict, and war. The SF battalion’s organi- specified areas by air, land, or sea. They conduct
zation is shown in Figure 4-4. Its functions are operations in remote areas and hostile environments
discussed below. for extended periods with minimal external direction
and support. SF teams can also—
The battalion’s C2 and support elements can func-
tion as the headquarters for an ARSOTF or for a Develop, organize, equip, train, and advise or
JSOTF when. augmented by resources from other direct indigenous military and paramilitary forces.
services. The C2 and support elements can— Plan and conduct unilateral SF operations.
Establish, operate, and support an FOB. Train, advise, and assist other US and allied forces
Provide one SOCCE to a corps or higher head- or agencies.
quarters. Perform other SO as directed by higher authority.

FM 31-20

Headquarters joint SOC, JSOTF, SAO, or other major

Detachment (SFOD
Command and Staff
SF Battalion Responsibilities
The SFOD C, also known as C detachment, provides The battalion commander exercises command of the
C2, staff planning, and staff supervision of battalion battalion and its attached elements. When the bat-
operations and administration. The detachment’s talion establishes an FOB, he serves as the FOB
organization is shown in Figure 4-5. commander.
Functions The executive officer performs duties similar to those
of a deputy commander and chief of staff. He directs
The SFOD C commands and controls assigned and the battalion staff and assigns specific responsibilities
attached elements. The detachment— to prepare plans, orders, reports, and other staff
Plans, coordinates, and directs SF operations actions. When the battalion commander establishes
separately or as part of a larger force. an FOB, he serves as FOB director and supervises the
Provides command and staff personnel to day-to-day base activities.
establish and operate an FOB. The S1 is the principal staff officer for all PSS mat-
Provides advice, coordination, and staff assis- ters and other administrative matters not assigned to
tance on the employment of SF elements to a another coordinating staff officer. His duties are

FM 31-20

similar to those of the group S1. Under his direct The S4 is the principal staff officer for all logistical
supervision, the battalion personnel administration matters. His duties are similar to those of the group
center (PAC) provides consolidated unit-level per- S4. He coordinates closely with the battalion Spt Co
sonnel administrative support to the SF battalion. commander, who is the battalion’s principal logistical
The S2 is the principal staff officer for all matters
pertaining to intelligence and CI. His duties are The S5 is the principal staff officer on all CA matters.
similar to those of the group S2. He provides special His duties are similar to those of the group S5.
security representative (SSR) support to the bat-
talion. The SSR functions under the technical The signal officer is the principal staff officer for all
control of the supporting SSO. The supporting SSO signal matters. His duties are similar to those of the
will be the group SSO only when the two head- group signal officer.
quarters are collocated. The flight surgeon is the principal advisor to the
commander and staff for all matters affecting the
The S3 is the principal staff officer for all matters mental and physical health of the battalion, attached
pertaining to the organization, training, and opera- elements, and its supported indigenous force. His
tions of the battalion. His duties are similar to those duties are similar to those of the group flight surgeon.
of the group S3. When the battalion commander
establishes an FOB, the S3 serves as OPCEN The CSM is the battalion’s senior NCO. His duties
director. are similar to those of the group CSM.

FM 31-20

Support Company, The battalion Spt Co headquarters provides routine

administrative and logistical support to the battalion
SF Battalion headquarters detachment, the company’s organic
elements, and the FOB SPTCEN and SIGCEN. The
The battalion Spt Co provides intelligence and EW company headquarters includes personnel to
support, CSS, and signal support to an FOB and its maintain the battalion’s diving and marine equip-
deployed SF teams. The company’s organization is ment. The Spt Co commander commands all
shown in Figure 4-6. Its functions are discussed personnel and elements assigned or attached to the
below. company. His duties are similar to those of the group

FM 31-20

Spt Co commander, except that his company has no The detachment does not have any organic
organic aviation platoon. When the battalion estab- interrogation teams.
lishes an FOB, he serves as SPTCEN director. The detachment commander works for the bat-
talion commander under the staff supervision of
The battalion MI detachment mission and orga- the S2.
nization are similar to those of the group MI
detachment, with five exceptions The battalion service detachment performs functions
similar to those of the group service detachment. Its
The battalion MI detachment has more limited sections support the entire SF battalion and its
capabilities. It depends on the group intelligence attached elements.
data base and other technical assistance from the
group MI detachment. The battalion signal detachment performs functions
similar to those of the group signal detachment.
The detachment has three organic special opera- When the battalion establishes an FOB, the
tions teams (SOTs) A. The SOTs A deploy with detachment Commander seines as SIGCEN
SF teams to provide SIGINT and EW support. director. The base communications support section
is smaller by TOE because it has no capability to
When specifically authorized and directed, the CI communicate with subordinate bases. The detach-
team participates in active CI operations. ment has no organic photo section.

Conduct operations in remote areas and hostile

SF Company, environments for extended periods with minimal
SF Battalion external direction and support.
Develop, organize, equip, train, and advise or
The SF company plans and conducts SO in any direct indigenous forces of up to regimental size
operational environment in peace, conflict, and war. in SO.
Its organization is shown in Figure 4-7. Thin, advise, and assist other US and allied forces
and agencies.
The SF company headquarters (SFOD B, also known
as B detachment) is a multi-purpose C2 element with When augmented, establish and operate an
many employment options. It is organized as shown advanced operational base (AOB) to expand the
C2 capabilities of an SFOB or FOB.
in Figure 4-8. It can command and control one to six
SFODs A. It cannot isolate and deploy SF teams Serve as an SOCCE at a corps or higher head-
independently without significant augmentation. quarters.
Serve as a C2 element (area command) in a
Functions specified operational area.
The SFOD B can— Serve as a pilot team to assess the resistance
potential in a specified operational area.
Plan and conduct SF operations separately or as
part of a larger force. Establish and operate an isolation facility
(ISOFAC) for an SFOB or FOB.
Rain and prepare SF teams for deployment.
Infiltrate and exfiltrate specified operational Augment the C2 capabilities of an SFOB or FOB.
areas by air, land, or sea. Perform other SO as directed by higher authority.

FM 31-20

Command and Staff


The company commander exercises command of the

personnel and elements assigned or attached to the
company. When the company establishes an AOB,
he serves as AOB commander.
The company XO directs the company staff and
assigns specific responsibilities to prepare plans,
orders, reports, and other staff actions. In
coordination with the company sergeant major, he
directs and supervises company administrative and
logistical activities.
The company technician has staff responsibility for
all matters pertaining to the organization, training,
intelligence and CI activities and combat operations
of the company and its SFODs.
The company sergeant major is the senior NCO of
the company. He is the commander’s principal
advisor on matters pertaining to enlisted personnel.
He supervises the daily training, operations, and
administration of the company.
The operations sergeant and assistant operations
sergeant assist the XO and company technician in
accomplishing their duties. When the SF company
and its SFODs are uncommitted, they manage the
company’s training program for the company

FM 31-20

The medical sergeant— (SHF) radio communications equipment to trans-

Provides routine, preventive, and emergency mit and receive voice, continuous wave (CW), and
medical care. burst radio messages.
Establishes field medical facilities to support Rain detachment members and indigenous forces
operations. in signal equipment and procedures.
Trains allied and indigenous personnel in basic Manage unit frequencies.
emergency and preventive medical care.
Gathers medical information. The supply sergeant is the company’s principal logis-
tical planner and operator. He coordinates closely
Provides mission related veterinary care. with the battalion S4 and service detachment
The two communications sergeants— commander to meet the unique needs of the company
and its SFODs.
Advise the commander on communications
matters. The NBC NCO supervises, operates, and maintains
Prepare communications plans and annexes. the company’s NBC detection and decontamination
equipment. He also assists in establishing, adminis-
Assemble the SOI.
tering, and applying NBC defensive measures.
Install, operate, and maintain frequency modu-
lated (FM), amplitude modulated (AM), high All detachment members must be capable of ad-
frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), ultra vising, assisting, or directing foreign counterparts in
high frequency (UHF), and super high frequency their functional areas up through regimental level.

Operational Detachment one SFOD A trained in combat diving and one

SFOD A trained in military free-fall (MFF)
(SFOD A), SF Company parachuting. The SFOD A can–
Plan and conduct SF operations separately or as
The SFOD A, also known as A detachment, is the part of a larger force.
basic SF unit. Its organization is shown in Figure 4-9. Infiltrate and exfiltrate specified operational
areas by air, land, or sea.
Conduct operations in remote areas and hostile
The SFOD A is specifically designed to organize, environments for extended periods of time with a
equip, train, advise or direct, and support indigenous minimum of external direction and support.
military or paramilitary forces in UW and FID
operations. The detachment has two enlisted Develop, organize, equip, train, and advise or
specialists in each of the five SF functional areas direct indigenous forces up to battalion size in SO.
weapons, engineer, medical, communications, and Rain, advise, and assist other US and allied forces
operations and intelligence. The detachment can and agencies.
serve as a manpower pool from which SF com-
manders organize tailored SF teams to perform DA Plan and conduct unilateral SF operations.
SR, or other missions. By TOE, each SF company has Perform other SO as directed by higher authority.

FM 31-20

Command and Staff guidance and professional support to detachment

Responsibilities members. He prepares the operations and training
portions of area studies, briefbacks, and OPLANs
The detachment commander exercises command of and OPORDs. He supervises the preparation of
his detachment. He may command or advise an detachment training products. He performs the
indigenous combat force up to battalion size. duties of the detachment technician in his absence.
The detachment technician serves as second in He can recruit, organize, train, and supervise
command and ensures that the detachment com- indigenous combat forces up to battalion size.
mander’s decisions and concepts are implemented. The assistant operations and intelligence sergeant
He assigns specific responsibilities to prepare plans, plans, coordinates, and directs the detachment’s
orders, reports, and other actions. He prepares the intelligence training, collection, analysis, production,
administrative and logistical portions of area studies, and dissemination. He also assists the operations
briefbacks, and operations plans (OPLANs) and sergeant in preparing area studies, briefbacks,
operations orders (OPORDs). He can recruit, OPLANs and OPORDs He field interrogates and
organize, train, and supervise indigenous combat processes hostile PWs. He briefs and debriefs friendly
forces up to battalion size. patrols. He performs the duties of the operations
The operations sergeant is the senior enlisted sergeant in his absence. He can train, advise, or lead
member of the detachment. He advises the indigenous combat forces up to company size.
detachment commander on all operations and The two weapons sergeants employ conventional and
training matters. He provides tactical and technical UW tactics and techniques as tactical mission leaders.
They train detachment members and indigenous
forces in the use of individual small arms, light
crew-served weapons, and antiaircraft and antiarmor
weapons. They help the operations sergeant prepare
the operations and training portions of area studies,
briefbacks, and OPLANs and OPORDs. They
recruit, organize, train, and advise or command
indigenous combat forces up to company size.
The two engineer sergeants supervise, lead, plan,
perform, and instruct all aspects of combat engi-
neering and light construction engineering. They
construct and employ improvised munitions. They
plan and perform sabotage operations. They prepare
the engineer and targeting portions of area studies,
briefbacks, and OPLANs and OPORDs They can
recruit, organize, train, and advise or command
indigenous combat forces up to company size.
The two medical sergeants provide emergency,
routine, and long-term medical care for detachment
members and associated allied or indigenous per-
sonnel. They train, advise, and direct detachment
members and allied or indigenous personnel in
routine, emergency, and preventive medical care.
They establish field medical facilities to support
detachment operations. They provide veterinary
care. They prepare the medical portion of area
studies, briefbacks, and OPLANs and OPORDs
They can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat
forces up to company size.

FM 31-20

The two communications sergeants install, operate, SFOD A

and maintain FM, AM, HF, VHF, UHF, and SHF Staff Assignments
radio communications in voice, CW, and burst radio
nets. They advise the detachment commander on In anticipation of a UW or FID mission and to ensure
communications matters. They train detachment functional coverage of all pre-mission activities, the
members and indigenous forces in communications.
They prepare the communications portion of area SFOD A commander organizes a detachment staff
studies, briefbacks, and OPLANs and OPORDs using the staff assignment guide at Figure 4-10.
They can train, advise, or lead indigenous combat The detachment communications sergeants perform
forces up to company size. special staff functions related to their field or serve
as assistant staff members, at the discretion of the
All detachment members must be capable of ad- detachment commander. Detachment staff members
vising, assisting, or directing foreign counterparts in perform those duties outlined in FM 101-5 for their
their functional areas up through battalion level. particular functional area.

FM 31-20

Chemical Detachment, SFOB. Its organic decontamination teams provide

NBC decontamination support to the SFOB and
SFG(A) FOBs. The reconnaissance teams(s) perform NBC
SR, to include chemical and biological agent samp-
When available, a separate SF chemical detachment ling and collection. A reconnaissance team may
will be attached to each SF group to provide deploy independently or may be attached to a larger
dedicated NBC support. Under the staff supervision SF team. Both the decontamination and recon-
of the group chemical officer, the detachment head- naissance teams can also perform foreign military
quarters augments the NBC control element at the training and assistance missions when required.

FM 31-20

SF operates under many varied C2 arrangements. The exact C2 structure is determined by the requirements of
the commander at each echelon of command. SF operations are inherently joint. They are directly controlled
by higher echelons, up to the NCA, often with minimal involvement of intermediate headquarters. They may
require oversight at the national level. This chapter discusses C2 of SF operations from the unified command
level down to the organization within the operational area. It provides a number of generic command
relationships that commanders may choose depending on the situation. This chapter also discusses the SF
communications system that supports these C2 arrangements.

Joint understand the nature of joint operations because

their abbreviated chains of command place them in
Environment frequent contact with joint headquarters. Every
operational headquarter above SF group level is
joint. Thus, dealing with a joint headquarters is as
SO require a responsive and unified C2 structure. common to an SF commander as dealing with a
Unnecessary layering of headquarters within the SO division headquarter is to a conventional combat
chain of command decreases responsiveness and arms commander. (See JCS Pubs 0-2 and 3-0 for
compromises security. All SF commanders must detailed discussions of joint operations.)

FM 31-20

Theater Special from the other services, an SF group or battalion

headquarters can function as a JSOTF headquarters.
Operations Command
The SOC commander exercises direct OPCON of
The NCA have established five regional unified com- assigned SOF. He begins SOF mission planning by
mands with a broad strategic responsibility for US developing the theater CINC’s strategic guidance
unified military operations in an area of responsibility into a sequence of integrated SO that support the
(AOR). For the remainder of this publication, the US theater strategy and campaign plan. The SOC
regional commander in chief (CINC) is assumed to be commander must maintain a theaterwide per-
the theater of war commander (theater CINC). (See spective. He must fully understand the theater
JCS Pubs 0-2 and 3-0 for detailed discussions of joint CINC’s vision and how each conventional force
theater operations.) commander intends to implement his aspect of the
The regional CINCs exercise COCOM over assigned theater campaign. He must identify and anticipate
SOF (Figure 5-l). Each regional CINC has theater operational and intelligence requirements
that SOF can address. He must then develop and
established a subordinate unified SOC to exercise
recommend SO that satisfy those requirements. (See
operational control (OPCON) of his theater-level
JCS Pub 3-05 for more information on joint SO
joint SOF (Figure 5-2). In wartime, this SOC may
develop into a combined organization.
In some situations, the CINC may establish a JSOTF The SOC commander may be dual-hatted as the
to support a subordinate area commander or to CINC’s special staff officer for SO. In this case, the
perform sensitive SO on a functional basis. The SOC commander places a special operations staff
JSOTF may be under the OPCON of the supported element (SOSE) at the CINC’s joint operations
area commander, or it may remain under the center (JOC) to perform SO special staff functions
OPCON of the theater SOC. With augmentation under the SOC commander’s direction.

ranger regiment or battalion. It includes a mix of SF,

Army Special Operations ranger, and SO aviation; supporting SO PSYOP, CA,
Task Force and signal assets; and other CS and CSS assets as
required (Figure 5-3). The ARSOTF headquarters
The SOC or JSOTF commander may establish an performs functions similar to those of a conventional
ARSOTF to function as the operational Army combined arms brigade headquarters. The ARSOTF
component headquarters. An ARSOTF is organized commander and staff coordinate directly with the
around the nucleus of an SF group or battalion or a supporting TASOSC to obtain required CS and CSS.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Theater Army undeveloped theater, ARSOF require significant

augmentation by attachment, MTOE, and/or tables
Special Operations of distribution and allowances (TDA) until the TA
becomes established.
Support Command
The theater army special operations support
The TA commander exercises command of all Army command (TASOSC) is a subordinate functional
forces assigned or attached to a unified command, command of the TA. The TASOSC mission is to plan
less OPCON of those Army forces operationally and coordinate the support and sustainment of
controlled by a joint or combined commander. He theater ARSOF conducting SO. By providing the
may exercise command directly (Figure 5-4) or vital link between the TA and theater ARSOF units,
through a subordinate area commander (Figure 5-5). the TAOSC ensures that the TA meets its
The TA commander retains responsibility for CS and administrative, support, and sustainment responsi-
CSS of all assigned or attached Army forces, re- bilities for ARSOF.
gardless of who exercises OPCON. The TASOSC has no operational mission and does
ARSOF depend on the TA for all DS- and general not layer itself between the SOC and theater ARSOF
support (GS)-level CS and CSS. The mission, the (Figure 5-6). Rather, it functions as a supporting
duration and scope of operations, and the operational headquarters, responding to the needs of the theater
environment determine the actual requirements. ARSOF as a division support command responds to
The TA commander attaches appropriate TA ele- the needs of its supported brigades. (See FM 100-25
ments to ARSOF and/or tasks appropriate TA for a more detailed discussion of the TASOSC.)
elements to support ARSOF on a task, mission, or The TNOSC commander anticipates, plans, and co-
area basis. When deployed independently into an ordinates ARSOF support requirements with the

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

theater SOC and appropriate TA elements. More the TASOSC commander collocates an intelligence
specifically, he and his staff— support element (HE) at the theater CINC’s joint
Plan and coordinate Army CS and CSS for intelligence center (JIC) or at the TA MI brigade’s
assigned and attached ARSOF and, when echelons above corps intelligence center (EACIC).
directed, other service and allied SOF. The ISE performs intelligence collection manage-
ment and dissemination, all-source intelligence
Plan, coordinate, direct, and supervise CS and production, and SO target development in support of
CSS operations by assigned and attached Army ARSOF intelligence requirements.
support forces.
The TASOSC commander places SO liaison
To accomplish his mission, the TASOSC commander elements at the appropriate theater army area
normally collocates his headquarters with the theater commands (TAACOMs). These liaison elements
SOC. He places a SOSE at the TA headquarters. coordinate ARSOF logistical, personnel service, and
The SOSE performs SO advice, planning, and health service requirements within the TAACOMs’
coordination functions parallel to those of a field area of responsibility. The TASOSC headquarters
artillery fire support element or other special staff coordinates other ARSOF support requirements
element at a tactical headquarters. directly with other TA functional commands and
the theater army materiel management center
Because ARSOF need timely and detailed intelli- (TAMMC), exchanging liaison elements when
gence available only at the national and theater level, required.

SF Command and group commander and staff develop the SOC

commander’s operational guidance into tactical mis-
Control System sions for the battalions to plan and execute. The
group commander assigns specific missions and
SF commanders employ the standard Army staff operational areas to the battalions, allocates SFODs
organization and military decision-making process and other resources among them, and synchronizes
described in FM 101-5. However, their C2 facilities their activities. He identifies and coordinates group
differ significantly from those found in conventional support requirements with the TASOSC. He also
military organizations. The SF group commander ensures the sustainment of the battalions and their
exercises command and control through a network deployed SF teams. Appendix B provides a sample
of operational bases. These operational bases SF group OPLAN. Specific SFOB functions
combine the functions of command post and unit include—
trains into a single entity. They are normally located Planning and directing SF operations, to include
at secure and logistically supportable sites in the synchronizing the activities of subordinate FOBs.
communications zone (COMMZ).
Ensuring that subordinate battalions receive
sufficient CS and CSS.
Special Forces
Operational Base Coordinating group activities with higher,
adjacent, and supported headquarters.
The SFOB is a command, control, and support At the SFOB, the group commander and staff also
base established and operated by an SF group from prepare, deploy, control, and support selected
organic and attached resources. It is primarily a SPECAT teams that require group-level control.
planning and coordinating center. At the SFOB, the When required, the group commander tasks an

FM 31-20

SFOD B to establish and operate an ISOFAC and mobile, and responsive to his needs. A type battle
supervise SPECAT mission planning. When the staff could include the following:
number of SPECAT missions exceeds the C2 Executive officer.
capabilities of an augmented SFOD B, the group S3 or assistant S3 (situation dependent).
commander may collocate an FOB with the SFOB for S2 or assistant S2 (situation dependent).
planning, execution, and support of SPECAT Assistant S1.
S4 or assistant S4 (situation dependent).
NOTE: A SPECAT team is an SF team with a S5 or assistant S5 (situation dependent).
particularly sensitive mission requiring centralized CSM.
control. Examples of SPECAT missions include Signal officer or NCO with a secure tactical
CT, E&E, national strategic SR, DA with special satellite communications (TACSATCOM) pack-
munitions, and special activities. Many of these age linking the battle staff to the SOC, TASOSC,
missions use a SPECAT message handling system SFOB, and FOBs.
for communications, but the two uses of the term
SPECAT are not necessarily related.
Group Battle Staff Operational Base

To command effectively, the group commander must The FOB is a command, control, and support base
free himself from detailed mission planning and the established and operated by the SF battalion. The
daily activities of the SFOB. He must instead focus organization and functions of an FOB vary with the
on broader issues, such as the— mission, the duration and scope of operations, and
the security, communications, intelligence, and CSS
Current and future operational and intelligence requirements. An FOB may be subordinate to or in-
requirements of the theater CINC and the dependent of the SFOB. Command relationships,
conventional force commanders that the SF not physical location, determine whether the FOB is
group supports. independent of or subordinate to the SFOB. Either
Design, execution, and sustainment of sequen- type may be collocated with the SFOB or established
tial and cumulative SF operations to support the in another theater of operations.
theater campaign plan and the major OPLANs of
the conventional force commanders. The subordinate FOB is an intermediate base whose
commander reports directly to the group com-
Synchronization of battalion activities, to include mander. It does not have the SFOB’s broad planning
Supervising the battalions’ decentralized execu- and coordinating responsibilities. The subordinate
tion of his operational and sustainment concepts. FOB commander and staff plan and execute
To assist in these functions, the group commander missions as directed by the SF group commander.
may establish a battle staff. Normally directed by the The independent FOB is a separate base whose
group XO, the battle staff operates out of the SFOB commander reports directly to the SOC, a JSOTF,
OPCEN but physically locates with the group an SAO, or a major conventional headquarters. Its
commander. The battle staff thus functions in a organization and functions are similar to those of an
manner similar to a conventional unit’s command SFOB, except that the battalion commander does
group or tactical command post. Anywhere the group not coordinate the activities of other FOBs. The
commander travels, the battle staff can prepare an commander and staff of an independent FOB
estimate or a fragmentary order. It keeps the SFOB coordinate directly with the SOC for operational
OPCEN informed of new developments. It may matters and with the TASOSC for intelligence and
direct the OPCEN to begin planning for a new CSS requirements. The SF group commander does
mission, reallocate available resources, or request not have OPCON of the FOB’s activities.
additional assets.
The SF battalion commander establishes an FOB to
The battle staff reflects the group commander’s per- prepare, deploy, control, and support SF teams in
sonal leadership style, but it must remain small, specified operational areas. The FOB may be

FM 31-20

organized on an area or functional basis. If the FOB reinforced, the detachment may also be responsible
is organized on an area basis, the battalion for resupply and other sustainment operations during
commander plans, conducts and supports all SF mission execution and/or for initial debriefing after
operations in a specific theater of operations or in exfiltration. The SFOD B commander must ensure
support of a specific conventional force. If the FOB the following are provided at the AOB:
is organized on a functional basis, the battalion OPSEC for the supported force and its activities
commander plans, conducts, and supports a specific at the base.
type(s) of SF operation(s) throughout the group’s
operational area. Appendix C provides a sample Compartmented mess, billeting, latrine, and
shower facilities for the supported force.
battalion OPLAN. Specific FOB functions include–
Planning and conducting SF operations as Access to secure communications and processed
directed by higher authority. mission intelligence.
Access to an airfield or other means of infiltration
Training, preparing, deploying, directing, and or exfiltration, preferably with an all-weather
supporting subordinate SF teams. capability.
Coordinating battalion activities with higher, Facilities for planning, maintenance, and other
adjacent, and supported headquarters. final mission preparation (to include sites for
training, rehearsals, and test firing of weapons).
Advanced Facilities for conducting resupply and other
Operational Base sustainment operations, as required.
The AOB is a command, control, and support base Radio Relay Site. Circumstances (for example, dis-
established and operated by the SF company. The tance, OPSEC, or political constraints) may preclude
AOB is small, light, and mission-oriented. AOB direct communication between deployed teams and
elements perform functions similar to a conventional the operational base controlling their activities. In
unit’s jump TOC and/or combat trains. The SF this situation, the group or battalion commander may
company commander may establish an AOB to direct an SFOD B commander to establish and oper-
support a specific mission, such as a company-level ate an AOB as a radio relay site. Radio relay may be
FID mission, when no FOB is required. He may a primary or collateral mission for the AOB. If it is
establish an AOB to extend the span of control of an the primary mission, the AOB will be much smaller
SFOB or FOB. than an AOB established as a launch site, because it
has no requirement to support SF teams. The group
The organization and functions of an AOB vary with or battalion commander must attach an SF signal
the mission, the duration and scope of operations, element to the SFOD B at the AOB if communica-
and the security, communications, and CSS re- tions requirements exceed its organic capabilities.
quirements. In general, the AOB may function as a
launch and recovery site, a radio relay site, or a Mission Support Base. When conducting SF op-
mission support base. erations in friendly territory, there may be no need
for an FOB. The FOB, if one exists, may be distant
Launch and Recovery Site. Distances or other from where an SFOD B commander needs his own
circumstances, such as a shortage of lift assets, may mission support base. In either case, the group or
preclude direct infiltration from and exfiltration to battalion commander may direct the SFOD B
the FOB. In this situation, the group or battalion commander to establish an AOB to serve as com-
commander may direct an SF company (SFOD B) mand post and unit trains for his subordinate SF
commander to establish an AOB as a marshaling teams and their counterpart HN forces. Such an
base, intermediate staging base (ISB), or launch and AOB must have capabilities similar to those required
recovery site. At this AOB, the SFOD B receives SF at a launch site. A mission support base needs a
teams after their isolation at an FOB and supports helicopter landing zone, a resupply drop zone, and/or
their activities before infiltration. It also receives the a tactical airstrip as a means of air sustainment, plus
teams after exfiltration and transfers them to the access to the local surface (land or water) trans-
FOB for debriefing and postmission activities. If portation system.

FM 31-20

The SF company may not have the organic resources reduce the capability to establish the SFOB or FOBs
to support an AOB. The SFOD B has excellent C2
capabilities to establish and operate an AOB. Operational bases are normally fixed. However, they
However, it has only limited organic capabilities to may have to displace when their location becomes
provide security, intelligence, communications, or untenable because of hostile activity or natural
CSS to a supported force. The group or battalion disaster. The group and battalion commanders and
commander must provide the required augmentation their staffs must carefully plan and coordinate
from internal assets or coordinate with the TASOSC contingency displacement plans to ensure continuity
or other appropriate commander to obtain required of operations. They must shift minimum operational
augmentation from TA, HN, or commercial sources. and emergency communications to their alternate
Attachment of SF group or company resources may base before displacement begins.

Command Relationships directly control a portion of the theater’s SF

in the COMMZ Situation 3 (Figure 5-9) depicts the establishment of
Command relationships are based on the mission, two AOBs to extend the span of control of the
the duration and scope of operations, the CS and SFOB and an independent FOB. This arrangement
CSS requirements, the security considerations, the permits the SF group or battalion commander to
signal capabilities, and the desired degree of control provide closer coordination of SF operations than
over operations. The flexible nature of the SF group the range of his communications system or
allows it to be task organized as required. The infiltration, exfiltration, or resupply means would
following situations depict the most common otherwise permit.
command relationships for SF operations. Situation 4 (Figure 5-10) depicts a highly centralized
The first four situations depict possible command C2 system. The group commander establishes an
relationships for wartime and contingency SF SFOB and directly commands, controls, and supports
operations when those operations do not directly all SF operations in the theater. In this situation,
impact on conventional combat operations. the group commander may have to consolidate
group resources to expand normal SFOB capabilities.
Situation 1 (Figure 5-7) depicts one SF group
assigned to the TA of a unified command and under The next three situations depict the command
the OPCON of the theater SOC. The group relationships when SF units conduct an SA or a FID
commander establishes an SFOB and three mission. Other SF units may simultaneously con-
subordinate FOBs to command, control, and sup- duct UW, SR, or DA operations to support the HN
port all SF operations in the theater of war. This counterinsurgency effort, using any of the command
arrangement provides the SF group commander with relationships previously discussed.
a decentralized C2 system.
Situation 5 (Figure 5-11) depicts the deployment of
Situation 2 (Figure 5-8) depicts an independent FOB an SF team as a security assistance team (SAT) to
reporting directly to the SOC. The SOC commander conduct an SA mission in response to a potential or
uses an independent FOB when total SF require- latent insurgency in a HN. The in-country SAO is
ments do not exceed the capabilities of a single FOB. under the combatant command (COCOM) of the
He may also use an independent FOB when OPSEC regional CINC. However, the SAO chief serves
or other peculiar circumstances dictate that he under the direction and supervision of the Chief of

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

the US Diplomatic Mission (COM) to the extent coordinated with the COM and other members of the
provided by law and the presidential letter defining US Country Team.
the COM’S authority and responsibility. In military NOTES: The generic term SAT encompasses all
terms, the COM’s authority over the SAO chief DOD elements assigned to execute SA training
roughly corresponds to OPCON. The SAO chief programs administered by the Defense Security
must ensure that all SAO activities are fully Assistance Agency (DSAA). From the SF

FM 31-20

perspective, the most common forms of SAT are the between non-SA personnel and the HN government
MTT and the training assistance field team (TAFT). and the COM, the regional CINC, and other in-
The generic term SAO encompasses all DOD terested agencies.
elements, regardless of actual title, assigned in Whenever an SF team deploys on an SA mission,
foreign countries to manage SA programs admin- the SAO exercises operational and administrative
istered by DOD. control of the team while it is in the HN. The SAO
The SAO chief is responsible for properly executing provides all possible assistance so that the SAT can
those in-country SA programs administered by DOD accomplish its mission. The regional CINC exercises
through the DSAA. When the SAO chief is desig- COCOM of the SAT through the SAO. The parent
nated the US defense representative (USDR), he SF unit relinquishes command of the SF team for
also provides oversight and in-country supervision of the duration of its SA mission.
all DOD personnel assigned to non-SA functions. As Situation 6 (Figure 5-12) depicts the deployment of
USDR, he serves as a channel of communication an SF team on a non-SA FID mission in response to

FM 31-20

an active insurgency in the HN. In this situation, the non-SA programs, and SAO personnel performing
regional CINC exercises COCOM through the op- oversight and supervisory responsibilities for the SF
erational chain of command. He places the SF team team may have to be identified as non-SA personnel
under the OPCON of the in-country SAO chief in on the SAO joint manning document.
his capacity as USDR. The parent SF unit retains
command (less OPCON) and supports the deployed Situation 7 (Figure 5-13) depicts the deployment of
SF team as required from a CONUS or third--country an SF battalion to country A in response to a major
FOB. The SF team’s activities are funded from insurgent threat. As in Situation 6, the regional

FM 31-20

CINC exercises COCOM of all DOD elements, to in- and one subordinate FOB. The FOB, collocated with
elude the SAOs in each country. The SF battalion the SFOB in country B, conducts SF operations in
establishes an independent FOB under the OPCON country C, the hostile power sponsoring the insur-
of the SAO chief in his capacity as USDR. The parent gency. The SF group is under the OPCON of the
SF group retains command (less OPCON) of the SF SOC, which directs all SF missions not under the
battalion. The SF group has established an SFOB OPCON of an SAO.

