Special Operations Combatives Program – SOCP

A member of the 3rd Special Forces Group participates in Special Operations Combatives Program (SOCP) training in the 3rd SFG combatives dojo. (Photo US Army, Lewis Perkins, 2018).
A member of the 3rd Special Forces Group participates in Special Operations Combatives Program (SOCP) training in the 3rd SFG combatives dojo. (Photo US Army, Lewis Perkins, 2018).

Special Operations Combatives Program (SOCP) – U.S. Army Special Forces has adopted a training program that bridges the gap between the foundation training provided by the Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) and the unique combative skills required by today’s Special Forces Soldier.

Modern Army Combatives Program – MACP. The Army made combatives one of the Army’s 40 core warrior tasks. [1] Combatives builds a Soldier’s confidence and resiliency as well as his personal courage. It improves a Soldier’s situational responsiveness to close quarter threats in an operational environment. The MACP was introduced in 1995 within the Ranger Regiment and soon spread throughout the Army.

Special Operations Combatives Program – SOCP. The special operations organizations across the services have always had some type of combatives training. As the years go by the styles and requirements change. The SOCP has been in existence for almost a decade. It became a program of record in 2010 for Army Special Forces. The SOCP builds upon the skills learned in the MACP and introduces task-specific programs for special operations forces. For instance – the skills and techniques ‘assaulters’ need in a close quarter combat (CQB) environment. Some of the techniques learned in the SOCP are integrated into the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat (SFAUC) training events.

Each of the SF groups has their own combatives facility. Usually the groups will run a one-week long SOCP. Each group has its own designated combatives instructors that teach not only foundational combatives but also advanced techniques that can be utilized in combat situation.

The SOCP is designed to enhance a Soldier’s survivability in combat while wearing his full complement of equipment – helmet, body armor, and everything that hangs on it (radio, medical kit, ammunition, etc.). The SOCP is also integrated into close-quarters (CQC) training as well. The training is geared toward individual proficiency in combatives but also it incorporates movement flow as a team within dwellings and other structures.

The scenarios that SF Soldiers experience in SOCP is varied. They range from responding to ‘blind side’ attacks from the rear while clearing buildings to responding to detainees putting up a fight while being searched or cuffed. The intent of some special operations direct action missions is to apprehend high-value targets. The SF Soldiers must ensure the detainees compliance during capture and be ready to use combative skills if required. Although some training will take place in a gym with floor mats much of the training will be in rooms with furniture and other household items or perhaps in vehicles.

Lethal and Non-Lethal Scenarios. There are times when using a firearm is not the best option. First of all use of a firearm is typically lethal and it may be that a lesser form of violence is needed to respond to a situation (force continuum). There may be times when using a firearm would pose a danger to teammates or civilians. Then there will be the occasions when there is no time to respond with a firearm. In this case some other piece of equipment is put into use – knife, helmet, or piece of gear. SOCP is designed to give special operators the ability to go from a non-lethal to lethal situation – or from lethal to non-lethal. Weapons retention and weapons transition is taught within SOCP. Some scenarios involve the use of weapons during combatives training. Some don’t.

The Special Operations Combatives Program takes into account real world lessons learned after 15 years of Special Forces personnel participating in the Global War on Terror. The SOCP covers a variety of training scenairos and combatives requirements for Special Forces. SOCP is applicable to the SF Soldier working as a ‘singleton’ (think Jedburgh type missions in civilian attire) as well as as a member of a Special Forces team in a CQB environment with full body armor, kit, and weapons. The SOCP will evolve as the real-world requirements for special operations personnel change.


[1] “React to man-to-man contact (combatives)” is one of the 40 Warrior Tasks of the Army.

 Related Articles:

“Green Berets showcase mastery of lifesaving, self-defense skills in combatives training”, Army.mil, March 30, 2018. This article features the 3rd Special Forces Group combatives training program.

“Special Forces Soldiers Step Into Arena”, Army.mil, April 27, 2016. Article about the SOCP run by 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group at Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan.

“Violence of Action: Special Forces Battalion Ready to Fight Tonight”, Army.mil, September 18, 2015. Read up on 1/1st SFGA’s “Quarterly Fight Night”.

“10th SFG (A) Inaugurates Combatives Program”, 1st Special Forces Command Facebook, July 19, 2010.

“Army revising Combatives handbook to focus more on striking, grappling”, Stars and Stripes, February 23, 2010.

Related Videos:

“Special Forces Combatives Program (SOCP)”, YouTube.com, December 24, 2013. This 3-minute long video features combatives instructors from the 3rd Special Forces Group explaining the organizations combatives program.

“Army Combatives Program”, U.S. Army YouTube.com, February 1, 2017. Watch a 3-minute long video about the Modern Army Combatives Program or MACP.

Army References (some current; some historical):

Combatives, TC 3-25.150, Department of the Army, September 2012.

Combatives, FM 3-25.150, Department of the Army, April 2009. (first published in January 2002).

Combatives; Hand-to-Hand Combat, FM 21-150, U.S. Army, September 1992. (first published in 1950s).

Hand-to-Hand Fighting,  ST 31-204, US Army Special Forces, Government Printing Office, (date unknown, probably 1960s).

Marine Corps References:

Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), MCRP 3-0-2B, US Marine Corps, November 21, 2011.

Close Combat and Hand to Hand Fighting, FMFM 07, U.S. Marine Corps.


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