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Subject: Tier One Units
Cato    5/15/2006 11:30:51 AM
A question from the unwashed and ill-informed :what defines a tier one special operations unit? Would all Army SF teams, SEAL Teams, and USAFSOC be considered tier one, or only Delta, Devgru, SAS etc? What about the CTI cos? Does tier one describe the ability to carry out a greater diversity of mission sets, or is it in the end, merely the unit with the greatest access to the national piggy bank (perhaps inseperable). Do tier one units exist outside of NATO, ANZUS, perhaps Israel,Ireland,and Sweden? Thanks Much, Cato
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Horsesoldier    RE:Tier One Units   5/15/2006 11:51:24 AM
In the broadest sense, Tier One refers to what are also known as national level assets, "black side" SOF units, and/or JSOC units (CAG/Delta, SEAL Tm 6/DEVGRU, etc.). Defining characteristics would be both funding issues and chain of command. In US military usage (at least informal usage) it can also be applied to counterparts in other nations who may or may not have the same skill set/skill level, but who do occupy the same niche. For example the national level CT unit from Outer Absurdistan might be referred to as the Absurdistan Tier One unit(s) or whatever.
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GOP    RE:Tier One Units   5/15/2006 12:53:20 PM
I kind of have a side question to ask... is the CIA's SAD a part of JSOC, or are they strictly CIA assets?
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olive greens    RE:Tier One Units   5/15/2006 1:15:18 PM
First off, Cato, are you limiting this entirely to special forces? Because fighter-pilots usually have the distinction of getting some pretty heavy dips at defence budgets for somebody so, well, young... ... anyway for just SF, outside of NATO, ANZUS and the three countries you mentioned, I would add the South Koreans. They have almost just as much resources and level of training as any average nation in your groups, plus a lot higher degree of "emergency" than anyone except Israel. The sense of "emergency" translates into the breadth of operations their government is willing to use them for. Then there are Japanese with the money, but not necessarily the same sense of purpose. There are various Islamic and assorted revolutionary governments' SFs with a sense of (misguided) purpose, but not the cash to put it in action. That leaves Russians, Chinese and Indians. * We can never really assess the Russians: Their SWAT-like operations were seemingly skrewed-up... but others say they are just as good and ruthless as anyone else - especially when money is involved (in Chechnya ;-). Plus Kremlin politics so often rewards and utilizes failure, who can tell? * Chinese are too big: Probably a lot of it is fat, but by sheer-probabilities if they have six decks of cards there is bound to be an ace here or there {ever tried playing bluff/BS with six decks?). * India has a few special forces units. The problem for those special forces is that, unlike other countries, they get to see less action than regular forces... especially if they are CT-units posted to cities. So its mostly a boring existence. Only thing that can be said about them is that they exist.
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olive greens    RE:Tier One Units   5/15/2006 1:43:10 PM
>> Only thing that can be said about them is that they exist.<< That didnt come out right. Just ignore it.
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Horsesoldier    RE:Tier One Units   5/15/2006 1:45:44 PM
>>is the CIA's SAD a part of JSOC, or are they strictly CIA assets?<< SAD belongs to the CIA. Very much a different sort of animal than the JSOC units.