Deployment C2 In a war or long-term conflict situation, the SF unit

moves from the home station to a port of embarka-
The overseas deployment of a CONUS-based SF tion. From there the SF unit moves by air or sea into
unit involves the transfer of COCOM from the the gaining CINC’s AOR. At a predetermined point
USSOCOM CINC (USCINCSOC) to the gaining (for example, upon crossing a specified latitude or
regional CINC. Only the NCA can authorize such a longitude), COCOM formally passes to the gaining
transfer. The actual transfer can occur in one of two CINC. The gaining TA commander receives the SF
ways (Figure 5-14). unit at the port of debarkation (POD). The TASOSC

FM 31-20

assumes full command of the SF unit until it arrives plan and prepare for a mission. The REMAB may be
at its SFOB or FOB and becomes operational. The in CONUS, or it may be overseas in the gaining
TASOSC commander then passes OPCON to the CINC’s (or another CINC’s) AOR. If the REMAB
theater SOC commander. is overseas, the NCA will specify in the deployment
order when, and to whom, COCOM passes.
In a short-term contingency situation, the SF unit
moves from the home station to a remote mar- The ISB is a secure base overseas to which the SF
shaling base (REMAB), an ISB, or directly to the unit deploys to perform final planning, coordination,
operational area (Figure 5-15). The REMAB is a and task organization. An ISB is used when distance
secure base to which the entire SF unit, including or other factors preclude infiltration directly from the
organic and attached support elements, deploys to home station or the REMAB.

or JSOTF commander assigns specific JSOAs (or

Command Relationships sectors of a JSOA) to an SF commander for mission
in the JSOA execution. The scope and duration of the SF
operation, the size and composition of indigenous
A JSOA is an area of land, sea, and airspace assigned forces, the hostile situation, and the political
to a joint SO commander to conduct SO. The SOC situation all influence the number and composition

FM 31-20

of SF teams deployed into a JSOA. Additional SF

teams may deploy later because of increased tempo
in operations, expansion of existing resistance forces,
or a change in the political situation. The three most
common methods of employing SF into a JSOA are
discussed below.
A tailored SFOD A or B may deploy into a JSOA
when the situation is not well known, when the
indigenous force is small, or when the indigenous
force is so well developed that only minimum
coordination is needed. The detachment normally
coordinates directly with the FOB staff on all
operational, administrative, and logistical support
matters (Figure 5-16).
Two or more tailored SFODs A or B may infiltrate
concurrently, each establishing a separate sector
command. This arrangement is useful when the size
of the JSOA, the hostile situation, or the nature of
the indigenous force precludes effective operations
by a single SF chain of command in the JSOA. Each
detachment coordinates directly with the FOB
staff on all operational, administrative, or logistical
support matters. There is normally no lateral
communication between detachments (Figure 5-17).
As activities in the JSOA expand, a tailored SFOD B
may deploy to establish and/or advise an area
command. The area command directs the activities of
the SF teams in subordinate sectors. In this situation,
subordinate SF teams coordinate all operational
matters with the SFOD B, which in turn coordinates
directly with the FOB staff. Each subordinate SF
team continues to coordinate routine administrative
and logistical support directly with the FOB staff
(Figure 5-18). When the situation dictates, a more
senior commander and staff may augment the
detachment’s organic capabilities.
All external agencies must coordinate with the SOC
or JSOTF before conducting any activities that may
affect operations within the JSOA. The SF group or
battalion commander may recommend that the SOC
or JSOTF commander designate a JSOA as a
restricted fire area, depending on the situation.
In addition to SF, other US or allied military other elements. He coordinates to establish com-
organizations and nonmilitary agencies may have mand and support relationships and the proper
elements operating in the JSOA. The SOC degree of liaison, coordination, and cooperation
commander makes every effort to identify these among elements.

FM 31-20

SF C2 at Conventional The theater CINC commits the conventional

force to an area in which SF operations are
Headquarters ongoing.
The conventional force approaches a JSOA and
linkup becomes imminent.
SF operations often require synchronization with When the area of operations of a conventional force
conventional military operations. When directed, the commander encompasses a JSOA, the conventional
SF group or battalion commander collocates an force commander normally exercises OPCON
SOCCE (a reinforced SFOD B) with the supported through the collocated SOCCE. In Situation 9
conventional force command post. The SOCCE (Figure 5-20), a corps area of operations encom-
commander advises the supported commander on passes the JSOA. Conventional and SF operations
the capabilities and limitations of supporting SF directly impact on each other. In this situation, the
teams and provides required communications links. CINC directs the SOC commander to pass OPCON
The SOCCE synchronizes SF operations with of appropriate SF teams to the corps commander.
conventional force operational and intelligence The SOCCE commander directly controls the de-
requirements. It coordinates conventional force ployed SF teams. The FOB commander retains
support of SF operations. It receives SF operational, command (less OPCON) of the deployed SF teams
intelligence, and target acquisition reports directly and continues to provide administrative and logistical
from the deployed SF teams and provides them to support. The SOCCE commander keeps the FOB
the conventional force commander and staff. The commander informed of the status and activities of
SOCCE also deconflicts SF operations with the SF teams under SOCCE control.
operations of the supported conventional force.
When linkup becomes imminent, the SOCCE assists If friendly offensive operations are successful, the
the conventional force staff with linkup planning. conventional force will link up with SF teams and
The actual situation will dictate whether the SOC or take control of the JSOA. During this phase of the
conventional commander exercises OPCON of the operation, SF teams may be placed under the
supporting SF teams. OPCON of the appropriate tactical commander. The
tactical commander then becomes responsible for
integrating the SF teams and their indigenous forces
When the area of interest of a conventional force into his combat operations. He exercises OPCON
commander encompasses a JSOA, mutual coor- through the collocated SOCCE at his command post.
dination must occur to identify SF mission
requirements and to synchronize all supporting SO When assigned an SOCCE mission, the SFOD B
with conventional combat operations. In Situation commander task organizes into two shifts to conduct
8 (Figure 5-19), a field army area of interest encom- continuous operations according to the standing
passes the JSOA, although SF operations are beyond operating procedures (SOPs) of the supported
the field army’s area of operations. The SOCCE headquarters. The XO and company technician are
commander identifies the field army’s SF mission normally the shift leaders, freeing the detachment
requirements and coordinates them with the FOB commander and sergeant major to vary their
staff. The FOB commander retains OPCON and schedules as required. Each shift leader organizes
provides administrative and logistical support to the his shift to coordinate SF operations with the plans,
SF teams in the JSOA. current operations, intelligence, targeting, and CSS
cells of the supported headquarters. The operations
The theater CINC passes OPCON of deployed SF sergeant supervises the routine activities of his shift
teams to a conventional force commander when— and ensures its efficient operation and adminis-
tration. The communications sergeant manages
The conventional force commander requests and SOCCE message traffic and supervises the attached
receives dedicated SF support on a mission basis. signal element.

FM 31-20

In Situations 8 and 9, the SOCCE uses organic and SOCCE communications to the parent FOB depend
attached radio and telephone equipment to enter the on the theater communications system (TCS).
supported unit’s communications system. It also Organic long-range HF radio or UHF tactical
maintains secure communications with the FOB or satellite terminals will be used when the SOCCE is
SFOB commander controlling its activities. In deployed in an undeveloped theater before the TCS
Situation 9, the SOCCE must also establish and beeomes operational.
maintain direct communications with its subordinate
SF teams. Administrative and logistical support for the SOCCE
will be provided on the basis of an agreement between
SOCCE communications to its subordinate SF teams the supported headquarters and the TASOSC. The
will normally flow through the parent FOB. If the parent FOB must provide DS and limited GS
mission requires direct communications between the maintenance of SF-peculiar equipment. The FOB
SOCCE and its SF teams, the SF battalion com- must continue to conduct mission preparation,
mander must augment the SFOD B with a signal isolation, infiltration, resupply, and exfiltration of
element from the battalion signal detachment. SF teams supporting the conventional force.

FM 31-20

SF Control of additional combat power for a specific combined

arms operation.
Conventional When SF teams performing DA or SR operations
Maneuver Units require a conventional reaction or reinforcement
In some situations an SF unit may receive OPCON In linkup or postlinkup combat operations during
or attachment of a conventional maneuver unit. This the combat employment phase of an insurgency.
is most likely to occur— During contingency operations when the
In a counterinsurgency environment when an ARSOTF headquarters is the senior Army
SF-supported indigenous combat force requires headquarters in the operational area.

FM 31-20

SF Communications in The TASOSC information management officer plans

and coordinates TCS and defense communications
a Developed Theater system (DCS) access for all ARSOF in the theater.
He exercises technical control of all ARSOF
The SFOB and FOBs are normally located in the communications. The TASOSC relies on area access
COMMZ. The TCS provides area signal support to to the SOC’s dedicated communications package, or
the SF group and its subordinate elements. The the TA communications system, to communicate with
TCS may be an Army, Air Force, or Navy system. See its subordinate ARSOF elements.
Figure 5-21 for an example of SF communications
in a developed theater. The SF group uses organic signal assets to provide
The SOC J6 coordinates the installation, operation, communications to subordinate FOBs and deployed
SF teams. The SF group and battalion signal
and maintenance of communications links from the detachments have the organic assets to—
SOC to subordinate elements (to include the SFOB
and independent FOBs reporting directly to the Install, operate, and maintain two internal
SOC). These links include multichannel SHF and single-channel HF radio teletypewriter (RATT)
nets: one for SCI and one for command,
HF, single-channel HF and UHF satellite commu- operations, and support. When HF multichannel
nications (SATCOM), and limited wire and/or cable equipment becomes available, it will replace the
support. Dedicated JCS, Army (SO signal bat- RATT systems.
talion), Air Force, or Navy communications assets Terminate landlines connecting them to the TCS.
provide this support to the SOC. The TCS provides the primary means for the

FM 31-20

SFOB, FOBs, AOBs, and SOCCEs to exchange required, the SOCCEs and AOBs can also
operational and intelligence data. communicate with the SFOB, FOBS, and
deployed SF teams using these same systems.
Communicate with their deployed teams using These systems also provide backup communica-
HF burst and/or UHF SATCOM burst. When tions between the SFOB and FOBs.

SF Communications in SF group’s organic signal detachments. The

augmentation package establishes secure com-
an Undeveloped Theater munications links between the SFOB and its
subordinate elements until the theater develops and
In an undeveloped theater of operations, no TCS TCS becomes operational. If the responsible service
is available. The SOC J6 and TASOSC information cannot provide the required communications, the
management officer provide or coordinate the same SOC J6 must obtain JCS-controlled joint com-
communications links established in a developed munications support element (JCSE) assets to
theater. In an undeveloped theater, the TA signal provide the support. See Figure 5-22 for an example
brigade or an SO signal battalion must augment the of SF communications in an undeveloped theater.

FM 31-20

The SF group design permits SF commanders to task organize according to mission requirements and the
operational environment. Chapter 5 describes how SF commanders exercise C2 through a network of
operational bases. This chapter describes how SF commanders establish, operate, and defend their bases.

Basing Base Location

Considerations The group commander should locate the SFOB and
FOBs at secure, logistically supportable locations
The group commander recommends SF base within the COMMZ. They should be within a
locations to the SOC commander for approval. The reasonable distance of departure sites to simplify
mission will largely determine the number and infiltration and resupply operations. Bases should
configuration of bases. Based on the anticipated provide reasonable access to a main supply route,
duration and scope of operations, the group They should have a securable base perimeter,
commander decides whether to employ an SFOB Locating bases within existing facilities enhances
only, an FOB only, or an SFOB with subordinate OPSEC by reducing their visual and electronic signa-
FOBs. The group commander must ensure that the ture. However, their collocation with an airfield, port
base locations provide him responsive C2 and facility, or major conventional headquarters may
sufficient OPSEC. increase the risk of their total destruction.

FM 31-20

The SFOB and FOBs need not be located in the base, but dispersal also complicates base functions.
region they support. They may remain at a CONUS The SF group and battalion are limited in their TOE
base, locate in a friendly nation outside the supported capability to support dispersed base facilities.
CINC’s region, or be established at sea.
The training of uncommitted SFODs continues after Base Organization
actual SF operations begin. Uncommitted SFODs Each SF group and battalion commander normally
train in basic and specialized SF skills between com- organizes his operational base into an OPCEN,
bat missions. SF base locations must therefore SPTCEN, and SIGCEN (Figure 6-l). All three
provide suitable training sites. centers have their own organization and functions,
Base activities may be consolidated at one site or but their activities are interdependent (Figure 6-2).
dispersed at several smaller sites. Dispersal may A type arrangement of a consolidated operational
improve OPSEC by reducing the signature of the base is shown at Figure 6-3.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Operations unit’s TOC. The organization of a type OPCEN is

shown in Figure 6-4.
Center OPCEN Director
The OPCEN is the functional activity that directs and Based on approved plans and guidance from the base
controls SF operations in a designated operational commander, the OPCEN director supervises all op-
area. It performs the functions of a conventional erational aspects of mission planning and execution.

FM 31-20

The OPCEN director ensures the total synchroni- mander serves as ASIC chief. In this capacity he
zation of S2 S3, and S5 activities within the OPCEN. responds to formal taskings from the S2. In addition
to his functions as ASIC chief, the MI detachment
commander also directs and controls the technical
S2 Section control analysis element (TCAE) (formerly called the
Under the staff supervision of the unit S2 the base SOT B), the SSO communications team, and the
S2 section is the focal point for all-source intelligence interrogation and CI sections. Proper intelligence
production and intelligence collection management. and electronic warfare (IEW) support depends on
The section includes both the unit S2 section and direct daily contact and informal tasking and
elements of the group or battalion MI detachment coordination between the S2 staff elements and the
task organized into three branches. various sections of the MI detachment.
The collection management and dissemination
The S2 operations branch directs and coordinates the (CM&D) section performs intelligence collection
daily operations of the S2 staff. It exercises staff management for the S2 operations branch. The
supervision of the tactical SSO, the attached US Air CM&D section recommends PIR and IRs for the
Force (USAF) weather team, and the MI detach- base commander’s approval. It obtains the com-
ment’s all-source intelligence center (ASIC). mander’s approved requirements from the unit S2,
The S2 plans branch plans and coordinates intel- prioritizes them based on S2 guidance, and translates
ligence support for future and contingent SF them into collection missions. It then prepares the
operations. It physically locates with the S3 plans unit collection plan and forwards the unit’s priori-
branch or the consolidated plans section. tized requirements to the TASOSC ISE. The CM&D
section has tasking authority over organic and
The S2 security branch develops unit security pro- attached MI collection assets, such as the organic
grams and supervises their implementation. Under SOTs A and any attached HUMINT assets. (The S3
its staff supervision, the MI detachment’s CI section tasks those missions performed by SF teams or other
provides CI support to the S3’s OPSEC program and subordinate non-MI assets.) The section also dis-
deception planning. seminates combat information and intelligence
The attached USAF weather officer serves as a within the base and to higher, adjacent, and lower
special staff officer on all matters related to weather. headquarters.
His team provides operational weather support to The all-source production section (ASPS) performs
the base, to include current and future weather the base’s intelligence preparation of the battlefield
data and climatic analysis and studies. The team (IPB). The section processes, correlates, and inte-
prepares weather briefings for all SF teams in grates all-source intelligence in response to taskings
isolation. It also prepares operational area weather from the CM&D section. The ASPS is thus the focal
reports for deployed SF teams. When directed, the point for all situation and target development within
weather officer may attach USAF SO weather the base. It develops and maintains the unit’s
personnel to SF teams to provide weather data from intelligence data base, to include the intelligence
denied territory. journal, order of battle (OB) information, IPB
products, targeting data, and situation map. It
MI Detachment monitors the CM&D collection plan and recom-
The MI detachment commander is the unit’s mends revisions to close identified gaps. It receives
principal intelligence producer and executor. He is and processes intelligence products and combat
responsible to the OPCEN director and base com- information from higher, lower, and adjacent com-
mander for providing required intelligence support. mands. It prepares intelligence estimates, reports,
The MI detachment commander establishes and summaries, and briefs as required.
operates a tactical SCIF in the OPCEN. Within the The TCAE collocates with the ASIC in the SCIF.
SCIF, the unit S2 provides the SSO and exercises There it serves as the focal point for SIGINT
OPCON of the ASIC. The MI detachment com- operations. At group level, the TCAE provides

FM 31-20

centralized technical control over deployed SOTs A. as an essential element of the group ASIC. The MI
It analyzes and correlates intercepted SIGINT data detachment commander, as ASIC chief, tasks the
from the SOTs A with data from other sources and team and controls its activities. The terrain team
passes the product to the ASPS and the TAOSC collects, compiles, and produces graphic and textual
ISE. It develops and maintains the SIGINT technical terrain data to support the group’s needs. It also
data base and the electronic order of battle (EOB) assists the ASPS in its IPB function by producing
data base. It also links theater and national general and detailed terrain analysis, terrain studies,
intelligence systems to integrate technical data overlays, and overprinted maps.
produced by tactical units with data produced by the
National Security Agency. The battalion TCAE S3 Section
requires technical support (for example, SIGINT Under the staff supervision of the unit S3, the base
technical data) from the group TCAE to exercise S3 section is responsible for the unit’s organization,
direct technical control over its deployed SOTs A. training, and operations. The section is organized into
The SSO communications section locates adjacent to three branches.
the ASIC in the SCIF to provide secure SCI The S3 operations branch directs and coordinates
communications between the SFOB and its deployed current SF operations being conducted by sub-
FOBs. Higher headquarters provide SCI com- ordinate units. It exercises staff supervision of the
munications to the SOC J2 and TASOSC ISE. ISOFAC and, at group level, the tactical EAF.
The CI section operates from the OPCEN in close Other specific functions include—
coordination with the S2 security branch and the Receiving, processing, and approving air support
ASPS. The primary function of the section is to requests.
perform CI analysis in support of the ASIC and the Coordinating infiltration, exfiltration, resupply,
unit’s OPSEC and deception programs. It performs and recovery operations.
source administration functions. It also supports the
unit S2’s personnel security and information security Monitoring training of uncommitted SFODs.
functions. Its CI teams conduct liaison with US and Recommending employment of special weapons.
HN security organizations in the vicinity of the base. Planning and coordinating offensive EW.
When provided by MTOE, counter-SIGINT teams
provide communications monitoring and analysis for Integrating PSYOP and CA into current opera-
commercial and military landlines and radio- tions.
telephones at the base. The CI section coordinates Managing the Class V unit basic load (UBL).
with the supporting TA Cl unit for investigative, Preparing the unit readiness report.
technical, and operational support.
Preparing other reports to the SOC, JSOTF,
The interrogation teams deploy from the SFOB as TASOSC, and other higher headquarters.
required. One team may be permanently located at
the theater’s joint interrogation facility. Interro- The S3 plans branch coordinates and prepares the
gators exploit PWs, line crossers, refugees, and unit’s contingency plans. It also coordinates and
informants. They conduct initial exploitation of prepares preliminary assessments (PAs) and mission
captured documents. They also debrief friendly concepts (MICONs) in support of the targeting
personnel who are returned PWs or who have process. It reviews plans of subordinate elements
escaped from hostile or denied territory. They and coordinates plans with the other centers of the
establish liaison with other US, allied, or HN base. It anticipates future SF operations as far in
interrogation services and interrogation centers. advance as possible. This branch also maintains and
Interrogators can act as interpreters or translators revises the unit MTOE and augmentation TDA.
when other linguists are not available. The S2 and S4 plans branches collocate, as needed,
with the S3 plans branch to facilitate the planning
The supporting terrain team, while not part of the process. This consolidated plans section operates
group MI detachment, collocates with and functions under the direct supervision of the OPCEN director.

FM 31-20

In garrison, the area specialist team (AST) is an task organizes into three cells to conduct continuous
integral part of the S3 plans branch. There should be operations with two overlapping shifts.
an AST assigned to each battalion, with a fourth AST
to support those SPECAT missions controlled at The commander and sergeant major constitute the
group level. Each AST consists of an area specialist command cell. The cell ensures the SF teams receive
officer (ASO), an area specialist sergeant, and an proper support from their initial commitment
intelligence analyst. The ASTs are the focal points for through mission completion and debriefing. It
mission planning, targeting, and area study within the ensures the proper degree of OPSEC and compart-
group. During actual operations, the ASTs normally mentation within the ISOFAC. This use of an
augment the SFODs B that establish and operate the SFOD B enables the group or battalion S3 to plan
ISOFACs. and coordinate future operations while the ISOFAC
commander supervises current operations under the
The S3 training branch plans, programs, coordinates, OPCEN director’s control.
and manages the unit training program. When the
group or battalion is committed to actual operations, The XO, supply sergeant, NBC NCO, medical
the training branch plans, programs, coordinates, sergeant, and two communications sergeants
and supervises training for uncommitted detach- constitute the support cell. The cell provides the
ments and replacements for committed detachments. interface between the ISOFAC and the SPTCEN
Although it is part of the S3 section, this branch and SIGCEN. It ensures that the SF teams’
physically locates in the SPTCEN. equipment is mission-capable. It receives, con-
solidates, and tracks support requests to ensure the
Isolation Facility SF teams receive the signal support and CSS they
require. The cell secures and maintains nondeploy-
The ISOFAC is a maximum security facility estab- ing equipment for the deployed teams. It also assists
lished to isolate SF teams performing their mission the teams in preparing automatic and emergency
planning and preparation. OPSEC is paramount resupply bundles (Chapter 14). After the teams
throughout this period. SF teams committed to deploy, the support cell actively monitors their
separate missions and separate operational areas are sustainment posture and recommends resupply and
isolated to preclude mission compromise. replacement actions as required.
An ISOFAC should be capable of isolating six SF The company technician, two operations sergeants,
teams simultaneously. The limiting factor is the and the attached AST constitute the operations cell.
inability of the base staff to plan and prepare more This cell provides the interface between the ISOFAC
than six missions at the same time. The ISOFAC and the rest of the OPCEN. The cell ensures the SF
should include— teams receive sufficient operational guidance and
Separate briefing, planning, billeting, and storage intelligence. It also provides the OPCEN current up-
areas for each operational element in isolation. dates on the teams’ status and situation. It helps the
Dining, latrine, and shower facilities. S3 prepare mission support plans and reviews the
A dispensary service. isolated teams’ concepts and plans before they are
presented to the OPCEN director. It coordinates
A recreation and exercise area. operational activities that involve more than one
Staff administrative support. isolated team, ensuring proper OPSEC and com-
partmentation is maintained throughout this process.
The group and battalion commanders each task an It obtains training and rehearsal sites and ensures its
SF company headquarters (SFOD B) to establish and teams complete all predeployment training re-
operate the ISOFAC under the direct supervision of quirements. It prepares the isolation schedule and
the OPCEN director. The three-man peacetime coordinates the briefback schedule with the base
AST is attached to the SFOD B to provide its command group. After its supported SF teams
expertise in current OPLAN requirements, tar- deploy, it tracks the missions, processes team mes-
geting, and area studies. The SFOD B commander sage traffic, and recommends team mission taskings.

FM 31-20

Without augmentation, the SFOD B can isolate only commander creates a staff element corresponding to
three or four SF teams simultaneously. The group or the J5 element of the SOC or JSOTF.
battalion commander can greatly improve the
capacity and efficiency of the ISOFAC operations cell Liaison Section
by augmenting it with two additional AST NCOs
(normally profiled or other nondeploying SFOD The liaison section is under the direct supervision of
members) for each isolated element. These AST the OPCEN director. The group commander ex-
NCOs provide 24-hour interface between the iso- changes liaison officers with the theater Air Force
lated team and the ISOFAC cells. The AST NCOs Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Naval
actively participate in all aspects of mission planning Special Warfare Task Group (NSWTG). He may
and preparation for deployment. They process and also exchange liaison officers with US nonmilitary
track mission support requests. They act as escorts to agencies and allied military organizations. The group
move the teams in and out of the ISOFAC as staff coordinates closely with the appropriate liaison
required. After infiltration, they actively monitor officers to ensure proper mutual support and to
missions until their completion, track team message synchronize joint SO. By TOE, the SF group is not
traffic, compile and maintain a written record of the authorized any liaison officers. Without MTOE or
missions, and assist the teams to ensure successful TDA augmentation, the group commander must use
mission execution. Upon mission completion, the personnel from uncommitted detachments.
AST NCOs assist in team debriefing and the prepa-
ration of team after-action reports. In the process of NBC Element
supporting teams, the AST NCOs become intimately
familiar with the teams’ plans of execution (POEs) The chemical officer establishes and operates the
and the personalities of team members. To preserve NBC element in the OPCEN. The NBC element
OPSEC, the AST NCOs cannot deploy on another receives and processes NBC reports from higher
mission until their supported missions are complete. headquarters and deployed SF teams. It maintains
the current NBC status of the unit. It briefs and
Each two-man AST can normally support two or assists committed SF teams during mission prepa-
three SF teams after deployment, depending upon ration. It also monitors unit NBC training.
the complexity of the mission. A battalion therefore
needs an augmentation package of 6 two-man ASTs Engineer Section
to deploy 18 SF teams in three isolation cycles. At group level, the engineer officer establishes and
operates the tactical EAF in the OPCEN. The EAF
S5 Section receives and processes emergency action (EA) traffic.
It manages and implements the group EA program
Under the staff supervision of the unit S5, the S5 using additional duty EA-trained personnel located
section is responsible for the CMO of the unit. The throughout the OPCEN. It also monitors special
S5 coordinates closely with the S3 to integrate CA weapons training and proficiency. In addition to
considerations into all group operations. The S5 these duties, the engineer performs the normal
also coordinates with the S2 to incorporate CA functions of a staff engineer, assists the S2 in the
intelligence products and requirements into unit target development process, and monitors unit
intelligence products and planning. The SOC com- engineer training.
mander may attach elements of a CA battalion
(FID/UW) to the SF group. In this case, the S5 Signal Section
exercises staff supervision and makes employment The signal officer establishes and operates the sig-
recommendations. nal support coordination element (SSCE) in the
OPCEN. The SSCE plans and coordinates all unit
The group S5 may direct and supervise the activities signal support. It directs the activities of the unit’s
of the consolidated plans section. By placing the S2 signal detachment. It exercises technical control over
S3, and S4 plans branches under S5 control, the group the SSO communications section, subordinate units,

FM 31-20

and deployed SF teams. The SSCE maintains the PSYOP into SF operations, and he coordinates
unit COMSEC account. It also manages automa- external PSYOP support. He exercises staff
tion within the unit. supervision over attached PSYOP units. The SOC
commander normally attaches a tailored PSYOP
PSYOP Element detachment to the group to provide direct PSYOP
support (Chapter 15). The group commander further
Under the staff supervision of the unit S3, the attaches PSYOP teams to subordinate SF com-
PSYOP officer advises the commander and his staff manders as required. At SF battalion level and below,
concerning the psychological implications of specific the attached PSYOP commander also serves as
SF operations. He recommends how to integrate PSYOP staff officer to the supported SF commander.

