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Special Operations Command, Pacific

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 Rear Admiral P. Gardner Howe, III, Commander
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Special Operations Command, Pacific

 SOCPAC

"Guardians of the Pacific"

 

Special Operations Center, Pacific Command was established 1 November 1965. Headquartered in Okinawa, the unit provided unconventional warfare task force support for operations in Southeast Asia. After these functions transferred to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) staff and subordinate commands, Special Operations Center, Pacific Command dissolved on 1 July 1969. A special operations staff was established in the CINCPAC Operations Directorate on 15 May 1976, to meet increasing requirements for planning and coordinating in-theater special operations.

In October 1983, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the establishment of Special Operations Commands in the Pacific and European Theaters. Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC) was subsequently activated on 1 November 1983 with an initial total strength of only eighteen personnel. Six years later, on 28 December 1989, SOCPAC was assigned operational control (OPCON) of what is now the 353d Special Operations Group and 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), which are located on Okinawa, Japan at Kadena Air Base and Torii Station, respectively. On 8 July 1991, SOCPAC assumed OPCON of Naval Special Warfare Task Unit-Pacific and a subordinate SEAL platoon, which are based at Apra Harbor Naval Station, Guam. In early March 2001, SOCPAC established the Joint Special Operations Aviation Component on Oahu, Hawaii. Three months later, on 11 June 2001, SOCPAC gained OPCON over E Company, 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), which is based in Taegu, Republic of Korea.

As a subordinate unified command of USPACOM, SOCPAC and its component units deploy throughout the Pacific, supporting USPACOM's Theater Security Cooperation Program, deliberate plans, and real world contingencies. SOCPAC elements annually conduct small unit exchanges, joint and combined training events, and operational deployments throughout the Pacific, fostering interoperability with host nation partners and facilitating strategic and operational objectives. Subordinate elements play a major role in ongoing counterdrug and humanitarian demining operations, training host nation forces in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Theater countries. SOCPAC also hosts an annual Pacific Area Special Operations Conference in Hawaii, which attracts over 200 U.S. and foreign delegates and provides unique information exchange opportunities.

The command maintains a honed capability to operate as a rapidly deployable Joint Task Force (JTF). In January 2002, soon after terrorists attacked the United States, SOCPAC deployed to the Southern Philippines as JTF 510, conducting counterterrorist operations with the Philippine Government under Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. JTF 510 redeployed on 1 September 2002, leaving stay-behind elements to form Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines and continue operations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Today, SOCPAC forces are operating in multiple high-priority Pacific Theater countries, increasing partner nation capabilities to defeat international terrorism, improving cultural understanding, and fully prepared to meet emerging threats.

 
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