Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT), a joint unified command of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) was activated at MacDill AFB, Florida, under Permanent Order 49-1 Oct. 1, 1985. They began with an authorized strength of 18 officers and 5 enlisted personnel. SOCCENT’s mission at its inception stated “When directed, plan, prepare and conduct special operations and other activities in support of United States objectives in the United States Commander in Chief, Central Command (USCINCCENT) Area of Responsibility (AOR).”
During Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, Special Operations Forces (SOF) were reassigned to USCENTCOM, which assumed COCOM. USCENTCOM and SOCCENT, then assumed operational control of SOF and SOCCENT deployed to Southwest Asia. To relieve widespread starvation, USCENTCOM began Operation PROVIDE RELIEF in August 1992 to supply aid to Asia, Somalia and northeastern Kenya. SOCCENT oversaw the deployment of SOF to Kenya in support of humanitarian operations.
In early January 1993, SOCCENT deployed a small element to Mogadishu. This HQs, known as Joint Special Operations Forces – Somalia (JSOFOR), was responsible for planning and conducting special operations in Somalia in support of UNITAF humanitarian relief efforts. The most significant combat action occurred in early October, when TF Ranger captured six lieutenants of Aideed and several militiamen in a daylight raid. During the withdrawal, Somalis shot down two UH-60 helicopters and brought heavy fire to bear on U.S. soldiers on the ground. In early 1998, Kenya was savaged by the arrival of persistent, heavy El Nino-spawned rains. The flooding that soon followed caused one of the most significant famines in recent history. In response, the United States formed Joint Task Force Kenya, led by a HQs element from I Marine Expeditionary Force. SOCCENT deployed a Special Operations Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team to determine the extent of damage and the requirements of the starving and displaced populace.
In 1999, A special operations command and control element (SOCCE) Qatar was established at Camp As Sayliyah to provide logistical and administrative assistance in preparation for the SOCCENT HQs relocation into the Area of Operation (AO). Shortly afterwards, SOCCENT FWD moved from Bahrain to Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, to continue its mission.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Government determined that Usama Bin Laden (UBL) and his al Qaeda (AQ) terrorist network were responsible. The primary objective was to destroy the AQ terrorist network and capture or kill UBL. SOCCENT briefed its unconventional warfare (UW) plan to the USCENTCOM Commander, General Tommy Franks and thus SOF would be the main effort against the Taliban.
In 2001, SOCCENT FWD assumed the role of Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command (JFSOCC) and was responsible for C2 of SOF personnel in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa’s (CJTF-HOA) mission was established at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on October 19, 2002. SOCCENT supported CJTF-HOA by establishing a SOCCE which synchronized SOF training and humanitarian efforts with the Task Force. SOCCENT’s participation ended in October 2008 when USCENTCOM shifted HOA over to the newly formed U.S. Africa Command.
In January 2003, SOCCENT deployed forward to establish the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC) in Qatar and started planning for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. CFSOCC’s mission was to conduct special operations across the Joint Iraq AO to support the removal of the current regime and Iraq’s Tactical Ballistic Missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction capabilities. On July 26, 2009, CFSOCC officially moved from Camp As Sayliyah to Al Udeid AFB.
On Sep. 1, 2010 OIF was officially over and Operation NEW DAWN began. On Oct. 17, 2014, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) was established to counter ongoing military actions against the rising threat by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
After 13 years, OEF ended, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) began on Dec. 28, 2014. OFS is part of the NATO-led Resolute Support which began on Jan. 1, 2015. SOCCENT has remained heavily involved in these operations throughout their evolution.
Since its inception, Special Operations Command Central remains poised to employ Special Operations capabilities in partnership with USG Agencies, Regional Security Forces, and CENTCOM Component forces to enable and support the goals and objections of U.S. Central Command.