Support Center include billeting, food service, space allocation, and

internal guard duties. The group SPTCEN director
has no responsibility for the CSS operations of sub-
The SPTCEN is the functional activity that provides ordinate FOBs and AOBs.
CSS to the base and its deployed SF teams. It per-
forms the functions of conventional unit trains. A S1 Section
type SF support center is shown at Figure 6-5. At
the group SPTCEN, the group S1 and S4 plan The S1 supervises the S1 section of the SPTCEN.
and coordinate CSS for the entire SF group and The S1 is responsible to the SPTCEN director and
monitor the CSS operations of the SFOB and base commander for administration and management
subordinate bases. The SPTCEN performs the fol- of personnel assigned or attached to the base. He
lowing functions: assists SF teams during their mission preparation.
Plans and controls the administrative activities of Once SF teams deploy, the S1 monitors and responds
the base, to include the coordination of facilities to their support requests through the ISOFAC
engineering and other base operations support. support cell. His primary concerns include—
Maintains the UBL of all classes of supply. Personnel accountability and strength man-
Manages assigned stocks.
Casualty reporting.
Coordinates movements.
Personnel replacement operations.
Develops and manages the maintenance plan.
Personnel actions for deployed SF personnel.
Requests external CSS and coordinates CSS re-
quirements with supporting CSS units. Other personnel services, to include any
Maintains control of personnel management and administrative support of indigenous forces.
records. Base administrative services, to include operation
Supports the training and preparation of uncom- of the base distribution center. The center
mitted SFODs. processes all base correspondence except mes-
sages to and from deployed SF teams.
SPTCEN Director
S4 Section
The SPTCEN director is the support company com-
mander. He is responsible to the base commander for The S4 supervises the S4 section of the SPTCEN
the execution of all base CSS operations. He is also and exercises staff supervision over attached or
responsible for SPTCEN housekeeping details, to supporting logistical units. The S4 assists SF teams

FM 31-20

with logistical matters during their mission prepara- The food service section provides consolidated food
tion, to include any logistical support requirements service to the base. The section establishes and
for indigenous forces. Once SF teams deploy, the S4 operates a dining facility in the SPTCEN. In addi-
monitors and responds to their support requests tion to its 24-hour feeding operation to support both
through the ISOFAC support cell. The S4 plans base shifts, the section conducts remote feeding
officer collocates, as needed, with the S3 plans operations as required. The section also maintains
section in the OPCEN to prepare the logistical the unit’s Class I basic load.
portion of unit plans. The mechanical maintenance section performs con-
solidated unit-level maintenance support for the
Service Detachment base’s organic wheeled vehicles and power gen-
eration equipment. It also coordinates for DS
maintenance support, evacuates damaged items to
The service detachment performs unit-level supply, the supporting DS maintenance company, and
services, and maintenance functions for the base maintains the unit’s prescribed load list (PLL).
and its attached elements. It also coordinates base
transportation support. The rigger-air delivery section provides personnel
and cargo parachute packing, unit-level mainte-
The supply and transportation section performs nance of air delivery items, rigger support, and
consolidated unit-level supply functions for the base limited air delivery support to the base. It also
and its deployed SF teams. At group level it coordinates external rigger and air delivery support
maintains the property book and basic loads (less when requirements exceed organic capabilities.
Class I, VIII, and IX) for the group HHC and support Uncommitted SFODs
company. At battalion level, it performs these
functions for the entire battalion. The section also All SFODs do not deploy simultaneously. Uncom-
procures nonstandard and SF-peculiar supplies and mitted SFODs prepare for contingency missions and
equipment. The section’s organic trucks provide local rapid deployment in the event of a time-sensitive
transportation support to the base, but the section requirement. Uncommitted SFODs should not
depends on nondedicated drivers to perform this perform housekeeping duties or support functions at
function. the expense of their combat readiness.

FM 31-20

The SFOB SPTCEN normally has no responsibility consolidated reports and requests. They may also
to support the subordinate FOBs, except for pro- have to coordinate throughput distribution to the
tiding technical assistance when required. If the FOB or even to its AOBs. When two bases collocate,
SFOB and an FOB are supported by the same TA the group commander may decide to collocate or
units, the group S1 and S4 may have to submit consolidate their SPTCENs for mutual support.

Signal Center The OPCEN telecommunications center receives,

processes, and distributes all incoming and outgoing
message traffic. The center must be linked by
The mission of the SIGCEN is to install, operate, and messenger or other secure means to the supporting
maintain secure, reliable, long-range communica- area SIGCEN. When augmented, the team also
tions between the base and its— operates and maintains SATCOM, facsimile, and
Higher, adjacent, subordinate, supporting, and tactical radio equipment linking the OPCEN with
supported headquarters. other headquarters.
Deployed SF teams. The section’s switchboard team operates and main-
tains the base’s internal telephone system. The signal
The SIGCEN also installs, operates, and maintains detachment has no dedicated wire teams because SF
continuous internal base communications. A type bases are fixed. The detachment task organizes to
signal center is shown at Figure 6-6. install the telephone system during the occupation of
the base. The base switchboard must be connected
Within the SIGCEN, the base station section into the switchboard of the supporting area SIGCEN
provides HF radio burst and UHF tactical satellite to obtain access to the TCS and DCS.
(TACSAT) communications between the base and its
deployed SF teams. The section can use these The base communications support section also
same means to provide backup communications maintains secure single-channel HF RATT com-
among the SFOB and FOBs. The section establishes munications between the SFOB and FOBs. When
and operates separate receiver and transmitter sites. available, HF multichannel equipment will replace
The transmitter site must be located away from the the section’s RATT system(s).
rest of the SIGCEN for technical as well as OPSEC The electronic maintenance section provides unit-
reasons. The section’s telecommunications center level and DS maintenance of signal equipment (to
collocates with the receiver site. It receives and include COMSEC equipment) to the base and its
processes outgoing messages from the OPCEN supported SF teams. The section also performs
telecommunications center for transmission to the limited GS maintenance on SF-peculiar signal items.
SF teams. It also receives incoming messages from
the receiver site for processing and forwarding to At group level, the photo section provides limited
the OPCEN communications center. ground and aerial still photographic support to the
entire SF group. When the group’s requirements
The base communications support section provides exceed organic capabilities, the group signal officer
internal communications support to the base. To coordinates through the TASOSC signal officer to
accomplish this task, the section task organizes into obtain external support from the supporting echelons
two teams. above corps (EAC) signal unit.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Alternate Bases of normal TOE resources. Alternate C2 arrange-

ments depend on standardized internal procedures to
The group commander always designates a sub- maintain continuity of operations should the primary
ordinate FOB as the alternate SFOB to assume the base become inoperable.
SFOB’s functions if the primary SFOB is destroyed
or becomes untenable. He also designates an Operational bases are normally fixed. However, they
alternate base for each deployed FOB and AOB. The may have to displace because of hostile activity or
group commander ensures each alternate base is natural disaster. The group and battalion
prepared to assume the primary base’s mission. He commanders and their staffs must prepare displace-
pays particular attention to emergency communi- ment plans to ensure continuity of operations. They
cations procedures, established intelligence links, must shift minimum operational and emergency
and the provision of AST packages to the alternate communications to their alternate base before
ISOFAC. He may have to arrange augmentation displacement begins.

Base Defense beyond the perimeter (perhaps within the perimeter

of a larger HN installation). If the supporting US base
Operational bases are subject to the full range of defense element cannot fully perform the base
hostile air and surface threats identified in Chapter defense mission, the SF base commander may have
2. Because of the austere nature of SF organiza- to divert operational and support personnel to
tions, they require dedicated security forces to augment its capabilities. Any such diversion will
protect their operational bases from hostile actions. require an MTOE or augmentation TDA change to
provide the affected SF unit with adequate base
Security Forces defense weapons, communications, and other
security equipment. The diversion will reduce the
There are three options for obtaining base security operational and support capabilities of the affected
forces: US unilateral, combined US and HN, or SF unit.
HN unilateral.
In the third option, the supported HN force may
The preferred base defense option is for US provide physical security to the base. The SF
elements to secure the group’s bases and activities. commander may also contract with the HN or
The bases may be located within the perimeters of another (third country or commercial) source for a
larger US installations. However, US installations dedicated security force.
and base defense assets may not be available, and the
HN may not authorize US unilateral security Command and Control
operations beyond the base perimeter.
The SPTCEN director, in coordination with the S3,
In a combined US and HN option, US base defense headquarters commandant, and supporting base
elements may provide physical security within the defense element commander, prepares the base
base perimeter. A HN or combined US and HN defense plan. This plan provides options for the
military or paramilitary force may provide security coordinated defense of the base against surface or air

FM 31-20

attack, to include acts of sabotage and terrorism. The man-portable air defense (MANPAD) systems. In
plan employs active and passive security measures by situations where the dedicated security force is not
partitioning the base into security areas, assigning responsible for security operations in the MDA the
responsibility for the areas, and establishing a BDOC BDOC commander coordinates with his MDA
to coordinate and control base defense operations. counterpart to ensure effective coverage.
The BDOC commander is normally the supporting Outlying sites and surface transportation routes
base defense element commander. If no supporting should be considered extensions of the main base. If
base defense element is available, the headquarters applicable, they should be divided into security areas.
commandant serves as BDOC commander. In either
case, the BDOC commander coordinates base Detection and
defense activities. He ensures that unit guards are Assessment
integrated into the base security plan. The BDOC
maintains continuous communications with sup- Security forces in the MDA and CDA detect and
porting security forces, to include any HN forces. It assess threats by a combination of mounted and
exercises OPCON of the designated base response dismounted security patrols, electronic surveillance
force. In a combined US and HN effort, the BDOC equipment, listening and/or observation posts, and
commander and his HN counterpart must consider active CI operations. If the security forces cannot
language capabilities. They must agree on— prevent hostile penetration of the base perimeter,
Chain of command. they destroy the hostile force or delay it until the
response force arrives. The security forces then assist
Rules of engagement. the response force as required.
Organization and manning of the response force.
With the exception of designated critical facilities,
Areas of responsibility. units protect their own specific facilities within the
Employment tactics and techniques. CDA. The BDOC commander coordinates and
Exchange of liaison personnel. deconflicts unit security activities. Interior guards
Standardized secure communications. man both fixed and roving guard positions to defend
specific buildings, sites, equipment, and personnel
The close defense area (CDA) is the area within the from intrusion and sabotage.
physical limits of the base perimeter. The perimeter
should be large enough to accommodate base Delay
facilities but small enough that it does not un-
necessarily commit resources to force protection in After detection occurs and an assessment is made,
the CDA. Within the CDA, each SF unit develops a delay measures provide sufficient time for security
supporting base defense plan for its role in the forces to respond. The BDOC commander must
coordinated defense of the base. The dedicated develop a delay plan for each critical facility. Delay
security force— measures can be either passive or active. Passive
Secures the perimeter itself and provides con- measures include fences, lighting, wire obstacles,
trolled access to the operational base. trenches, revetments, vehicle barriers, minefield,
and other physical security barriers. Active measures
Defends critical facilities, to include the SCIF, include road blocks, guard posts, and entry control
points. The combined effect of multiple measures
Provides controlled access to the OPCEN. minimizes the hostile force’s freedom of action.
Provides the primary response force in the event
of penetration. Response
The main defense area (MDA) extends beyond the The SF base commander establishes a response force
base perimeter to the projected maximum effective around a nucleus of dedicated security personnel. He
range of infantry indirect fire weapons and augments this nucleus with other base personnel

FM 31-20

designated and trained to perform response force Apprehend or destroy a hostile force that has
duties. The mission of the response force is to— gained access to a critical facility.
Interdict, disrupt, apprehend, or destroy a hostile
penetration force before it can disrupt a critical Regain control of the CDA and reestablish the
facility. integrity of the base perimeter as soon as possible.

NBC Defense is contamination with persistent chemical agents. SF

base commanders must harden critical base facilities
against chemical attack. They must also develop
Operational base elements employ standard NBC contingency plans for decontaminating the base or
defense measures to protect themselves in an NBC displacing in the event of contamination with per-
environment. The most likely NBC threat to SF bases sistent chemical agents.

FM 31-20

Detailed mission planning is vital to successful mission execution and SF team survival. SF mission
planning is distinctive in its degree of jointness, its dependence on operational intelligence, and the level
of participation by operators. This chapter describes the joint SO targeting process and how SF com-
manders plan missions and prepare SF teams for deployment. It covers both deliberate and time-sensitive
planning. It also discusses employment considerations for SF teams operating in an NBC environment.

Joint SO direct the theater targeting process, to include SO

targeting. The board consists of members of the
Targeting Process CINC’s staff and representatives of each subordinate
command. The JTB ensures the effective employ-
The joint SO targeting process influences how SF ment of all theater-level deep surveillance and attack
commanders plan and prepare for missions. It resources. With regard to SOF, the JTB —
prescribes how the TASOSC ISE and SF MI detach- Establishes SO targeting objectives and priorities
ments develop targets. (See JCS Pub 3-05.5 and based on the CINC’s SO targeting guidance and
FM 100-25 for detailed discussions of the joint SO concept of SOF employment.
targeting process.) Receives, consolidates, deconflicts, and priori-
tizes SO target nominations from subordinate
Deliberate SO mission planning begins at theater force commanders, to include the SOC com-
level with the joint SO targeting process (Figure 7-1). mander and, if necessary, from supported allied
The CINC establishes a joint target board (JTB) to force commanders.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Tasks the SOC to assess, plan, and/or execute the directs the SOC to prepare a special operations
mission. mission planning folder (SOMPF) for the target.
Determines support requirements and tasks ap At the same time that it tasks the SOC to prepare an
propriate agencies to support the mission. SOMPF, the JTB also tasks the appropriate service
Tasks the service intelligence production agencies IFA to produce a target intelligence package (TIP)
(IPAs) through their respective components to that supports the SOMPF. The TIP contains de-
support the targeting process. tailed information on the target, the operational area,
and other aspects of the mission. The MPA cannot
When a target, a target system, or an objective area complete the POE until it receives the TIP. How-
is nominated for attack by a SOF unit, the JTB ever, TIP and POE development can and should be
forwards the nomination in a mission tasking package concurrent activities to the extent possible.
(MTP) to the SOC target panel. The MTP includes
target identity and location, desired results, and all The SOC commander directs the MPA to prepare a
available intelligence (Figure 7-2). POE and other appropriate SOF units to prepare
mission support plans. The SOC directive estab-
The SOC target panel designates the appropriate lishes joint support relationships and designates the
SOF unit as the mission planning agent (MPA) for MPA as the coordinating authority for the mission.
the nominated mission. In SF, the MPA is normally Joint planning sessions between the MPA and
the SF group responsible for the region where the supporting SOF units are essential if they are to
nominated mission is to occur. The SOC target panel produce quality plans. The scope of the supported
forwards the MTP to the MPA to perform a PA. MPA commander’s coordinating authority over
supporting SOF units is prescribed in the SOC
Upon receipt of the MTP, the SF group plans officer directive. Unless otherwise specified by the SOC
convenes the group target assessment group (TAG) directive, the supported MPA commander has the
to assess the SOC mission statement and MICON. authority to exercise general direction of the
If the TAG determines that the nominated mission is supporting effort, as prescribed in JCS Pub O-2.
a valid SOF target and looks feasible, it develops
courses of action (COAs) for further analysis. Based The MPA prepares the POE (Figure 7-3). Based
on the TAG assessment, the SF group commander on the complexity of the planning requirement, SF
issues initial planning guidance and directs the group commanders assign actual mission planning respon-
staff to prepare staff estimates for each COA. The sibility to the lowest possible level. An SF battalion,
commander uses the results of this estimate process company, or SFOD staff may actually prepare the
to determine if the group can execute the mission POE. As the POE. planners refine the MICON,
with an acceptable degree of risk. they develop a detailed list of specific operational,
intelligence, and support requirements. The group
The JTB also forwards the MTP through channels to staff forwards requirements beyond organic capa-
the appropriate service IPA. The IPA provides the bilities to the TASOSC or the appropriate supporting
MPA with any additional intelligence required to SOF unit for inclusion in its mission support plan.
perform the PA. As a minimum, the MPA needs The POE planners periodically brief the SF battalion
imagery, an area study, maps, and OB intelligence to and/or group commander to ensure the planning
perform a PA. effort adheres to his intent. POE development
The group plans officer formalizes the group com- concludes with a formal decision brief to the SF group
mander’s decision in PA format (Appendix D) and commander. The POE is then finalized and for-
forwards the completed PA through the SOC target warded to the SOC target panel.
panel to the SOC commander. He concurs or non- Concurrently and in close coordination with the
concurs with the PA and forwards it to the JTB for MPA the TASOSC and supporting SOF units pre-
approval. If the PA determines that the target is valid pare their mission support plans. Mission support
and feasible, the JTB adds the target to the approved plans must identify how the supporting unit intends
target list and assigns it a priority. The JTB then to meet the requirements identified by the POE

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planners. Depending on the nature of the mission, closely as possible, subject to OPSEC and other
mission support plans and their annexes include but limitations. Following the demonstration, the MPA
are not limited to— corrects identified shortfalls in the POE.
Infiltration, resupply, and/or exfiltration.
Signal, intelligence, and other combat support. This deliberate targeting process must be modified
to perform adaptive (time-sensitive) targeting during
OPSEC and deception. crisis or open hostilities. The key to adaptive target-
Basing and other CSS. ing is concurrent activity. Upon receipt of an MTP,
Upon receipt of the POE and mission support plans, the MPA treats it like an alert order under the
the SOC target panel assembles the SOMPF (Figure Joint Operations Planning System (JOPS) crisis
7-4) and forwards it to the SOC commander for action procedures. The MPA commander issues a
review and approval. Once the SOC commander warning order to the appropriate subunit and begins
approves the SOMPF, he may direct the MPA to POE preparation as soon as the PA is complete. (See
conduct a POE capability demonstration. This dem- JCS Pub 5-02.4 for a detailed explanation of JOPS
onstration should simulate the approved POE as crisis action procedures.)

Assignment of Missions commander, he also selects the JSOA for each SF

mission (Figure 7-5). Missions range from a specific
and Operational Areas task (such as the attack of a point target) to abroad
continuing mission-type order (such as the con-
The SOC commander assigns missions to an SF duct of UW in a specified JSOA). Appendix E
group on the basis of the joint targeting process provides a sample SOC mission letter to an SF
described above. In coordination with the group group.

SF Team all team members participate in the mission

planning process. Factors influencing his selection
Selection are shown in Figure 7-6.
Once the SOC commander assigns a mission and Special Mission
selects the JSOA the base (group or battalion) Requirements
commander selects the SF team to execute the
mission. The commander should select the team Some SF mission taskings require capabilities that
and/or task organize as early as possible to ensure only certain SFODs have. These capabilities include

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area orientation; language, MFF, and scuba Situation in the JSOA

qualification special weapons skills; NBC
reconnaissance skills; and specialized clandestine The topography, hostile situation, political rivalries,
collection skills. or ethnic or cultural differences within the JSOA
may require that two or more SF teams infiltrate
Criticality or Sensitivity simultaneously to independent sector commands.
of Mission
Size and Composition
Some SF missions may be so critical or sensitive that of the Resistance Organization
the SF group commander entrusts their execution
only to certain SFODs. Examples of such missions The SOC and SF group may not know the size and
include missions categorized as special activities. composition of the resistance organization. If the size

FM 31-20

of the resistance organization is unknown, a small their SFODs in response to mission requirements.
assessment or pilot team can infiltrate into the JSOA Some missions may require multiple SFODs under
to establish contact with the resistance organization. the control of an SF company headquarters. Others
The team determines the feasibility of developing the may require a mix of skills not found in an integral
area’s resistance potential. Once the pilot team has SFOD. SF commanders can tailor their SFODs
completed its area assessment, additional SF teams when an integral SFOD is not the optimal
may infiltrate. The pilot team either exfiltrates or organization to perform a mission. They have two
remains in the JSOA, as directed. means of tailoring their SFODs: split teams and
If the resistance organization is known to be small and composite teams.
unorganized, but has the potential for expansion, a The SFOD can divide into two operational ele-
tailored SFOD A may infiltrate to begin the initial ments called split teams, each capable of conducting
development of the organization. sustained operations on a reduced scale. The em–
ployment of split teams is appropriate when–
If the resistance organization is already large and
effective, an SFOD B may infiltrate to coordinate The assigned mission does not require com–
external support and to synchronize resistance mitment of a complete SFOD.
activities with those of the theater CINC. The hostile situation does not permit operations
by a complete SFOD.
Task Organization A change in situation requires a deployed SFOD
and Tailoring to split and execute an additional mission.
Just as conventional units task organize to perform Certain SF missions require the organization of
specific missions, SF commanders also task organize composite teams drawing individual soldiers from

FM 31-20

established SFODs (or from outside the SF group) commander must balance mission requirements
to obtain the proper mix of skills and experience against the effects on unit morale, readiness, and
needed to execute the mission. The group OPSEC before organizing composite teams.

Base defense, including NBC defense, air de-

Support and fense coverage, and MP support.
Sustainment Planning Signal support, including frequency and
COMSEC requirements.
General aviation support.
Once an SF group commander receives the SOC Engineer support, including real estate, real
mission letter, his staff prepares a statement of property maintenance activities, base develop-
requirements (SOR). The SOR consolidates and ment, and construction of training and rehearsal
prioritizes all group requirements that exceed its sites.
organic capabilities. A complete SOR addresses in Sustainment training of uncommitted SF teams.
detail all aspects of CS and CSS, to include– CA and PSYOP support.
Logistics, including supply, services, mainte- The group S3 forwards the SOR to the TASOSC
nance, and transportaion.
director of plans and operations (DPO) for action.
Soldier support, including personnel services, Based on guidance from the SOC, the TASOSC
legal services, finance services, postal services, DPO validates, consolidates, and prioritizes the
and religious support. SORs of all theater ARSOF. The TASOSC staff
Health service support. then plans and coordinates with the appropriate
theater and TA organizations to ensure that all
Intelligence and CI support. mission-essential requirements can be met.

Deliberate Mission plan. They must anticipate the unexpected and

remain agile enough to modify their plans as required
Planning Process to achieve their higher commanders’ intent.
Based on the SOC commander’s MTP and other Deliberate SF targeting and mission planning re-
mission guidance, SF commanders conduct their own quire days or weeks to complete an adequate IPB
mission planning process. The objective of this and to prepare for commitment of an SF team.
process is to develop a comprehensive plan with Team members must understand the political, social,
contingency options that provide flexible execution. economic, and military situation in the JSOA. They
SF commanders must not tie themselves to a rigid must know the ethnic groups, customs, taboos,

FM 31-20

religions, and other essential data that could affect team to complete its detailed mission planning. The
mission execution. The SF team can best achieve this SF team normally receives this information in an
level of area orientation through intensive area study SOMPF before the mission briefing. Team members
before commitment. can then review the OPORD and SOMPF and
prepare questions before the briefing.
Based on this planning process, SF group and
battalion commanders provide their subordinate At the end of the mission briefing, the ISOFAC
commanders with mission letters. These mission commander and the AST NCOs provide the SF
letters focus SF planning and training efforts team with a proposed isolation schedule and a list
before commitment. Appendixes E, F, and G provide of requirements already requested and/or provided
sample SF mission letters. for the team. These requirements may include–
Training facilities.
MYTH: An SFOD can maintain proficiency in Rehearsal sites.
all SF missions. Updated intelligence products.
FACT: An SF group can conduct all five Air items.
SF missions simultaneously, but an Accompanying supplies.
SFOD must focus its training on no Items for emergency resupply.
more than two SF missions at the
same time. SF commanders must Mission-peculiar equipment.
prioritize mission requirements and Isolation expendable available to supplement the
develop mission-essential task lists team’s isolation kit.
(METLs) that translate into realistic
mission letters for their SFODs. Based on the base commander’s mission analysis, the
SF team is given sufficient time to—
Continue area studies.
When the SOC receives an actual mission tasking, Receive operational intelligence briefings.
the SOC commander determines whether an existing Refine the POE based on the actual situation.
SOMPF can be updated or modified to execute the Conduct any required specialized training.
mission. If no SOMPF exists for the mission, the
SOC commander must begin the time-sensitive Request and receive specialized mission-peculiar
mission planning process. In either case, he issues Rehearse its activities.
an alert or execute order to the SF group com- Resolve legal or policy issues concerning the
mander and the appropriate supporting commanders mission.
(Figure 7-7a). Commit the details of the mission to memory.
Based on the MTP or SOMPF he has been directed Prepare a written OPORD.
to execute, the SF group commander either retains Prepare individual and team equipment for infil-
the mission at group level or assigns the mission to a tration.
subordinate battalion commander for execution Given a complete SOMPF, a committed SF team
(Figure 7-7b). The appropriate commander then needs at least 96 hours to do the tasks listed above
selects an SF team to plan and execute the mission. (Figure 7-9). The team must refine the MICON
based on the actual situation. It must then submit
Upon selection to execute a mission, the SF team is mission support requests to confirm or revise all
committed. It moves into an ISOFAC, receives its support and sustainment requirements not already
OPORD and mission briefing, and begins mission toploaded by the ISOFAC staff and AST NCOs.
preparation (Figure 7-8). All SF OPLANs and The AST NCOs facilitate the coordination that must
OPORDs use the JOPS format to facilitate joint co- occur to ensure team requirements are properly
ordination of support requirements. In the mission identified and met.
briefing, the base commander and his staff provide
the mission statement, the supported commander’s About halfway through mission preparation, the
intent, and sufficient information to allow the SF SF team commander provides the base commander

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FM 31-20

FM 31-20
with a short and informal MICON brief to ensure prepare appropriate questions and other briefback
his team’s planning efforts meet the supported notes. During this review, the base commander
commander’s intent. At the MICON brief, the SF and his staff ensure that air missions, operational
commander presents employment options with a project stocks, radio frequencies and all other
recommendation as to which option the base com- support and sustainment requirements have been
mander should approve. confirmed with the supporting organizations.
When mission planning is completed, the SF team After the formal briefback, the base commander may
gives the base commander and his staff a mission conduct an unmarked map exercise to ensure that
briefback. Appendix H provides a briefback check- team members have committed to memory all
list. The mission briefback seines three functions. pertinent mission information. He may also re-
It– quire a dress rehearsal of critical mission events.
Ensures the team fully understands all aspects of
the mission. After the mission briefback, the SF team needs time
Convinces the base commander that the SF to modify its plan as directed and prepare its
team is ready to deploy and execute its mission. accompanying supplies and equipment for infil-
tration. It also needs at least 8 hours of uninterrupted
Allows the base commander and his staff to rest between mission preparation and infiltration.
recommend changes to the plan if required. When the base commander decides that the SF team
Before the mission briefback, the base commander is ready, he moves it to a staging area for sub-
and his staff review the SF team’s OPORD and sequent infiltration.

Time-Sensitive Mission on the quality of mission preparation. If there is not

enough time for normal preparation, the SF base
Planning Process commander determines minimum essential prepara-
tion tasks. He then modifies the deliberate mission
When preparing for an SF mission, time may be a planning process to do those tasks in the time
critical factor. A time-sensitive mission may also available (Figure 7-10). The SF base commander
impose time constraints on planning and other must inform the SOC or the JSOTF commander
mission preparation, particularly if no SOMPF ex- when he cannot accomplish these minimum es-
ists for the mission. Time is a significant factor sential tasks without an unacceptable degree of risk
because the success of the mission depends largely of mission failure.

Planning SFOB commander must consider the following

factors during initial mission planning:
Considerations Mode of employment (for example, low visibility
or clandestine).
The organization, training, and equipment of an SF
team varies with the actual mission. The FOB or Method of infiltration, resupply, and exfiltration.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Scope and duration of operation. Maps.

Operational environment (permissive, semiper- Other specialized items.
missive, or nonpermissive). Other specialized materiel requirements may in-
Availability of indigenous support mechanisms. clude—
Communications requirements based upon the SATCOM and other specialized communications
electronic threat, time sensitivity of transmission, equipment.
and environmental conditions. Suppressed weapons.
Collection means (visual observation, photogra- Specialized equipment for collecting information,
phy, surreptitious entry, technical surveillance). such as telescopes, night vision devices, elec-
Rules of engagement and other legal or policy tronic surveillance and direction finding
considerations related to the mission. equipment, surreptitious entry devices, and
Cover (as required). remote sensor systems.
Terminal guidance equipment, such as radar
The use of foreign or commercial materiel, tactics, transponders and laser target designators.
and techniques may permit the deployed SF team NBC defensive clothing or equipment.
to pass a cursory visual inspection by a hostile
observer, to avoid electronic identification, and to The group commander must identify his contin-
prevent identification by weapons signature. SF gency requirements for such equipment. He must
missions may require procurement and use of foreign coordinate with the TASOSC to procure sufficient
or commercial— quantities to properly train each SFOD in the equip-
Weapons. ment’s use and repair before the SFOD is committed.
Communications equipment. All equipment that could indicate the nature or
Clothing. operational area of the mission receives the same
Rations. security classification as the mission itself.

communications procedures) and electronics security

Operations (for example, radio silence and antenna positioning).
Security Physical security protects operational information or
activity by using security forces, barriers, sensors, and
OPSEC is a command responsibility. It must be an secure containers to deny or limit access to facilities,
integral part of every SF mission, to include plan- areas, materiel, documents, or personnel.
ning, training, preparation, and support activities. Information security prevents disclosure of opera-
The S3 provides staff supervision for OPSEC. tional information by restricting access to or the
OPSEC consists of signal security, physical security, release of written, verbal, graphic, or electronic
and information security. All are interrelated; all information.
must be considered simultaneously. The commander must designate essential elements
of friendly information (EEFI). He must then
Signal security protects operational information by enforce appropriate OPSEC measures to protect
implementing communications security (for exam- those EEFI from threats identified in the CI
ple, communications codes, secure voice equipment, vulnerability analysis.

Deception example, the deception objective for an SF DA
mission may be for a hostile commander to delay
Deception purposely misleads hostile decision mak- commitment of his reaction force until after the SF
ers by distorting, concealing, or falsifying indicators team has successfully withdrawn. The deception story
of friendly intentions, capabilities, or disposition. might be that a feint conducted in a secondary
Deception is employed in concert with OPSEC to sector by an indigenous resistance element under
mask friendly activity. the control of another SF team is in fact the main
The SF commander and his S3 must incorporate
deception into every SF operation. They determine The S3 and S2 OPSEC personnel determine what
the deception objective, deception target, and deception measures will portray friendly capabilities
deception story at the same time they develop their and intentions in such a way that the hostile
concept for the actual operation. The deception commander will conclude that the deception story is
objective is the desired hostile activity-what the SF true. Examples of deception measures include
commander wants the hostile force to do. The camouflage, smoke, ruses, feints, decoys, and dem-
deception target is the hostile commander who has onstrations. Complete deception is not always
the authority to direct that activity. The deception necessary. It is often sufficient to create merely
story is the perception of friendly activity that will an element of doubt in the mind of the deception
cause the deception target to react as desired. For target, thereby delaying his reactions.

Psychological impact of failure outweighs the potential positive

gain, the mission should be canceled. If the mission
Impact must still be conducted, a cover story should be
developed to minimize embarrassment to key
friendly personnel and countries. If an SF operation
In addition to developing deception plans for each is designed to receive public recognition and openly
SF operation, SF commanders must consider the project US interest and involvement in a country or
psychological impact of each SF operation. If the situation, SF commanders and their PSYOP advisors
mission is to receive minimum publicity and operate must determine how best to portray the event. They
with low visibility, SF commanders must assess the must also determine what media means are capable
potential impact should the operation be exposed of extracting maximum advantage without over-
in a negative and sensational manner. If the negative playing US involvement.

