GAO Report – SOF and Civilian Oversight

CQB. Staff Sergeant Ridge Shan, U.S. Air Force

The Government Accountability Office has examined the extent to which the Secretariat for Special Operations has hired the staff needed to oversee USSOCOM, its implementation of reforms, and the challenges it faces in obtaining administrative support services. It published its findings in a report in early March 2024.

Since 2019, the Department of Defense has increased the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC) oversight responsibilities for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). It also has increased the resources needed for the Secretariat for Special Operations, which assists the ASD SO/LIC in conducting oversight. However, members of Congress have some concerns that the DoD has not gone far enough in its reform of ASD SO/LIC and oversight activities of USSOCOM.

ASD SO/LIC Secretariat

Chart: Secretariat for Special Operations Organizational Structure (larger image)

In this 54 page report the GAO recommends that:

  • ASD SO/LIC develop a staffing plan that incorporates workforce planning principles
  • ASD SO/LIC implement a systematic approach for identifying areas that require documented policies
  • ASD-SO/LIC and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy document an agreement that clarifies their respective administration roles

The Department of Defense concurred with the GAO recommendations. The full report can be read at the link below.


Special Operations Forces: Documented Policies and Workforce Planning Needed to Strengthen Civilian Oversight, Government Accountability Office, GAO-24-106372, March 2024, PDF, 54 pages.


  • Title 10 USC 139b: Secretariat for Special Operations; Special Operations Policy and Oversight Council Link
  • DoD Instruction 3901.01, Special Operations Policy and Oversight Council, December 26, 2023, PDF, 10 pages
  • Resume, Erin M. Logan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations Policy & Programs (2024)

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