The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan

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Dirty Little Secrets

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by James Dunnigan
November 25, 2014

November 13, 2014: The U.S. Army Special Forces has been organizing ten new SOD-X commando detachments among the members of its two reserve groups. Most of these new detachments have about 30 members, but at least one, based in Rhode Island, has more.

There are seven U.S. Army Special Forces groups and troops in each tend to spend their career in one group, the better to become experts in languages and culture in the regions each group specializes in. The 1st Special Forces Group specializes in Southeast Asia, Korea, China and the Pacific in general. The 3rd Special Forces Group covers the Caribbean and West Africa. The 5th Special Forces Group specializes in the Middle East and South Asia (including Afghanistan and Pakistan). The 7th Special Forces Group specializes in Latin America. The 10th Special Forces Group specializes in Europe (especially the Balkans). There are two groups in the reserves. The 19th Special Forces Group covers the same territory as the 1st and 5th Groups. The 20th Special Forces Group covers the same territory as the 7th Group. Each group has about 1,200 troops, and is further broken down into three battalions (each of three companies with six ODAs each.) Not all groups have their full complement of ODAs (also known as "A Teams").

The army has not released a lot of details about the ten SOD-X units beyond that they exist and where they are based. This information was hard to hide, which is probably why it was made public. Many, if not most of the personnel in the Special Forces reserve groups are veterans of active duty Special Forces groups. The army does not like to lose Special Forces operators and those that do leave active duty are urged to join one of the reserve groups. Each of these two groups have detachments (usually a battalion or a company) in 17 states. This makes it easier for those who leave (or retire) from active duty to remain involved in one of the reserve (state National Guard) units. Like all reserve units the Special Forces ones are subject to mobilization in wartime, but only for specific periods. The existence of the SOD-X units indicates a need for additional elite units, able to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice, to get a specific job done. These are often missions that receive no official publicity and are not detected by the media (at least not quickly).


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