SF Teams in an commander makes a risk assessment based on the

level of NBC threat and his commander’s planning
NBC Environment guidance. During the risk assessment, the SF team
commander weighs the danger posed by NBC attacks
A critical factor in the mission planning process is the against the increased burden caused by the weight
degree of NBC threat in the JSOA. The SF team and bulk of the NBC gear to be carried. For example,

FM 31-20

the weight of a protective mask may mean one less foot-mobile and carry all essential equipment with
radio battery can be carried. The base NBC officer them. Therefore, extended wear of chemical protec-
assists in considering such tradeoffs. tive clothing is unacceptable in most circumstances.
Deployed SF teams in remote and denied areas have SF teams operating with indigenous forces in
the same NBC defensive requirements as conven- denied areas in an NBC environment must ensure
tional units. However, a number of factors greatly that NBC protective equipment is available to those
complicate their ability to survive and operate under forces. Possible sources of supply include battle-
NBC conditions. The physical and psychological field capture of protective equipment, local
effects of NBC weapons can be overcome, but only manufacture of expedient protective equipment, and
if SF commanders and soldiers plan for the NBC resupply from the SFOB or FOB. The SF teams
threat in their operational areas and adjust their must also train indigenous forces in the use of
training and operations accordingly. Deployed SF available NBC defensive equipment.
teams must modify conventional NBC defensive
Deployed SF teams decontaminate to prevent
measures because they—
casualties and enhance combat effectiveness. Their
Do not have organic NBC defense specialists. major concern is the decontamination of personnel
Are not supported by NBC defense units. and individual equipment. Decontamination means
Have limited or no capability to replace con- include the standard US individual decontamina-
taminated clothing or equipment. tion kit, captured decontamination equipment, and
Can only use man-portable NBC defensive locally squired field-expedient decontaminants.
equipment. Team personnel with specialized NBC training
supervise decontamination and use NBC monitoring
May need to train and equip indigenous forces. devices to ensure its completeness.
Cannot easily retaliate in kind if targeted.
Evacuation of NBC (and other) casualties from
The principles of NBC defense are contamination denied areas may be impossible. SF medical ser-
avoidance, protection, and decontamination. Con- geants must be trained to recognize the nature and
tamination avoidance is even more important for SF severity of NBC injuries and to administer
teams than it is for conventional units. Deployed appropriate medical treatment within the opera-
SF teams and their indigenous forces are normally tional area.

FM 31-20

Infiltration and exfiltration planning is critical in SF operations. The sophisticated techniques and
equipment available require detailed planning and coordination. This chapter discusses the basic
considerations for air, water, and land infiltration and exfiltration. Although it discusses air, water, and land
delivery separately, some missions may require a combination of means. (For detailed techniques and
procedures, see TCs 31-19, 31-24, 31-25, and 57-1.) Mission planners should not feel constrained by
the means mentioned in this chapter. SF teams can infiltrate or exfiltrate by any means–no matter how
unorthodox – as long as it offers a reasonable chance of success.

MYTH: We can get you in, but we’re not sure Considerations
we can get you out.
Infiltration and exfiltration are almost always joint
FACT: SF teams are not expendable and activities. SF does not perform its own air or water
do not stay in denied territory forever. infiltration and exfiltration planning. Mission plan-
SF operations pass through three
stages during the employment ners from the agencies providing the delivery or
phase–infiltration, mission execution, recovery means must be brought into the planning
and exfiltration. Exfiltration must process as early as possible. Successful infiltration
receive the same planning emphasis and exfiltration require—
as infiltration.
Timely, accurate, and detailed intelligence.
Detailed mission planning and coordination.

FM 31-20

Flexible mission planning that addresses the a particular mission:

unexpected. Mission requirements, to include quantity and
Adequate preparation, training, and rehearsals. types of accompanying equipment and supplies.
OPSEC. Hostile force capabilities.
Train, weather, hydrography, and light data.
Precise execution. Distance to the objective area.
The FOB or SFOB commander considers the SF team capabilities.
following factors when determining the most Capabilities of available delivery or recovery
desirable method of infiltration or exfiltration for means.

Air Infiltration free-fall parachute entry and air-land operations

by fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft. Rappel,
fastrope, and hoist operations are also techniques
Air infiltration is the most rapid means of clandes- for air infiltration. See Figure 8-1 for the advan-
tine infiltration. Techniques include static-line or tages and disadvantages of air infiltration.

FM 31-20

Water Infiltration Surface and subsurface swimming.

Small boats.
SF teams use various combinations of these delivery
Up to the point of debarkation, water infiltration is means and techniques to create deception, to in-
the most secure and economical means of clandestine crease the range of the mission, or to decrease the
time required for transit. Naval aircraft, surface craft,
penetration. SF water infiltration means include— and submarines may serve as intermediate delivery
Water landing by freed-wing amphibious aircraft vehicles to support water infiltration. SF may also
or properly prepared helicopters. use inland waterways (canals, lakes, rivers) in con-
junction with land infiltration. See Figure 8-2 for the
Free drop from hovering helicopters. advantages and disadvantages of water infiltration.

Land Infiltration infiltrate on foot or by land vehicle when the hostile

situation, geographic characteristics, or climate con-
ditions prevent air or water infiltration. Overland
Land infiltration in wartime is usually the least desir- movement in wartime is best done under conditions
able means of clandestine penetration. SF teams of limited visibility and over difficult terrain. It has

FM 31-20

the greatest chance for success when hostile lines are In conflict situations short of war, land infiltration
overextended, the combat zone is fluid, or portions of may offer less risk and greater mission security than
the country’s borders are inadequately secured. On air infiltration. Personnel with appropriate cover,
the other hand, a well-organized defense may language skills, and cultural training can infiltrate by
prohibit land infiltration. See Figure 8-3 for rail, vehicle, or commercial air for legitimate appear-
advantages and disadvantages of land infiltration. ing business or personal reasons.

En Route Evasion In denied territory, the planning focus is on re-

turning to friendly control.
and Escape Plan In proximity to the objective area, the planning
focus is on permitting the SF team to continue its
mission if it has a reasonable chance of success.
The SF team commander and the delivery or recovery The plan must address C2 during evasion. The SF
vehicle commander are jointly responsible for devel- team commander determines whether he can con-
oping an en route E&E plan. The plan must enhance tinue the mission. If he can continue the mission, he
the survivability of the SF team and crew members assumes command of all survivors, regardless of rank,
after emergency evacuation of the aircraft or vessel. and senior aircrew members consider themselves
Each mission presents its own peculiar problems. under his control for assisted E&E. If the SF team
Commanders should develop their plan according to cannot continue the mission, then the senior ranking
where the emergency occurs. If it occurs— survivor assumes command for unassisted E&E. If
the senior ranking survivor is an aircrew member, he
In friendly territory, the planning focus is on should rely on the SF team commander for E&E
maintaining mission OPSEC. advice and assistance.

FM 31-20

Exfiltration When SF operations are conducted deep in hostile or

denied areas, the distance to the JSOA normally
The planning considerations, preparations, tactics, precludes an all-land exfiltration. The initial phase of
and techniques for exfiltration are similar to those the exfiltration will normally be by land, terminating
used for infiltration. However, several unique recov- in an air or water recovery. Aircraft, surface craft,
ery means must be considered: submarines, or various combinations of these three
Fulton recovery system (MC-130). means can be used for the recovery of—
STABO and similar rotary-wing personnel ex- Seriously ill or wounded SF personnel.
traction systems.
Helicopter rescue hoist. SF teams following mission completion or abort.
Assisted E&E. SF teams under direct hostile pressure.

Stay-Behind Operations These operations—

Permit the SF teams to organize and train the
resistance cadre or to prepare for unilateral SF
As an alternative to infiltration, stay-behind opera- operations.
tions involve the pre-positioning of SF teams within Require less external support because caching is
their proposed JSOA before hostile forces overrun or possible.
occupy the area. (See TC 31-29 for a detailed discus- Are highly vulnerable to compromise before
sion of stay-behind operations.) hostilities begin.

FM 31-20

UW is the most challenging of all SF missions because it involves protracted operations with indigenous
forces in denied territory. Building rapport with and adapting to the ways of an indigenous resistance
organization require carefully planned and carefully executed actions. This chapter focuses on the doc-
trinal considerations for planning and executing such actions.

Resistance and why people resist their established government or

an occupying power:
Insurgency The people’s attitudes concerning the conditions.
A government’s inability or unwillingness to meet The nation’s political and cultural traditions,
the legitimate needs of its people may result in to include its experience with political violence.
popular frustration and dissatisfaction. People may The degree of political participation by the
lose their faith and confidence because the govern- populace.
ment lacks legitimacy. They may also simply Resistance may be either nonviolent or violent.
recognize that the government is incapable of Nonviolent resistance involves acts such as ostracism,
effectively providing internal security and devel- tax evasion, boycotts, strikes, or civil disobedience.
opment. (See JCS Pub 3-07 and FM 100-20 for Violent resistance includes sabotage, terrorism, and
detailed discussions of the nature of insurgency.) guerrilla warfare. People usually resist nonviolently
The following factors are important in explaining at first. However, they may willingly take up violent

FM 31-20

resistance if a subversive cadre provides them a cause insurgences seek to overthrow the existing social
they perceive to be both worthy and achievable. order and reallocate power within the country.
If the sociopolitical conditions are oppressive Other insurgences seek to–
enough, resistance may develop into an organized Overthrow an established government without
resistance movement. A resistance movement is an a follow-on social revolution.
organized effort by some portion of the civil popu- Establish an autonomous national territory
lation of a country to oppose or overthrow the within the borders of a state.
established government or cause the withdrawal of an Cause the withdrawal of an occupying power.
occupying power. The center of gravity in any Extract political concessions that are unob-
resistance movement is the people’s will to resist. tainable through less violent means.
The people bear the brunt of the established An insurgency often results from a government’s un-
authority’s retaliatory measures. While armed willingness or inability to address social ills or the
resistance may be LIC from the US perspective, it grievances of its people. However, an effective
is total war for those who take up arms. Defeat insurgent cadre with sufficient external support can
means death or a life in exile. mobilize causes as it does people and material re-
An insurgency is an organized resistance movement sources. Few countries are stable and progressive
that uses subversion and armed conflict to achieve its enough to withstand a concerted effort directed
aims. The central issues in an insurgency are control against its most vulnerable weaknesses.
and legitimacy. An insurgency is a protracted A resistance movement may also oppose an
politico-military struggle designed to weaken gov- established government or occupying power within
ernment control and legitimacy while increasing the context of a limited or general war. In this
insurgent control and legitimacy. situation, conventional military power will usually be
Each insurgency has its own unique characteristics the decisive factor. UW operational objectives con-
based on its strategic objectives, its operational tribute to overall strategic success by supporting and
environment, and available resources. Revolutionary complementing conventional military operations.

Three Phases resistance movement into an effective clandestine

organization. The resistance organization employs a
of an Insurgency variety of subversive techniques to prepare the popu-
lation psychologically to resist. These techniques may
A successful insurgency generally passes through include propaganda, demonstrations, boycotts, and
three phases. These phases often overlap. An in- sabotage. Subversive activities frequently occur in an
surgency may move back and forth from one phase to organized pattern, but there is no major outbreak of
another in response to the counterinsurgent effort armed violence. In the advanced stages of this phase,
made against it. Nevertheless, it is useful to view an the resistance organization may establish a shadow
insurgency in terms of these phases. government that parallels the established authority.
During this phase, the resistance leadership (Figure
Phase I 9-1)–
Recruits, organizes, and trains cadres.
Phase I, latent or incipient insurgency, is the phase Infiltrates key government organizations and civil
in which the resistance leadership develops the groups.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Establishes cellular intelligence, operational, Phase III

and support networks.
Phase III, mobile warfare or war of movement,
Organizes or develops cooperative relationships begins with the transition from GW to conventional
with legitimate political action groups, youth military operations. If successful, this phase brings
groups, trade unions, and other front orga-
nizations to develop popular support for later about the final collapse of the established
political and military activities. government or the withdrawal of the occupying
power. Without direct intervention, a Phase III
Solicits and otherwise obtains funds. insurgency takes on the characteristics of a civil war.
Develops sources of external support. The resistance organization may achieve legal
belligerent status. The resistance leadership becomes
Phase II responsible for the population, resources and
territory under its control. Specific actions include
Phase II, guerrilla warfare, begins with overt guerrilla establishing an effective civil administration,
activity. The guerrillas in a rural-based insurgency providing balanced social and economic develop-
normally operate from relatively secure base areas in ment, mobilizing the population to support the
an insurgent-controlled territory. In an urban-based resistance organization, and protecting the popu-
insurgency, the guerrillas operate clandestinely using lation from hostile actions. In a limited or general
a cellular organization to maintain OPSEC. In war, conventional military forces may link up with
either situation, subversive activities continue. Clan- the resistance organization and conduct the war of
destine radio broadcasts, newspapers, and pamphlets movement. In either case, Phase I and II activities
openly challenge the control and legitimacy of continue and expand. If Phase III succeeds, the
established authority. Recruiting efforts expand as resistance organization begins posthostility consoli-
the people lose faith in the established authority and dation activities. If it fails, the resistance organization
decide to actively resist it. reverts to Phase II or even Phase I.

urban-based and has its own clandestine support

Resistance organization. This support organization can be urban
Organization or rural.
The auxiliary is the clandestine support element of
Armed resistance requires an organization to be the guerrilla force. Like the underground, the
effective. A resistance organization includes both auxiliary is a cellular organization and can be rural-
operational and support elements. The operational or urban-based. Auxiliary functions include—
elements of a resistance organization belong to the Security and early warning.
guerrilla force and the underground. The auxiliary is Intelligence collection.
the clandestine support element. Counterintelligence.
The guerrilla force is the overt military or para- Recruitment of new personnel.
military arm of the resistance organization. The Air or maritime reception support.
guerrilla force conducts low-visibility combat opera- Communications.
tions. It is normally rural-based. Its members may be Psychological operations.
full-time or part-time. Populace and resources control.
The underground is a cellular organization that con- Support of evasion and escape mechanisms.
ducts clandestine subversion, sabotage, E&E, and Internal logistical and medical support.
intelligence collection activities. It may be rural-or Fund raising.

FM 31-20

Classic UW doctrine distinguishes between a guer- clear distinction between a guerrilla force and an
rills force and an underground. However, classic underground. Some modern insurgences, like the
rural insurgency is no longer the norm for Tupomaros in Uruguay and the Monteneros in
contemporary political violence. There may be no Argentina, operated only in urban areas.

Seven Phases of Although each resistance movement is unique, the

US sponsorship of a resistance organization gen-
US-Sponsored UW erally passes through seven phases. These seven
phases may not occur sequentially or receive the
The United States cannot afford to ignore the same degree of emphasis. They may occur con-
resistance potential that exists in the territories of its currently or not at all, depending on the specific
potential enemies. In a conflict situation or during situation. For example, SF support to a large and
war, SF can develop this potential into an organized effective resistance organization may be limited to
resistance movement capable of significantly ad- providing logistical support. Nevertheless, describ-
vancing US interests. The strategic politico-military ing UW in terms of the seven phases improves
objective of wartime UW is normally to influence understanding of the mission. See Figure 9-2.
conventional military operations. In conflict, how- Psychological Preparation
ever, the objectives may range from interdicting
foreign intervention in another country, to opposing The US government begins PSYOP as far in advance
the consolidation of a new hostile regime, to actually as possible. PSYOP prepare the resistance organi-
overthrowing such a regime. zation and the civil population of a potential UW
operational area to accept US sponsorship and the
In a wartime resistance movement directed against subsequent assistance of SF teams. The US
an occupying power, the critical-cell strategy (see government may accomplish this psychological
Chapter 2) may be appropriate. Little political preparation through radio broadcasts, underground
organization is needed if the occupying power has propaganda, or the insertion of US-sponsored
not yet consolidated its gains and has mistreated clandestine resistance organizers. The population of
or alienated the civilian populace. However, the a recently occupied country may already be pre-
critical-cell strategy has little chance of success pared to accept US sponsorship, particularly if the
against an indigenous communist government that country was a US friend orally before its occupation.
has consolidated its power. The mass-oriented In other cases, psychological preparation may be
strategy is more likely to succeed against such an more difficult. Normal peacetime contacts between
established government, but only if the resistance SF and indigenous elements contribute to the
organization offers the population a credible alter- psychological preparation of allied and friendly
native to communist rule. populations.
When directed, SF supports selected resistance Initial Contact
organizations that enhance US national interests.
In wartime, SF teams infiltrate hostile areas to Other agencies of the US government normally
organize, train, equip, and advise or direct an establish contact with a resistance organization
indigenous resistance organization. In conflict before an SF team infiltrates into the operational
situations where direct US military involvement is area to conduct UW. Contact is important to assess
inappropriate, SF teams may instead provide indirect resistance potential in the operational area and the
support from an external location. compatibility of US and resistance interests and

FM 31-20

objectives. During the initial contact, arrange- should arrange to exfiltrate a resistance leader from
ments are made for the reception and initial the operational area to brief the SF team in the
assistance of the SF team. If possible, the SOC ISOFAC and accompany it during infiltration. This

FM 31-20

person is known as an asset. The lack of an asset does place great demands on the resistance organization
not prevent infiltration of an assessment team to and its leadership. Armed rebellion inherently
make the initial contact and assess the situation in the creates an ambiguous and unstructured environment.
potential operational area. No two resistance organizations need the same
degree or level of organization. The SF team
Infiltration commander should consider the following factors
During this phase, an SF team, with its accompany- when advising the resistance leadership concerning
ing supplies, clandestinely infiltrates into the JSOA. organization:
The team makes contact with the resistance Effectiveness of existing resistance organization.
organization, establishes initial communications with Extent of cooperation between the resistance
the FOB, and moves to the guerrilla base or organization and the local population.
another secure location. Immediately upon infil- Hostile activity and security measures.
tration, the SF team begins a continuous area
assessment to confirm or refute information received Political boundaries, natural terrain features,
potential targets, population density, and other
before infiltration. characteristics of the JSOA.
Religious, ethnic, political, and ideological
Organization differences among elements of the population
and competing resistance organizations.
The SF team begins to establish rapport with the
resistance leadership by showing an understanding Proposed type and scope of combat operations.
of, confidence in, and concern for the resistance Degree of US influence with the resistance orga-
organization and its cause. The SF team explains nization.
its capabilities and limitations and begins to assist the The C2 structure of the resistance organization must
resistance leadership with the development of the provide unity of effort. An area command is a
resistance organization. The SF team must then combined (indigenous and SF) C2 structure that
prove its value in actual operations. Building rap- directs, controls, integrates, and supports all resis-
port is a difficult and complicated process based on tance activities in the operational area. The area
mutual trust, confidence, and understanding. It is not commander is the indigenous resistance leader.
accomplished overnight. (See page 9-11, SF- The size and composition of the area command vary
Resistance Relationships.) with the considerations listed above. The area
Before a resistance organization can successfully command is compartmented but should include
engage in combat operations, the resistance leader- representatives from each resistance element. The
ship must organize an infrastructure that can sustain SF team commander serves as an advisor to the area
itself in combat and withstand the anticipated hostile command. A large area command may establish
reaction to armed resistance. During the organization subordinate regional, district, or sector commands
phase, the resistance leadership develops a resis- to provide a mechanism for centralized planning
tance cadre to serve as the organizational nucleus and decentralized execution. See Figure 9-3 for
during the buildup phase. The SF team assists the an example of a highly structured resistance
resistance leadership in conducting a cadre training organization reporting to a national government-
program to prepare for the eventual buildup of the in-exile. There may not be such a political struc-
resistance organization. ture in existence. There may instead be a shadow
government in the country itself, or the political
The resistance leader and SF team commander must basis for the resistance movement may be a loose
agree upon C2 arrangements. SF team members confederation of tribal or national groups within
normally advise and assist counterpart resistance the country.
leaders. In some situations SF team members may
actually direct some resistance activities. An area command establishes an area complex
to support resistance activities. The area complex is
The specifics of resistance organization depend on a clandestine, dispersed, and flexible network of
local conditions. UW requires centralized direction facilities. It usually includes security, intelligence,
and decentralized execution under conditions that and CI systems; communication systems; reception

FM 31-20

sites; logistical and medical facilities; training areas; provide opportunities for the guerrillas to execute
guerrilla bases; and mission support sites (MSSs). their escape plan.
A guerrilla base is a temporary installation located An MSS is a relatively secure site that extends
in remote or resistance-controlled territory to sup- the operational radius of the guerrilla force. The
port the guerrilla force. A base can be large or small, guerrilla force occupies an MSS, seldom for longer
elaborate or simple. Bases are usually scattered, than 24 hours, before or after an operation. The
inconspicuous, and well-hidden in inaccessible ter- guerrilla force uses it to prepare for or recover from
rain. Clandestine LOC link the guerrilla bases to combat operations. When possible, the guerrilla
each other and to their support. Despite any force keeps the MSS under surveillance at least 24
impression of permanence, guerrilla bases must hours before and after use.
have at least one good escape route and an The organization of the guerrilla force cannot be
alternate location to use when hostile forces fixed according to standard, conventional TOEs.
threaten the primary base. Guerrilla bases must also Guerrilla force missions and tactics dictate a simple,
have early warning and defense mechanisms to mobile, and flexible organization capable of rapid
prevent hostile forces from surprising them and to dispersion and consolidation in response to the

FM 31-20

tactical situation. Each unit must be self-contained, US unified commander, but he must recognize that
with its own intelligence, communications, and logis- resistance objectives will rarely be identical to those
tical systems. of the United States.
Guerrilla organization normally determines auxiliary Interdiction is the basic UW combat activity. In-
organization. All auxiliary functions should be com- terdiction operations drain the hostile power’s
partmented from each other and from the guerrilla morale and resources, disrupt its administration,
force the auxiliary supports. and maintain the civilian population’s morale and will
to resist. By repeatedly attacking multiple and
Buildup widely dispersed targets, the resistance organization
confuses, frustrates, and demoralizes hostile forces.
During the buildup phase, the resistance cadre Such attacks force the hostile power to divide its
expands into an effective organization capable of reaction and reinforcement capabilities.
successful combat employment. The resistance cadre The resistance organization should not attack targets
recruits and trains new members. It organizes and indiscriminately. Each target should contribute to
equips new nets and guerrilla units. OPSEC is par- destroying or neutralizing an entire target system.
ticularly important because the influx of new recruits Interdiction is based on the assigned mission which
greatly increases the likelihood of compromise. directs, as a minimum, the results desired and the
The resistance organization may conduct limited priorities for attack. Based on this mission, the area
offensive combat operations to gain confidence and commander selects the specific target systems in his
confuse or harass the hostile power. However, the operational area. Major target systems vulnerable to
UW interdiction operations include railway, highway,
emphasis remains on developing the resistance waterway, airway, communication, power, water sup-
infrastructure to support future operations. The ply, fuel supply, and air defense systems. (See TC
SF team assists with intelligence collection and 31-29 for a detailed discussion on target systems.)
tarey analysis. It also advises and assists with
resistance logistics activities. The resistance organization’s principal means of
interdiction are raids, ambushes, and mining and
The resistance organization should not expand sniping operations. Resistance forces can use mining
beyond the point of effectiveness or for the sake and sniping alone to interdict LOC and hinder
of sheer numbers. The SF team commander must hostile repair efforts after a successful raid or
monitor resistance recruiting to ensure that the ambush. Mining and sniping can also support raids
and ambushes by—
resistance organization is not using SF support to
prepare for a posthostilities conflict that is not in the Preventing the escape of hostile troops from
the objective area.
US interest. He must carefully balance the compet-
ing demands of size and effectiveness against his Covering the friendly force’s withdrawal.
mission requirements. Delaying hostile reaction and reinforcement
Combat Employment
In addition to combat operations, the resistance
During this phase, the resistance organization organization continues to collect, process, and
initiates combat operations to achieve its strategic disseminate intelligence. Accurate, timely intelli-
politico-military objectives. The resistance organi- gence is essential. Before each combat operation,
zation synchronizes these combat operations with the resistance organization supplements its normal
PSYOP and subversive activities for maximum intelligence activities with an intensive effort to
effect. Resistance forces may conduct more collect detailed information on the specific target
conventional military operations as the situation and the objective area. This effort includes con-
permits, or they may revert to the buildup phase tinuous surveillance of the objective area without
if the hostile reaction warrants this withdrawal. alerting the hostile power of friendly intentions.
The SF team commander ensures that resistance The resistance organization’s intelligence system
activities continue to support the objectives of the may also respond to external taskings from the

FM 31-20

government-in-exile and/or the theater CINC. the linkup. When friendly conventional forces
When the SF team receives an intelligence collec- encompass the JSOA, the resistance organization
tion mission, it may request that the resistance may perform linkup missions. Although not strictly
intelligence system execute the mission. If security or UW missions, these linkup missions include—
policy considerations preclude resistance participa- Conducting conventional combat operations in
tion, the SF team conducts the mission unilaterally. the main battle area or rear area as an economy
of force measure.
If the theater CINC initiates conventional military
operations in the operational area, the SF team Containing or destroying bypassed or cutoff
hostile forces.
commander closely coordinates resistance activities
to complement and support those operations. Exam- Conducting tactical reconnaissance and surveil-
ples of this coordination include— lance missions.
Integrating resistance combat operations into the Screening difficult terrain and gaps between
theater campaign plan. conventional units.
Coordinating resistance target acquisition and Controlling tactical air strikes.
terminal guidance missions in support of theater Providing guides and interpreters to conven-
interdiction operations. tional units.
Ensuring resistance intelligence collection efforts Enforcing PRC measures to minimize civilian
support the theater intelligence collection plan. interference with conventional military
Ensuring resistance E&E, sabotage, and subver- operations.
sive activities further the objectives of both the After linkup, resistance forces revert to national
resistance organization and the theater CINC.
control. These forces may demobilize, or they may
Depending on its stage of development, the SF- reorganize as conventional combat forces for use
supported resistance organization may be able to in economy of force missions. Possible missions
perform the following combat missions to support include rear area security of critical installations and
conventional military operations LOC chokepoints and employment as tactical com-
Conduct deception and economy of force opera- bat forces in the rear area.
tions to allow the conventional commander to In a conflict situation, or a secondary theater of
concentrate his combat power elsewhere. operations during war, US policy and strategy may
Attack hostile air defense and deep attack preclude the use of conventional military forces to
weapon systems to support the conventional assist an insurgency. In this case, the resistance
commander’s fire suppression plan. organization may have to raise sufficient forces to
Interdict or block approach routes or exit routes challenge the established government or occupying
from an objective area. power in a war of movement. In this phase, SO
Occupy and hold key terrain features or facili- CA and PSYOP elements normally augment the
ties for a limited time to support the conventional SF team advising and assisting the area command.
force’s scheme of maneuver. These elements take over responsibility for advising
Seize and hold key installations (for example, and assisting the resistance leadership on the politi-
bridges, tunnels, dams, and power and com- cal and psychological aspects of the insurgency,
munications facilities) for a limited time to freeing the SF team to focus on combat operations.
prevent their destruction by hostile forces. See Chapters 15 and 16 for more detailed discus-
Harass and interdict hostile command and con- sions of CA and PSYOP support to UW.
trol, logistical, and reserve elements as part of
the conventional commander’s deep operations. Demobilization
Divert hostile attention and resources from the
main battle area. Demobilization is an important and difficult phase
of UW, yet is often neglected in initial UW
If conventional forces intend to link up with the planning. Demobilization planning should begin
resistance organization, the SF team coordinates as soon as the US government decides to sponsor

FM 31-20

a resistance organization. Once the resistance and gain their acceptance. To achieve this goal, the
organization accomplishes its objectives, it new government must—
should demobilize. Its shadow government may Bring arms and ammunition under gov-
become the newly established government of the ernment control.
country. Resistance forces should be integrated Assist resistance members in returning to
into the reconstituted national army, even if this civilian life.
integration is only a transition stage toward their Take positive measures to prevent resistance
eventual return to civilian life. The manner in which members from beginning or participating in fur-
the demobilization occurs will affect the postwar ther political upheaval.
attitudes of the people and the government towards Because of their knowledge of resistance organiza-
the United States. tion and history, SF teams initially remain in their
operational areas to assist in demobilization. The
Perhaps the greatest danger in demobilization is SF team commanders and their supporting CA and
the possibility that former resistance members PSYOP elements ensure transfer of US responsi-
may resort to subversion of the new government, bility without loss of control, influence, or property
factional disputes, or banditry. The new government accountability. The key to long-term strategic
must make every effort to reorient and absorb success in UW is the planning and execution of SF
former resistance members into a peaceful society postconflict responsibilities.

SF-Resistance tolerate an SF presence only to obtain US material

Relationships Perhaps the most delicate responsibility of a de-
ployed SF team commander is to ensure that
The commander of an SF team with a UW competent indigenous personnel occupy key re-
mission occupies a very sensitive position. To the sistance positions. He should attempt to improve
area commander, he is the direct representative of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of resistance
the US government. The SF team commander leaders and staff members. If all efforts fail and the
must be a diplomat as well as a military advisor. The individual’s performance threatens the future effec-
SF team must establish a good working relationship tiveness of the resistance organization, the SF team
with the resistance organization. This relationship commander should carefully try to influence the
develops from a common goal against a common selection of a replacement. In this potentially
enemy and resistance acceptance of US sponsor- explosive situation, he must exercise extreme
ship and operational guidance. However, the SF caution to avoid jeopardizing his mission.
team must recognize political considerations, SF soldiers need a working knowledge of the local
personal antagonism, religious beliefs, and ethnic language. When this is impossible to achieve, they
differences that affect its mission performance must select interpreters carefully and use them
(Figure 9-4). Team members must know and respect cautiously. An interpreter is in a very sensitive and
local traditions, customs, and courtesies. They must powerful position. He is the only person who knows
be able to explain the policies and strategies of the what both parties to a conversation are saying. To be
US government and the theater CINC. They must effective, he must have the trust and confidence of
be prepared to work with resistance members who both the resistance organization and the SF team.

FM 31-20

Psychological to the formal PSYOP program, the SF team

commander must ensure the resistance organiza-
Operations tion considers the psychological implications of its
activities. The ability of the resistance organization
The resistance organization must have an effec- to obtain civilian support depends primarily upon its
tive PSYOP program. Proper PSYOP create unity, psychological impact on the population. The adverse
maintain resistance morale, and gain the sympathy effects of improper resistance activities may outweigh
and support of the civilian population. In addition any tactical benefits.

