Special Activities Center - elite of US Special Operations Forces: tasks, structure, tactical employment





Special Activities Center, Special Activities Division, special task force, unconventional unit, covert political action group, Special Operation Forces


The research aims to analyze the tasks and structure as well as identify the specifics of training and learn tactical employment of Special Activities Center units of the US CIA - the elite of the American Special Operations Forces. The interest in the study stems from the necessity to learn approaches to tasks, forms of and techniques for employment of Special Operations Forces of ground troops in different countries of the world.

The Center history is traced from the Operations and Combat Unit of the CIA, which was set up in the first years of the 'cold war' to support the political opposition in the camp of the enemy states, to a polyfunctional unit for overall support to changing the political reality by force in the interests of Washington (including coups).

A range of functions and tasks of a special CIA unit is analyzed, which includes political and military political intelligence, training and operation control of the political opposition (including the armed one), allied irregular military formations, actions aimed at changing a domestic political situation in a country that is an assault objective, raiding and terrorist sabotage (with a focus on elimination of enemy leaders), long-range reconnaissance backed by local allied forces and in the interests of conducting both special operations of armed forces and large-scale combined operations, involvement in a cyberwar, information and psychological operations etc.

The priority of the operations and combat function of the Special Activities Center is proved, which, in its turn, naturally results in a closer integration of the Special Activities Center with the Special Operations Forces of the US armed services, employment of 'combat field investigators' of the CIA as an advance guard of army special ops troopers in local wars and military conflicts of a new conceptual type.

It is indicated that there is clear operational task sharing between US unconventional units and elements and pointed out that the above tasks are virtually identical to those of the Army Special Forces, though have certain specifics. For example, Special Activities Center groups fulfil tasks by covert means preventing their identification and take operational actions at the initial stage of a future military operation or armed conflict. The author draws attention to requirements for strict selection of people for the Special Activities Center and the specifics of all-around training of field investigators, which is based on careful selection of the best servicemen of the Army Special Operations Forces and graduates of elite universities of the USA.

Author Biography

Andrii Slyusarenko, Petro Sahaydachnyi National Army Academy, Lviv

Historical science doctor, associate professor, science work deputy chief


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How to Cite

Slyusarenko, A. (2018). Special Activities Center - elite of US Special Operations Forces: tasks, structure, tactical employment. Skhid, (1(153), 84–89. https://doi.org/10.21847/1728-9343.2018.1(153).127461