It is inaccurate to state that the Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, are a Tier 1 unit. Tier 1 units carry out the most sensitive and complex missions. Tier 2 units, on the other hand, provide support to Tier 1 units and include units such as the 24th Special Operations Squadron, the Intelligence Support Activity, and the Ranger Recon Company.
The Army Special Forces and other units like the SEALs, Marine Raiders, and Air Force Combat Search and Rescue teams are classified as Tier 3 units within the special operations commands of their respective services. However, when a Tier 3 unit is attached to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to support a mission, it is temporarily reclassified as a Tier 2 unit.
Special mission units are considered Tier 1 units and fall under the command and control of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). These units are responsible for carrying out highly classified and sensitive missions and tasks related to unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, direct action, special reconnaissance, and black operations.
US Military Tier 1 Components
So far, only four SMUs have been publicly disclosed:
- The Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta
- The Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment: Regimental Reconnaissance Company
- The Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU)
- The Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron (24 STS)
There is a common belief that the term “Tier 1” refers to the level of government funding allocated to special operations units classified as such. Tier 1 units indeed receive more funding than conventional units and “white” special operations forces (SOF) units, which do not typically conduct classified or covert operations.