FM 31-20

Discipline for developing such a code. Each resistance member

must understand its provisions, to include the
Resistance operations are decentralized and widely penalties for violations. The resistance code of
dispersed. They generally involve actions that the discipline should be simple. It should prescribe
hostile power considers illegal. Resistance members harsh but fair punishments for what would be
may appear unkempt or bedraggled because of minor offenses in a conventional military force. The
the environment in which they operate. These fac- code should incorporate the provisions of the Geneva
tors create opportunities for loose discipline and Conventions to minimize hostile propaganda
misconduct. However, strict discipline is essential potential and enhance the legitimacy of the
to any resistance organization. Resistance leaders resistance organization.
and members must understand that even minor Although the resistance leadership is responsible for
infractions against the civilian population can maintaining discipline in the resistance organization,
have far-reaching consequences. Resistance mem- the SF team commander may recommend measures
bers must know that their personal conduct must to ensure proper discipline. The SF team com-
be above reproach when dealing with civilians. mander and area commander must also agree on
disciplinary and judicial authority over the SF team.
To prevent ill-discipline and misconduct, the resis- The SF team commander will NOT give up his
tance leadership must develop and enforce a written disciplinary or judicial authority over members of his
code of discipline. Figure 9-5 provides a historic guide command.

FM 31-20

Resistance tain the energy of active guerrillas. The area

commander must obtain high-calorie foods such as
Logistics grains, sugar, and meats.
Each resistance organization must develop its own Guerrillas need seasonal changes of clothing in the
logistics system to meet its specific requirements and temperate zone. Waterproof clothing is desirable.
situation. In general, however, a resistance orga- Guerrillas need sturdy, well-fitted shoes or boots
nization meets its logistical requirements by a because they depend on their feet for mobility.
combination of internal and external means. Guerrillas require natural or constructed protection
The JSOA must provide the bulk of a resistance from the elements and hostile observation.
organization’s logistical requirements. The area Captured weapons are initially the primary source
commander must balance his support requirements of weapon resupply and replacement parts. The
against the need to gain and maintain civilian area commander must establish weapons account-
cooperation. Imposing excessive demands on the ability by type to determine the required rate of
population may adversely affect popular support. ammunition resupply.
Logistical constraints may initially dictate the size of
the resistance organization. During the organization and buildup phases, the
resistance organization has minimal physical contact
As the resistance organization expands, its logistical with hostile forces and requires little ammunition.
requirements may exceed the capability of the During the combat employment phase, the area
JSOA to provide adequate support. When this commander must impose strict fire discipline to con-
situation occurs, an external sponsor provides serve ammunition.
supplemental logistical support or the resistance
organization reduces the scale of its activities. The amount of demolitions required depends on
External support is normally limited to the neces- the number and types of combat operations to be
sities of life and the essential equipment and supplies accomplished in a given period. The interdiction of
required to conduct combat operations. complex target systems by multiple attacks requires
significant amounts of explosives.
External support is an important means of dem-
onstrating support and obtaining influence. When Initially, most resistance communications are
compared to a conventional unit, a resistance clandestine and non-technical. During the combat
organization has fewer and more basic logistical employment phase, resistance forces must rely on
requirements. External support requirements radios for tactical communication during combat
include the following: operations.
Food. The resistance organization requires basic medicines
Clothing. and other medical supplies to treat its members.
Shelter. Preventive medicine is especially important to a
Weapons. resistance organization because it normally does not
Ammunition. have adequate facilities to treat diseases.
Demolitions. The area commander normally obtains transpor-
Communications. tation support from the auxiliary on a mission basis.
Medical support. The guerrilla force may have its own organic
Transportation. transportation system to meet its immediate needs.
Storage. In remote or undeveloped areas, the primary means
Maintenance. may be human porters or pack animals.
Most areas suitable for guerrilla bases have some The area commander caches extra supplies and
natural foods, but these foods usually cannot sus- equipment throughout the operational area.

FM 31-20

Caching is not a haphazard affair. Caches must reimbursement at the end of hostilities. Obstacles to
support anticipated operational requirements or a levy system include—
specified emergencies. Chronic shortages among the local population.
The resistance organization obtains repair material Hostile PRC measures, to include confiscation or
from the local economy and through battlefield destruction of local resources.
recovery to perform all maintenance and repairs Competition from the hostile power or rival
resistance organizations.
within its capability. It may establish repair facilities NBC or other contamination of local resources.
within the area complex. The sponsor includes
necessary maintenance and repair items with all Barter may adversely affect the levy system.
equipment it provides the resistance. Introducing However, it may be the only method of obtaining
sophisticated equipment into the JSOA may com- critical items (such as medical supplies) or services.
plicate the maintenance system. Resistance forces often have to improvise their own
Internal sources of resistance supply include the field expedients. They may even have to plant and
following raise their own food, dig wells, and tend their own
livestock. The area commander may consider
Battlefield recovery. establishing clandestine factories to produce items
Purchase. that are otherwise unobtainable.
Confiscation alienates the local population. The
Barter. resistance organization should use confiscation only
Production. in emergencies or to punish individuals who
Confiscation. refuse to cooperate or who actively collaborate with
Successful offensive operations permit resistance the hostile power. In all cases, resistance leaders
forces to satisfy some of their logistical require- must strictly control confiscation to ensure that it
ments by battlefield recovery. Capturing supplies does not deteriorate into looting.
from hostile forces also avoids alienating civilians. The deployed SF team commander is accountable for
The resistance organization normally limits its pur- all equipment and supplies delivered to the JSOA.
chases to critical items unavailable by other means. His control of US-provided material enhances his
Excessive introduction of external currency may ability to influence resistance activities. He must
disrupt the local economy. Such disruption may establish positive control and maintain accountability
for sensitive items such as weapons, ammunition,
not be in the interest of the resistance organization explosives, radios, drugs, and funds. An SF team
or the United States. member should be present at all deliveries of external
The resistance organization may organize a levy supplies. The SF team should determine the quan-
system to ensure an equitable system for obtaining tities and disposition of sensitive items procured from
supplies from the local population. Under a levy other sources. The information helps in determining
system, the resistance organization provides receipts the proper distribution of US material, assessment of
and maintains records of levy transactions to facilitate resistance capabilities, and demobilization.

Resistance Health and to secure the support of the local populace.

Resistance HSS must be mobile, responsive, and
Service Support effective in preventing disease and restoring the
sick and wounded to duty. The resistance organi-
The goals of resistance HSS operations are to zation normally has no safe rear area to treat its
conserve the fighting strength of resistance forces casualties. Wounded and ill personnel become a

FM 31-20

tactical rather than a logistical problem. The SF not available. Upon initial contact, he provides
team commander will find that HSS is a major almost immediate access to the resistance mem-
tactical consideration in all operations. bership. Each medical act can be an effective
presentation of SF credibility.
Abroad range of medical support may be available in
the JSOA. Historically, some resistance organiza- As the requirement for doctors and other medical
tions have developed highly organized and effective specialists increases, an SF medical team may
HSS systems. In most cases, however, the local infiltrate to establish and operate a clandestine
population cannot support the area command with hospital in the JSOA. An SF clandestine hospital is
qualified medical personnel. For the SF team, HSS a medical treatment facility, or complex of facilities,
can be an effective way to establish rapport with providing in-patient medical care to resistance
the resistance organization. The SF medical sergeant members. The SF medical team should infiltrate as
is uniquely qualified as a physician substitute or soon as possible during the building phase so that its
independent duty medic. He can deliver a sophis- clandestine hospital is fully operational when the
ticated level of medical care when physician care is combat employment phase begins.

FM 31-20

FID is not exclusively an SF mission. It is a joint and interagency activity of the US government. This chapter
discusses employment considerations for SF teams conducting FID missions. It discusses the considerations
for a transition to support a conventional expeditionary force. The chapter uses the term Insurgency for
consistency with JCS Pub 3-07 and FM 100-20. In practice, SF teams may conduct FID missions to counter
any armed resistance movement.

Internal Defense the needs of the society. Successful IDAD pro-

grams eliminate problems before an insurgency can
and Development exploit them. The US IDAD strategy assumes that
the HN government is responsible for preventing or
defeating any threat to its own control and legiti-
Internal defense and development (IDAD) are all macy. The primary US objective is to support a level
the measures taken by a nation to promote its of HN internal security that permits economic,
growth and protect itself from subversion, lawless- political, and social growth through balanced
ness, and insurgency. IDAD is an overall strategy for development programs. (See JCS Pub 3-07 and
preventing or defeating an insurgency. It focuses FM 100-20 for detailed discussions of US support
on building HN institutions that are responsive to to counterinsurgency.)

FM 31-20

Special Forces assistance duties on a temporary or permanent basis.

In either case, SF provides advisory assistance under
FID Operations the OPCON of the SAO chief in his role as in-
country US defense representative.
The primary SF mission in FID is to organize, train,
advise, and assist HN military and paramilitary forces. The SF advisor must understand the total scope of
The intent is to improve the tactical and technical SAO activities. He must know the functions,
proficiency of these forces so they can defeat the responsibilities, and capabilities of the other US
insurgency without direct US involvement. The capa- agencies in the HN. Many SF activities cross the
bilities that SF employs to perform its FID mission jurisdictional boundaries or responsibilities of other
are those inherent to its UW mission. Only the Country Team members. The SF advisor should seek
operational environment is changed. To accomplish out other Country Team members to coordinate his
its FID mission, SF participates in the following types portion of the overall FID effort.
of operations:
Training assistance. The SF advisor is first and foremost a representative
Advisory assistance. of the United States in a foreign country. His mission
Intelligence operations. is to implement established US policies. His func-
Psychological operations. tions and duty requirements are often quite different
Civil-military operations. from those performed by conventional US military
personnel. SF advisors frequently find themselves
Populace and resources control. dealing with HN counterparts of quite different
Tactical operations. cultural, educational, and military backgrounds.
Together they must resolve problems by means
Training Assistance appropriate to the HN, without violating US laws
and policies in the process. SF advisors operate
SF teams may develop, establish, and operate under very specific ROE. The purpose of the ROE
centralized training programs for the supported HN is to ensure the advisors remain advisors. The ROE
force. SF teams can also conduct individual, leader,
are strictly enforced and violations normally result in
and collective training programs for specific HN that advisor’s immediate removal from the HN.
units. Subjects can range from basic combat train-
ing and leader development to specialized collective
Successful advisory assistance depends more on
training. SF training assistance often develops a HN effective cross-cultural communications and close
cadre that can then train the rest of the HN force on personal relationships than on formal agreements.
a sustained basis. To advise a HN counterpart effectively, the SF
Whenever possible, SF soldiers should be able to advisor must understand the HN’s sociological,
conduct the training in the indigenous language or a psychological, and political makeup. Advice may be
third language common to both trainers and students. the least desired assistance that SF offers. HN
If this is impossible, the SF unit must obtain military leaders may tolerate it only to obtain ma-
competent and trustworthy translators. terial and training assistance. Even when they accept
advice, they may not act upon it immediately. The
Advisory Assistance SF advisor must realize that his counterpart will
normally act within the context of his own
SF may provide advisory assistance in two ways. sociopolitical experience. Political objectives and
SF teams may provide operational advice and constraints, rather than military capabilities, often
assistance to specific HN military or paramilitary dictate the roles, missions, and force development
organizations. Individual SF soldiers may be assigned of HN military and paramilitary forces. The SF
or attached to the SAO to perform advisory advisor must always remain sensitive to the HN

FM 31-20

environment in which he and his counterpart population in support of the HN government’s

operate. IDAD programs. SF CMO include civil assistance to
the HN government and military civic action. (See
While refusing US advisors, HN military leaders may Chapter 16 for a more detailed discussion of CA
request and receive US mobility and fire support if support of SF FID operations.)
the insurgency worsens. To coordinate this support
and ensure it is properly employed, US liaison teams
should accompany HN ground maneuver units Populace and
receiving US direct combat support. Language- Resources Control
qualified and area-oriented SF teams are especially PRC measures mobilize the human and material
suited for this mission. resources of the HN and deny these resources to the
Intelligence Operations insurgents. PRC measures include personnel
documentation, curfews, travel restrictions, rationing
An insurgency relies on secrecy and surprise to and price controls, licensing, and checkpoint
conceal itself and to overcome the HN government’s operations. The enforcement of PRC measures
superiority in military power and other resources. should be primarily a HN police or paramilitary
Effective intelligence operations penetrate the responsibility. HN military forces may assist in PRC
insurgents’ screen of secrecy and permit the HN operations. PRC operations may support military
government to take advantage of its superior operations.
resources. HN and US intelligence operations
support counterinsurgency planning and operations The HN government must integrate PSYOP into
by providing information on the operational area and PRC operations to explain that PRC measures are the
the insurgent organization. Intelligence operations result of insurgent activity. The people must be
must not focus only on obtaining military OB infor- persuaded that—
mation. Of particular importance are intelligence The insurgents and not the HN government are
operations that seek to neutralize or destroy the to blame for the inconvenience of PRC measures.
insurgents’ political and intelligence infrastructure. The government acts for the long-range benefit
of the people.
Psychological Operations
The activities of the insurgents are harmful to the
To defeat an insurgency, the HN government must people and require the imposition of PRC mea-
retain or regain the confidence and support of its sures.
people. The objective of an IDAD program should Insurgents are the enemy of the people and must
not be to kill or even capture the insurgents. It should be denied support and supplies.
be to convince them to abandon a hopeless or
worthless cause and support the HN government. Loyal citizens must declare themselves, their
PSYOP must therefore be an integral and vital part families, and their communities on the side of the
government by full and voluntary compliance with
of an IDAD program. SF soldiers may have to the program.
educate their HN counterparts in the value and role
of PSYOP in FID. They must then advise and assist The government will reduce and eliminate the
HN forces in developing and implementing an PRC program as the insurgent threat decreases.
effective PSYOP program. (See Chapter 15 for a
more detailed discussion of PSYOP support of SF The civil population is more likely to accept PRC
FID operations.) measures enforced by HN personnel. SF teams
should normally limit their participation to advice,
Civil-Military Operations training, and indirect support of PRC operations. SF
advisors may accompany HN military or paramilitary
CMO enhance the relationship between military personnel conducting PRC operations. However,
forces, civilian authorities, and the population. SF they must convey to the population that they are only
advisors assist HN military forces in developing supporting a HN program rather than implementing
effective CA programs that mobilize the civil a US-directed program.

FM 31-20

Tactical Operations Consolidation Operations.Consolidation opera-

Because of its extensive UW training, SF is par- tions are long-term population security operations
ticularly qualified to advise and assist the HN in such conducted in territory that is generally under HN
tactical operations as consolidation, strike, remote government control. Their purpose is to—
area, border, and urban area. The objective of Isolate the insurgents from the civil population.
tactical operations in FID is to provide a secure Protect the civil population from insurgent
environment where balanced development can influence.
occur. Tactical operations should not be independent
military actions aimed only at destroying insurgent Neutralize the insurgent infrastructure.
combat forces and their base areas. They should be an
integral part of a synchronized IDAD effort to gain The people are unlikely to support the HN
broader strategic objectives. The SF team com- government fully until the government provides
mander must convince his counterpart to integrate sufficient long-term security to free its people from
intelligence, CA and PSYOP activities into every the fear of insurgent reprisals. Consolidation
tactical operation. SF advisors and their HN counter- operations are designed to accomplish these
parts must know the impact their tactical operations objectives. They typically pass through the four
have on the populace and other IDAD programs. stages shown in Figure 10-1.

FM 31-20

Strike Operations. Strike operations are short- permanent HN government control over the area.
duration tactical operations conducted in contested Remote areas may be populated by ethnic, religious,
or insurgent-controlled areas. They support or other isolated minority groups. They may be in the
consolidation operations by preventing insurgent interior of the HN or near border areas where major
forces from contesting HN pacification efforts. Their infiltration routes exist. Remote area operations
purpose is to— normally involve the use of specially trained
Destroy insurgent forces and base areas. paramilitary or irregular forces.
Isolate insurgent forces from their support. SF teams support remote area operations to interdict
Interdict insurgent infiltration routes and LOC. insurgent activity, destroy insurgent base areas in
the remote area, and demonstrate that the HN
Strike operations are primarily offensive operations. government has not conceded control to the
They are characterized by small, highly mobile insurgents. They also collect and report information
combat forces operating in dispersed formations to concerning insurgent intentions in more populated
locate and fix the insurgent force. Once the insurgent areas.
force is located, strike force commanders attack, PSYOP and CA programs assist in obtaining local
pursue, and destroy it. If contact with the insurgent support for remote area operations. Success is more
force is lost, strike force commanders resume aggres- likely if—
sive patrolling to reestablish contact and destroy the
force before it can rest, reorganize, and resume A significant segment of the local population
combat operations. (See FM 90-8 for a detailed supports the program.
discussion of tactical counterguerrilla operations.) The HN recruits local personnel for its remote
area paramilitary or irregular force.
SF advisors must advise against strike operations that
overshadow and dominate the nonmilitary aspects of HN forces may conduct remote area operations to
counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgent, like insur- interdict infiltration routes in areas nearly devoid of
gency, requires a balanced approach in which tactical any people. In this case, SF teams advise and assist
operations often play a supporting role. To defeat irregular HN forces operating in a manner similar to
an insurgency, the HN government must isolate the the insurgents themselves, but with access to superior
insurgents from the population on which they CS and CSS resources.
depend for manpower, supplies, funds, and intel- Border Operations. Border security should be the
ligence. When denied access to the population, responsibility of HN police, customs, or paramilitary
the insurgents must do one of the following: border forces. However, the threat may require
Stand and fight for control over the population, combat-type border operations, particularly in
subjecting themselves to the superior combat remote areas. SF teams advise and assist HN forces
power of the established government and its assigned to prevent or interdict the infiltration of in-
allies. surgent personnel and material across international
Retreat to their remote base areas, where boundaries. The intent is to isolate insurgent forces
isolation from the population diminishes their from their external support, to include external
influence and reduces the relevance of the insur- sanctuaries. Secondary purposes are to—
gency to the legitimate needs of the population. Locate and interdict insurgent land infiltration
Revert to an earlier phase of insurgency and routes.
resume low-level subversive activities until Destroy insurgent forces and base areas in areas
conditions become more favorable. adjacent to the border.
Collect and report information concerning insur-
Remote Area Operations. Remote area operations gent capabilities and intentions.
are operations undertaken in insurgent-controlled or
contested areas to establish islands of popular Border operations normally require restrictive PRC
support for the HN government and deny support to measures that are particularly annoying to border
the insurgents. They differ from consolidation tribal and ethnic groups who do not recognize the
operations in that they are not designed to establish international boundary. The HN government must

FM 31-20

make a continuing PSYOP effort to gain and maintain damage and prevent hostile propaganda victories that
the loyalty of the affected population. occur when US or HN military forces overreact to
Urban Area Operations. Clandestine insurgent insurgent actions. As a result, the need for PSYOP
activity may be extensive in urban areas. It can and CA support greatly increases in urban areas.
include terrorism, sabotage, and PSYOP in addition Support of US Combat Forces. If the HN
to political, organizational, intelligence, and logistical government’s situation deteriorates to the point that
operations. This insurgent activity may strain the vital US interests are in jeopardy, the NCA may
capabilities of police and other civil authorities. commit US forces in a combat role to effect a decisive
Police, internal security, and other HN government change in the conflict. Direct US military inter-
organizations will be high priority targets for the vention can provide HN forces with the time and
insurgents. The insurgents normally try to exploit space to regain the strategic initiative and resume
local civilian organizations by subverting their goals control of tactical operations.
and objectives to serve the insurgent cause. The
insurgents strive to create situations that cause HN In this situation, the committed US combat force is
police and military forces to overreact in a manner likely to find in-country SF teams with a myriad of
that adversely affects the civil population. formal and informal arrangements. The US con-
SF teams, with assistance from assigned and ventional commander should treat this situation like
attached MP and CI personnel, advise and assist a UW linkup operation. He should fully exploit SF
HN forces engaged in urban area operations. experience and contacts during the critical transition
The purpose of these operations is to— period when his forces are deploying into the country.
He should immediately exchange liaison personnel
Eliminate the centralized direction and control with the appropriate SF headquarters to exploit SF
of the insurgent organization. advice and assistance. The SF headquarters should
Create insurgent disunity. provide all possibile advice and assistance, to
Destroy the insurgent infrastructure that include—
threatens the HN government. Situation and intelligence updates for incoming
When military forces reinforce police in an urban conventional commanders and their staffs.
area, their operations must be even more closely Use of in-place SF elements for initial coordi-
controlled and coordinated to minimize collateral nation with HN and US Mission agencies.

command relationships of a SAF depend on its

SF Organization for specific circumstances. A SAF is flexibly organized
FID Operations with the wide range of skills needed to augment the
capabilities of the in-country SAO. When an SF unit
When an SF unit is committed to a FID mission, it is designated as the nucleus of a SAF, its normal
normally receives appropriate CS and CSS augmen- augmentation includes—
tation and may be designated as a security assistance A CA element.
force (SAF). The SF unit may instead be assigned to A PSYOP element.
a SAF organized around another military organiza- A medical element.
tion. The SAF is similar to a conventional unit An engineer element.
combined arms task force, but is specifically designed An MP element.
to support counterinsurgency. The composition and An MI element.

FM 31-20

A signal element. When the entire SF group is committed, the SFOB

Other combat, CS, and CSS elements as required. commander and staff are primarily concerned with
An SF FID mission may require assets ranging from synchronizing SF activities with the activities of the
HN and other US Country Team agencies. The
a single SF team to a reinforced SF group. In the early FOB elements prepare, deploy, control, and support
stages of an insurgency, the level of SF Participation SAF operational elements. The SAP commander
may be as small as one SFOD under the direct may assign missions to the FOBs on either a
OPCON of the SAO. In the more advanced stages, functional or a regional basis. In addition to
an SF battalion or company may establish an supporting SF tactical operations, the SAP must
operational base (in or out of country) and exercise be able to support intelligence, PSYOP, CA, PRC,
OPCON of SFODs for the SAO. Operational and and other operations. See Figure 10-2 for an example
support elements may be assigned to the base on a of a highly structured organization for counter-
rotational or a permanent basis. When an entire SF insurgency.
group is committed, it normally establishes an SFOB
and one or more FOBs. For OPSEC purposes, these An SF team must coordinate its activities with the
bases should be established in CONUS or a third appropriate HN government officials and other US
country, if possible. advisory elements in its operational area. There

FM 31-20

may be an area coordination center (ACC) to an interagency US advisory assistance team assigned
facilitate this coordination effort. An ACC is a HN to the ACC. See Figure 10-3 for a type provincial
or combined (US/HN) civil-military headquarters ACC organization.
responsible for planning, coordinating, and direct-
If the US and HN establish a combined C2 organi-
ing all IDAD activities within its jurisdiction. The
integration of operational, intelligence, and support zation, the SAO or SAF may be directed to pass
activities is its most critical function. The senior OPCON of the SF team to the appropriate combined
HN political or military official is the ACC director area commander. In this situation, the parent SAO
(chief), but he usually delegates normal day-to- or SAF—
day coordination to his deputy. A civilian advisory Retains command less OPCON.
committee composed of leading citizens provides a Provides all support and sustainment not provided
communications link between the ACC and the local by the area commander.
population. The SF commander may be the senior May retain tasking authority for SF missions
US advisor to the HN official directing the ACC. performed beyond the area commander’s juris-
The SF team may coordinate its activities through diction.

SF Rear during Third World contingency operations when US

LOC are extended. The bulk of MP activity may be
Operations restricted to the vicinity of the LOC and base clusters,
conceding to hostile forces almost complete freedom
During war, the theater CINC commits his assigned of action in the more remote areas of the friendly
SF units primarily to deep operations. However, rear. Even if HN internal security forces are
when hostile insurgents or hostile SOF present a available, they may require US advisory and training
significant threat to friendly rear areas, the theater assistance to effectively counter the threat of a well-
CINC may commit SF elements to rear operations organized and popular insurgency.
(Figure 10-4).
When directed, SF teams organize, train, equip, and
Conventional CSS units in the rear area establish, or direct foreign combat forces to conduct offensive rear
are assigned to, mutually supporting base clusters for operations against a hostile insurgent or SOF threat.
local defense. MP units secure the LOC between Under the OPCON of the appropriate TAACOM or
base clusters, conduct area reconnaissance to detect combat unit (normally corps or higher), these forces
rear area threats, and fight to defeat threats that operate in platoon or company strength in the remote
exceed base cluster defensive capabilities. When a areas of the friendly rear (Figure 10-4). They adopt
threat exceeds MP combat capabilities, the MPs delay counterinsurgent organization, tactics, and tech-
or disrupt the hostile force until a tactical combat niques. They live and fight for extended periods with
force is committed to defeat it. (See FM 90-14 for a minimal external support. Their activities include—
detailed discussion of rear operations.)
Saturation patrolling of likely and suspected base
The MP rear area security mission outlined above areas.
may exceed MP capabilities within the theater of Upon detection of a base camp, employing raids
operations. MP capabilities are most likely to be and ambushes against it or reporting its location
inadequate under the very circumstances where the so that a conventional combat force can attack and
rear area threat is greatest-in hostile territory or destroy it.

FM 31-20

Establishing ambushes along likely hostile infil- Depending on the nature of the specific situation,
tration routes to friendly base clusters. these SF-directed combat forces may require addi-
tional CS and CSS resources. Such support may
Reacting to hostile attacks by trailing and hunting include artillery, combat aviation, and close air sup-
down the attackers. port (to include AC-130 gunships) on a mission basis.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

Unlike UW and FID, DA operations do not rely on the indirect application of military force through a
foreign power. DA operations are directed and controlled by an SO headquarters. They are predominantly
conducted by SOF. This chapter discusses the nature of DA operations. It provides employment
considerations for DA operations. It also discusses CSAR as an SF collateral activity.

Nature of DA SF can use conventional or special munitions to

neutralize or destroy a designated high payoff tar-
Operations get or to attack the critical nodes of a designated
target system. The SF capability to employ special
DA operations are combat operations conducted munitions expands delivery options and permits the
beyond the range of tactical weapons systems or pre-positioning of special munitions in denied areas.
the area of influence of conventional military forces.
In the conduct of DA operations, SF teams may In addition to target attack, SF teams also conduct
employ direct assault, raids, ambushes, or sniping. recovery missions. SF teams can—
They may emplace mines and other munitions. Capture selected hostile personnel or obtain
They may provide terminal guidance for selected hostile items of materiel.
precision-guided munitions. They may also perform Rescue US or allied PWs, political prisoners, or
more subtle forms of DA such as independent other selected personnel being detained by a
clandestine sabotage. hostile power.

FM 31-20

Locate, identify, and recover downed aircrews, teams or clandestine sabotage techniques. Three
political or military leaders seeking to come criteria distinguish DA from UW:
under US control, or other designated person- DA operations are controlled and directed by a
nel not being detained by a hostile power. SOF chain of command, not by an indigenous
Locate, identify, and recover nuclear or chemi- resistance organization with SOF advice and
cal weapons, downed satellites, classified assistance.
documents, or other sensitive items of materiel. DA operations do not depend on the popular
support of the indigenous population.
SF executes DA operations in four modes: DA operations are short-term, with specific and
Unilaterally, with pure SF teams. well-defined objectives.
The SF generic capability to conduct DA operations
Unilaterally, with a mix of SF, other SOF, and cuts across all operational environments. The target
conventional US forces. may be a high-level military headquarters, an
As a combined operation, with SF-led foreign industrial plant, an insurgent base camp, or a
teams. terrorist training facility.
The mission determines the size of the SF team,
As a combined operation, with SF-trained and mode of employment, and tactics and techniques
directed foreign teams.
employed. DA operations can range from a two-
man SF team performing a clandestine sabotage
UW and DA are interrelated activities, particularly mission to a reinforced SF company performing an
when the DA mission involves the use of foreign overt raid or ambush.

During war, the theater CINC has the authority to

Command and Control conduct DA operations that support the theater
of DA Operations campaign plan and the major operations of his
conventional force commanders. He exercises this
In situations short of war, the NCA directs the authority by providing the SOC commander a
appropriate regional unified commander to plan and combination of—
execute contingency DA operations. If the NCA Mission-type orders.
desires more positive control, it may direct
USCINCSOC to plan and direct the operation. The Specific mission taskings.
NCA may also direct USCINCSOC to establish a Rules of engagement.
JSOTF reporting directly to the NCA or the CJCS. Other mission guidance.

CSAR the SOC commander dedicate a number of SF teams

to conduct time-sensitive CSAR missions. Even if no
Operations dedicated CSAR teams exist, the theater Joint
Rescue Coordination Center may request SOC assis-
The SOC is responsible for CSAR within its assigned tance in CSAR operations when—
JSOAs. Operational requirements may dictate that A CSAR incident occurs close to a SOF asset.

FM 31-20

Special circumstances make the use of conven- movement, and exfiltration of distressed personnel.
tional CSAR forces inappropriate or infeasible. They can clandestinely recover evaders to safeguard
CSAR requirements exceed the capability of the the integrity of designated evasion areas.
theater CSAR force.
SF teams can also perform precautionary CSAR.
If SF teams can be made available without Their use is particularly appropriate during contin-
jeopardizing their primary mission, the SOC gency operations short of war. The sensitivity of
commander will release them for CSAR mission particular air missions may justify the deployment of
execution. These SF teams can facilitate the SF teams to provide precautionary CSAR assistance
contact, authentication, security, medical treatment, along the flight routes.

FM 31-20

SR operations are similar to DA operations except for actions in the objective area. Like DA operations,
they are normally unilateral in nature and limited in scope and duration. This chapter discusses the nature
of SR operations. It also provides employment considerations for SR operations.

Nature of Special national and theater collection systems (such as high

altitude imagery or SIGINT) that are more vul-
Reconnaissance nerable to weather, terrain masking, and hostile
SR operations encompass a broad range of
intelligence collection activities, to include recon- SR operations can be broken into two broad
naissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. They categories-battlefield reconnaissance and surveil-
may involve combined activities with foreign lance and clandestine collection. (See TC 31-29 and
personnel. Long-term SR intelligence collection FM 34-60A for detailed discussions of procedures.)
efforts are very similar to UW intelligence collection. Battlefield reconnaissance and surveillance involves
As with DA, the difference between SR and UW the use of standard patrolling tactics and techniques.
lies in the direction and control of SR operations by Such missions are often for extended durations
the SOF chain of command. The SR collection effort beyond or in the absence of conventional fire sup-
emphasizes US unilateral (or alliance) intelligence port and sustainment means. They may be conducted
requirements, not the requirements of an indigenous by personnel using clothing and equipment that
resistance organization. SR complements other cannot be traced.