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Cato    RE:Tier One Units...OG   5/15/2006 3:29:06 PM
OG, I guess the point of this whole query was my lack of clarity as to whether "tier one" was an objective, or subjective description of a unit. I guess that it is both, referring to its place in the national command structure, its level of funding, and its ability to carry out esoteric mission sets, as well as (at least in other nations ,apparently) simply the shorthand for the best unit in that particular country's stable of studs. All the nations you mentioned can and I'm sure do produce oustanding SF units. All have a doughty warrior traditions, whether, like the JSDF they choose to recognize that or not. However from my understanding (limited on the best of days, to be sure), only NATO and ANZUS SF units routinely operate the span of the globe. As tough as the ROK SF (and the NK SF, for that matter) undoubetedly are, they aren't compelled to operate in, say Zamboanga, Helmand, Bogota, and Ninevah (with the show coming to a theatre near Tehran soon!). As for the Russians and Chinese, I'd tend to agree with you. The kontraktniki csrtainly have a well deserved reputation for brutality, but do they operate further afield than the putative borders of the FSU (I'm asking, I really don't know)? The Chinese? Its a communist oligarchy, so who the hell knows? Not a lotta recent operational experience, though. I guess, it comes down to $$$, just like everything else. BTW does the InA use its airborne rgts. for missions where the US would use special forces? Anyway, I've got a pitbull to take for a walk. Have a good one. Cato
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GOP    RE:Tier One Units   5/15/2006 10:06:06 PM
>>SAD belongs to the CIA. Very much a different sort of animal than the JSOC units.<< Yes, but in I was curious about this because when I watched "Ace in the hole" (the Military channel documentary on the capture of Saddam), they mentioned that "US Special Forces" (I guessed JSOC units, but not sure) and CIA SAD made up TF 121 (again, I though JSOC) which captured Saddam. I know I have asked this before, but is SAD any good at all...I mean, what is their particular mission set?
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Smilodon    RE:Tier One Units   5/16/2006 2:35:22 AM
GOP: If you're looking for info. on the CIA'S SAD, then you should read the book by "GARY BERNTSEN" called "JAWBREAKER". He was the CIA'S field commander that led the SAD team called "JAWBREAKER" when they had Osama bin Laden cornered in the Tora Bora mountains. According to him, they picked up a walkie talkie off of a dead al-Qaeda fighter and they heard Bin Laden's voice talking to his troops and trying to encourage them bacause they were being slaughtered by the joint CIA, SPEC OPS (according to the book: a few Delta troopers, Special Forces A Teams and I think a few SEALS), and Northern Alliance fighters there. According to Berntsen, the only way Bin Laden escaped was because General Tommy Franks refused his request for a couple of hundred Rangers to block al-Qaeda's escape through some mountain passes as they were being pounded by the U.S. forces. It's a very good book, as it gives you a little bit of an idea of how the CIA works and how they us the SAD. (It's a real page turner)
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Cato    RE:Tier One Units...Smilodon, or anybody else that read Jawbreaker Juliette   5/16/2006 11:03:17 AM
Smilodon, et.all, I've not read Jawbreaker, but saw an hour long Q&A with Garry Bernsten and Ralph Pezullo on C-Span. One thing that was never made clear was where the buck stopped WRT the insertion of a Ranger battalion between AQ and the Pak. border. Again, I've not read the book, but in the interview, it didn't sound like it was Franks personally that poo-poohed the idea, but someone between the Pentagon (was Rumsfeld pushing to go?) and CENTCOM. More broadly, it sounded like (from Bernsten's side of the tale) it was a risk averse command structure that let Bin Laden get away. I understand that there are at least two sides to any story, but Bernsten's contention that his request for conventional troops was refused because it was just too dangerous in Tora Bora made my blood boil. The lives of all our soldiers are valuable, but risking 600 elite volunteers while in the shadow of the smouldering wreckage of thousands of dead civillians seems a fair trade. Where did the buck stop? (rant off) Thanks, Cato
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olive greens    RE:Tier One Units...Cato   5/16/2006 11:49:51 AM
BTW does the InA use its airborne rgts. for missions where the US would use special forces? India's primary Special Force IS part of the main airborne regiment - The Parachute Regiment. The distinction being about 5 battalions are SF, other battalions are elite airborne troops. They do share many facilities, but SF has its own dedicated, more specialized facilities elsewhere too. Regiment is somewhat like Ft. Bragg, if you will. But of course US SF do many things Indians cant do ($$$), or needn't do (different committments). =========================== With regard to others... well, the reason I nominated South Koreans to your list was because they HAVE the $$$.
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