Joint Special Operations Command – An In-depth Overview

JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) was established on December 15, 1980, on Col. Charlie Beckwith’s recommendation, following the outcome of the unsuccessful endeavor by US Special Operations Forces (Operation Eagle Claw) to rescue American hostages who were held as prisoners in Iran. After the unsuccessful attempt, the US military instantly started planning for another rescue mission. As a part of this planning, many new special operations units were created within the armed forces. To help avoid some of the uncertainty that formed during the planning as well as the execution phases of the initial rescue attempt, a new command configuration was activated to manage these new units. This new command eventually evolved into JSOC or the Joint Special Operations Command.

JSOC is based at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, which are in North Carolina. The 12th and the present JSOC commander is LTG Joseph Votel who started his term from June 2011. JSOC includes all the Special Ops Units of the United States military, encompassing those from Navy, Marines and Air Force. JSOC also includes the Navy SEALs. Since its inception, JSOC has been involved in over 50 overseas missions and employs more than 4,000 personals.

JSOC – Main Goals:

JSOC’s focus is thought to be directed towards counter terrorism. Joint Special Operations Command’s missions are generally among the most dangerous and classified in nature, concerning direct actions against terrorist leaders and groups. JSOC is credited with synchronization of Operation Neptune’s Spear that lead to the death of mastermind terrorist leader Osama bin Laden on the 1st of May 2011.

JSOC is a component command of the USSOCOM or United States Special Operations Command. JSOC is charged to learn special operations techniques and requirements to ensure equipment standardization and interoperability; plan and carry out special operations training and exercises and form Joint Special Operations Tactics. Its cross-disciplinary team of specialists is crucial in fighting terrorism and one of its main goals is to systematize Defense Department strategies against global terrorism.

JSOC – Components:

JSOC has four units under its umbrella, which are: 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta (Delta Force), Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) and 24th Special Tactics Squadron (USAF Combat Controllers/Pararescuemen).

JSOC – Operations:

Joint Special Operations Command units have been involved in various covert military operations since its initiation. A few of these operations include offering support to Italian authorities during their search for US Army General James Dozier, who was kidnapped; taking part in Operation Urgent Fury, participating in the US invasion of Grenada; rescuing hostages that were held on board the cruise liner Achille Lauro; planning a rescue operation of US hostages held in Lebanon; playing a major role in Operation Just Cause, getting involved in the US intervention in Panama; guiding US Scud missile hunting attempts during Operation Desert Storm; searching for alleged war criminals in the Republic of Yugoslavia (now, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and performing operations for UN mandates in Somalia.

JSOC had also offered assistance to domestic law enforcement forces during high risk or high profile events such as the World Cup, the Olympics, Presidential inaugurations and political party conventions.

In general, the Joint Special Operations Command units conduct training on a regular basis with similar units from all over the world, and provide training to countries that request US support.