FM 31-20

Clandestine collection is complex and sensitive. Collection of critical military OB information (for
Clandestine collection involves the use of SIGINT example, NBC capabilities and intentions,
and HUMINT techniques normally reserved to the commitment of second-echelon forces, and
US intelligence community. SF teams may conduct location of high-level headquarters).
unilateral clandestine collection missions in crisis Collection of technical military information.
situations, in support of national and theater CT Target acquisition and surveillance of hostile C2
forces, or in other conditions short of war. In wartime systems, troop concentrations, deep strike weap-
ons, LOC, and other military targets of strategic
or as a special activity, SF teams may conduct or operational significance.
unilateral clandestine collection missions in hostile Location and surveillance of hostage, PW, or
areas where the threat precludes the use of other political prisoner detention facilities.
HUMINT means. Clandestine collection may Poststrike reconnaissance.
require oversight, interagency coordination, and/or Meteorologic geographic, or hydrographic re-
control of SF teams by the US intelligence connaissance to support specific aerospace, land,
community. Typical SR missions include— or maritime operations.
Initial contact with an indigenous resistance orga- As with DA operations, SF has a generic capability to
nization and assessment of resistance potential. conduct SR missions. The target may be a high-level
Collection of strategic political, economic psy- headquarters, a chokepoint used by follow-on mili-
chological, or military information. tary forces, or an insurgent infiltration route.

Employment effort and estimate movement rates. When tasked

to perform this sort of SR mission, the FOB
Considerations commander identifies the Possible hostile courses of
action that concern the supported friendly com-
A single SF team can usually accomplish the mander. For each course of action, the ASPS
reconnaissance and surveillance of a fixed facility or determines where SF teams could reasonably observe
other point target. However, collecting and reporting those indicators and report the information in time
hostile troop movements and other OB data nor- for the supported commander to react to it. Based
mally requires the coordinated effort of a significant on this IPB, the S2 develops NAIs for target
number of SF teams. The controlling FOB must development. The tasked SF teams identify specific
establish a network of named areas of interest surveillance sites within the NAIs and plan the rest
arranged in depth to increase the reliability of the of their mission around these sites.

Communications user of the information. Even more important, SF

team members must know what specific information
Requirements the user requires and in what priority. Using this
knowledge, the team does not endanger itself
unnecessarily by collecting and reporting the wrong
Communications requirements are particularly criti- information. The team must weigh the user’s need
cal in SR operations. The SF team must be able to for specific near-real-time information against the
report near-real-time information directly to the risk of compromise.

FM 31-20

The SF group and battalion Ml detachments provide dedicated IEW support to their respective bases. This
chapter discusses the IEW support these detachments receive from the SOC and TASOSC. It then describes
the detachments’ employment in terms of four primary IEW missions: situation development, target
development, electronic warfare, and counterintelligence.

IEW Support From among the headquarters of the SOC, its component
commands, and the TASOSC.
Higher Headquarters
The TASOSC Director of Intelligence (DOI) pro-
The SOC J2 is primarily concerned with in-theater vides all-source IEW support to all in-theater
IEW policy formulation, planning, and coordination. ARSOF. He validates, consolidates, and prioritizes
He ensures that sufficient intelligence support is their standing and routine IR and other requests for
available for each mission tasked by the SOC. He information (RFI). He then forwards them to the
must rely on the theater service IEW organizations TASOSC ISE collocated at the TA MI brigade’s
to collect, produce, and disseminate intelligence to EACIC. Under the staff supervision of the TASOSC
meet SOF requirements. He coordinates joint SO DOI, the ISE responds to RFIs by integrating them
intelligence collection operations and the production into the EACIC requirements list. The ISE then
and dissemination of TIPs to support SO targeting monitors RFI status until the appropriate collection
(see Chapter 7). He tasks subordinate SOF units to assets respond. The ISE maintains an intelligence
collect and report information in support of SOF data base to support ARSOF requirements. It also
intelligence requirements. The SOC J6 coordinates supports the targeting process by producing TIPs
to obtain secure SCI voice and data communications (see Chapter 7).

FM 31-20

Situation uncommitted SFOD periodically performs a general

area study to orient its members on potential
Development operational areas. With ASIC support, the group
and battalion ASTs manage the unit area study
Situation development is the collection and inte- program and assist the SFODs with their general
gration of intelligence and combat information into area studies. Appendix I provides a sample outline
an all-source product that provides an estimate of for a general area study.
the situation and a projection of hostile capabilities
and intentions. The product must enable com- Operational area intelligence is the detailed intelli-
manders to see and understand the operational gence of a designated JSOA. The group and
environment in sufficient time and detail to employ battalion ASTs maintain libraries of approved
their forces effectively. SOMPFs. With ASIC support, they continually
The IPB process and the intelligence cycle are the review and update TIPs to provide the latest
principal tools of situation development. IPB uses operational area intelligence to SF teams. Once an
a series of templates (overlays) to portray hostile SF team deploys, the supporting AST continues
capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions. (See to search for intelligence of interest to the SF team.
FMs 34-1 and 34-3 for more detailed discussions on The AST also monitors RFI submitted by the
the IPB process.) It also shows the effects of deployed SF team, and ensures timely answers to the
weather, terrain, the population, and allied forces on team’s questions.
friendly courses of action. The ASIC performs the
IPB and continually updates it by processing Area assessment is a continuous process that confirms,
information through the intelligence cycle. In the corrects, refutes, or adds to previous intelligence
future, automation of the group’s intelligence data gained before infiltration. By conducting an area
base will provide near-real-time intelligence assessment, a deployed SF team continually adds to
products to support both situation and target its knowledge of the JSOA. The SF team begins its
development. area assessment as soon as it enters its operational
area. The area assessment serves as the basis for
Because their operational environment allows little the commander’s estimate of the situation. He uses
margin for error, SF teams must have detailed it to modify plans made during isolation. The SF
information about the operational area before they team transmits the results of the area assessment to
deploy. SF area study is of three types: general its operational base only when there is new
area study, operational area intelligence, and area intelligence that differs significantly from that
assessment. received before infiltration. There is no rigid format
General area study provides the broad background for making an area assessment, but the area study
knowledge of an area, region, or country. Each outline at Appendix I provides an excellent guide.

Target targeting information to support the SO targeting

process described in Chapter 7. In addition to
Development developing targets nominated by the theater CINC
and his component commanders, SF group and
Target development depends on situation develop- battalion commanders also participate in the target
ment. It provides targeting data and correlated nomination process. They use target development

FM 31-20

to select targets and target sets for nomination SF targeteers in the ASIC begin this process by
through the SOC to the JTB. analyzing hostile combat systems and developing
generic target data that describe how to disrupt each
The current deliberate targeting process emphasizes system by attacking critical nodes or components.
fixed targets. However, most wartime targets are The targeteers use the IPB process (situation and
mobile. They move frequently and disperse to avoid event templating) to determine—
detection and to enhance survivability. The redun- Where these components are most likely to be.
dancy built into modem combat systems makes it When the theater CINC is most likely to want each
difficult to identify critical nodes for attack. Only the combat system disrupted.
cumulative effect of multiple attacks on such systems
can achieve significant results. The product of this process is not a series of individual
targets but a network of box-lie JSOAs. This
Conventional targeteers approach this dilemma with network provides the SOC commander with a menu
the mind-set of a hunter. They seek out and acquire of SF targeting options. The options represent
targets and then task weapon systems to attack them. branches or sequels of the SF group’s basic OPLAN.
SF teams do not have the mobility or responsiveness The SOC commander determines which options to
needed to use this approach against mobile targets. execute, and when to execute them, as the actual
Instead, SF targeteers must approach their task situation develops. During mission execution, SF
with the mind-set of a trapper. They must — teams deploy to planned JSOAs. Guided by the
Identify what mobile targets they want to attack. generic target data, near-real-time operational area
intelligence, and JTB target priorities, deployed SF
Anticipate the movements of those targets. teams attack those critical mobile targets that actually
Determine where to place SF teams to create a enter their JSOAs. The cumulative effect of their
network of traps with the greatest chance of tactical successes will have an operational impact at
success. theater level.

Electronic Offensive EW exploits or disrupts hostile C2 systems.

There are two types of offensive EIM electronic
Warfare countermeasures (ECM) and electronic warfare
support measures (ESM).
EW is a shared responsibility of the S2 S3, signal
ECM systematically disrupt hostile C3 systems by
officer, and MI detachment commander. EW can
be either defensive or offensive in nature. jamming and deception. Jammers can also prevent
hostile intercept of friendly communications by jam-
Defensive EW, or ECCM, protect friendly C2 ming known hostile SIGINT systems on the same
systems. ECCM include such passive procedures frequency. The S3 has staff responsibility for ECM.
as emission control and terrain masking. They also The SF group has a very limited tactical jamming
include the immediate identification and reporting of capability. It relies primarily on theater systems to
meaconing, intrusion, jamming, and interference provide ECM support for its operations. The S3 EW
(MIJI) on a friendly command, control, and officer (normally an additional duty) plans and
communications (C3) facility. The signal officer has coordinates this support.
staff responsibility for ECCM. However, ECCM are ESM intercept, identify, and locate hostile emitters.
the responsibility of every soldier who uses or ESM provide information required for ECM,
supervises the use of communications and noncom- ECCM, targeting, and combat operations. The S2
munications emitters. has staff responsibility for ESM. The SOTs A of the

FM 31-20

battalion MI detachment provide an organic assigns responsibility for all but the technical
SIGINT/ESM capability to the SF group. The SF aspects of the mission to the SF team commander.
group commander controls EW operations through The SOT A may infiltrate to join a deployed SF team,
the group MI detachment commander and the group or the SF team and its attached SOT A may isolate,
TCAE. The group TCAE translates each EW mis- prepare, and deploy as a single element. In either
sion tasking into a technical tasking and forwards it case, the SF team provides security, CSS, and other
to the appropriate battalion TCAE. The battalion mission support to the SOT A. The SOT A leader
TCAE tasks a SOT A to execute the mission. If no provides technical advice to the SF team com-
deployed SOT A is capable of collecting the in- mander. The SOT A leader is responsible for the
formation, the battalion S3 commits and deploys a technical aspects of mission execution. The SOT A
SOT A to perform the tasking. transmits its collected information to the battalion
Because of its small size, a SOT A is incapable of TCAE for decryption, processing, analysis, and dis-
conducting independent operations in a hostile semination. The TCAE forwards the information
environment. The battalion commander normally through the group TCAE to the group CM&D
attaches a committed SOT A to an SF team and section and the TA TCAE.

Counterintelligence evaluates the effectiveness of those measures that

are implemented.
CI detects, evaluates, counteracts, or prevents hostile The CI section briefs deploying SF teams during
intelligence collection, subversion, sabotage, or ter- mission preparation on the latest threat data. It
rorism. The organic group and battalion CI sections also provides SF teams with technical advice and
primarily perform CI analysis in the ASIC. SF assistance to prepare them to establish and operate
commanders normally receive their CI investigative, defensive source nets during long-term UW and
FID missions.
special operations, and technical (for example,
technical support countermeasures and counter- The CI section supports SF deception operations by
SIGINT operations) support from the supporting CI determining hostile vulnerabilities to deception. It
unit of the TA MI brigade. (See FMs 34-60 and provides the S3 with recommendations for decep-
34-60A for detailed discussions of CI investigative, tion measures and evaluates their effectiveness
operational, and technical support.) through CI analysis. It may also request that the
supporting CI unit conduct offensive tactical CI
The CI section is the CI analysis element (CIAE) of operations to evaluate the hostile reaction to friendly
the ASIC. It conducts multidisciplined analysis to deception operations.
support ASPS situation and target development. It When directed, the SF group’s CI teams may
also develops detailed assessments of hostile in- participate in CI tactical agent operations. They may
telligence and security threats near SFOBs and in conduct CI investigations of suspected sabotage,
JSOAS. These hostile threat assessments are critical subversion, and espionage activity directed against
to the group’s OPSEC, deception, and base defense the SF group. They may also deploy with the group’s
programs. The CIAE compares its threat data base interrogation teams to conduct CI interrogations
with the friendly force profiles provided by S3 and debriefings of line crossers, refugees, infor-
OPSEC personnel to determine actual friendly mants, and repatriated friendly personnel. These
vulnerabilities. The CIAE then recommends activities must be specifically authorized under the
appropriate OPSEC measures to reduce these provisions of AR 381-20 and other applicable
vulnerabilities. To the extent possible, the CIAE regulations and directives.

FM 31-20

The SF group is part of the TA and depends on the TA CSS system to sustain its operations. In some
theaters, an SF group or battalion may instead depend on the CSS system of another service. This chapter
describes how the internal SF CSS system interacts with the TA CSS system to meet SF requirements. When
being sustained by another service, the SF commander and his Iogisticians must modify Army doctrine to
conform to the CSS procedures existing in the theater.

Theater Army The TA has two types of support organizations in

the COMMZ. TAACOMs provide CSS and desig-
nated CS on an area basis to forces passing through
The TA is responsible for supporting assigned US or located in the COMMZ They have area respon-
Army forces and, if directed, other US services and sibility for rear operations in the COMMZ TA
allies in a theater. A theater is organized into a functional commands provide specialized support
combat zone and a COMMZ. The combat zone (such as personnel, engineer, transportation, and
begins at the rear boundary of the senior combat medical) to forces throughout the TA’s AOR.
echelon in the theater (normally a corp or field army)
and extends to the forward limit of the theater Two TA agencies are key to the command and
commander’s area of operations. The COMMZ ex- control of these organizations. The TAMMC pro-
tends rearward from the combat zone rear boundary vides centralized management of most supply and
and includes the area necessary to support forces in maintenance operations. It serves as the primary TA
the combat zone (Figure 14-1). link with the CONUS sustaining base. The theater

FM 31-20

army movement control agency (TAMCA) provides Arranging for foreign nation support.
theaterwide movement management and control of Submitting MTOE or TDA changes to aug-
transportation assets. ment the organic SF support companies.
The TASOSC is the TA functional command respon-
sible for planning and coordinating CSS to theater MYTH: SF requires its own dedicated logistics
ARSOF. The TASOSC and SF group staffs cooper- system to meet its mission-peculiar
ate to identify and prioritize SF CSS requirements. requirements.
The TASOSC staff then plans and coordinates with FACT: Normal Army CSS organizations and
the other TA subordinate commands to meet those procedures are adequate for the bulk
requirements by a combination of— of SF requirements. Non-standard
procedures are in place to handle the
Earmarking TA (or other service) resources for few requirements that are truly SF-
support of or attachment to SF groups or bat- peculiar.

FM 31-20

Combat Service equipment, diving and marine equipment, and

small arms.
Support at the Aviation unit maintenance (AVUM) and aviation
intermediate maintenance (AVIM) for assigned
SFOB and FOB aircraft.
SF CSS planners and operators apply their knowl- Limited GS maintenance for SF-peculiar ma-
edge of conventional CSS operations to meet the teriel.
specific CSS requirements generated by SF units. Airdrop equipment rigging, supply, and repair.
The SF sustainment imperatives in Figure 14-2 apply Salvage collection.
to most SF operations. (FM 100-10 is the Army’s Transportation service.
capstone manual for CSS operations.)
Health service support.
The SFOB and FOB support centers provide or Personnel service support.
coordinate CSS on a unit-support basis for all ele-
ments assigned or attached to their respective bases. The SF group and battalion support companies may
This CSS normally includes— require MTOE or TDA augmentation to provide
Requisition, receipt, storage, and distribution of CSS support during sustained operations. This is
all classes of supply. especially true when—
Procurement of nonstandard supplies and items The SFOB and/or FOBs are established in un-
of materiel. developed theaters in support of contingency
Bath facilities, laundry, and clothing exchange. operations.
Graves registration (GRREG) service. The SFOB and/or FOBs are not established at
Production and/or distribution of potable water. fixed facilities.
Unit and DS maintenance for all wheeled A high percentage of SFODs are committed
vehicles, power generation equipment, signal simultaneously.

FM 31-20

Sources of The TASOSC establishes and maintains non-

POMCUS operational project stocks to support
Supply ARSOF operations. The theater CINC may also
establish and maintain operational project stocks to
The SF group draws its supplies from a variety of support joint SO. Operational project stocks are
sources. The relative importance of each source is restricted to the minimum essential types and
theater-dependent. SF commanders must anticipate quantities of supplies and equipment required to
their logistical requirements. They must then successfully execute the total plan or a prescribed
coordinate with their supporting TASOSC to portion of the plan. Stocks normally include only
determine which source of supply can best meet their standard items listed on the war reserve stockage
needs. Among these sources of supply are— list (WRSL). The SF group commander must justify
Pre-positioning of materiel configured to unit sets the inclusion of nonstandard items in project stocks.
(POMCUS). (AR 710-1 delineates the procedures for requesting
and establishing operational projects.)
Operational project stocks.
War reserve materiel stocks.
War Reserve
Foreign nation support. Materiel Stocks
POMCUS The TASOSC commander, in coordination with the
SF group commander, should attempt to obtain ade-
Some SF units have Department of the Army quate pre-positioned war reserve materiel stocks
authorization to receive POMCUS equipment when (PWRMS) in the theater and fill shortages in
they deploy from CONUS to their theaters of existing war reserve materiel stocks (WRMS).
operation. The TA usually stores and maintains Alternatives include—
this equipment in the vicinity of the unit’s pro- PWRMS afloat adjacent to the theater of opera-
posed SFOB or FOB. Deploying units must tions.
determine existing POMCUS shortages before
deployment and deploy with those items as well as PWRMS in a third country support base (TCSB).
with those items not authorized for pre-positioning. WRMS in tailored packages for deployment with
Units should update their deployment plans upon the SF group.
receipt of their annual POMCUS authorization
document. Foreign Nation
Project Stocks FNS is the preferred means to meet unresourced
CSS requirements, within acceptable risk limits. It
SF units use operational project stocks to obtain can include almost every aspect of CSS. Foreign
required supplies and equipment above their nor- personnel and organizations can perform many CSS
mal allowances (MTOE, supplemental TDA, levels functions as well as or better than their US
authorized by AR 11-11, and special letters of counterparts. The SF group commander, in coordi-
authorization) to support contingency operations nation with the TMOSC commander, must
and war plans. These stocks include supplies and determine the functional types and levels of FNS he
equipment for operations in extreme environments can accept without unduly jeopardizing OPSEC and
and for the sustainment of indigenous forces. They mission accomplishment. The TASOSC Director of
may also include supplies and equipment that SF Logistic (DOL) provides the SF group S5 with points
units clandestinely cache in potential operational of contact (POCs) of specific foreign nation agencies
areas to support stay-behind operations. or organizations providing support in the theater.

FM 31-20

Developed Theater I, II, III, IV, VI, and VII supplies (Figure 14-3) from
the supporting DS supply and service company in the
Logistics TAACOM area support group (ASG). All these
classes of supply (except bulk Class III) are demand
In a developed theater, the theater sustainment items. The using unit submits a request through the
base is established. PWRMS and operational project service detachment to the direct support unit (DSU).
stocks are in place. FNS agreements exist. The The DSU either fills the request from its existing
following paragraphs outline how a SPTCEN in a stocks or forwards the request to its supporting
developed theater performs its four logistics general support unit (GSU). The DSU uses a com-
functions: supply, field services, maintenance, and bination of supply point, unit, and throughput
transportation. distribution. When fixed or mobile post exchanges
Supply are unavailable, the supply and transportation
section requests and receives Class VI ration supple-
The service detachment’s supply and transportation ment sundry packages the same way it does Class I
section requests, receives, and stores standard Class supplies.

FM 31-20

Bulk Class III is a scheduled item. Based on input MEDCOM normally authorizes direct requests from
from the battalions, the SF group S4 forecasts unit the MEDLOG unit.
requirements through logistics channels to the
TAMMC. Based upon fuel availability and unit The service detachment’s mechanical maintenance
priorities, the TA Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics section requests, receives, and stores Class IX
(DCSLOG) and TAMMC develop a distribution plan supplies from the supporting DS maintenance
to allocate fuel to subordinate units. company in the ASG. The DSU uses supply point
distribution. Class IX resupply is demanded. The
The supply and transportation section requests and using unit submits its request to the mechanical
receives nonstandard SF-peculiar items through the maintenance section. It forwards the request to the
TAMMC. The TAMMC fills the request from DSU. The DSU either fills the request from its
theater or TA operational project stocks or (in the existing stocks or forwards the request to the
case of certain non-DOD items) obtains the items TAMMC.
through the SOC J4.
The supply and transportation section receives and
The supply and transportation section requests, stores Class X supplies from the CA brigade
draws, and stores conventional Class V supplies from supporting the TAACOM. The CA brigade uses a
the supporting ammunition supply point (ASP). The combination of unit, supply point, and throughput
ASP is operated by an ordnance conventional distribution. The using unit submits its request
ammunition company of the TA ammunition group. through the base S5. He forwards the request
It uses supply point distribution. Class V supply is through CA channels.
scheduled, not demanded. Based on input from the The supply and transportation section obtains pota-
battalions, the SF group S3 must determine the ble and nonpotable water from local sources using
group’s operational requirements (primarily the organic equipment. When water requirements ex-
UBL and required supply rate [RSR]) and submit ceed the local supply, the section requests and draws
them through operational channels for approval water from a water supply point established by the
and allocation by the TA Deputy Chief of Staff for supporting DS supply and service company. The DSU
Operations and Plans (DCSOPS). Based on guid- uses supply point distribution.
ance from the TA DCSOPS, the TA DCSLOG and
TAMMC allocate scarce Class V items by computing The supply and transportation section requests and
a controlled supply rate (CSR). Once the SF group receives unclassified maps from the supporting DS
commander receives his Class V allocation, he sub- supply and service company. The DSU obtains its
allocates it among his subordinate elements. Based unclassified maps from the appropriate TA map
on these suballocations, the SF group and battalion depot. Using units submit their requests to the S2,
S3s approve unit Class V requests before the S4s who consolidates them and forwards the request
can fill them. through supply channels. The S2 requests and
receives classified maps and other classified intel-
The group or battalion medical section requests and ligence products through intelligence channels.
receives its normal Class VIII supplies from the
supporting DS medical treatment facility (MTF) of lb meet their operational requirements during the
the TA medical command (MEDCOM). The MTF transition to active operations and during unan-
uses a combination of unit and supply point distri- ticipated breaks in normal resupply operations, SF
bution. Class VIII resupply is demanded. The using units maintain UBLs of Class I, II, III, IV, V, VIII,
unit submits its request to the medical supply and IX supply items. Commanders should review
sergeant. He forwards the request through medical these UBLs at least annually to ensure they
channels to the MTF. The MTF either fills the adequately address current operational require-
request from its existing stocks or forwards the ments. Commanders should also inspect their UBLs
request to its supporting medical logistics periodically to ensure they are being properly main-
(MEDLOG) unit. For bulk issue of Class VIII tained, rotated, and secured, and that replacement
supplies to fill SF operational requirements, the supplies and equipment have been requested.

FM 31-20

Field Services maintenance section or, electronics maintenance

section evacuates it to the supporting DS main-
Field services include GRREG, airdrop, clothing tenance company or requests on-site repair by a
exchange and bath, laundry, bread baking, textile and mobile maintenance support team from that
clothing renovation, and salvage. GRREG and company. The DS maintenance company performs
airdrop are primary field services because they are DS maintenance to return unserviceable equipment
essential to the sustainment of combat operations. to the user. It evacuates to intermediate GS
All others are secondary field services. maintenance units those items it cannot repair. It
Whenever possible, SF teams sustaining fatal also provides direct exchange service and maintains
casualties identify the human remains and place them a limited operational readiness float (ORF).
in human remains pouches. They then evacuate the
There are exceptions to these procedures. The
remains to the service detachment for further rigger-air delivery section evacuates unserviceable
evacuation to the supporting GRREG collecting
airdrop equipment to the TAACOM airdrop equip-
point. If the remains are contaminated, they and the
pouches should be so marked. When an SF team ment repair and supply company. The medical
cannot evacuate its dead, it conducts an emergency section evacuates unserviceable medical equipment
burial and reports the burial to the group or to the supporting DS MTF or MEDLOG unit.
battalion. The group or battalion S4 submits a record The group aviation platoon evacuates unserviceable
of interment through GRREG channels. Whenever aircraft and components to the TAACOM AVIM
possible, a unit chaplain or the SF team commander
conducts an appropriate service to honor the dead. For those items of SF-peculiar equipment that the
The group and battalion rigger-air delivery sections Army maintenance system cannot repair, the SF
do not have the capability to conduct sustained group must rely on civilian specialists and technicians
airdrop support for SF operations. The TAACOM (US, HN, or third country) and on SF personnel who
airdrop supply company augments the group’s have attended civilian maintenance training. Such
organic capabilities by providing the group and equipment may require evacuation to CONUS for
battalion service detachments with dedicated support repair at the manufacturer or other selected facility.
teams or by providing GS on a mission basis.
The SFOB and FOBs may not have fixed facilities or Transportation
civilian contractors to provide secondary field ser- The service detachment commander is primarily
vices. In this situation, the supporting DS supply and
concerned with transportation mode operations (air,
service company provides these services as soon as
motor, rail, and water transport). The supply and
the situation permits. transportation section provides the trucks to support
supply point distribution and other normal CSS
Maintenance activities. However, it does not have dedicated
The service detachment’s mechanical maintenance drivers for these trucks. The base commander may
section performs consolidated unit-level mainte- organize a provisional transportation section by
nance of wheeled vehicles and power generation assigning dedicated drivers to these trucks. The TA
equipment. It also performs vehicle recovery. The transportation command (TRANSCOM) may attach
signal detachment’s electronic maintenance section appropriate motor and water transportation assets to
performs consolidated unit- and DS-level mainte- the support company for abnormal CSS operations.
nance of signal equipment. It also performs limited Otherwise, TRANSCOM supports abnormal trans-
GS maintenance on SF-peculiar signal equipment. portation requirements on a mission basis with its GS
Unit armorers perform decentralized or consolidated assets. The unit S4 coordinates for TRANSCOM
unit-level maintenance of small arms. support through the regional movement control team
(RMCT). When the SFOB and FOB(s) are serviced
When the required maintenance on an item of by the same RMCT, the RMCT may require the
equipment exceeds unit capabilities, the mechanical group S4 to consolidate support requests.

FM 31-20

Developed Theater casualty reports and forward them to the supporting

PSC. They manage open cases (for example, soldiers
Personnel Service missing in action) until final disposition is made and
prepare letters of sympathy for the appropriate
Support commander. The PSC verifies and reconciles the
PSS consists of five related areas: personnel information before initiating a formal individual
management, public affairs, legal services, finance casualty report. The battalion S1s provide informa-
services, and religious support. SF units plan and tion copies of all by-name casualty reports to the
conduct most PSS using standard Army systems and group S1.
procedures. SF group and battalion S1s deal directly SF replacement operations involve the receipt,
with their supporting personnel service company processing, and allocation of individual and small
(PSC). When the SFOB and FOB(s) are serviced by unit (SFOD) replacements. The SF group obtains its
the same PSC, the PSC may require the group S1 to individual replacements from the supporting
consolidate reports. PERSCOM using normal replacement procedures.
There are three critical military personnel activities The SOC commander coordinates with the TASOSC
that directly support SF operation strength man- commander to establish priorities of personnel fill.
agement, casualty reporting, and replacement The SPTCEN director receives, billets, and provides
operations. messing for replacements. The S1 and CSM
distribute replacements based on the base com-
Strength management determines personnel re- mander’s priorities. The appropriate AST isolates
placement requirements and influences personnel and orients replacements for deployed SFODs until
cross-leveling and replacement distribution deci- the ISOFAC director certifies them as prepared for
sions. The group and battalion S1s use the deliberate infiltration.
Army personnel accounting and strength reporting
system to maintain the unit’s personnel data base. The SF group S3 requests small unit replacements
They forward their daily personnel summaries and (SFODs) through the TASOSC DPO. The TASOSC
personnel requirements reports to the supporting DPO arranges an intratheater transfer of SFODs or
PSC. The battalion S1s provide copies of their reports coordinates to obtain SFODs from CONUS. Once
to the group S1 so that he can prepare a consolidated the SFODs arrive at the gaining operational base,
they are assigned to the SPTCEN as uncommitted
report for the SF group commander and forward
information copies to the SOC J1 and TASOSC detachments until the SPTCEN director certifies
them as operationally ready for a mission.
Director of Personnel and Administration (DPA).
The supporting PSCs use these reports to submit Postal operations move, deliver, and collect personal
requests for individual replacements to the TA and official mail. A DS postal platoon normally
personnel command (PERSCOM). collocates with the supporting PSC. The group and
The Army’s casualty management system provides battalion S1s establish internal procedures to collect
Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), and deliver mail. These procedures must include
with information used to notify next of kin and provisions for redirecting the mail of deceased,
support appropriate casualty and survivor assistance missing, and evacuated personnel. The S1s must also
programs. By-name casualty accounting and report- make provisions for deployed SF personnel who
ing has far-reaching effects on the morale of the cannot receive or send mail for operational reasons.
military and civilian populace and the image of the Finance operations provide normal finance support
Army. Casualty reporting must be 100 percent to SF personnel. They also provide the operational
accurate, even at the expense of speed of reporting. funds that SF teams may require to execute their
Nevertheless, reporting should be as rapid as the missions. A finance support unit (FSU) normally
situation permits. The losing SF unit submits casual- collocates with the supporting PSC to provide the full
ty feeder reports and, if required, witness statements range of finance services. These services normally
to the battalion or group S1. The S1s consolidate include special mission fund accounts, intelligence

FM 31-20

contingency fund accounts, foreign currency teams to obtain and account for operational funds.
operations, and commercial accounts. The group Each SF officer entrusted with government funds
budget officer, in coordination with the supporting must fully understand what payments are authorized
FSU commander, establishes procedures for SF and how to account for each transaction.

