Do You Know Who Special Operations Forces Are & What They Do? Post 1

With the release of No Easy Day, the public is once again fascinated by the world of Special Operations, yet most people have little clue who these people are, what they do, and where they came from.  Every other day, for the rest of this month, I will be posting a blog on Special Operations Forces, based on my newly published book:  Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

First, there is a difference between Special Operations Forces and Special Forces (SF).  The latter are the US Army elite forces, more commonly known as the Green Berets.  They are part of the United States military umbrella of Special Operations Forces (SOF).  The SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) are also part of that, but out of the Navy.  Task Force 160—the Nightstalkers—are also part of that. TF-160 is a helicopter unit trained to fly the toughest mission, usually at night and under limited visibility.  There are other units so let’s get specific about USSOCOM:  United States Special Operations Command.

There are slightly less than 60,000 personnel serving in USSOCOM.  Each service has a SOCOM—ie an Army Special Ops Command, Navy, Marine and Air Force.

Under the Army SOCOM are:

Special Forces.  I’ll go into more detail about my former unit in another post.

The Ranger Regiment.  The most elite light infantry in the world.

Task Force 160

Psyops Brigade

Civil Affairs Brigade

And the US Army JF Kennedy Special Warfare Center & School at Fort Bragg where I spent many a year.

Under the Navy SOCOM are:

SEALs—more on them and their history on Tuesday

SEAL Delivery vehicle teams and Special Warfare Combatant Craft crewmen.

Under the Air Force SOCOM are:

A whole bunch of units flying an array of difference aircraft, requiring another post specifically dedicated to them.

And finally, but not least, the Marines have finally formed a Marine Special Operations Regiment.  Which is interesting, because very Marine I’ve ever met felt the entire Marine Corps is special.

Here’s the thing:  these units are ELITE.  This is a word that has gotten a negative connotation in society lately, but screw that:  that’s who and what they are.  I still remember standing in formation at Ft. Devens with my team, among the other 14 A-Teams in the 2d Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Battalion Sergeant Major was screaming about something or another, and he yelled:  “What do you guys think you are?  Special?”

And we all kind of looked at each other and nodded.  Hell, yeah.

If everyone were elite, then there would be no elite.  I believe the elite are the top five percent at most (if you think less than 60,000 people, including a good percentage of support personnel out of the entire military, it’s less than that).  Why did I settle on that that number?  Because studies have shown that only five percent of people are capable of sustained change.  I will cover this in detail further on when we discuss change under character.  Yes, certainly some people are born with unique gifts and talents, but the elite, as we will discuss them in this blog and in my book, are the people who make a decision to take the road less traveled and stay the course.

One of the most difficult aspects of living a successful life and being elite is that often you must go against the norm and the mass of other people’s opinions about the way you should live.  There is a strong power in society trying to pull you into the ninety-five percent of people who live in fear and with mediocrity.  My book shows you ways to go against the norm successfully and with minimum external conflict.

For an organization to be elite, first the people inside of it must be elite.  Elite individuals and organizations must have excellent goal-setting, leadership, training and communications.  As my book progresses I move from elite individuals to the elements of team building which make elite organizations.

Next up on Tuesday, to coincide with the official pub date of No Easy Day:  Why the SEALs were formed.

About Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.

Posted on September 2, 2012, in Who Dares Wins Special Operations, Write It forward and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Your blog on this should be command reading for every business leader EVERYWHERE. Just saying! Thanks for this – I’m looking forward to all the good info coming up. Cheers!

  2. You talk a lot about change, but the fact is that I can’t picture you as ever being anything other than what, who, and how you are today. Okay, I can picture you younger, and in color. But I doubt (please correct me) that you ever had a day in your life that you didn’t feel elite. Have you ever goofed off, broken discipline, engaged in self-defeating behavior? I’m not saying you’re perfect, or that you think you are, I’m just doubting you were ever the sort of person who needed to change. The day you were born you probably went on a three-mile run and straightened the house numbers on all the mailboxes in your block.

    Please, what experience do you have with change in your own career, as a student, a soldier or a writer-entrepreneur?

    And if you choose not to answer the question–it’s cheeky, but not disrespectfully intended–then please delete this comment. I hate to be sitting here with no reply.

  3. The very nature of your question indicates change. From student, to soldier, to Special Forces, to writer, to indie writer, to entrepreneur. None of those things were handed to me. I chose paths, then I went on them.

    I walked many an hour on the Area at West Point. I believe in rule-breaking, in fact it was essential in Special Forces and now as a writer. I’ve changed many things.

    When our youngest boy died six years ago I had to fundamentally change the way I interacted with the world and it’s been a long, slow process as my wife will attest to.

    Your question seems to indicate you believe fate determines all. If that is the case, then the entire founding of our country was based on a false assumption.

  4. I am sorry to hear about your son. That shocked me. There can’t be anything worse.

    This is my second post here, and both times I’ve ticked you off. Didn’t mean to. Can’t seem to help it.

    Best wishes.

  5. I’m going to pick up where Larkin left off and once again, this is not meant as disrespectful either. I don’t think things are predetermined. I know I have changed in my life. Made decisions to change, but I feel that I have a certain inner strength I was born with and a creativity born of surviving abuse as a child. Don’t you think one has to be born with that? Or do you really think that you can gain that inner strength.

  6. To be honest, I don’t know. I remember learning about the “resilient” child, who, no matter what the circumstances, can succeed. I believe it goes to the three steps of change– enlightenment, decision and sustained action. Most people think sustained action is the hardest, but it often isn’t. Making a decision is often the hardest thing for people.

  7. Thanks for a great post. Looking forward to the next installment.

  8. I learn so much from u, Bob, and so appreciate your ability and courage to always run right into the fire – regardless of the discipline (be it business, military, life, etc). When I read in one of your earlier books that you have the best chance to make it by going right at the enemy (whether human or fear or risk), that singular piece of advice has become my new mantra.

    I’m headed over now to pick up this new book and am thrilled to have u as part of my WG2E Team!

    U rock, my friend!

  9. Wonderful, what a website it is! This weblog provides helpful data to us, keep it up.

  10. Thank you for this educational post. I think most people in America today think that Special Operations Forces and Special Forces are The Avengers and Seal Team 6, respectively. I’ll refrain from commenting on No Easy Day.

  11. Adapt and overcome! SOF, Vietnam, Balkans, Gulf War veteran.

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