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Sigma KEE - SpecialOperation
KB Term: 
special operation
Operations conducted in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments to achieve military, diplomatic, informational, and/or economic objectives employing military capabilities for which there is no broad conventional force requirement. These operations often require covert, clandestine, or low visibility capabilities. Special operations are applicable across the range of military operations. They can be conducted independently or in conjunction with operations of conventional forces or other government agencies and may include operations through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces. Special operations differ from conventional operations in degree of physical and political risk, operational techniques, mode of employment, independence from friendly support, and dependence on detailed operational intelligence and indigenous assets. Also called SO.
Parents military operation A MilitaryOperation is distinguished from the broader class of MilitaryProcess in that it is planned in advance.
Children direct actionThese are short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy, capture, exploit, recover, or damage designated targets. DA differs from conventional offensive actions in the level of physical and political risk, operational techniques, and the degree of discriminate and precise use of force to achieve specific objectives. Activities within DA include the following: (1) Raids, Ambushes, and Direct Assaults. These are operations designed to achieve specific, well-defined and often time-sensitive results. They are sometimes beyond the effective strike capabilities of conventional force elements. Such operations typically involve attacks on critical targets, interdiction of LOCs or other target systems, capturing designated personnel or material, or the seizure, destruction, or neutralization of adversary facilities or capabilities. (2) Standoff Attacks. These are attacks by weapon systems or through IO. Standoff attacks can be conducted by air, maritime, or by ground platforms or units. When targets can be sufficiently damaged or destroyed without the commitment of close-combat forces, these attacks can be performed as independent actions. (3) Terminal Attack Control and Terminal Guidance Operations. These are actions to identify and precisely report the location of targets, and with global positioning systems, laser designators, beacons, or other means, conduct either terminal attack control (TAC) or terminal guidance operations (TGO) to effectively engage them. TAC involves actions to control the maneuver of and grant weapons release clearance to attacking aircraft. TGO includes any electronic, mechanical, voice or visual communication that provides approaching aircraft or weapons additional information regarding a specific location or target. TAC differs from TGO in that TAC includes the authority to clear aircraft to release ordnance and TGO does not. Because of this, TAC requires individuals to be qualified as joint terminal attack controllers, but TGO does not. (4) Recovery Operations. These are operations conducted to search for, locate, identify, rescue, and return personnel, sensitive equipment, or items critical to national security. SO recovery missions are characterized by detailed planning, rehearsal, and thorough intelligence analysis. These operations employ unconventional tactics and techniques, clandestine search, possible indigenous assistance, and the frequent use of ground combat elements. (5) Precision Destruction Operations. These are operations in which collateral damage must be minimized, requiring highly sophisticated weapons and/or timed detonation of specific amounts of explosives placed in exact locations to accomplish mission objectives. Precision destruction operations can be conducted against targets where precision-guided munitions cannot guarantee first strike success or when the contents of a facility must be destroyed without damage to that facility. (6) Anti-Surface Operations. These are operations conducted against adversary maritime surface targets, including combatants. These include, but are not limited to, visit, board, search, and seizure operations which are shipboarding operations to board and seize cooperative, uncooperative, or hostile contacts of interest.
 special reconnaissanceThese are reconnaissance and surveillance actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments to collect or verify information of strategic or operational significance, employing military capabilities not normally found in conventional forces. These actions provide an additive capability for commanders and supplement other conventional reconnaissance and surveillance actions. Even with today's sophisticated long-range sensors and overhead platforms, some information can be obtained only by visual observation or other collection methods in the target area. SOF's highly developed capabilities of gaining access to denied and hostile areas, worldwide communications, and specialized aircraft and sensors enable SR against targets inaccessible to other forces or assets. Activities within SR include the following: (1) Environmental Reconnaissance. These are operations conducted to collect and report critical hydrographic, geological, and meteorological information. (2) Armed Reconnaissance. These are operations that involve locating and attacking targets of opportunity, e.g., adversary materiel, personnel, and facilities in assigned general areas or along assigned LOCs. Armed reconnaissance is not conducted for the purpose of attacking specific identified targets. (3) Target and Threat Assessment. These are operations conducted to detect, identify, locate, and assess a target to determine the most effective employment of weapons. This type of operation might include the assessment of the potential effects (to include collateral damage) of a strike or an attack on a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or toxic industrial material site. (4) Poststrike Reconnaissance. These operations are undertaken for the purpose of gathering information used to measure results of a strike.
 unconventional warfareThese are operations that involve a broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, normally of long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. UW is unique in that it is a SO that can either be conducted as part of a geographic combatant commander's overall theater campaign, or as an independent, subordinate campaign. When conducted independently, the primary focus of UW is on political-military objectives and psychological objectives. UW includes military and paramilitary aspects of resistance movements. UW military activity represents the culmination of a successful effort to organize and mobilize the civil populace against a hostile government or occupying power. From the US perspective, the intent is to develop and sustain these supported resistance organizations and to synchronize their activities to further US national security objectives. SOF units do not create resistance movements. They advise, train, and assist indigenous resistance movements already in existence to conduct UW and when required, accompany them into combat. When UW operations support conventional military operations, the focus shifts to primarily military objectives - however the political and psychological implications remain. Operational and strategic staffs and commanders must guard against limiting UW to a specific set of circumstances or activities defined by either recent events or personal experience. The most prevalent mistake is the belief that UW is limited to guerrilla warfare or insurgency.

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