Developed Theater unit field sanitation teams. They can also participate
in military civic action programs.
Health Service Support The SFOB and FOB dispensaries provide veteri-
Each SF group and battalion surgeon establishes and nary services. These services include food quality
operates an SFOB or FOB dispensary capable of assurance inspections, dining facility sanitary inspec-
providing routine and emergency Level II medical tions, and health services to military animals. SF
and dental treatment to assigned and attached veterinary specialists assist in the unit preventive
personnel. Medical section personnel in the medicine program. They can also participate in
dispensary also provide sustainment training for military civic action programs.
combat lifesaver personnel and SF medics. The TASOSC health service section, in coordination
NOTE: Class II medical treatment is routine and with the group surgeon, coordinates TA HSS for the
emergency care designed to return the patient to SFOB and FOBs. The TA MEDCOM designates
duty or prepare him for evacuation to the support- supporting MTFs and provides the SFOB and FOB
ing MTF for resuscitative surgery (Class III) or to a dispensaries with–
hospital for definitive and restorative care (Class IV).
Medical evacuation capability.
The SFOB and FOB dispensaries provide preven- Additional preventive medicine, veterinary, and
tive medicine services. These services include pest dental support.
control, water quality surveillance, immunization and Medical laboratory services.
drug prophylaxis activities, and the general surveil-
lance of military environments to identify actual or Hospitalization.
potential health hazards. SF preventive medicine Medical intelligence.
specialists train and provide technical supervision of Medical supply and equipment maintenance.

into an undeveloped theater, it must bring sufficient

Undeveloped resources to survive and operate until the TA estab-
Theater CSS lishes a bare base support system and/or makes
arrangements for HN and third country support.
An undeveloped theater does not have a significant The bare base support system may function from
US theater sustainment base. PWRMS, in-theater CONUS, afloat (amphibious shipping or mobile sea
operational project stocks, and FNS agreements are bases), or at a TCSB. It will probably rely heavily on
minimal or nonexistent. When an SF unit deploys strategic airlift and/or sealift for resupply.

FM 31-20

CCS Options supplies may include a combination of military and

commercial equipment from US and foreign sources.
Deployed SF units in an undeveloped theater may Replacement of unserviceable US military
have to bypass normal CSS echelons. They may equipment depends upon the duration of the
maintain direct contact with their parent units in operation, theater GS repair capability, loss rates,
CONUS, or they may requisition directly from the and the availability of ORF or PWRMS. The SF unit
CONUS wholesale logistics system. They may rely on may include water supply in an overall contract for
TASOSC contracting and CA expertise to obtain custodial support of the SFOB and FOBs, or it may
FNS. In practice, the solution may be some com- obtain water from local sources or from US water
bination of all three options. supply points.
Support Field Services
Relationships The SF group normally receives appropriate TA
augmentation to perform the primary field ser-
The TASOSC commander should arrange habitual vices-GRREG and airdrop-until these capabilities
support relationships between the SF group and the become available in the COMMZ on an area basis.
TA elements providing its support package. The sup- The SF group may contract for general custodial
port package should be provisionally organized as a services, to include laundry, barber, and PX services.
composite support battalion or company, so that the If laundry services are unavailable, the group S4 must
group commander does not have to deal with a arrange for clothing exchange through the standard
collection of teams, detachments, and companies US system.
without a parent control headquarters.
The SF group commander must emphasize preven-
Normal basic loads are inadequate for SF operations tive maintenance checks and services in the extreme
in an undeveloped theater. For example, an SF unit (tropical, arid, or arctic) environments that typically
may have to deploy with 30 days of supply (15-day exist in undeveloped theaters. He may adjust the
order-ship time, 10-day operating level, 5-day safety frequency of periodic services to assist in equipment
level). Because this quantity of supplies exceeds the readiness.
SF group’s capacity to move and store them, the
group and battalion S4s normally divide these loads The SF group normally deploys with attached TA DS
into accompanying supplies and preplanned follow- maintenance support teams. The group commander
may contract for supplemental maintenance support
on supplies. Accompanying supplies are normally
limited to the unit’s basic and prescribed loads, plus of its Army and commercial equipment.
additional Class I, III, and V supplies critical to the In an undeveloped theater, fixed repair facilities may
operation. The group and battalion S3s must include not be available and the SF group may be authorized
accompanying supplies in all their predeployment to perform repairs not normally performed at unit
load planning. level. The SF group commander should review the
MTOE to determine what additional tools; special
Supply procedures for most classes of supply vary in tools; test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment
an undeveloped theater. Except for field rations, the items; and repair parts he needs to meet increased
SF group may rely heavily on local contract support maintenance demands caused by dispersed opera-
for fresh Class I supplies and dining facility operation. tions in an undeveloped theater.
To reduce demand on the CSS system, the SF unit
may purchase Class II, III, IV, and VI supplies locally Transportation
or from third party contractors. The SF unit normally
receives Class V and IX supplies through the Because undeveloped theaters typically have poor
standard US system, but with greater reliance on ground LOC, Army aviation units habitually deploy
ALOC. The SF unit may be authorized to stock early to support CSS operations. If the SF group
low-density, high-dollar repair parts not normally receives additional aviation assets in attachment, the
authorized at unit maintenance level. Class VII group commander must ensure they include an

FM 31-20

adequate maintenance support package. The SF unit strength until normal replacement operations
group commander may contract for foreign transpor- can begin.
tation assets to meet his unresourced transportation
requirements. Health Service
Personnel Service The SF group may have to deploy with an HSS
Support package to provide dedicated support until normal
TA health services are established. The group sur-
PSS remains essentially unchanged in an geon should consider the use of HN or third country
undeveloped theater. The TASOSC DPA develops medical facilities to augment the medical capabilities
preplanned replacement packages to maintain SF of the group and battalion medical sections.

Reconstitution reorganization pending the reconstitution decision of

higher headquarters.
Reconstitution operations are specific actions taken Regeneration rebuilds an attrited unit through the
to restore units that are not combat effective to the large-scale replacement of personnel and materiel
desired level of combat effectiveness. Reconstitution and the conduct of mission-essential training.
involves more than a surge in normal sustainment Replacement personnel and materiel may come
operations. The reconstitution decision is heavily from redistributed resources reserves, or the
influenced by unit and individual training, unit resources of higher or supporting echelons.
organization, and human factors that build cohesion
and esprit. The commander two levels above the When a commander determines that he cannot
attrited unit makes the reconstitution decision. For obtain the resources to restore an attrited unit to
example, the SOC commander, in consultation with combat effectiveness, he may resort to redistribution
the TSOSC commander, decides how to as an alternative to reconstitution. Redistribution
reconstitute an attrited FOB. The SFOB or FOB reduces an attrited unit to zero strength and transfers
commander decides how to reconstitute an attrited its remaining resources to other units. Redistribution
SFOD. is the least desirable option.
If the SOC commander decides that he cannot
Commanders have two reconstitution options: reor- immediately restore the operational effectiveness of
ganization and regeneration. A commander can an SFOB or FOB, he must assign its mission to
execute them separately, but most often executes another SFOB or FOB until the TASOSC
them in combination. commander can regenerate the base or obtain a
replacement unit from CONUS. Surviving assets of
Reorganization is the measures taken within an the attrited base may move to that base to augment
attrited unit to restore its own combat effectiveness. existing SFOB or FOB assets. If the SF group
These measures include reestablishing command commander decides that he cannot immediately
and control, cross-leveling resources between sub- restore the combat effectiveness of an attrited
units, matching surviving weapons systems with SFOD, he normally commits another SFOD to
surviving crew, and combining two or more attrited assume the mission. He may attach surviving
subunits to form a composite combat-effective members of the attrited SFOD to the new SFOD,
subunit. The senior surviving member of an attrited particularly if the SFOD was operating in denied
unit assumes command and immediately begins territory.

FM 31-20

Resupply of SF Teams An emergency resupply contains mission-essential

equipment and supplies to restore operational
in the JSOA capability and survivability to the SF team and its
indigenous force. An emergency resupply is pre-
An SF team, in coordination with the SFOB or FOB planned like an automatic resupply. The SFOB or
staff, determines the quantity and types of equip- FOB delivers an emergency resupply when either of
ment and supplies with which it will infiltrate. The the following conditions exist:
following factors influence the decision on accom- Radio contact has not been established between
panying supplies: the deployed SF team and the SFOB or FOB
Assigned mission and scope and duration of within a predesignated time after infiltration.
operations. The deployed SF team fails to make a pre-
Resistance force size, capabilities, logistical determined consecutive number of scheduled
needs, and responsiveness to US control. radio contacts.
Hostile capabilities.
An on-call resupply provides the deployed SF team
Availability of resources in the operational area. with equipment and supplies to meet operational
Method of infiltration. requirements that cannot be predicted or scheduled
Operational posture (low-visibility or clan- during mission preparation. On-call supplies are held
destine). in readiness at TAACOM depots or the SPTCEN for
Difficulty of repairing or replacing critical items in immediate delivery when the SF team requests them.
the operational area. To ease handling and transportation within the
Based on the same considerations, the SFOB or FOB JSOA, the SPTCEN service detachment normally
staff establishes supply levels for each class of sup- rigs equipment and supplies in appropriate delivery
ply in the JSOA and determines the sequence, containers weighing 500 pounds or less. The contents
method, and timing of delivery. Once deployed, of each container are—
the SF commander may recommend changes to Packaged in waterproofed and man-portable (50
the resupply schedule. pounds or less) loads.
Marked with a prearranged code to identify
The SFOB or FOB schedules three types of resupply contents.
missions: automatic, emergency, and on-call. The
SPTCEN service detachment requisitions and re- Fitted with carrying straps or mounted on pack-
ceives the supplies and equipment for these missions boards for easy transport.
from theater or TA operational project stocks or war
reserve stocks. SF uses the Catalog Supply System (a brevity code
system) to expedite on-call resupply requests,
An automatic resupply replaces lost or damaged ensure accurate identification of supply items, and
equipment and provides additional items that could minimize message length. The Catalog Supply
not accompany the SF team during infiltration. System catalog lists equipment and supplies by class
Automatic resupply provides essential subsistence, of supply. It groups associated equipment and
training, and operational supplies to the SF team supplies into convenient unit sets. It then assigns
and its indigenous force on a prearranged schedule. code words to each catalog item and set. The SOC
It is preplanned as to delivery time, location, J4, in coordination with the TNOSC DOL,
contents, and identification marking system and prepares the theater supply catalog and configures
authentication. The SFOB or FOB delivers it operational project stocks into unit sets. The SOC J6
automatically unless the deployed SF team cancels, or TASOSC signal officer reproduces the catalog as
modifies, or reschedules the delivery. an SOI item.

FM 31-20

PSYOP are an integral part of all SF activities. The mere presence of SF has a psychological impact on
the attitudes and behavior of foreign military forces and civilian populations. To develop desirable
attitudes, official activities must be wisely conceived, and individual conduct must be sensible. This
chapter focuses on PSYOP strategies that can achieve such attitudes and benefit SF operations. It
also discusses PSYOP planning and employment considerations for SF missions.

PSYOP in a Conflict In a conflict environment, PSYOP take on an added

significance. Modem conflict encompasses all
Environment spheres of national activity political, military, eco-
nomic, social, and cultural. Noncombat activities can
PSYOP are planned operations to convey selected be as decisive in conflict as combat operations are in
information and indicators to foreign audiences to conventional warfare. Failure to engage properly on
influence their emotions, motives, objective rea- the noncombat fronts can mean defeat, regardless of
soning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign the outcome of military operations.
governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.
The purpose of PSYOP is to induce or reinforce Modem conflict is frequently a protracted politico-
foreign attitudes and behaviors favorable to the military struggle between political systems. All
originator’s objectives. (See FM 33-1 for a detailed military, economic, psychological, and social activities
discussion of PSYOP.) are effective only insofar as they support the political

FM 31-20

objectives. PSYOP serve as a major weapon in this Publicizing anticipated reforms and programs to
politico-military struggle by— benefit the populace once the hostile power is
Building and sustaining belief and support for defeated.
the friendly power’s political system, including Shifting the loyalty of hostile forces and their
its ideology, infrastructure, and political pro- supporters to the friendly power.
In a conflict environment, the initial and primary
Attacking the legitimacy and credibility of the PSYOP operator is the individual SF soldier. He
hostile power’s political system. must understand that there is more to PSYOP than
loudspeakers and leaflets. He must be able to use
Mobilizing popular support for military, para- individual and group motivation, perception man-
military, security, and intelligence operations.
agement, cross-cultural communications, and similar
Mobilizing popular support for political, social, PSYOP techniques to influence foreign audiences in
and economic programs. his daily face-to-face-contacts.

PSYOP affect the mission. They also provide basic and

special PSYOP assessments that add to the overall
Planning intelligence effort in the operational area.
PSYOP planners also advise SF commanders and
PSYOP are particularly important to SF. SF units their staffs on the psychological impact of military
often cannot accomplish their mission without the operations on target audiences within the operational
support of foreign military or paramilitary forces and area. For example, PSYOP personnel can advise an
the indigenous population. The earlier PSYOP SF team in a denied area where the local populace
personnel advise and assist SF units in mission may turn the team into the authorities because of
planning, the greater the chances of success. reprisals or economic disruptions. During target
PSYOP personnel advise and assist SF units in assessments of bridges, electric grids, and similar
obtaining and sustaining the support of the neutral targets of economic or social significance, PSYOP
and uncommitted segments of a foreign power. personnel can assist in determining the impact on
They develop and execute PSYOP that support local support.
SF objectives and exploit hostile vulnerabilities in
the operational area. They design PSYOP for An SF commander can make an operation more
deployed SF teams to execute. They recommend effective if he determines its probable psychological
and plan such actions as civil disobedience, rallies, impact in advance and then exploits it during the
and demonstrations that degrade or neutralize operation. Any operation has the potential to
hostile influences on the target audiences. They produce a negative psychological impact on the
also review SF plans to identify potentially adverse population. PSYOP advisors should evaluate past
effects on target audiences that could affect mission combat operations (conducted by US forces, SOF-
accomplishment. PSYOP personnel train SF soldiers trained forces, or allied forces) that have created a
in the customs they must honor in the operational negative psychological impact to determine what
area to avoid offending the indigenous population. factors were at fault so they can be avoided in future
They identify influential population segments operations. Other operations, such as civic action
(clans, tribes, and sects, for example) that may programs, have a positive psychological impact.

FM 31-20

These operations create goodwill with the local Permanent presence of hostile security forces in
populace that can be exploited in future operations. populated areas.
SF planners should consider the psychological impact Relationship between hostile security forces and
of the following four factors: civilian populace.
Effects of combat operations on morale of
Impact of noncombatant casualties. friendly and hostile forces.

PSYOP Organization for The PSYOP battalion’s operational support

company (target analysis, propaganda devel-
Special Operations opment, counterpropaganda, interrogation and
debriefing, print, audiovisual, loudspeaker).
The SOC integrates all PSYOP support of joint
SO. PSYOP elements that support a SOC may Taildored DS PSYOP elements may also support SF
function under varied C2 arrangements. The exact requirements at SF battalion level and below. The
organizational structure is determined by the PSYOP element commander serves as PSYOP staff
mission, the resources available, and the preroga- officer to the supported SF commander. The ele-
tives of the SOC commander. The SOC commander ment may range in size from a small two-man team
normally decentralizes his PSYOP assets to supporting a deployed SF team, to a three- to
subordinate SO elements (Figure 15-1). eight-man PSYOP assessment team, to a fully
operational support detachment similar to that
At SF group level, a tailored PSYOP detachment normally found at SF group level. These PSYOP
normally supports SF requirements under the staff elements, whatever their size, have access to the
supervision of the organic PSYOP staff officer. The support capabilities of a larger PSYOP unit. For
group PSYOP detachment comes from the theater example, a two-man PSYOP team deployed with
PSYOP force, normally the EAC PSYOP group an SF team can send requests back to its parent
assigned to TA. It normally includes capabilities PSYOP unit for assistance in developing themes,
for target analysis, propaganda development, and messages, and media products for use in the
limited media production. The group PSYOP de- operational area. The parent PSYOP unit can also
tachment does not normally have its own strategic integrate these themes and messages into strategic
dissemination means. When conducting battlefield PSYOP such as radio or TV broadcasts into the
or consolidation PSYOR, it may have its own tac- operational area.
tical dissemination means. The detachment forwards
requirements beyond its organic capabilities through During mission preparation, the SF commander
the SOC PSYOP staff element to the theater should request a PSYOP assessment team to
PSYOP force. The theater PSYOP force provides GS determine what PSYOP assets are necessary to
capabilities that include— support the mission. The SF commander may
The PSYOP group’s research and analysis have to limit the size of the team. The supporting
company (target analysis and propaganda devel- PSYOP unit commander then organizes the team
opment) and strategic dissemination company with the correct mix of PSYOP personnel, subject
(radio, print, TV). to personnel constraints.

FM 31-20

PSYOP Area should also request a copy of the current basic

PSYOP study concerning their operational area. A
Assessment basic PSYOP study addresses in detail the political,
military, economic, and social situation in a given
Committed SF teams should request a PSYOP area. PSYOP units can also develop special PSYOP
assessment of their operational area. At a mini- studies for specific situations or operational areas.
mum, this assessment will include information about These PSYOP assessments and studies are also use-
all major target audiences. Deploying SF teams ful for general area study and IPB.

FM 31-20

PSYOP in Support The United States and its allies, in supporting the
resistance organization, support these same goals.
of UW The resistance organization will be successful.
Hostile sympathizers include willing collaborators,
A resistance organization plans and conducts PSYOP unwilling collaborators who collaborate under du-
in support of its own needs and objectives. The SF ress, and passive hostile sympathizers. PSYOP seek
team and its PSYOP advisors must convince the to instill doubt and fear in this target audience.
resistance leadership to support US national PSYOP PSYOP may be conducted in conjunction with
objectives in the region. They must also persuade the positive political action programs that identify and
leadership to support themes and messages devel-
discredit hostile collaborators or weaken their belief
oped at the supporting operational base. In addition, in the strength and cause of the hostile power.
the SF team must convince the resistance leaders to
conduct PSYOP that create popular support for the Punitive action against such collaborators may result
resistance organization, both in and out of the JSOA. in hostile reprisals and a loss of broad civilian sup-
port for the resistance organization. However,
By their presence in a particular country, SF teams hostile overreaction can be exploited to build
serve as tangible evidence of US interest and sup- popular support for the resistance organization.
port. Through daily face-to-face meetings with local Hostile military forces may be of the same na-
leaders, SF soldiers strengthen mutual respect, tionality as the population, or they may represent
confidence, and trust. They gain valuable insights an occupying power or one assisting the hostile
into the problems of the resistance organization. government. PSYOP focus on the hostile soldier’s
They also improve rapport by sharing the same liv- frustrations to lower his morale, reduce his effective-
ing and fighting conditions. These shared associations ness, and create feelings of inadequacy, insecurity,
and mutual respect promote a favorable climate to and fear. These feelings increase his susceptibility to
conduct UW operations. However, SF soldiers must PSYOP and make him more vulnerable to persua-
avoid identifying so closely with the resistance orga- sion to surrender, malinger, show disaffection, or
nization that they ignore US interests and objectives. desert. PSYOP directed against this audience seek to
make the members feel—
Deployed SF teams and their PSYOP advisors train, Isolated.
advise, and assist the resistance organization in Improperly supported.
target analysis, media selection, and propaganda
Doubtful of the outcome of the struggle.
development. Conventional PSYOP techniques are
equally applicable during UW operations. However, Distrustful of each other.
PSYOP personnel must be aware of those UW Doubtful of the morality of their cause.
employment considerations that differ significantly Resistance sympathizers are sympathetic to the
from conventional PSYOP employment (Appendix goals of the resistance organization but are not
J). There are normally four major UW target active members of it. PSYOP directed at this target
audiences that PSYOP must address: the uncom- audience stress appeals to provide active (though
mitted, hostile sympathizers, hostile military forces, generally clandestine) support or to cooperate pas-
and resistance sympathizers. sively with the resistance organization. Inherent in
these appeals is enforcement of a rigid personal code
The general population may initially be neutral or of conduct by resistance members. The resistance
actively oppose the resistance organization because leadership must ensure strict respect for the people,
of fear or uncertainty about its aims or the likeli- their sensitivities, culture, customs, and needs. The
hood of its success. PSYOP support must therefore words and deeds of the resistance organization must
stress that— assure the people that it will help protect them from
The resistance organization shares the political, the hostile power and that it is the instrument of
economic, and social goals of the population. political, social, and economic progress.

FM 31-20

PSYOP in Support within insurgent ranks. PSYOP should emphasize

national programs that attempt to win the insurgents
of FID over to the government side and, most important,
to maintain their continued support.
PSYOP elements normally deploy in support of SF
units as part of a SAF. PSYOP objectives in FID Since popular support is essential, PSYOP seek to
include— gain, preserve, and strengthen civilian support for
Assisting the HN in gaining or retaining the the government, its leaders, and its programs.
support of its people. PSYOP personnel should also make a significant
effort to win popular support for the presence of US
Assisting the HN in defeating the insurgents. and allied forces in the HN.
Establishing a favorable US image in the HN.
PSYOP seek to build and sustain the morale of HN
Favorably presenting US actions and intentions and allied forces. The loyalty, discipline, and
to neutral groups and the international
community. motivation of these forces are key factors in
accomplishing the FID mission.
Assisting the HN in supporting defector reha-
bilitation programs. PSYOP seek to gain the support or at least the con-
Providing close and continuous PSYOP support tinued neutrality of neutral groups inside and outside
to increase the effect of CA operations. the HN. PSYOP programs are normally positive
and constructive, stressing the tangible accomplish-
Deployed SF units and their PSYOP advisors train, ments of the HN government. The PSYOP
advise, and assist the HN in target analysis, media communications effort, in part, should discourage
selection, and propaganda development. Con- public apathy and all activities that assist the
ventional PSYOP techniques are equally applicable insurgents.
during FID operations. There are normally five
major PSYOP target audiences in FID: insurgents, PSYOP seek to convince external hostile powers
civilian population, HN and allied forces, neutral supporting the insurgents that—
groups, and external hostile powers. It is not in their best interests to continue their
PSYOP seek to discredit insurgents and to isolate
them from the population; to create disruption, dis- The insurgents will fail.
sension, and low morale; and to cause defection They should redirect their support to the HN.

PSYOP in Support of Ongoing strategic PSYOP may make the indige-

nous population more supportive in the event of
Other SF Operations chance contact.
SR, DA and CT missions normally involve minimal These SF operations, like those in FID and UW,
contact between SF soldiers and the indigenous also have psychological impact. In particular, DA
population. However, when contact is required, or and CT operations should be planned and exe-
when chance contacts do occur, SF soldiers must cuted to maximize their negative impact on hostile
apply their PSYOP skills to accomplish their mission. target audiences.

FM 31-20

Successful SF operations depend upon the support of the civilian population. Without popular support, a
UW or FID mission will fail. SF teams must therefore help their supported indigenous forces to mobilize the
civilian population to support their mission. They must also consider the impact of all their activities on the
civilian population. This chapter discusses how civil-military operations support SF operations. (See
FM 41-10 for a more detailed discussion of CA support of SO.)

Command Support Assist the SF commander in meeting legal and

moral obligations to the local population, families
Operations of supported indigenous forces, and persons dis-
placed by SF operations.
Elements of a CA battalion (FID/UW) normally
support each committed SF unit assigned a UW or Supplement the intelligence effort by collecting
FID mission. These CA elements conduct the information during CMO.
following activities in support of SF commanders: Act as staff focal point for cultural considerations
Train and advise members of the supported SF that affect SF operations.
unit in CMO and the political, economic, social,
and cultural factors that influence SF operations. Coordinate and integrate CA activities with
Identify and squire foreign resources to assist the PSYOP activities.
SF unit in accomplishing its mission. Provide technical advice and assistance on civil
Coordinate with other agencies to minimize assistance, military civic action, and humanitarian
civilian interference with SF operations. assistance programs.

FM 31-20

Role of CA establishes relatively secure base areas under

resistance control. Deployed CA teams advise and
in UW assist the area command and the SF team by—
Expanding the influence of the resistance orga-
The supporting CA element trains, advises, and nization into areas not under its control.
assists deploying SF teams in CMO. The element also
advises the teams on the political, economic, social, Developing the area command structure, re-
sistance political organization, and effective
and cultural factors they must understand before administration of resistance-controlled terriroty.
deploying into the JSOA. CA planning and training Developing the auxiliary to support and sustain
for UW must consider the following factors: sufficient combat forces.
The theater CINC’s politico-military mission (for Providing CA input to operational planning of
example, restore the government-in-exile) and the area command.
its effect on the resistance organization during
and after hostilities. Assisting in the transition and consolidation of
The strengths, weaknesses vulnerabilities, and power in the JSOA after the end of hostilities
likely intentions of the hostile political orga- (for example, transition of the shadow gov-
nization. ernment into an actual government or its merger
with a government-in-exile).
Likely hostile countermeasures to isolate the Demobilizing the resistance force.
resistance organization physically or psycho-
logically from the population. Deployed CA teams assist the supported SF team
Resistance activities that the hostile power can by assuming responsibility for advising and assisting
exploit to neutralize US support or mobilize world the auxiliary. Specific functions include development
opinion against the resistance. of—
Organization and potential development of the Means and procedures to finance, pay, and
resistance organization. account for locally procured resources.
The political, social, economic, and security needs Production facilities and supply distribution sys-
of the various segments of the population. tems.
Once the SF team deploys into the JSOA, the PRC measures within resistance-controlled ter-
CA element at the operational base provides CA ritory.
advice and assistance as required. It may also assist Deployed CA teams also provide operational advice
in the administration of refugee camps that serve as and assistance to the area command and the SF team.
recruiting and/or training bases for the resistance Specific areas of concern include advising on—
The impact of resistance tactical operations and
Selected CA members or teams may accompany likely hostile countermeasures (for example,
deploying SF teams when the mission requires reprisals, forced relocations, confiscation of re-
their immediate presence in the JSOA. Normally, sources) on the civilian population.
however, CA teams do not infiltrate into the JSOA Appropriate standards of conduct and behavior
until the resistance organization develops and for resistance forces.

support of the HN government. CA support may

Role of CA range from staff advice and assistance to the
in FID commitment of CA units. Activities may include—
The primary objective of CA in FID is to help HN Coordinating SF operations with appropriate HN,
forces mobilize the people and other resources in US Mission, and international agencies.

FM 31-20

Minimizing civilian interference with SF opera- Supporting displaced person operations, to in-
tions. clude advising or assisting the HN government in
the establishment and operation of camps.
Providing civil assistance to HN government
agencies. Advising and assisting HN government agencies
in the implementation of PRC programs.
Serving as the SF unit’s focal point for community
relations. Civil assistance programs improve the capabilities of
HN civil authorities to deal with the political, eco-
Advising and assisting SF units conducting nomic, and social aspects of IDAD. Civil assistance
military civic action or humanitarian assistance may be temporary or it may involve activities of a
programs. more permanent nature.
Advising and assisting SF units in planning and SF units participate in military civic action projects
implementing a civil defense program. that enhance HN economic and social development
Supplementing the SF intelligence collection ef- and gain the active support of the population. Such
fort. participation should always emphasize the HN role.

Role of CA will be a civilian presence in the objective area that

could interfere with the SF operation, a CA element
in DA and CT may accompany the SF team. This CA element
The primary role of CA in these activities is to establishes and operates collecting points for
provide CA input during pre-mission planning and displaced civilians, rescued hostages, or non-
preparation. If the situation indicates that there combatant evacuees.

FM 31-20


Operating Systems

This appendix introduces the concept of function- The combined arms concept has existed for centuries,
oriented operating systems as a means of describing but the nature of the combination and the organi-
how SF commanders accomplish the vertical and zational level at which it occurs has varied greatly
horizontal integration of their activities. It begins by among armies over time. In World War I, the US
providing a combined arms perspective that is much Army’s square division stressed the tactics of
broader than the traditional focus on combat arms supplementary or reinforcing combined arms. Artil-
maneuver at the tactical level. The appendix then lery, engineers, and tanks were used to increase the
describes the Army’s conventional operating systems. effectiveness of infantry in close combat. In World
Finally, it applies the BOS to SF capabilities in a War II, the US Army shifted its level of combined
manner that is useful to SF commanders during arms organization to the regimental combat team and
mission planning and execution. armored combat command (the brigade in today’s
terminology). The Army also changed its tactics to
emphasize complementary combined arms. The
strengths of each arm compensated for the
weaknesses of the others to create a synergistic effect.

Since World War II, the growing complexity of

modem conventional warfare has led to greater
specialization within the combat arms. Combined
Combined arms commanders now recognize that all CS and CSS
Arms elements are equally important. They can no longer
simply concentrate their combat forces on the
The combined arms concept stresses the use of battlefield. To be successful in sustained combat
different arms and services in combination to operations today, they must synchronize the effects
maximize their survival and combat effectiveness. of their total force.

FM 31-20

Army Operating operating systems provide a framework for analysis

and integration.
Systems The application of these blueprints and their
operating systems depends upon the stated purpose
To further refine the combined arms concept, the of the analysis or integration effort. Among the
Army has adopted a Blueprint of the Battlefield for purposes of the blueprints are—
each level of war. Each blueprint defines a number Mission area analysis, to identify capabilities
of operating systems that integrate all combat, CS, issues.
and CSS activities by function, rather than by mis- Concepts and doctrine development, to identify
sion, branch, or unit (Figure A-l). This approach functional interdependencies and eliminate
represents a new methodology for how to think about duplication of effort.
war and other military operations. This methodology
demands that commanders and their staffs think in Force analysis and integration, to identify mission
terms of integrated systems, rather than orienting on essential tasks and the capabilities of units to
execute them.
the units that compose those systems.
Training development, to provide a systematic
Each operating system represents a hierarchy of combined arms perspective for the development
functions (Figure A-2). By design, each function and evaluation of unit training programs.
appears in only one operating system and the Mission planning and execution, to ensure that
definition of each operating system clearly the capabilities of the total force are addressed
distinguishes its modular functions. together, the and fully integrated.

FM 31-20

Application operations by joint and combined forces at EAC.

However, the TOS do not have the degree of detail
Of BOS required to analyze or integrate SF operations at the
tactical level of execution. Additionally, the Army has
integrated the BOS into its tactical doctrine, but has
The tactical-level BOS and operational-level theater not yet included the TOS in its EAC doctrine.
operating systems (TOS) are shown in Figures A-3 Therefore, SF commanders must apply the BOS
and A-4. (The strategic-level global operating differently to (Figure A-5)—
systems [GOS] are still under development.) The Portray SF functions in terms that are useful to
BOS focus on Army units at corps level and below and them.
on battlefield functions performed in a combat zone Provide linkages that permit combat developers,
by Army units at corps level and below. The TOS doctrine developers, and training developers to
more closely approximate SF functions bemuse the portray SF functions in terms that are
TOS focus on functions performed in a theater of understandable to the conventional Army.

