Quote of the Day
If you check the party affiliation of someone who commits assaults before deciding how you feel about it, you're what's wrong with America.
— Frank Luntz, conservative political consultant.
I have a son who lives in Butte, Montana – the home town of Robert O'Neill, a famous US Navy SEAL. We were discussing Mr. O'Neill's exploits one night and started to wonder about the size of the different US special operations forces. I quickly looked up some 2014 data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and put the data into a pivot table (Figure 1). I was a bit surprised at the numbers involved – it does not surprise me that the Army has the largest contingent, but the size of the Air Force's contingent was a surprise.
Let' s break down the numbers in Figure 1 by service and unit. Also, I remind you that the data is from 2014. I am assuming the numbers have not changed significantly.
Personnel Count By Service and Unit
All of these units have civilian and military personnel. I only show the military personnel here.
Figure 2 shows the staffing for the different US Army special operations units. The only surprise to me here was that the Rangers are fewer in number than the SEALs. I found this web page that confirms these numbers.
US Air Force
Figure 3 shows the size of the different Air Force special operations groups. For a discussion of their general functions, see this link.
Figure 4 shows the unit breakdown of the the US Navy's SEALs, which are the most well known of the US special operations forces. Of the SEAL teams, the Development Group (also known as Team Six) is the most well known.
US Marine Corps
Figure 5 shows the unit breakdown of the US Marine Corps special operations units. For a discussion of their functions, see this link.
A Youthful Recollection
When I was in grade school, a relative who was a Ranger was killed in action during the Vietnam War. I remember seeing his picture (Figure 6) and thinking how very young he looked. I still remember how sad my father looked when he heard the news. We are fortunate to have people like him among us.