Special Operations Library

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What are “Special Operations Forces” and how are they different from “Special Forces?”

Special Operations Forces (SOF) is a term primarily used in the West.It is an “all encompassing” term that defines a nation’s specialized units. The term “Special Forces” is age old and used by countries around the world to describe their specialized unit(s).The United States reserves the term “Special Forces” primarily for its Army special operations unit (commonly referred to as the “Green Berets”) that specializes in unconventional warfare (UW) and foreign internal defense (FID).

This website focuses on military, intelligence, and law enforcement special operations, as they each have an increasingly important role in their respective international and domestic arenas.

What exactly is a “special operation?”

Special operations (SO) are typically performed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations. Their primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does not exist or might affect the overall strategic outcome. Special operations are usually conducted in a low-profile manner that typically aim to achieve the advantage of speed, surprise, and violence of action against an unsuspecting target. They are typically carried out with limited numbers of highly trained personnel that are able to operate in all environments, utilize self-reliance, are able to easily adapt and overcome obstacles, and use unconventional combat skills and equipment to complete objectives. It is also important to note that special ops are usually implemented through specific or tailored intelligence.

Special Operations “Truths”
  1. Humans are more important than Hardware.
  2. Quality is better than Quantity.
  3. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced.
  4. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.
  5. Most special operations require non-SOF assistance.


If you are unfamiliar with many of the terms associated on this website, be sure to check out the following page: Defining War: A Quick Reference Guide of Terms

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