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

FM 31-20

NOTE: For ease of use, the BOS are presented Fire Support
below in the same order that they would be
addressed in an OPLAN or OPORD. The primary SF fire support system is the terminal
guidance capability of the SFODs. SF teams do not
Intelligence normally have organic fire support means (except
light mortars). They often operate beyond the range
The SF intelligence system performs the same of field artillery and close air support. As a result, SF
functions as conventional intelligence systems. (See commanders must often coordinate with higher
Chapter 13.) It includes the— headquarters for operational fires to obtain the SF
Planners and coordinators in the group and equivalent of fire support. During FID operations
battalion S2 sections. and certain DA missions SF teams may receive fire
Producers and collectors in the group and support from armed helicopter field artillery, naval
battalion MI detachments. gunfire, and/or close air support aircraft (to include
AC-130 gunships). In other SF operations, organic
SFOD members who are involved in the fire support means may be provided to the indigenous
collection, processing, and dissemination of combat forces of the SF maneuver system.
The BOS categorize PSYOP as nonlethal fire
SF commanders rely heavily on theater and national support. All SF operations have psychological
intelligence systems. SF operations often require the implications. For this reason, PSYOP support is as
dissemination of near-real-time strategic intelli- vital to most SF operations as artillery support is to
gence down to the tactical level of execution. This conventional military operations. SF units routinely
requirement places unique demands on the employ PSYOP against hostile, neutral, and friendly
intelligence system. target audiences. (See Chapter 15.) Therefore, SF
considers PSYOP a major subsystem of the fire
Maneuver support BOS. The SF PSYOP subsystem includes
The SF maneuver system includes the SFODs and, Planners and coordinators in the group and
when applicable, their indigenous combat forces. battalion PSYOP staff elements.
These forces move, navigate, engage hostile forces Producers and disseminator in attached and
with direct fire, control terrain, and influence the supporting PSYOP units.
All SFOD members.
The SF group and battalion commanders employ the SF commanders rely on organic or attached PSYOP
maneuver system by directing and synchronizing the staff elements to ensure the total integration of
activities of independently deployed SF teams. These PSYOP, from the earliest phase of mission planning
teams infiltrate their operational areas to gain until mission completion. The TA’s PSYOP group and
positional advantage in the operational or strategic other theater PSYOP assets employ strategic
rear of a hostile power. There they conduct SF dissemination means to support SF operations. When
operations unilaterally or by recruiting, organizing, appropriate, but particularly during FID operations,
training, equipping, advising, and/or leading tactical PSYOP units may be attached to SF down to
indigenous combat forces. There are normally no company or even SFOD level.
adjacent friendly forces capable of providing mutual
support. Because SF teams attack hostile air targets
offensively as well as defensively, SF defines the
Army, Air Force, and Navy infiltration and offensive counterair function as a function within the
exfiltration means provide mobility to the SF fire support BOS. This definition eases vertical
maneuver system. Once deployed in its operational integration with the TOS operational fires system.
ares, an SF team usually depends on indigenous
transportation for movement, although it may have Air Defense
organic tactical mobility (for example, the desert By TOE, SF units do not have an organic air defense
vehicle mobility system or over-snow vehicles). system. They mainly employ passive air defense

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measures to protect their elements. They rely on The SF commanders rely heavily on the TA CSS
conventional theater air defense systems to provide system. The organic CSS capabilities of the SF group
active protection of their operational bases. Selected and battalion are similar to the unit-level capabilities
SF elements organize and train MANPAD teams to found in a conventional combat arrns brigade. The TA
provide point air defense. If required, SF com- CSS system normally provides all DS-level CSS
manders must coordinate with higher headquarters support to SF units on an area basis by nondedicated
for additional air defense protection. This protection CSS units. When area support is inappropriate or
may include provision of an organic air defense infeasible, the TA provides CSS on a unit basis by
capability to the indigenous combat forces of the SF dedicated CSS units. This nonstandard arrangement
maneuver system. is most likely to occur in undeveloped theaters or
during contingency operations.
Mobility and
Survivability The BOS categorize CMO as a subsystem of CSS.
However, CMO pervade every aspect of UW and FID
This BOS includes two major subsystems engineer operations. (See Chapter 16.) As a result, CMO
and NBC. It also includes those measures that become operationally significant to an extent only
enhance force protection. rarely found in conventional military operations.
Therefore, SF considers CMO as a major subsystem
SF commanders do not have a separate engineer of the CSS BOS. The SF CMO subsystem includes
subsystem to perform mobility functions. The SF the—
maneuver system performs mobility functions on a Planners and coordinators in the group and
nondedicated basis as part of its normal operations. battalion S5 sections.
SF commanders must coordinate with higher Operators in attached and supporting CA units.
headquarters for dedicated engineer support to All SF members engaged in combined activities.
augment organic capabilities when required. This
support may include provision of an organic engineer All SFOD members must be area-oriented and
capability to the indigenous combat forces of the SF language qualified to function effectively. The
maneuver system. full-time CA planners, coordinators, and operators
normally support SF efforts with technical advice,
SF units rely on the same measures as conventional training, and assistance. When appropriate, CA
units for their survivability. (See Chapter 7.) These teams may be attached to deployed SF teams to take
measures include— over some of their noncombat CMO functions.
Stationing the bulk of their C2 and support Command and
elements deep within the COMMZ.
Employing OPSEC, deception operations, and
counterintelligence activities to conceal true SF The SF C2 system performs the same functions as
capabilities and intentions. conventional military C2 systems. (See Chapters 5, 6,
Maintaining standard defensive NBC capabilities. and 7.) It consists of the—
Providing physical security to SF operational SF group battle staff.
bases. SF operational bases at group, battalion, and
company level.
Combat Service SF command and control elements collocated
Support with supported conventional headquarters at
corps or higher level.
The SF CSS system performs the same functions as SFOD command groups.
conventional CSS systems. (See Chapter 14.) It Communications systems that connect all C2
includes the— nodes.
Planners and coordinators in the group and The SFOD command group is the only element of the
battalion S1 and S4 sections. SF C2 system that integrates all seven BOS to
Operators in the group and battalion support conduct its operations. All other SF C2 elements
companies. direct or support the SFOD and integrate its activities
SFOD members who are involved in CSS. with those of appropriate friendly TOS and BOS.

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NOTE: In this and subsequent appendixes, the following acronyms apply: APPENDIX B
SACATLDEFCOM-Supreme Allied Commander, Alantis Defense Command
ATLDEFCOM-Alantis Defense Command
CINCUSATL-Commander-in-Chief, US Alantis Command
USATLCOM-US Alantis Command
COMSOCATL-Commander, Special Operations Command Alantis
SOCATL-Special Operations Command Alantis

Sample Group
Operation Plan

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Sample Battalion
Operation Plan

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Assessment Format

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Sample SOC
Mission Letter

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Sample Group
Mission Letter

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Sample Battalion
Mission Letter

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Special Forces
Mission Briefback Format

This appendix provides an outline format for an information about a specific SF mission. The basic
SF mission briefback. It can also be used by a outline is general but is flexible enough to be used
group or battalion staff to prepare an initial mission for any doctrinal SF mission. The user must modify
briefing. It is a systematic means for presenting the outline by deleting portions that do not apply.

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Area Study
Outline Format

This appendix provides an outline format for an area coverage of a given operational area. As time is made
study. This format provides a systematic means for available for further study, various subjects should be
compiling and retaining essential information to subdivided and assigned to selected detachment
support SF operations. Although the basic outline is members to produce a more detailed analysis of
general, it is flexible enough to permit detailed specified areas of interest.

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PSYOP Support
of a US-Sponsored
Resistance Force

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Part II. Definitions asset (intelligence) - (DOD, IADB) Any resource—

person, group, relationship, instrument, installation,
or supply—at the disposition of an intelligence
antiterrorism - Defensive measures used to reduce organization for use in an operational or support
the vulnerability of individuals and property to role. Often used with a qualifying term such as agent
terrorism. Also called AT. (JSC Pub 1-02) (See also asset or propaganda asset. (JCS Pub 1-02)
combatting counterterrorism and terrorism.) auxiliary -In unconventional warfare, that element
of the resistance force established to provide the
area assessment - In unconventional warfare, the organized civilian support of the resistance move-
collection of specific information prescribed by the ment. (AR 310-25)
commander to commence immediately after in-
filtration. It is a continuous operation, and it chemical warfare - (DOD) All aspects of military
confirms, corrects, refutes, or adds to intelligence operations involving the employment of lethal and
acquired from area studies and other sources prior incapacitating munitions/agents and the warning and
to infiltration. protective measures associated with such offensive
operations. Since riot control agents and herbicides
area command - In unconventional warfare, the are not considered to be chemical warfare agents,
organizational structure established within a joint those two items will be referred to separately or
special operations area to command and control re- under the broader term chemical, which will be used
sistance forces. It consists of the area commander, to include all types of chemical munitions/agents
his staff, and representatives of the resistance ele- collectively. The term chemical warfare weapons
ment, to include Special Forces after infiltration. may be used when it is desired to reflect both lethal

FM 31-20

and incapacitating munitions/agents of either chem- employing commands and forces, assigning tasks,
ical or biological origin. (JCS Pub 1-02) designating objectives and giving authoritative direc-
tion necessary to accomplish the mission. COCOM
civil affairs - (DOD, IADB) Those phases of the includes directive authority over all aspects of
activities of a commander which embrace the rela- military operations joint training, and logistics.
tionship between the military forces and civil COCOM should be exercised through the com-
authorities and people in a friendly country or area manders of assigned normal organizational units or
or occupied country or area when military forces through the commanders of subordinate commands
are present. Civil affairs include, inter alia: a. matters and forces. COCOM provides full authority to
concerning the relationship between military forces organize and employ forces as the CINC deems
located in a country or area and the civil authorities necessary to accomplish assigned missions and to
and people of that country or area usually involving retain or delegate operational control or tactical
performance by the military forces of certain func- control as necessary. COCOM does not, of itself,
tions or the exercise of certain authority normally include such matters as administration, discipline,
the responsibility of the local government. This internal organization, and unit training. COCOM is
relationship may occur prior to, during, or sub- exercised solely by the commanders of unified and
sequent to military action in time of hostilities or specified commands. (JCS Pub O-2)
other emergency and is normally covered by a treaty
or other agreement, expressed or implied; and combatting terrorism - Actions, including antiter-
b. military government: the form of administration rorism (defensive measures taken to reduce vul-
by which an occupying power exercises nerability to terrorist acts) and counterterrorism
executive, legislative, and judicial authority over (offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and
occupied territory. (JCS Pub 1-02) respond to terrorism), taken to oppose terrorism
throughout the entire threat spectrum. (JCS Pub
civil-military operations - The complex of activities 1-02)
in support of military operations embracing the compartmentation - (DOD) Establishment and
interaction between the military force and civilian management of an intelligence organization so that
authorities fostering the development of favorable information about the personnel, organization, or
emotions, attitudes, and behavior in neutral, friendly, activities of one component is made available to any
or hostile groups. (FM 41-10) other component only to the extent required for
clandestine operation – (DOD, I, IADB) An activity the performance of assigned duties. (JCS Pub 1-02)
to accomplish intelligence, counterintelligence, and 1. In unconventional warfare, the division of an
other similar activities sponsored or conducted by organization or activity into functional segments or
governmental departments or agencies, in such away cells to restrict communication between them and
as to assure secrecy or concealment. (JCS Pub 1-02) prevent knowledge of the identity or activities of
other segments except on a need-to-know basis.
collateral mission activities - The inherent capa- 2. Restricting the use of specific cryptovariables to
bilities of all military forces may periodically be specific users for the purpose of limiting access to
applied to accomplish missions other than those for the information protected by these cryptovariables
which the forces are principally organized, trained, and limiting the adverse impact of a compromise of
and equipped. Collateral activities in which special these variables. (AR 310-25)
operations forces, by virtue of inherent capabilities, consolidation - The combining or merging of ele-
may be tasked to participate include humanitarian ments to perform a common or related function.
assistance, security assistance, search and rescue, (JCS Pub 1-02)
counternarcotics, antiterrorism and other security
activities, and special activities. (USCINCSOC) counterinsurgency - (DOD) Those military, para-
military, political, economic, psychological, and civic
combatant command - The authority to perform actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency.
those functions of command involving organizing and (JCS Pub 1-02)

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counterintelligence - Information gathered and the principal operation; an attack, alarm, or feint that
activities conducted to protect against espionage, diverts attention. (JCS Pub 1-02)
other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassi-
nations conducted for or on behalf of foreign electronic counter—countermeasures - That division of
powers, organizations, or persons or international electronic warfare involving actions taken to ensure
terrorist activities, but not including personnel, friendly effective use of the electromagnetic spec-
physical, document, or communications security trum despite the enemy’s use of electronic warfare.
programs. (DOD Directive 5240.1) (JCS Pub 1-02)
electronic countermeasures - That division of elec-
counterterrorism - Offensive measures taken by
tronic warfare involving actions taken to prevent or
civilian and military agencies of the government to reduce an enemy’s effective use of the electromag-
prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. The
netic spectrum. Also called ECM. (JCS Pub 1-02)
primary mission of special operations forces in this
interagency activity is to apply specialized capa- electronic warfare - (IADB) Military action involving
bilities to preclude, preempt, and resolve terrorist the use of electromagnetic energy to determine,
incidents abroad. Also called CT. See also exploit, reduce, or prevent hostile use of the
antiterrorism, terrorism, terrorism counteraction. electromagnetic spectrum and action which retains
(USCINCSOC) friendly use of the electromagnetic spectrum. (JCS
Pub 1-02)
Country Team - Senior members of US government
agencies assigned to a US diplomatic mission over- evasion and escape - (DOD, I, NATO, IADB) The
seas and subject to the direction and supervision procedures and operations whereby military per-
of the Chief, US Mission (ambassador). Normally, sonnel and other selected individuals are enabled
such members meet regularly (weekly) to coordinate to emerge from an enemy-held or hostile area to
US government political, economic, and military areas under friendly control. (JCS Pub 1-02)
activities and policies in the host country.
evasion and escape net - (DOD, IADB) The organi-
deconflict - To reconcile or resolve a conflict in zation within enemy-held or hostile areas that
interests as in targeting. operates to receive, move, and exfiltrate military
personnel or selected individuals to friendly control.
direct action - In special operations, a specified act (JCS Pub 1-02)
involving operations of an overt, clandestine, or low
visibility nature conducted primarily by special opera- executive order - Order issued by the President by
tions forces in hostile or denied areas. (JCS Pub 1-02) virtue of the authority vested in him by the Con-
stitution or by an act of Congress. It has the force
direct action operations - Short-duration strikes and of law. (AR 310-25)
other small-scale offensive actions by special opera-
tions forces to seize, destroy, or inflict damage on a exfiltration - (DOD) The removal of personnel or
units from areas under enemy control. (JCS Pub
specified target; or to destroy, capture, or recover 1-02)
designated personnel or material. In the conduct
of these operations, special operations forces may foreign intelligence - Information relating to the
employ raid, ambush, or direct assault tactics; capabilities, intentions, and activities of foreign
emplace mines and other munitions; conduct powers, organizations, or persons, but not includ-
standoff attacks by fire from air, ground, or mari- ing counterintelligence, except for information on
time platforms; provide terminal guidance for international terrorist activities. (DOD Directive
precision guided munitions; and conduct indepen- 5240.1)
dent sabotage. (USCINCSOC)
foreign internal defense - (DOD) Participation by
diversion - (DOD, NATO) The act of drawing the civilian and military agencies of a government in
attention and forces of an enemy from the point of any of the action programs taken by another

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government to free and protect its society from information - (DOD) In intelligence usage, un-
subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency. (JCS Pub evaluated material of every description that may be
1-02) used in the production of intelligence. (NATO) In
intelligence usage, unprocessed data of every
foreign nation support - Civil resources identifica- description which may be used in the production of
tion, negotiation, and procurement from available intelligence. (JCS Pub 1-02)
resources within a foreign nation in support of the
US military mission during wartime, preparation for insurgency - (DOD, I, NATO, IADB) An organized
war, or peacetime. movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted
government through use of subversion and armed
foreign power - Any foreign government (regard- conflict. (JCS Pub 1-02)
less of whether recognized by the United States),
foreign-based political party (or faction thereof), insurgent war - A struggle between a constituted
foreign military force, foreign-based terrorist group, government and organized insurgents frequently
or any organization composed, in major part, of any supported from without, but acting violently from
such entity or entities. (AR 381-10) Foreign powers within, against the political, social, economic mili-
may be classified as friendly, neutral, or hostile. tary, and civil vulnerabilities of the regime to bring
about its internal destruction or overthrow. Such wars
guerrilla warfare - (DOD, I, NATO, IADB) Military are distinguished from lesser insurgences by the
and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy- gravity of the threat to government and the insur-
held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly gent object or eventual regional or national control.
indigenous forces. (JCS Pub 1-02) (AR 310-25)
host nation - A nation in which representatives or intelligence reporting - (DOD, IADB) The preparation
organizations of another state are present because of and conveyance of information by any means. More
government invitation or international agreement. commonly, the term is restricted to reports as they
The term particularly refers to a nation receiving are prepared by the collector and as they are
assistance relevant to its national security. transmitted by him to his headquarters and by
this component of the intelligence structure to one
hostile power - See foreign power. or more intelligence-producing components. Thus,
even in this limited sense, reporting embraces both
human intelligence - (DOD, NATO) A category of
collection and dissemination. The term is applied to
intelligence derived from information collected and normal and specialist intelligence reports. (JCS Pub
provided by human sources. (JCS Pub 1-02) 1-02)
infiltration - (DOD, NATO, IADB) 1. The move- internal security - (DOD, I, IADB) 1. The state of
ment through or into an area or territory occupied by law and order prevailing within a nation. (JCS Pub
either friendly or enemy troops or organizations. 1-02) 2. The prevention of action against United
The movement is made either by small groups or States resources, industries, and institution and the
by individuals at extended or irregular intervals. protection of life and property in the event of a
When used in connection with the enemy, it infers domestic emergency by the employment of all
that contact is avoided. 2. In intelligence usage, measures, in peace or war, other than military
placing an agent or other person in a target area in defense. 3. Condition resulting from the measures
hostile territory. Usually involves crossing a frontier taken within a command to safeguard defense infor-
or other guarded line. Methods of infiltration are mation coming under its cognizance, including
black (clandestine), grey (through legal crossing physical security of documents and materials. (AR
point but under false documentation), white (legal). 310-25)
3. A technique and process in which a force moves
as individuals or small groups over, through, or international narcotics activities - Refers to activi-
around enemy positions without detection. (JCS Pub ties outside the United States to produce, transfer, or
1-02) sell narcotics or other substances controlled in

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accordance with Title 21, United States Code, Sec- useful to the local population at all levels in such
tions 811 and 812. (AR 381-10) fields as education, training, public works, agricul-
ture, transportation, communications health,
international terrorist activities - Activities under- sanitation, and others contributing to economic and
taken by or in support of terrorists or terrorist social development which would also serve to im-
organizations that occur totally outside the United prove the standing of the military forces with the
States, or that transcend national boundaries in population. (DOD, I) (US forces may at times advise
terms of the means by which they are accomplished, or engage in military civic action in overseas areas.)
the persons they appear intended to coerce or (JCS Pub 1-02)
intimidate, or the locale in which the perpetrators
operate or seek asylum. (AR 381-10) mobile training team - (DOD, IADB) A mobile
training team consists of one or more US personnel
joint doctrine - (DOD) Fundamental principles that drawn from Service resources and sent on tempo-
guide the employment of forces of two or more rary duty to a foreign nation to give instruction. The
Services of the same nation in coordinated action mission of the team is to provide, by training-
toward a common objective. It is ratified by all four instructor personnel, a military service of the foreign
Services and may be promulgated by the Joint Chiefs nation with a self-training capability in a particular
of Staff. (JCS Pub 1-02) skill. (JCS Pub 1-02) Trains foreign personnel to
operate, maintain, and employ weapons systems and
joint operations - Operations carried on by two or support equipment or teach other special skills
more of the Armed Forces of the United States and/or procedures related to military training
(Army, Navy, Air Force). (AR 310-25) procedures.
joint special operations area - That area of land, sea, National Command Authorities - (DOD) The Presi-
and airspace assigned to a joint special operations dent and the Secretary of Defense or their duly
command to conduct SO. deputized alternates or successors. (JCS Pub 1-02)
limited war - (DOD, IADB) Armed conflict short of national intelligence - (DOD, IADB) Integrated
general war, exclusive of incidents, involving the departmental intelligence that covers the broad
overt engagement of military forces of two or more aspects of national policy and national security, is of
nations. (JCS Pub 1-02) concern to more than one department or agency, and
transcends the exclusive competence of a single
low intensity conflict - (DOD) A limited politico- department or agency. (JCS Pub 1-02)
military struggle to achieve political, social,
economic, or psychological objectives. It is often national objectives - (DOD, IADB) Those funda-
protracted and ranges from diplomatic, economic, mental aims, goals, or purposes of a nation—as
and psychosocial pressures through terrorism and opposed to the means for seeking these
insurgency. Low-intensity conflict is generally ends—toward which a policy is directed and efforts
confined to a geographic area and is often char- and resources of the nation are applied. (JCS Pub
acterized by constraints on the weaponry, tactics, and 1-02)
the level of violence. Also called LIC. (JCS Pub 1-02)
national policy - (DOD, IADB) A broad course of
low visibility operations - (DOD) Sensitive operations action or statements of guidance adopted by the
wherein the political/military restrictions inherent government at the national level in pursuit of na-
in covert and clandestine operations are either not tional objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02)
necessary or not feasible; actions are taken as
required to limit exposure of those involved and/or national security - (DOD) A collective term encom-
their activities. (JCS Pub 1-02) passing both national defense and foreign relations of
the United States. Specifically, the condition pro-
military civic action - (DOD, I, IADB) The use of vided by: a. a military or defense advantage over any
preponderantly indigenous military forces on projects foreign nation or group of nations, or b. a favorable

FM 31-20

foreign relations position, or c. a defense posture resistance movement - (DOD, IADB) An organized
capable of successfully resisting hostile or destructive effort by some portion of the civil population of a
action from within or without, overt or covert. (JCS country to resist the legally established government
Pub 1-02) or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and
stability. (JCS Pub 1-02)
national strategy - (DOD, IADB) The art and science
of developing and using the political, economic, and sabotage - (DOD, IADB) An act or acts with intent
psychological powers of a nation, together with its to injure, interfere with, or obstruct the national
armed forces, during peace and war, to secure defense of a country by willfully injuring or
national objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02) destroying, or attempting to injure or destroy, any
national defense or war material, premises, or
overt operation - (DOD, IADB) The collection of utilities, to include human and natural resources,
intelligence openly, without concealment. (JCS Pub (JCS Pub 1-02)
safe area - (DOD, IADB) A designated area in
paramilitary forces - (DOD, I, IADB) Forces or hostile territory that offers the evader or escapee
groups which are distinct from the regular armed a reasonable chance of avoiding capture and of
forces of any country, but resembling them in surviving until he can be evacuated. (JCS Pub 1-02)
organization, equipment, training, or mission. (JCS sector - That portion of a JSOA assigned by a joint
Pub 1-02) SO commander to a subordinate SO commander for
psychological operations - (DOD) Planned opera- the conduct of a specific SO mission.
tions to convey selected information and indicators security assistance - (DOD) Group of programs
to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961,
motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the as amended, and the Arms Export Control Act of
behavior of foreign governments, organizations, 1976, as amended, or other related statutes by which
groups, and individuals. The purpose of psycho- the United States provides defense articles, military
logical operations is to induce or reinforce foreign training, and other defense-related services, by
attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator’s grant, credit, or cash sales, in furtherance of na-
objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02) tional policies and objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02)
psychological warfare - (DOD, IADB) The planned security assistance organizations - SAOs encompass
use of propaganda and other psychological actions all DOD elements located in foreign countries
having the primary purpose of influencing the opin- with assigned security assistance responsibilities.
ions emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile They may be known as joint US military advisory
foreign groups in such a way as to support the groups, joint US military groups, US military
achievement of national objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02) missions, US military advisory groups, US military
assistance advisory groups, or US military groups.
real time – (DOD) The absence of delay, except for Security assistance organizations also include de-
the time required for the transmission by electro- fense liaision offices or groups, defense field
magnetic energy, between the occurrence of an event offices, offices of defense cooperation, and defense
or the transmission of data and the knowledge of attache offices with personnel designated to perform
the event or reception of the data at some other security assistance functions. The specific title of an
location. (JCS Pub 1-02) The absence of delay in SAO is dependent on the number of persons
acquisition, transmission, and reception of data. assigned, the functions performed, or the desires
(AR 310-25) of the host nation. (See FC 100-20 and DOD
refugee - (DOD, IADB) A civilian who by reason of
real or imagined danger has left home to seek safety special activities - Activities conducted in support of
elsewhere. (JCS Pub 1-02) national foreign policy objectives abroad, which are

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planned and executed so that the role of the US intelligence and tactical intelligence differ primarily
government is not apparent or acknowledged pub- in level of application but may also vary in terms of
licly, and functions in support of such activities, but scope and detail. (JCS Pub 1-02)
which are not intended to influence US political strategic psychological activities - (DOD, NATO)
processes, public opinion, policies, or media, and do Planned psychological activities in peace and war
not include diplomatic activities or the collection which normally pursue objectives to gain the sup-
and production of intelligence or related support port and cooperation of friendly and neutral
functions. (DOD Directive 5240.1) countries and to reduce the will and the capacity of
special operations - (DOD) Operations conducted hostile or potentially hostile countries to wage war.
by specially trained, equipped, and organized DOD (JCS Pub 1-02)
forces against strategic or tactical targets in pursuit technical control - The executive authority to regu-
of national military, political, economic, or psy- late and supervise technical activities by providing
chological objectives. These operations may be specialized or professional guidance and direction.
conducted during periods of peace or hostilities.
They may support conventional operations, or they terrorism - (DOD) The unlawful use or threatened
may be prosecuted independently when the use of use of force or violence against individuals or
conventional forces is either inappropriate or in- property to coerce or intimidate governments or
feasible. (JCS Pub 1-02) societies, often to achieve political, religious, or
ideological objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02) The calculated
special operations - Actions conducted by specially use of violence or the threat of violence to attain
organized, trained and equipped military and goals, political, religious, or ideological in nature.
paramilitary forces to achieve military, political, This is done through intimidation, coercion, or
economic, or psychological objectives by non- instilling fear. Terrorism involves a criminal act that
conventional military means in hostile, denied, or is often symbolic in nature and intended to influ-
politically sensitive areas. They are conducted in ence an audience beyond the immediate victims.
peace, conflict, and war, independently or in coor- (AR 190-52)
dination with operations of conventional forces.
Politico-military considerations frequently shape terrorism counteraction - See combatting terrorism.
special operations, requiring clandestine, covert, or third world - Refers to those countries with
low visibility techniques, and oversight at the national underdeveloped but growing economies, often with
level. Special operations differ from conventional colonial pasts, and low per capita incomes.
operations in degree of risk, operational techniques,
mode of employment, independence from friendly threat - The ability of an enemy to limit, neutral-
support, and dependence on detailed operational ize, or destroy the effectiveness of a current or
intelligence and indigenous assets. (USCINCSOC) projected mission organization or item of equip-
ment. (TRADOC Reg 381-1)
special reconnaissance - SR operations are recon- unconventional warfare - A broad spectrum of
naissance and surveillance actions conducted by military and paramilitary operations conducted in
special operations forces to obtain or verify, by
enemy-held, enemy-controlled, or politically sensi-
visual observation or other collection methods,
information concerning the capabilities, intentions, tive territory. Unconventional warfare includes, but
and activities of an actual or potential enemy or to is not limited to, the interrelated fields of guerrilla
secure data concerning the meteorological, hydro- warfare, evasion and escape, subversion, sabotage,
graphic, or geographic characteristics of a particular and other operations of a low visibility, covert or
area. It includes target acquisition, area assessment, clandestine nature. These interrelated aspects of
and post-strike reconnaissance. (USCINCSOC) unconventional warfare may be prosecuted singly or
collectively by predominantly indigenous personnel,
strategic intelligence - (DOD) Intelligence that is usually supported and directed in varying degrees by
required for the formation of policy and military plans (an) external sources(s) during all conditions of war
at national and international levels. Strategic or peace. (JCS Pub 1-02)

FM 31-20

unconventional warfare - A broad spectrum of underground - A covert unconventional warfare

military and paramilitary operations, normally of organization established to operate in areas denied
long duration, predominantly conducted by to the guerrilla forces or conduct operations not
indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, suitable for guerrilla forces. (AR 310-25)
trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying
degrees by an external source. It includes guerrilla US Country Team - The senior, in-country, United
warfare and other direct offensive, low visibility, States coordinating and supervising body, headed
covert or clandestine operations, as well as the by the chief of the US diplomatic mission, usually an
indirect activities of subversion, sabotage, intel- ambassador, and composed of the senior member of
ligence collection, and evasion and escape. each represented United States department or
(USCINCSOC) agency. (See also Country Team.)

FM 31-20


Joint Publications
Required publications are sources that users must
read to understand or to comply with this publication.

Field Manuals

Related Army Regulations

Related publications are sources of additional infor-
mation. They are not required to understand this

FM 31-20

Field Manuals

FM 31-20

Training Circulars

Army Training and

Evaluation Program

Army Publications
US Army Communications Command-Intermediate
Distance Skywave Propagation Charts

NATO Standardization
STANAGs are available, upon request, from Naval
Publications and Forms Center, 5801 Tabor Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19120

FM 31-20

Projected publications are sources of additional in-
formation that are scheduled for printing but are not
yet available. Upon print, they will be distributed
automatically via pinpoint distribution. They maybe
obtained from the USAAG Publications Center until
indexed in DA Pamphlet 25-30.

FM 31-20


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20 APRIL 1990

By Order of the Secretary of the Army:

General, United States Army
Chief of Staff


Brigadier General, United States Army
The Adjutant General


Active Army, USAR, and ARNG: To be distributed in accordance with DA Form 12-11E, requirements
for FM 31-20, Special Forces Operations (Qty rqr block no. 531).

✩ U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1996 - 406-421 (52240)